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John Gilbert diary entry

22 February 1845 - 24 February 1845

Page 33. Volume 2

With this Tomahawk and his Tinder-Box Charlie used frequently in the morning when sent out for the Bullocks α horses to procure Opossoms334 or Honey, and cooking α eating them in the bush, and thus we were often kept waiting nearly the whole morning and frequently have lost a whole day, in addition to this it will be a much greater protection for us all, for when Charlie is in a passion or an ill temper his violence is so great he would in all probability as soon take up his Tomahawk if lying near him as any other missile, and the consequences might be much more serious than has hitherto occurred. however he seems now fairly tamed one thing perhaps which had tended in a great measure to effect this is that he α Brown have now seen that we can not only travel on without them but we can find and fetch in both Horses α Bullocks, this latter part of their duties they imagined no one could do but them=selves, and our having both on this and a former occasion shown them to the contrary may have a most benificial [sic] effect for the future. Both Charlie α Brown promised on their return to go on for the future quietly, and we all hope they really will do so, for although we try to convince them to the contrary we have really missed them very much. Another of our Canine companions is lost to us, the little Terrier, so hardy a little creature that no one of us ever dreamed of his falling off, yesterdays long stage was perhaps too much for him, or he may have been bitten by a poisonous Snake, he was seen till very near the close of the days stage, and I myself heard him as if in full chase of game within a quarter of a mile of the Camp. he was not missed untill this afternoon when each of us remembered that we had not seen him at this Camp, it was too late to render him any assistance, nor did anyone know where to search for him335.

[in left margin]

Sunday 23

10 miles


Fusanus Camp


To day we moved on the ten mile stage to the Chain of water holes the Dr α I came to yesterday; the last dog in our party was to day so knocked up, that it was necessary to carry him, we shall therefore in all probability very soon be without a canine companion, what will next commence falling off God only knows. our last Tea with Sugar was served to day excepting 10 lbs which have been put by in case of any of us being ill, that it may be used in Porrige α c.

[in left margin]

Monday 24

The Dr myself α Brown left at Daylight for the purpose of reconnoitering, in about half a mile from Camp we came upon a part of the bank where the Limestone crops out in large masses into the bed of the River336, here we crossed the river and followed up the right bank, the scrub for several miles running parrallel with the river at about 200 yards back, the banks too very much broken, into deep cuts α Gullies. at a mile a large Creek comes in from the South337 and about 6 miles another large creek338 in which the Dr saw several large pools of water here we saw recent traces of natives who had fired the [grass on the banks]339

Note 334

Gilbert was referring here to possums, probably in particular to the Common Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula rather than the more agile Common Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus peregrinus.

Note 335

Leichhardt (1847: 159) also recorded that the little terrier (which appears to have belonged to Murphy, see Sprod 2006: 40) had died on 21st February, and that the only remaining dog, a “kangaroo-dog”, had only survived the long stage between Rushy Lagoon Camp and Partridge Pigeon Camp because Calvert had carried him on his horse. From what Gilbert wrote on the 23rd, he had to be carried that day as well. This “kangaroo-dog” must be the “Spring” of Murphy’s diary, but on the 21st February he recorded that the dog was too full of bullock meat to run (Sprod 2006: 40).

Note 336

Visible on Google Earth.

Note 337

Cherwell Creek.

Note 338

Gilbert must have been referring to one of the two small creeks which both run into the Isaac within half a mile of each other. The more easterly creek joins the Isaac at GR 204 624 on the Grosvenor Downs sheet, just where the Isaac starts to bend west, then south. From what Gilbert wrote a few lines later, that the camp was on “a small creek coming in just at the elbow from the N α Eastward”, perhaps a short distance up this creek is where they made their camp of 24th February, “Crimson-winged Parrot Camp”, named after Red-winged Parrots Aprosmictus erythropterus. McLaren however puts this camp at GR 199 624, on the creek that joins the Isaac slightly more to the west.

Note 339

The bottom of this page of Gilbert’s diary is very worn, and the writing on the top of the next page very faint and also obscured by ink blots. The Mitchell Library typed transcription from the 1940s helps give us the best translation of this section of the diary. Leichhardt (1847: 162-3) does refer to “high grass” being burnt.