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John Gilbert diary entry

11 March 1845

Page 49. Volume 2

[in bottom left hand margin]

792

of the river changed to S.W. and in about a mile came upon it coming up to the westward but in half a mile from this it turned off with a very sharp angle to the Southward394. from this point I saw an open ridge, about a mile distant, thinking this would enable me to make out the rivers course as well as following its banks, I ascended it when I could by its peculiar whiteness of Gum trees that it took a southerly turn for 6 or 7 miles, and then appeared to turn round the ridges to the westward, at the foot of this ridge came down from N W a river running into the larger one395, it was as large as the Isaacs at Scull Camp396, as we now cal=culated we were in a straight line 17 or 18 miles397 from camp, I thought it time to return homeward especially as all our provisions were expended, from the ridge we could see very distinctly by the plains and the Range through which the Isaacs had conducted us the situation of our Camp which was about East by North398. steering therefore in this direction we crossed the river, and immediately passed through a belt of Scrub - in about a mile we emerged upon a fine open flat through which ran a large Creek a tributary to the river399 crossing this, we travelled on about two miles farther and again crossed the Creek, on considering a little I was fully persuaded this was no other than Suttors Creek, and I was the more strengthened in this belief from the - circumstance of its bank being so thickly clothed with Casuarina, a tree which I remarked as entirely wanting on the banks of the river, and all the smaller water courses running into it, with this one exception, as I considered it was still desirable if possible to find an intermediate stage I follow=ed up the creek to the Camp without finding a drop of water in its bed, at least a distance of 15 miles. there is no help therefore but to make the long stage to the large water hole of the new river which in a straight line cannot be less than 15 miles, in avoiding the Scrub it may therefore be extended to 20. this was the longest time I have been absent on a reconnoiter and they were becoming rather anxious, however they with reason were satisfied with the result, hoping with myself this may prove to be a river running in the so long desired course. during the time I have been away, the Dr has perfectly recovered and will therefore be enabled to make the long stage tomorrow, he has not yet been able to make out his Latitude.

Note 394

From this account it appears that Gilbert rode west for approximately 5km before turning south between two peaks (marked at 382m and 391m on the Byerwen map), passing to the east of a lower peak about 2km north of the Suttor. This may have been the one he climbed with Charlie, in order to see the direction in which the Suttor River ran. Or could this ridge be the low ridge marked at 281m on the Wyena 1: 100, 000 map 8454 at GR 642 220, which is west of the Suttor but appears to be the highest point looking south to the Suttor from this area? From the fact that the Suttor turns south at about GR 685 237 (although this bend looks sweeping rather than “a very sharp angle” on the map), Gilbert and Charlie would have come across the Suttor River again at about a kilometre east of here, at about GR 69-70 240. Gilbert’s Birthday Camp of 14th March was between these two points. Another possibility is that “the very sharp angle” could be further south, there is sharper angle at GR 668 213 on the Wyena map. A straight line between campsites of 13th and 15th / 16th March, as drawn by Leichhardt on his sketch map, exactly crosses the apex of this angle. In which case Gilbert’s Birthday Camp was not far north of here, in the region of GR 675 225. This would explain why the distance in a straight line between the camps of 13th and 14th March, as set by McLaren, does not look as much as 7½ miles, more like 5½. This all needs to be checked by the Route Group, and the half mile lagoon in the Suttor River also needs to be located.

Note 395

If Gilbert was referring to a ridge he could see in the distance, rather than the one he was standing on, this river must have been Eight Mile Creek, which runs from the north-east into the Suttor at GR 630 108. The property Chesterfield now lies just west of the junction between these two watercourses. Another possibility is that the large watercourse which Gilbert mentions as running below this ridge could have been below the ridge he was standing on. For instance, if he was standing on the lower ridge at GR 642 220, could this watercourse be the one which runs into the Suttor at GR 668 207? This is unnamed on the Wyena map.

Note 396

This whole line (from “at the foot of”) has been inserted, and what looks like “Scull” written right at the right hand edge of the diary, “Camp” is written sideways in the margin. Skull Camp was their campsite of 27th – 28th February 1845, at GR 051 939 on the Harrybrandt 1: 100, 000 map 8554.

Note 397

“17 or 18 miles” is underlined in pencil, possibly by Thomas Mitchell or Alec Chisholm?.

Note 398

Also underlined in pencil, probably as above (Mitchell or Chisholm).

Note 399

Possibly the creek unnamed on the 1: 1000 map which flows from the south-east into Suttor Creek just before its junction with the Suttor River.