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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.

Friday, 2nd December, Lake Torrens.

Friday, 2nd December, Lake Torrens. Got up at the first peep of day and ascended the sand hill. I fear my conjecture of last night is too true. I can see a small dark line of low land all round the horizon. The line of blue water is very small. So ends Lake Torrens! Started on a course of 30 degrees west of north to where the Neale empties itself into the lake. At seven miles struck it; found plenty of water, but very salt, with pelicans and other water-birds upon it. Traversed the creek to the south-west in search of water for the horses. At five miles came upon a number of water-bushes growing on the banks of a large brackish water hole. Scraped a hole about two feet from the bad water, and got good water six inches from the surface for ourselves and horses. Gave them an hour's rest and started on a west course for the camp, where we arrived at 9.30 p.m. The country was similar to that on our outward route; feed more abundant. At sundown we crossed the broad channel of a creek, with moisture in the centre. Having neither time nor light to examine it to-night, I must do so to-morrow, as I think there must be springs to supply the moisture.

Saturday, 3rd December, Primrose Springs.

Saturday, 3rd December, Primrose Springs. Sent Kekwick to examine the creek we crossed last night. I cannot go myself, for my eyes are so very bad I can scarcely see anything. This is the first time I have had such a long continuance of this complaint. I am trying every remedy I can imagine, but each seems to have very little or no effect. At sundown Kekwick returned, and reported having found the springs which supply the creek, but they are salter than the sea, or the strongest brine that ever was made. He brought in a fine sample of crystal of salt, which he got from under the water, attached to the branch of a bush which had blown into it. The creek is the upper part of the first gum creek crossed yesterday, and flows into the Neale, which accounts for the water being so salt at the mouth of it. No fresh-water springs to be seen round about.

Sunday, 4th December, Primrose Springs.

Sunday, 4th December, Primrose Springs. Examining the Neale for fresh-water springs. The water holes are abundant, but all more or less brackish; plenty of rushes on the banks, where fresh water can be had by scratching a little below the surface. I have not the least doubt but there will be plenty of fresh water on the surface for a long time after the creek comes down and sweeps all the soda and salt into the lake. It is the rapid evaporation that causes it to be so brackish, and I should think the consumption by stock would make a great improvement in it; there would not be so much of it exposed to the sun, and the evaporation would be much less. After considering the matter of having seen the northern boundary of Lake Torrens, I am inclined to think I have been in error. What I have taken for the lake may have been a large lagoon, which receives the waters of the Neale before going into the large lake: I must examine it again. After my surveys are completed, I shall move my party down the creek to where we found the good water, and from there see what it really is. I cannot bring my mind to think it is the northern boundary of the lake.

Tuesday, 6th December, South Parry Springs.

Tuesday, 6th December, South Parry Springs. Shortly after daybreak started for Louden Springs, taking different courses, in search of more springs, but can find none. Examined the George Creek, where the small run is to be laid off; found some good water by scratching in the creek, where there are plenty of rushes. A little before sundown we arrived at the springs. I did not observe before that the higher springs on the top of the hill are warm, but not nearly so hot as the others; the lower ones are cold. Some other party has been here; we have seen their fresh tracks and the place where they have camped; they seem to have been wandering about a good deal before they found these springs.