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John McDouall Stuart - First Expedition

JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH-WEST. MAY TO SEPTEMBER, 1858.

Friday, 18th June, The Elizabeth.

Friday, 18th June, The Elizabeth. We must rest our horses to-day, they have not yet recovered from their long thirst. I am quite disappointed with this creek and the surrounding country. The water is not permanent, it is only rain water; since we arrived yesterday it has shrunk a great deal. There are small plains on each side from a quarter to half a mile broad with salt bush; the hills are very stony with a little salt bush, and destitute of timber, except the few gum-trees in the creek and the mulga bushes in the sand hills.

Saturday, 19th June, The Elizabeth.

Saturday, 19th June, The Elizabeth. The sky was quite overcast with cloud during the night, and a few drops of rain fell, but of no consequence. Started at 9.30 a.m., on a bearing of 308 degrees for six miles; changed the bearing to 355 degrees for one mile and a half; next bearing 328 degrees for four miles, to the north side of a dry swamp; next bearing 4 degrees for ten miles and a half; next bearing 350 degrees for four miles to a sand hill. Camped. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles, over a very bad country, with large fragments of a hard flinty stone covering the surface. Salt bush with small sand hills. No water.

Sunday, 20th June, Sand Hill.

Sunday, 20th June, Sand Hill. Started at 9 a.m., on a course of 25 degrees for sixteen miles. At 1 p.m., came upon a creek, in which I thought there might be water; examined it and found two water holes, with plenty of grass upon their banks. The water is not permanent. Our course to-day has been across stony plains (covered on the surface with fragments resembling hard white quartz), with sand hills about two miles broad dividing them. The black did not know of this water; I am very doubtful of his knowing anything of the country. The stony plains are surrounded by high heavy sand hills, especially to the west and north-west; I dare not attempt to get through them without rain. They are much higher than the country that I am travelling through. It seems as if there had been no rain for twelve months, every thing is so dried and parched up. On further examination of the creek we have found a large hole of clear water, with rushes growing round it; I almost think it is permanent, and intend to run the risk of falling back upon it should I be forced to retreat and wait for rain. The creek seems to drain the large stony plains that we crossed; the water is three and a half feet deep, ten yards wide, by forty yards long.

Monday, 21st June, Water Creek.

Monday, 21st June, Water Creek. Started at 9.30 a.m. on a course of 25 degrees. At a mile passed a small table-topped hill to the west of our line; at three miles and a half crossed the creek; at four miles passed another table-topped hill connected with the low range to the east, and passed the first ironstone hill; at seven miles changed to 55 degrees; at eight miles halted at a large permanent water hole (Andamoka). I can with safety say that this is permanent; it is a splendid water hole, nearly as large as the one at the mouth of the gorge in the John. The low range to the east of our course, and running nearly parallel with it, is composed of conglomerate, quartz, and a little ironstone. Part of to-day's journey was over low undulating sandy and very well grassed country. There seems to have been a little rain here lately; the grass is springing beautifully. At eleven miles we came upon a salt lagoon (Wealaroo) two miles long by one broad. From the north end of it, on a bearing of 55 degrees, one mile and a half will strike Andamoka. I think we have now left the western sand hills behind us; and now that we have permanent water to fall back on, I shall strike into the north-west to-morrow. The distance travelled to-day was fifteen miles. The country around this water consists of bold stony rises and sand, with salt bush and grass; no timber except mulga and a few myall bushes in the creek. On an examination of the creek, we have found salt water above and below this hole. In one place above there are cakes of salt one inch and a half thick, a convincing proof that this is supplied by springs.

Tuesday, 22nd June, Andamoka.

Tuesday, 22nd June, Andamoka. Started on a bearing of 342 degrees. At seven miles and a half, crossed a low stony range running east-north-east and west-south-west, which turned out to be table land, with sand hills crossing our line, bearing to a high range east of us 93 degrees 30 minutes. About eight miles in the same direction there is the appearance of a long salt lake. At nine miles and a half, on a sand hill, I obtained the following bearings: Mount North-west, 60 degrees 30 minutes; Mount Deception, 95 degrees. At eleven miles and a half passed a large reedy swamp on our left, dry. At seventeen miles sand hills ceased. At eighteen miles and a half the sand hills again commenced, and we changed our course to north for three miles. Camped for the night at a creek of permanent water, very good. The last four miles of to-day's journey have been over very stony rises with salt bush and a little grass.