Saturday 15th June, North-east Small Plains, Sturt Plains.
- Written by John McDouall Stuart
- Category: John McDouall Stuart - Fifth Expedition
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Saturday 15th June, North-east Small Plains, Sturt Plains. Started at 7.30 a.m.; course, 60 degrees, through another ten miles of very thick forest, the thickest we have yet seen. At eleven miles came again upon the large open grassy plain, at the point where I turned on the 21st ultimo. I expected to have found some rain water here, this being the only place in all the plain I have seen that is likely to retain it. Sent Thring and Woodforde in different directions, while I proceeded in another, to see if we could find any, but not a drop could we see. It has been all swallowed up by the ground, which is again dry and dusty. It must take an immense quantity to saturate it, and leave any on the surface; and if that were to be the case, the country would become so soft it would be quite impassable. I am again forced to turn; it is quite hopeless to attempt it any farther. It would be sacrificing our horses, and, perhaps, our own lives, without the least prospect of attaining our end. If I could see rising ground, however small, or a change in the country to justify my risking everything, I would do so in a moment. I only wish there was. I have tried my horses to their utmost. Even my old horses that are inured to hardship are unable to be longer than three days without water, owing to the heat of the sun, the dryness of the feed, and the softness of the country. We saw a few cockatoos and pigeons. There might be water within a short distance, but none can we see or find; for on my course 20 degrees west of north I passed within two miles of Newcastle Water, where the main camp is now, but could not see it. It would require a long time to examine this country for water. There are so many clumps of trees, and strips of scrub on the plain, where water might be, that it would take upwards of twelve months to examine them all. At sundown camped fifteen miles from the main camp. Horses look very bad. It has been very heavy travelling, over rotten ground, and tearing through thick wood and scrub, which has skinned our legs from the knees to the ankles and caused no little pain. Wind, variable.