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John Gilbert diary entry

10 March 1845 - 11 March 1845

Page 48. Volume 2

[in left margin]


be seen a very long distance to the N.W. round as far as East and to the South, a very low country generally with only a very slight rising like a solitary ridge, to the westward I could not see but a very short distance, for on arriving at the top of the hill, I found that instead of a range as they appeared from the distance to the East I was only on the top of one of many ridges, running a considerable distance to the westward, and which shut out from my view, any part of the country to the west α as far as S.W. descending the mount, We rested the horses for an hour at a deep ravine which runs under the ridge, in the rocks are immense hollows α caverns filled with water, as this was the first actual water met with from the Camp, and as the distance was too great for our train to reach in one stage, and not knowing if the river would give us any supply, I was anxious to find an intermediate stage, I therefore followed down the ravine392 expecting as it ultimately turned out that it would form into a creek, and run into the river, in about 6 miles in a S E course I came upon the river, but now assuming an appearance I did not at all calculate upon, where I first crossed it its width did not exceed 50 feet, but now it was at least 200 yards, and I was farther delighted to find that it took a westerly course, and near where I came upon it was a fine pool of permanent water, having the lotus and immense beds of reeds surrounding it, I now determined on following it down as long as day=light would admit, but it being very nearly sunset, I was only enabled to follow down about three miles, and to my agreable surprise found at least two miles of this was water in the bed. when we finally camped for the night at the end of a fine broad sheet of water nearly half a mile in length393, number of Duck - Cormorants and Snake Birds were observed, an unerring sign of standing water, and an a=bundant supply of fish. The whole day cloudy and moist without any actual rain.

[in left margin]

Tuesday 11th

As it was not possible I could reach the Camp in time for the whole body to move on to day, I was determined to see how far the river would run to the westward particularly as at the place I last night camped on it turned round to the South. I therefore struck off across to due west and rode four miles and seeing nothing

Note 392

Probably Heiberg Creek, which runs into Murray Creek, which runs into the Suttor River at GR 766 319. At this point on the map the Suttor River is shown as widening considerably. Note that Leichhardt’s sketch map shows Murray Creek running into the Suttor River south of its junction with Suttor Creek, whereas on the Byerwen 1: 100,000 map (1973) it is marked as running into the Suttor River north of this junction. McLaren thought Suttor Creek might have run into Suttor River more to the north in the 1840s, at about GR 766 323 - in modern days Suttor Creek makes a considerable meander to the south before the junction. Unfortunately McLaren was unable to examine the area to see if this hypothesis was true.

Note 393

Gilbert and Charlie’s campsite of 10th March, which on 13th March became the campsite for the main expedition, was called Ruellia Camp by Leichhardt. Species of Ruellia are members of the Black-eyed Susan family Acathaceae, but modern taxonomy puts all Ruellia species in Australia as introduced plants. The plant at “Ruellia Camp”, which Leichhardt described as having “large white and blue flowers” and which “adorned the grassy flats along the Suttor” (Leichhardt 1847: 178), was identified by Rod Fensham (Fensham et al 2006: 474) as the native petunia Dipteracanthus a. australasicus, a relative of Ruellia. McLaren thought “Ruellia” was a tree, and Sprod (2006: 119, endnote 81) identified it as the Blue-leaved Ironbark Eucalyptus fibrosa. McLaren put Ruellia campsite at GR 750 303, and was confident this was its exact site, as he thought Leichhardt’s sketch map (sheet 33) showed the camp was immediately east of the junction of a small creek coming into the Suttor River from the north. However, it is difficult to see this on Leichhardt’s sketch map, and it is possible that the campsite was about a mile more to the north-east.