August 25.—Slight showers during the night, and the day dark and cloudy, with rather an oppressive atmosphere. The horses had strayed during the night, so that it was nine o’clock before we got away.
We had scarcely left the place of encampment, when shoutings were heard, and signal fires lit up in every direction by the natives, to give warning I imagine of our being abroad, and to call stragglers to their camp. These people had still remained in our immediate vicinity, and were now assembled in very considerable numbers on the brow of one of the front ridges, to watch us pass by. They would not approach us, but as the drays moved on kept running in a line with them, at some distance, and occasionally shouting and gesticulating in an unintelligible manner.
In our first and only intercourse with these natives, we had unfortunately given them just cause of offence, and I was most anxious, if possible, before leaving, to efface the unfavourable impression which they had received. Letting the drays therefore move on, I remained behind with Mr. Scott, leading our horses, and trying to induce some of the natives to come up to us; for a long time, however, our efforts were in vain, but at last I succeeded in persuading a fine athletic looking man to approach within a moderate distance; I then shewed him a tomahawk, which I laid on the ground, making signs that I intended it for him. When I had retired a little, he went and took it up, evidently comprehending its use, and appearing much pleased with the gift; the others soon congregated around him, and Mr. Scott and I mounting our horses, followed the party, leaving the sable council to discuss the merits of their new acquisition, and hoping that the unfavourable opinion with which we had at first impressed them, would be somewhat modified for the future.
Steering N. 43 degrees W. for five miles, and then winding through the range, in the bed of a watercourse to the plains on the other side, we took a direction of E. 20 degrees N. for fifteen miles, arriving about dark upon a small channel that I had crossed on the 14th of August. Here was good feed for the horses, and plenty of water a little way up among the hills. This watercourse I had not examined when I was here before, preferring to trace up the larger one beyond instead. Had I followed this, I should easily have found water, and been relieved from much of the anxiety which I had then undergone.
In travelling through a country previously unexplored, no pains should be spared in examining every spot, even the most unlikely, where it is possible for water to exist, for after searching in vain, in large deep rocky and likely looking watercourses, I have frequently found water in some small branch or gorge, that had appeared too insignificant, or too uninviting to require to be explored. This I named The Mundy, after my friend, Alfred Mundy, Esq., now the Colonial Secretary of South Australia.
Early this morning, I took Mr. Scott with me, to examine The Mundy, leaving the overseer to proceed with the party.
After entering the hills a short distance, we found in the bed of the Mundy a strongly running stream, connecting several reaches of waters, upon which many black ducks were sailing about. This appeared to be one of the finest and best streams we had yet discovered, although the water was slightly impregnated with alum. After the watercourse left the hills, the surface water all disappeared, the drainage being then absorbed by the light sandy soil of the plains, and this had invariably been the case with all the waters emanating from Flinders range.
Crossing some stony ridges, we followed the party up the large watercourse, which I had traced so far on the 5th of August, since named the Burr, after the Deputy Surveyor–general of the colony, and at nineteen miles halted early in the afternoon, at some springs rising among rocks and rushes in its bed. The water was very brackish, though drinkable, but did not extend far on either side of the spot we were encamped at, and when after dinner, I took a long walk up the watercourse to search for more, I was unable to find any either in the main channel or its branches. The grass was abundant and good. The latitude of the camp I ascertained to be 30 degrees 27 minutes S.