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John Gilbert diary entry

4 March 1845

Page 40. Volume 2

[in left margin]


Tues 4 March

North 9 miles

To day the Dr although suffering very much, wished us to move on a further stage, thinking the ride might ease him and which I believe ultimately proved to do so, although he could with difficulty sit in the Saddle, our course was North about 9 miles cutting off in distance at least 6 miles of the rivers angles, our camp was at a reedy water hole365, apparantly permanent water, the first met with on the Isaacs, our whole course to day was parrallel to two ranges366 be=tween which is a beautiful undulating country, very clear and in places small plains, in many parts, there are little stony ridges, resembling ploughed lands, as seen so much at Darling Downs. in general features in fact this spot very much resembles many portions of the Downs district near the Range367. numbers of Emus were seen during the day. The Dr wished me to recon=noiter, and taking my usual companion Charlie we set out for the purpose, Mr Roper who reconnoitered this stage followed up the Isaacs into the gorge of the mountains - and gave us such a description of the difficulties we would have in getting our Bullocks through, that at the suggestion of the Dr I intended trying a break in the range to the East. but it seems I misunderstood the part of the range the river passes through, and thinking I was at the opening to the east pushed up what I supposed was another head of the same river, but when in the narrowest part I saw the tracts [sic] of Ropers α Browns horses, as I had advanced so far before finding out my mistake, I determined to push on, and was gratified to find the difficulties were not so great as anticipated for almost immediately after Mr Roper turned back I emerged from the narrow stony bed into a fine open clear Iron bark forest, from this Charlie α I pursued the river upwards and soon saw sufficient evidence of our being near the sourse [sic] of the great river Isaacs. in half a mile after passing the range, the river divides into three principal branches368 one the principal keeping up in nearly a Northern course, the other two spreading out laterally towards the Mountains on each side, but these two forming little more than stony Gullies, with here and there only assuming a sandy water course, I therefore chose the Northern or principal as it lay in our course and still preserved its Casuarina banks and reedy beds, in about 8369 miles this began to change very much, and soon after this lost the Casuarina α Melaleuca, and in places was so confused with gullies, that I with difficulty could make out the real Isaacs, all these different creeks were closely examined for water, but without success although every hollow

Note 365

Smooth Tailed Wallaby Camp was set by McLaren at GR 208 223 on the 1: 100,000 Hillalong map 8555, in a gorge through the Denham Range. The camp was named after wallabies which Roper and Brown had seen in rocky caves on a scouting expedition through the gorge and thought a new species, but none of the expedition members were able to obtain any – Murphy wrote that the wallabies were difficult obtain from their homes amongst the steep rocks (Sprod 2006: 43). These were probably Unadorned Rock-wallabies Petrogale inornata (pers. comm. John Calaby, 1990s) or possibly Allied Rock-wallabies Petrogale assimilis. A few days later (March 6th) Gilbert wrote that he had been looking out for these “new” wallabies, but could only see several “Brush-tailed Wallaby”. By this Gilbert must have meant the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Petrogale penicillata, but this species does not occur much further north than Brisbane. Both Unadorned and Allied Rock-wallabies would have been new to Gilbert (indeed the Allied Rock-wallaby was not scientifically described until 1877).

Note 366

The Burton and Denham / Kerlong Ranges. About half-way between the two camps they would have passed to the east of several individuals peaks which include “Boveys Lookout”.

Note 367

The Great Dividing Range.

Note 368

From the map it looks like this division is at GR 231 243. One of the lateral branches is Four Mile Creek.

Note 369

This is almost certainly an “8” (i.e. 8 miles from Smooth-tailed Wallaby Camp).