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John Gilbert diary entry

15 December 1844 - 16 December 1844

Page 137. Volume 1

we pushed our way when we found our Creek enti=rely disappeared, and as we had searched very close to the water the last four miles, at which distance we left the last water hole; and there being no appearance of our succeeding it was deemed necessary to halt before we ventured further into the scrub, and thus we came to camp a second time without this necessary disideration [sic]. we found a little open spot of grass in the thickest of the scrub, where we pitched our tents173. we had nothing to eat but an Iguana α a Bandicoot these were cooked and divided into 8 portions, a party were then sent back to fetch water, while the Dr α Charlie reconnoitred. this was one of the hottest days we have yet experienced and Cattle α Horses suffered apparantly very much from thirst so much so that almost immediately they were relieved of their loads they all left in a body doubtless in search of water. Our course on the whole was good being about west in the mean, in following the water course our progress was necessarily rather winding, but never more to the South than to the North. days dist about ten miles West. As a proof of the dryness of the country generally, travelled over today, we scarcely saw Animals of any description. I saw a small species of Wallaby, but I could not make out the species, and I obtained a specimen of Ptilotis sonorus174, a Swan River species. We are thus a second time unfortunate in being in a country which does not afford us any game at a time when we most require it, had we arrived at a spot favorable for the purpose it was intended that we should kill one of our fat bullocks to day, for in the absence of any preserved meat, and inability to procure any of the productions of the country in its place, we are making sad havoc among our various stores, particularly our Flour, which is now reduced to about five hundred pounds, a poor supply to look forward to with only perhaps about a fourth of our dis=tance accomplished. however we will be enabled to reduce the expenditure when we have our beef to ply to. Our water carriers from some cause did not return to us during the night, and the Dr did not return till 10 o'clock, they in leaving the camp found a fine waterhole about a mile from the camp, but it was too late α too dark for us to find it to obtain water, the Dr α Charlie having drunk Tea at the water as they went out did not feel the want of it as we three who remained at camp waiting so anxiously for the return of the water party. The night was very cold, but wit=hall I managed to sleep well although hungry

α thirsty in addition. Scrub Camp

Monday 16 Dec. A party of 3 sent to the water hole to the westward, on their return a damper was made and Tea prepared, during the time the party of yesterday made their appearance, it seems that Brown like most of the Natives would

Note 173

McLaren estimated Scrub Camp, where they remained on 15th and 16th December, to be at GR 760 700, although placing the campsite was difficult because of the many creeks and anabranches in the area. This site was less than a mile upstream of the junction of Wangalee Creek and Comet River.

Note 174

The Singing Honeyeater, Lichenostomus virescens; this specimen could possibly be one with a collecting date of 20th December 1844 which is in Gould's collection at the Natural History Museum (Tring 1881.5.1.5587. immature male, from "Port Essington", i.e. Port Essington Expedition). Gould in fact stated - under "Ptilotis sonorus" in the Handbook (1865, vol.1: 504) - that he had seen Singing Honeyeaters (i.e. in the plural) which Gilbert had collected on this expedition: "... examples were procured by Gilbert during Dr Leichardts [sic] expedition". No other Gould Collection specimens listed so far seem likely to be from the expedition.