Also in this section…?

John Gilbert diary entry

4 May 1845 - 5 May 1845

Page 87. Volume 2

[in left margin]

Reedy Brook Camp581.


we have found a new species of Potomis582, the species first observed on the Mackenzie is found here but much finer examples, smoke from Natives fires is seen in all directions around us, this great extent of water doubtless attracts them in great numbers; during the afternoon the following species were killed Amadina castanotis - Pelidna Australis - Erythrogonys cinctus - Ceblepyris leucomela583, all four for the first time seen in the expedition. Amadina modesta α Poephila cincta are also abundant here. the little stream is named Reedy Brook.

[in left margin]

Monday 5.


From the peculiar character of the country we are now upon the Dr thinks it ne=cessary to reconnoiter before proceeding farther, he α Charlie therefore started off to the westward, while Roper α Brown have returned to the last camp, the only practicable crossing through the lakes to the river, for the purpose of following it up and ascertain if it fairly takes its rise from this great collection of Lakes α Lagoons. This I thought an excellent opportunity for collecting, and I and Murphy crossed the little stream and while searching for novelties among the network of Lagoons α Basalt, were suddenly surprised by the appear=ance of Natives all armed with spears, as only two were left at the Camp it was the most prudent course to return, in case they surrounded us in too great numbers. after our return they were seen in the little opening of the scrub which grows every where on the Basaltic fields. instead therefore of being enabled to ramble about, I was kept a prisoner at the Camp. in expectation of the Natives coming to speak to us. for a long time they remained peeping at us through the Scrub, without speaking, at length I cooeyed to them, when they appeared to muster up their courage, and advanced close to the op=posite bank of the rivulet and for a long time we continued talking to each other without either understanding a word, they however were well armed with their spears α throwing boards and appeared by their gestures as if a very little would induce them to show us the use of them; I led my horse towards the water nearly opposite them, and they immediately beat a retreat, just after this while they were debating very loudly behind the scrub, Roper came in alone on Brown's horse, his horse in getting up the bank of the river, slipped over a rolling stone, and Roper thinks has broken its leg. the black fellows did not at all relish seeing an addition to our numbers and seemed not a little astonished.

Note 581

McLaren placed Reedy Brook Camp at GR 903 346 on the 1: 100,000 Valley of Lagoons map 7960. This was near the most westerly point of the basalt field before it swung to the north, as shown on Leichhardt’s field sketch map. The creek they camped on is actually now known as Expedition Creek, as it joins what is now Reedy Brook at a point just west of Saltern Lagoon. Leichhardt (1847: 241) thought these watercourses were one and the same. The Harriman family of Reedy Brook Station on Expedition Creek, just to the east of Reedy Brook Camp, sponsored the monument to the expedition which now stands near the campsite. It was erected during the Dalrymple Shire Council Leichhardt Rally in 2006.

Note 582

The molluscan genus “Potomis”, according to William Swainson’s A Treatise on Malacology: Or, Shells and Shell Fish” (1840), have “coronated” type of shells with “obscure spines and granulated points”.

Note 583

These were the first records during the expedition for the Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata castanotis, probably Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata or possibly Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis, Red-kneed Dotterel Erythrogonys cinctus and Varied Triller Lalage leucomela. In all cases not only were they the first records for the expedition, but they were species not seen by Gilbert again. The Zebra Finch may be the Murphy Collection specimen from Queensland which is now in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. If so, this would be the bird listed as "Amadina castanotis - 1" in Murphy's list of birds in the back of his expedition diary. “Pelidna Australis”, which is probably the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata, could be one or both of two Gould Collection specimens at Tring: BMNH 1881.5.1.5823 and 5839 (this may be .5838), both are from “New South Wales”. The only possible Red-kneed Dotterels found so far which match this data are two Tweeddale Collection birds now in the Natural History Museum (BMNH 1891.10.5.380 & 1891.10.5.?). These are both labelled “Queensland” in John Gould’s writing, but such specimens are thought to be later material collected by Charles Coxen. Two specimens of the Varied Triller from “New South Wales” are in Philadelphia, but these are unlikely to be from the expedition, as Leichhardt Expedition specimens now in ANSP were generally listed as being from “Interior of Australia” or “Port Essington [Expedition]” in the Verreaux Catalogue. Plum-headed Neochmia modesta and Black-throated Finches Poephila cincta were “abundant”, as they had been further south. Specimens of both finches, collected during December of 1844 by Gilbert and Murphy, are in Liverpool and Exeter. There are also three Black-throated Finch specimens in ANSP which are listed as being from “Interior of Aust.” in the Verreaux catalogue. These may also have been collected on the Leichhardt Expedition.