- Category: John McDouall Stuart - First Expedition
- Written by John McDouall Stuart
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Friday, 25th June, Yarraout Gum Creek. Started at 9.40 from the point where we first struck the creek last night, bearing 20 degrees for two miles, thence 61 degrees for one mile to a high sand hill, thence 39 degrees for one mile to a stony rise. My doubt of the black fellow's knowledge of the country is now confirmed; he seems to be quite lost, and knows nothing of the country, except what he has heard other blacks relate; he is quite bewildered and points all round when I ask him the direction of Wingillpin. I have determined to push into the westward, keeping a little north of west. Bearing 292 degrees for five miles, sand hills; thence 327 degrees to a table-hill nine miles. Camped without water. Our route to-day has been through sand hills, with a few miles of stones and dry reedy swamp, all well grassed, but no water. We came across some natives, who kept a long distance off. I sent our black up to them, to ask in which direction Wingillpin lay. They pointed to the course I was then steering, and said, "Five sleeps." They would not come near to us. About three-quarters of an hour afterwards I came suddenly upon another native, who was hunting in the sand hills. My attention being engaged in keeping the bearing, I did not observe him until he moved, but I pulled up at once, lest he should run away, and called to him. What he imagined I was I do not know; but when he turned round and saw me, I never beheld a finer picture of astonishment and fear. He was a fine muscular fellow, about six feet in height, and stood as if riveted to the spot, with his mouth wide open, and his eyes staring. I sent our black forward to speak with him, but omitted to tell him to dismount. The terrified native remained motionless, allowing our black to ride within a few yards of him, when, in an instant, he threw down his waddies, and jumped up into a mulga bush as high as he could, one foot being about three feet from the ground, and the other about two feet higher, and kept waving us off with his hand as we advanced. I expected every moment to see the bush break with his weight. When close under the bush, I told our black to inquire if he were a Wingillpin native. He was so frightened he could not utter a word, and trembled from head to foot. We then asked him where Wingillpin was. He mustered courage to let go one hand, and emphatically snapping his fingers in a north-west direction, again waved us off. I take this emphatic snapping of his fingers to mean a long distance. Probably this Wingillpin may be Cooper's Creek. We then left him, and proceeded on our way through the sand hills. About an hour before sunset, we came in full sight of a number of tent and table-topped hills to the north-west, the stony table land being to the south of us, and the dip of the country still towards Lake Torrens. I shall keep a little more to the west to-morrow if possible, to get the fall of the country the other way. The horses' shoes have been worn quite thin by the stones, and will not last above a day or two. Nay, some of the poor animals are already shoeless. It is most unfortunate that we did not bring another set with us. Distance to-day, twenty-four miles.