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John McDouall Stuart - Fifth Expedition

JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S FIFTH EXPEDITION. FROM NOVEMBER, 1860, TO SEPTEMBER, 1861.

Monday, 11th March, The Finke.

Monday, 11th March, The Finke. Clouds all gone; wind still south-east. I will remain here to-day with the rest of the party, to give the others time to have all ready for us when we arrive. One of the horses missing; found him in the afternoon. Wind variable.

Tuesday, 12th March, The Finke.

Tuesday, 12th March, The Finke. Started at 8.30 a.m. for the Hugh, course 345 degrees, following our former tracks. The day has been exceedingly hot; wind from east and south-east, with heavy clouds in the same direction. About 3 p.m. missed the party that was behind; they were last seen about one mile and a half back. Thinking that the packs had gone wrong, and that they were remaining behind to repair them, I waited an hour, but finding they did not come up, I sent Ewart back to the place where they were last seen to find out what was wrong; in an hour he returned, and informed me that their tracks were going away to the eastward. As the James range was in sight, and two of the party had been there before, I concluded that they must have lost my tracks and were pushing on for the water. This loss of two hours would make it late before we arrived there, so we hurried on; but within four miles it became so dark, from the sky being overcast with heavy clouds, and the mulga bushes being so thick, that we were in great danger of losing some of our pack-horses, for we could not see them more than ten yards off. I therefore camped until daylight, having to tie the horses during the night. Wind variable.

Wednesday, 13th March, Between the Finke and the Hugh.

Wednesday, 13th March, Between the Finke and the Hugh. Started at daybreak; and in a little more than an hour arrived at the Hugh; found that Thring had gone up the creek to the other water, not finding enough here for the horses he had with him. We could only get sufficient for ten of ours. As the fire was still alight, I was led to believe that the other party had arrived here last night, having had two hours more sunlight than we, and that they, seeing Thring's note to me, which he had fastened on a tree, and also the small quantity of water, had watered their horses last night, and gone on this morning, leaving the water that had accumulated during the night for us and our horses; we cleared out the hole in order to obtain sufficient for our other five. At about 10 a.m. had breakfast; before we finished, the other party came in sight; they had lost the tracks, and could not find them again. They made the creek about one mile to the eastward. Unsaddled and gave their horses a rest, and as much water as we could get for the weak ones; those of mine which have had none will have to go without. By 1 p.m. obtained a drink for seven of them. Pushed on to the other water, fifteen miles up the creek; arrived there a little before sundown. The day, although cloudy, has been very hot. Found Thring and his party all right. They had seen no more of our spitting friend. Wind variable, with heavy clouds from east and south-east, but still no rain.

Thursday, 14th March, The Hugh, James Range.

Thursday, 14th March, The Hugh, James Range. As the done-up horses will not be able to travel to-day, I have sent Thring and Wall up the creek to look for other water. Sky still overcast. No rain. Thring and Wall returned in the afternoon, having found water a little below the surface, about nine miles up; a very light shower has fallen. Wind all round the compass.