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John Gilbert diary entry

11 October 1844

Page 86. Volume 1

little Tent. As it was now getting near sunset I was anxious to reach the party as soon as possible, and imme=diately set off on the mornings track, and when about a mile in the scrub I met Mr Hodgson α Charlie driving 12 of the Cattle free of the Scrub. I then returned with them to the camp where we remained for the night. I heard from Mr.H. that all the remaining party were quite knocked up and had deter=mined on stopping for the night in the scrub. they had the remaining four Bullocks, and were quite ignorant of the whereabouts of those Mr H brought out, in fact he α Charlie were in search of me, and fortunately came upon the cattle returning on the mornings track. but the most serious loss we met with during the day was the great quantity of Flour25, of course no two persons can agree as to the actual loss all doubtless taking it as they would wish at much loss but Mr H tells me it cannot be less than a hundred lbs about 3 weeks supply. and numberless other little things must be lost, for Mr H. on returning from the party to search for me (for it seems they were all very anxious, imagining I was certainly lost in the scrub) he picked up many things; and I think there can be little doubt that we shall leave a few treasures for the natives when they follow our tracks as they most usually do. I must confess I never yet had a more unsatisfactory day in the bush, for every ones attention was required to assist in pushing the Bullocks on. they had their loads on their backs for nine hours instead of four or five our usual time of making a distance of ten miles. while in the scrub I was surprised at the nearly total absence of Birds, although in every part was an abundance of water. I saw a Finch which I am inclined to think is a new one, but I could not get a shot at it, I saw the Brush Turkey's nest, and Brown saw one of the birds. I also saw a Wonga Wonga26. The scrub extends in every direc=tion from our starting point, surrounding us entirely apparant=ly except the narrow entrance we managed to trace up. at first on coming to the scrub the small Pines various species of Acacias small Gum trees α c form a tolerably thick brush which appears to surround the scrub, of Brigalo. one curious feature in this scrub is, that every now and then we came upon large thickets of a species of Melaleuca, with no other plant to be seen near it, so far from their being no opening near us in a direction from W to N.E. it be=came if any thing more dense, and Charlie climbed a tall tree to look around and said he could not see any better prospect from his elevated situation than we who were below in the darkest part. To sum up all; it was a great want of Judgment in entering such a scrub without knowing the extent of it, and more especially after my having seen it yesterday; At night we forming the small party of three managed to make a pretty good supper of Damper a Bandicoot and the Bushmans luxury Tea.

Note 25

Indeed Leichhardt named the destructive area they had passed through "Flourspill Scrub" (Leichhardt 1847: 17).

Note 26

Australian Brush-turkey Alectura lathami (a mound-builder whose nests average 4 metres across and 1-2 metres high) and Wonga Pigeon Leucosarcia pictata. Leichhardt's diary also records that they shot a "black cockatoo of Leach" (the Glossy Black-cockatoo Calyptorhynchus lathami) between the 11th and the 15th October, but this specimen has not been found. It could possibly be one of the three now in the Gould Collection in ANSP labelled “New South Wales”, although they are all considered to be syntypes of the synonym Calyptorhynchus leachii Gould, 1842.