Saturday, 30th August, Sturt Plains.
- Written by John McDouall Stuart
- Category: John McDouall Stuart - Sixth Expedition
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Saturday, 30th August, Sturt Plains. At dawn of day started, being still some eight miles from Newcastle Water. The horses look very wretched this morning, especially the weak ones. About half-past eight arrived there, and found an abundant supply of water, though much reduced. No rain seems to have fallen since we left this, upwards of four months ago. A short time before we arrived a number of natives were observed following at a distance behind the rear of the party. They followed us on to our old camp, when I sent Mr. Kekwick up to them to keep them amused until I had the horses unpacked and taken down to water. By giving them a handkerchief he obtained a stone tomahawk from them. They are a fine race of men, tall, stout, and muscular, but not very handsome in features. They were very quiet. By making signs they were made to understand they were not to come nearer to our camp than about one hundred and fifty yards. They remained until noon staring at us and our horses. Some who could not see us very well got into the gum-trees, and had a long look at us. They were seventeen in number; four of them were boys, one of them much lighter than the others, nearly a light yellow. At noon they all went off, after remaining for four hours. Once more have I returned, if I may so call it, into old country again, after an absence of four months and ten days, exploring a new and splendid country from this to the Indian ocean without receiving a single drop of rain, or without any hostilities from the natives. I have returned from the coast to this in one month and three days. The horses have been one night without water, but got it early next morning, between eight and nine o'clock, and they would not have been without it if I could have seen to have guided the party after sundown. After the rays of the sun have left the earth, all is total darkness to me, even if there is a moon; I was therefore compelled to camp until daylight. Had my horses been in anything like a fair condition to have done a day's journey, and my health permitting, I could have accomplished the journey from the coast to this in three weeks. Before sundown we were again visited by our black friends; this time two old men accompanied them, whom Mr. Kekwick recognised as among those who visited the Depot at Howell Ponds during my absence. They all came up this time painted in red and white, and after remaining a short time went quietly to their camp. Wind, south-east.