Also in this section…?

John Gilbert diary entry

16 May 1845 - 17 May 1845

Page 102. Volume 2

[left hand margin]


12 miles

9 N.N.W.

Lagorchestes Camp

saw when reconnoitering, but our travelling on the opposite side, we missed seeing them, the Dr names this Big Ant-hill Creek606; just after we camped α while eating our lunch, a number of Natives made their appearance on the ridge above us, but it was evident none of our late visitors were among them, for after a very short time engaged in peeping down upon us from behind Rocks α trees, they all went off. Our medium course for the day was about N.N.W. and our days travelling fully 12 miles, in a direct line perhaps 9. A beautiful species of the Genus Lagorchestes was to day killed by our Dog, it appears very like Goulds L. conspicilatus [sic] - if not, it is a new one607. Several large flocks of Artamus cinereus, again ob=served to day.

[in left margin]

Sat 17th.

12 miles

9 N N W

To day we again travelled over the Basaltic Table land, the whole route was not as regularly level as yesterdays, occasionally becoming slightly undulating, but all very fine open forest land, and richly grassed, at about 7 miles a hill of granitic formation rose up out of the Basalt, at 9 miles we came to a large plain, we crossed it where it was two miles in breadth, from this the next mile was over Basalt flats, and several smaller plains, here we came upon a short ridge of granite passing this in half a mile we came upon a small narrow stream almost buried in the rank vegetation growing on each side running down through a flat very lightly timbered in about an easterly course. this small running Brook appears to divide the two formations, on its left is Granitic formation - while on its opposite is the field of Basalt, following it down to Big-Ant hill Creek, where it continues on to the Burdikin. The Dr is so much interested in the Geological features of the country that he has chosen to reconnoiter again from this, and left us for that purpose accompanied by Brown. Charlie while out with the Dr last recon=noitering lost his Bag containing many things of value, he has to ride at least 11 miles out, and as the day was far advanced when we came to Camp608, he will not return to night, particularly as the Dr wished him to proceed on for five or six miles farther to endeavour to find water. our medium course for the day is about N.N.W. [in?] a direct line probably 9, soon after the Dr

Note 606

A large pencil arrow points to the text of Gilbert’s diary just to the left of this creek name.

Note 607

This must have been Leichhardt’s Rat Kangaroo Lagorchestes conspicillatus leichardti, a subspecies of the Spectacled Hare-Wallaby. It was described as Lagorchestes leichardti by John Gould in 1853, from specimens of a female and her young joey which were probably collected at this location, i.e. on Anthill Creek on the 16th May 1845, by the expedition’s kangaroo dog. Gould, who seems to have only sketchily read Gilbert’s diary, could find no reference to this kangaroo – even though Gilbert had written that “it appears very like Goulds L. conspicilatus” - and therefore assumed it has been collected by Leichhardt after Gilbert had died, so somewhere between the Gulf of Carpentaria and Port Essington. Gould therefore named it after Leichhardt, although he misspelt his name. The two specimens are now in the Australian Museum (AM Palmer Register 1103/1, female mount & 1103/2, juvenile skin). The fact that Leichhardt had claimed all natural history specimens apart from the birds has masked the collecting date and locality of these specimens, as Gilbert would probably have labelled them properly given the chance. Later references have given the type locality as the Valley of Lagoons (e.g. Mahoney in Walton 1988, Zoological Catalogue of Australia vol.5 Mammalia: 61; Mahoney quoted Calaby, J.H., pers. comm.), they were indeed in the most northern part of the valley on 16th May 1845. John Calaby, Australia’s most senior and universally respected mammalogist, was quite convinced that the types of Lagorchestes leichardti had been collected in this area, and that Gilbert had prepared the skin of at least the female, which (even though since mounted) is a fine specimen (pers. comm. to CTF, as said many times in the 1980 and 1990s).

Note 608

This campsite was named “Camp on the Tableland” on his sketch map by Leichhardt. McLaren placed the campsite at GR 018 807 on the 1: 100,000 Cashmere map, as he had been advised of a map which showed a tree blazed by the expedition near this point (Sheet 5 of the 1.126720 (2 miles to one inch) North Kennedy Survey), and was later told by Ken Atkinson of Glen Harding station that the campsite must have been just south of what is now the station’s homestead, as there is a spring-fed stream running round the homestead which runs over a basaltic bed and drains into a large swamp. All this agrees with Gilbert’s description of the “small running brook” and its surroundings. This is the swampy area to the north-west of the headwaters of what is now named “Leichhardt Creek”, which runs into Anthill Creek at Mielings Timber Mill (GR 044 739). Leichhardt had thought this watercourse was still Anthill Creek, but the headwaters of this runs down from the east.