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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.

Tuesday, 13th December, Louden Springs.

Tuesday, 13th December, Louden Springs. Started at 7.15 a.m. to find the lake on an east course. The horses being a long distance off, it was late before they came up. At nine miles crossed the gum creek running north, spread out in a broad valley into numerous courses rich in food for cattle. At twelve miles sand hills commenced, and continued to the shores of the lake, with broad stony plains between, and plenty of grass. At twenty miles crossed the Douglas, running north through sand hills in a broad valley divided into numerous courses, with dwarf gum-trees, mallee, tea-tree, and numerous other bushes; the bed sandy, and no water. At thirty-five miles struck the lake where the Douglas joins it. The country travelled over to-day has been stony plain (undulating), and low sand hills, with abundance of feed, but no water. There is some water at the mouth of the Douglas, but it is salter than the sea. The water in the lake seems to be a long distance off, but the mirage is so very strong that I can form no opinion of it to-night. This seems also a bay I have got into. There is a point of land to the south bearing 25 degrees east of south, and the other bearing 25 degrees east of north. Searched about for water, but could find none. Camped in the creek without any. The country at this part is very low, and nearly on a level with the lake. The only sand hill I shall be able to get a view from is not above thirty feet high. At sundown I got on the top of the sand hill, but could see nothing distinctly; must wait until morning. This creek seems to be very little frequented by natives; can see very few tracks and no worleys.

Wednesday, 14th December, Lake Torrens.

Wednesday, 14th December, Lake Torrens. At the first dawn of day I got to the top of the hill, and remained there some time after sunrise. To the south-east there is the appearance of a point of land, which I suppose to be the island which I saw when I first struck the lake. There is the appearance of water between. A little more to the eastward I can see nothing but horizon. To the east there is again the appearance of very low distant land--a mere dark line when seen through a powerful telescope. To the north of that there is nothing visible but the horizon, with a blue and white streak between. To the north-north-east beyond the point, a little low land is to be seen running out from the point, with water in the far distance. Rode down to the beach to see what that was composed of; found it to be sand, mud and gravel; firm ground next the shore. Tried a little distance with the horses, but found it too soft to proceed with them. I then dismounted, and tried it on foot, but could only get about two miles; it became so soft, that I was sinking to the ankles, and the clay was so very tenacious that it completely tired me before I got back to the horses. The quantity of salt was not so great here as at the first place I examined. What I thought was a point of land bearing north-north-east turns out to be an island, which I can see from here. The point of the bay is north from where I took the bearings. Between the island and the point I can see nothing but horizon; too low to see any water. Traced the creek up for seven miles in search of water or springs, but could see none, nor any indications. Had breakfast, and started on a course of 20 degrees north of west in search of water or springs. Crossed the Davenport and ascended a low range, but still could not see any indications of water; the country similar to that passed over yesterday. Changed my bearing towards the camp, and arrived there a little before sundown. The horses were very thirsty, and drank an awful quantity of water, but being hot it will do them no harm. It is remarkable that to east of the hot springs I can find no others. This is the third time I have tried it, and been unsuccessful. I am almost afraid that the next time I try the lake I shall not find the north boundary of it. Where can all this water drain to? It is a mystery.

Friday, 16th December, Louden Springs.

Friday, 16th December, Louden Springs. Finished Number 4 run. To-day we have discovered a large fresh-water hole in a creek joining the George and coming from the south-west. The water seems to be permanent; it is half a mile long and seems to be deep. On the banks a number of natives have been encamped; round about their fires were large quantities of the shells of the fresh-water mussel, the fish from which they had been eating: I should think this a very good proof of the water being permanent. After finishing the survey I followed the creek up for a number of miles in search of more water, but could find none. It spread into a number of courses over a large plain, on which there was splendid feed.