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John Gilbert diary entry

15 March 1845 - 16 March 1845

Page 53. Volume 2

the disagreable necessity of camping at night without any thing to eat or drink, or even the means of getting a fire, and without our Blankets, I feared we should have a wet night, but fortunately for us in such a situation we escaped with only a few drops412.

[in left margin]

Sunday 16th.


839 1/2

As soon as it was light enough we saddled our horses and just as we were starting I heard Native Companions α the Grallina, I was now sure that water must be near, and making for the spot, we searched every hollow but only found a very small muddy pool, not at all sufficient for our wants, I then proceed[ed] to follow the river down, and in three miles it entered the scrub and soon became as the other branch did yesterday a mere Scrub Creek. continuing to follow it, I came upon an immense flat, over which the rush of water has cut out for itself innumerable little channels, in fact the whole extent of the flat for a mile in breadth on each side bears the marks of being regularly inundated at every rush of water, large trees are lying about in the Scrub appearing as if fairly torn up by the roots by the force of water, all now however even the deepest pools α hollows are as dry as if water had never been left in them, I continued on however with the hope of ultimately getting through the scrub or beyond the flat, untill I came to an Iron stone ridge, this I ascended413, but when on the top, I was not repaid for my trouble, it was so thickly clothed in trees, I could scarcely see beyond it, as I was afraid of knocking up the horses if I pushed on farther I now beat a retreat, by keeping a little more South we avoided a good deal of the Scrub, which appears to keep in a belt of about a mile in breadth. from the true water course, returning to the place where I heard the Native Companions in the morning, I searched the country at a greater distance round, and ultimately found two fine pools of water in a creek414, and within two hundred yards of where I was searching last night, such is the chance of finding water that when anxiously looking into every hollow we doubtless often pass very close to a good supply without detecting it. judging this to be from ten to twelve miles, I proceeded back to Camp as quickly as possible, but too late to enable our train to proceed, the Dr was very anxious about me he did not think I could brave 24 hours hunger in search of our greatest disideratum

Note 412

From this Gilbert’s account that he had scouted along the main course of the Suttor River, and the fact that the next day he discovered they had camped very near the waterhole which became the expedition camp of 17th – 18th March (“Natives Store Camp” of Gilbert, “Blackfellow Store Camp” of Leichhardt and Murphy) means that he and Brown must have camped on one of the many tributaries of the Suttor at about GR 36 05.

Note 413

Gilbert wrote in his diary on the 19th March that “Big water-hole on the Suttor Camp” was just two miles from where he and Brown had ascended the ridge on the 16th. This point on the ridge must have been above the complex of channels of the Suttor, just south of the property Gunjulla (Gunjulla is at GR 217 115).

Note 414

McLaren could not place exactly the expedition’s camp of 17th – 18th March, but he thought it was likely to be on a tributary known as “The Soak”, east of a rocky ridge. He therefore placed it at GR 335 046 on the Gunjulla 1: 100,000 sheet 8354. Gilbert did not see any Aborigines there on the 15th, but their stores were kept within a hundred yards of these two “fine pools of water”, which must have been permanent.