John McDouall Stuart - Fourth Expedition


Saturday, 14th April, McDonnell Range.

Saturday, 14th April, McDonnell Range. Started at 8 o'clock to follow the creek, as it seems to be the best way of getting through the other ranges; but, as it comes too much from the east, I must leave it, and get through at some of the low hills further down. This we at last contrived to do after a severe struggle. It has taken us the whole day to come about five miles. We are now camped, north of the bluff, at a gorge, in which there is a good spring of water; the creeks now run north from the range.

Sunday, 15th April, The North Gorge of McDonnell Range.

Sunday, 15th April, The North Gorge of McDonnell Range. I ascended the high hill on the east side of the gorge; the atmosphere being much clearer, I got a better view of the country. To the north-west, between the McDonnell range and the conical hill north-north-west, is a large plain, apparently scrub; no hills on the horizon, but a light shade in the far distance; the conical hill bears 340 degrees from this; it appears to be high. From the foot of this, for about five miles, is an open grassy country, with a few small patches of bushes. A number of gum creeks come from the ranges, and seem to empty themselves in the plains. The country in the ranges is as fine a pastoral hill-country as a man would wish to possess; grass to the top of the hills, and abundance of water through the whole of the ranges. I forgot to mention that the nut we found on the south side of the range is not fit to eat; it caused both men to vomit violently. I ate one, but it had no bad effect on me.

Monday, 16th April, The North Gorge of McDonnell Range.

Monday, 16th April, The North Gorge of McDonnell Range. Started at 9 o'clock to cross the scrub for the distant high peak. For five miles the plain was open and well grassed: afterwards it became thick, with mulga bushes and other scrubs. At twenty miles we again encountered the spinifex, which continued until we camped after dark. Distance, thirty miles. Met with no creek or watercourse after leaving the McDonnell ranges.

Tuesday, 17th April, In the Scrub.

Tuesday, 17th April, In the Scrub. Got an early start, and continued through the scrub and spinifex on the same course, 340 degrees. At three miles passed a small stony hill, about two miles to the west of our course. At eighteen miles saw to the west two prominent bluff hills, and two or three small ones, about ten miles distant from us. At thirty-two miles crossed a strong rise. There are three reap-hook hills about three miles west, their steep side facing the south. At sundown reached the hills. At two miles passed a small sandy gum creek, the only watercourse we have seen between the two ranges. Followed the range to the north-west till after dark, hoping to find a gum creek coming from the range, but without success; nothing but rocky and sandy watercourses. Camped. The poor horses again without water; I trust that I shall find some for them in the morning; if not, I shall have to return to the McDonnell range. Very little rain seems to have fallen here; the grass is all dried up. The spinifex continues until within a mile of the range. The small gum creek that we passed is running south-west into the scrub.

Wednesday, 18th April, Under the High Peak, Mount Freeling.

Wednesday, 18th April, Under the High Peak, Mount Freeling. At daybreak sent Kekwick in search of water, while I ascended the high mount to see if any could be seen from that place. To my great delight I beheld a little in a creek on the other side of the range, bearing 113 degrees, about a mile and a half. I find this is not quite the highest point of the range; there is another hill, still higher, about fifteen miles further to the north-north-west. About two miles off I can see a gum creek looking very green, coming from the range in the direction in which I have sent Kekwick, where I hope he will find water. The country from west to north-east is a mass of hills and broken ranges; to the south-west high broken ranges. To the north-north-east is another hill, with a plain of scrub between. To the south-east scrub, with tops of hills in the far distance. Brinkley Bluff bears 166 degrees and Mount Hay 186 degrees. Returned to the camp, and find to my great satisfaction that Kekwick has discovered some water in the creek about two miles off. I am very glad of it, for I am sure that some of my horses would not have stood the journey back without it. I must not leave this range without endeavouring to find a permanent water, as no rain seems to have fallen to the north of us; everything is so dry, one would think it was the middle of summer. The sun is also very hot, but the nights and mornings are cool. Wind east. Old tracks and native camps about. The range is composed of the same description of rocks as the McDonnell ranges, with rather more quartz than mica. We here found new shrubs and flowers, also a small brown pigeon with a crest. I have built a small cone of stones on the peak, and named it Mount Freeling, after the Honourable Colonel Freeling, Surveyor-General. The range I have called the Reynolds, after the Honourable Thomas Reynolds, the Treasurer.