John McDouall Stuart - Sixth Expedition


Monday, 14th April, North End of Newcastle Water.

Monday, 14th April, North End of Newcastle Water. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started with Thring and Frew at 7.15 a.m., on a northerly course, in search of water; and at six miles, on the edge of the open plains, found some rainwater, sufficient for a few days. Proceeded across the plain on the same course; but at three miles saw something like a watercourse, and changed my course to 20 degrees, to see what it was. At two miles I struck a dry course running south-west. Followed it up towards the small rise without finding any water. Three miles further on the same course I ascended a low stony rise, from which I could see nothing but a thick forest of tall mulga and gums. I changed to a northerly course, and, at 4.20 p.m., camped in a forest without water. Wind, south-east.

Tuesday, 15th April, Sturt Plains, Forest.

Tuesday, 15th April, Sturt Plains, Forest. Proceeded on a course of 250 degrees, and at five miles again struck the open plains, and changed to 180 degrees. At one mile I found a fine water hole three feet deep and about forty feet in diameter, the edge of which was surrounded with conglomerate ironstone rock; watered the horses, and proceeded on a southerly course, through grassy plains with stunted gum-trees, to the first water I found yesterday, and camped. The plains and forest are of the same description as I have already given, only that the plains have not quite so many holes in them, and the forest in many places is covered with ironstone gravel. I shall try a course to the north of west to-morrow, to see if I can find water. Wind variable.

Wednesday, 16th April, Frew's Water Hole, Sturt Plains.

Wednesday, 16th April, Frew's Water Hole, Sturt Plains. Started at 7.45 a.m., on a course of 302 degrees, keeping along the edge of the open plain. I have made many twistings and turnings, but my general course is north-west for ten miles. Seeing a small rise on the open plain, a little to the north of west, I changed to 275 degrees; and at two miles came on some fine ponds of water about one mile and a half long, twenty feet broad, and three feet and a half deep. I examined them on both sides, to see if they would do for a permanent camp for the party as it is a point nearer; and I think I may depend on the water lasting two months without any more rain. I shall camp here to-night, and try another day to-morrow to the westward, and endeavour to make the Victoria, for I can see but little chance of making the Adelaide. By my journal of the 14th, everything is quite dry and parched up; no rain seems to have fallen there for a long time. The last two days have been excessively hot. The further to the west the hotter I find it. The natives seem to be numerous, for their smoke in the scrub is to be seen in every direction. I name these ponds after John Howell, Esquire, of Adelaide.

Thursday, 17th April, Howell Ponds.

Thursday, 17th April, Howell Ponds. Started at 7 a.m., on a bearing 10 degrees north of west. At twelve miles crossed the open plains, and entered a thick forest of gums and other trees and shrubs. Seeing that there is no chance of finding water to-day, returned to the ponds. The open plains seem to tend more to the north-west; I shall examine them when I bring the party up to the ponds. Distance, fifteen miles. Wind, south-east.

Friday, 18th April, Howell Ponds.

Friday, 18th April, Howell Ponds. Started for the camp on the Newcastle Water. On my arrival, I found the party all right, but very anxious about me, as I had been absent longer than I intended. No natives had been near them during my absence at this time; smoke was seen all around. Weather hot during the day, but cold at night and in the morning. Wind, south-east.