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John Gilbert diary entry

21 October 1844 - 23 October 1844

Page 93. Volume 1

such a situation and so far from water, and that no Grallina's were about as in the former case - the nest like the last had a very thick lining of fine grass, and appeared as if just finished for the recep=tion of eggs. The creeks banks and bed very rocky the formation the Dr. could not make out but thinks it a decomposed Porphyry or Conglomerate. (Days Dist 7 miles).40

Tues Oct 22. Our whole route lay through a continuation of yesterdays sameness of flat thickly timbered country, our course the whole day due N.W. occasionally skirting the great scrub on our left with a chain of Lagoons on right on one of which we camped for the night. Our Bullocks travelled the whole time very quietly. To day I saw for the first time the Scythrops, flying above the trees out of the reach of the guns, it appears a very restless bird, and utters an extraordinary harsh loud croaking kind of sound, which reminded me very much of the Native Companion41. (Days Dist. 10 miles.)42

Wed Oct 23. Our progression to day as yesterday through a thick forest country, occasionally rather more open spots, and the Oak brushes were of frequent occurrence and we several times came upon the edge of the Brig=alo Scrub, in 9 miles we came upon a Creek having rocky banks, from 30 to 40 feet high, with flood marks very much over the banks, its course where we made it was about N.W.43, this we crossed and following down for half a mile came upon its Junction with a still larger one and which was running slowly to the North=ward α Westward, in the angle formed by the two we brought up for the day44 having made a N.W. course. a specimen of Eurostopodus albogularis was killed*45. having come to camp early we were enabled to make up three shooting parties, and those at camp tried fishing, but as before without success, the result of the shooting was a Native Companion, and four Bronze winged Pigeons α a Bandicoot - this is about the best supply of game we have had at any one time (excepting the two Kangaroos). hitherto our meals as regards Animal food have been very scanty, either three or four Pigeons only or three Ducks, or two Monitor Lizards, either of these formed a mess, which when divided among ten persons, made each proportion very small, however to make even this small quantity go as far as possible we generally had them stewed in a large quantity of water and this well thickened with flour, and when we have had no game at all, either Gelatine soup or chocolate thickened with flour. this latter unfortunately had been so frequent that the last of it disappeared yesterday while at Kents Lagoon our long camping place, we were so constantly having it, that this alone sug=gested the name given to it by the Dr, in remembrance of Mr Kent who presented him with the whole stock of Chocolate brought by the party; this evening in having so much game the question was how should we divide it. this was the Drs Birthday46

Note 40

Leichhardt named their campsite Cypress Pine Camp; this was located just west of the present Auburn Road and the abandoned railway on Chinchilla sheet 9044: GR 598 545.

Note 41

Gilbert was comparing the harsh call of the Channel-billed Cuckoo Scythrops novaehollandiae with that of the Brolga (or Native Companion) Grus rubicundus.

Note 42

The campsite on the 22nd October was in forest, the approximate location is on the Guluguba sheet 8945 at GR 495 695. Apart from seeing the Channel-billed Cuckoo, Gilbert also collected at least one bird that day. According to the label on a male Fuscous Honeyeater Lichenostomus fuscus now in National Museums Liverpool, it was collected by Gilbert on 22nd October 1844 (LIVM D1019s).

Note 43

Leichhardt named the rocky-banked creek running north-west “Acacia Creek”; Guluguba sheet 8945 gives this as McCaw Gully. The larger creek he named Dogwood Creek.

Note 44

Their campsite on the night of the 23rd October was at the junction of Acacia (McCaw) and Dogwood Creeks (sheet 8945: GR 389 767).

Note 45

This specimen of White-throated Nightjar Eurostopodus mystacalis has not been found and may not have survived the expedition.

Note 46

Leichhardt, who then became 31, did not mention his own birthday in his Journal.