John McDouall Stuart - Fifth Expedition


Saturday, 13th April, The Bonney.

Saturday, 13th April, The Bonney. Sent Thring down the creek to see what its course is, and if the country gets more open; the men mending saddle-bags, cleaning and repairing saddles, shoeing horses, etc. While I and Woodforde were endeavouring to get a shot at some ducks on the long water holes, a fish, which he describes as being about two feet long, with dark spots on either side, came to the surface; he fired at it, but was unsuccessful in killing it. A little before sundown Thring returned; he gave a very bad account of the creek; it was a dry deep channel. Wind, variable; cloudy.

Monday, 15th April, The Bonney.

Monday, 15th April, The Bonney. Cloudy; wind still variable. Mount Fisher, bearing 120 degrees. Started at 7.15 a.m., bearing 290 degrees; at 11.40 changed to 264 degrees, to some rising ground; at 12.45 p.m., after crossing stony hills, we crossed a gum creek on the west side, with long reaches of water in it running north-west, which I supposed to be the Bonney; but as there appeared to be more and larger gum-trees farther on, I continued, to see if there were not another channel. Proceeded three miles over low limestone rises, with small flats between, on which was growing spinifex, and the gum-trees which I had seen--exactly the same description of country from which I was forced to return through want of water on my former journey from Mount Denison to north-west. I therefore returned to the creek, which I find to be the Bonney, now much smaller, but containing plenty of water--followed it down to north-north-west for about one mile, and then camped. The water is in long reaches, which I think are permanent.

Tuesday, 16th April, The Bonney.

Tuesday, 16th April, The Bonney. Still cloudy. Started at 8 a.m. on a bearing of 380 degrees. At 11.15 changed to 40 degrees, with the intention of cutting the McLaren. Camped at 3.40 p.m. Three miles from our start the creek spreads itself over a large grassy plain, thickly studded with gum-trees, covered with long grass, and a great number of white ants' nests of all sizes and shapes, putting one in mind of walking through a large cemetery. In many places it was very boggy. We followed it for ten miles, but it still continued the same; I could not see more than one hundred yards before me, the gum-trees, and sometimes a low scrub, being so thick. Not seeing anything of the McLaren coming into the plain, I changed my course to cut it and run it down, as I think that it will form a large creek where they join. In three miles we got out of the plain upon a red sandy soil, with spinifex, and scrubs of all kinds, in some places very thick, and difficult to get the horses through. When we were in the gum plain the atmosphere was so close and heavy, and the ground so soft, that the sweat was running in streams from the horses; and when we halted for a few minutes they were puffing and blowing as though they had just come in from running a race. I continued the second course for fourteen miles, but saw nothing of the McLaren; it must have joined the plain before I left it. Thus ends the Bonney and the McLaren. We passed over several quartz and ironstone ranges of low hills crossing our course, and camped under a high one, without water. Wind south-east. Cloudy.

Wednesday, 17th April, Quartz Hill, West Mount Blyth.

Wednesday, 17th April,* (* The Journal of this Expedition, as published by the Royal Geographical Society, commences here.) Quartz Hill, West Mount Blyth. Started at 7.25 a.m. on a bearing of 70 degrees. We again passed quartz hills running as yesterday; the spinifex still continuing, with a little grass, until we came within a mile of the hills in the Murchison range; finding some water, I camped, and gave the horses the rest of the day to recruit. Last night after sundown, and during the night, we had a few slight showers of rain, and a great deal of thunder and lightning, mostly from south-west. About 11 to-day the clouds all cleared away. About a mile before camping, we observed the ground covered with numerous native tracks; also that a number of the gum-trees were stripped of their bark all round.