config

John McDouall Stuart - First Expedition

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

Sunday, 8th August, Mount Finke.

Sunday, 8th August, Mount Finke. At dawn of day I ascended the mountain, but was unable to see much more than I did last night, in consequence of there being a mist all round. No high rising ground is to be seen in any direction. A FEARFUL COUNTRY. Left the mount at 9.30 a.m. on a bearing of 270 degrees. At eighteen miles halted to give the horses some food, as they were obliged to be tied up all last night, there not being any feed for them, and the scrub very dense. The horse Blower seems to be very unwell; he has lain down twice this morning, and an hour's rest will do him good. After leaving the mount we have a thick mallee and mulga scrub to go through with spinifex. At ten miles changed our bearing to 190 degrees; at eight miles camped. The whole of our journey to day has been through a dreadful desert of sand hills and spinifex. In the last eight miles we have not seen a mouthful for the horses to eat and not a drop of water; it is even WORSE than Captain Sturt's desert, where there was a little salt bush; but here there is not a vestige. Distance to-day, twenty-five miles.

Monday, 9th August, Desert.

Monday, 9th August, Desert. Started at 8.30 on the same bearing, 190 degrees. At five miles there is a change in the country; the spinifex has suddenly ceased and low scrub taken its place; the sand ridges are spread and the valley wider. At seven miles discovered some rock water in the middle of a valley with plenty of salt bush and green grass, first rate for the horses, which have had nothing to eat for two nights. I shall give them the rest of the day to recover. They were beginning to be very much done up, and it was with difficulty we could get them to face the spinifex. Shot a pigeon and had him for supper. We have seen where a horse has been a long time ago. Distance to-day, seven miles.

Tuesday, 10th August, Rock Water.

Tuesday, 10th August, Rock Water. Started at 8.30 on a bearing of 180 degrees. Camped at eighteen miles without water, and a very little food for the horses, only a little salt bush. The appearance of a change from the dreary desert lasted only for about one mile from where we camped last night; it then became even worse than before--the sand hills higher, steeper and closer together, the spinifex thicker and higher; we got the horses through it with difficulty. It rained all last night and all day. There is some rising ground to the west. Distance to-day, eighteen miles.

Wednesday, 11th August, Dense Scrub.

Wednesday, 11th August, Dense Scrub. Left our camp at 8 on the same bearing, 180 degrees. At 9 obliged to halt for the remainder of the day, the horses being too tired to proceed further; the fearful sand hills are very trying for them. To-day's few miles have been through the same DREARY, DREADFUL, DISMAL DESERT of heavy sand hills and spinifex with mallee very dense, scarcely a mouthful for the horses to eat. When will it have an end? We again saw the rising ground a little to the north of west of us; I should have gone and examined it, but our small remaining quantity of provisions being nearly exhausted, I could not venture; my object now being to make Fowler's Bay for water for our horses, and thence to Streaky Bay, to endeavour to get some provisions there to carry us home. We have now travelled considerably upwards of a thousand miles, and in that journey my horses have had only four clear days to themselves; they have done most excellently well. No water.