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John Gilbert diary entry

14 March 1845 - 15 March 1845

Page 52. Volume 2

[in left margin]

822 1/2

a long distance which will give us a long stage for tomorrow, while out they came upon a number of Natives, some of whom ran up tree’s, and the others ran off as quickly as they possibly could. Roper very imprudently gallop'd after one as if he wished to run him down when the Native turned round, and appeared as if determined to make a stand, and Roper says he was just on the point of throwing his Boomerang at him, he thought it time to check his horse, and it perhaps fortunate for him he did so, as he might have had the whole tribe down upon him, beyond the danger he ran of being attacked by them, it was certainly too bad to terrify or alarm the Natives more than is necessary, For as we have all along ob=served the Natives are peaceable enough so long as we do not interfere with them.

[in left margin]

Sat 15th

W.S.W. 17

Datura Camp.410

To day we were enabled to get away early and the day being cloudy we travelled on 17 miles down the Suttor. the course about W.S.W. as we proceed down the river changes considerably, becoming very much smaller, and having a great number of Casuarina, and the large Melaleuca with broad leaves, this latter tree is often a drooping character hanging over the river bed very like the Willow. the whole length of this stage water only occurred twice in the bed of the river and these two very small pools, a Vitex brush runs parrallel with the banks at an average of about a quarter of a mile back, with an occasional patch of Brigalo. Brown α I started off to explore for the next stage, as I only intended finding a short stage for Sunday as usual I did not take provisions or my Gun with me; following down the banks in two miles we came upon iron stone ridges jutting out upon the river and in its bed in a mile farther the river divided into three branches411, I took the Northern α Western one so as to keep in our course as nearly as possible, in a mile I was surprised to find it re=gularly entering the Scrub, and in fact soon became a regular Scrub creek, and as we proceeded on the water course became more shallow α narrow, and divided into so many little courses and winded α twisted about through the thick Scrub that it was difficult often to make out the leading one, but the flooded Gum continuing with it was our guide. in this way I continued for five miles, when seeing an opening to the Southward, I made for it and came upon the banks of what appeared the main course, and having open flats on both banks I chose this in preference to continuing in the scrub, up to this I had only seen one little puddle of water in the scrub, from the greenness of the banks I was now in hopes of finding water and returning to the camp, but our search was in vain, till at length night came on, and I halted, as there was no water I had the horses tyed up to prevent their rambling from us, and we had

Note 410

McLaren put Datura Camp at GR 539 059 on the Wyena 1: 100,000 map 8454. He was able to be exact about the location of this camp as he had the help of John Heelan, owner of the property Pasha on Eaglefield Creek, about 9km to the south of Datura Camp. John has more recently been helping C.T.F. with the route of the expedition through the area. Murphy recorded in his diary that Datura camp was on the river, a short distance from a waterhole, and had been an Aborigine camp. They had fled, with all their belongings, after Roper had chased one of them on his horse the previous day. According to Rod Fensham et al (Fensham, Bean, Dowe & Dunlop 2006: 474), “Datura” refers to a plant later named after Leichhardt, Datura leichhardtii. This Thornapple, which is poisonous, is thought to have somehow been introduced from the Americas before the European settlement of Australia.

Note 411

A branch of the river running into the Suttor from the south-east is at GR 475 045 on the Gunjulla 1:100,000 map 8354, and then the Suttor branches into two about half a kilometre futher west. On Google Earth three creeks appear to diverge from GR 475 045. As Gilbert says, a ridge crosses the Suttor at GR 480 055 and then appears to run along the northern bank for about two kilometres. This all needs to be checked with the Route Group.