Wednesday, 13th August, Roper River, Reedy Swamp.
- Written by John McDouall Stuart
- Category: John McDouall Stuart - Sixth Expedition
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Wednesday, 13th August, Roper River, Reedy Swamp. One of the horses missing again this morning; he is one that generally goes off and hides himself if he can find a place to do so. Searched all round, but could find nothing of him or his tracks. Thinking that he might be hidden amongst the thick bushes over the river, sent Frew to look through them on foot, and Mr. Kekwick to an open place up the river to see if he had got into it. Mr. Kekwick returned in a short time and reported that he saw him lying drowned in the middle of it. I am sorry for this: he was a good horse, in fair condition, was with me last year, and has always done his work well, although he has caused a deal of trouble and loss of time by so frequently concealing himself. I shall feel his loss very much, as so many of the other horses are so poor that they are able to carry but little of a load, and I am obliged to let four go without carrying anything; indeed it is as much as they can do to walk the day's journey, although the journeys are short. I shall be compelled to make them still shorter to try and get them round again. As we were saddling, one native man and two women made their appearance and came close to the camp. Mr. Kekwick and I went up to them; the man was middle-aged, stout and tall, the women were also tall, one especially. Their features were not so coarse as those we had seen before--a very great difference between this fellow and those I saw on the source of the Adelaide River. The man made signs that he would like to get a fishhook by bending his forefinger and placing it in his mouth, imitating the method of catching fish. I gave him one with which he was much pleased: I also gave a cotton handkerchief to each of the women; one of them no sooner got it than she held out the other hand and called out "more, more, more;" with that request I did not feel inclined to comply. They remained until we started. Proceeding about three quarters of a mile down the river to where I had crossed it before, I got all the horses over without difficulty. There is now no difference in the strength, depth, nor velocity of the stream since we were here; it is exactly in the same state as when we previously crossed it. After crossing it to the other side, I had to cross another deep although dry creek coming from the east; proceeded on a south-east course to avoid the deep boggy creek that comes into the river, but at two miles I was stopped by an immense number of springs, very boggy, and emitting a large quantity of water; they seem to come from the east, as far as I could see, in a wooded valley between two hills. I had to round them until I got upon the south-east course again. At seven miles came upon a large creek or chain of ponds, having long broad deep reaches of water; followed this, running nearly my course for seven miles in a straight line. Camped. My horses cannot do more. The country that I have travelled over to-day is of the very finest description, rich black alluvial soil, completely matted with grass, the water most excellent and abundant. The timber, gum and melaleuca, a few of the trees resembling the shea-oak also; a few of the fan palms growing among the springs, very tall, upwards of forty feet; the cabbage palm, and a number of other bushes. The general course to-day has been about east-south-east. Wind variable.