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May 1862

Original item held at the State Library of Victoria, SLV MS13071, Box 2085/6a, Item 3.
A W Howitt’s diary [of Victorian Exploring Party], from 20 March 1862 [Blanchewater to McKinlay’s depot to Cooper’s Creek depot] 3 June 1862; containing diary of excursion north, Sturt’s roan mare then back to Blanchewater. Written on twenty-four sheets of blue foolscap expedition notepaper. 24p. ms.

27 June 1862, pages 4-6.

Mr Howitt's Diary.

The following is a copy of the diary of Mr Howitt, the leader of the Victorian Exploration Party, which was received in Melbourne yesterday, by the Exploration Committee, along with a despatch, given in another part of our paper, dated Jacob's Station, Parallana, South Australia, June 4,1862.


Thursday, 1 May 1862 - The Depot, Cooper's Creek.
Started early this morning, and travelled for eighteen miles S.E. by compass - at first over sandhills and flats, afterwards over day plains subject to floods. Before reaching the creek saw the old tracks of two head of cattle - one large, and one small. Struck the upper end of King's water hole, Goyapedree, as I had intended, and halted for dinner. When we were starting, Weston Phillips  came up, having been out searching for stray horses. Felt very much relieved at hearing that everything was right at home. W. L. Galbraith also came shortly after. Three days before this, when out after horses, he had come across the horse which has been known to run here for some years. Gregory was the first to mention the fact. He saw the fresh tracks last year ; and I believe McKinlay also saw the horse, but was unable to   catch him. Galbraith, after a gallop, got along- side, and passed the halter, in a slip-knot, over   his head. Not being able to pull him in, he fastened the end of the rope to his stirrup-iron and, slackening his pace, in about 100 yards choked him, and he fell. Before he could rise, a turn of the rope was round his lower jaw, and, after a short struggle, he gave in, and was led to the camp, where he is now hobbled. He is a roan cob, a little under fifteen hands, bald face, off knee white, near hind leg white, and white streak down inside of off leg. Brands as in the margin. [HC near shoulder, ET under saddle near side, I near thigh.] I think it most probable that this is tho roan horse mentioned by Sturt as having been left here by him some seventeen or eighteen years ago. Tho horse has every appearance of being over twenty years of age. Galbraith also took me to the fresh tracks of cattle, at the lower end   of Burke's Waterhole (Innermangkar). They were not more than a week old. Our garden is progressing very slowly, only the melons and pumpkins, the cabbages and radishes thriving. All the other vegetables look dwarfed and miser- able, in spite of the constant watering bestowed on them by Mr Williams, who has been unremitting in his attention to them. No signs of the flood as yet below Burke's depot.

Friday, 1 May 1862 - The Depot.
This morning, W L Galbraith and Frank, while out after horses, came on the fresh tracks of the cattle following and crossing our track of last night. Changing their horses and procuring a supply of ammuni- tion, they started in pursuit, and found a cow and a fine yong bull in a billabong, about three miles from here. The cattle on seeing them started, and Frank shot the cow with a Colt's revolver. Galbraith only secured the bull when seven miles distant from the Depot, after some hard galloping, being several times hunted by the bull. He at last shot him with a Whitney revolver when in the act of overtaking and horn ing his horse. The bull was killed on the spot,   and fell completely over from the speed he was going at. Two camels have just packed in the cow ; O'Donnell and Galbraith are gone out again, with rations and water for Frank and Mr Williams, who are camped by the bull. It may be imagined that frying is going on to a great extent. Our friend Winkely has been in a state of great surprise at such a supply of meat, and fingered the fat with the eyes of a cannibal. He made none of his usual signs of disgust at a huge junk of beef which he roasted in the coals and devoured.

Saturday, 3 May 1862 - The Depot.
Commenced at daybreak, and cut up the cow for curing. The meat excellent, and very fat. Winkely in a state of consternation at the effect of the Colt's revolver bullet, which had broken the shoulder-blade and one rib. I think his report on the "piccanniny mucketee" to his friends will have a good effect. The bull was brought in about two o'clock, and weighed about seven hundred, and is very fat. Frying to an extraordinary extent still goes on, and the conversation here is extremely "beefy." "Captain Sturt" is slightly lame from a strain he got in being caught, but I hope will soon be all right.

Sunday, 4 - Tuesday, 6 May 1862 - The Depot.
Yesterday, just as the small party were about to start for the purpose of taking Winkely homewards as far as Bocabourdunnay, I found that he had stolen, and secreted among the things I had given him, a second tomahawk, a pannikin, a saddlecloth, and some straps. I believe he was egged on to this   by the native who was to have accompanied me, and who made his appearance here two nights ago. I took the tomahawk I had given Winkely away, as the punishment he was most likely to feel, and at once started him and his black friend off, with injunctions not to let me see them again. I was very much annoyed at such behaviour, after the kindness with which we had treated him, and felt the greatest wish to have him tied up and well flogged. He was in a great fright, and when walking away kept looking over his   shoulder, I fancy to see whether I meant to send   a shot after him. Our place being thus upset, I sent Mr Aitkin, with Mr Williams and Frank, up the creek to see how far the flood had come down. This morning they returned, having found it within nine miles of here - that is, five miles from the upper end of this waterhole. It is running strongly, and comes down very steadily. Almost all the party suffering from ophthalmia. Weather hot, and flies very troublesome.

Saturday, 10 May 1862
Getting ready for going down to Blanchewater.

Monday, 12 May 1862
We were surprised to-day by the arrival of Corporal Wauchup and Trooper Poynter, of the South Australian mounted police, and a native, with despatches from the Exploration Committee. They had been three days without water before reaching Breerily, the upper holes in Stretzki's Creek being now dry. The expeditious manner in which they brought up the despatches is deserving of great praise.

Tuesday, 13 May 1862 - The Depot.
Went up to take a last look at the flood. Found it four miles from the upper end of the Depot waterhole, just running out at the lower end of a large reach into a number of channels. It is impossible to say, from the appearance of the flood, when or where it may stop. The water is of a clear olive-green colour, and comes down but slowly, having large backwaters and channels to fill, the ground also, no doubt, absorbing an immense amount. Up to the present time, its rate is difficult to determine, but I believe it to be, on an average, about two miles in a week. At the flood, this creek is now a fine river.

Friday, 16 May 1862
Shall start to-morrow for the settlements, with Messrs. W and C Phillips, H Burrell, G Tenniel, W O'Donnell, and Frank, the black boy. We take nine horses and nine camels. Messrs. Wauchup and Poynter, and their native, accompany us.

Friday, 30 May 1862 - Blanchewater.
Reached this place this afternoon. Nothing of importance on the road down, excepting that the waters are drying up. Lake Hope fallen a little, and getting brackish.

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