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March 1862

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

Saturday, 1 March 1862 - Camp 17.
Steered ESE. eighteen miles. Country good, the river still maintaining its size. Jackey and I remained behind shooting hawks and cockatoo parrots. While overtaking the party, we came upon about fifty natives, the first seen since leaving the Albert. They shouted to us and appeared to wish us to stop, but as our ammunition was exhausted, I preferred keeping them at a respectful distance. We soon came on a few more following the party's tracks, but upon seeing us they disappeared, and although we camped at no great distance from them, we saw nothing of them during the night. Country here very good.

Sunday, 2 March 1862 - Camp 18.
We usually remain in camp on Sunday, and it has been raining very much during the night and is still raining, notwithstanding which, Mr Landsborough thinks it more prudent to get a little further away from the natives seen by me yesterday. Moving the camp to-day during heavy rain, the most wretched affair we have had since starting. Moved a few mites up the river and camped, the ground very boggy and distressing to the horses. Camped close to the river, and found difficulty in getting a spot not covered with water.

Monday, 3 March 1862.
It is still raining heavily, and the natives can overtake us if they choose. Mr Landsborough having consulted me as to whether we should start or remain, I decidedly objected to moving camp on such a day upon any account; so we remained, and as the natives did not appear, it may be presumed they were running away from us.

Tuesday, 4 March 1862 - Camp 19.
Started this morning, the ground horribly soft. Country very good. Made fourteen miles, and still camped on east bank of Flinders which is slightly flooded; the country here is undulating and well-grassed.

Wednesday, 5 March 1862 - Camp 20.
Steered E by N. and E by S. up Flinders. Made about eight miles, where we were stopped by a flooded creek. The country here is very good open plains.

Thursday, 6 March 1862 - Camp 21.
During the night, this creek fell so much that it was easily fordable, but was so soft and boggy that the horses had great difficulty in getting over, one, in particular, a grey horse, making a point of lying down and refusing to attempt to get out until persuaded by the whip. We carried everything over by 10.15, made about eight miles, and came to a deeper and wider creek. Swam the horses and crossed the packs over on the branch of a tree by means of a rope, and camped the other side. Great hunt to-day for the only fork we had left which was at last found.

Friday, 7 March 1862 - Camp 22.
Started at 8.30, the horses not being hobbled, on account of the banks of the creek being boggy, delay us. Beautiful cool night, and, for a wonder, very few mosquitoes; let no one who comes out here forget his curtains or he will pay for it with his blood. Steered E. up Flinders which is now twice the size, from which I infer we must have been travelling on a branch of it The country is getting gradually higher and better, but the ‘roley poley' is very prevalent, though not so thick as it was lower down the river. On the coast it disappears, and there is no burr that I saw. Trees, of the same family as the boree, myall &c., and Queensland salt-bush plentiful. Melon, and other vines, abundant, and of which the horses are very fond. Latitude, 20 degrees 23 minutes, as near as may be. Made eighteen miles. Game very scarce. No natives seen yet. We cannot get a herb to make tea of, and the cold water is anything but agreeable.

Saturday, 8 March 1862 - Camp 23.
Started at 8.30 am. The country very good and gradually becoming more undulating and elevated. The river winding along an immense valley for miles, forming a very pretty view. This Mr Landsborough named Hervey Downs. Mr Landsborough having remained behind to take the sun with Jemmy, we were proceeding along the right or easterly bank of the Flinders when we suddenly, and to our great delight, saw a recent track of a beast. I immediately stopped the party, and with Fisherman ran the tracks for some distance, but found it was not in the neighbourhood. We remained until Mr Landsborough and Jemmy came up, and found they had also seen the track, and followed it for some distance. We now camped, determined, if possible, to find and kill this beast.

Sunday, 9 March 1862.
Remained in camp.

Monday, 10 March 1862 - Camp 24.
At sunrise I, with two black boys, started on the tracks, full of hope and visions of beefsteaks, soup, &c. The boys, always sanguine, have decided how and where he is to be disposed of, and are delighted at the prospect of getting an unlimited feast of fresh meat. Soon after leaving  camp, the tracks led us across the river which was flooded at the time it crossed. We followed the tracks without stopping until  4 p.m., when we turned off to find water and catch something to eat, as we had no rations with us. There is little hope of overtaking this bullock or cow, as he is evidently making straight for  the settled districts, and only laid down once during a distance of thirty miles, besides his having several days start of us. Where he came from is a mystery, unless he is returning from the most northerly occupied country on the east coast to some part evidently well known to himself. We are very much disappointed at not getting him. We succeed in getting an iguana and a few mussels, and camp on the bank of a small waterhole. The plains are covered with pigeons, but we cannot shoot them, having no shot. I succeed in killing a hawk with a bullet, which we are glad to share. Far as the eye can reach these Downs extend, seldom relieved by timber, and. covered with the eternal roley poley.

Tuesday, 11 March 1862.
Started at sunrise and returned to camp at noon, crossing the river above camp at a shallow rapid ; the river running over a bed of slate has evidently been recently partially flooded. The banks are very high and there are fine deep reaches of water with very large teatrees growing at their edges.

Wednesday, 12 March 1862 - Camp 24.
Left No 24 Camp at 8 am., crossed river one mile above camp, and steered E. parallel with the river for about eight miles, where it turned north-west, and we got a fine view of it in the distance running down a rich valley. At noon, came on a creek running east and west into the Flinders; followed it for eight miles, and camped. Country on this creek beautiful, but, unfortunately, the roley poley is still very thick.

Thursday, 13 March 1862 - 25.
Left, Camp 24 at 7.30; steered up this creek E. five miles, when we again saw the tracks of the beast I went after on Monday; crossed the creek and ran the tracks to the river where we left them, as they were leading us north and north-east. The river here is nearly east and west, running westerly. Shortly after making the river, we passed a black's camp, their implements, &c., being stuck up in the trees, they being out hunting. Soon after, we saw them in the distance, but they were afraid to come near. We sighted a mountain at 3 pm., bearing east by south. Owing to having seen these natives, we have had an unusually long day, and are very hungry and tired. Country beautiful, but roley poley stilt prevalent though not so thick. Saw a few boree trees to-day, and thousands of pigeons. We amuse ourselves watching them rise from the nests in the grass and getting their eggs; if the eye is taken off the spot they rise from, it is almost impossible to find their nest. The bird is Sturt's pigeon, of a fawn color, with a white ring round the neck, and is very good eating. We should do pretty well if what rations we have were only of decent quality, but the jerked beef is filthy, and no degree of hunger will make it palatable to me. Bread, and what I manage to shoot and catch, is what I live on, and the quantity of water one drinks is incredible. The view of the country from this camp is beautiful; on the south bank, downs stretch as far as the eye can reach; to the east, the long flat, table-topped range, distant eight or nine miles; before us the river winding down a long, broad, thickly-grassed valley, with several streams flowing into it; and on the west, downs again.

Friday, 14 March 1862 - Camp 26.
Left camp 25 at 8 am.; steered ESE. all day; passed Bramston's Range. Made fourteen miles. To-day we saw, on a large plain to our right, a lot of natives. Feeling anxious to get a nearer view of them, I started in pursuit, followed by Mr Landsborough. They, seeing us approach, separated into two bodies, the men outrunning the gins, excepting one immense fat fellow who endeavoured for a short time to drive them before him. By urging our horses into a gallop, we soon overtook them, when, as if by magic, they all disappeared. We pulled up and found they had jumped into a waterhole, and were lying under every bush and log they could find, with just the nostril and mouth above water. Perfect silence prevailed, although there were some very young children, and an inexperienced person would have passed the spot little thinking that thirty human beings were hiding like a lot of wounded wild ducks. We could not induce them to answer us, so I determined to go in and drive them out. Their terror when I jumped into the water was extreme; they must have thought me a fiend, to judge from the expression of their faces. After being driven from their hiding place, they attempted to propitiate us by offering us two of the best looking girls, which present of course was declined. We made them a few presents, have them a little bread which they would not eat, and let them go. They were a very good sample of natives, far superior to those seen down south, living upon rats, mussels, fish, &c., which are plentiful here, and no doubt wallaby, emu, and kangaroo are also easily got in the neighbourhood of these mountains. While bathing, which we never omit, I was able to get a large supply of mussels, the boys getting many more we have had a great feast for once. Myall and boree plentiful.

Saturday, 15 March 1862 - Camp 27.
Made twenty miles over very poor country, the river running close under Bramston's Range.

Sunday, 16 March 1862.
This morning, Mr Landsborough took Fisherman and went to get a view of the country from a spur of Bramston's Range, returning in the evening. This range is basaltic, and is surrounded by fine open country. He saw a large mountain to the south-east, and tracks of Mr Walker's party on their way to Carpentaria. This is evidently the river Mr Walker has called the Barkly, and which certainly does not run westerly or into an inland sea or lake.

Monday, 17 March 1862 - Camp 28.
Some of the horses being away this morning, we made a late start, it being half-past 11. Steered E by S. five miles, and ESE. six. Leeson is so ill that we are compelled to camp early.

Tuesday, 18 March 1862 - Camp 29.
Left Camp at 11.30 a.m. One mare being more tired than the rest will not remain with the other horses, and has delayed us now upon several occasions. Made ten miles ESE., country good, lightly timbered with box and boree, the roley poley disappearing; birds plentiful. We camped four miles from a mountain bearing west by north at a waterhole on a beautiful flat timbered with boree and box. Very late camp, to add to which my grey horse being very thirsty, having had no water all day, rushed into the water hole with his pack and got bogged. Anything but a pleasant job extricating him. We saw a great many natives' fires to-day but no natives; they were evidently signalizing each other all day.

Wednesday, 19 March 1862 - Camp 30.
Steered NNE., and made the river in three miles. It is evidently a branch of the Flinders, the other branch running through the range near Camp 26. We are now on the left or easterly branch; the bed of this branch is 120 yards wide, sandy, with very steep banks, and immense bodies of water must flow down it in flood time. We had again to stop for Leeson to-day; I certainly think he will die. Jemmy, the trooper, is also very ill; and Fisherman frequently complains of pain, and is constantly asking me for medicine; but I am too well aware that it is good food and not medicine that they want. We had the good fortune to get a large supply of marjoram. We are now surrounded by high hills, well grassed, and partially timbered; but this is the only spot since leaving the Albert I have seen a tree fit to split, or a spot fit for cultivation without irrigation.

Thursday, 20 March 1862 - Camp 31.
Left Camp at 10 am.; crossed river, and followed it east for two miles on the right bank; crossed again, and followed a small tributary for five miles; and camped on it as it is taking us out of our course. Leeson and Jemmy are much better to-day. The timber is good, large whitegum, boree, very large oaks, emu berry tree, and bastard sandal wood. My eyes are very bad, and have been so for some time. No roley poley here.

Friday, 21 March 1862.
Leeson and Jemmy still very ill, and scarcely able to walk. Lesson asked me to-day, if, in the event of his dying, we would bury him decently, which I assured him should be done; but that if he did not try and rally himself he really would die. The boy Jemmy, although in great pain, is every patient and seldom complains. Mr Landsborough, thinking water will be scarce, has gone south-east to look for some. We have had plenty up to the present, and I cannot see why it should fail now. Game is plentiful, but I cannot leave the camp with two hands sick out of four. We have a good supply of marjoram, which is a luxury to us. I fear Leeson is giving in to the hardship of the trip. He is constantly groaning and wishing be was somewhere out of this. Even the boys are anxious to see the end of it. But, as yet, we have been very fortunate in not having any trouble with natives and not being without water for more than eighteen hours, with abundance of grass for the horses. Our rations are the great cause of complaint, and would try anybody's constitution and temper, for bad food and a limited quantity will not improve either. Every appearance of rain. We got some native tobacco yesterday, it is a poor substitute for negrohead. Mr Landsborough and Fisherman returned at 8 pm., having found water at sixteen miles to the south-east and south.

Saturday, 22 March 1862 - Camp 32.
Made eight miles SE. and six S. to where Mr Landsborough found water. Soon after leaving Camp we crossed low ridges of ironbank and spinifex, thickly covered with quartz, this being the only spot I observed having indications of gold at all.

Sunday, 23 March 1862.
Leeson and Jemmy are better, but both still unwell. Mr Landsborough and I acted as medical men, consulting what was best to give them, and no doubt our style of practice would be amusing to those who are supposed to know something of physic and its effects. Our medicine chest was very limited, and a few of the labels had been rubbed off the bottles; but I think, by trying everything almost alternately, we succeeded in curing our patients. We had a heavy thunderstorm, with rain, this evening. The nights are cold, and the days moderately warm.

Monday, 24 March 1862 - Camp 33.
Made sixteen miles. In seven miles, after passing plenty of surface water, came upon a fine creek running SSE. We steered the first seven miles SE. This creek has fine deep reaches of water which is decidedly permanent. Ironbark and spinifex country to-day. Camped early to-day on Leeson's account. Got a great feast of mussels, which we anxiously look for.

Tuesday, 25 March 1862 - Camp 33.
Made twenty-two miles S., following down the creek. In six, miles, passed a fall of about fifty feet which must be very beautiful when the creek, or some would call the river, is running. This is no doubt the head, or one of the heads of the Thomson. The country still the same as yesterday, ironbark, triodia, boree, and good grass alternately.

Wednesday, 26 March 1862 - Camp 34.
Steered S. down same creek for fifteen miles, when the boy a-head called out, ‘A dray track.' There was an immediate rush to the front, and our excitement was intense. Our first conclusion was that some squatter had made out with cattle, and visions of fresh beef once more rose before us; but upon examining the tracks, and following them some distance, it was evident to me that they were too old, and it is still a mystery whose track it was, for we found no one near nor any other tracks. The track ran north-west some distance and then became very indistinct. Mr Landsborough thinks it is parties going from Bowen Downs for split stuff. We camped on the track, and I succeeded in catching two dozen small fish.

Thursday, 27 March 1862 - Camp 35.
Some of the horses being away, we did not leave camp until 2 pm. As the horses get mare fatigued, they become more difficult to find in the morning, separating into different lots. Steered W. three miles, and came upon fine Downs country which Mr Landsborough thinks is Bowen Downs. Steered SW. to a round rocky hill, on the top of which we went and saw two others of the same appearance hearing north-west-and-by-north three and a-half miles, and another conical hill south-east and by south about twenty miles distant. This is very splendid country, if well and permanently watered, which I very much doubt. We camped on a creek due east from the hill first seen after leaving camp this morning two and a-half miles. This is Camp 36, A L. I marked a tree on the west side of the creek.

Friday, 28 March 1862 - Camp 36.
Steered from Camp 36 S., through thick boree, three miles to the top of a stony ridge, when we opened on more beautiful country, and sighted the hill seen yesterday, which is Tower Hill, named by Mr Landsborough two years since. This being the northernmost point he then reached. From the top of this hill, as far as the eye can reach, are beautiful open plains, the country being exceedingly good, and the day is not far distant when they will be covered with flocks and herds.
Saturday, 29 March - Camp 37.
Left Camp 37 at 8.45 am., and steered SW. and by S. until 1 pm., then S by E. to a long table hill where Mr Landsborough expected to find a Station being formed. Made a creek four miles from the hill called Mount Landsborough, about half-an-hour before sundown. The country is good open Downs, but badly watered between this and last camp; for the last three or four days I have seen no permanent water, at least nothing that would stand stock and dry seasons.

Sunday, 30 March 1862.
Spelled as usual.

Monday, 31 March 1862 - Camp 38.
We are disappointed at seeing no traces of stock. Last night, Jemmy, Fisherman, and Jackey had their rations stopped, as a punishment for steeping on their watch. Made fifteen miles S., crossed the Thomson in eight miles from camp, running S then W. The grey horse that has been so troublesome to me in getting bogged threw his pack to-day, and succeeded in kicking the bag containing the peas to pieces. In his fright at the pack turning round, he started off at a gallop, nor did he stop until he had got rid of everything but the pack-saddle, when he fell quite exhausted, in which position he remained until I released him by taking it off. The next thing Jemmy and I had to do was, to go back on the tracks and pick up the pieces and repack him. After which, ho got bogged again and refused to move, until a good stick reminded him of his ability to do so. Followed the creek down all day; not overtaking the party until late. Latitude about 22 degrees 37 minutes.

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