- Category: John McDouall Stuart - Fourth Expedition
- Written by John McDouall Stuart
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Friday, 4th May, Gum and Spinifex Plains. At times this country is visited by blacks, but it must be seldom, as since we left the Fisher we have only seen the track of one, who seems to have come from the east, and to have returned in that direction. The spinifex in many places has been burnt, and the track of the native was peculiar--not broad and flat, as they generally are, but long and narrow, with a deep hollow in the foot, and the large toe projecting a good deal; the other in some respects more like the print of a white man than of a native. Had I crossed it the day before, I would have followed it. My horses are now suffering too much from the want of water to allow me to do so. If I did, and were not to find water to-night, I should lose the whole of the horses and our own lives into the bargain. I must now retreat to Mount Denison, which I do with great reluctance; it is losing so much time, and my provisions are limited. Started back at 7.10 a.m., and at thirty miles came upon a native well, with a little grass round it; the bottom was moist. Unsaddled, and turned the horses out. Commenced clearing out the well the best way we could, with a quart pot and a small tin dish, having unfortunately lost our shovel in crossing the McDonnell ranges. We had great difficulty in keeping the horses out while we cleared it. To our great disappointment we found the water coming in very slowly. We can only manage, in an hour and a half, to get about six gallons, which must be the allowance for each horse, and it will take us till to-morrow morning to water them all. One of us is required to be constantly with them to keep them back, and that he can hardly do; some of them will get away from him do all he can. Kekwick's horse was nearly done up before we reached this place; also one of the others. Those nearest to the cart-breed give in first.