Thursday, 3rd May, Spinifex and Gum Plains.
- Written by John McDouall Stuart
- Category: John McDouall Stuart - Fourth Expedition
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Thursday, 3rd May, Spinifex and Gum Plains. Started on the same course, west 35 degrees north, and at four miles reached the top of the hills, which are low and composed of dark-red sandstone and quartz. The bearings to Mount Denison, 146 degrees; Mount Barkly, 142 degrees; to another hill west-north-west, 302 degrees, distant about ten miles, which I have named Mount Turnbull, after the late Gavin Turnbull, Esquire, Surgeon in the Indian Army. The morning is very hazy, and I cannot see distinctly; besides, my eyes are again very bad. The appearance of the country all round is that of having gum creeks everywhere. To the north there are some more low hills. A short distance off, on a bearing of 328 degrees, there appears to be a gum creek with something white as if it were water, so I shall change my course. At 3.50 camped, some of my horses being nearly done up from want of water, and having nothing to eat but spinifex. I have now come eighteen miles, and the plain has the same appearance now as when I first started--spinifex and gum-trees, with a little scrub occasionally. We are expecting every moment to come upon a gum creek, but hope is disappointed. I have not so much as seen a water-course since I left the Fisher, and how far this country may continue it is impossible to tell. I intended to have turned back sooner, but I was expecting every moment to meet with a creek. It is very alluring, and apt to lead the traveller into serious mistakes. I wish I had turned back earlier, for I am almost afraid that I have allowed myself to come too far. I am doubtful if all my horses will be able to get back to water. In rainy weather this country will not retain the water on the surface, and we have not so much as seen a clay-pan of the smallest dimensions. The gum-trees on this plain have a smooth white bark, and the leaves are some light-green and some dark. Most of the trees seem very healthy; there are very few dead ones about. To-morrow morning I must unwillingly retreat to water for my horses. There is no chance of getting to the north-west in this direction, unless this plain soon terminates. From what I could see there is little hope of its doing so for a long distance.