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John Gilbert diary entry

16 December 1844

Page 138. Volume 1

not content himself with returning on the former tracks, but attempted a short cut by steering a direct course in which the Natives certainly ex=cel in every case I have before met with, but in this in=stance, it proved a singular exception, in fact the party were fairly lost by night fall when it was impossible for them in the darkness of a thick Brigalo scrub to move back with any certainty, and they of course very prudent=ly camped for the night, but the most singular part of the matter is that they when camping fired off sever=al shots all of which were heard by us, and at least two shots for their one returned, but none of ours heard by them although the sound of their guns appeared to be not more than half a mile at the most. I can only account for it in two ways, the rising ground beside us may of directed the sound in such a course as to be directly away from them, or that our being in a hollow and surrounded by thick scrub, the sound was too much intercepted by the thickness of the foliage inter=vening to reach them, there was not a breath of air stirring the whole night, but a perfectly cloudless sky; I visited the water hole in a second party, and found it almost due west from our Camp, surrounded by large Tea trees in a water course running through the thickest Brigalo Scrub. it was intended we should move on at least to the water hole to day but neither Bullocks or horses came in till it was much too late to enable us to do so. in fact Charlie did not return till late at night and then only succeeded in bringing in the Bullocks having three horses kept with us, the Dr with Brown rode off to a clear open spot seen by the lost water-carriers party, and returned in the even=ing with a glowing description of Lagoons175 - river courses - open country with grass such as we have not before seen. I hope his account will not be found to be too highly coloured - the discovery of this outlet from the Scrub is certainly a singular coincidence, one of the water-carriers party happen=ed to be little Murphy, who singularly enough as in the two former occasions, was lost, and as singu=larly the straying in this instance has been at=tended with as great result as on the two former occasions, for had not Brown and his party seen the long open spot of Forest country which they described as seeing to the South-westward, we should have tried to push our way more to the Northward and thus in all probability of missed this outlet, the difficulty now is to collect Horses α Cattle the former having strayed into different parties will give us some time α trouble to collect. we are all anxious enough to get away from our pre=sent Camp to this land of promise described by the

Note 175

The main waterbody that they saw - a large lake - Leichhardt named after Brown, but this is probably the feature now known as Pink Lily Lagoon (GR755 630). The present Lake Brown, to the south (GR 755 533), is certainly not the lake which Leichhardt named.