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John McDouall Stuart - First Expedition

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

Wednesday, 14th July, Same Place.

Wednesday, 14th July, Same Place. During the night it became very cloudy, and I was afraid we were going to have more rain, but it has ended in a light shower, and cleared off this morning. I shall follow down the creek and see what it leads to. The grey mare still seems very bad, and I must make short journeys until she gets a little better. Started at 8.30 a.m., bearing 180 degrees for eight miles to Large Mulga Creek, thence 192 degrees for four miles. The country to-day is good on both sides of the creek, a good salt-bush country with plenty of grass, but rather stony. The gum trees are becoming a little larger on the creek, which at present is formed into a great many channels. The timber consists of mulga and dwarf gum, with saplings. There is plenty of water in the creek at present, from the late rain, but I see nothing to indicate its becoming permanent. Distance to-day, twelve miles.

Thursday, 15th July, Mulga and Gum Creek.

Thursday, 15th July, Mulga and Gum Creek. Left the camp at 9 a.m. on a bearing of 190 degrees for two miles, thence 230 degrees for one mile and a half, thence 250 degrees for four miles and a half, thence 286 degrees for two miles, thence 290 degrees for one mile, thence 270 degrees for five miles, thence 320 degrees for one mile, to camp at some mallee. The country on both sides of the creek is good, but subject to be flooded; the width of the plain is about fifteen miles, bounded on the south side by bare stony rises, and on the north by scrubby rises. The creek spreads itself all over the plain, which seems to be very extensive. It has been excessively cold to-day: wind from the west. Distance to-day, seventeen miles.

Friday, 16th July, Large Plain, Mulga and Gum Creek.

Friday, 16th July, Large Plain, Mulga and Gum Creek. Left the camp at 9 a.m., on a bearing of 270 degrees for nine miles. The first six miles was a continuation of the creek and plain; it then turned to the north-west and the sand hills commenced. At nine miles we had a good view of the surrounding country, from the east to the north-west. To the west we could see the range that we crossed on the 11th instant trending away to the north-west as far as the eye could reach, apparently a sandy and scrubby country with small patches of open ground intervening. There also appeared to be a gum creek, about five miles west of this point. Seeing there was no hope for anything to the west for a long distance, I changed my course to the south on a bearing of 190 degrees to cross the stony rise, keeping on the sand hills for the benefit of the horses' feet. At five miles found that the sandy country swept round the stony rise, the country still having the appearance of scrub and sand hills all round. I altered my course to south-east to 132 degrees for fourteen miles; on this course we have ridden over a scrubby plain of a light sandy soil, most beautifully grassed but dry, the young feed not having sprung. We have not seen a drop of water on the surface; the ground evidently absorbs all that falls; the scrub is principally the mulga and hakea bushes and acacia, with a few other small bushes, but very little salt bush. Camped to-night without water. The grey mare appears to be getting round again; it seems to have been an affection of the chest, and has now fallen down into the left knee, which has become very much swollen, but it seems to have relieved her chest; she now feeds as well as ever. Distance to-day, twenty-eight miles.

Saturday, 17th July, Scrub and Sandy Plain without Water.

Saturday, 17th July, Scrub and Sandy Plain without Water. Started at 8.10 a.m. on the same course, 132 degrees. At two miles and a half, rain water; at seven miles crossed a stunted gum creek running towards the south-west; at twenty-five miles came upon a little rain water. Camped. The plain still continues with very low rises at intervals; the scrub is much thicker and the greater part of it dead, which makes it very difficult to travel through. The grass is not so plentiful, and it is more sandy. The creek that we crossed at seven miles was running; it had salt tea-tree on its banks, and seems likely to have some permanent water either above or below. I did not examine it, because, the surrounding country being so sandy and scrubby, it will be of little use. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles.

Sunday, 18th July, Dense Scrubby Plain.

Sunday, 18th July, Dense Scrubby Plain. Rain Water. Left at 9.15 a.m. on the same bearing, 132 degrees. We saw some native worleys, and the tracks of a number of natives having passed this place a day or two ago, going to the south-west. Distance to-day, twenty miles. Had to halt early in consequence of grey mare being done up and unable to proceed. The first part of the day's journey the scrub became more open and splendidly grassed, the latter part was fearfully thick, it is composed of mulga, dead and alive, and a few hakea and other bushes, with salt bush and plenty of grass of two or three different sorts. We have a view of rising ground a little to the north of our line, about from fifteen to twenty miles distant. To-morrow I shall alter my course to strike the highest point; it is a range, and seems to be wooded. I suppose it is the same range that we crossed on the 11th instant. It is very cloudy, and seems as if it will rain. Distance to-day, twenty miles.