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From the De Grey to Port Darwin.
JOURNAL OF EXPLORATION :
ALEXANDER FORREST, F.R.G.S.
Hall a mile from our camp tms morning we crossed a tributary of the main river, and con- tinued our journey for 5J miles, still through first class country, till we came toa flat-topped hill. Scarce a tree was to be seen on the roll-
ing plains, except along the banks of the nu- merous streams which traverse them in every direction. From the hill I wished to get a round of angles, so I gave the party orders to travel on for eight miles, and camp upon the river, while Campbell and I ascended it. Hav- ing spent some time at our work, we got upon the tracks, and rejoined our companions at the halting place they had chosen. Between the hill and the river we passed through some broken red sandstone ridges, well covered with feed and interspersed with grassy flats. Pierre and Dower are very ill again today, and unless they get better soon, I fear they will never see their native land again ; they cannot eat, and are now so reduced in strength that they can hardly stand up, Yesterday we finished all our bacon; for the last six weeks we have only had 41bs. to divide between eight of us. Our ra- tion of flour also is very small, and it is for- tunate for us that the country abounds so greatly in every description of game, and that the streams are so numerous and so well sup- plied with fish. Had it not been so, many a time we would have lain down at night with empty stomachs. Marked tree, F 157. Lat. of camp, 17 dog. 6 min. by mer. alt. Vega.
The natives were so bad this morning, that I was, however reluctantly, obliged to remain in camp and give them a rest. They looked so very ill that I had not the heart to make them travel ; but we can ill afford to waste any time. Marked a tree, ' A.F., 1st. Aug. 79.'
We started on again today, and steering N. E. and E.N.E. for about six miles, we came to a large river, very similar in character to the one we have been following down during the last week. I have named this river the Negri, after Commander Christopher Negri of Turin. In all probability it joins the one wo have just left ; so, after crossing it, we turned North- wards, hoping again to come upon the larger stream. There was splendid feed along our course for three miles, when we reached anoth- er large running brook, coming from the East- ward and hastening on towards the West to join the main branch. Travelling four miles farther North, over rougher but still fairly grassed country, intersected by numerous run- ning streams, we were at last obliged to stop, as our sick natives wrere completely worn out, and could no longer keep in the saddle.
Our camp is on a creek, the water in which is permanent, palm trees fringing its banks. In the afternoon I went to the top of a high grassy hill, but from its summit nothing was
to be seen of the river. To the Northward also and North west the country appears to be very rough, and I am afraid that with only twenty five days short rations, and a sick party I should scarcely be doing my duty were I to attempt to trace the river any further down. We are still 300 miles from the telegraph line, and cannot of course tell what difficulties may not yet be be in store for us, so I feel bound to push on, at the same time no one can- regret more than I do that I am unable to follow this magnifi-
cent stream toits mouth which I have no doubt will be found in Cambridge Gulf-the whole of its waters in that case being in Western Aus- tralian territory. I have named this river the Ord, after His Excellency the Governor of West- ern Australia, who has taken so great an inter- est in this expedition. Marked a tree F 158. It has been very cloudy all day, and this evening is positively cold. To-morrow we turn E.N.E. the country in that direction being apparently much more open than to the Northward.
Making an early start this morning, five miles brought us to a remarkable peaked hill, which I ascended j I was however unable to see any- thing from the top, clouds completely obscur- ing the prospect. Travelled on again, bearing N.E. for five miles farther, and camped upon a small stream. The country we passed over today, although rather rougb and stony, was very well grassed, and the low hills were cov- ered with feed right up to their tops ; running brooks also were plentiful. About a mile from the camp was a peaked hill which I ascended in the afternoon, succeeding this time in ob- taining some angles. Several large ranges ap- peared to the Eastward. We had light showers all day, and the weather was very cold. Marked
tree F 169.
We steered E.N.E. through rough, stony, but well-grassed country, this morning for seven miles ; thence for two miles farther we followed down a creek which ran in an Easterly direc tioa between high ranges, which formed a pass
just high enough to enable us to travel through it comfortably. I named this the Sonder Pass, after Dr. Sonder of Hamburg, in recognition of his useful researches in Western Australian Botany.
Pierre now became sobad that I was obliged to halt, which I did beside a splendid spring, -one of many which we saw this morning. The poor native was quite wandering in his mind, and would not remain on his horse. I went out this afternoon to take some angles, and instructed the party to kill one of the horses during my absence, for these continued halts to rest the sick natives make it necessary that we should eke out our scanty means of SKpport with horse flesh. On my return, I found it all ready killed and dressed, and a very sorry sight, most miserably poor, -at the best of time a horse's carcase looks very different from that of a bullock. We could not help entertaining a feeling of sentimental regret that the poor beast which had served us so long and so faithfully should come to such an unfortunate end, but it was necessary to re- lieve our hunger by some means or other for since leaving the Fitzroy we have never had enough to eat, which is not surprising when one con- siders that we have only had a pound of flour apiece, and for meat have depended upon what we could shoot. Fortunately for us, the country is very fairly stocked with game.
We all of us made a horseflesh supper tonight ;
while we stay here I do not intend to issue any j flour. I have often read of horse flesh being j as good as beef, or nearly so ; but, to my taste, ,'
this sample of it, at any rate, is nothing of tha j kind-dry and hard and tasteless. I dare say, however, that a young fat horse may be very different ; nothing more can be expected of a poor old animal which has gone through so much as our victim of today. The natives
Beem no better to-night, and I am afraid we shall L have to stop here for some days.
We stopped in camp today, cut up the horse, and hung it out on ropes to jerk in the sun. The natives are slightly better, but still very
Dower seems decidedly mending, but Pierre is much worse, and I fear he cannot possibly live very long. He hardly eats anything ; we have almost to force nourishment down his throat, and feed him like a child.
We started on again this morning, and fol- lowed down the gully on which we were camped. Three mile3 below it joined a large stream three chains wide and running N.E. This was near about our right course, so we determined to follow it down. This river I called the ' Behn/ after Dr. Behn of Gotha,-successor to Petermann, and who co-operated with that gentleman for many years in his researches to-
wards the advancement of Australian scientific geography.
The pack horses were unable to cross the river, but Hicks and I went over and ascended a high point on the opposite bank for the pur- pose of taking some angles. After completing our work, we returned to the stream and fol- lowed it down, believing the party to be still on the opposite side, and hoping to catch up with them before long. After walking four miles, we crossed the river near a high range which lay to the North, and which I named the ' Con- naught,' and, to our surprise, found no tracks of the party. We waited for some time, and they did not turn up, so we decided to go back, and, half a mile from the bluff we had mounted to take our observations, we discovered that they had crossed the river. We then followed back upon their tracks until darkness came on, and found us both completely knocked up with our twenty mile walk. Having had the good fortune to shoot a few cockatoos we made a fire and roasted our birds ; no food had passed our lips since the morning, so we greatly enjoyed this scanty meal. Shortly afterwards we heard the bells of our horses, two shots also were fired in the distance, and, tired though we were, we made up our minds to walk in to camp, and join our companions ; for, having no rugs with us, our night's rest would not have been very
comfortable where we were.
The night was very dark and we were obliged to proceed with great care, for the long grass hid from us many a dangerous gully. Two miles we toiled on, and several times nearly came to grief in the deep ravines, before we reached our camp on the Behn, where we found our companions greatly wondering as to what had become of us. We were both dreadfully worn out j our 22 mile walk was quite equal to 40 along an ordinary road, for the high rank vegetation makes every step difficult. Well covered with feed as the country is along the banks of the river, it would be useless in con- sequence of thisjrankness of growth, unless kept constantly burnt.
Poor old Pierre looks very bad to-day, and we are now obliged to strap him on to his horse to keep him from falling off. Dower is much
better. Marked tree F 163.
Notwithstanding Pierre's pitiable state, I felt bound to move on this morning. I walked in advance of the party, Eastward, for about a mile to a hill from which I got a round of angles. The others then joined me, and we bore E.N.E. for eight miles, over rough broken spinifex ranges, till we came to a fine grassy flat. Leav- ing this we turned N.N.E. for three miles far- ther, passing again over rather rough ground, till we came to a small creek upon which we camped. One of the horses * Gay-lad' was sud- denly taken bad about a mile back from the camp j we had great difficulty in getting him in,
and a few hours afterwards he died. In him we lost one of the best horses we had, one on which we could always depend ; he was in very good condition too.
Marked tree F 164. Lat. of camp, 16 deg. 36 min. by mer. alt. of Vega.
(To be continued.)