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John Gilbert diary entry

28 January 1845 - 29 January 1845

Page 16. Volume 2

[in left margin]:

627

by them and was rather astonished to find it amounted to 2½ gallons of Tea alone, and yet [for] all this I was astonished to find they both slept well during the night. this disastrous reconnoitre will thus considerably change our movements, however nothing can be determined on till tomorrow.

[in left margin]:

Wed 29.

Crinum Camp

Our two companions arose this morning considerably refreshed, the Dr however still suffering from his attack of Diorrhea [sic]. it was determined on returning about 3 miles on to a Creek263, the water here having for want of a retentive nature in the soil disappeared in such a ripid [sic] manner that we should in a few hours be without any, although on our arrival there were two pools at least 31 yards long and from 2 to 3 feet in depth, one of which became quite dry before sunset yesterday. on arriving at the Creek which runs through a beautiful grassy valley, on each side of which is a species of Crinum growing in such abundance that it suggested to the Dr the name of the Valley and Camp, we chose out of a number the finest water hole, as the Dr felt too unwell to pursue his exploring, I was requested to do so and taking Charlie, I followed down the creek, the Dr suppos=ing it would turn to the Westward. For the first two miles we cut off the principal angles and travelled over stony, grassy hills and flats. my horse appearing as if anxious for water I made the creek α we kept on the bank following it closely, the winding[s] were not at any time considerable, from the camp its mean course is about South, for 6 miles at which part is the junction of a creek coming down from North and in all probability Peak range Creek. from this the creek began to assume the character of a considerable water course having large Casuarina on either bank, the bed in many places rocky Basaltic α Sandstone, but by far the greater portion was a loose sand, all the deep holes as we successively came to them appeared as dry as if no rain had fallen for a considerable time past, from the junction of this creek the main stream takes a S by West course for about 2 miles264 then back again to S by East, for a further distance of 3½ miles; the whole of this distance not a drop of water was met with, and I began to think we were going to have a second edition of the Drs mishap, but fortunately about 2 miles farther south we came upon several fine pools of water both in the main creek and a large tributary running in from the Westward. as we were constantly on open ground I was enabled to frequently see the double Peaks, and get bearings and only once did the bearing vary from due north [underlined by Mitchell?]. I pursued the Creek down for a further distance of four miles when finding it began to appear less and in fact almost lost in an extensive flat, and the chances of finding water very doubtful and night coming on we re=turned to the water hole at the junction of the Westerly creek265. here we were enabled to procure a good supper from the numerous Pigeons which assembled about us to take their evenings libation. The whole country passed over and seen in the distance right α left is very beautiful, and could permanent water be found would form one of the finest districts for either Sheep or Cattle in the whole Colony, the open Plains often come down to the Banks of the creek, or very extensive flats bounded at the back by fine ridges lightly tim=bered with Iron-bark or Box, here and there are small patches of Acacia brush, or open Brigalo scrub.

Note 263

According to McLaren they only moved about a kilometre onto another watercourse running into Isabella Creek (at GR 323 639). This camp was named Crinum Camp by Gilbert, but Return Camp by Leichhardt.

Note 264

Underlined by Thomas Mitchell or Alec Chisholm?

Note 265

Lily Vale waterhole, on Crinum Creek. Leichhardt (1847: 131) recorded that Gilbert told him it was “covered with ducks”. The route Gilbert took that day is being investigated with the help of Route Group member Joe Bridgeman, who managed to locate Gilbert’s “Conical Hill” in 2013. It has been drafted in green on the Google Maps expedition route map for the Peak Range area.