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John Gilbert diary entry

16 April 1845

Page 74. Volume 2

[in left margin]


Wed 16th.

N. 9 miles.


Lon 143=44=0. Error.

see 24th.

Fritted Sand=stone Camp515

The river during our whole days stage of nine miles kept in nearly a North course varying very slightly occasionally to the East α West. at three miles we crossed a large Creek coming in from N.W. it had deep banks, with thickets of Casuarina, and high reeds the bed of it was at least 80 yards wide516, from this creek the ridge of Whinstone kept on its western course, and from the river were fine open flats, extending a considerable distance back, and for a change we had thus a whole days fine travelling; at about 7 miles I ascended a hill517 and saw to the Northward α Westward fine Ranges, the day however was very hazy α cloudy, and I could not see distant objects very clearly, but the range to the westward did not appear to be more than 15 miles distant, a valley as if of the Burdikin seemed to turn off to the westward of the Northern range, and from which many streams of smoke as if from numerous fires of the natives would seem to intimate the probability of our soon arriv=ing again to a populated part; hitherto, with but one exception we have not met with Natives on the Burdikin, and very few recent traces, perhaps it may in some measure be accounted for from the openness of the country and the very small trees; not being favorable to them, for hunting, and in giving a supply of Oppossoms Honey αc. A fish very like the Perch of the Namoi was caught from the stream of the Burdikin, and a small species of Carp like fish having several vertical stripes on the body518. I remarked to day the reappear=ance of the Collocalia arborea α Artamus cinereus519. during the days stage we passed two hills of Limestone, having numerous fossil remains particularly of Madripons α Corrolines α c520. During the afternoon, while out shooting I observed several species, which I had supposed had left us, the following species may be enumerated - Ptilotis sonorus - Ptilotis fusca - Ptilotis penicillatus - Tropidorhychus corniculatus - Melithreptus ----- - Geophaps scripta - Haliaster sphenurus - Milvus isurus - Athene Boobook - Dacelo Leachii - Dicrurus bracteatus - Colluricincla cinerea - Pachycephala pectoralis - Artamus cinereus - Artamus minor - Cracticus nigrogularis - Grallina

Note 515

Fretted Sandstone Camp was estimated by McLaren to be at GR 845 410 on the Hillgrove 1: 100,000 map 8058, just north of where the Star River runs into the Burdekin. He could not actually get to this site.

Note 516

The Basalt River and Stockyard Creek join about a kilometre west of the Burdekin and run into it at about GR 822 288.

Note 517

Peaks of 303 and 320m are marked on the 1: 100,000 Hillgrove map 8058 to the east of the Burdekin and approximately two miles south of their campsite. Perhaps one of these was the hill Gilbert climbed? Leichhardt (1847: 218) said that both Gilbert and Murphy had climbed the hill, which was of “baked sandstone, at the foot of which a limestone hill was covered with a patch of Vitex scrub … a large lagoon was at the western foot of the hill on which they were”. Was the lagoon the one marked at GR 844 345 on the Hillgrove map? Or were Gilbert and Murphy on a hill on the west side of the Burdekin, and were they looking west towards Miles Lake? That’s what Leichhardt’s sketch map seems to indicate. Need to check with the Route Group, and with the residents of Valpree station, which must be near this hill and but probably on the other side of the Burdekin. To the northwest the hills Gilbert saw would be the Perry Ranges, and behind these Mount Fullstop Range. To the west are ranges which include Mount Stockyard and Mount George. The course of the Burdekin River does indeed turn westward, actually south-westward, after Douglas Creek runs into it from the north, and it then passes behind Mount Fullstop Range.

Note 518

The species of fish Gilbert had caught in at Gundemain on the Namoi River (in March or April 1844) was named Datnia elliptica by Sir John Richardson in 1848 (probably from a George Bennett specimen from New south Wales). Richardson’s name is probably a synonym of Bidyanus bidyanus (Mitchell, 1838), the Silver Perch. This however does not occur in northern Queensland. Gilbert did also collect specimens of the Spangled Perch Leiopotherapon unicolor - in fact most of the type specimens - on the Gwydir River, just north of the Namoi, in April 1844 (he collected the other syntypes of this fish in May 1844, further north on Mosquito Creek). Spangled Perch are found throughout Queensland and perhaps they were the “fish very like the Perch of the Namoi” which Gilbert saw, although there are no specimens from the Burdekin River listed in Albert Gunther’s “Catalogue of the Acanthopterygian fishes in the … British Museum (1859, vol.1: 277). The “small species of Carp like fish having several vertical stripes on the body” could have been Barred Grunters Amniataba percoides (Gunther, 1864), which were not described till nearly 20 years later, from specimens from the Fitzroy River near Rockhampton. These grunters do occur in this area of Queensland and have five vertical stripes.

Note 519

Two rough pencil arrows have been drawn over Gilbert’s lists of birds for the 16th April, probably by Alec Chisholm or possibly John Gould. I have checked where the two heads of the arrows actually landed (“Collocalia arborea & Artamus cinereus” and “Pardalotus melanocephalus”) and none of these three accounts in Gould’s “The birds of Australia” contain any reference to the Leichhardt Expedition. However, Gould had based his account of “Artamus albiventris” (vol. 2, text & plate 30; this name translates as Artamus cinereus dealbatus) on two Gilbert specimens, one from the Darling Downs (collected in 1844) and the other from Peak Range Camp, which must have been collected on the 27th January 1845. Hence Gould might have been interested in any further comments Gilbert had written in his diary about Artamus cinereus; also see the footnote for the word “April”, which was written in above the date “Wed 23rd“ [April 1845] earlier in Gilbert’s diary.

Note 520

Fossilized Madrepores (stone corals) and Corallines (coralline algae).