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John Gilbert diary entry

8 May 1845 - 10 May 1845

Page 94. Volume 2

[in left margin]

1232

distant, and as well as I could make out the river seemed to incline a little to the west of north591, while out we came upon the Natives, and as they cooeyed to us as soon as they saw us I concluded they were the same as we had seen a few days ago. they did not however come to us, and we passed on; one plant the Calathamnus was remarked on the river where it runs through the Lakes, this plant we have not before seen since leaving the Condamine.

[in left margin]

Friday 9th

7 Miles N.

Calathamnus Camp592.

the meat although not quite dry was still so far advanced as to enable us to proceed, and we made the short stage of about 7 miles to just beyond the large Lake. here we came just upon the Natives camp, they were much more civil to day and after talking for about half an hour, and giving us a kind of yam ready roasted, they left us very quietly, Charlie said they had promised to bring us more; They accordingly returned in the evening but not with any of the Yams, they talked with us in a friendly manner for about half an hour, exchanged several things with us, and left us apparantly in very good humour.

[in left margin]

Sat 10th.

N N E

8 miles

While we were loading our Bullocks the Natives came up to us, and several of them crossed the water to our side, they did not seem so well pleased as yesterday, before we were fairly out of sight of the Camp, they all rushed over and were busily engaged in searching about picking up any little thing which attracted their attention, just at this juncture it was discov=ered that the Bell was left behind, and Brown α Calvert were sent back to search for it. it had fallen off the horse's neck while at tether. on their return the Natives all rushed across the river, Brown soon found the Bell, and as he α Calvert were turning round to return to us, several of the boldest of the young men threw their spears at them, none of them however fell nearer than two or three yards of them; it is difficult to understand, what they may have meant by this, it may have been mere wantonness on their part, or it may have been done to induce us to show them what we have as defencive [sic] weapons. they have become so accustomed to hear the report of our Guns, when we have been shooting, that the report alone does not in the least alarm them, there were not many of them probably not more than 10, so that had it been necessary to have come to close collision with them, our weapons would in all probability

Note 591

The Burdekin River actually comes from the east after this point, so was Gilbert looking at the course of Anthill Creek, which runs down into the Burdekin from the north-west?

Note 592

Leichhardt actually wrote “Calothamnus camp” on his field sketch map, to the right of the asterisk marking their campsite of 9th May, but he later altered this to “Calostemon camp” (not Calestamon, as McLaren recorded), and spelt it “Callistemon” in his published journal (1847: 248). Callistemon viminalis is the Weeping Bottlebrush, a common shrub found along watercourses in Queensland. McLaren placed this campsite at GR 011 367 on the 1: 100,000 Valley of Lagoons map 7960, just to the west of what the expedition members – probably Gilbert - called Pelican Lakes. They were so named on John Arrowsmith’s published map of the route of the expedition, although Leichhardt only wrote “lake with flocks of Pelicans” against the southern lake on his field sketch map.