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August 1862

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2085/6a, Item 4.
A W Howitt’s diary [of Victorian Exploring Party], from 3 July 1862 to 21 August 1862.

20 September 1862, pages 5-6.

Mr Howitt's Diary.

The following despatches and diary from Mr Howitt were laid bfore a special meeting of the Exploration Committee held yesterday afternoon.


Friday, 1 August 1862 - Wirranie.
The water here not all gone, but very nearly of the consistency of cream - will be like a cream cheese in a few days. Fortunately, a little rain water was found near at hand.

Saturday, 2 August 1862 - The Depot.
Reached home at 4 pm. Found everything right, excepting that the camel had not been recovered. His tracks have been followed for about fourteen miles into the stones, where they wore lost. He seemed to be travelling parallel with the creek. No signs were found in the creak of his having been in the water. It is a hard matter to tell where to look for him. The other camels have been a great trouble since I have been away, and have required constant watching. They seem to have one of their rambling fits. The water-hole has undergone a change - from being slightly milky it has become olive green, with a thick growth of weeds at the bottom, which have not improved its flavour. The frosts have cut down almost everything that has been so long struggling for an existence in our garden.

Monday, 4 August 1862.
Messrs Aitkins, Charles Phillips, and Henry Burrell went up the creek to-day for a week, to look after the camel, and to see if the late flood came down the main channel or by a branch, on which mainly depends whether our track via Wilkie's Creek is open or not.

Monday, 11 August 1862.
In the afternoon Messrs Aitkin, Phillips, and Burrell returned. The particulars of the trip will be found in Mr Aitkin's report. The tracks they met with are no doubt some of the Darling back country explorers; but they certainly made a great mistake in leaving no marks to say who they were. The weather is getting every day warmer, and the flies more troublesome.

Saturday, 16 August 1862.
Finished shoeing horses on the 14th, and left this morning on the road to Blanchewater with Messrs Galbraith, Burrell, O'Donnell, and Tenniel, and twenty horses. Mr Aitken, C. Phillips, and McWilliams came with the camels, to carry water.

Sunday, 17 August 1862 - Wallconney.
Everything miserably dry, and the water gradually drying up.

Monday, 18 August 1862 - Near Tungurilla.
Got to this place by 3.30 with the horses; the camels, loaded with water, come in soon after. No rain here since March; everything like tinder.

Tuesday, 19 August 1862 - Camp 75.
28° 0' 45", 139° 53'
Started early this morning, as the horses came up before daybreak and besieged the camel camp for water. Travelled for some miles over a succession of clay plains, separated by low sandhills - a most barren, miserable tract. The flood waters at times make their way over these plains to Streletzki's Creek. We then came to ridges of drift and sand, with cotton-bush flats, and a little dry grass in places. Travelled over these until 4.50, when we camped, having made a good stage. No rain has fallen.

Wednesday, 20 August 1862 - Camp 76.
26° 17', 139° 27'
Travelled to-day from 7 am. to 2.30 pm. over a succession of the heaviest sand ridges I have yet seen. All of them very steep and loose on the eastern side; in several places it was as much as the horse could manage to scramble over them, as the top presented very much the appearance of a long rolling sea, curling over before it breaks. At 2.30 passed a dry salt lagoon; and tho country changed. The ridges were wider apart, and not so steep, with largo cotton-bush flats, between them. Nodules of lime in places, but scarcely a sign of grass. Camped at 4.50, where there were a few dead sticks for fuel. The horses very tired with travelling over such heavy country without water. Day warm.

Thursday, 21 August 1862 - Lake Hope.
The horses were very restless all night, being too thirsty to feed, and made several attempts to break away from the camp, where they were watched, I believe that the smell of the lake was brought to them by a S.W. breeze which sprang up yesterday, about 4 pm. I noticed at the time that the horse I was riding sniffed up tho air, and pushed on much faster than I had been able to make him go before. Sighted the lake at 8 a.m., and reached the water in about half an hour after. Our former camp, AH41, is just opposite. The lake is here not more than a mile and a half wide. Several of the horses showed signs of distress, and all were a good deal pinched up with thirst. The travelled distance from Wallconney to Lake Hope is thirty hours.

A Howitt 1862

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