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John Gilbert diary entry

22 December 1844 - 23 December 1844

Page 143. Volume 1

but scrub α little water as far as he reached, in fact there seemed so little appearance of a change, that the Dr came to the determination, of not proceeding farther with our packs untill some more extensive knowledge of the surrounding country is obtained, to effect

this therefore, it is necessary we proceed back to Browns Lagoon, while a party prepares for several days exploring. In the evening our usual Thunder Storm came on but with much greater violence than we have witnessed since leaving Oakey Creek on the Darling

Downs, at first it came on with strong gusts of wind from the West, and continued with very heavy showers till ½ past ten, when the wind came back from the east with increased violence, the trees bending α waving before the heavy gusts in the most alarming manner it continued thus without five minutes cessation till ½ past 12, when it moderated, and by daylight the sky was as clear α calm, as if there had been no storm so short a time before, this is the most un=comfortable weather for a Bushman, especially when not well prepared for it, in the present instance I had pitched my tent opening to the east, and thus

during the first part of the storm was well shel=tered from it, but when it changed round sudden=ly, the tent became so filled α blown out, that the pegs were fairly torn out of the ground, and the con=sequence was myself and almost every thing in the tent was soon saturated.

Monday 23 Dec. Our Horses having strayed back, detained us till midday, the time however was not lost to us, for although I saw nothing new in Ornithology, I found a very fine new species of Helix, and many examples of the large yellow species, the nights rain having tempted them to leave their hiding places in the hollow trees α c.183 while in the Scrub I saw the Bower of Chlamydera maculata184, with its accompanying heap of dead shells, seeds α c. At 12 o'clock the Dr. Calvert α Brown left us on their exploring tour while we pushed on our way back to Browns Lagoon. The cattle seemed so sensible of the value to them of the change of ground, that as soon as they were satisfied they were on their way back, walked over the ground so fast, that we made the distance in an hour α a half, the same distance yesterday having taken them nearly three hours to accomplish. we pitched our tents on a Lagoon about a hundred yards beyond our former camp, our first care was to expose our meat to the sun, it having become a little damp from last nights rain. We were not visited by the usual Thunder Storm to day. All our three absent companions watches had to be made up by three of us which gave nearly an hour extra dur=ing the night, but the same heedlessness in the necessity of keeping a watch, occurred with the party who has all along treated it with rid=

Note 183

No shells found in the Natural History Museum collections, or any of those listed in the NHM Register under 7th October 1846, have this date. However, there is a bird with this date and locality: RAME 1944.5.13, a male Black-throated Finch Poephila cincta, collected at Brown’s Lagoon on 23rd December 1844. As it is from the Exeter collections it was probably collected by John Murphy, although it is mislabelled as having been collected by “J. Strange”. Perhaps this was because the natural history collector Frederick Strange (who Gilbert had stayed with in Sydney earlier in the year), was in some way connected with the Murphy/Gilbert material now at Exeter.

Note 184

Spotted Bowerbird Ptilonorhynchus maculatus.