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January 1862

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

Wednesday, 1 January 1862.
New Year's day passed very quietly with us, our short allowance of rations not affording a feast of any sort. An extra glass of grog, which could hardly be spared, was served to the men. Took the black trooper, and passed the day shooting. Our dinner - ducks, water and a smoke afterwards. The weather appears to be getting a little cooler, and what Gregory says about the seasons appears to be correct, viz.; the wet season - December, January, and February; spring, or cool season  - March to July ; dry, or hot season - from August to November. There are no hot winds, and at no time does the thermometer rise higher than in Victoria or New South Wales.

Sunday, 5 January 1862.
There is an evident change in the weather during the last fortnight; it is decidedly cooler, and the mosquitoes are not so numerous. The prevailing cool wind is from the north. Grass very abundant. The natives do not come near us, being afraid of the big gun, and the lesson they got from Walker's party. Shot a wallaby, off which we dined, and a very excellent dish they make. Being out of shot and other things, we have to use slugs.

Tuesday, 14 January 1862.
Everything very dull and sleepy. I wish I were with one of the land parties. We have made a bowling-alley on the deck of the brig, which, with a few books and a little shooting, help to bear away the day. All hands wishing Landsborough's return, when it is fully anticipated we shall ail leave for Brisbane in the Victoria. On Saturday night last, Mr Rowe, the boatswain, arrived from the Victoria steamer, in the whaleboat, bringing the unwelcome news that Mr Midshipman Law had accidentally shot himself in the leg with a fowling piece, but it is to be hoped not mortally. Mr Frost, the gunner, had been sent on shore to relieve him, and, strange to say, while reaching a fowling-piece off a bed on which he was lying, also shot himself in the lower part of the groin, it is feared mortally. This is a melancholy end, after all the rough service he had seen, and when he was about to be married on his return. It is feared he will leave his bones away from his friends. Captain Norman having returned, Mr Rowe tells us that Mr Walker and party had not arrived at the appointed spot on the Flinders, and that Captain Norman is very uneasy on his account, fearing that he has been cut off by the blacks. This conclusion, however, I cannot think correct, believing it much more probable that Captain Norman did not go far enough up the river, as an appointment at an unknown spot must always be hazardous, as far as the meeting is concerned. We now begin to look out for Mr Landsborough's return, he having been gone two calendar months. I am anxious to change this monotonous existence for something more active, and to leave behind the mosquitoes.

Friday, 17 January 1862.
Heavy rain all night from the eastward, with thunder and lightning. The grass now very long and seeding. Saw a large body of smoke made by the natives, near the brig. Fired the howitzer, when it disappeared.              The aborigines never come near us now. The weather slightly improved, but still hot. Three of us still sleeping in the cabin of the brig, which, with the heat, smoke, mosquitoes, is hot enough. Amusing myself in the day studying navigation and the use of the sextant. Walker has been none four weeks to-day.

Sunday, 19 January 1862.
At noon this day, Mr Landsborough returned to the depot to our great joy; bringing back twenty-one out of the twenty-three horses he left with. The nags are in good condition, the two missing ones having been drowned on the journey. The party is in good health, though low in condition. His furthest point reached, was about 250 miles from the depot ; long. 138 degrees 20 minutes east, mat. 20 degrees 27 minutes. It appears that having reached the desert they were compelled to return for water, after making several attempts to proceed ; they were somewhat cut up at not being able to maize Central Mount Stuart. The natives they met were but few and those friendly. Mr Landsborough describes the country he saw, as good pastoral country. He talks of returning to Brisbane overland; I hope he will, but I think the matter doubtful, owing to the small quantity of rations on hand. Tea and sugar, there is none; meat, only 700 lbs.; flour, 800 lbs. The flour of course will do, and the meat might be supplemented with horse beef, but the total want of tea and sugar would be little less than a calamity.

Monday, 20 January 1862.
The late constant rains have made the round boggy; the sky is often cloudy; the wet season having apparently set in. Our short rations beginning to tell on .us all; we are by no means getting fatter.

Saturday, 25 January 1862.
Weather, drier, cooler, mosquitoes less troublesome

Monday, 27 January 1862.
Very hot and oppressive. Killed a venomous snake to-day. Everyone anxiously expecting Captain Norman's arrival.

Friday, 31 January 1862.
Mosquitoes appear to have freshened up again.

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