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August 1861

Edwin James Welch,
1. Journal of Contingent Exploration Party, ML C332 (CY 1115) State Library of New South Wales
2. Field book No 1. Box 2087/7, Item a, MS13071, State Library of Victoria

Edwin Welch, surveyor and second in command of Howitt's Victorian Relief Expedition, found John King at Cooper Creek.

Thursday, 1 August 1861, Camp I (Depot Camp), Ptmarmora Creek..
Mending packs, cleaning arms &c.- &c.- Meteorological journal commenced from this date.

Friday, 2 August.
Re-stuffing saddles, cleaning arms &c.- &c.-

Saturday, 3 August.
As above.

Sunday, 4 August.

Monday, 5 August.
Employed as most necessary, getting stores and baggage ready &c.- Of the 13 camels here, very few are in a fit state to travel, suffering severely from itch. Took the following observations at the camp.

Tuesday, 6 August.
As most necessary.

Wednesday, 7 August.
Killed two bullocks and made preparations for smoking and drying the meat. [Observations] Approximate error of watch - 1 minute fast.

Thursday, 8 August.
Variously employed in preparation. Went in to Menindie for some colours and drawing pens.

Friday, 9 August.
As requisite.

Saturday, 10 August.
Preparing to receive stores &c.- &c.-

Sunday, 11 August.
Employed during the forenoon in crossing stores from opposite bank of river, brought down by bullock team from Phelp's Station. The following observations were taken on the 10th. [Observations]

Monday, 12 August.
Employed weighing and packing stores &c.- &c.- [Observations]

Tuesday, 13 August.
Employed packing, branding horses &c.- &c.- Smith (coloured man) an additional member of the party from this camp, received yesterday a severe kick in the knee form a horse, which disabled him as to render it necessary to fill up his place with Williams (cook).

Wednesday, 14 August, Camp II, Ptmarmora Swamp.
Proceeded to pack up and early in the morning. Started about 12.30 pm with 37 horses the camels following up at about 1 mile. Several short delays occurred before getting round the Ptomarmora Swamp, and after crossing about 3' of sand rises covered with salsocacea herbage with a little grass, came on the swamp again and camped. Latitude 32°16'S, Longitude 142°14'6"E. 9 miles. [Observations]

Thursday, 15 August, Camp III, Kokriega.
From Camp, left swamp and proceeded over sandy rises in a northerly direction bearing sometimes Eby[N], sometimes Ely. Fine grazing country, patches of [?] grass. Bare spots covered with stones. Croppings of sandstone on some of the rises. Albert the Wonominta black boy most extraordinary character, not understanding a word of English, grins when spoken to, displaying his white teeth, and ejaculated 'Wonominta' Made the camp at Kokriega at 3 pm a most romantic looking spot, situated in a ravine in a range of hills bearing NE and SW. Conglomerate sandstone and quartz barely clothed with pine and various scrubs. Luxurious feed, grass and herbage with a small though apparently permanent supply of water in a rocky basin at the head of the ravine. Night fine with a light filmy veil spread over the whole sky, preventing observations. 290'.

Friday, 16 August, Camp IV, Bilpa.
In consequence of some of the horses getting away during the night, we did not leave the camp until 2.10 pm and before going 60 yards, one of the rowdy horses bucked his pack off and bolted. When caught he bucked it off twice again and detained us until 3.25 pm, when a spare horse was substituted and we proceeded. The camels having left early were some distance ahead. Passed up a gully to the NEly for a short distance, then bore NW over low sandstone ranges, covered with saltbush and plenty of good feed. Traces of limestone occasionally, with a great deal of water washed quartz and other stones [laying] o the surface with oak and other scrub in patches. Feed perfectly luxuriant. Country all of the same nature to Bilpa, where we arrived at 6.50 pm and camped on a watercourse intersected by a sandstone reef on the southern side of which in a water worn crevice, we found about 3 buckets full of good water apparently deposited by a late shower or by infiltration from the reef, but certainly not permanent, Splendid feed all round. Camp No IV. Latitude 31°47'S, Longitude 142°[8']E. [Just] made 9'. 322'

Saturday, 17 August, Camp V, Botrieka.
Left Camp No IV at Bilpa at 8.22 am and proceeded after a few short delays with the horses in an almost northerly direction over a sandy and slightly undulating country, covered with a thin [layer] of oak mulga &c.- and magnificent herbage. Scrope Ranges about 6' off the road to the Ely. At 1 pm came to a hollow between two rises containing a small quantity of dirty water in crabholes, and at 1.30 made Botoja, a clay pan of some size containing a little of the same sort. Proceeded from thence in a north-easterly direction for about ½ a mile, and came to another and larger clay pan containing more water of a yellow colour, and about the consistency of paste. Camped here, native name Botrieka, luxuriant feed. Estimated distance 17'. Camp V. Latitude 31°35'30"S, Longitude 142°8'E. [Observations]

Sunday, 18 August, Camp VI, Mutwongee.
Left Camp at Botrieka at [6].35 am and proceeded northwards over undulating sandy country. The far inferior to that already travelled over, a little grass on some of the rises, but the intervening Holland's almost there of everything, but light-blue coloured tall [?] tufts of course the grass. Further on the country improved, and about 2 o'clock came up to the Daubeny Ranges. At 2.10 pm crossed at deep but narrow watercourse running E and W, water worn gravelly bottom. At 2.15 pm crossed the Langawirra Creek, a similar but rather larger watercourse running in the same direction, both perfectly dry as far as could be seen. Proceeded over a small green flat well grassed, and through a gully to the northward to the Mutwongee springs, running or rather overflowing at times into a watercourse similar to the two before mentioned. Counter this place at the entrance of a deep ravine, at the head of which passed several water basins worn in the sandstone rock and supplied with beautiful water and from the spring in back of the gorge. According to the blacks this water is permanent, and it he has every appearance of being so. The scenery around the camp very wild and picturesque, coarse flocks of sandstone scattered in all directions, and the sides of the gorge lightly timbered with small pine. On the flat between are a few good size and gum trees, the herbage though not so good as some already passed, and superior to much called good met with in of the settled districts. Distances travelled 19 miles. 339'. Latitude 31°18'8"S, Longitude 142°7'E. [Observations] 358'.

Monday, 19 August, Camp VII, Nothangbullo.
Left Camp No VI at Mutwongee at 8.15 am, camels having started about half an hour previously. Proceeded to the north-westward through a flat between the ranges, averaging about ½' in breadth, well grassed with fine herbage thinly scrubbed with mulga. Ranges of conglomerate sandstone presenting a bluff, precipitous face to the eastward, sloping gradually to the westward and apparently and well grassed to the summit, lightly timbered with pine and Mulga. At 8.45 crossed be the [Spokoko?] Creek and at 9.15 the Bengora Creek, both in all respects and similar and to those crossed yesterday, and with perhaps more and finer timber on the banks (red gum). Dry in the course, but plenty of good and permanent water to be found in the gorges at the head. At the Bengora Creek, saw the first Warrigle Blackfellows one of whom run after us talking and gesticulating considerably but when spoken two could give no intelligible information. The whole country about these ranges and is in the highest degree picturesque, them under existing circumstances capable of supporting and frightening a very large quantity of stock, water for which could be found in almost any of the gorges all year round, but rather difficult to get at in some places. At 10h 5m shaped Ed. and travelled up a narrow and precipitous gorge for about 1' and had camped at the head of a watercourse similar to the others and like them containing a large quantity of good clear water in little rocky basins at the head. Native name Nothangbullo. Latitude 31°13'S, Longitude 142°5'E. Distance travelled 7'. [Observations] 368'.

Tuesday, 20 August, Camp VIII, Nuntharungee.
Left Camp No VII at Nothangbullo at 8.35 am and travelled through open plains, bounded by low sandstone rises, without timber and poorly grassed; in comparison with country already passed through, At 9.25 crossed the Tirltinga Ck, again bearing N and S a dry watercourse running E and W and at 9.50 changed course more to the westward still travelling through small open plains. At 9.35 crossed the same creek again, running N and S up to a gorge in the ranges to the Ed, where according to the account of the Warrigle blackfellow who came up to us, there is plenty of good and permanent water. Bore to the northward, proceeded over slightly undulating plains, poorly grassed with tin scrub and scattered about for 8' or 9'. At noon the bearing of the northern part of the Barrier Ranges was N30°W about 25' and at that place the blacks say there is also good permanent water at a place called [Boko]. Shortly after 2.00 PM we came over a succession of sand rises and pine ridges well grassed, and at 3.35 PM we camped on the Nuntherungee Creek, a fine watercourse running from Mount Lyell towards the westward, about half a chain in breadth, with a flat gravelly bottom and large gums growing along the banks on the further side. And we found no water in the creek, but by sinking a hole in the bed, about 4 feet deep, obtained a flow of good water, and there seems little doubt but that water may be of attained anywhere in the bed by sinking a short distance. Travelled 21 miles. Latitude 30°57'24"S, Longitude 141°57'18"E. 386'. At Nuntherungee Creek, obtained the following observations: [Observations].

Wednesday, 21 August, Camp IX, Teltawongee (Conn's Creek).
Left Camp No VIII at Nuntherungee and proceeded northwards over low sandy pine rises lightly scrubbed and almost devoid of grass, and excepting the intervening hollows, and there it was very poor, coarse and tufty. Travelled over this sort of country for about 15 miles, all more or less undulating, only occasionally showing patches of good feed. About 1.30 PM came into a more open country, well clothed with salt bush, bounded by low rises without timber and with very little scrub. At this part the plain was strewed [?] gravelly quartz and slate; small dry clay pans were frequently noticed on either side of the road. At 2 PM passed several large ones, dry, but in some of them traces of water were quite recent. At 2h.10m PM crossed the Teltawongee Creek, dry watercourse running nearly E and W, and at 3 PM camped on the small creek containing a little water in two or three holes. A much larger supply of water some distance below the camp which we named Conn's Creek, having been made aware of its existence by a man of that name. Water not permanent. Situated about 1' NNW of Teltawongee, Camp IX. Distance travelled 20' Latitude 30°41'6'S Longitude 141°[55']"E. [Observations] 406'.

Thursday, 22 August, Camp X, Wonnominta Creek.
Started from Camp IX at Conn's Creek at 8.00 AM travelled north-eastward for about 6 miles over open plains bounded by low slaty rises fairly grassed and scattered salt and cotton bush. The course of the creek close to our right hand for nearly two marks. The ground all over more or less covered with ironstone and quartz gravel. No timber except a few gums in the course of the creek. Tops of the rises are lightly scrubbed. At 10.00 AM the gap in the Goningberri ranges was N35°E about 10'. At 10.30 came on the head of the Wonnominta Creek, the number of small water courses from the low rises in the vicinity fringed with various scrub and occasionally a few gum trees, and containing water in small holes scattered through the length of its course. Judging from the appearance of drift very high up the banks, one would say that a large volume of water had not long since passed down. At 11.15 forward to the westward, keeping outside the creek which was he a much wider and deeper with more and fine timber on the banks, and at 11.45 crossed it and steered N44°W to the point of the bend, new this point we found a fine hole water encamped here at 12h 20m PM, Camp No X. Latitude 30°33"S, Longitude 141°57'18"E. Distance travelled 12'.

Friday, 23 August, Camp XI, Benkallagee.
Left Camp X on the Wonnominta Creek at 9.27 AM and travelled over open plains bounded by low quartz rises. Note in the visible except are scattered line of guns along the creek to the left. Plenty of salt bush and find herbage. Grass patchy. 418' the plains all round studded with large clay pans, most of them with the bottom of the gravelly quartz, and all, more or less connected by shallow channels, forming a network of small creeks, in nearly all of which the water (drainage from the clay pans) was seen. Between 11 and noon crossed a succession of low rises covered with gravelly quartz and came again upon plain country. Shortly after noon passed a great number of large clay pans, similar to those above described, and nearly all of them containing water; splendid feed in the spaces between them. At one of these drains or creeks, we found the blacks camp, recently left, with fires alight and boomerangs, nets, waddies &c.- hung up in the branches of some scrub, the owners having most probably bolted with fright on our approach. Proceeded over a country of the same nature, for nearly an hour, fine feed in places and plenty of water. At 12.55 pm camped on some clay pans, which I named Benkallagee, and native expression for " running horse". Plenty of water and feed moderately good. Mt Benkallagee N60E about 6'. Distance travelled 10'. Latitiude 30°20'53"S, Longitude 141°54'E. Camp XI.

Saturday, 24 August, Camp XII, Crupper's Clay Pan.
And that he left camp at Benkallagee at 8.20 PM, and travelled over open plains, thickly to studded with clay pans, some of which were of considerable size, and water found occasionally he and the connecting drainage. Note in the visible for miles, nothing but low scattered scrub on the small grassy rises running through the plains. The grass and herbage between the clay pans presenting on the whole every appearance of being a first rate grazing country. 428'. At 11.00 AM rose to a line of low ranges to the eastward and at noon, the north-westerly point of the Goningberri ranges presenting the appearance of a solitary peak over there, bore S30°E. As we proceeded to feed improved, and that did not see so much water. At 12.30 PM and came on a series of low sand rises, growing a fine oat grass; and in the hollows between were long, narrow strips of swampy ground, covered with polygnum and [?] low scrubs. At one and.10.00 PM and came on the clay pan, containing a small quantity of muddy water which we called "Crupper's Clay Pan." Camped here, feed very good, but no other water near the camp. Distance travelled 15 miles. Latitude 30°11'47"S, Longitude 142°1'E. Camp XII. The following observations were obtained at Camp XI at Benkallagee". [Observations]

Sunday, 25 August, Camp XIII.
Left Camp XII at seven and.45 AM and proceeded to the north eastward over undulating sandy country, well clothed, more especially on the rises. Innumerable clay pans in the intervening hollows, feed all dry. At 8.the 30 crossed the Paldrumata Creek, a watercourse running about and north west and south east containing a little water where we crossed it, but dried as far as was seen beyond. Country all of the same nature for some miles and at 12.40 PM crossed what appeared to be the dry bed of the lake, being a circular hollow between the rises, nearly [3'?] In diameter, having a bare, cracked, clayey bottom. Long dried grass and low scrub round the foot of the rises, no timber. After crossing S, proceeded over sandy rises well grassed, the intervening hollows been of much the same nature as the lake bed, and growing polygnum and other scrubs and a few shorter box trees, but containing no water. At 2.45 PM halted, and having arrived at a clay pan, at which we expected to camp, but finding the water had dried up, two of the party went out to search for some, but were after a long ride unsuccessful. And we therefore camped, having made a good stage, and been uncertain as to where water could be found. Distance travelled 21½ miles. Camp XIII. Latitude 30°3'00"S, Longitude 142°19'12"E. 443'

Monday, 26 August, Camp XIV, Chance Waterhole.
Left Camp XIII at 7.15 AM. Proceeded to the [north easterly] passing a little to the southward of the Torowoto Swamp (perfectly dry), with the intention of crossing to some low ranges visible in that direction, in the hope of finding water. Travelled over swampy polygnum ground intersected by sand hummocks for about 1½ miles, and there found a little water in a clay pan drain. At 8.15 camped at a larger whole of the same nature about 1' to the southward of the Torowoto Swamp. Plenty of water, but not likely to last long. Distance travelled 2'. Latitude 30°20'7"S, Longitude 142°21'24"E. 467'. [Observations]. About 1½ miles from the camp, founded deep and gum creek (dry) apparently coming from a low range (which is called Macadam Ranges) bearing S60°E about 20 miles, and taking a circuitous course into the Torowoto Swamp, which is probably mainly dependent on this creek (Molindee Creek) for its supply of water. At these ranges, all I believe about 1' to the southward is a fine large permanent water hole called by the natives [Guranna?]. At this camp on obtained following observations: [Observations]

Tuesday, 27 August, Camp XV.
At 10.45 AM left Camp XIV at the "Chance Waterhole" and proceeded to round the Torowoto Swamp in about 3' and then struck off to the north-eastward over undulating sandy country, well grassed, with very fine herbage and scattered salt bush, lightly timbered and thinly scrubbed. The "Torowoto Swamp" described in the Victorian exploration chart as permanent water, was found perfectly dry, having apparently been in the state for some weeks. The whole swamp is covered with polygnum, stunted box trees, the greater part of the latter being dead. Continued over sandy country, as above described, until about [3?] PM, and when the scrub became more dense, the country still maintaining its fresh and well clothed appearance. At 5.15 PM came to the edge of the scrub, facing open country all round to the northward and camped at some clay pans (dry) finding only just sufficient water for the horses in a small pool between them. Latitude 29°48'00"S, Longitude 142°33'S. Distance travelled 20 miles. 467'.

Wednesday, 28 August, Camp XVI, Flagstaff.
Left Camp XV at 8.00 AM and and proceeded to the northward over large and lightly undulating grassy plains, thickly studded with dry clay pans, and bounded by low stony rises. Carried this sort of country with its for about 5 miles and then came to mud plains, perfectly flat, bare and dry, very smooth, and marked all over by water, evidently subject to inundation. And at 11.00 AM came to some low stone and sand rises, well covered with herbage and grass. Crossed these and after going about 1 mile on the other side, camped on the edge of a mud plain, feed pretty good, but very little water in two or three small clay pans. Distance 13 miles. Latitude 29°36'12"S, Longitude 142°30'E. Camp XVI. [Observations].S

Thursday, 29 August, Camp XVII, Cannilta Creek.
Left Camp No XVI at 8.37 AM, and after going about ½ mile came to a small pool of drainage water, at which we watered the horses and then proceeded over a mud plain for about 4 miles, and is only on the west by a chain of low stony rises, and extending as far to the eastward as the eye could reach, and perfectly dry, hard and bare clay, without a tree or bush to break the monotony of the view. The mirage noticeable on these plains, had been throughout very curious, doubling everything seen a short distance off, the second image being always inverted. Between 10.15 and 11.15 AM crossed the line of stony rises, jutting out into the plain from the ranges to the westward, well grassed, with fair herbage and various Salsole in flower. At 11.15 and came to the edge of another mud plain similar to the former, extending for about 3 miles, and again at this distance came again upon grassy claypan plains, and with patches of splendid oat grass and very find herbage. Had 1.15 PM turned off the road about ½ mile to the westward, and camped on the Cannilta Creek, a dry watercourse running east and west at of the low ranges on the side, with water in towards three small but deep holes. Distance travelled 15'. Camp XVII. Latitude 29°25'S, Longitude 142°27'E. [Observations].

Friday, 30 August, Camp XVIII, Carryapundy.
Left Camp No XVII at Cannilta Creek at 8.15 AM, and proceeded to the northward over clay pan plains, carrying very fine feed and plenty of drainage water in the channels connecting the pans. After passing through about 10' of this sort of country, met with a sudden change to inferior swampy ground, covered with a variety of low scrub, but very little feed of any sort. Nothing particularly noticeable in the features of the country passed through. At 3.50 PM turn off the road to the right and camped on a low sandy hills, no water for the horses, but very fair feed. Distance travelled 22'. Latitude 29°7'38"S, Longitude 142°26'E. 537'. At this camp of attained the following observations: [Observations].

Saturday, 31 August, Camp XIX, Kurlijer.
Left Camp at 8.25 AM and proceeded to the northward across the Carryapundy Swamp, which is of great extent and covered in a great measure with polygnum. The soil is a perfectly dry, hard, and bare one, bearing no signs of [any] water, but from the nature and lock of the place it is evidently at some season's totally submerged. No timber of any sort visible. After crossing the swamp came on a large extent of clay pan plain, occasionally interrupted by a range of low sand hills, thinly scrubbed. The clay pans in these plains, were very close together in addition to being much larger and deeper than any hitherto seen, or were perfectly dry, by signs of water in the surrounding banks were visible in some places to a height of 4 feet. The small spaces between the pans were covered with a great variety of salsolaceous of plants, but grass and herbage at a premium. In fact the whole of the day's journey has been through a far inferior country to any yet travelled over, with the exception of the mud plains. Between 1 and 2 PM met a camp of Warrigle blacks, who showed us water some distance off the track to the westward in a small clay pan which they called Kurlijer. Formed Camp XIX at this place. Distance travelled 17 miles. 554'. [Observations]

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