September 6.—Moving on the party early to–day, I pushed steadily towards the depot near Mount Arden. In doing this, the favourable state of the weather enabled us to keep more in the open plains, and thus both to avoid a good deal of rough ground, and to shorten the road considerably.
Upon mustering the horses on the 9th, the overseer reported to me that one of them was lying down with a broken leg, and upon going to examine him, I found that it was one of the police horses kindly lent to the expedition by the Governor. During the night some other horse had kicked him and broken the thigh bone of the hind leg. The poor animal was in great pain and unable to rise at all, I was therefore obliged to order the overseer to shoot him. By this accident we lost a most useful horse at a time when we could but ill spare one.
During our progress to the south we had frequently showers and occasionally heavy rains, which lodging in puddles on the plains, supplied us abundantly with water, and we were unusually fortunate enough to obtain grass also. We were thus enabled to push on upon nearly a straight course, which, after seven days of hard travelling, brought us once more, on the afternoon of the 12th, to our old position at the depot near Mount Arden. I had intended to have halted the party here for a day or two, to recruit after the severe march we had just terminated; but the weather was so favourable and the season so far advanced, that I did not like to lose an hour in following out my prospective plans.
During the homeward journey from the Mundy, I had reflected much on the position in which I was placed, and spent many an anxious hour in deliberating as to the future. I had one of three alternatives to choose, either to give up the expedition altogether;—to cross to the Murray to the east and follow up that river to the Darling;—or by crossing over to Streaky Bay to the westward, to endeavour to find some opening leading towards the interior in that direction. After weighing well the advantages and disadvantages of each (and there were many objections to them all,) I determined upon adopting the last, for reasons which will be found in my Report sent to the Governor, and to the Chairman of the Northern Expedition Committee from Port Lincoln. [Note 8: Vide Chapter IX.] My mind having thus been made up, I knew, from former experience, that I had no time to lose, now that the weather was showery and favourable, and that if I delayed at all in putting my plans into execution I might probably be unable to cross from Mount Arden to Streaky Bay. The distance between these two points was upwards of two hundred miles, through a barren and desert region, in which, though among high ranges, I had on a former occasion been unable to discover any permanent water, and through which we could only hope to pass by taking advantage of the puddles left by the late rains; I therefore decided upon halting at the depot to rest the horses even for a day; and the party had no sooner reached their encampment, than, while one portion of the men took the horses up the watercourse to water, the others were employed in digging up the stores we had buried here, and in repacking and rearranging all the loads ready to move on again immediately. By the evening all the arrangements were completed and the whole party retired to rest much fatigued.