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John Gilbert diary entry

2 May 1845 - 3 May 1845

Page 85. Volume 2

=ning very strong, and may run through a great extent of country yet. To day another H. pyrrhopygia was killed; Our dog to day made a successful run, and killed a fine Buck Kangaroo precisely resembling that killed at White Kangaroo Camp.

[in left margin]

Sat 3rd.

N by East

5 miles

days stage 10


Plothos Camp575 (“Reedy Brook Camp” deleted)


Travelled over about 10 miles of country, but in such a round about direc=tion, that we have not made more than five miles in a direct course. at first going pretty well to the westward for about four miles; keeping along the lower flat of the river, in consequence of the upper bank being so broken, as we travelled on we saw every where recent traces of natives, and as we had expect=ed ultimately came upon them in the bed of the river, as usual they immediately ran off on seeing us, at four miles the upper bank improved in appearance and on mounting it we found a fine flat before us along this for about 2 miles we travelled on in about a N.W. course. at this point the river was turned off by a ridge or stream of Basalt576, it fairly shut us out from the river, and we had from this to travel in a narrow valley, between a ridge of Whinstone on our left and on our right a perfect field of Black Lava, on which very little vegetation was seen, excepting the Bottle tree, and the usual Shrubs which accompany it and form a scrub. just as we came to the Basalt, on a flat, was a fine species of Zamia577, having Glaucous leaves, some of them having stems from four to 6 feet in height, it was confined to an area of not more than half a mile around, it is certainly a very elegant Plant, the seed of which proves to be one of the articles of food among the natives. the shells of which we first saw at Snowballs Last, and which at that time we could not make out. in making our way from the ridges of Whinstone we made a very bad course, at first steering for about 2 miles due north, and the remainder due east, the river fairly running down one side of a range on the opposite side from us and turning round the extremity which forms a round topped mountain runs up the other side in

Note 575

McLaren estimated Plothos Camp to be at GR 923 281 on the 1: 100,000 Valley of Lagoons map 7960, at the south end of a long lagoon in what is now called Reedy Brook, but he could not actually get near the site because of the “extremely rugged basalt country”. Leichhardt does not seem to have named this camp, but mentioned the “reeds, ferns and pothos” (spelt “Plothos” on his field sketch map) in the area. This plant could have been the highly invasive evergreen vine Epipremnum aureum, often called Golden Pothos; Gilbert may have mistaken Leichhardt in recording it as a waterlily. Gilbert also mentioned “beautiful blue Lotus”, which according to Fensham et al (2006: 479) would have been one of two waterlily species, Nymphaea gigantea or N. violacea.

Note 576

This basalt formation begins at GR 86 25, just north of where modern–day Reedy Brook runs into the Burdekin, and this outcrop becomes much larger further north. According to Gilbert’s diary the Zamia trees (palms) were in this area. Subsequently they began to travel up modern-day Reedy Brook, between two rock formations. Note that the watercourse Leichhardt actually named Reedy Brook seems to be present-day Expedition Creek, where they camped on 4th and 5th of May.

Note 577

Fensham et al (2006: footnote on page 480) identified Gilbert’s “Zamia” as probably being the cycad Cycas desolata, a species which was rediscovered in 1992 and formally described in 1995. It could otherwise have been a tree fern such as Cyathea cooperi.