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

March 1862

Conclusion of Frederick Walker's journal, 25 January-29 April 1862.
State Library of Victoria, MS 13071, Box 2088A/3c (Item 4), 32 pages.
Argus, 11 November 1862, page 7.

Bauhinia Downs,
21st October 1862.


I do myself the honour to forward to you the conclusion of my journal, also the specimens of metal found at Camp 26, on one head of the Gilbert River, and the hair found in a black's dilly at Camp 5, on the Flinders River.

You will observe, with respect to the latter that a dark coloured plait, which might belong to a black, has been interlaced with that of the lighter colour, and which certainly belongs to no tribe ever seen by me during twenty-two years spent nearly all on the frontier: nor have any of my men (Aboriginal) ever heard or known of any of the Aboriginal having similar hair. I would recommend that this hair should not be examined by candle or gas light.

I have the honour to remain, sir,
Your obedient servant,
Frederick Walker,
Leader of Victorian Expedition to Albert River.

To John Macadam, Esq., MD.,
Hon Secretary to Exploration Committee.


Published in the Argus, 11 November 1862: 7.

Monday, 3 March 1862.
Course about 30 deg south of east over undulating sandstone country. In about nine miles we camped on a small creek.

Tuesday, 4 March 1862.
Same course, over undulating and rather broken country, brought us in eight miles to a pretty valley near some peaks, basalt and porphyry. Macallistrr walked over to a river about a mile and a half from our camp. Is this the 'Clarke?'


Wednesday, 5 March 1862.
Crossed the river. I cannot believe this to be the 'Clarke.' In three miles more crossed another river, after having ridden over some very boggy ridges. The last I have called the Belmenoa, and the other the Porphyry, there being large rocks of it in this river. We went and camped under the foot of the range, as I wished to walk to the top to reconnoitre, which I accordingly did in the evening. This night a good observation makes our latitude 19 deg 20 min. This would make the Belmenoa corespond with the Clarke, according to Gregory's map,


Thursday, 6 March 1862.
Three more horses have to be abandoned. Course about 10 deg south of west. At the end of seven miles camped in a narrow gully, or rather ravine.


Friday, 7 March 1862.
A hard day's work, nearly all done on foot, on account of the roughness and steepness of the ranges. We did not make more than four miles due east in a straight line. From the top of a remarkable red sandstone cliff near our camp we had a magnificent view, and the valley before us must at last be that of the Burdekin.


Saturday, 8 March 1862.
In about four miles east \to crossed 'a gap of some sandstone ridges, de- scended to a creek, and in tlueo miles more cnBt reached the Burdekin River, here i mining fiom north to south. On the opposite side, distant about five miles, is a range which 1 have called Mount "Welcome." We went down the river about a mile, to the junction of the creek with the Buidcki». 45 over -, FW under. By observation this night our latitude is lOdcg. 2Cmin.

Sunday, 9 March 1862.
Soon after crossing the creek the river was found to flow ESE, and at the end of six and a half miles we camped on a small basalt creek.


Monday, 10 March 1862.
In about two and a half miles ESE we came to the junction of a river from SW. This river is as big as the Burdekin. As the river was rather high, we had some trouble in crossing it; the difficulty being occasioned by the horses stumbling over the basalt and porphyry rocks: however, everything was got over safe. Two miles ENE brought us to a small river full of slate, and which I have named Slate River, Here we camped.


One horse completely knocked up. In the evening I went to the top of a high range. On the opposite side of the river, under Mount Welcome, I observed some good little plains, but on the Burdekin I noticed a very bad description of grass growing wherever the slate is. It reached a height of from six to nine feet, and is surmounted by the worst grass-seed I have ever seen. The pain caused from a wound by this giass-seed in exactly like that from a bite of a soldier ant.

Tuesday, 11 March 1862.
An attempt made to-day to go under a sugar-loaf hill, close to the bunk of the river, failed. Macalister succeeded, but immediately sent back Coreen Jemmy to warn me that the pack-horses could not pass. A detour over the porphyry and slate ranges had to be made, and when we rejoined Macalister we were glad to camp, having only made about five miles NE. The track could be followed by the drops of blood fiom the poor horse's feet. The view here down the river is very fine. My party, although still in good health, are getting weak from want of meat. The only way in which we can use the damaged flour we received at the Albert is to sift it through a veil, and we lose one pint in every four. Macalister has still slight symptoms of scurvy, kept under by dried apples and the native cucumbers, which, luckily, are abundant.

Wednesday, 12 March 1862.
Our course to-day was about east on the average, but at first we had to go north-east to clear the ranges of the porphyry. A dense thicket stopped us for some time, but when we got through it, we found some basaltic open ironbark countiy, with some small waterholes, at which we camped, much tired.


Thursday, 13 March 1862.
Our course to-day was ESE, but the slate was so bad that we were obliged to camp at the end of three miles, on a small creek.


Friday, 14 March 1862.
The ground to-day was much better, a great part near the creek being sand; still the porphyry and slate rocks at times caused great suffering to some of the homes. We made about seven and a half miles ESE, and camped at a bend of the river near a high peak, which Moore and I ascended in the afternoon. Numerous blacks are all round us at this camp; a vain attempt was made to get a parley with them.


Saturday, 15 March 1862.
To-day, with great trouble, we succeeded in passing under the ranges which here shut in the river; and, having found a creek with water at the end of five miles, a little E of S, we were obliged to camp. one half of the horses being completely done up.

Sunday, 16 March 1862.
I made up my mind to divide the party. Our sugar was nearly out. The peas which we roasted for coffee were finished, and I saw no prospect of getting meat. I therefore to-day started Macalister, Richard Houghton, Coreen Jemmy and Jingle, with the seven best horses, and instructions to procure food for us wherever thoy could get it. The remainder of the party moved over to u better cam]) one mile and a half off.


Sunday 16 to Wednesday 19 March 1862.
We stopped, spelling our poor horses. The men got us two opossums during this time; but, on the morning of the 20th, as they were going out to make another attempt at hunting, we discovered that the blacks were around us in too large numbers to admit of dividing our party. Moore and I had been to the top of a peak at this rear of our camp, and I find now no difficulty in coming to a conclusion that the river we had crossed on the 10th was the Clarke. I could see the sandstone ridge crossed by Gregory.

Thursday, 20 March 1862.
Started on the tracks of Macalister. Made ten miles; luckily, Rodney got a young emu.


Friday, 21 March 1862.
To-day we made a long push of about eleven miles, and camped at the junction of a large creek (or small river). To-day, I saw a patch of good sheep country. One of the horses completely done. We, luckily, got abundance of fish.


Saturday, 22 March 1862.
To-day we made another long push, having abandoned the knocked-up horse. Our journey was about thirteen and a half miles, and we camped at Macalister's second camp. Abundance of fish and some figs.


Sunday, 23 March 1862.
To-day we crossed a strong running rivulet, and two miles below it Macalister had crossed the river. The crossing place was good, but the descent to it very rugged. We encamped on the left bank, at a bend of the river.


Monday 24 to Wednesday 26 March 1862.
Still following the tracks. I took down carefully every mile of the route, and made my map, as usual, every night. From several points I got cross bearings of different high mountains. On the 26th I saw a camp and made-up tree of Dalrymple's. Houghton ought now, therefore, to know where he is. The river crossed to-day must be the 'Fanning.' The trees marked B are, no doubt, Blacks, and, consequently, the high range before us must be Roley's Range. If so, why is Macalister still following the river, instead of striking direct for Port Denison, or rather M'Donald ahd Collyns's station, at Mount Abbott?


Plenty of fish and pigs.

Thursday 27 to Monday 31 March 1862.
Still winding down all the bends of the river; very much puzzled as to what Macalister's party was about. No improvement in the country. It may do for cattle, but I fear heavy losses will be incurred by those who attempt depasturing sheep in the valley of the Burdekin. At Camp 60 I had to leave another horse, and at this camp I must leave two more, as their feet cannot stand any more slate or granite. Abundance of fish and figs.



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