EXPLORATION OF THE INTERIOR
Mr. Ernest Giles, the explorer, has fur- nished us with the following notes of his late trip to the west of the Peake and neighbour- ing regions, which, although essentially a
private expedition, will be seen to present points of general interest. Mr. Giles says :— ' With ten camels and two calves, I started from Farina September 9, and left the Peake about the end of the month. but just at starting from there something frightened one of the cow camels (a young creature), and she set to work, bucked off her load, smashed her saddle to atoms, bolted off from the others, and though a blackboy and a white man went after her, her tracks could just be followed on the stony ground which exists there, and she was never afterwards seen or heard of. This caused some delay, but a final start was made on October 9, the Peake Creek or Arkaringa being followed upwards to where Mr. J. C. Chambers was putting down some wells for the Government to form a stock route from the Peake to the Musgrave Ranges. He was most hospitable to us. He had not been very successful up to the time of my visit, and water was not too plentiful. His camp was seventy-two or seventy three miles nearly straight west of the Peake Telegraph Station. Leaving there we reached a waterhole he told me of in thirty-six miles, and continuing nearly west I found the Arkarn quite waterless, and hedged in by rough tablelands, travelling being only possible in the channel of the creek. 'As this watercourse now came from a too north-westerly quarter I left it and steered west, rising on to open stony table lands which in a score of miles settled down into a mulga scrub. My object was how to reach the Ferdinand — a large creek I discovered rising in the Musgrave Ranges in 1873— but in 1876 with Sir Thomas Elder's expedition I traced it for 80 or 90 miles in a southerly direction and got water in it in native wells. To the furthest south of these wells I was now making my way, but another native wateriug-piace I had formerly been at (called Barkee) intervened, and to it of course in the first instance we went and found other watering-places in its neighbour hood. To reach it, however, we traversed a region jf mulga scrub, in which one gum creek running southerly existed at about seventy miles from Chambers'a Camp ami no doubt water could be got by well-sinking there. On arrival at Barkee, where the natives were numerous, and where water was abundant, my operations may be said to have commenced, and the country was thoroughly, traversed in every direction for considerable \ distances, water 'being found so often that not the slightest trouble or anxiety occurred 'oman or Deast, it being principally found -n shallow native wells, the best of which t called Verney's Wells, as, seeing an inviting ? looking hollow at some little distance to the vrest ot us I sent my young companion (Mr. Vernon Edwards) and the blackboy to go and inspect the place, going on myself with the caravan on the course I had determined on. Soon after they left us we came upon a liollow, where several rockholes and a well i xiated, and where we got a supply of water and camped, v n their return they reported ' the place they had visited as being vastly .superior to our find, and the following day I went over to it, about ten miles northnorth west, and was much pleased with the spot, as there were numerous holes full of water, and two or three wells with water close up to the surface, one indeed running over. The whole country had been visited by rains, and the vegetation was excellent. Sheep, cattle, horses, or camels could each and all fatten Iiere. Indeed the herbage was so good that the camels seldom tasted; water for weeks. For over a month the country was pretty 'well examined, when a return more northerly was decided upon. Then a retreat from the furthest south and west point was made to Yerney's Wells, that young gentleman being exceedingly proud oi his discovery. I re . marked casually to him, 'My boy, you must not expect to find your charming wells looking .quite so charming as they did when first found, as the warm weather, and absorption, 'and evaporation, and one thing and another .will give them a very different appearance to what you first saw ;' but as when we again .arrived there I found the water still the same, and the camels now being thirsty made not the slightest impression on the body of water of the largest hole, and great air-bubbles con tinually rising up from the bottom, I came to the conclusion that this was a very good place indeed. From here (V^erney's Wells) I worked up to my old camp-well in the bed of the Fer dinand, where there was any quantity of water, and where a tree is branded 'E. G.' !) Aug., 1876, in a square. The Everard Ranges, named by me in 1873, always con spicuous in these parts, stand up like islands in a sea. They were now my next point to revisit. _ The water at them i3 in rockholes, to which we made at my former camp in '76, the Musgrave Ranges being visible from them and distant only GO miles. The natives here (Everard Kanges) are somewhat numerous, and on my former visit I found thievish and otherwise disagreeable. They made their appearance of course almost immediately on our arrival, and came in some numbers. At first they were civil, then prving, then annoying, and at night wanted to see all about our sleeping-places, &c, and, in fact, I could not get them out of the camp. When I ordered the chief to be off he said something about it being his country and his water, and that whitefellows had no business there, and I was compelled to have our guns discharged quite away from them to set them out of the camp'at all, when they all departed, growling, to the west. These natives had all come from the east side of our encampment (which, by the-way, wa3 in a very dangerous place for an attack, as we were like in the bottom of a funnel — rocks, and scrub, and figtrees hedg ing, us in on ail sides), and, as is their wont, had left all their spears a little to the east of the camp. I, knowing their tactics, said to young Edwards (a great admirer of native weapons), ' Now, if you would like to see a good batch of spears vou'll find a rare lot stuck in a tree round the foot of the rocks ; but.' I said, 'if you go take your revolver with you ; but you had better not go now, as supper is ready.' However, he went, but we all went down to supper^ and while at it we heard a shot. I thought Verney was shooting a rock wallaby, or something of that sort ; but when another shot was fired and a cry of help reached our ears we all sprang up and rushed after Verney. Edward Perkins, having his revolver on the tarpaulin close at his side, managed to get up to Verney first ; then Billy the blackboy,; with a Snider, then Jimmy Fitts, and I last, as I had to grab some cartridges out of a pouch and load my weapon as I ran. When I got up it appeared these wretches, in revenue for being expelled from the camp, or, indeed, more lirobably to carry out a preconcerted scheme, had rushed round from the west of the camp to where they left their spears, to the east of it, and when Verney got up there he found them all running along close to the ground with their spears ready for instant discharge at us as we sat at supper ; but my good for tune, or Verney's, or somebody else's, j ust pre vented this little game, and when they saw him right in their path of course their first object was to spear him, and he would have been killed in another second had he not had hia revolver with him and fired in amongst them, witht however, no very good effect, as when Perkins joined him and discharged his revolver also at them they all scampered off, and by the time 1 arrived the war was over. Anyhow it showed what they intended, and had they not been prevented I should not now be writing these few notes, for we should all most certainly have been killed ; but I now almost begin to fancy I am not going' to be killed by the blacks in the interior after all, though they have tried it several times. From the Everard Ranges we made np a little east north-easterly, finding rock holes and native wells at several of the mounds of rock which exist there, and thus made our way to the Alberga, which I struck at Gosse's 'water near Tableland,' having found a much better route back than that by which I went out— followed the Alberga , down to Messrs. Young & Belt's Macumba Station, where floods had filled everything and water was most abundant. We were very hospitably received. The main Over land Telegraph road was now followed to the Peake, where Mr. Chandler, the telegraph master, was most generous in his hospitality, aa indeed he was when we started irom there. .Farina was reached in eight day3 from the Peake. Now we have arrived in town once more. Note 1.— During my absence from the camp, where only Verney and the cook were left, the natives were not at first altogether too friendly, and some of them sneaked up to the camp, crawling along the ground, with intentions that were not strictly honourable, but the discharge of a few shots from Ver ney's revolver superinduced a hasty retreat on their part, and when I returned the whites and blacks were on excellent terms ot acquaintance, if not friendship, and an elderly gentleman, whom we called the General, was held as a sort of hostage in the camp for the good behaviour of the others till my return. Note 2.— At nearly every watering-place we found the natives wera much more nu merous than I could have expected. They appear to live in quite independent tribes, which hold no friendly communication with one another, and they always appeared, or pretended to appear, to know nothing of the waters except in the immediate neighbour hood of where we found them. At Verney's Wells they were more numerous than at any other place, and my young men, James Fitts, Edward Perkins, Vernon Edwards, and the blackboy from the Peaket had? them dancing, : singing, and corrobcrreeing nearly the whole night long: In the moraine I rewarded their efforts with a bucketful of hubble-bubble, or
BkDly^^pr bflbtickej^gpaatej .which _when' sweetened they enjoyed exceedingly. . . . ._ -Note 3.— A strange occurrence happened to one of my cow camels one day, as we rested for half an hour to get dinner, the camels on thescoccasions lying down with their loads on. Just as we were preparing to start again Perkins noticed a little blood on his animal's neck, close to his bell-strap ; putting his hand on the spot he found a small piece of stick had got stuck into her skin. He tried to pull it out with his fingers, but could not ; then he tried his teeth, and got it out that way, when his face and shirt front immediately were deluged with blood. He called out to us, and when I came I saw at once it wa3 death— though they tried to stanch Ithe wound ; but the fact is the creature had staked itself right through the jugular vein, and she died in ten minutes with her load on. I was delayed on several occasions by rain, and altogether had a most favourable trip.