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John McDouall Stuart - First Expedition

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

Monday, 19th July, Dense Scrubby Plain.

Monday, 19th July, Dense Scrubby Plain. Started at 9.15 a.m. on a bearing of 120 degrees to the highest point of the range. A slight shower fell early this morning; it still looks very cloudy. We could only accomplish ten miles to-day in consequence of the grey mare being unable to proceed farther; if I can get her on to permanent water I shall leave her; she only keeps me back, and endangers the other horses. I shall be very sorry to do so, for she is a great favourite. We are now camped at a place where there are five or six small watercourses; if we can find water I shall give her until to-morrow to rest. The country that we have come over to-day is most splendidly grassed, of a red light sandy soil, but good; the mulga bushes in some places grow thick, and a great many are very tall. Forster caught an opossum--the first that we have seen; we intend making a dinner from him to-day. This is the first game we have been able to secure, except two small ducks we had at the beginning of our journey. We have found water a little way down the valley, which I think will become a large creek further to the south-west. We are again in the country of the kangaroos. Distance to-day, ten miles.

Tuesday, 20th July, Grassy Valley.

Tuesday, 20th July, Grassy Valley. We had another shower this morning. I must try and make the hills to-day if I can. Started at 10.10 a.m. on the same bearing as yesterday, 120 degrees, and at four miles ascended the peak on the range. I see around me a scrubby country, with open patches, and here and there in the far distance what appear to be belts of mulga. Four miles beyond this hill we halted at some rain water. We have seen three or four kangaroos to-day; they were the red sort with white breasts. Distance travelled, eight miles.

Wednesday 21st July, Grass and Salt-Bush Plains.

Wednesday 21st July, Grass and Salt-Bush Plains. Left the camp at 9 a.m. on a bearing of 97 degrees. Camped at some rain water in a clay-pan. At twelve miles there is low rising ground running north-west and south-east, which divides the two plains; there are no creeks, but the dip of the country is to the south-west. This is as fine a salt-bush and grass country as I have seen. It is a pity there is no permanent water. Distance to-day, twenty miles.

Thursday, 22nd July, Open, Good Country.

Thursday, 22nd July, Open, Good Country. Started at 9 a.m. on the same course as yesterday, 97 degrees. At ten miles crossed a small watercourse running to the south-south-west; at sixteen miles came through the saddle of a low range running north-west and south-east composed of limestone; it forms one of the boundaries of a large plain, which seems well adapted for pastoral purposes; it is well grassed, with salt bush, although we could find no permanent water. I think I can see a gum creek to the east of us, but the mirage is so powerful that I am not quite certain. Distance to-day, twenty miles.

Friday, 23rd July, Large East Plain.

Friday, 23rd July, Large East Plain. Started at 9.10 a.m. on a bearing of 82 degrees, and at four miles ascended an isolated hill, but can see nothing of the gum creek. Changed our course to 122 degrees, and at four miles crossed a mulga creek running to the east. Camped on the south-east side of a flat-topped hill, which, although the highest I have yet seen, enabled me to see nothing but the range to the north-east, and a high conical hill about ten miles south-west, connected with the ranges. The country is without timber except a few mulga bushes at intervals. Distance to-day, twenty-one miles.