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John McDouall Stuart - First Expedition

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

Friday, 9th July, Large Plain.

Friday, 9th July, Large Plain. Left our camp at 8.50 a.m. on the same bearing as yesterday, 272 degrees. At one mile and half came upon a creek of water, seemingly permanent. Judging from the immense quantity of dry grass that is strewn over the plain, this must be a beautiful country in spring. The dip of the country is to the north and west. Our horses are all very lame for want of shoes, and the boggy state of the soil to-day has tried them severely. If the country does not become less stony, I shall be compelled to leave some of them behind. We camped on a gum creek about three miles to the west of the range. My only hope now of cutting Cooper's Creek is on the other side of the range. The plain we crossed to-day resembles those of the Cooper, also the grasses; if it is not there, it must run to the north-west, and form the Glenelg of Captain Grey. Distance to-day, twenty-one miles.

Saturday, 10th July, Gum Creek, West End of Large Stony Plain.

Saturday, 10th July, Gum Creek, West End of Large Stony Plain. Rested the horses to-day. This evening we were surprised to hear a dog barking* at the grey mare; its colour was black and tan. (* It is commonly supposed that the native dingo or wild dog does not bark. This is an error. The dog in this instance being black and tan, was probably a hybrid.)

Sunday, 11th July, Same Place.

Sunday, 11th July, Same Place. This morning the sun rose at 62 degrees. Bearing to-day, 272 degrees, so as to round the point of range, which seems to have a little mallee in the gullies on this side, and some trees on the west side. Started at 8.30 a.m., and at four miles ascended the highest point of the range. The view to the north-east is over an immense stony plain with broken hills in the distance. To the north is also the plain, with table-hills in the far distance. To the north-west is the termination of the range running north-east and south-west, distant about ten miles; about half-way between is a gum creek running to north-east. To the west is the same range, and a number of conical hills between. Changed our bearing to 220 degrees in order to break through the range. This range is very stony, composed of a hard milky-white flint stone, and white and yellow chalky substance, with a gradual descent on the other side to the south, which is the finest salt-bush country that I have seen, with a great quantity of grass upon it. The grey mare has been very bad; her belly was very much swollen, but this morning she seemed better. Towards afternoon, however, she fagged very much, which caused me to stop so soon. I am almost afraid that I shall lose her. I shall see how she is in the morning, and, if she is no better, I will endeavour to get her on to some permanent water or creek running to the south. I think we have now made the dip of the country to the south, but the mirage is so powerful that little bushes appear like great gum-trees, which makes it very difficult to judge what is before us; it is almost as bad as travelling in the dark. I never saw it so bright nor so continuous as it is now; one would think that the whole country was under water. Camped without water. No timber as yet on this side of the range, except a few bushes in the creek. A good deal of rain has fallen here lately, and the vegetation is looking fresh.

Monday, 12th July, Large Salt-Bush and Grass Plain.

Monday, 12th July, Large Salt-Bush and Grass Plain. The mare seems a little better this morning, and I shall be able to make a short journey. There was a very heavy white frost during the night, and it was bitterly cold. Not a hill to be seen either to the south-west or west--nothing but plain. Left our camp at 8.30 a.m. on a bearing of 220 degrees; at two miles and a half changed to 112 degrees for three miles to a small creek running south with plenty of feed and water. We found our horses very much done up this morning; they could scarcely travel over the stones, which caused me to alter my course to the eastward, where I found the travelling generally better. All the horses are now so lame that I shall require to rest them before I can proceed. They will not walk above two miles an hour among the stones. The stony plain seems to continue a long way to the south-west, but the country being undulating and the mirage so strong, I cannot say precisely. I intend to see where this creek will lead me to, for I cannot face the stones again. Our distance to-day, five miles and a half.

Tuesday, 13th July, Mulga Creek.

Tuesday, 13th July, Mulga Creek. Went to the highest point on the stony range east of us, but could only see a very short distance. There are a number of creeks on the eastern side running into this one. The range is low and very stony, composed of flints and pebbles of all colours. No timber.