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John Gilbert diary entry

18 March 1845 - 19 March 1845

Page 55. Volume 2

in accomplishing it, if we cannot proceed on more rapidly we have thus 18 months more before us, no very pleasant prospect, and with only 12 Head of Bullocks, which last us perhaps on the average about a month each, we shall thus have six months without anything to fly to but our horses; that we may be saved this painful ne=cessity is heartily prayed for by us all, but at the very best we can all very plainly see something like a severe struggle before us, if we could be so fortunate as to meet with a regular water course conducting us to the Gulf our time α distance may be very much shortened, but in the present dry α uncertain state of the country, our safety depends en=tirely on the necessity of constantly reconnoitering and thus the frequent delays, which we all deplore, cannot be avoided. our expectations of meeting with the regular tropical rains led us to suppose that at about this time we should be enabled to travel on with=out interruption or a chance of a want of water occurring, but in this we have been en=tirely disappointed, at a time and part of the country where we expected to meet with the greatest supply of water, we have on the contrary found the least, whether the seasons are different or whether this is an extraordinary dry season, it is difficult to even conjecture, the weather too during the last month has been singularly cloudy but with the exception of a few days with Thunder Storm, no rain has fallen. perhaps we may have a more desirable change with the approaching equinox. The Dr α Charlie returned in the evening having explored two days stages.

[in left margin]

Wed 19th

W N W

12 miles

Big water-hole on the Suttor Camp417

21=37=0

865

13 miles in W N W course was accomplished to day, and we camped at the end of a large pool of water only two miles beyond the ridge I α Brown ascended in our last reconnoiter, Charlie who led the way escaped the greatest portion of the Scrub which lines the banks of the different channels of the Suttor, the pool on which we have camped is two miles long, and in some parts two hundred yards in breadth, but on both sides the Scrub is very thick varying from a half to a mile in breadth. Ducks were observed very numerous, and Pelicans, Cormorants and other aquatics, were fre=quently seen, from the depth and general appearance of the water we were induced to try our lines, but were not successful in catching any fish. a party forming two on each bank went out with Guns to shoot ducks but notwithstanding they were so numerous, only suc=ceeded in shooting five, Roast Duck however for supper was an agreable change.

Note 417

Leichhardt’s “Bigwater Camp”, which apparently was a reference to Charlie, who cried out “Look there, Sir! what big water!” when he first saw the lake (Leichhardt 1847: 185). Murphy referred to this as “Long Waterhole Camp on the Suttor”. He wrote that it was three miles long, in the bed of the Suttor, and so broad they only managed to shoot five of the “immense numbers” of ducks they saw on the water (Sprod 2006: 45). McLaren considered he was able to place Bigwater Camp exactly, at GR 186 088 on the Gunjulla 1: 100,000 map 8354, on the northern end of what is now known as Lake Suttor.