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John Gilbert diary entry

3 April 1845 - 4 April 1845

Page 66. Volume 2

[in left margin]


Lat 20=31=0

8 miles

N by W.

2nd Camp [on the Burdekin]

had a most extensive view of a very mountainous country, extending from N to S.E. to the N α Westward appeared the valley of the Burdikin. the rock composing this Peak the Dr could not determine satisfactory [sic], at first sight it appears like Quartzite, but he thinks it some other formation, which has been changed by fire, it is Thermantite, that is a Felspartic rock, which has been Porcelainised, in it are grains of Quartz. when we had descended the Mountain and while endeavouring to find the tracks of our train we came upon a number of Natives, as before they immediately ran off in the greatest alarm; along the river bank is a curious description of Fig, the fruit growing in bunches from the bole of the tree, many of these were ripe and as large as a Turkish Fig, and of very agreable flavour. I tried with my line α caught a new fish apparantly Cypraena or Carp form. it is small being about four inches in length only. it is a very beautiful species see description467.

[in left margin]

Fri 4th

N 35 W?

9 miles

Native Dog Camp468.

Pursuing our way up the left bank of the Burdikin, for the first mile it was most horrible travelling over a very broken country, a constant succession of Peaks or conical hills, many of them when near appearing in the most grotesque forms large Boulders of Granitic rock, appearing as if fairly piled by art, while our progress between them, was as rugged as can well be conceived, after the first mile we got into more clear and open country but still undulating, and much better travelling ground. the general appearance of the country α forest as yesterday having remarkably small Timber, consisting principally of Bloodwood α Iron bark, with a few Box, all however stunted, scarcely a tree could be seen that would measure a foot in diameter, we made about 9 miles course N 35 W. and our camp was near a fine range of Mountains running apparantly nearly E α W469. the river generally presents the same appearance as yesterday, preserving the same average breadth, and having large Tea trees, but if any thing more water, and large pieces of Rock and470 Boulders of Sionite in many places running across the bed, through which the water gushes through, with a noise resembling water falls, it is

Note 467

Presumably this description is one of those in Gilbert’s pencilled notes at end of the other, hard-backed, part of diary. For instance, Gilbert’s notes on page 165 record a “New Carp like fish. Transparent Fish ….” but his account does not say where it was from. More likely it was one of the fish recorded on Gilbert’s page 177, which reads “Narruol. Burdekin. Percus Dorsal 25 26 12 spinous Pectoral 15 16 Ventral 6 6 1 spinous Anal 11 13 12 3 spinous”, written over a previous account. Murphy (Sprod 2006: 49) also wrote that “This afternoon I caught several fish of a new species”. Leichhardt also recorded that “A small fish, with yellow and dark longitudional lines, and probably belonging to the Cyprinidae, was caught”. What this fish could this be – a rainbowfish, such as a pre-typical Australian Rainbowfish Melanotaenia s. splendida (Peters, 1866)? Check with James Maclaine at the Natural History Museum, and in Gunther’s catalogues for any possibilities.

Note 468

Native Dog Camp, their camp of 4th April 1845, was estimated by McLaren to be at GR 955 405 on the 1: 100,000 Ravenswood map 8257. They were about a mile west of present-day Mount Ravenswood station. The camp, under a Tea Tree, was named after a Dingo which the expedition’s kangaroo dog had chased. Leichhardt recorded (1847: 203) that the Dingo had been a bitch; she escaped because both dogs had fallen into the Burdekin. Murphy wrote (Sprod 2006: 49) that they had camped “near a beautiful cascade of granite with the water rushing furiously over, something entirely new to us”.

Note 469

Presumably this was the range seen (and drawn?) by Leichhardt, which was reproduced as a plate opposite page 203 in his Journal (1847)? Leichardt labelled the view as “Ranges seen from a Granitic hill between the 2nd and 3rd Camp at the Burdekin”, which would mean the sketch was made on the 4th April. In the text Leichhardt commented that “We passed several granitic peaks and ranges; one of which I ascended, and enjoyed an extensive view”. From the co-ordinates printed on Leichhart’s plate it seems he was looking north-east at what is now called the Leichhardt Ranges. Check with the Route Group. Where are the original sketches for this plate, and where are Leichhardt’s sketches of mountain ranges (if any)? Check with the Mitchell Library, and also check the microfilm of the original of Murphy’s diary.

Note 470

“pieces of Rock and” has been inserted by Gilbert.