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John Gilbert diary entry

14 February 1845 - 16 February 1845

Page 27. Volume 2

[in left margin]

Crow Camp

made during my absence, viz, that Crows are really a good eating bird, the Dr having examined many of their stomachs found them mostly filled with seeds; it is very probable therefore, that the Crow when fairly away from the immediate vicinity of stations or settled districts is more a graninivorous [sic] bird than he has in general credit for. on my return to Camp I found the evening meal consisted exclusively of stewed Crows, and they were certainly quite equal to Cockatoo's, a bird so much prized for the soup obtained from it. from this circumstance the Dr has termed this Crow Camp. I was rather pleased with a trait in Charlie during my absence he had been very successful in finding Honey, and as the Dr in each case divided it out without any thought of those absent as has frequently been the case, Charlie this afternoon took out a Panakin, and filled with the purest honey, which he kept for Brown and I on our return he presented it to me, at the same time explaining to me, why he gave it me so quietly, I of course made the most of it, and truly enjoyed it.

[in left margin]

Sat 15

9 miles E.N.E.

To day the whole party moved on to the Rushy Lagoon on the Isaacs311. by keeping round the outer edge of the scrub, we were enabled to avoid the difficult and annoying march we should have had by follow=ing down the Creek, it was not so roundabout a way either as following the windings of the creek, we arrived at Camp early, Charlie was ill from eating too much Potolacca, of which we have had an abundance of late, the Dr therefore requested me to accompany him to reconnoitre up the river, taking Brown with us, we started off in a Northern course not so much to examine the river as to make a short range312 which the Dr saw when reconnoitering from Crow Camp, by keeping North towards the Peaked Mountain which forms the Southern extent of the range we kept the rivers bank for about 6 miles, from this it turns off very much to the westward313. at a Swampy looking spot beside the Scrub we turned from the river and kept at the edge of the Scrub beneath a succession of slight ridges in search of water, examining every Creek or water course which came in our way, in this way we approached close under the Range, where the country becomes more open, and undulating with small Creeks running one into the other in almost every direction, some of them although deeply cut and having large deep holes in their beds were all dry, we were just on the point of making up our minds to camp without water, when we came to the foot of the Southern part of the range having a clear open forest gradually rising to the side of the Mountain, here the Dr I α Brown divided, each taking a small rippling314 water course, when we fortunately found water i[n] a small Basin in the Rocks having perhaps 4 or 5 Gallons, but the Dr was more successful having found a pool about 10 yards in length by about 2 feet broad, and a foot in depth exactly resembling a ditch, although the water was rather muddy α tasted strongly of Gum leaves, it was hailed with delight by us all, during the time in coming here I succeeded in shooting 3 brace of Pigeons, so that we had a very good supper315.

[in left margin]

Sunday 16

The Dr α I commenced the day by ascending the Mountain, we found its formation to be Sandstone, with the exception of a small ring of thick Scrub near the top the sides were tolerably open and easy of ascent, when [we] arrived on the top we were greatly disappointed to find the atmosphere so hazy, that we could scarcely at first trace out the different Mountains and Peaks of Peak Range which was in sight to the Westward α Southward, while on the Mountain however the mist in a great measure

Note 311

Bawley’s Last, Separation Camp or Rushy Lagoon Camp. See footnote for 13th February 1845 for details of the site of this camp, which was their first on the Isaac River. Gilbert and Charlie had camped there on that day and stopped there briefly to rest their horses on the 14th.

Note 312

This range, which Leichhardt had observed a few days earlier (Leichhardt 1847: 152), was named “Coxen’s Peak and Range” after Charles Coxen (1809-1876), who ran Jondaryan (and other stations) on the Darling Downs with his nephew Henry William Coxen (1823-1915). Charles and his brother Stephen also owned “Yarrundi”, on the Hunter River in New South Wales. Their sister Elizabeth was married to John Gould, “The bird man”, and the fact that they were already established as settlers in New South Wales and had been sending zoological specimens back to Gould in London since 1834 must have been the primary reason Gould decided to visit Australia in 1838. Charles Coxen later became a prominent citizen of the new state of Queensland, helping to found the Queensland Museum in Brisbane (he was the first honorary curator, and secretary), acting as a Member of the state parliament, and as a land commissioner. In 1851 he married Elizabeth Isaac of Gowrie Station, who in her own right was a distinguished natural history and excellent skin preparator. Their specimens can be found in museums world-wide and analysing these could be a very interesting project for somebody. John Gould described Coxen’s Fig-Parrot Cyclopsitta coxeni after Charles Coxen in 1867; it is now considered to be a subspecies of the Double-eyed Fig-Parrot Cyclopsitta diophthalma and is listed as critically endangered (Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds 1999, vol.4: 263).

“Coxen’s Peak and Range” is made up of 3 peaks, the most southerly now being known as Coxen’s Peak. The centre peak (northern peak on Mapcarta) is now named “Iffley Mountain”, after the station on the Isaac to the south-west, and the most northerly “Mount Coxendean”. Who, or what combination of whose names, was the latter named after?

Note 313

This must have been at GR 512 360 (Grosvenor Downs 1: 100,000 map 8553), about 7km south of Coxen’s Peak.

Note 314

With the creek bed rippling, presumably.

Note 315

This subsidiary camp must have been on a watercourse just south-west or west of Coxen’s Peak, somewhere in the region of GR 49–50 / 42-43. There are two long waterholes apparent on Google Earth which are centred at GR 47 43. Consult the Route Group and the residents of Iffley Station.