July 12.—We moved away early, steering for Mount Deception. Near its base, and emanating from it, we crossed the dry bed of a very large watercourse, more resembling that of a river in character, its channel being wide, deep, and well–defined, and lined with the salt–water tea–tree; whilst its course was marked by very large, green looking gum–trees, the bed consisted of an earthy, micaceous slate of a reddish colour, and in very minute particles, almost in some places as fine as sand, but we could find no water in it anywhere.
The range in which this watercourse has its source, is of the same slaty rock, and very rugged; it could not be less than 3,000 feet in elevation, and its summit was only attainable by winding along the steep and stony ridges that led round the deep gorges and ravines by which it was surrounded.
From the top the view was extensive and unsatisfactory. Lake Torrens appearing as large and mysterious as ever, and bearing in its most northerly extreme visible W. 22 degrees N. To the north was a low level cheerless waste, and to the east Flinders range trending more easterly, and then sweeping back to N. 28 degrees W. but its appearance seemed to be changing and its character altering; the ranges struck me as being more separated by ridges, with barren flats and valleys between, among which winding to the N. W. were many large and deep watercourses, but which when traced up, often for many miles, I found to emanate from gorges of the hills, and to have neither water nor springs in them.
I had fully calculated upon finding permanent water at this very high range, and was proportionally disappointed at not succeeding, especially after having toiled to the summit, and tired both myself and horses in tracing up its watercourses. There was now no other alternative left me, than to make back for the hills to the eastward, in the hope of being more fortunate there. I had only found permanent water once, (at Salt watercourse) since I left my party, having depended entirely upon puddles of rain water for subsistence; but it now became imperative on me to turn my attention exclusively to this subject, not only to enable me to bring up my men, but to secure the possibility of my own return, as every day that passed dried up more and more the small puddles I had found in the plains.
Descending Mount Deception, we travelled five miles upon a S. E. course, and encamped upon a small dry watercourse for the night, with good grass for our horses, but without water.