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John Gilbert diary entry

26 March 1845

Page 60. Volume 2

[in left margin]


Wed 26th

9 miles

N by W

Rifle Bird Camp440


* 441

9 miles of the Suttor followed down to day; about 4 miles from Camp, we came suddenly upon a large Camp of Natives, all however except two old men immediately ran off, screaming and howling like so many Native dogs, the Dr dismounted, and approached the two old men, who stood their ground boldly, and soon gained a sufficient confidence, to talk most vociferously, they seemed so much taken up with the whiteness of our skin, that their whole attention for some time was taken up in a general examination of the Dr, gradually others of our party approached them, without their betraying any fear, while the general number of the Natives and particularly the Women were heard in the bush at a distance still screaming and whining and crying in a very mournful manner, it would be curious α certainly inter=esting if we had any means of communicating with them, but all our attempts of course is in gesticulation, in pointing to the river and requesting them to point out to us its course, whether it went to the westward, they would immediately point in that direction, but it would be difficult to determine, whether they were merely attempting to mimic us or if they really understood the question. Phillips exchanged his Jacket for an Opossom Cloak, and the poor old fellow, when they put the Jacket on him, wished to have both Cloak α Jacket the latter will doubtless prove a subject of examination α discussion among them, for some time to come, we left them, as we met them, friendly, that there is nothing to fear from them while we are continually moving seems evident, for on every occasion that we have approached them they have immediately ran off in the utmost alarm. The general character of the Suttor and adjoining country still the same, at about 6 miles442 we crossed the junction of a large Creek coming in from the Westward. During our march of to day the Rifle-Bird was observed, Charlie endeavoured to shoot it, but having to cross the river, he lost too much time, and the Bird es=caped him, My knee is yet so bad, as to render me incapable of walking, although anxious to search for Novelties, and the Suttor now becomes so interesting, that one has good reasons for expecting new pro=ductions. in passing along however from day to day, I have observed only common forms. Our observations of last night show us that we have the last 3 days made a much more Northern course than we had supposed, in following the windings of the river, it is certainly very difficult to make out the exact course; this is from not exploring the whole of the days stage beforehand, and now443 since the Dr has taken to attending to Duck shooting, the two cannot be combined, without making but a very short distance our medium course therefore from Easter Camp to Limestone Camp would be about N N W. a course which will soon bring us to the verge of Halifax Bay. The Dr α Charlie returned with 6 Ducks and a Pelican, the first time the latter species had been shot in the expedition444.

Note 440

Rifle-Bird Camp (named after the Paradise Riflebird Ptiloris paradiseus) was estimated by McLaren to be at about GR 850 915 on the 1: 100,000 Harvest home map 8256, although after several attempts to reach this area they found there was no track to follow and too much water in the river to travel along the bed.

Note 441

Presumably [Gilbert] inserted this asterisk later, as it is in the margin opposite Gilbert’s notes on the direction from Easter Camp to Limestone Camp; these are underlined.

Note 442

At this point a pencilled arrowhead has been inserted later on.

Note 443

The whole section describing their route that day, from “Our observations last night” to “from not exploring the whole of the days stage beforehand, and now”, has been underlined later in blue pen.

Note 444

Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus.