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John Gilbert diary entry

12 March 1845 - 13 March 1845

Page 50. Volume 2

[in left margin]


Wed 12

16 miles

13 W.

First Camp on Suttors River


To day we were fortunate in getting in our Bullocks α Horses early, the morning as usual of late being cloudy gave us promise of a pleasant days travelling, Charlie led the way, the first six miles over the plains skirting the Scrub on our right, but at this distance the whole belt of Brigalo stretched across us and there being no opening to choose we at once entered it, in three hours we fortunately passed through it without the slightest mischance in the first instance we may record. perhaps at no time have we had so great a distance of actual thick scrub to pass through without a break in it, it could not have been less than 6 to 7 miles, immediately we were fairly out of the scrub we came upon the banks of the river400, above the place I had marked out for the Camp, about 4 miles, we crossed the river at once and cut off the angles on the right bank and ultimately camped much earlier than we had anticipated, in fact, Charlie had so successfully avoided both the Ridges α the thicker Scrub that he had shortened the distance at least five miles less than I had calculated on. we tried our lines but were not successful in catching any fish. This river the Dr has named the Suttor, retaining still the same name for the tributary as the Suttors Creek401. This Gentleman gave the Expedition four Bullocks, and we all hope with the Dr that this river so named will allow us to travel on its banks as long as two of the Bullocks will last us in provisions viz about two402 months, which would allow us thus to reach the Gulf403. during the night the sky was clear and the Dr for the first time since Fusanus Camp404 was enabled to get sights and make out our Latitude to be 21-21-0. From the character of the river the Dr intends proceeding along it without further reconnoitering at least to try tomorrows stage.

[in left margin]

Thurs 13th

To day we moved on a short stage of about 7 miles405 when being near the ridges which Charlie α I ascended406 the Dr α I rode up while the

Note 400

If the First Camp on the Suttor River was further north than Glen McLaren estimated, which is suspected, then the expedition must have come across the Suttor at about GR 855 450. On 10th March Gilbert and Charlie had watered their horses at the site of this camp, which might have been at about GR 834 420, more to the north of where McLaren has placed it.

Note 401

These two references to the Suttor were probably underlined later in another hand, perhaps by Thomas Mitchell.

Note 402

Gilbert appears to have originally written here “as long as four of the Bullocks will last us in provisions viz about four months”.

Note 403

The Gulf of Carpentaria.

Note 404

Fusanus Camp was their camp of the 23rd February, when they were on the Isaac River.

Note 405

In Murphys’s diary for the 13th March he recorded that the main part of the expedition followed the Suttor south until they crossed a “moderate-sized” river running into the Suttor. This must have been Murray Creek. They followed this for a short distance and then cut directly across to their campsite, which was “at a fine waterhole” (Sprod 2006: 44).

Note 406

On 13th March Leichhardt wrote that “From the ridges on the left bank of the creek I obtained an extensive view (Leichhardt 1847: 177). Gilbert and Leichhardt must have climbed the series of ridges with peaks between 327m and 391m, running from N.E. to S.W. from about GR 74 32 to 68 25. It was probably the southernmost of these which Gilbert and Charlie had climbed on 11th of February to try and ascertain the course of the Suttor River.