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John Gilbert diary entry

3 May 1845 - 4 May 1845

Page 86. Volume 2

[in left margin]


First Parra

an opposite direction. all at once we emerged from the Black stone and came upon a flat having rounded hillocks of Quartzite, Sionite, and different forms of Granite; following a northerly course for about half a mile, we came up=on dry beds of swamps crossing which we came upon a small narrow stream, almost choked up with reeds α Lotus α c, running nearly N α S. this we at once supposed came from a strong spring, and in all probability near the sourse of the Burdikin, however we were still out in our suppositions, for in crossing it and making for a hill bearing a little S of east578 the river was seen beyond winding its way beneath a range and not more than 2 miles from our Camp. following it up at two miles was the junction of the little stream on which we are camp [sic], and which may be considered as an annabranch, which in its course supply's numerous fine Lakes; there is also a sort of middle channel, running along the field of Basalt, which however has not a running stream but having numerous fine Ponds, with the beautiful blue Lotus in fine perfection. Saw Parra Gallinacea579. Here we first saw the genus of Plothos a species of Nymphaea. Charlie α Brown made up their quarrel.

[in left margin]

Sunday 4th.

N 5 miles

Mel: sericea580

To day we made but a short stage of five miles and in about a North course, but in getting clear of the ridges and numerous lakes α small streams we again came upon the Whinstone, this we had to mount, and when on the top found it tolerable travelling but again very rocky, our Bullocks having had so much of bad travelling of late are beginning to show symptoms of knocking up, it therefore requires more than usual caution in driving them over so bad a country; we therefore made a short stage to ease them a little during yesterday and to days camp which are both similar to days camp being on the little Reedy stream or another as yesterday, numerous species of Birds are now for the first time making their appearance, among the most conspicuous is Parra gallinacea, and singular enough the Meliphaga sericea, or a very nearly allied species, various others are flitting about us, but as yet I have not shot them. from a hill very near our camp we can see towards the Eastward a broad extent of valley with numerous fine lakes of water; on this part of the Burdikin

Note 578

This hill was probably the one marked at GR 925 273 on the Valley of Lagoons map. From here they would have been able to see the Burdekin running past, to the east side of the basaltic formation. If McLaren’s siting of the campsite is correct, this was actually about a kilometre west of the Burdekin.

Note 579

A pencilled arrow over the text near this species name - which translates as Irediparra gallinacea novaehollandiae, the Comb-crested Jacana or Lotus-bird - may have been made by Alec Chisholm to indicate this record. Other arrows are drawn over the text where it contains more bird names. According to Leichhardt (1847: 241) Charley had shot this jacana, and Gilbert had only seen the species before at Port Essington. This specimen has not been found, it is probably not one of the three Gould specimens from “Port Essington” in Philadelphia, as they are almost certainly from the Northern Territory site. No bird in the collections of the Natural History Museum in Tring looks likely (although Godman-Salvin Collection 1881.11.7.972, an adult from Queensland, should be checked). Have checked at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. National Museums Liverpool’s LIV D5307s, Gould Collection but with no data, has been checked, and also looks unlikely; it is a really bad specimen even by Leichhardt Expedition standards.

Note 580

“Meliphaga sericea” is the White-cheeked Honeyeater Phylidonyris niger. This specimen has not been found, but the Natural History Museum’s BMNH 1881.5.1.1435 and .1436, both Gould Collection adults from “New South Wales”, should be checked.