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John Gilbert diary entry

11 April 1845

Page 70. Volume 2

[in left margin]


Friday 11th

W N W?

12 miles

New Gum Camp490.


The river Burdikin to day ran off a little Southerly at first for about 2 miles, but again turned back to the N α Westward, at five miles a large Casuarina creek came in from S.W. it had apparantly been very lately supplied with a fresh of rain water, and was still running slowly in one part of the bed, which was very rocky; at 8 miles we crossed a second creek, also coming in from the S.W. At 3 miles from Camp on the left bank a large river came in from the North'd but had a dry sandy bed491. our days stage again over very fine country, and an improvement in the Timber, in many parts regular flats receded back from the river bank, at five miles a Vitex brush (very thin however) ran along parrallel with the river for about four miles and the Box α narrow leaved Iron bark became very frequent, and tolerably fine tree’s, while the grass was of the finest description, perhaps no part of Australia could exceed it in number of varieties. The Oreica gutturalis - Microeca macroptera - Platycercus paliceps - Nymphicus Novae-Holl: - the two species of Tropidorhynchus - Cracticus nigrogularis - Cincloramphus (lesser) - Ptilotis fusca - Ptilotis penicillata - Rhipidura Motacilloides and other forms still accompany us as abundantly as first observed at the first part of the expedition; The Milvus isurus has now fairly taken the place of the M. affinis492. our present Camp is for the first time beneath the shade of the fine new Eucalyptus first observed on our march from Bitter Tea Camp493, surrounded by rocky ridges of Pegmae=tite, that is Felspar α Quartz: the trees again on the rocky ground have become stunted; on the opposite side of the river rises from the bank an elevated stony ridge very rocky and having very little vegetation on its sides or top494. The river does not yet at all change preserving the same average breadth, the same rocky bed, with intervals of gravel or sand and its sides with thick Fig tree brush and rank blady grass, the water still running in a clear and beautiful stream. I have not observed any of the Hirundines since Gilberts Birthday Camp495. It is worthy of remark, that since leaving Smooth-tailed Wallaby Camp we have not seen Milvus affinis, Milvus isurus having since then taken its place, Malurus Lambertii as yet, has not been observed on the Burdikin. The hill on the opposite side of the river from our Camp and the ridges on the right bank around us is Pegmatite formation.

Note 490

New Gum Tree Camp (of Leichhardt) was placed by McLaren at GR 265 928 on the Dotswood 1: 100,000 map 8158. McLaren correctly quoted Murphy’s original diary as saying they had camped “under the shade of a new gum tree with beautiful white bark and dark green bowers”, whereas Dan Sprod (2006: 50) has missed a section from this and has “under the shade of a new gumtree with beautiful leaves”. McLaren was pleased to see that a good number of beautiful white gums were still growing there. During the Dalrymple Shire Council Leichhardt Rally of 2006 a monument to “The Camp of the New Gum Tree” was erected about 200m downstream from the campsite, which due to the Charters Towers weir is now permanently under water.

Note 491

These must have been Moonlight Creek (5 miles) and Gladstone / Carlyon Creek (8 miles), which run into the Burdekin from the south and Oaky Creek (9 miles), which runs in from the north. Strangely neither Gilbert nor Leichhardt mentioned the Fanning River, which runs into the Burdekin from the north-east about a mile north of Annabranch Camp.

Note 492

This short bird list translates as: Crested Bellbird, Jacky Winter, Pale-headed Rosella, Cockatiel, Little & Noisy Friarbirds, Pied Butcherbird, Rufous Songlark (probably), Fuscous Honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, Willie Wagtail. The Square-tailed Kite had “fairly taken the place of the” Black Kite. Later in Gilbert’s account for the 11th April: “Hirundines” are members of the swallow and martin family and “Malurus Lambertii” is a Variegated Fairy-wren.

Note 493

Bitter Tea Camp was their camp of 10th February 1845, and the new gum the Poplar Gum Eucalyptus platyphylla (Fensham et al 2006: 472). Leichhardt had actually first noticed this tree on 8th February.

Note 494

McLaren thought this was Weir Hill, which must have been the hill Leichhardt (1847: 210) and Murphy (Sprod 2006: 50) climbed. In modern times a large weir has been built just south of here and across the river, damming the Burdekin back for several miles, and it is a beautiful spot with many of the white gums which both John Murphy and Glen McLaren noted, at least 145 years apart.

Note 495

Their campsite of 14th March 1845.