Burke & Wills Web
The online digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020

August 1861

Bourne's Journal of Landsborough's expedition from Carpentaria, in search of Burke & Wills
Melbourne: H T Dwight.
(Ferguson 7303).

Friday, 23 August 1861.
Everything having been completed in the way of preparation by the party under the command of Mr W Landsborough, sent out by the Royal Society of Melbourne, Victoria, with the object of searching for the missing explorers, Burke and Wills, we started from Brisbane on the 23rd August, 1861, in the Bredalbane steamer, and anchored in Moreton Bay for the night.

Saturday, 24 August 1861.
Boarded the brig Firefly, Captain Kirby, and weighed anchor this morning. Started with a fair wind, with the Victoria, Colonial Steam Sloop of War, which was to accompany us to the mouth of the Albert River, where the Land-party were to commence, their labors. The persons composing the land party were Messrs. W Landsborough, commander; Campbell; G. Bourne, the writer of these pages; W Leeson, cook; two Native Police Troopers ; and two Australian Blacks. We had, also, on board the Firefly, for the use of the party, thirty horses of average condition and quality, with the stores, saddles, &c., requisite for the occasion.

Sunday, 25 August 1861.
Saw a few flying fish; wind still fair. Ship's cook very drunk and dirty. Fare anything but good; sailors complaining of want of food to the Captain. Cabin very dirty; a rich, indescribable, and purely nautical stench pervading the atmosphere of that marine elysium.

Monday, 26 August 1861.
Wind fair and strong from SE. Our party watching the horses in the hold night and day; watches of four hours, two persons on watch together. The nags seem to be doing pretty well, but the lucerne hay is very bad; part of it thrown overboard in consequence. Water for the horses, five gallons daily, a very insufficient allowance when confined to the heated hold of a ship and fed on dry hay.

Tuesday, 27 August 1861.
Wind still fair. Victoria in sight day and night, and an occasional exchange of signals.

Wednesday, 28 August 1861.
Wind still fair from SE. Two horses sick, the rest keeping their feet with difficulty, owing to the rolling of the vessel, which is a wretchedly slow sailer. The Victoria, under close reefed topsails, in order to enable us to keep company with her; the Firefly carrying studding-sails, &c., end pounding away slowly.

Thursday, 29 August 1861.
Wind still fair. We are, apparently, to have a pretty fast passage, though a very unpleasant one, Horses a good deal cut up with thirst, and very impatient when being watered, the horse on each side of the one that is drinking having to be held to prevent them fighting. Hay so bad as to be uneatable.

Friday, 30 August 1861.
Wind still fair; ship's position ascertained at noon. Victoria exchanged signals, and bore away to make the Barrier Reef. Weather cool and pleasant, much more so than we expected considering the high latitude. Mr Landsborough ordered the carrots and bran given to the horses to be mixed with salt water.

Saturday, 31 August 1861.
Wind still fair but increasing; reefed sails; ship rolling heavily. Horses standing with difficulty. Victoria rolling very much. Horses not used to the bran and carrots eat them badly. Heat of the hold and stench of the bilge-water very unpleasant, and only suited to sea-going nostrils.

www.burkeandwills.net.au Burke & Wills Web The digital research archive of expedition records
© 2020, Dave Phoenix