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John Gilbert diary entry

2 October 1844 - 5 October 1844

Page 82. Volume 1

in the end he not only threw off the whole of his load, but broke the saddle so much that to have started after the ne=cessary repairs, would have been useless, the Dr therefore deter=mined on remaining at the same camp. In the evening during a second ramble I found the eggs for the first time of Tinnunculus cencroides, four in number, deposited in a hollow spout of a gum tree overhanging the creek. there was no nest, the eggs merely resting on a bed of decayed wood10.

Oct 3. Having been more on the alert in our nightly watches, both bullocks α horses were got ready in good time, and we left our camp soon after 9 o'clock. keeping in a N.W. direction for about nine miles, when we came upon a patch or rather line of scrub, with here α there open patches, in endeavouring to push our way through we at length came again upon open flat forest country, keeping a N.W. course for a further distance of five miles we halted at the edge of the great Brigalo11scrub, and a most formidable barrier it presented, appearing as a dark opaque wall as far as we could see to the right α left. one Bullock during the days route threw off its load which caused a delay of nearly an hour, the last five miles of country was rather soft α in many places presenting that description of ground known in the colony as Melon holes, in most of the hollows was several inches of water and in some much worse. beside of one large one we camped for the night. In Nat. Hist. the most remarkable thing seen and procured was a species of the Sleepy Lizard (Scincus) apparently very closely allied to the stump tailed Lizard of Western Australia12. Days Dist. 12 Miles13

Oct. 4. To day we commenced running down the side of the scrub for the purpose of making the Condamine, after about ten miles, we came upon a small Creek or rather chain of Ponds or Lagoons, and from the general features of the banks such as Myall scrubs, and the great scrub becoming a little more open we considered we could not be far from the object of our search, the Condamine River. Our Bullocks travelled the days march without a single accident, our first Kangaroo was killed to day, which proved a very acceptable dish for dinner, Bettongia rufescens14 was also killed, the Kangaroo was a young doe of Macropus major.15 Our course on the average was about S.W. the Dr in marking out our route makes us exactly 17 miles west of Jimba. At night Thunder storms with heavy showers. days Dist. 10 miles16

Oct 5. Running down the creek, at one time in a N N W and at another S.W. direction, we kept on the right bank travelling for rather more than four hours, and making a distance of about 10 miles, we camped on a clear open spot surrounded with Myall brush, and at a distance back the great Rose wood scrub. during the whole days route we travelled

over a beautiful grassy country with the great Scrub which proved our Barrier yesterday, jutting out upon the banks of the creek and in one or two places so close we could not escape pushing our way through it, where we first made this water course, there was very little bank, but as we proceeded downwards the banks on both sides became high, and here α there excellent spots for sta=tions, but the great extent of Scrub surrounding them must (at least while the natives are so untractable) render this beautiful country unavailable; from the appearance of the grass and sticks on the banks α lodged in the trees, the water course is at times subject to very great floods, as we saw it, it only presented a chain of reedy ponds running very slowly one into the

Note 10

Nankeen Kestrel Falco cenchroides. At least one, probably two, of these four eggs are now in the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology in Camarillo, California (WFVZ 178823, from the Darling Downs. One of the eggs is marked as having been collected on 2nd October 1844). Need to check for the other eggs at NHM Tring.

Note 11

Brigalow, called Bricklow Acacia by Leichhardt.

Note 12

Gilbert (and John Dring) had earlier collected the type specimens of the stump-tailed Gidgee Skink Egernia stokesii (Gray, 1845) in Western Australia, which notably include two fine mounted specimens from the Houtman Abrolhos Islands. These are all in the Natural History Museum in London. It is possible that the animal procured on 3rd October was also a Gidgee Skink, a species which does exist in western Queensland but (at least in modern times) is not found on the Darling Downs. Is there any chance this specimen is still extant, or did they just eat it?

Note 13

This campsite was on a small waterhole to the west of Jingi Jingi Creek, Jandowae sheet 9144: GR 045 409.

Note 14

Rufous Bettong Aeprymnus rufescens, a small kangaroo.

Note 15

Eastern Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteus.

Note 16

This campsite was on Cooranga Creek, at the north-west edge of what is now the settlement of Warra, and about half a kilometre west of the junction of Jandowae and Cooranga Creeks: Chinchilla 1: 100,000 sheet 9044: GR 931 197.