John McDouall Stuart - Second Expedition


Thursday, 21st April.

Thursday, 21st April. Started at daybreak this morning. Same course. Cut Major Warburton's tracks at two miles, and changed to his course, 252 degrees. At one mile, saw Finniss Springs a mile and a half to the south of us; went down to them and camped. There is an immense quantity of water flowing from them. I shall raise a large cone of stones upon the hill, which is very prominent and can be seen from a long distance.

Friday, 22nd April, Finniss Springs.

Friday, 22nd April, Finniss Springs. Went to the top of Hermit Hill, whence I obtained a very extensive view of Lake Torrens from north-west to north-east. Mount Hermit is surrounded by low hills, and in the far distance there seems to be rising ground. To the south are broken hills, the termination of the Mount North-west range. I shall examine that part of the country to-morrow. Between this and the lake (Eyre) to the north the country is very rough--broken cliffs, with sand; the good country does not extend more than three miles. The springs are very numerous all round this mount, and seem to drain into the lake; they give out an immense quantity of water, and there are many streams of water running from them. The ground is covered round about the springs with a cake of soda and saltpetre. I intended to have moved on to Gregory Creek this afternoon, but took the precaution to send my stockman to see in what state the water was. He reports the water in the creek to be quite salt, and many of the small fish dead; he also found some very perfect fossil shells, the mussel and oyster; they have now become a solid limestone; they were found in a large circular piece of limestone.

Saturday, 23rd April, Finniss Springs.

Saturday, 23rd April, Finniss Springs. Started at 8 a.m. with Herrgott to examine the country south of this. Between this and the range the land is good in places. It is a little rotten and stony, but the range is a beautiful grass country to the very top. In the creeks the grass and other plants are growing luxuriantly, but we could find no water. I was unable to prosecute the search as far as I wished, in consequence of my horse having lost a shoe and becoming quite lame, which forced me to return to the camp, where we arrived at 9 p.m. The view from a high conical hill of white granite with black spots at the north-west point of the range, is very extensive, except to the south, which is limited. We saw smoke in one of the creeks to the east; but as I was anxious to examine the creek to the south-west, which we saw from the top of the conical hill, I did not go to where the smoke was rising, thinking that the blacks might only be hunting. I therefore crossed the hills to the creek over a good feeding country, timbered with box and gum-trees. We expected to find water in it, from the great number of birds of all descriptions that were flying about; we followed it down, but were unsuccessful, although the birds continued all the way. There must be water about the hills in some place. At sundown, my horse becoming very lame, I was forced reluctantly to return. The flow of the waters is northward into North Lake Torrens. On Monday I shall start again to the south-west, and leave the examination of the range to the south-east until my return.

Monday, 25th April, Finniss Springs.

Monday, 25th April, Finniss Springs. As it seemed likely to rain, in which case the country would be very soft, I started at 9.30 on a bearing of 242 degrees for Chambers Creek. After three miles of gravelly soil and scanty feed we came to the banks of the two creeks passed by Major Warburton, splendidly grassed, but the water very salt. They flow into Lake Torrens. After leaving these creeks we had four miles of sand hills, very rich with feed, thence over some stony ground to the creek, all good; my course brought me about three-quarters of a mile to the south of the creek, which I expected. Distance from the springs to this water hole, two miles; this is a very long water hole, with plenty of water in it, and the feed good. We saw some fresh tracks of natives to-day, but did not meet with any of them.