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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, 8th November, Emerald Springs.

Tuesday, 8th November, Emerald Springs. Not being satisfied about one of the lagoons I saw yesterday, I have sent Kekwick and Muller to see if there are any springs, while I and the others proceed to the Beresford Springs; they are to overtake me. Arrived at the springs at 3 p.m. We could find no fresh water on our way, but plenty of salt and brackish in the creek which we first struck at six miles from the Emerald Springs. Sundown: the two men have not come up; they must have found something to detain them; they had only to do about eight miles more than I had. I expect they will arrive during the night.

Wednesday, 9th November, Beresford Springs.

Wednesday, 9th November, Beresford Springs. No signs of the two men; they must have stopped at some water during the night. It is very tiresome to be delayed in this way: what can they be about? At 12 noon they arrived; they had passed my tracks and gone on to Mount Hugh instead of coming on here. I will give their horses an hour's rest and go on to the Strangway Springs. The Paisley Ponds are dry, but there is salt and brackish water three miles lower down the creek. Started at 2 p.m., and at 5 p.m. arrived at the springs, which are about ten miles from the Beresford. They are upon a high hill about one hundred feet above the level of the plains; there are a great number of them, and abundance of water, but very much impregnated with salt and soda. My eyes are very bad.

Thursday, 10th November, Strangway Springs.

Thursday, 10th November, Strangway Springs. Suffering very much from bad eyes and the effects of the water of these springs; cannot help it, but must go and examine the country to north-west and west. Sent Muller to the east in search of springs, with instructions to strike my former tracks and examine all the country between. Started at 7 a.m. with one man, on a course of 315 degrees, and at one mile crossed a salt creek with water; at three miles the sand hills commenced, crossing our course at right angles. At 2 p.m. struck a large lagoon (salt) about two miles broad and five miles long, running north-east and south-west, narrowing at the ends; distance, fourteen miles; tried to cross it but found it too boggy; rounded it on the south-west point, where we discovered a spring; no surface water, but soft, and the same all round for about two acres square, covered with grass reeds of a very dark colour and very thick, showing the presence of water underneath. Proceeded round the lagoon to a high hill, which seemed to have reeds upon the top of it; after a good deal of bogging and crossing the bends of the lagoon, we arrived at the hill, and found it to be very remarkable. Its colour is dark-green from the reeds and rushes and water-grass which cover it. It is upwards of one hundred feet high, the lower part red sand; but a little higher up is a course of limestone. On the top is a black soil, sand and clay, through and over which the water trickles, and then filters through the sand into the lagoon. Where the water is, on the top, it is upwards of one hundred feet long. Immense numbers of tracks of emus and wild dogs, also some native tracks, all fresh. On the north-west side there is one solitary gum-tree, and about half a mile in the same direction is another bed of reeds, and a spring with water in it. All the banks round the lagoon are of a spongy nature. I am very glad I have found this; it will be another day's stage with water nearer to the Spring of Hope. We can now make that in one day, if we can get an early start. By the discovery of springs on this trip, the road can now be travelled to the furthest water that I saw on my last trip from Adelaide, and not be a night without water for the horses. The country to the south and south-east of the last springs (which I have named the William Springs, after the youngest son of John Chambers, Esquire), is sand hills and valleys, rich in grass and other food for cattle. Thence I proceeded to hill bearing 10 degrees south of north, distant three miles, from the top of which I could see no rising ground to the westward, nothing but sand hills. Changed my course to south, to a white place under some stony hills; at ten miles reached it, and found it to be a salt creek, but no springs. The last ten miles were through hills not so high as those I crossed on my way out, but more broken, with plenty of feed. It is my intention to push for the Strangway Springs tonight, so as to get an early start in the morning. Arrived at 10 p.m., found that one of the horses had not been seen all day; something always does go wrong when I am away; I shall have to make a search for him in the morning. My eyes very bad from the effects of the glare of the sun on the sand hills, and the heat reflected from them, and that everlasting torment, the flies.

Friday, 11th November, Strangway Springs.

Friday, 11th November, Strangway Springs. My eyes so bad I cannot see; unable to go myself in search of the missing horse; despatched two of the men at daybreak to circuit the spring, and cut her tracks if she has left them. They have returned, but can see no tracks leaving the spring; she must be concealed among the reeds; sent three men to examine them. They found her at 1 p.m. Started at 2 p.m., and arrived at William Springs at sundown. Distance, fourteen miles. By keeping a little more to the east, the sand hills can nearly be avoided, and a good road over stony country, with good feed, can be had to this spring.

Saturday, 12th November, William Springs.

Saturday, 12th November, William Springs. Very unwell, unable to move to-day; I am almost blind and suffering greatly from the effects of the water at Strangway Springs. As I wished to examine round this spring, I remained here to-day; and, as I could not go myself, sent two of the men in different directions. At sundown they returned, and reported that there are no springs for ten miles distant from east-south-east to north. To the east about three miles there is another lagoon resembling this one, but not so large, and no springs; plenty of grass about a mile from the lagoon. Saw two natives at a distance, but could not get near them.