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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.

Saturday, 17th December, Louden Springs.

Saturday, 17th December, Louden Springs. Started for the springs under Mount Margaret to finish the western boundary of Number 1 run. Arrived towards sundown. Found the creek occupied by natives, who, as soon as they caught sight of us, bolted to the hill and got upon the top of a high cliff, and there remained for some time, having a good view of us. I did everything in my power to induce them to come down to us, but they would not, and beckoned us to be off back the road we came. At night they had fires round us, but at some distance off.

Sunday, 18th December, Mount Margaret.

Sunday, 18th December, Mount Margaret. About 9 a.m. the natives made their appearance on the hill, and made signs for us to be off; they were eight in number. I found that we had camped close to a large quantity of acacia seed that they had been preparing when we arrived, but had no time to carry it away before we were on them. One old fellow was very talkative. I went towards them to try and make friends with them, but they all took to the hills. By signs I induced the old fellow to stop, and in a short time got him to come a little nearer. When I came to the steep bank of the creek he made signs for me to come no further. I showed him I had no arms with me, and wished him to come up. I could understand him so far that he wished us to go away, that they might get their seed. I thought it as well not to aggravate them, but to show them that we came as friends; and as I had completed all I had to do here, I moved the camp towards the Freeling Springs, at which they seemed very glad, and made signs for us to come back at sundown. They seemed to be a larger race than those down below; the men are tall and muscular, the females are low in stature and thin. I examined the Mount Margaret range in going along; there are a number of gum creeks coming from the north side which flow into the Neale. We searched them up and down, but could find no water. The number of channels that join them in the range is so great that it would take weeks to examine them minutely for water. We camped in one of them without water, although the country promises well for it.

Monday, 19th December, Gum Creek.

Monday, 19th December, Gum Creek. Started on a north-west course to examine the country between this and the Mount Younghusband range. We could see no springs until we reached the Blyth, in which there is water, but a little brackish; it will do well for cattle. Rode through the middle of the range, and came upon some horse-tracks, not very old; saw where the party had camped, and a cairn of stones they had erected on the top of one of the hills. Followed their tracks some distance down the gully; they seemed to be going to the Burrow Springs; they appear, however, to have gone back again. Left the tracks, and proceeded to the Freeling Springs. Arrived there in the afternoon. No one has been here since I was, as far as I can see. The country we have passed over yesterday and to-day has been really splendid for feed. The springs continue the same, running in a strong stream and of the finest quality.

Tuesday, 20th December, Freeling Springs.

Tuesday, 20th December, Freeling Springs. Sent Kekwick and one of the men to examine the goldfield, and to select a place for sinking to-morrow morning. My eyes were so bad that I was unable to go. They returned in the afternoon, bringing with them samples from the quartz reefs, in which there was the appearance of gold. Kekwick said he had not seen such good quartz since he left the diggings in Victoria. There was every indication of gold, and I determined to give the place a good trial before leaving it.

Wednesday, 21st December, Freeling Springs.

Wednesday, 21st December, Freeling Springs. Commenced digging, but found the rocks too near. Surface indications were very slight here, but I found another place which seemed to promise better, so began sinking there, and at four feet came upon some large boulders, round which was very good-looking stuff for washing; took some of it to camp and washed it. No gold, but good indications; a quantity of black sand and emery, also other good signs. I shall continue the hole, and see what is in the bottom. Thunderstorm this afternoon; south-west hot wind.