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John Gilbert diary entry

22 March 1845 - 23 March 1845

Page 57. Volume 2

[in left margin]

"This is part of the [Suttor?], travd. on 23".424

when we by chance come upon dry or indifferent feed, they wander and give us a good deal of trouble in getting them in the next morning. while out I saw a number of Natives, as before they were so alarmed they immediately made off425; in following the river we found it wind [sic] about considerably, its general course being very much to the Eastward426, at about 4 miles from Camp I saw a clear hill427, to the westward, on ascending this I had a fine view, of dis=tant ranges, and ridges more in our immediate vicinity to the west at a distance of 12 to 15 miles was a range running N α S. to the Northard α Eastward α all round to the Southward were high ridges, which we have not before seen, the flat of the river winding about in its progress through them and being so closely timbered have prevented our seeing any thing beyond a mile distance, all the ridges and elevated parts of the country appeared open, free from Scrub, and well grassed.

[in left margin]

Sunday 23rd

12 miles


Easter Camp428

For course the three days from this see 26th429


12 miles of the river was followed down to day, at about 8 miles the ridges came much nearer the water course and the bed in consequence became much more narrowed in its limits, but still preserving the same character of detached water holes, the last four miles the bed was more sandy or gravelly than we have seen it since Big water hole camp. there is every appearance of the late rains having reached this part, for the water holes are in the most instances filled with rain water, and the grass α herbage generally is much greener, we camped at the junction of a river with the Suttor coming down from the South East. the large leaved Melaleuca is now very abundant on the banks, soon after we left the Camp Roper stayed behind to shoot Ducks, while engaged in swimming after his game his horse made his escape, and he thinking the creature had taken upon the tracks of our train walked on after us in expectation of overtaking us, and just after we had camped he came in, but his horse had not been seen by any of us, he α Brown therefore had to ride back, the horse in all probability having gone back to the last camp430. Natives were seen to day but they instantly disappeared in the scrub. during the day many aquatic Birds were observed, particularly the common species of Ducks, White Herons - Spoonbills - several species of Cormorants - Snake Birds α c. - The Dr α Charlie exploring the river downwards431. the last three days we have had a return of the hot weather and sultry evenings, but our early starts having been more frequent with the change of weather we have generally been enabled to come to camp by 12 o'clock, and thus we have escaped a good portion of the hottest part of the day.

Note 424

This comment in the margin was scribbled in blue pencil, by Thomas Mitchell or Alec Chisholm Gilbert and Charlie had scouted this section on the 22nd.

Note 425

Leichhardt wrote that “Mr Gilbert and Charley, when on a reconnoitring ride, met another party of natives; among them two gins were so horror-struck at the unwonted sight, that they immediately fled into the scrub; the men commenced talking to them, but occasionally interrupted their speeches by spitting and uttering a noise like pooh! pooh! apparently expressive of their disgust” (Leichhardt 1847: 189).

Note 426

Again, this is underlined in blue pencil, and must refer to Mitchell or Chisholm’s comment in the margin: “This is part of the [Suttor] travd. on 23[rd March]”.

Note 427

A hill of 239m is marked just north-west of the Suttor River and east of Horse Creek, at about GR 41 44.

Note 428

Leichhardt’s “Easter Sunday Camp”. Lacking the Scartwater map, McLaren could not give a grid reference for this camp, which he thought was probably on the south side of the junction of Yandan Creek and the Suttor River. From the Buchanan 1: 250,000 map SF 55-06 the approximate grid reference for this junction is GR 96 45 and McLaren gave the co-ordinates as about 21° 18’ S 146° 58’ E. However, on 24th March Gilbert wrote that “at first our course for 7 miles continued nearly due West”. If they had started from a point near Yandan Creek they would have first travelled north for about 3 miles before turning west. Perhaps “Easter Sunday Camp” was at the junction of the Suttor and Boundary Creek, which is at about GR 96 50, and also flows into the Suttor from the south-east. This also fits better with the total distances recorded for the 24th. Murphy recorded in his diary only that “Our camp lies at the junction of another large river with the Suttor, full of water and its banks covered with the new Melaleuca or tea tree which grows to a great size and its bark affords us a fine [substitute] for a feather bed” (Sprod 2006: 46).

Note 429

Note by Gilbert rather than Mitchell or Chisholm.

Note 430

Murphy recorded that Roper’s horse had indeed returned to Talcschiste Camp and was safely retrieved (Sprod 2006: 46)

Note 431

Leichhardt recorded (Leichhardt 1847: 191) during his scouting ride “a white crane” (probably an Eastern Great Egret Egretta modesta rather than a Jabiru), “the whistling duck” (which could have been either Plumed or Wandering Whistling-ducks Dendrocygna eytoni or arcuata), “Black ducks and teal” (Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa and probably Australian Grey Teals Anas gracilis).