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John Gilbert diary entry

27 November 1844 - 28 November 1844

Page 121. Volume 1

the Dr α I rode up again, and went to a clear spot126 from which we had the finest Mountain view we have yet seen, beneath us several hundred feet, a fine verdant valley ran before us, and turned round to the S.W. with a clear open forest country on each side, before us to the Westward at a distance of about 12 miles rose up in a dark opaque body very big mountainous ranges, the nearest having a large square flat topped Mountain as its highest part, beyond this to little north was another range about 10 miles having a very conspicuous pointed peak, both of these ranges are as high apparantly CHECK SPELLING as the ranges near Darling Downs, particularly that part known as Cunninghams Gap, to the westward of the Table mountain in the first range is a deep narrow cut very much resembling Cunninghams Gap, beyond this to the S it runs along tolerably level and apparantly a table land127. from the general appearance of these new ranges we are now in full hopes of meeting with a Geological change of country, as yet we have had scarcely any change from the Sandstone, the only exception was occasionally an Iron stone ridge but even this was not free from the Sandstone in different features, still withal there can scarcely be a similar extent of coun=try in any other part of Australia; better watered or offering more suitable districts for settlers than the whole country we have as yet pushed our way through, eventually when other par=ties can give more time to the exploration of the country on each side of our route, there is little doubt the country will be found of sufficient importance to induce squatters at least to settle on some one of the many streams we have seen, if any one part is finer than another perhaps, Palm tree creek might have the preference, for the great num=bers of Lakes and dense Reed beds on each side of the Creek must render it exceedingly valuable as a summer run and where there appears country of sufficient extent to accomodate many large herds α flocks.

Days dist α course 5 miles N.W.

Our two Black fellows went out alone for a stroll in the afternoon and returned in the evening with a glowing des=cription of a large running river flowing to the S.W.

Ant Camp128.


Thurs 28 Nov Leaving our Camp in a N.W. course and following down the water course, we soon found our promise of a fine continuation of undulating country was but premature, for the country soon be=came very rocky α brushy, occasionally we could go on pretty well on the tops of the ridges, but in every at=tempt to push our way on the course we wished and thus reach the river seen yesterday by the Black fellows, we were stopped by deep ravines and gullys with precipitous rocky sides, we had but one view of the valley in which we saw a long broad reach of water, with very high land beyond it. thus in keeping to the right we did not see the part of the river seen by them as they went much more to the Westward, excepting the occasional windings round the heads of these ravines we kept in about a N.W. course for about 8 miles when we came upon a water course with a single Palm tree growing from among the rocks this we thought a sure indication of water but after following it down for half a mile we found no water and the banks thickly clothed with

Note 126

They must have ridden to the top of Shepherd's Peak (GR 214 975), as it was only from this particular spot in 1991 that McLaren's party could see all the landscape detail that Gilbert had provided. McLaren also commented that, by more precisely locating the Leichhardt Expedition route through this area as he has done, it is obvious that Roper Pass (on the Glenhaughton map at GR 06 12) and Zamia Creek, which is marked running to the east of Roper Pass on that map, are not the original features to which Leichhardt gave those names.

Note 127

Leichhardt's Journal gives more details of these features: "Ranges of mountains with conspicuous peaks, cupolas, and precipitous walls of rock, were observed extending at various distances from west by north to north-west. The most distant range was particularly striking and imposing; I called it "Expedition Range" and to a bell-shaped mountain bearing N. 68' W, I gave the name of "Mount Nicholson", in honour of Dr. Charles Nicholson, who first introduced into the Legislative Council of New South Wales, the subject of an overland expedition to Port Essington; and to a sharp peak N 66' W., the name of "Aldis's Peak," in acknowledgment of the kind assistance received from Mr. Aldis of Sydney". Leichhardt illustrated Expedition Range in his Journal (1847: 51).

Note 128

McLaren thinks the "large running river flowing to the S.W." was not the Boyd, as Leichhardt thought, but Glenhaughton Creek (up which they travelled on 28th November). Ant Camp was at approximately GR 210 990 (Glenhaughton sheet 8747), just east of Starkvale Creek.