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John Gilbert diary entry

13 December 1844 - 14 December 1844

Page 135. Volume 1

followed up the stony part of the gully in search of water taking with them the large Kettle α Pannakins, they were absent two hours, and returned with about a gallon α a half all they could procure from hollows in the rock, this was nearly black, and had a strong bitter taste, however as there was no choice we made the best use of it, this with some we caught from our tarpaulings made up a quan=tity of 2 gallons, which with Gelatine and thickened with a large proportion of flour, made us a very tolerable meal not at all unpleasant to the taste of a Bushman, but which to those in other circumstances and even perhaps ourselves at any other time and in a different and more comfortable situation would scarcely have been thought even wholesome food. Days dist 15 miles.

Water-less Camp.167

Sat 14 Dec. This morning we managed to muster a sufficient supply of rain water to make a Damper α give each a pint of Tea. The rain commenced with daylight and continued till 9. we made an early start and arrived in about 8 miles to the water hole seen by the Dr. when out reconnoitering with Charlie, here the Bullocks made a rush for the water, whichwe in vain attempted to pre=vent, fearing they might lie down and thus spoil our provisions, this they did not do, but were satisfied with a long α hearty drink; our whole course to day was for about four miles down the flat, which is very narrow, bounded on each side by a ridge running down from the Range, having patches of Brigalo Scrub, α brush, from the flat we struck off a little south of west for four miles over an undulating

country of rich black soil, having patches of scrub α open spots having a fair sprinkling of grass and herbs, but in many places large patches of Sowthistle α Fathen. the whole of this country in general appearance greatly resembling many parts of the Darling Downs, and as if to make the resemblance the more complete, the Beautiful α highly ornamental Myall again appeared, with its beautiful gracefully drooping branches. The Bottle Tree is here very abundant, in all the patches of scrub, we had to thread our way through. where there is patches of Forest land the trees consist for the most part of Box α Flooded-Gum, from one ridge we crossed over we had a fine view of a magnificent range to the Westward, running about N.Easterly and S.W. and ap=parently of very great elevation and probably at least fifty miles distant168. To day we saw great numbers of Kangaroos and Emu's, but now being reduced to one dog only we did not succeed in catching one, the dog which on a former occasion remained away for two days, has not been with us since leaving Roper's Strayed Camp, we may therefore conclude he is lost to us, with[out] the aid of dogs therefore we are I fear not likely to have any more Kangaroo or Emu. although it is a source of regret to us, still it is not in

Note 167

Glen McLaren's team initially tried to cross Expedition Range by following Erythrina Creek to its head, but found the way blocked by steep rises and rock falls. Eventually McLaren accepted Leichhardt's judgement and followed the same spur that he had done; at times this narrowed to about 20 foot and had steep and dangerous gullies on either side. The last section was extremely steep and strewn with loose stones and McLaren's party eventually retreated and crossed Expedition Range the next day by following the Dawson Highway. McLaren located Waterless Camp (called “Camp Without Water” by Leichhardt and “Lackwater Camp” by Phillips) at GR 007 663 on the Warrinilla sheet 8648.

Note 168

Many of Gilbert's geographical observations were later underlined in blue pencil; a possible culprit is Thomas Mitchell, who would have been extremely interested in details about the lands the Leichhardt Expedition discovered. The underlined section refers to the Christmas Ranges, so-called by Leichhardt from his desire to have reached them by that date.