Thursday, 11th July, Tomkinson Creek.
- Written by John McDouall Stuart
- Category: John McDouall Stuart - Fifth Expedition
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Thursday, 11th July, Tomkinson Creek. Shoeing horses, and repairing saddles and bags to carry our provisions back. We have now run out of everything for that purpose, and are obliged to make all sorts of shifts. The two tarpaulins that I brought from Mr. Chambers's station for mending the bags, are all used up some time ago, and nearly all the spare bags; the sewing-twine has been used long since, and we are obliged to make some from old bags. We are all nearly naked, the scrub has been so severe on our clothes; one can scarcely tell the original colour of a single garment, everything is so patched. Our boots are also gone. It is with great reluctance that I am forced to return without a further trial. I should like to go back, and try from Newcastle Water, but my provisions will not allow me. I started with thirty weeks' supply at seven pounds of flour per week, and have now been out twenty-six, and it will take me ten weeks before I can reach the first station. The men are also failing, and showing the effects of short rations. I only wish I had sufficient to carry me over until the rain will fall in next March. I think I should be able to make both the Victoria and the Gulf. I had no idea when starting that the hills would terminate so soon in such extensive level country, without water, or I should have tried to make the river, and see what the country was, when I first saw the rising grounds from Mount Primrose, which are the sand and iron undulations passed over on my southernmost western journey. Before I went to Newcastle Water they completely deceived me; for from the top of the mount they had the appearance of a high range, which I was glad to see, thinking that if the range I was then following up should cease, or if I could not find a way into the river further north, I would be sure to get in by that distant range, which caused me to leave the Newcastle Water country sooner than I should otherwise have done; and now I have not provisions to take me back again. From what I have seen of the country to the west and south of Newcastle Water, I am of opinion that it would be no use trying again to make the river, for I believe no water can be obtained by sinking. To the west and north-west of Newcastle Water the country is apparently lower, and I think that water could be obtained at a moderate depth. It is the shortest distance between the waters; but the greatest difficulty would be in getting through the dense forest and scrub, but that, I should think, could be overcome. It certainly is a great disappointment to me not to be able to get through, but I believe I have left nothing untried that has been in my power. I have tried to make the Gulf and river, both before rain fell, and immediately after it had fallen; but the results were the same, UNSUCCESSFUL. Even after the rain I could not get a step further than before it. I shall commence my homeward journey to-morrow morning. Wind, south. The horses have had a severe trial from the long journeys they have made, and the great hardships and privations they have undergone. On my last journey they were one hundred and six hours without water.