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John Gilbert diary entry

7 November 1844 - 9 November 1844

Page 108. Volume 1

declining towards the N α Westward. We made a much shorter stage to day than was intend=ed in consequence of the great heat distress=ing the bullocks so much, the morning was very cloudy and we were in hopes of having the whole day cool, which would have enabled us to travel on for several hours lon=ger, in many places to day the Brigalo scrub jutted out within half a mile of the Dawson but mostly in detached patches, from the oppo=site side or left bank one patch of Acacia brush came down close on the bank other=wise it appears for the most part tolerably clear to the summit of the range. while we were all sitting in the grass eating our dinner an Emu came walking very leisurely up towards [us], without betraying the least timidity, till one of the dogs ran out and barked, and even then it seemed to be very little inclined to run away. Charlie shot off the rifle at it but was in such haste that he did not get the piece fairly to his shoulder when he pulled the trigger, of course he missed it. Kangaroo Water hole79.

Frid Nov 8. Travelled on 9 miles down the Dawson, the country still preserving the same open character and undulating but the river does not yet improve in magni=tude, although many small tributaries run into it, and the flats α grass are not so frequent and rich. the Dr in working out our days route makes us 10½ miles N.W. from our last nights camp. I shot

a species of Ptilotis which I think differs from the described P. penicillata, although apparantly very closely allied but as well as memory serves me it is a larger bird and having the face much more yellow and the wings brighter, the bill too appears much lar=ger in proportion80, the several parties walking out in different directions describe the country not only as becoming more open but that there are large plains right α left of us. our days course as worked out gives us but 9 miles in a direct line. Crayfish Camp81.

Sat Nov 9. Followed down the Dawson for about three miles when it took a con=siderable bend to the Westward α Southward, we steered in a W.N.W. direction expecting to fall in again with it by keeping this course82. in about five miles we came upon the largest Swamp83 we have yet met with but completely enveloped in reeds α rank sedgy vegetation. it is about ¾ of mile in length by about ½ in breadth, from this we had constantly to cross

Note 79

Kangaroo Water Hole is estimated to be at grid reference 975 205 on Wandoan sheet 8845, on the junction of Roche Creek with a watercourse coming from the south. Gilbert did not mention until his diary entry for November 17th that the kangaroo had been obtained at the expense of two of their kangaroo dogs, which Leichhardt recorded here as being mortally wounded in the chase. Leichhardt also remarked that Roper had killed a "Rallus, which Mr. Gilbert thought to be new", but there is no trace of such a specimen.

Note 80

Gilbert was describing the Queensland race of the White-plumed Honeyeater Lichenostomus p. penicillatus. This particular specimen has not been found, but one Gilbert collected a month later later - on December 9th 1844 - is in National Museums Liverpool.

Note 81

Crayfish Camp was on Roche Creek at GR 923 274 on Taroom sheet 8846. Apparently here Murphy caught a great number of "crawfish" (Leichhardt 1847).

Note 82

By taking this short-cut, they in fact missed the junction of Roche Creek with Juandah Creek, which is just west of Barcoolah Station at 836 292.

Note 83

This may well be the swamp from which Gilbert collected five specimens of the mollusc genus Physa. These are numbered 1846.10.7.152-156 in the Register of the Natural History Museum, London - the locality being "Swamp on the Dawson".