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John Gilbert diary entry

5 February 1845 - 7 February 1845

Page 21. Volume 2

[in left margin]:

Wed 5.

N 6 miles

Calverts Plain Camp

Lat 22=43=0

Although our horses came in late we were enabled to make a 7 mile stage in a North course, passing many of the Peaks and Mountains of the Peak Range, our course was rather a round about one in order to avoid the scrub on our right, which seems to run up to the sides of ridges between us and the coast, in thus avoiding the scrub we travelled over open plains or lightly timbered ridges, and thus the whole time had fine views of the different Peaks. The Northern281 of the double Peaks is named Ropers Peak to the top of which he ascended. the other is named Scotts Peak, the isolated one to the Westward is Mount MacArthur, and a lofty Peak which from this camp bears very much the resemblance of the Roof of a house is Calvert’s Peak about five or 6 miles more west, more west again about 7 miles is a double topped Peak called Brown α Charlie's Mount282, close to which on the west side is a large round topped Mount called Gilberts Dome, ten miles farther is another large conspicuous Mountain called Mount Phillips283, from our present camp we have a fine view of Ropers α Scotts Peaks Mount McArthur [sic] α Calverts Peak, the first bearing South. Mount McArthur, South 5 West. Calverts Peak South 11 West. The new Hawk which I skinned yesterday unfortunately slipped from my Packs during our march; great numbers of White Cockatoos made their appearance around the camp in the evening, but were so very shy we only succeeded in obtaining two. This bird is certainly well worth the expenditure of ammunition, as it makes one of the richest of soups to be obtained in the Bush. The Otis284 also made its appearance in the open Plain before us, but was too shy to enable us to get within shot. our Camp is situated at the edge of a Plain a small creek running down it in a Northern direction but having very little water notwithstanding the late Thunder storms the water-hole we are camped on even after the late supply is very small and has a strong flavour of Gum leaves.

[in left margin]:

Thurs 6.

N 6 miles

Vitex Camp

In consequence of making so late a start yesterday and consequently a short stage, we had but the short distance of 6 miles to day which brought us to the extent of the Drs reconnoitre our course North, the last four miles following down a creek. all the water holes the Dr saw plentifully supplied 3 days ago were more or less dried up, and we at length camped285 under the shade of a large Vitex tree beside of a small hole of Black water, being in fact little more than a decoction of Gum leaves, in consequence it made us but very indifferent Tea, from the last camp for the first two miles our course lay over a succession of Iron Bark ridges. a new α singular species of large Acacia was remarked to day, the colour of its Bark a sooty black making it a very conspicuous object. the bark is tolerably even but covered all over with excrescences like a small Lichen. in its trunk it differs from any other Acacia I have seen and may as well as its sooty colour be distinguished at once, viz, the fluted like appearance of the lower part especially in the larger trees. the creek is skirted on the east side mostly by Iron bark ridges while on the opposite the Box predominates, every where however richly grassed. the Dr with the two Natives started off to reconnoitre for our stage of tomorrow. The Oreica Gutturalis286 still accompanying us.

[in left margin]:

Friday 7.

Rusty Gum tree Camp.

N 7 miles



Our stage to day again short, about 7 miles North, about a mile from Camp we passed under a little Peaked Mountain287 which bears exactly North from the Double Peaks, Box tree ridges to this, then across a plain, then Iron Bark ridge, then a second plain, then ridges the whole of the last 4 miles, some of them very stony, on each plain a creek runs across to the Eastward, all the latter part of the days route although a constant succession of hill α valley was fine open Forest of Iron Bark α Box. from the Plains we crossed we had very fine views of the different Mountains of Peak Range. we camped on a small stony creek running from Phillips Mountain288 to the Eastward having small pools of rain water; the Dr α Charlie returned in the evening. Rusty Gums abundant in the valley we are camped in.

Note 281

According to Leichhardt’s field sketch map, his Journal of an overland expedition (1847: 124), and modern maps, Roper’s Peak is the southern of the two. Gilbert obviously thought it was the more northerly. Gilbert later wrote that Roper’s Peak was directly south of their campsite of 3rd-4th February, which by McLaren’s reckoning would indeed have been what is now known as Scott’s Peak. See earlier footnote comments about Gilbert and Murphy both placing Roper’s Peak as the more northerly of the two peaks. As it was Roper, Murphy and Brown who climbed the mountain, not Leichhardt, we should trust Murphy’s word about which peak it was. He - and Gilbert - referred to, and drew, it as Roper’s Peak (Sprod 2006: 32 – 35).

Note 282

Charlie’s Peak is not marked on the 1: 100,000 Cotherstone map 8552 but is the 805m peak just south-east of Brown’s Peak (see Murphys’ sketch of these two peaks, which he labelled as “Brown and Charley”: Sprod 2006: 36).

Note 283

The peak of Mount Phillips, the last of the Peak Range mountains to be named after a member of the expedition, is at GR 194 055. According to McLaren they camped about 7km north east of this mountain on 7th February 1845.

Note 284

Australian Bustard Ardeotis australis.

Note 285

According to McLaren Vitex Camp was at 263 957 on the Cotherstone map number 8552. The site of the campsite was on Stephens Creek, at a point now on the side road to Cotherstone Station, which runs parallel to Cotherstone Road.

Note 286

Crested Bellbird Oreioca gutturalis.

Note 287

Campbell Peak, at GR 25 99 on the Cotherstone 1: 100,000 map 8552, which indeed lies directly northwards from Scott and Roper’s Peaks. The expedition members probably passed it on the east side, where the road from Cotherstone station to Saraji now runs. Leichhardt climbed this isolated peak and sketched the fine view of the Peak Range from the summit, looking south and westwards. He called the peak after John (Tinker) Campbell of Westbrook Station on the Darling Downs. From Campbell Peak Leichhardt could also see a large creek running eastwards through a valley, which he named Stephens Creek after Campbell’s partner at Westbrook Station. Both Stephens and Campbell “had shewn the greatest hospitality to me and my party during our stay at the Downs, before starting on the expedition”.

Note 288

Named after expedition member and former convict William Phillips, Mount Phillips is centered in the kilometre square GR 19 05 on the Cotherstone 1: 100,000 map 8552. The main expedition party, including Gilbert, camped for the night of 7th February at Rusty Gum Tree Camp, estimated by McLaren to have been at GR 262 077 on this same Cotherstone map. Leichhardt, who had camped elsewhere that night, returned in the morning and “found my companions encamped on a very fine water-hole”.