John McDouall Stuart - Sixth Expedition


Sunday, 4th May, Dense Forest. Returned to King's Ponds. This country seems but little frequented by the natives, as we have seen no recent tracks of them. There are a number of cockatoos and other birds about. We have seen no other game, except one wallaby and one kangaroo. There are plenty of old emu tracks about the ponds. Wind, variable. Cloudy.
Monday, 5th May, King's Ponds. Returned to Frew's Water Hole and camped. Before sundown the sky became overcast with clouds. Wind variable.
Tuesday, 6th May, Frew's Water Hole. Towards morning we had a few drops of rain. Returned to the camp and found all well. Yesterday they were visited by a few natives who seemed to be very friendly; they called water ninloo: they were armed with spears, about ten feet long, having a flat sharp flint point about six inches long, with a bamboo attached to the other end. They pointed to the west as the place where they got the bamboo and water also, but they seemed to know nothing of the country north of this; they were tall, well-made, elderly men. After talking for some time they went away very quietly. To-day they have set fire to the grass round about us, and the wind being strong from the south-east it travelled with great rapidity. In coming into the camp, about three miles back, I and the two that were with me narrowly escaped being surrounded by it; it was as much as our horses could do to get past it, as it came rolling and roaring along in one immense sheet of flame and smoke, destroying everything before it.
Wednesday, 7th May, Howell Ponds. Resting. The natives have not again visited us, but their smoke is seen all around. I shall start to-morrow on a course west of north, to try and make the Victoria by that route. I shall take some of the waterbags with me to see how they answer. Wind, south-east. Clouds all gone.
Thursday, 8th May, Howell Ponds. Leaving Mr. Kekwick in charge of the party, started with Thring and McGorrerey, also with King and Nash, who are to bring back the horses which carry the waterbags, whilst I with Thring and McGorrerey proceed on a west course. Started at half-past eight a.m., keeping the former tracks made on my previous journey to the westward, to where we met with the thick forest. About a mile beyond, struck a native track, followed it, running nearly north-west, until nearly three o'clock p.m., when we came upon a small water hole or opening in the middle of a small plain, which seems to have been dug by the natives, and is now full of rain water. This is apparently the water that the natives pointed to, for their tracks are coming into it from every direction. This opening I have named Nash Spring, in token of my approbation. I am very much disappointed with the water-bags; in coming this distance of twenty-one miles they have leaked out nearly half. Wind, south east.