August 5.—During the night I was taken very ill again, and felt quite weak when I arose this morning, but circumstances admitted of no delay, and I was obliged to go on with my exploration: I continued to trace up the creek, which I found to be large and lined with gum–trees for many miles among rocky and precipitous hills, but altogether without water, and as I knew of none of this requisite, of a permanent character, behind me, I determined to retrace my steps again to Mount Deception range. In doing so, I had to pass near the place from whence the natives had taken flight, and from curiosity called to see if the children had been taken away; to my surprise and regret I found them still remaining, they had been left by their unnatural or terrified parents without food, and exposed to the inclemency of a cold winter’s night; the fire had gone out, and the eldest of the children had scraped a hole among the ashes in which both were lying. They were alarmed when they saw me, and would take nothing I offered them. The child around whom I had tied the handkerchief, had managed to get it off and throw it to one side. I now scarcely knew what to do, as I was fearful if I left them there, and the parents did not return, the poor little children might perish, and yet I was so far away from my own party, and in such difficult circumstances, that I knew not how I could take them with me. Upon due reflection, and considering that I had not seen a single male native, it struck me that the women might have gone for the men and would probably return by the evening to see where their little ones were.
Under this impression, I put the handkerchief again round the eldest child, and tying it firmly, I left them; I had hopes too, that some of the natives were watching our movements from the hills, and in this case they would at once return, when they saw us fairly depart from the neighbourhood.
Keeping a little to the south of west, I still found the country very much broken into hollows, with high steep banks bounding them, this singular formation being apparently the result of the violent action of water; but how long ago and under what circumstances I had no means of judging. Having found a puddle of water in the plains, I halted for the night, our stage having been about twenty miles.