September 2.—After travelling seven miles we ascended Mount Distance, and from it I could see that the hills now bore S. and S.E. and were getting much lower, so that we were rapidly rounding their northern extremity. To the north and north–east were seen only broken fragments of table lands, similar to what I found near the lake to the north–west; the lake itself, however, was nowhere visible, and I saw that I should have another day’s hard riding before I could satisfactorily determine its direction. Upon descending I steered for a distant low haycock–like peak in the midst of one of the table–topped fragments; from this rise I expected the view would be decisive, and I named it Mount Hopeless.—From Mount Distance it bore E. 25 degrees N.
Crossing many little stony ridges, and passing the channel of several watercourses, I discovered a new and still more disheartening feature in the country, the existence of brine springs. Hitherto we had found brackish and occasionally salt water in some of the watercourses, but by tracing them up among the hills, we had usually found the quality to improve as we advanced, but now the springs were out in the open plains, and the water poisoned at its very source.
Occasionally round the springs were a few coarse rushes, but the soil in other respects was quite bare, destitute of vegetation, and thickly coated over with salt, presenting the most miserable and melancholy aspect imaginable. We were now in nearly the same latitude as that in which Captain Sturt had discovered brine springs in the bed of the Darling, and which had rendered even that river so perfectly salt that his party could not make use of it.