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

Journal extracts from the South Australian Burke Relief Expedition.

SA Government logo. Link to sa.gov.au website

South Australian Advertiser: Adelaide.
23 November 1861: 2; 15 October 1862: 3; 25 October 1862: 4.
South Australian Register
: Adelaide.
15 October 1862: 2; 25 October 1862: 3.

Original item: Hodgkinson's Journal, 1861, Item 47, Unit 4, GRG35 583, Miscellaneous records previously accessioned by the South Australian Archives from government and non-government sources


Sunday, 1 - Monday, 2 September 1861 - Warcowie
Got the cart up to camp, unpacked it and riveted an iron plate to the worse sprung shaft, greased wheels, pitched tents and spelled.

Tuesday, 3 September 1861 - Periwalla
Perriwalla. Left Warcowie at 10.15 and arrived at Mr. George Marchant's station of Perriwalla at 4 pm. Camped near stockyard. 14 miles.

Wednesday, 4 September 1861 - Periwalla
Commenced alteration of camel saddles, as, owing to the narrow space between the stuffing, they rest upon the wither. Cut pole for dray shaft and re-packed stores.

Thursday, 5 September 1861 - Yadnapudna
Left at 9.15 and on reaching a steep stony rise 7 miles from Periwalla waited with the camels to see if the cart could cross it. At 4 p.m. heard that the cart had again broken down in the rear, both shafts having snapped off short to the body. I returned with Crishna the female camel to Periwalla, the other camels and the horses proceeding to Yadnapudna, where they camped at 6 p.m. l8 miles.

Friday, 6 September 1861 - Yadnapudna
Took Crishna to Yadnapudna, and spelled there with horses and camels, Mr. McKinlay, Bell and Kirby remaining with the cart to effect repairs.

Saturday, 7 September 1861 - Yadnapudna
Spelled at Yadnapudna.

Sunday, 8 September 1861 - Yadnapudna
In the afternoon the rations being expended Mr. Poole went back to the cart at Periwalla for the purpose of procuring a fresh supply. Fortunately we had a bag of rice and lived upon it for this and following day.

Monday, 9 September 1861 - Yadnapudna
In the afternoon the party were reunited by the arrival of the cart. In lieu of the shafts a fir pole was fitted in, the necessary gear having been procured from Arcoba. In the afternoon a teal, plover and waterhen were shot.

Tuesday, 10 September 1861 - Barracrackana
Broke camp at 8 a.m. and travelled 30 miles until 6 p.m. without meeting water, eventually retraced course about 2 miles to a clear valley where we camped for the night. 32 miles.

Wednesday, 11 September 1861 - Werrialpa
Started at 6.10 a.m. and travelling an E.N.E. course struck the track from which we had deviated the preceding day. At 4 miles reached a hut near which was a small well of brackish water tainted by vegetable deposit and the effluvia of a dead dog close by. As we had had no water however since breakfast the preceding morning even these drawbacks did not prevent a large consumption of the fluid. Finding the water insufficient to supply horses and bullocks pushed on and at 8 miles made Mr. Coppin's run of Werrialpa camping close to the station. In the night Siva broke loose and attacked the other camels.

Thursday, 12 September 1861 - Chambers' Creek
Left at 7 a.m. At 6 p.m. reached Chambers' Creek camping in its bed. No feed for horses or bullocks, the gorge being filled with cattle coming to drink. The camels found abundance on the bushes. 23 miles.

Friday, 13 September 1861 - John Creek
Commenced the march at 7 and reached John Creek at 6.30. Tied a stout log to Siva's fore feet to prevent his attacking the other camels. This puzzled him so much that he sulked upon it and refused to feed. 28 miles

Saturday, 14 September 1861 - Walpoona
Left camp at 8.15 a.m. and reached McTaggart's at 10 min. to 4; camped near the homestead; placed 100 sheep purchased at McCullum's during the day in a brush yard. Country passed through since leaving Chambers' Creek greatly improved in appearance, abundance of green feed and water in the gorges. I omitted to state that on leaving Werrialpa Mr. McKinlay received information from a trooper named Howe that a black-fellow had come into a northern station with a ball of hair belonging to white men, and that the men from whom it was taken were living naked upon a raft floating on some northern waters, twenty sleeps away. Also that the whites were accompanied by a camel.

Sunday, 15 September 1861 - Parallana, Jacob's
Left at 15 min to 8 and reached Jacob's Head station at 3 p.m. Finding that a hot spring existed in the vicinity I got one of the natives about the station to show me the spot, and ascertained its temperature in the sand some 8 inches below the surface to be 128º Fahrn. The water issues from several spots in a gully two miles from Parallana between the latter spot and Freeling Heights which rear themselves above the surrounding hills and are apparently distinguished by a trig point. Of course the influence of the atmosphere rapidly cools the surface water but the hand can only be borne for a few seconds at a depth of a few inches. Copper apparently abounds here as the creek beds are full of ore in some instances, evidencing a large percentage of the metal. I also noticed here for the first time the Uro [Euro] an animal of the kangaroo genus equal in size to the largest description and modified in structure so as to adapt it to the vast cliffs over which it bounds with extraordinary celerity. A rock wallaby, as another graceful kind of marsupial is termed, was shot here.

Monday, 16 September 1861 - Parallana
Spelled. Edward Palmer was engaged as bullock driver, Mr. McKinlay having previously purchased 4 bullocks from him; and two from Mr. Jacobs, one of which, particularly recommended, turned out worthless upon the second day of working it. Shod horses, oiled camels, served out and cleaned firearms &c.

Tuesday 17; Wednesday 18 & Thursday 19 September 1861 - Parallana
Spelling at Parallana and awaiting the arrival of one of the party absent in search of a lost horse.

Friday, 20 September 1861 - Parrabandara
Left at 11 a.m. and camped at Mr. Jacobs out station of Parrabandara at 7 p.m. On the march I shot a native dog whose curiosity led him to follow us, and a large kangaroo. Both animals were killed with one of our revolvers, and the kangaroo was upwards of 60 yards distant. Very fine blocks of agate just [?] here, and large springs of water issue from a ridge of rock rising some 10 or 12 feet above the bed of the creek. During the night Mr. Middleton returned with the lost horse and a fresh one which he had procured in exchange for the one he rode from camp, owing to the latter falling lame. 22 miles.

Saturday, 21 September 1861 - Petiniarra
Broke camp at 9 a.m. and made Petiniarra Mr. Jacobs out station at 5 p.m. The cart could not get up but camped a short distance in the rear. Weather throughout the day very close and oppressive. The harbingers of much future annoyance viz: flies and mosquitoes made their first appearance in any considerable numbers. About 7 miles from Petiniarra the track crosses the north eastern extremity of Flinders Range, over a toilsome tract of shingly stones, through a creek the bed of which is encrusted with alkaline soda from which issues innumerable springs within a short distance of each other. In the bordering hills may be noticed sheets of a semi-transparent white body, laminated and seemingly gypsum. The whole of this northern country is singularly interesting. Its species of rugged ranges, resting upon the vast undulating plains flanking them, may doubtless in the heats of summer, appear sufficiently sombre, but at this period a thousand variegated flowers and shrubs dot the surface and the beds of the creeks are perfectly purple with the rich colored blossoms of the wild vetch. Water issues from apparently the most unlikely spots and minerals strew the earth. With respect to the former consideration I am of opinion that the supply is capable of indefinite extension, though the settlers may be unwilling to incur the expenditure demanded for a district "so liable" to a succession of seasons unfavourable for stock. 22 miles.

Sunday, 22 September 1861 - Blanche Water
Left Petiniarra at 8 a.m. and reached Blanche Water at 1.15 p.m. l6 miles. In the afternoon unpacked dray, emptied packs, repacked &c. It was expected that we should be enabled to identify some of the hills in this locality but as it was muster time when we arrived no one could be spared from the station to give the requisite information and from the little time at our disposal before leaving there was no opportunity of making any excursions from camp. Upon inspecting the stores brought per dray to this point, a bag of flour was found quite unfit for consumption, being impregnated with oil of tar or some equally offensive matter. One package of sausages was 29 Ibs deficient. The flour was replaced by a bag obtained from Mr. Baker. A package of horseshoes and nails was sent westward in charge of the bullock driver who brought up the stores. We had heard upon the road that a party was at Blanche Water equipped for the purpose of searching into the truth of the rumour respecting the existence of whites and camels north of this, but on our arrival no such party appeared, though we were joined by Messrs. Elder, Stuckey and Giles three gentlemen anxious to visit Lake Hope.

Monday, 23 September 1861 - Blanche Water
Completed the arrangements for a start, packing 262 Ibs of sugar on Naroo; 46 Ibs of tea, 44 of tobacco and sundries on Crishna; 200 Ibs of flour and 2 tents on Coppin and 150 Ibs of flour and 36 Ibs of rice on Siva. Twelve pack horses carried 100 Ibs of flour and 20 Ibs of sundries each, a thirteenth the bedding &c., while the cart was piled up with all the remaining impedimenta. These preparations kept everyone busily employed throughout the day and afforded, no leisure for attempting any of the observations I wished to make.

Tuesday, 24 September 1861 - Duck Pond Creek
At noon the following persons comprising the Expedition left Blanche Water: ―

John McKinlay - Leader
W.O. Hodgkinson - Draftsman
Thomas Middleton - In charge of Camels
John Davis - In charge of Camels
William Bell - With horses
Paul Wylde - With horses
Robert Poole - With horses
Edward Palmer - Bullock driver
James Keiley - Cook
Frank - Native in charge of sheep
Jack - Native in charge of sheep

The brute adjuncts consisted of 4 camels, Crishna, Coppin, Naroo and Siva; 24 horses; 12 bullocks; 100 sheep and a dog. A light cart fitted with a bullock pole was the only vehicle employed. Proceeding 11 miles on the Tooncatchen track at that distance the camels, dray and sheep camped upon Duck Pond Creek the horses through a misconception of instructions pushing on to a spot called the Gap, 12 miles farther, and camping there. The country passed over during the day was uninteresting in the extreme; slightly undulating stony ground with low ranges to the N.W. and occasional small creeks. The water at our camp was about ½ a mile to the NE of the track, which at that point crosses a plain composed of loose sun-cracked loam with acacia and salsolaceous vegetation.

Wednesday, 25 September 1861 - Tooncatchen
Broke camp at 8.35 a.m., making Tooncatchen, Mr Baker's out-station, at 4 p.m. 16 miles. Found the horses all right. Our dray was delayed till a late hour.

Thursday, 26 September 1861 - Manuwarkaninne
While being driven to camp to be packed Boco, a one-eyed horse, stumbled into a deep waterhole and was followed by Smut and 73, all three floundering about and making very awkward attempts to swim in short hobbles. The cook at the hut and myself having swum to the brutes' assistance by the aid of a rope and the efforts of the party on shore, all three were safely got out, though not until Boco had repeated his involuntary bath. This little contretemps naturally caused some delay and it was 8 a.m. before a start was effected. At 3 p.m. the party made Mr. Stuckey's station, Manuwarkaninne, distant 13½ miles from last camp. The night was passed in a deserted hut upon the banks of the creek and a yard close by used to pack the horses. Shortly after arriving Mr. McKinlay rode down to inspect the crossing of Lake Torrens and reported the prospect for next day's march to be no ways encouraging. I followed the course of the creek some distance until, at 3 miles, it became a continuous sheet of salt water bearing S of E towards Lake Torrens. Flocks of pigeons frequent this district, pouring in to drink about an hour before sunset. No change in the country which is still plain and strewn with water-worn stones of volcanic origin.

Friday, 27 September 1861 - Sand Hill Camp
At 8 a.m. I left Manuwarkaninne in charge of the horses and camels and accompanied by Messrs. Elder, Stuckey, Giles, Bell, Poole, Wylde, Middleton and Davis, travelling 25 miles on a course of 2º. The route for the first 3 miles lay over undulating low ground reaching to the Lake Torrens Crossing place which, with a belt of intersecting pebbly ground, may be half a mile across; dry but formed of boggy sand with saline incrustations. At 11½ miles from Manuwarkaninne a dry salt lake is passed lying ½ a mile W. The remaining distance affords nothing worthy of comment. Rolling sandhills in which one sinks ankle deep at every step and denuded flats the very picture of desolation, combining together to present a most disheartening piece of country. At half past 5 I camped, waiting for the camels which did not arrive till 7.20. At 8, in pursuance of instructions from Mr. McKinlay, I sent up rockets to signalise our position but they were unobserved. Throughout the day a hot wind added to our discomfort and the fatigue of the horses while some of the party suffered on reaching camp from the incautiousness with which they had used the quantity of water served out. Upon examining the stock of water with which we had left Stuckey's I found a leakage of fully fifty per-cent from the leather bags supplied to the expedition. It was evident that no dependence could be placed upon them. All the water left, with the exception of a quart each man, was buried in a tarpaulin for the use of Mr. McKinlay and those travelling with the dray. A watch was kept over the horses as they seemed inclined to stray back.

Saturday, 28 September 1861 - Lake Hope
At 3 a.m. I called all hands and at 6 a.m. left our inhospitable camp. Still keeping a course of 2º for 23 miles. At noon, from the summit of an unusually lofty sandhill, a belt of timber could be seen north, and at 3 p.m. the party reached Lake Hope, camping at the SE extremity of one of its numerous arms. Mr. Stuckey who had visited the lake on several previous occasions rendered great assistance as guide. We had not been in camp 10 minutes ere the horses, already sufficiently thirsty, were maddened by the shouts of the natives flocking around, and driven into the lake, luckily without injury to their packs or loads. At 4 p.m. the camels arrived; Crishna so thirsty or hot as to immediately lie down in the water and the other three drinking as if they never meant to stop. The natives, though peaceable, were too numerous to be disregarded; I therefore set a watch, taking first turn myself. The night passed in quiet.

Sunday, 29 September 1861 - Sandhills
As it was doubtful whether the bullocks would be able to traverse the whole of the arid tract lying between Manuwarkaninne and Lake Hope with the small quantity of water I was able to leave en route, at 5 min to 6 I left Lake Hope accompanied by Mr. Middleton and our 4 camels laden with every vessel capable of holding water. At 8 min to 9, about 8 miles from the camp, we met Jack coming in with the sheep; and having filled his canteen and supplied him with damper, learnt that the bullocks had given-in, 23 miles from Manuwarkaninne; and that Mr. McKinlay with a blackfellow were then driving them to the lake. Palmer, Frank and Sambo remained with the dray and at 4 p.m. I reached them with my welcome load. Having given the water into Palmer's charge, with instructions to be careful in his use of it, I packed up as much of the cart-baggage as could be conveniently carried by the camels and remained there all night.

Monday, 30 September 1861 - Sandhills
At 7 a.m. Mr. Middleton and myself started on our return journey to Lake Hope, and, making certain of arriving there at an early hour, took but a very little water in a canteen. This little was quickly consumed, as the walking through the drift sand under a burning sun and hot wind excited our thirst. The camels too were very troublesome; their heterogeneous loads shifting and necessitating frequent stoppages for adjustment. During one of these stoppages, our attention being otherwise engaged, we strayed from the track and upon finding out the error could not recall to memory upon which side it lay. I had, previous to leaving the lake, lent my compass. A brisk walk till noon upon what I deemed the right course merely led me over a country distressily [sic] similar to the one over which we ought to have passed, yet not familiar in its minor features. Hoping I might yet reach the main camp I pushed on till 5 p.m., by which time we had travelled more than the distance between the cart and the lake, and become very fatigued with thirst and heat. At 5 I let the camels take their own course, hoping that if near water they would make for it. Unfortunately, however, they were not sufficiently thirsty to trouble about anything but feeding; so tying them up again I commenced running back my track, a difficult task from the loose nature of the sandhills, the hardness of the flats and the faint impression left by the camels. Indeed, upon the flats, our own shoe track was far more perceptible than the camels', and frequently one could only guess at the direction and make casts for the marks like a hound at fault. At 7 p.m darkness compelled us to camp without water or food, though we managed to keep the mouth moist by feeling for and eating a species of pigface fortunately abounding in the vicinity.

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