John McDouall Stuart - Sixth Expedition


Thursday, 24th April, Sturt Plains. Returned to the camp and found all right. The day has been excessively hot. We have seen nothing new during the journey--the same open plains, with forest between.
Friday, 25th April, Howell Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started at 8.20 a.m., with Thring and Frew and fresh horses, on a northerly course, in hopes of better success in that direction: course 360 degrees for twenty-two miles; grassy plains, covered in many places with stunted gums, and a new tree with a small green leaf. After that, we entered again a thick forest, and scrub almost impassable. At twenty-eight miles, seeing no prospect of getting through it, I returned two miles to a small open space, where I could tether the horses. I have not seen a drop of water this day's journey. The forest is so very thick, and so many twistings and turnings are required to pass through it, that, although I travelled thirty miles, I don't believe I made more than fifteen miles in a straight line. The day again exceedingly hot, with a few clouds. A few birds were seen during this day's journey, but no pigeons, which are the only sign we have now of being near water. Wind variable.
Saturday, 26th April, Dense Forest. Returned to the camp. The horses felt the heat and the want of water very much. In the forest the heat was almost suffocating. I hope it will rain soon and cool the ground and replenish the ponds, which are drying up fast. There have been a few clouds during the day, but after sundown they all cleared away. Wind, south-east.
Sunday, 27th April, Howell Ponds. A few clouds have again made their appearance, but still no rain. There has not fallen a drop of rain since I left the Woodforde, which was on the 9th of March. Wind, south-east. Latitude, 17 degrees 5 minutes 16 seconds.
Monday, 28th April, Howell Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started with Thring and King, on a course of 338 degrees, to try and find an opening in the dense forest and scrub, as well as water. At ten miles we crossed the open plain, with stunted gum-trees and long grass. At this point we met with a small ironstone rise, about twenty feet in height. On ascending I was again disappointed in finding before me a dense forest and scrub. Proceeding in our course, it became thicker than any which I had ever encountered before, and was almost impassable. Still continued, and for a short distance in some places it became more open. A little before sundown I camped on the edge of a stunted gum-tree plain. There are a few slate-coloured cockatoos and other birds, which lead me to hope that, in the morning, I may drop across some water. Wind variable, with a few clouds during the day.