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John McDouall Stuart - Fourth Expedition

JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S FOURTH EXPEDITION--FIXING THE CENTRE OF THE CONTINENT. FROM MARCH TO SEPTEMBER, 1860.

Sunday, 1st April, The Stevenson.

Sunday, 1st April, The Stevenson. I find to-day that my right eye, from the long continuation of bad eyes, is now become useless to me for taking observations. I now see two suns instead of one, which has led me into an error of a few miles. I trust to goodness my other eye will not become the same; as long as it remains good, I can do. Wind east; cool. Heavy clouds.

Monday, 2nd April, The Stevenson.

Monday, 2nd April, The Stevenson. Started at 8 o'clock; course 355 degrees to distant hills. At six miles we struck a gum creek with water in it, but not permanent. At ten miles we crossed another, running between rugged hills; a little water coming from the west and running east-south-east through a mass of hills. At twelve miles crossed a valley a quarter of a mile broad, through which a gum creek runs, with an immense quantity of drift timber lying on its banks. At twenty miles arrived at the first part of the range, and at twenty-eight miles camped on a gum creek running east and coming from the south of west. The first three miles of to-day's journey were over good country; it then became rather scrubby, with numerous small creeks and valleys running to the east. Plenty of grass and salt-bush, with gravel, ironstone, and lime on the surface. At a mile before we made the rugged creek the ironstone became less, and a hard white stone took its place, and continued to the range, on which it is also found. Gypsum, chalk, ironstone, quartz, and other stones, are the chief materials of which it and the other hills are composed. There are also a few of a hard red sandstone. The range is broken, and running nearly east and west. The country round is slightly undulating; numerous small creeks running to the eastward, with a deal of grass and salt-bush. No water in this creek. Camped without. Wind east.

Tuesday, 3rd April, Gum Creek, South of Range.

Tuesday, 3rd April, Gum Creek, South of Range. Ascended the hill at three miles from last night's camp. The country very rough, stony, and scrubby to the base. The view from it is very extensive. I have named it Mount Beddome, after S. Beddome, Esquire, of Adelaide. To the west is another broken range, about fifteen miles distant, of a dark-red colour, running nearly north and south. The country between is apparently open, with patches of scrub. A gum creek comes from the south-west and runs some distance to the north-east; it then turns to the east. In the distant west appears a dense scrub. On a bearing of 330 degrees there is a large isolated table hill, for which I shall shape my course, to see if I can get an entrance that way. To the north are a number of broken hills and peaks with scrub between; they are of every shape and size. To the east another flat-topped range; country between also scrubby; apparently open. Close to the range, distant about twenty miles saw hills in the far distance; to the east another flat-topped small range; between it and the other the creek seems to run. The highest point of it bears 80 degrees, and I have named it Mount Daniel, after Mr. Daniel Kekwick, of Adelaide. From east to south-east the country is open and grassy; low ranges in the distance. Saw some rain water, bearing 30 degrees, to which I will go, and give the horses a drink; they had none last night. Distance, two miles. Obtained an observation of the sun, 118 degrees 17 minutes 30 seconds. At six miles crossed the broad bed of a large gum creek; gravel; no water. At eight miles the red sand hills commence, covered with spinifex; and on the small flats mulga scrub, which continues to the base of the hill. Red loose sand; no water. Distance, twenty miles from Mount Beddome to this hill. The country good, until we get among the spinifex.

Wednesday, 4th April, Mount Humphries.

Wednesday, 4th April, Mount Humphries. At break of day ascended the mount, which is composed of a soft white coarse sandstone. On the top is a quantity of water-worn quartz, cemented into large masses. The view is much the same as from Mount Beddome, broken ranges all round the horizon, and apparently a dense scrub from south-west to west. It then becomes an open and grassy country, with alternate patches of scrub. I can see a gum creek about two miles distant; I can also see water in it, which the horses have not yet discovered. I shall therefore go in that direction, and give them a drink. To the north and eastward the country appears good. Went to the aforesaid water, to see if there is any that I can depend upon. On my return, wanting to correct my instrument, which met with an accident three or four days ago, by the girths getting under the horse's belly (he bolted and kicked it off), I sent Kekwick to examine the creek that I saw coming from the north. He says there is plenty of water to serve our purpose. The creek is very large, with the finest gum-trees we have yet seen, all sizes and heights. This seems to be a favourite place for the natives to camp, as there are eleven worleys in one encampment. We saw here a number of new parrots, the black cockatoo, and numerous other birds. The creek runs over a space of about two miles, coming from the west; the bed sandy. After leaving it, on a bearing of 329 degrees, for nine miles, we passed over a plain of as fine a country as any man would wish to see--a beautiful red soil covered with grass a foot high; after that it becomes a little sandy. At fifteen miles we got into some sand hills, but the feed was still most abundant. I have not passed through such splendid country since I have been in the colony. I only hope it may continue. The creek I have named the Finke, after William Finke, Esquire, of Adelaide, my sincere and tried friend, and one of the liberal supporters of the different explorations I have had the honour to lead. Wind south-east. Cloudy.