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John Gilbert diary entry

8 December 1844

Page 131. Volume 1

Aldis Peak, from the creek we struck off in an N W. direction but had several times to bear away to the Eastward to avoid the Scrub, about seven miles the latter part of the country very much resem=bling the forest land of Darling Downs, with precisely the same character of soil α vegetation. we passed many water courses, all dryed up as in Zamia Creek, many of which I followed down for a mile or two, there was in most of them the dry sandy bottom, steep banks, with Casuarina and a species of Tea-tree, but no moisture, at length in edg=ing the scrub, we came upon a chain of water holes. as they looked green and even many of them moist I followed down for a mile and found several fine Lagoon's, at one of which we camped for the night in a much better situation as regards the Natives than that of last night. In the water hole I found very fine specimens of the striped Paludina161. in a ram=ble with my Gun I saw nothing of interest. A ra=ther odd, but ridiculous, circumstance occurred soon af=ter we camped, Roper went out to cut poles for his tent and fairly lost himself again, he was away so long that it was thought necessary to send Charlie in search of him, in half an hour he brought the fugitive back. it is singular how easily a man is lost in the bush al=though within hearing, when not accustomed to the bush. in the present case Roper went away from us to a distance of not more than five hundred yards, and having cut the poles he went for, started off in just the oppo=site direction, when finding he did not make the Camp in the time necessary, became confused and in his anxiety wandered about in every possible di=rection but the right. This time however he did acknowledge he was lost. Our middle course for the day about N.N.W. 9 miles, but for the days tra=velling a distance of 13 miles was made.

Stray Camp162.

* Dec. 5163. Roper α Murphy rode out to mount a hill about 6 miles distant, they did not return during the night having doubtless lost themselves. poor Murphy is certainly unfortunate in his com=panions when leaving Camp, from what the Dr has seen of the country to day, he says it is extremely difficult to find the way back where the gullys and

valleys, and Mountains around us are so much alike, it requires the utmost attention to surrounding objects in passing and a close attention to the Compass.

Dec. 6, Just as Charlie was on the point on leaving in search of Roper α Murphy they came in all safe, having mistaken the valley in their return home they were on the opposite side of the ridge to us instead of wandering about when they found they were wrong as is usual in such cases they

Note 161

The Accessions Register of the Natural History Museum, London, records four "Helix" from "Fresh water Lagoon, Straying Camp, Dec. 8th 1844" (1846.10.7.53-56). Several "Paludina" without locality detail are recorded under the same general accession number (1846.10.7.46-52). This general number appears to cover only Gilbert specimens, and most are from the Leichhardt Expedition.

Note 162

Roper's Stray Camp is estimated by McLaren to have been at GR 157 559 on Bauhinia sheet 8748. This was in an area where bottles and other evidence of waterholes being used as campsites had been found by the father of the present landowner. However, why would the Leichhardt Expedition leave bottles behind? It must have been someone else.

Note 163

This section refers back to the entries Gilbert made on the 5th and 6th of December, with some comments he had about the habit some members of the party had of frequently getting lost.