John McDouall Stuart - Second Expedition


Tuesday, 26th April, Chambers Creek.

Tuesday, 26th April, Chambers Creek. I intend to remain here to-day to fix this place and examine the country about it. Latitude, 29 degrees 39 minutes 9 seconds. I sent Campbell (my stockman) in one direction, and Muller (the botanist) in another; they report quantities of water, also a great deal of salt water, with plenty of salt for the use of stations, with abundance of feed. The stockman saw numerous fresh tracks, but did not see any natives. The fires were still burning. Muller saw an old man, a woman, and a child. They were very much frightened, and when he approached, they called out "Pompoy!" and moved their hands for him not to come any nearer. As they seemed quite unwilling to hold any conversation, he left them.

Wednesday, 27th April, Chambers Creek.

Wednesday, 27th April, Chambers Creek. Started at sunrise this morning, accompanied by my botanist. After travelling thirty miles in a fruitless search for water, we camped upon a large stony plain with plenty of vegetation. The horses were very much tired by reason of the heavy sand. We could see no sign of Lake Torrens. Latitude, 29 degrees 53 minutes 58 seconds.

Thursday, 28th April, Large Stony Plain.

Thursday, 28th April, Large Stony Plain. Saddled by break of day. Changed my course to see if the water is still at Yarra Wirta. In order to avoid the heavy sand hills, which will not do for the horses if there is no water, I steered for the creek, struck it a little to the north of where I crossed it on my former expedition, and followed it down. Passed my former encampment, and found no water there, but on following it down to where I considered it permanent, I found water still there. I shall give the horses the afternoon to recruit, and start early in the morning. Distance to-day, twenty-three miles.

Friday, 29th April, Chambers Creek.

Friday, 29th April, Chambers Creek. Started at sunrise for about a mile to that part of the north shore of the lake opposite to where the Yarra Wirta empties itself into it. The country close to the lake is very stony and scanty of feed; there is some water in it, but it is very salt; a few salt creeks run into it, but no great body of water. I ascended a hill for which I had been steering, and obtained an observation of the sun and bearings. Latitude, 30 degrees 8 minutes 11 seconds. There is no appearance of any lake between this point and Mount Deception; it appears to be a stony plain with some ridges of sand hills. This hill, which I have named Mount Polly, for distinction, is the easternmost of the flat-topped hills on the north side of the lake, and is a spur from the Stuart range. It is very stony, and there is grass nearly to the top; it is very level, and extends for six miles in a north-westerly direction. I saw that there was little prospect of my obtaining water to-night; and knowing that the natives had been seen within a few miles of the camp, I felt anxious about the safety of my party. I determined to proceed towards the camp on a north-westerly course. Arrived at the creek at 11.30 p.m. and found all right; the natives had paid them a visit, as I anticipated, but my people could get no information from them. They were six in number; one was very forward, wishing to examine everything. I had left orders that, if they came, they were not to be allowed to come near the camp, but were to be met a little distance from it. They remained for some time, and then stole off one by one without being perceived, and were out of sight in a moment. The one that remained to the last in his flight did not forget to carry along with him a piece of blanket that had been a saddle-cloth, and which happened to be lying outside the camp.