John McDouall Stuart - Second Expedition


Saturday, 16th April, Same Place.

Saturday, 16th April, Same Place. Muller and the horses have not yet come. I must go to the top of Decoy Hill to take some bearings. At 9.30 returned to the camp, and found Muller had just returned, but no horses; he had followed upon their tracks until they crossed a stony hill, where he lost them, and, on purpose to find them again, he tied the mare to a bush; she broke loose, and would not allow him to catch her until she got to the water. It was then sundown; he remained there during the greater part of the night to see if the others would come in: they did not, and he therefore came up to inform me of what had occurred. He was without fire, blankets, or anything to eat. I did not pity him; he ought to have been more careful. I had several times warned him not to leave the mare insecurely tied, or she would be off. I gave him a fresh horse, and sent him and Campbell off to follow them up to wherever they go, and not to come back without them. It is most dreadfully annoying to be kept back in this manner, all through the carelessness of one man: he must have been quite close to them when the mare got away. They were short hobbled, and I had looked at them at half-past two in the morning, to see if they were all right, and found them feeding quietly, so that they could not have gone far. Sundown: no appearance of the horses. I feel much better to-day.

Sunday, 17th April, Same Place.

Sunday, 17th April, Same Place. Still neither horses nor men. At 1.30 they arrived; my men had gone over to the range, and had searched every creek, but without success. When found, the runaway animals were standing on a rise looking very miserable and at a loss what to do; they had skirted the hill as far down as Mount Delusion. The men took them to the last water, remained there through the night, and left for this place this morning. I will give them an hour's rest, and go to the springs to-night. Arrived at the springs at sundown; they are about nine miles from Decoy Hill.

Monday, 18th April, Same Place.

Monday, 18th April, Same Place. Resting horses. I went to the top of Mount Attraction, accompanied by Herrgott, to see what appearance the country had to the north of west. I observed a high red table-topped hill bearing 276 degrees from this point, for which I started in search of water. I had a good view of the country all round; it seems very low to the westward with low ranges and valleys between; plenty of salt bush and grass. There is copper with the ironstone on the top of Mount Attraction; native copper is adhering to the sides of the large pieces of ironstone. No water. Changed our course to north one mile and a half, thence to north-east five miles, thence to the springs, but could neither find water nor Major Warburton's tracks. To-day's journey forty-five miles. Arrived at the springs after dark.

Tuesday, 19th April, Springs.

Tuesday, 19th April, Springs. To the south of our tracks yesterday there was the appearance of a gum creek, and I think it advisable to send Herrgott to-day to examine it for water. It would be a great advantage for stock going to the new country. Seen from a little distance these springs, at which we are camped, resemble a salt lagoon covered with salt, which however is not the case; it is the white quartz which gives them that appearance. There are seven small hillocks from which flow the springs; their height above the plain is about eight feet, and they are surrounded with a cake of saltpetre, but the water is very good indeed, and there is an unlimited supply. Herrgott has taken a sketch of them. He has returned from examining the gum creek, but can find no water. I must push on to-morrow for Finniss Springs, and trust to find water on the way.

Wednesday, 20th April, Same Place.

Wednesday, 20th April, Same Place. Started at 7.30 on a bearing of 275 degrees over a stony, undulating country with plenty of grass and salt bush, but no water. At twenty miles we saw a smoke raised by the blacks to the south of our line, under the range. Camped at 5.15 under a low range about thirty feet high and very perpendicular, running nearly north-east and south-west. Distance to-day, thirty-three miles.