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John Gilbert diary entry

26 October 1844 - 27 October 1844

Page 97. Volume 1

have so much to do in the management of Bullocks and horses that no parties for the express purpose of hunting during the day can be made up, and all feel too much in=clined for quietness when arriving at camp during the heat of the day to do much then. In the scrub we saw that curious Plant the Bottle tree of the Colonists (Sterculia) we passed many of them, upwards of 15 feet in circumference, it is called the Bottle Tree from the resemblance of the trunk, and certainly several of them had exactly the outline of a Soda water Bottle, but what renders this tree more interesting is its edible qualities, the inner bark is reticulated, and the interstices have a fleshy white pith which is the edible portion when eaten it is mucilaginous, and very agreable to the palate, it would doubtless preserve a man from hunger for a considerable time, in the same scrub we found the fruit described by Major Mitchell (Fusanus) the ripe fruit has a very agreable acid and sweet, but the unripe are very bitter. in the same scrub and frequently before arriving on the top of the range many of the Plants common between the coast range and Brisbane were common particularly the Pomadarum. (Days Dist. 9½ miles).

Sund Oct 27. The morning exceedingly cold, with an easterly wind, the Bullocks α horses last night gave us the slip, and imagining that they would cer=tainly make their way back to the last camping place it was intended we should remain stationary to day but to our surprise Charlie brought them all in by 8 o'clock, and the Dr thinking we had better make the most of it gave the order to prepare for leaving our camping place, and as the day turned out we had much of remained at camp while the Dr and myself reconnoitered as it was his original intention; from our Camp we steered in a Northerly direction for 3½ miles when we unexpectedly came upon the Brigalo scrub, we then followed it down for 3½ miles, at first East, then round to S.E. when we came upon a chain of Lagoons running along the edge of the scrub, here the Dr most prudently halted for the day, since we had been driven so much out of our course57, after our usual Gelatine soup, the Dr. and myself with Charlie walked into the scrub in a N.E. direction for three miles when we saw very plainly that it would be quite impossible for us to pursue our way through it with horses α Bullocks, on returning I shot 3 Calyptorhyn=chus Leachii58 and a Pigeon, as something towards our Supper. A species of Zosterops which I believe is iden=tical with dorsalis was also killed59. Mr Roper α Brown went out in another direction to cater for our even=ings meal they returned with 3 Pigeons and a Night Heron altogether giving us a sufficient supply as compared with what we have lately had, the Dr is so dispirited at being driven so much out of his course in avoiding the scrub, he informed us he was determined to kill one of the Steers much sooner than he had originally intended. he has come to this conclusion for several reasons. in the first place we have to try the experiment

Note 57

The campsite was on what is now called Hospital Creek; Guluguba sheet 8945: 238 920.

Note 58

Red-tailed Black-cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii. These were presumably eaten rather than preserved.

Note 59

Silvereye Zosterops lateralis. This specimen cannot be matched with any extant specimen at present, but it may have been amongst the Zosteropidae at what was then Liverpool Museum. All the Museum's cabinets of skins were taken to safety in North Wales at the outbreak of the Second World War, it seems except for the White-eyes, which must have been inadvertently left behind. They would thus have been incinerated, along with the mounted birds and mammals, when the Museum was firebombed during the Liverpool Blitz. Many of those lost are known to have been Australian specimens of great scientific importance, such as Pig-footed Bandicoots and Thylacines.