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John Gilbert diary entry

7 December 1844

Page 128. Volume 1

the whole of this distance in the creek. I α Calvert rode on about five miles lower down, but saw no water on the surface, and only one spot where we could obtain it by digging, when we returned to meet the Dr, we found he had, while we were following the creek found water in a little tributary running from a curious high peaked hill bearing from our camp N.W. about 2½ miles152. the riverbed the whole distance as yesterday dry α sandy with very large Casuarina, Tea tree α flooded Gum on its banks, as we followed down, the banks became less hilly, and the patches of Scrub less frequent, and occasionally large exten=sive flats, having Corogung, Apple-tree - Box - α c α c and in places thickly timbered, these flats where they were not burned by the Natives fires showed very little grass, but an abundance of Burri153, and other little brushy plants usually growing with it. after our usual lunch of Damper and Tea, Charlie went out in search of Honey, and in a very short time came in full gal=lop upon his grey horse, and brought us the disa=greable news of the Natives having attacked our horses one of which they had already speared in the shoul=der, it was but the work of a few minutes for us to load our Guns α Pistols and catch the horses nearest us, and ride out to bring in both horses α Cattle, this was done, but the Black-fellows had decamped; probably satisfied with the little piece of mischief they have committed so unexpectedly but it only shows the great necessity of Bushmen never forgetting that although they see no blacks they may be within a few yards of his camp close=ly observing every action, and only waiting a good and convenient opportunity for making a syste=matic attack upon us, our present situation is certainly not the most favorable spot for us, being surrounded entirely on one side of the Creeks bank with scrub, our tents being pitched on the edge of the bank, we have the scrub behind us, and the Creeks bed and open forest flact [sic, flats?] of the opposite side before us. it will be necessary to keep two horses saddled, α two of us riding to constantly watch our Cattle α Horses during the night. On reflection however it can scarcely be imagined that these Natives who have come thus suddenly upon us can have watched our move=ments longer than to day, for had they done so, and felt in=clined to spear our horses α Cattle, they have had much better opportunities of doing so than to day154; and again it can hardly be supposed the Natives even thus far from Settled districts can be wholly ignorant

Note 152

Mount Aldis (GR 139 451 on Bauhinia sheet 8745) was named after a Sydney tobacconist who had supported the expedition. William Henry Aldis, of George Street, an "importer of London snuffs, American, Dutch, German and other European tobaccos, and Manila and Havannah cigars", was in fact the first person to recognize Leichhardt when he finally reached Sydney in March 1846, having long been given up for dead (Chisholm 1973).

Note 153


Note 154

Gilbert was right to reflect on the matter; it transpired much later (Wednesday 3rd April 1845) that there had, in fact, been no attack by local aborigines and Charlie had speared the horse in the shoulder himself (for what reason - out of temper, or to provide himself with an opportunity to become a hero - is not obvious). In fact Gilbert's comment three months later (page 103 of volume two, written under his diary entry for 18th May 1845), when the party found out the truth, was that Charlie's action had been "a mystery to us all". However, the incident did result in more stringent watches being kept, at least for a while; Leichhardt had been one of the most sceptical about the potential danger from Aborigines.