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May 1862

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

Thursday, 1 May 1862 - Camp 60.
The black boys, while looking for the horses, found water half-a-mile from camp in the morning, some of the horses had found it during the night. Moved Camp to the water, and rested all day. The country round this camp is very good, and although there is not much water on our track there may be plenty at no very great distance. To-day, Mr Landsborough sent Jemmy, the trooper a-head to see if there was any water; he returned in the evening, having found some.

Friday, 2 May 1862 - Camp 60.
Steered E and SSE., and made the top of a range in about eight miles. The country up to the west side of the range being good but rather scrubby. Saw some dray tracks going up the range. Crossed the range, which is flat on the top and poor in soil and grass, in an ESE. direction and came on the head of a watercourse on the eastern fall running south or south-east, which I take to be the Nive. Saw, for the first time, two bottle trees.

Saturday, 3 May 1862 - Camp 61.
Early start; made twenty miles down the Nive, which has now become a considerable size, with fine large holes, though not running. The country on this side the range inferior, both as regards said and grass. We saw an Ironbark tree on left bank of the Nive, marked. The country here is good, though thickly timbered, for sheep. The drooping myall grows here, and, being in flower, looks very pretty.

Sunday, 4 May 1862.
Remained in camp.

Monday, 5 May 1862 - Camp 62.
Made sixteen miles south, down the creek, the name of which we are not very decided about. Country along creek very good, but thick arid sandy behind. The bed of the creek is very rocky, cotton and saltbush more plentiful, the broad-leafed saltbush not having been seen on the other side of the range. We camped in a waterhole, the creek dividing into several channels, with a low ridge on each side of us running parallel with the creek.

Tuesday, 6 May 1862 - Camp 63.
Left Camp 63 and crossed the creek we camped on. Crossed another creek in two miles running south-east, and steered ESE. for twenty-five miles through thick scrub and poor country. The country on the creek is pretty good, being saltbush and kangaroo grass plains. We travelled all day without finding water, but just at sunset came suddenly on a creek running southward. We had two showers of rain to-day.

Wednesday, 7 May 1862 - Camp 64.
Steered ESE. through poor country and thick mulga scrub from Camp 64 for ten miles, when the country improved, though still rather thickly timbered, came: upon a creek running south, parallel with a range four miles distant to the east. The country on this creek is good and open for four or five miles back. Crossed this creek and made another, steering SE., in about four miles, where we formed Camp 65. To-day, thanks to some crows that were busily engaged eating them, we found a nest of emu eggs. They had disposed of all but four which we were very glad to get. These, with a bandicoot, made a plentiful repast for us all. These eggs are very mild and palatable, I thought, as much so as a hen's, but it is possible my appetite prejudiced me in their favor; but both bird and egg would be enjoyed by anyone at all hungry.

Thursday, 8 May 1862 - Camp 65.
Left Camp 65 and steered ESE. through Western wood, or mulga scrub. In about four miles crossed a rocky scrubby sandstone range. After crossing this range the country improved, though still thickly timbered green kangaroo grass. To-day we saw the cypress, or pine, and Moreton Bay ash, for the first time, and, further on many old cattle and horse tracks. We cannot be very far from settled country now. Made in all about ten miles, and camped in a deep sandy-bedded creek, with a few waterholes running WSW.

Friday, 9 May 1862 - Camp 66.
Followed this creek down, steering. SSW. and SS. for fifteen miles, and camped on the left bank. Found water in several holes in the creek. The country very indifferent. At 3 o'clock we were much pleased at seeing three trees marked:

H 13
AB Jas. Inchue and AKC

The natives have been burning the grass all along the creek, their fired are still burning; but, although we made every attempt to find some, we could not; no doubt they ran away upon hearing us cooey. They burn the grass on the edge of the creek to drive whatever animal there may be out, standing ready with their throwing sticks to kill them as they run. Water is plentiful along this part of the creek at present, but would be very scarce after a dry season.

Saturday, 10 May 1862 - Camp 67.
This morning we watered the horses, being uncertain when we should next be able to do so, and left the creek which, no doubt, is the head of the Warrego. Steering ESE. through dense mulga, scrub for about four hours, and crossed another branch of the Warrego. Steered in same direction for three hours more, when changed the course to ESE. Jackey, having lost Jemmy's pistol, returned with him to look for it, and we had some difficulty in getting the horses through the scrub without their assistance. Finding no water, we travelled on until 3 am. through dense scrub and wretched country without water. We were glad to camp and light a fire, for the night was bitterly cold, so much so that we were glad to walk to warm ourselves. Jackey and Jemmy have not yet overtaken us.

Sunday, 11 May 1862.
Started at 11 am., and steered ESE. still through mulga scrub. The two black boys have not yet joined us, and we feel rather uneasy about them; late this afternoon they overtook us, when it appeared they had been delayed by the boy Jemmy having, unfortunately, been very much burnt on the back. It appears they have searched for the pistol until late, when, finding it impossible to follow our tracks in the dark or by the faint light of the moon, they camped. The night being intensely cold, and having no blanket, they made a large fire, first pulling some grass to lay on. This grass, during the night, caught fire, and before Jemmy could get his clothes off, he was very severely burnt; the only wonder is how he could possibly ride at all. We travelled until 8 pm. without seeing a sign of water, when we came on a dry creek, by running which down we made certain of getting some; but after travelling for four hours we were compelled to camp without. This creek runs here ESE. and SE. The horses are now suffering very much from want of water; their appearance is quite changed and they eat nothing, and we must be at least fifty miles from the water we left; our own supply is limited to a pint for the day, Every appearance of rain this morning but it will not come. We are now in an awkward fix, and, Mr Landsborough not feeling inclined to venture further, we shall have to return to our last camp for water; a great struggle for the horses in their present condition; and yet, if we ventured on for another day without finding water, our fate would be certain. We cannot tell from our reckoning how far from water we are, and if it does not give us confidence enough to run the risk of going on, of what use is it. We are just feeling our way as if we had no reckoning at all and shall have to return, although we may be, and I believe must be, within a few miles of the Maranoa. The poor horses are suffering very much.

Monday, 12 May 1862.
This morning we started back for the head of the Warrego, doubtful if all the horses will reach alive. Travelled until 12 pm. and camped, tying the horses up. Some of them during the night were almost frantic, their eyes were sunk in their heads and they were continually lying down and getting up, rolling and groaning incessantly. We have just a pint of water each left, none for baking, so we have to do without.

Tuesday, 13 May 1862.
Started a little after sunrise, the horses scarcely able to walk. By keeping a more northerly course the scrub was not so thick. About 10 am. saw a mountain which cheered us, and soon after came on the sandy creek we had last crossed, and to our great delight found water at 11.30 am., the horses having been without water seventy-two hours and travelled 120 miles. The unfortunate boy Jemmy must be suffering the most intense agony, his back is most dreadfully burnt, and the pain is causing extreme thirst with but little to satisfy it.

Wednesday, 14 May 1862 - Camp 68.
We had packed the horses ready for a start down the Warrego, but Jemmy was so bad that he said he would rather remain behind than attempt to proceed to-day. He evidently thinks he will not recover, and, if he does, fancies he will be crooked by the contraction of the muscles. He several times requested to be left behind to his fate rather than delay the party. Of course, this was not listened to, and the horses were unpacked and hobbled out for the day; no man, white or black, could have behaved more nobly, under such trying circumstances, than this black boy.

Thursday, 15 May 1862 - Camp 69.
Jemmy, with a very great struggle, is lifted on to his horse, every motion of which (the burn being on the loins) must give him great pain. We had nothing to apply to it but a little pomatum which we put on a bandage round his body, but it was so painful after a time that we were compelled to remove it, after which he applied grease which seemed the best. Steered down this left branch of the Warrego, finding water, for eight miles, when we crossed our tracks but found no more water in the creek. This day made fifteen miles in all and camped without water. The water passed is not permanent, the bed of the creek very loose sand, Country bad. Direction of this branch west by south.

Friday, 16 May 1862 - Camp 70.
Left Camp at 8.30 am., followed the creek down and got water in its bed, in about three miles, at the junction &the Warrego and this. Water is now more plentiful, the holes being very large and deep, in places as much as ninety and one hundred yards across. Game plentiful; ducks very numerous. Followed the Warrego down for twelve miles and camped, country improving and water abundant. Mr Landsborough stayed behind with Fisherman to mark trees, not overtaking us until night. We saw a native cutting out an opossum who said he did not know where the whites where, but had barking dogs, which is a good sign that we are not very far from a Station.

Saturday, 17 May 1862 - Camp 71.
Left camp; steered down the Warrego on left bank, country very inferior. About 1 pm. I found I had left my pistol behind at the Camp; returned with Jackey for it, reaching the camp we had left at sundown. Having found the pistol, we hobbled the horses and laid down for two hours until the moon rose, when we started to overtake the party. After riding ten miles or so I camped, it being so intensely cold that Jackey could not keep up, and I was glad to improve affairs by having a good fire. In the morning, found we had camped at a tree marked on one side:


and on the other:


Started at sunrise again and travelled all day without finding the tracks of the party; very hungry, having had nothing but a duck since leaving the party, and puzzled as to where they had got to. We have no blankets and it is very cold. We must have passed the tracks during the night. Luckily, this afternoon, we shot an emu, the first since starting, and it was much needed. Jackey was frantic with delight, dancing and jumping round his victim like a maniac. He immediately proceeded to lighten him by taking out the inside, carefully filling it up with grass; after which I lifted it on before him on the horse, and we proceeded immediately to the river and commenced cooking. The process is simple and speedy, and the quantity we disposed of I will not venture to state. I know Jackey was eating with little intermission, all night, nor did I neglect the opportunity. What remained we cooked on the coals and carried next day.

Monday, 19 May 1862 - Camp 72.
This morning, feeling sure that we had passed the main party, I determined to return to the tracks which we found at 12 o'clock, and rejoined them at 1, the horses, excepting some that were away, being packed ready to start. We had been within four miles of each other all night, each wondering where the other had got to. Started, and made six miles down the Warrego; picked up the debris of the emu; as our rations are almost done, anything is welcome, and if we do other not soon reach a station we shall have to commence eating the horses. We are now on three-quarters of a pint of flour per day, and only have three days' rations at that. The Warrego here runs south by west. Holes of water for miles and very deep, reeds &c., growing very plentifully on the banks, and decidedly permanent.

Tuesday, 20 May 1862 - Camp 73.
Started early, and soon got on .to a fine piece of country where we were delighted to see fresh tracks of cattle. We only observed one at first, and remembered our former disappointment; but we soon joined regular paths and cattle camps, and eventually a small lot of cattle. Jackey could not restrain his feelings, hut wished to shoot one on the spot, but this was unnecessary as we were now confident of being near a Station. I now left the party, with Jemmy, who is still suffering from the pain of his back, to get some water, as he is almost exhausted for want of it. Having obtained a drink, we overtook the main party close to a large cattle camp, but some of the horses and two black boys were away. It appears that the horses were so delighted at seeing anything like company again that they had started off at such a pace that no one could stop them, running right through the cattle. The two boys followed them, and did not find us until long after dark. The boys are merry enough to-night and are talking about the quantity of mutton they will eat when they get it.

Wednesday, 21 May 1862.
This morning the spirits of the party much improved; we are dressing ourselves in our best, bad as it is. Made a very early start and reached the Station of Messrs Williams, by whom we were received with true Australian hospitality and our wants most liberally supplied; and where we were much surprised to learn the unfortunate fate of Mr Burke's party. Being the farthest outstation, they were almost as glad to see us as we them. We now do really appreciate a good pot of tea and an unlimited repast.

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