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John McDouall Stuart - Third Expedition

JOURNAL OF MR. STUART'S THIRD EXPEDITION (IN THE VICINITY OF LAKE TORRENS). NOVEMBER, 1859, TO JANUARY, 1860.

John McDouall Stuart - Third Expedition - Introduction

During his recuperation from ill health, the result of his first expedition, John McDouall Stuart was visited by Benjamin Babbage. Stuart generously showed Babbage his journal which gave Babbage a good start toward exploring more of the Chambers Creek region.

So as it happened, some of the land included in Stuart's surveyed run was on land already discovered by Babbage. This necessitated a re-survey of Stuart's proposed Chambers Creek run and was the purpose of the third expedition.

On Mr Stuart's third expedition he was accompanied by William Darton Kekwick, and two others who turned out to be not very satisfactory. The party had 12 horses.

Friday, 4th November, 1859.

Friday, 4th November, 1859. Started from Chambers Creek for the Emerald Spring. At ten miles crossed nine fresh horse-tracks going eastward; I supposed them to be those of His Excellency the Governor-in-Chief. I have not as yet seen his outward track. Arrived at the spring before sundown.

Saturday, 5th November, Emerald Spring.

Saturday, 5th November, Emerald Spring. Started at 7.30 on a course of 340 degrees. At seven miles and a half changed to 38 degrees, for three miles to a high sand hill, from which I could see two salt lagoons, one to the south and the other to the north; examined them, but could find no springs. Next bearing, 18 degrees, to clear the lagoon, two miles and a half sandy, with salt bush and grass. Changed to our first bearing, 340 degrees, for six miles, and then to 350 degrees, for five miles, when we reached the top of a high hill, from which we could see the lake lying to the north of us about three miles distant. Changed to 315 degrees for three miles and a half to get a good view of the lake. This is a large bay; from north-east to north-west there is nothing visible but the dark, deep blue line of the horizon. To the north-north-east there is an island very much resembling Boston Island (Port Lincoln) in shape; to the east of it there is a point of land coming from the mainland. To the north-north-west are, apparently, two small islands. A short distance to the east of the horn of the bay there seems to be much white sand or salt for two or three miles from the beach towards the blue water (on this side of which there is a white line as if it were surf): this again appears at the shores of the island, and also at the horn of the bay. From the south shore to the island the distance is great; I should say about twenty-five miles, but it is very difficult to judge correctly. At three miles and a half camped at sundown, without water.

Sunday, 6th November, Lake Eyre.

Sunday, 6th November, Lake Eyre. Got up before daybreak to get the first glimpse of the lake, to see if there is any land on the horizon, and, with a powerful telescope, can see none. It has the same appearance as I described last night. I watched it for some time after sunrise, and it still continued the same. After breakfast went to examine the shore: course north, two miles and a half; found it to be caked with salt, with ironstone and lime gravel. When flooded, at about fifty yards from the hard beach, the water will be about three feet deep. I tried to ride to the water, but found it too soft, so I dismounted and tried it on foot. At about a quarter of a mile I came upon a number of small fish, all dried and caked in salt; they seem to have been left on the receding of the waters, or driven on shore by a heavy storm; they were scattered over a surface of twelve yards in breadth all along the shore; very few, especially of the larger ones, were perfect. I succeeded in obtaining three as nearly perfect as possible; one measured eight inches by three, one six inches by two and a half, and another five inches by two. They resemble the bream. I should think this a sufficient proof of the depth of the water. I then proceeded towards the water, but the ground became soft, and the clay was so very tenacious and my feet so heavy, that it was with difficulty I could move them, and so I was obliged to return. The salt is about three inches thick, and underneath it is clay. I would have tried it in some other places, but as my horses were without water (and as I intend to visit this place again), I think it more prudent to search for water for them, and, if I cannot find any, to return to the camp. Started on a south course to examine the country for springs. At six miles found we were running parallel to sand ridges, and no chance of water. Changed to 160 degrees, crossed a number of sand ridges, but no water, except a little rain water that we found in a hole. Proceeded to the camp, and arrived there about sundown.

Monday, 7th November, Emerald Springs.

Monday, 7th November, Emerald Springs. Finding that the weevil is at work with my dried beef, I must remain to-day and put it to rights. Prepared a package with the fish, etc., to be left for Mr. Barker when he comes here, to be sent to town. There are fish in this spring about three inches long. We have also found a cold-water spring among the warm ones.