Camp Jottings Volume One
PRG 54 contains the journals, notebooks and vocabularies compiled by F.J. Gillen, anthropologist and explorer. With an address presented to him by fellow officers of the Overland Telegraph. This notebook is 1 of 4 notebooks that make up Gillen's Camp Jottings.
Camp Jottings. A modest record of our doings day by day. Volume I.
March, 18th. 1901. 4 p.m. Started Chance off with Express and 10 head of horses including 3 packs. He is instructed to camp at the Swallow 10 miles out. We follow tomorrow.
March, 19th. Left Oodnadatta at 10.40 and reached the Swallow (Uilparinna) at 1 p.m., found we had forgotten to bring crowbars and sugar, had to send boy back and decided camp here for day. Rigged fly tent and had fairly comfortable dinner flies in millions find fly nets which Minnie made of greatest service Opened up and re-packed our swags. Professor green with envy when he discovered that I had two coats, greener still when I displayed a couple of suits of gorgeous pyjamas. Overhauled loading and rearranged loads and packs: I bagged 1 specimen Apus australiensis, the first beast found, subsequently Spencer found several others. Country delightfully green and weather not too hot Solar Max. 144° Min. 51°. Our party consists of Chance and three blackfellows, two of whom have just been released from gaol. We engaged one and the other has attached himself to us unasked One boy Warwick was engaged by Chance before we arrived, he wishes to go through with us. The two ex-gaol birds are named Sambo and Billy and the former is an unmitigated scoundrel. Distance travelled 12 miles. Recd. wire from Gill stating that he had procured Aneroid and Swinging Thermometer from Mr. Barr Smith and was posting to Alice. Found camping on ground anything but comfortable. Strange to say, no mosquitoes, presume flies have eaten them all up.
March, 20th. Camp No. 2. Two of our horses went back in hobbles to Oodnadatta. Mr. Winter kindly sent them out. Boy brought telegram from a young Cambridge scientist in Melbourne offering £200 towards expenses of Expedition if we were willing to allow him to join us - declined. Started at 10.40 travelling over stony tablelands crossed Storm Creek and camped at 1.30 at Wire Creek, distance travelled 16 miles - flies! flies! flies! nothing but flies. I dare not attempt to describe what these pests are like lest I should be accused of exaggerating; the poor horses suffering terribly already. These little pests have eaten holes around some of the horses’ eyes - we are rubbing neatsfoot oil around the eyes to try and keep them off - found Mr. H. Lewis in camp here en route for Newcastle Waters, he regaled us on tinned sheeps’ tongues. Around the waterholes along the track are numerous skeletons of dead cattle, victims of the awful all-consuming drought. Spencer not very well, change of water affecting him. Solar Max. Thermometer 145.5°. Artesian bore at this camp 1,500 ft. deep, throws off some hundreds of thousands of gallons per day, running creek for a distance of 3 ½ miles. If anything flies are worse here than at the Swallow. We fervently bless the maker of our hat nets, without them we should be devoured. Two of our boys have lovely bunged eyes and Chance passes most of his time cursing the flies. I even find myself raking up long forgotten oaths, being driven to desperation and profanity by their onslaughts. A man we met today told us they are even worse on the Stevenson, 6 of his horses became quite blind from bunged eyes and he was obliged to lead them down to Macumba. We are taking, for Mr.
Mr. Baracchi Govt. Astronomer of Victoria, daily observations for solar and terrestrial radiation. While I write, the boys are singing corroboree songs around their camp-fire; their black faces lit up by the fire present a weird appearance which seems in keeping with their somewhat melancholy chant. Their song stirs my blood and recalls many an hour spent around their camp-fires in the Centre. Spencer delights to hear them. Tonight we deferred having tea until half an hour after dark when the flies had gone to roost, it was indeed a relief to be able to eat in comfort. I produced the plum sauce which Spencer greatly appreciated, he reviles me for not allowing you to send more. Certainly the flies must have eaten up all the mosquitoes for there is not one to be seen or heard. Found my bed on the ground last night anything but pleasant, so rigged my hammock between the buggy wheels. Tonight find that I can no longer claim to be a hardy bushman, spring-beds have demoralised me, Spencer carries a light iron camp-bed (Simpson’s patent) but I am too heavy to use a similar bed. Min. Ther. 51.5°. Casualties: Spencer cut finger.
March, 21st. Camp No. 3. Unthurtina (Macumba W.H.) Up at daylight and had breakfast in peace before the flies - who are evidently not early risers - got about. They seemed disappointed when they arrived on the scene, in myriads, later on and found that we had failed to extend to them the usual hospitality.
Got along splendidly until we got to the Alberga River crossing when Chance’s team stuck him up. We sent back two of the Adelaide horses, Leper and Baldy, and with their assistance he got across both the Alberga and Stevenson crossings which are in a very heavy condition owing to recent fine floods. At Box Flat this morning Spencer got out to get some photos of a passing camel caravan. I was driving Barber and Nugent and although I was careful to drive off the road about 100 yds., Barber, as soon as he caught sight of the smellful animals, started kicking and plunging, breaking two of the traces which we had to stop and mend. SpencerÕs heart gladdened by the capture of a number of Apus australiensis, a beast belonging to the order of crustacea and found only in Central Australia, where it was discovered by Spencer in 1895; it is generally found in shallow muddy claypans on the tablelands. When the claypans dry, it dies but it leaves behind eggs which hatch out after the next rain. Before the eggs can be hatched it is necessary that they should become perfectly sun-dried. The beast, which is longer and larger than a tadpole but with a shell-like covering over its back, grows to maturity in less than three weeks after rain. This is an instance of the rapid growth of some beasts. In this climate, only such animals as grow to maturity rapidly have a chance of surviving and gradually it has come to pass that most animals develop and grow rapidly. Chance awoke this morning with a bunged cheek and since starting he has added two bunged eyes. His appearance is something never to be forgotten: he arrived here almost
blind, one eye being totally blind and the other nearly so. Found at Alberga crossing a large number of Limnodynastes ornatus, the little sand-burrowing frog - This species is only found in the central area and in N.S. Wales and Qld. Bagged 1 specimen Estheria, found mostly in claypans, like the Apus, it deposits eggs which must be sun-dried before hatching. Had lunch at Mrs. Gowan’s and camped about 100 yds. north of Ealing house - Weather hot, flies, well indescribable - Today we wanted to get a characteristic bit of gibber plain but the growth of grass is so great that the gibbers are all hidden. Twenty years ago this place was a cattle station owned by Messrs. Gilbert, Young and Beet, now it is unoccupied Crown Land. A small Govt. reserve of 1 sq. mile around the well and this is leased by Mrs. Gowan who ekes out a miserable existence from her eating house and store, at present the store contains a pound of candles and two gridirons! In the evening some niggers visited our camp and I promptly secured 4 spears: 2 ordinary, 1 barbed and 1 plain, straight and in one piece (Walirra), also got 1 Ameara (throwing stick). Quite freshened us up, doing a little trade. Two of the men are wild blacks from the Hamilton (Waitjinga Creek) with characteristically matted locks Ð Solar 140.5° (note: instrument not exposed until 3.30). Tea after dark and consequently in comfort, our hardships have already begun, no pâté de foie gras, so had to content ourselves with tinned turkey and tongue, potatoes and a raw onion. I am fairly revelling in raw onions which have been forbidden fruit to me for years - Min. Ther. 59°.
March, 22nd. Camp No. 4. More hardships this morning, only tinned boiled fowl and some of the Mater’s delicious figs for breakfast. Spencer swearing because I did not bring more figs. Two horses away this morning detained us until 10.10. Tried Maronsen's horses in my buggy, could not persuade them to move, although we all used language calculated to move a hippopotamus. Put in Barber and Leper and waited for Chance whose team started after a little trouble, but came to a dead stop in heavy sand 2 miles N. of Macumba. Fooled away an hour trying to get them on, finally concluded we must get some staunch heavy horses, the six hired from Maronsen are rank jibs. Camped 2 miles N. of Macumba much to my disgust. Spencer takes things philosophically, nothing ruffles him. I swear, sweat and fume, he only smiles. He laughs outright when these infernal flies, after repeated attempts, succeed in bunging one of my eyes. The first bunged eye I have ever had: it does not improve my personal appearance nor does it add to my comfort. These flies are said to be a different species to those down country (Musca vomitaria), we have bottled a number to send to England for examination, I wish I could bottle the lot. About 3 o'clock a friend of my youth, Jacky Brown, called upon us and greeted me most effusively. He reeked of filth and flies but I was delighted to see him. Later on some more men turned up: we gave them a good feed and
after tea rigged the phonograph up and got them to sing into it a number of corroboree songs. We also took records of the native names of places as the blacks pronounce them, also some sentences. As each song was finished, we reproduced it much to the amazement of our smellful friends who left us at 10 p.m., delighted with their unique entertainment. Spencer and I delighted to have these records which are the first ever taken amongst the Australian
aborigines. The fact that we are the first to get such records consoles one for all the discomforts we are suffering from this plague of flies. If only Job lived in modern times and travelled up the Stevenson just now, I'm afraid his reputation would not be so spotless. Solar 139°. Min. 55°. Trying to arrange with a teamster to supply us with 4 draught horses. Hope to move on, on Sunday or Monday.
.c.March, 23rd. Camp No. 4. Cool night, slept like a top, although I had the refrains of various corroborees running through my brain all night. Our visitors camped with us and their little fires on the surrounding sand ridges made the scene very attractive. We were lulled to sleep by their, not unmusical, if monotonous, chants. Their peals of laughter, as they discussed the wonderful phonograph, greatly pleased Spencer who has a very warm corner in his great heart for these savages. My eye is a masterpiece of facial disfigurement and the fly who did it is a tradesman of the highest ability. I was hoping that the swelling would go down in the night but it has increased to an alarming extent. The poor horses are driven nearly mad and it is pitiful to watch them; some have holes, a quarter of an inch deep, eaten out around their eyes. Collected a number of Apus and two varieties of Estheria, one having red blood like ourselves, the other white. Chance shot a crow which on examination proved to be white-eyed. Had a visit from Angus
McKenzie who states that his brother Kenneth is coming along to help us with some fresh horses tomorrow, he will travel with us to Bloods Creek. The prospect of getting away from here elates us. There is an awful stillness about this place considering that we are camped on the well-wooded Stevenson. The drought appears to have almost annihilated bird life. Years ago the song of birds was quite a feature of a Stevenson camp. Barring a letter-winged hawk, some plover and a few crows, we have met with no birds since leaving Oodnadatta. The rabbit which was becoming fairly numerous is said to be now extinct in these parts. Previous to the rain there was not a drop of surface water in the Creek from end to end and the few soakages which held out afforded very scanty supplies. In crossing the tablelands S. of Macumba we were struck with the almost total absence of Mitchell grass: there was Tribulus in abundance but of Mitchell grass only a tussock here and there. Even the lizards appear to have been thinned out for so far we have only seen one.
.c.March, 24th. Camp No. 5. Willow Well (Arthiralina), Ter. Rad. Min. 48.5°. Up at daylight, breakfasted before the flies awoke. Harnessed up and had all packs ready to start at 8 a.m. A dreary wait until 10.20 when Kenny McKenzie arrived. He brought a fine draught mare and a light horse to assist us, put them in the pole of the Govt. buggy and started after
some jibbing. Govt. leaders, Leper and Baldy, do not understand sandy country; so long as the going is good they behave splendidly but the heavy sand brings them to a stop. We had half a dozen stoppages through the team jibbing and did not reach this camp until 3 p.m. Poor old Chance has another bunged eye, mine is still closed. Country travelled over: sand-hills, with flats in between. Absence of bird life still noticeable, only saw couple of magpies, 2 cockatoos and an eagle hawk (Aquila audax). Weather hot, arrived in camp too late to get accurate Solar Thermometric record. Nardoo (Marsilea quadrifolia) plentiful along banks of the Stevenson. The seed of this plant is the staple food of the Cooper Creek natives but here, strange to say, it is very little used. Govt. party here repairing Govt. well. Find it very awkward with only one serviceable eye, the sound one appears to be struggling all the time to look at the bunged one, and the consequence is that I find it difficult to see things straight ahead. Frith arrived with a buggy this evening en route for Alice Springs, offers to lend us a couple of horses but we are not disposed to accept his offer, it would mean his camping with us and we prefer to be alone. Wrote to wife and left letter with Swanston, man in charge of Govt. party. Several visitors at our camp tonight: the conversation alternates between horses and the flies and we are bored and take refuge in our
journals. I am concerned to hear that my old friend Billy Coulthard has been nearly ruined by the drought and niggers. Out of 500 head of cattle he has only 70 left and the niggers have killed and eaten 52 of his best horses. I feel that, if they treated me in this way, I should feel disposed to take the law into my own hands. CoulthardÕs run abounds in game, the blacks are undoubtedly well treated and there is not a shadow of excuse for their depredations. Imagine what poor Coulthard must feel when he reads Lord TennysonÕs well-meant but silly utterances about the native and his cruel treatment in the back blocks. I do not know who is responsible for His ExcellencyÕs impressions as to the treatment of blacks in the Ôway backÕ country of this State, but I should much appreciate the opportunity of telling his informant that he is a malicious traducer of better men than himself. Warburton of Erldunda on Tennyson is worth listening to. Distance travelled 12 miles.
.c.March, 25th. Camp No. 6. Oolabarinna Well. Minimum thermometer 50°. Up rather later than yesterday, consequently flies a little troublesome at breakfast. Horses all in early and started at 7.45. Both teams travelled splendidly until we came, in 2 miles, to an arm of the Stevenson with heavy sandy bed in which ChanceÕs team stuck fast. All hands as usual had to man the wheels and by dint of pushing, swearing and whipping we
managed to get them going again, casualties one broken swingle-tree. After two or three experiences like this and 5 hours’ steady travel, we reached this camp having travelled 20 miles, the longest stage yet accomplished. Camped near UnderdownÕs old tin shanty which presents a woebegone appearance, occupied one of the huts at lunch time. Ned Hopkins arrived in the afternoon with a fine team of 14 horses, he tells me that he has been stuck up at old Crown Point Station, waiting for rain since last September. We tried to make a deal with him for a pair of horses but his price £30 is prohibitive. Country travelled over today, lying all along the Stevenson, richly clothed with grass of various kinds. How the horses would revel in it all, if only the infernal flies were absent. Still remarkable absence of bird and animal life, we were however rejoiced to hear the cheery notes of a couple of magpies at sunrise. Spencer and I sauntered along the bed of the Stevenson this afternoon and examined the pools but found nothing worth collecting, except a couple of beetles which we promptly bagged. Chance repaired or rather made a new swingle-bar, also a spare
one to carry along. He is a first rate fellow in camp. Two very fine turkeys (Ardeotis australis) flew over our camp at sunset. Chance stalked for a while and had one ineffective shot. We have visions of fried turkey ahead. McKenzie told a yarn tonight that rather amused me. Just before the rain Marsh started off a small caravan of camels from Oodnadatta, in charge of a half-caste boy named Tom with a full blooded black named Wilkie as assistant. They got caught in the rain a few miles south of Wire and became short of tucker. Wilkie said ÔLook here Tom me been longa police me knowen law blackfellow when him work canta starve we must breakum loadingÕ. Tom was doubtful of the morality of WilkieÕs suggestion, however they broached cargo starting on the tucker. Wilkie later on broached a 5 gallon jar of rum, some friends came along and the contents soon vanished. Amongst other things there was a case of shirts and print dress material on the loading. This Wilkie, still working within the law as he interpreted it, distributed amongst the women. Tom being a teetotaller did not join in the orgy which he was utterly powerless to stop. Poor old Marsh who is liable for the stuff is furious. Chance evidently has a poor opinion of Moonta folk, tonight at the
camp-fire I heard him describe them as 'Too slow to catch cold'. A few mosquitoes about, each one of which is equal to half a dozen of our Moonta product, they lay into one with teeth and claws and make as much noise as a pack of wild dogs. Two or three got hold of Chance’s dog just now and if he hadn't been chained up I believe they would have got away with him. Some people I know in Moonta would dub this statement an exaggeration. It is strange how incredulous some people are. Spencer and I lie in our bunks discussing our plans and building ethnological castles in the air until 10 p.m., when with the stars smiling upon us, we turn over and for a few hours forget all about flies and jibbing horses. Solar 142°. Regret to have to record loss of our small bird gun.
March, 26th. Camp No. 7. Ilkinjina. Terest. Min. 52. A very mild night with a few vicious mosquitoes, but not sufficiently numerous to warrant us rigging our nets.
.c.Up at first peep of dawn but the morning being mild the flies also turned out early. Bought two draught horses from Ned Hopkins for £25, they are fine strong animals and should pull us anywhere. Drove them in big buggy this morning and they shaped very satisfactorily. We have named them 'Fison' and 'Howitt' after the two distinguished Victorian anthropologists. Started at 7.50 and travelled very steadily until
1 p.m. when we camped at the Opossum and Stevenson junction having covered 20 miles.
We are obliged to travel short stages in order to keep horses fresh and in good condition for the long journey ahead. Country travelled over all more or less stony. Met Harry Pannell an old identity of the interior who has been a teamster on these inhospitable roads since the days of the construction of the line
He greatly amused Spencer by accosting him and saying ‘They used to teach me when I was a boy that the Lord was merciful and I believed ‘em now he sends all this here rain, fills the waterholes, grows heaps of grass for horses and heaps of flies to bung us up, d. . . d funny way of being merciful I call it’. Pannell 17 years ago became tired of travelling the roads and took a billet cooking for me at the Charlotte, he was the worst cook I ever had but the most economical, simply because he would never cook more than sufficient to last the day. Consequently he never had any to spare passing travellers. ‘Very sorry old man, wish I had known you were coming but s’help me Jimmy Tyson, I’ve only enough stuff for the boss’s table’. He has a rooted antipathy to all the eastern races, and on one occasion when a thirsty Afghan walked in to the kitchen and helped himself to a drink of water, he was promptly thrown out by the irate Briton. When his primitive ideas of cooking had brought me and my staff to a state of emaciation, I hinted that he had better return to the roads. He acquiesced
cheerfully enough until he heard that he was to be succeeded by a Chinaman. His rage then was magnificent, me a full free-born Briton to be succeeded by a blankety blank blank son of a sea junk Chinkie blank blank blank. I’d like to preserve his next words but I dare not do so lest these pages should become scorched. A rugged, kindly, honest, old fellow and one of the last of the old type of teamster who battled along against a thousand difficulties in opening up this country 30 years ago. Collected small black hooded snake (Furina ramsayi); (2) and some Estheria lutraria from the Welcome Pool. Solar 154. Pannell holding forth at our camp-fire during the evening greatly amused Spencer.
March, 27th. Camp No. 8. Abminga Creek. Up with the flies at first peep of dawn - began cursing earlier than usual. Started at 7.30 driving Fraser and Tylor. We are naming all our horses after distinguished anthropologists. Reached Bloods Creek (Mirwunkina) at 11.30. Called at a miserable little store, eating house and grog shanty kept by a man named Harvey; found half a dozen men there including the proprietor, all more or less drunk, principally more. We put up with their hiccoughs and blasphemy for about 10 minutes and then moved on to the creek crossing, where we unharnessed and camped for dinner. Moved on again at 2 o’clock and after 12 miles of rough gibber road we reached Abminga at 4 and outspanned for the night - distance travelled 27 miles. Driving Lubbock and Lang in
the afternoon - Very hot - flies awful - Min. this morning 52. Adelaide horses ‘Fraser’ ‘Tylor’ ‘Lubbock’ and ‘Lang’ beginning to lose condition, the flies will not allow the poor beasts to eat in the daytime. Our two native ex-prisoners left us this morning and started to walk to the Alice, they are quite useless except to lighten our loads by consuming the tucker. One ‘Sambo’ is a wicked-looking, morose brute whom I would not care to trust in a lonely spot if he were armed and I not. We are camped in a forest of gidea trees Acacia Home [sic] which afford much appreciated, splendid shade of which we are all, including the horses, glad to take advantage. We expected to pick up at Blood Creek two of the horses purchased from Davidson but Harvey assured us that he knows nothing of them. We have serious reason to believe that they are being worked by Maronsen or his employees in the mail. One was seen in the mail a month ago by McKenzie. We are giving him authority to seize the horses whenever he sees them and if possible they will be sent after us. Bagged one specimen of the water storing frog (Chiroleptes platycephalus). This frog though widely distributed has in this dry climate developed a capacity for storing water in its internal organs, it is thus enabled to withstand long seasons or drought. Blacks hard pressed for water have been known to dig up the frog and allay their thirst with the contents of its store. Spencer was the first to discover and make known the curious development for this frog - Mail which was
due at Oodnadatta passed us this evening at 5.30 with Jack Besley and a young lady on board. Had a few minutes’ conversation with Jack who did not attempt to introduce us to the lady. Spencer pronounces her a pretty woman with a good face, I merely saw her back hair, Spencer thinks she wore a wedding ring. We are both curious to know who she is. We were both dirty and travel-stained and did not care to show ourselves too prominently - We are upset upon receiving a wire from Gregor Robertson saying that he cannot meet us at Horseshoe Bend with horses on date fixed upon.
March, 28th. Camp No. 9. Charlotte Waters (Alknuturilirra). Ter. Min. 57.5. Few clouds in the east, very still and muggy - flies about before daylight. One had to fight with them to get into one’s clothes. I have never seen them so bad before and my experience in this country extends to 25 years. Left camp at 7.20 and reached Charlotte Waters at 10.30. Mirages much in evidence and some very extraordinary. Found Pado out having a constitutional, he returned at 11. Talked all day, Old Pado’s pessimism more pronounced than ever. His tirades against the British and their incompetence in the conduct of the Boer War transcend anything I have ever heard. Spencer’s pure English blood is made to tingle under the lash of Pado’s scornful criticism. Bobs is an amicable old woman,
Kitchener a ruthless bully and fool, while Kruger and De Wet are heroes of the highest type - Such criticism would set good patriotic old Moonta on fire. The mayor would be speechless, Uffindell furious and Page would have a fit. The whole British Pharmacopea would not unload Pado’s liver of its high accumulation of bile but nevertheless it is a great delight to both of us to be with him. In the evening we gave a phonograph entertainment consisting of the corroboree songs obtained on the Stevenson. We also obtained another record. Not feeling at all well, too much ‘hardships’ in the way of fancy tinned meats on the road; afraid I shall have to confine myself to common or garden salt horse - Solar 149.5. Wired wife and was glad to hear all well in the dear old home. Very few blacks here, Pado sending out messengers to summon them in tomorrow. Shocked at the appearance of my beard on arriving here this morning; noticed with anything but a pleasurable thrill many grey hairs. Was going to let my beard grow but I cannot contemplate grey hairs with equanimity. Some early resident named Charlotte Waters Station ‘Bleak House’ and he named it well; looking south from the Station I know no drearier aspect except perhaps the surroundings of Moonta. The thin green streak of the Eucalyptus microtheca which grows along the banks of the Coglin
Creek, one mile north of the Station, relieves the aspect in that direction and appears to mark a distinct change in the character of the country and its flora. Looking out on the surroundings of this place with its total absence of any sort of attractive scenery without, or social life within, I marvel how I could have spent 12 years here happily. Yet I did, years free from care of any sort and of absolute content.
March, 29th. Camp No. 9. Alknulurilirra. Min. Ther. 64. A very mild night. Rigged our bunks outside. Pado dispatched boy to collect niggers. During the morning we took some records of corroboree songs by women, also records of sentences - Pado at intervals firing volleys of pessimistic criticism on men and things generally. Solar 147.5. In the evening got two fine phonographic records, one of women quarrelling and one of men. One of our records has been broken probably by jolting over the stones.
March, 30th. Camp No. 9. Ter. Min. 62°. Today should be a historic one in all Australia for it is the day of election - the first election - for the Federal Parliament. Pado is early afield and at 8 sharp he solemnly - in his capacity of Assistant Returning Officer - places a tin box on the Office table and declares the poll open; there is no inrush of eager electors. Indeed there are only three electors on the roll on this station: the cook and the Assistant Operator have never troubled to place their names on the roll. At breakfast I say
a word in favor of the men I am supporting and for whom I have left a vote away back at Moonta. Pado stigmatizes my nominees, with one or two exceptions, as fools or worse and, as a result of my advice and to my infinite disgust, plumps for one man, Symon, for the Senate. After breakfast I promptly interviewed the two free and independents outside and I am glad to be able to record that they each went for my men. Later a man who is registered to vote at Horseshoe Bend came along - applied to vote here under the special regulation which is provided for Territory voters. I interviewed him and also secured his vote for my men. Pado and I spent most of the morning reminiscing and we lived over again many funny scenes in which poor old Tom Doer took part. An almost forgotten incident was revived during our chat. Quite twenty years ago Pado and I were out wandering over the hills around Alice Springs when suddenly we came upon a beautiful, freshly-shed snakeskin. I moved forward to pick it up when Pado laid his hand on me and in earnest tones said ‘Leave it where it is; don’t take it home or the brute might come there looking for its clothes’. I left it. In the evening after the excitement of counting the four votes recorded had subsided we obtained several phonographic records, one especially good, one of a
quarrel between two men. Arranged with blacks to do some corroborees in a day or two, we undertaking to fund [?] them in food. We are most anxious to procure kinematographic records before leaving here.
March, 31st. Camp No. 9. Ter. Min. 58. Sunday - one can feel it in the bush even more than when it is announced with clang of bells down country. Why it should be so I cannot explain; there is a stillness about it and a tinge of sleepy melancholy which is nowhere else perceptible. It always depresses me and I am glad when it has passed. Lolling about all day, Max. 151. Cowle arrived at 11 p.m. and roused us all out. He brought with him some Gilbeys gin which he insisted upon us sampling; talked until midnight when we all went out to camp, he settled himself down to talk all night and it was with the greatest difficulty we persuaded him to let us get to sleep. The old boy is looking first rate and is as full of devil as ever. He no longer ridicules my ethnological work and I am grateful to notice from his conversation that he is taking an intelligent interest in the habits, customs and traditions of the natives.
April, 1st. Camp No. 9. Min. 61. Cowle, up before the flies, would not allow us to rest - Cloudy morning, appears to be working up for
for rain. The dinky sylph who adorns this page turns the scale at 15 st. 2 (plate no.6). She acts as cook’s assistant; the cook is a miserable, withered little fellow weighing about 8 stone. I remember this woman ‘Udninga’ when she was considered a belle of her tribe, now there is no tape long enough to measure her waist. She is probably the biggest woman in the Arunta tribe, her smile is a thing to be remembered for a lifetime and her wrath when on the warpath is as devastating as a tornado. She holds strong views on women’s rights although I cannot hear that she has yet claimed the franchise - Her opinions always have weight: her husband is the meekest of men who looks as if he were burdened with a great sorrow - probably he is - Cowle left at 10.30 for Sandford’s camp in the Finke. He is collecting Census papers and returns here tomorrow. Waddy wired results of Federal elections and I am delighted to hear that C. C. Kingston has headed the poll. We are wiring him congratulations. Lubras brought in some natural history specimens viz. Sminthopsis lurrapinta, Phascologale cristicauda, Conilurus cowinus [?] and some lizards. Max. 159.5.
April, 2nd. Camp No. 9. Min. 68.5. Weather cloudy and boisterous, too much so to permit of using the kinematograph. Blacks preparing for an elaborate corroboree but we had to arrange with them to put it off until the weather is favourable. Cowle returned at 1 p.m. In the morning Spencer and I visited blacks’ camp, collected some beetles, also procured from the blacks a number of edible tubers called Ilya-Kamana - probably a fungus - very palatable, when either boiled or roasted, very irregular in shape and when clean a pure white, the blacks, who on matters of this sort are strangely unreliable, say that it grows on the root of the three-cornered jack plant (Tribulus terrestris). The beetles collected are called by the blacks Ilyanilyana from the fact that they feed upon the Ilyana plant, a species of Claytonia. The tuber is sketched hereunder (plate no.7) but it occurs in various shapes. Cowle in great form bearded like the bard [?]. I am pleased to notice that he sports some grey hairs in his beard. He surprises me when he tells me that some time ago he was about to throw up his appointment, go south and marry his old flame but she spoilt his plans - for which he is grateful - by marrying a man
from Burmah. Although the lady’s breach of faith has not troubled him, I fancy that it has accentuated his pessimism. He and Pado together afford us no end of amusement. One of the station hands gave me two very fine pairs of Interlinya (Kurdaitcha boots made of emu feathers and human hair).
April, 3rd. Camp No. 9. Min. 51.5. Cowle mustered and counted natives: total 45 including only 4 children. The absence of children right through from Oodnadatta is remarkable and the death rate now far exceeds the birth rate; in a very few years the race will be extinct over a wide area. During the morning the blacks performed a sacred rain dance called ‘Kurnara’ which is one of the ceremonial dances of the Intichiuma or Rain Making ceremony. We succeeded in getting two kinematograph records and a number of interesting photographs. The kine films will have to be sent to Melbourne for development and, so far as we can learn, the only man there who has had experience in this work is an officer of the Salvation Army. In return for a bag of flour and some tea, sugar and tobacco we obtained the 7 head-sticks beautifully decorated and used in the ceremony. Those will be packed and sent through to Melbourne where all material collected by the Expedition is to be stored. Dreamt last night that our house at Moonta was completely gutted by fire which originated through kitchen chimney catching alight. Awoke in a terrible state of excitement and the
the unpleasant impression did not altogether leave me until I received a wire from the little wife saying that all was well - I have a horror of chimney fires and only yesterday wired Dick enquiring if he had chimney swept. In the afternoon the blacks performed Quatara Okraninna of Okilchia, the sacred ceremony of the Great Snake of Okilchia, for which we got kine and photographic records. The ceremony illustrates a native tradition relating to a blind Snake man, i.e. a man of the Snake totem, who was in the Alcheringa robbed of his lubra by a man named Alkiticha of the Brown Snake (Uitcha) totem. The old man who is elaborately decorated with birds’ down is represented as searching for his faithless wife, guiding himself by the aid of a stick. The whole ceremony is a very fine one and will be fully described in our work later on. We find that our kine films are not long enough to take in a whole ceremony, they should be 300 ft. instead of 150. In the evening we obtained four phono. records, namely the Lartna song of the Arunta, the Latira song of ditto. A sacred song of the Snake totem of Okilchia and a sacred song of the Kangaroo totem of Eltinta. Collected
some natural history specimens, specimens are scarce or our hunters are lazy, for in this direction we are moving slowly. Today has been quite a field day with us and we have enjoyed it immensely, the old days of the great Engwura are recalled as we sit amongst the darkies with their monotonous chants and eternal clatter. Spencer’s eyes fairly glisten and it delights me to watch the play of his mobile features.
April, 4th. Camp No. 9. Min. 51.5. Phonograph plant packed and forwarded per D. Hart’s team, consigned to T. Gill, the Treasury, Adelaide. Contents of case: phonograph recorder, reproducer, spare diaphragms, spare gaskets, wax for repairing diaphragm, 24 cylinder records, oil, oil-can, chip brush, rubber horn tube, flexible speaking tube, winding handle, horn stand and horns - mail arrived at 12.30 with three long-suffering and bedraggled looking passengers, one being a young woman who is going up to act as companion to the hotel keeper’s wife at Alice Springs - a very self-possessed young person not bad looking and in all probability destined to become the wife of some unsuspecting Nor’wester. This is the first mail trip under the new contractor, the horses are all raw to the work, mostly colts and half the time since leaving Oodnadatta has
been occupied in repairing breakages. A Revd. missionary Mr. Bogner, who is on board, has been constantly engaged in offering up prayers for the safety of the passengers, while the driver exasperated with the fractiousness of his horses has been equally busy in coining new oaths. Sometimes a passenger is startled by hearing a well-known man’s name addressed to a horse. Spencer will never forget his first experience on a Nor’ West coach when he was startled by the driver shouting in furious tones “Get up Gillen you blankety blank blank or IÕll cut the blankety liver out of you”. I had sold the horse so addressed to the contractor! Truly, this is an awful trip for a woman, this poor girl had no idea what was before her. She now bitterly regrets that she did not turn back from Oodnadatta but in a few months’ time, when some bold back blocker looks into her brown eyes and whispers his tale of love, she will probably count the trip amongst her happiest experiences - Pado and Kearnan both favourably impressed - Both envy me when I am asked, blushingly, if I can prescribe for ear-ache. Both suggest remedies but she accepts mine which are promptly and delicately administered. Spencer too is not free from the taint of envy, when he confidentially informs the girl that from a medicinal point of view I am an awful fraud - Am greatly pleased to get letter and photos of the kiddie from the little wife. Gill wrote and forwarded Aneroid Barometer, Swinging Thermometer and block note books.
Cowle left in the afternoon and much as we admire him we are not sorry to see him depart. He threatens to visit us in our camp at Alice Springs where we hope to do good work, which would not be facilitated by his presence. At 4 p.m. visited the blacks’ camp and got kine and photo records of the sacred ceremony of the Kangaroo of Eltinta (Quabara Okira Eltinta). This ceremony illustrates a tradition relating to a great Kangaroo animal of the Alcheringa who was chased away to the north by a man of the Kangaroo totem named Thinthipera who was unsuccessful in his chase, the beast being killed and eaten at Idnuringa by a man who was Ulpmirka , that is one who has not passed the second initiatory rite. In the evening we spent two hours developing plates and I regret to have to record that my half plates are not up to much, some are out of focus, some are simply bad, none really good. I am handicapped in not having a decent black cloth to use when focussing - Many of the quarter plate pictures taken by Spencer are admirable and he chortles accordingly. Solar 143.
.c.April, 5th. Camp No. 9. Good Friday. Min. 49.5. Nights becoming cooler. In the morning spent a couple of odorous hours in the blacks’ camp and got records of Quabara Quatcha of Irria , one of the ceremonies performed when “making rain” at a place on the Finke called Irria. In the afternoon got records, kine and photo, of a rain dance.
In the evening spent three solid hours developing negatives. The blacks brought in a number of beasts including several specimens of Chiroleptes platycephalus (the water holding frog). There is a look of smug satisfaction about the appearance of this frog which is very funny; he has a knack of patting his water-lined stomach in a caressing manner, peculiarly human, and on the whole he lets one clearly understand that he is an animal of considerable importance. The blacks also brought in some specimens of Heleioporus pictus, another widely distributed frog, which upon examination by Spencer and much to his surprise was found to possess the same capacity for storing water in the body cavity which was previously thought to be peculiar to Chiroleptes. Today a man named Dick Scant called to consult me about a trifling ailment. He is one of two men who two or three years ago had a spree
spree on a tin of spirits of wine left by Spencer at Bloods Creek. Describing it afterwards he said to a friend ‘The blankety snake juice which the blankety Bug and Beetle blank left behind at Bloods Creek made the best blankety grog I ever tasted in my life’. He is a hard-shelled, little old chap and was half afraid that the Professor would bag and preserve him. Solar 136.
April, 6th. Camp No. 9. Min. 51.5. Started writing my mail in morning. In the afternoon got kine and photo records of lubras’ corroboree called Unintha. Women decorated with much taste, various designs painted on bodies otherwise naked as mother Eve, but perhaps somewhat shyer though certainly not ashamed. Pado has assumed command of the collecting gang and we are hoping to get better results. In the evening we spent three hours developing negatives. The weather heat has affected many of our plates and the result is foggy pictures. Pado is a long-suffering creature, we have taken complete possession of his house and our photographic work has produced a scene of chaos on the premises which would drive an ordinary man to drink. We both feel ashamed of the mess we have created but, when I nervously apologised tonight, Pado assured me that he would rather have our mess than our absence. We finish the day with a discussion on Literature on which Pado talks well and interestingly. Max. 146.5.
April 7th, Camp No. 9. Min. not recorded. Writing letters all day. Mail due here at noon not expected until tomorrow. Lewis and F. Wallis arrived on their way north. Spent evening toning prints, bromide process, results fairly good. Solar 149.5.
April, 8th. Camp No. 9. Few clouds in the north very mild night, flies about before daylight. A curious experience, which I omitted to journal, happened to me yesterday morning. The blacks having finished their corroboree etc. were about to start for a place out east called Udnaljira, where game and other food is at present plentiful. Before leaving, some half dozen of the leading men interviewed me and requested that I should nominate a man to be Atalunja or head man of the local group. It appears squabbles have arisen since the death of the old Atalunja as to who should be head man and the deputation said that if I definitely nominated a man he would be loyally supported by the rest. I nominated Arinika, otherwise Alick, an old man of the Rain totem - this is a great rain centre - who appeared to me to have the best right, according to their own laws, to the position and whose nomination was considered highly satisfactory. This is the first time I have acted in the role of King maker! The fact of the blacks calling in my assistance, I think, points strongly to the decay of their old tribal organization - Mail arrived at 7 p.m., 25 hours late, a woman passenger on board - A lazy day.
day. A little writing, a little packing and much talkee talkee. In the evening we did some bromide printing and posted specimens to our wives. I also posted copies of each native picture to Dick, who is to hold them at Moonta until I return. I am adopting this course so that in the event of anything happening to the negatives, we shall still have a record. John Bailes, the Artesian well contractor who has sunk most of the bores in this country, arrived this evening from the south. He tells me that Anacoora bore, lately sunk by him to a depth of 1,250 ft., yields 700,000 galls. per 24 hours; the water when flowing from the bore has a temperature of 136°. The bore is situated approx. 65 miles east of here and is in desert sand-hill country. The bore at Bloods Creek is 2,002 ft. and the water rises to within 140 ft. of the surface, temperature 85. This well is being fitted with windmill and tank which when completed will raise the water to the surface. Charlotte Waters bore is 1,474 ft., water rises to within 160 ft. of surface, temperature about 80, fitted with windmill and tank and troughs for watering stock. Hamilton bore is 1,417 ft. deep, water rises over the surface, yielding 170,000 galls. per 24 hours, temperature 115°, - Oodnadatta bore 1,571 ft. deep, yielding 240,000
galls. per day. All these bores were put down by Mr. Bailes. Storm Creek bore about 1,500 ft., yielding surface flow of 110,000 per 24 hours, temp. 110°. This bore was put down by Mr. Johnston, a Canadian expert - Oodnadatta and Wire Creek bores contain nearly 1/2 oz. saline matter to the gallon, while the other bores do not contain more than half that quantity. Solar 163.5. 30 miles N.E. of Anacoora another bore is about to be put down. Approx. cost of the 6 bores £27,642, Bailes’s estimate.
April, 9th. Camp No. 9. Min. 53.5. Cloudy. Warm and flies more vigorous than ever. Packing up and re-arranging loading all day. Two cases containing corroboree head-sticks and head-dresses forwarded to Melbourne. Mr. Taylor arrived from Crown Point Station, gave us warm invitation to go via Lirriewa, the new head Station on the Finke. Bought a brown filly from Chester for £6.10.0. Had all horses’ feet looked to and in readiness for start tomorrow. We shall be glad to be on the trek again. Solar 159.5. Got from Pado bundle of boomerangs which he is to send on to Minnie.
April, 10th. Camp No. 10. Sand-hills N. of C.W. Min. 53.5. Left Charlotte Waters at 3.10 driving ‘Fraser’ and Tylor’, travelling until 6.10 when we camped in sand-hills, 12 miles N. of the Charlotte. We have added another dog to the Expedition a fox terrier named ‘Phiz’, left at the Charlotte for us by Jack Besley. We have now two fox terriers and as they are
are splendid watchdogs the camp should be safe from night prowlers, man or beast. Pado rode with us and goes on tomorrow to Lirriewa where we shall camp for dinner. We are glad to be on the road once more; with all the pests of heat and flies, there is still a fascination about bush travelling. We have carried water for our own requirements in canteens on the pack horses but our horses will do without a drink until we reach Lirriewa. A little north of the Charlotte Well, picked up a poor devil of a swagman who is travelling north looking for work. He was delighted when we told him to get aboard the waggonette. Very warm afternoon, perspiration poured from the horses; could not take record of Max. thermometer as we were travelling. We have a huge camp-fire by the light of which we are writing; insects of various kinds rush in to their destruction; on previous occasions we have been struck by the remarkable absence of insect life. While at the Charlotte the Prof. established a ‘fly farm’ on one of the outer window sills. He was anxious to record the manner in which the local flies bred, the time occupied in hatching out the eggs and the length of time elapsing between the hatching and the full development of the pestiferous fly - He was chortling about the neat
success of his experiment when to his infinite disgust Pado’s assistant swept the whole ‘farm’ into the dust pan, not for a moment realizing that he was upsetting an interesting scientific experiment. On this occasion the Prof. said damn as if he meant it. Our swaggie turns out to be an old soldier who is the proud possessor of two medals. He was with Lord Roberts in the famous march to Kandahar in 1880 and like all who have served under that great Irishman he cannot speak too highly of him. Bobs was then only a Brigadier General - Swaggie speaks very highly of the Ghoorkas as fighting men and for the Sikhs also he has a word of appreciation. Before turning in we treated ourselves to a dish of Bovril.
April, 11th. Camp No. 11. Boggy Flat (Tilpilpa) Waterhole. Min. 49.7. Up at the first streak of dawn. All slept badly - Bar. 29.38 altitude 507 ft. From this date we shall record readings of Aneroid Barometer and Swinging Thermometer. Started at 8 a.m. and in 8 miles reached Lirriewa, where we remained for dinner, good old Taylor giving us a most hearty welcome; he had not only killed the proverbial fatted calf, he sacrificed the whole herd. Ah Lum the bland, almond-eyed boss of the culinary department, who is an old patient of mine, smiled in his most childlike manner and informed us that he was ‘Very muchee welly glad’ to see us and that he had
something ‘welly ni’ for dinner; shortly after this I missed Spencer whom I found in the kitchen, talking to Ah Lum about his beloved Canton and spying out the good things. At 1 o’clock we dined gorgeously - was there ever such a spread at Lirriewa before? - the menu consisting of roast turkey, roast fowl, leg of goat, vegetable marrow, parsnips, plum pudding, jelly (I shall never forget the muddy colour of it, I think he had mixed it with claypan water), water melon, rock melon, salad. Truly a feast for the gods and, though not pretending to be gods, we did ample justice to it - Lum smiled benignly and wanted us to take on the remains of the pudding but we are already overloaded and I sternly declined. At 2.30 we harnessed up, said good bye to Taylor and Pado and trekked north intending to go on to the Goyder, but Chance’s team having smashed a swingle-tree, we were delayed and consequently had to camp here: distance travelled 14 miles. We are all feeling, more or less - principally more - the affects of Lum’s banquet I regret to have to admit it but the turkey was tough - and the fowl tougher. Chance declares that they were cooked in
less than an hour. This afternoon on striking Boggy Flat we passed the grave of a man named Jas. Alex. McFarlane who accidentally shot himself and was buried by me 20 years ago. I noticed that quite recently a marble headstone has been erected over his grave, the rough log fence seems out of keeping with the headstone. I have seen many lonely roadside graves in the bush but this is the only instance in which I have met with a headstone. Evidently the poor fellow’s relatives have not forgotten him. At this camp we found a nigger who rejoices in the name of Winnecke’s Mick and whom I remember as a smart-looking lad who was with Winnecke on his first trip to the MacDonnell Ranges. We regaled him on marmalade for which he showed a keen appreciation. The so-called barking spider, which is in reality a small quail, is much in evidence at this camp. Many bushmen refuse to be convinced that the noise is not made by a spider; told that scientific men have clearly demonstrated that the spider could not possibly make such a noise they retort ‘Them bloomin scientific blokes don’t know everything’. Waterhole at Box Trees west of our camp is called Kurnalya. Solar 153.5. Swinging Thermometer 74. Bar. 29.30. Alt. 625 ft.
April, 12th. Camp No. 12. Black Hill (Ulpirra). Min. 62. Up before daylight, cloudy muggy morning, flies about early and very sticky. Spencer woke with a lovely bunged eye of which he is rather proud, being the first of his family to possess such an adornment. His only regret is that it is not as fine a specimen of fly architecture as mine was. Unlike me he is anxious to be photographed. Started at 7.45, travelled 15 miles over heavy sandy country and camped at Black Hill (Ulpirra) on the Finke River. Found a nice little waterhole called Kurtik-kiwa within 100 yds. of the road - drove Lang and Lubbock and both had enough of the sand by the time we reached here at 1 o’clock; it is dreary work indeed, sitting behind horses straining every nerve for 5 solid hours - 1 p.m. Swing. Ther. 90°. On unpacking our spare Solar Radiation thermometer at the Charlotte we were disgusted to find the big glass bulb broken; today on arrival here we found that the inner bulb of the remaining Solar has in some unaccountable way got broken and the quicksilver had escaped into the larger bulb. We are now without a Solar; it is hopeless to try to carry such delicate instruments along this track. These observations were being taken at the request of Mr. Baracchi, Govt. Astronomer of Victoria, who provided the instruments; he was anxious to obtain a record of Solar and Terrestrial radiation through the continent and we much regret that so far as the Solar is concerned we shall not be able to gratify his wish. Old Taylor turned up, just as we were finishing dinner. He brought with him a very welcome addition to our larder in the shape of a huge joint of beef. Chance quickly provided the
old fellow with a quart pot of tea and a tin of boiled fowl, after discussing which he decided to camp with us. At Charlotte Waters we picked up a splendid black boy named Erli-kil-yi-ka, otherwise Jim Kite. We have now two boys, both natives of Charlotte Waters, and they are anxious to go through with us. The second boy - I say boy but both are men - is named Parunda, otherwise Warwick. Having two good reliable boys will add much to the comfort and success of our trip. I grilled some steak for tea and turned it out in tip top style, quite superior to anything I have tasted since leaving the Interior; there is considerable art in grilling a steak, an art never acquired by servant girls or bush cooks. I have eaten steak cooked on a silver grill in a crack Melbourne Club but it was not equal in juiciness or flavor to that cooked here on the coals and in the open air. Spencer had gross doubts, almost amounting to conviction that my idea of turning out a steak was crude if not primitive, but tonight he was forced to admit that I am an artist. I have an idea that an open air grill establishment would pay in one of the large cities: Taste Gillen’s luscious grill and die happy. Snore in comfort and preserve your digestion - Our small collecting bottles are rapidly filling up, great numbers of insects flutter about our lantern while we write and many of them are ruthlessly pounced upon and consigned to a collecting
bottle where they find complete rest in spirits of wine. Spencer bagged a Moloch horridus today and slew the poor beast with nicotine drawn from the stem of his pipe. A match tipped with a little of the juice from a pipe-stem kills any lizard in about 3 minutes, there is just a feeble attempt to run away, then a convulsive struggle and all is over - Snakes may also be killed in the same manner but require more nicotine and do not die so quickly. It is a lovely mild night, still with the peculiar stillness of the bush, occasionally the horse bells ring out with startling effect, a cricket chirrups to his mate an invitation to come out of her retreat, a weird old mopoke utters his harsh note, the boys sit poking sticks into the fire while they chant in low tones a corroboree song and I, well, I think of Moonta and the loved ones there, and wish that I could peep in and see them all; it comforts me to feel that each day is taking us nearer home - Bar. 29.18. Altitude 752 ft. Swinging Ther. 9 p.m. 75.2.
April, 13th. Camp No. 13. Ulta-rok-itta. Min. 52.7. Bar. 29.18. Up just before daylight but not before the flies. I think of Job and wish that he lived on the banks of this Central Australian river in the month of April and in a good season, in which case he would not have been
held up to a long-suffering posterity as the personification of patience; boil plagues any ordinary man might put up with, but flies, as they are here, would drive a saint to profanity. Three or four hundred million of them camped on our buggies last night, straining the springs to their utmost capacity, and when I awoke and shouted the usual morning greeting: “How is your liver?” to Spencer they charged upon me with a howl of joy that woke old Chance, deaf as he is. He was just dreaming that the price of beef had fallen in Moonta; more than anything else in Moonta the price of beef worries Chance and every joint that we get, he tells us what it would cost there. Started at 8 p.m., travelling along the margin of the Finke for 5 miles, when we crossed it at the green waterhole (Kurtik-kiwa), thence along the margin of the river to Yellow Cliff (Araquia) where we again crossed and pulled up to take a photo. Spencer trudged up the Cliff and returned to find that there was no plate in the slide that he exposed - both used language and brushed the flies off. On again past old Crown Point Station (Aruleedna) which is now in ruins, crossed the river at Cunningham gorge and camped on the north bank near a waterhole called Ulta-rok-itta. Distance travelled 12 miles, including some awful patches of sand, driving Fraser and Tylor, a splendid pair. Crown Point from which the Station takes its name (native name Utaratja) is a remarkable looking hill on the western bank of the Finke River. It rises to a height of about 600ft. and
and at a distance of some miles presents an appearance not unlike a crown, closely viewed it is a sandstone hill which is being gradually weathered and worn away. The surface capping of the hill, being of somewhat harder sandstone than the rest, is better able to resist the onslaught of wind and weather. The Finke river flows at its base, I say flows I should say lies, for it is only for a brief period after rain that water flows at all. In places the bed of the river, a great sheet of dazzling white sand, is from 3 to 400 yards in width and in really good seasons the flow of water which eventually finds its way into Lake Eyre, 250 miles south, is enormous. In good seasons fish, a bony bream, is found in all the waterholes. The river rises in the MacDonnells and, into its great hungry looking channel, all the minor rivers rising in and south of the MacDonnells pour their flood waters. The bed of the river and the banks are thickly timbered with Eucalyptus rostrata and microtheca, these trees are rarely found away from the river banks in this country - Taylor accompanied us here and went on up the Finke - When saying goodbye he wished us ‘good health granted that I am sure you will be successful’. He is a fine type of bushman, generous, hospitable and as hard as nails. Lord Kintore met him at the Alice and took quite a fancy for him. The old fellow had served under his, the Governor’s, uncle in the British Navy. Birds are fairly numerous along the Finke, today we saw black cockatoo, Major Mitchell ditto,
and three different kinds of parrots. One miserable little teal occupies this waterhole and from its woebegone appearance I should say it is lost - Stuart probably camped here when he discovered the Finke in 1860, he must have struck the river about Yellow Cliff, for in his journal he speaks of it, sweeping away east [and] west, which exactly describes the course of the river at that spot. We talk of Stuart and the extraordinary difficulties he had to contend against and both agree that it is a disgrace to South Australia that there is no monument to his memory. With the exception of Stuarts Creek away south of the Strangways and Central Mt. Stuart, his name has not been given to any natural feature. The names of obscure Germans have been, at the instance of Baron Von Mueller, given to many of the most striking features in the country which Stuart discovered, equally obscure Australians have given their names to creeks, hills and valleys and the musical native names have been lost. Very hot day, cloudy with thunder and lightning, close evening with abundance of insect life about our lantern. Our camp is strewn with empty whisky bottles and it is evident that someone has been having a high old time. We could do with a little whisky ourselves and I should much like to be within reach of my cellar
in which there is some good Thistle Blend maturing. Tonight I again officiated with the gridiron and produced a grill fit for the gods. I am here depicted as I appeared to Spencer’s disordered imagination. Chance attends daily. It is Saturday night and doubtless George Street, that haunt of fashion and multi-coloured frocks, is thronged with throbbing Cornish humanity. I ask Chance if he would like to be there and he replies that he would sooner be up one of the Finke gums. This trip is rejuvenating him and many Moontaites would fail to recognise in our Assistant their depressed and limp-looking police officer. Bar. 29. Altitude 900 ft. Swinging Thermometer 9 p.m. 76. Attached Ther. 76.
April, 14th. Camp No. 14. Amesbury Claypan (Alala). Bar. 28.95. Min. 51.2. A cooler night than usual. Spencer awoke with another bunged eye. At. Ther. 64.5. No rain but showers in various directions around us, during the night. Started at 7.30 driving Lang and Lubbock. Our ‘slow but certain’ team
travelled 20 miles over mixed stony and sandy country with patches of porcupine which is here invariably, but wrongly, called spinifex; road heavy throughout, we did not average more than 3 miles an hour and we were glad indeed when we reached this camp. The claypan, which is named after the discoverer, a bullock driver named Amesbury, is in sandy country about half a mile east of the old main track and when full lasts about two months. It is a fortunate spot in that it appears to be visited by every passing shower. It is a common belief that something in the vicinity, perhaps the table-topped hills which practically surround it, attracts rain. I was not surprised on arrival to find that a nice little shower had fallen here last night. The water is about the colour and consistency of thin pea soup and except to a thirsty man is not inviting but to the tadpole it is a veritable garden of Eden. A friend of mine once swallowed a tadpole when taking a drink from a claypan, he rode 15 miles to consult me and vowed that the tad. was still alive and active. I prescribed some rum, the activity of the beast increased. I suggested more rum, the prescription was promptly accepted, the tad. appeared to become ecstatic and went through a series of handsprings, somersaults and other gymnastic exercises. My friend begged me to save him. I administered more rum, in quarter of an hour the tad. with a final bound appeared to expire in the throes of delirium, and my friend slept peacefully until tea time when he awoke, complaining of his head, but there was no more tadpole. Mt. Squire
(Nirwalla) lies about 5 miles south of our camp, it is named after the late Mr. Edward Squire, Deputy P.M.G. Spencer bears his two bunged eyes with Christian fortitude, the second one is an improvement on the first but it is [a] feeble effort compared with the masterly edifice erected around my left eye on the Stevenson - Chance who we affectionately term the ‘old geezer’ now considers himself bung-proof and the way he allows the flies to browse upon his eyelids is appalling - No timber handy to rig our tent today, so we made a rough bough shade, lit fires all round us and dined in the smoke to which the flies have a decided objection.
Bar. at 9 p.m. 28.75. Altitude 1,160 ft. Swinging Ther. 71.5. Chance tells an extraordinary yarn about a blackfellow eating fire - Some years ago he was bringing down a lubra prisoner from the Diamantina. During the night she escaped and he accused a blackfellow, who was travelling with a man named Gregor Robertson, with having assisted her. The blackfellow at once was seized with some sort of a fit, wriggling about on the ground in an extraordinary manner, finally striking his forehead sharply against a bullock yoke, causing a severe wound. The black at once got up rushed over to the fire and deliberately broke off and swallowed half a dozen pieces of live coal, about the size of marbles.
He then quickly swallowed in succession 3 quarts of water and said he was better and at once started to track up the lubra. In the morning he seemed none the worse for his experience. Robertson who is a reliable and unimaginative man vouches for the truth of Chance’s story and two other men were present.
April, 15th. Camp No 15. Horseshoe Bend, Finke. (Engoordina). Ter. Min. 61.5. Bar. 28.78. Alt. 1,125. Up before daylight. A miserable night, flies were celebrating some festival all night and worried the very soul cases out of us. One can suffer them in the daytime but when they disport themselves at night as well, it is almost more than flesh and blood can stand; we left Alala at 7.25 with a hope that it would never be our ill fortune to camp there again. Our breakfast consisted of some Bovril and damper and this we had to swallow in the smoke of the camp-fire, otherwise we should have consumed at least an equal quantity of flies. Driving Fraser and Tylor, track mostly heavy sand in to the Horseshoe Bend where we camped about 3/4 of a mile north of the Finke River. Sent Chance in to Sargeant and Elliott’s Station to deliver the 6 horses hired from Maronsen and bring out the 6 horses sent to meet us by Gregor Robertson. Four of
the six horses are our property and we are highly pleased with them. Two are active draughts, one medium and one handsome well-bred hack, which we have named ‘Biluta’ after my boy Brian, who was so called by the Alice Springs blacks. We are to get 4 more horses from Robertson at Alice Springs, in the meantime he is lending us two fine draught mares to help us through. Chance was delayed at Sargeant’s, waiting for the horses to come in until it was too late to move on, otherwise we should have camped in the sand-hills without water, 7 miles N. of here. We reached here at 10.30 so that we have had a rather long day in camp; the niggers built us a fine, shady wurley and on the whole we were fairly comfortable. In the afternoon some blacks came to see us and one of them related a tradition, in explanation of some curious mounds of small stones which are very noticeable about 100 yds. from our camp. In the Alcheringa an old woman of the Injira Grass-seed totem lived at Engoordina. She had a son who was taken away north to Urapuncha (Mt. Hamilton) by two men of the Injira totem for the purpose of
undergoing certain initiatory rites. The men of Urapuncha who were of the Fire totem took a great fancy to the boy because he was very fair in the skin (Aralkirra) and kept him there. After some time the two Injira men started back accompanied by several Urapuncha men and another boy whom they wished to palm off upon the old woman as her son.
The old woman watched for the return of her son for many days, always bringing with her some wooden vessels filled with water. At last she saw the party approaching and quickly noticed that the boy accompanying them was not her son. She then returned to her camp and procured some poison (Arungquiltha) which she placed in the water. The party came along and being thirsty drank up all the water and were immediately seized with vomiting and terrible pains from which they died. The stone mounds indicate the exact spots at which the men vomited. The boy lived longer than the men and crawled away on his hands and knees for some distance before dying. A stone now marks the spot at which he died and this stone is full of poisonous, magic properties. A larger stone, some distance
off under one of the cliffs, represents the body of the old woman who died there, this stone is called Apirta Arakutya (stone woman) and it also is charged with evil magic. By lighting fires on the mounds of stone which represent the vomit of the Urapuncha men, it is believed that the heat of the sun may be increased and in very cold weather when a little more warmth is thought desirable, a certain man who has charge of the place performs this ceremony - Bar. 9 p.m. 28.85. Aneroid 1,075 ft. Swinging Thermom. 76.
April, 16th. Camp No. 16. Old Depot Hugh River (Etwatima Lirratootinyi). Ter. Min. 56. Bar. 28.93. Aneroid 990 ft. At. Therm. 71 at 7.30 a.m. Horses split up into half a dozen mobs and wandered in various directions. Spencer and I did not get a start until 9.30 and Chance was detained until 11. It took us six solid hours to flounder through the 14 miles of wretched sand-hill country which lies between here and the Bend camp. Probably there is no track in the Colony so heavy, it is a succession of parallel ridges of red sand, clothed with a thick growth of porcupine grass (Triodia), with here and there a blade of grass. The ridges are covered with a low growth of various kinds of shrubs and hakea trees, the intervening flats, which are also of heavy sand, are dotted over with desert oaks (Casuarina decaisneana)
which grow to a height of about 30 ft. and afford a grateful shade, which today we frequently availed ourselves of. Later on in the winter months many of the shrubs will be in flower when the country will present a much more interesting appearance. Driving Fison and Howitt, very slow as they had not previously been driven as a single pair, very awkward. This camp is situated on the Hugh River (Lerratutinji) which junctions with the Finke about 5 miles to the westward. The Hugh was discovered and named by McDouall Stuart in 1860. Like the Finke, it is a great shallow watercourse with white sandy bed, timbered with Eucalyptus rostrata and microtheca. At this camp, in the early days of the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line, an immense waterhole, then believed to be permanent, existed close by. A succession of small floods filled it up but, for over 20 years, only a great white stretch of thirsty-looking sand marks the spot. There is a well about 35 feet deep on the bank of the river but, as it is at present occupied by some decaying crows, we shy off it and
carry our supplies from a soakage about a mile down the river. A blackfellow arrived at our camp shortly after daylight this morning and presented us with a stone Churinga, nicely encased in Emu feathers. This Churinga represents an Alcheringa woman of the Untherirta totem whose name was Untherirta. She marched from a place called Apira Nirka on the Lilla Creek to a point 5 miles N. of Alice Well, where she died and a great stone arose to mark the spot - The Prof., who is decidedly out of luck, bagged another bunged eye today and his appearance tonight is the reverse of attractive. We discuss bush liars in the evening and agree that a friend of Chance’s - who said that on one occasion he saw a flock of wild dogs so large in number that it took them 17 and a half minutes to cross a little blind creek near which he was camped - takes the palm. Today for the first time and for only half an hour, I bitterly regretted leaving Moonta; six hours in a buggy in this awful sand, crawling along at a snail’s pace, with the temperature at about 145° in the sun and a few hundred million flies to every square yard of space, is a little depressing. Bar. 28.93 Aneroid 900 ft. Swinging Thermom. 76.5.
April, 17th, Camp No. 17. Ulkna (The Double Crossing Hugh River). Bar. and Aneroid 28.80, 940 ft. Ter. Min. 55. Up as usual before daylight and so were the flies. Started 7.30, driving Lang and Lubbock, averaging about 2 miles an hour, to Alice Well (Apunanja) where we camped for dinner. Country travelled over, of same character as yesterday, but sand-hills not so bad. Occasional short stretches of rubbly limestone country, timbered with mallee (Eucalyptus gamophylla), cassia and great circular patches of wicked-looking blue porcupine (Triodia pungens) from which the natives extract a resinous substance which they use for a variety of purposes. The Hugh River winds in and out and crosses the track 7 times between the depot and Alice Well, each crossing is very heavy and trying to the horses. Recent floods have washed away the banks on the north side of the river and in some cases it was with the utmost difficulty that we managed to get the horses up them - Met Mr. Bradshaw midway and had a few minutes’ chat. Habatt is driving him down. I notice that George has
grown greyer and am surprised to hear that he contemplates trekking to South Africa. At Alice Well, which is situated at the Junction of the Alice and Hugh, there is an old eating house in the last stages of decay. It is said to be haunted by the spirits of departed drunks; a man named Bob Stephenson is about to open a store there and as he is gifted (?) with a perpetual thirst for alcohol, doubtless the spirits will have some new blood infused into them. The well is in a dilapidated condition and requires looking to. At 3.30 we moved on again and camped at Double Crossing at 5.30 p.m. - distance travelled 17 miles; it is comforting to know that another 17 miles will land us beyond the dreaded sand-hills which lie between Horseshoe Bend on the Finke and the Francis Creek Well, a stretch of 48 miles - While at the Alice Well we wrote a few scrappy lines to our wives, also spoke to A.G. but not very successfully and sent away memos. Something went wrong with my pocket instrument and I did not get
A.G.’s acknowledgement. Just half a mile from this camp the down mail passed us driven by an old Nor’Wester Tom Williams who has the contract from Arltunga right through to Oodnadatta. It must indeed be a soul-destroying task, driving along this road once a fortnight; there is enough profanity expended over one trip to last an average Moontaite a lifetime. Chance arrived in camp an hour later than us and as hoarse as an Indian Runner drake. The horses we got from Robertson are staunch as rocks but slower than a funeral. Unless he talks to them constantly they keep stopping every few yards; he mentioned this peculiarity to the mail driver who at once said ‘Oh yes all Gregor Robertson’s horses are like that. You must talk to or sing to them all the time. They are used to it from Robertson’. Chance is appalled at the idea of having to talk or sing all day and every day that we are traveling, until the journey is
completed. Spencer has not slept well for the last 3 nights and is looking a little jaded; the music of my nasal organ should soothe him but, as he roars out ‘get over on your side’ half a dozen times a night, I’m afraid it doesn’t. He is very cheery and thoroughly enjoys camping out. Our final smoke and chat as we lie in our bunks before going to sleep is a feature of each day to which we both look forward. Then the sand [and?]sorrow - misery of the day is forgotten. It is indeed a delight to me to be in his company and I love to have him here all to myself; with no other man would I undertake to leave wife and family to spend a year in the bush, but with him as a companion I look forward, quite apart from our scientific work, to spending an enjoyable time. This work of ours is a wonderful bond between us. Bar. 28.90. Aneroid 1,030 ft. Attachd. Ther. 66.
April 18th. Camp No. 18. Francis Well Francis Creek. Bar. [blank] Aneroid. [blank] Ter. Min. 47. The Prof. roared out ‘all aboard’ before daylight. Old Chance grows harder of hearing, he was so long awaking that we thought him dead. Some of the horses wandered off during the night, thereby delaying our start until 8.30. Driving
Fison and Howitt and found them very trying, their snail-like pace even on good running would not average 3 miles an hour. I think we shall leave them to the old geezer in future. Travelling over sand-hill country with the usual accompanyment of porcupine, desert oak, cassia, ironwood (Acacia salicina) and hakea for 17 miles when we reached this camp. We are rejoiced to be free from the porcupine and sand once more. Brought with us this morning a damper and beef sandwich which we stopped and ate at one o’clock; the beef had been carried in our packs since leaving the Charlotte and was quite hammy in flavor, though somewhat tough. Jim, one of our boys, was rather badly kicked by one of Chance’s leaders this morning and can only move about with difficulty tonight, we are afraid that he will be laid up tomorrow. The Francis Well is about 50 ft. deep and is sunk on the bank of the Francis Creek, a small gum watercourse which flows into the Hugh about 1 mile west of the well. Chance prepared a banquet for us tonight, consisting of Paysandu ox tongue, Gaillard’s pickles, jam and some of the Mater’s preserved figs but his awful damper spoilt the feast, it was solid and doughy, and could only be eaten after we
had toasted it in thin slices. The old geezer was very penitent and is now wrestling with a masterpiece for tomorrow - This morning, with the glass at 47, was crisp and pleasant but too cool for the flies so for the first time since leaving Charlotte Waters we breakfasted in comfort. The Prof. and I usually breakfast off Bovril and damper, sometimes I add a slice of bread and tinned butter, which latter is not of first rate quality, and Spencer will not therefore touch it. At Moonta I always ate a hearty breakfast but here I think the breakfast hour must be too early, for I never have the slightest appetite, dinner and tea I eat heartily although I smoke all day - Two old blackfellows came to our camp shortly after daylight and we rejoiced their hearts with some damper and tobacco. Prof. had good sleep last night and is very fit today. 9 p.m. Bar. 28.78. Aneroid 1,125. Swinging Thermom. 68. At. 66.
April, 19th. Camp No. 19. Sand-hills 5 miles S. of James Ranges. Bar. 28.78. Aneroid 1,150. Ter. Min. 47. Up as usual and again it is too cool for the flies. We chortle and banquet in peace on pea soup and some bread and butter - We are using Hohenlohe’s pea sausage and find them very handy to carry. Chance made the soup rather lumpy but we were not critical and it was voted devilish good stodge. Started at 7.25 and had a pleasant drive for 14
miles over undulating country, with razor back hills of desert sandstone scattered here and there, timbered with mulga broom, cassia and eucalypts in the creeks. Camped at Breadens dam at noon and remained there until 4.15 p.m. when we watered our horses and travelled another 7 miles and camped in sand-hill country, 5 miles south of the James Ranges. We are now north of the desert sandstone country, and at the James range, which we shall strike early tomorrow, we meet with the first Silurian sandstone or Ordovician rocks. We met four lubras 3 miles south of here loaded with small tubers (Cyperus rotundus) (Irriokwirra), they had evidently travelled some distance and were very thirsty and still 4 miles from water, so we gave them a drink and thereby gladdened their hearts. We are carrying on pack horses sufficient water for our own requirements but the horses will not get a drink until we reach the James Ranges tomorrow morning. Chance’s team is improving daily and today we found that it taxed our resources to keep ahead of them. Found my hammock rather cold last night and am afraid I shall have to give it up and take to the usual bush bed, mother earth, which, if not soft, is at
least always warm. I shall be sorry to give up my hammock for now that I am used to it, I find it very comfortable; at first it used to give me a kink in the side. There is a very noticeable absence of insect life about our camps during the last three nights; one miserable moth and a ferocious looking centipede were our only visitors tonight, the moth was promptly consigned to a collecting bottle and the centipede to the fire. The camp tonight is rather an interesting one, we have a very fine fire the flames of which are leaping quite 4 feet high, lighting up our surroundings for a radius of 100 feet: if one could but use the camera on such a scene it would make an interesting picture. Chance smokes contemplatively, watching the flames, probably he is thinking of wife and bairns away in Moonta. Parunda swiftly kneads a monster damper while Erlikilyika occasionally chips in a word of advice. A great weird-looking mulga tree (Acacia aneura) forms a background to the camp and its thin numberless branches and still thinner grey leaves are thrown out sharply and clearly in the firelight. Spencer busily plies his facile pencil transferring the scene to his note book. Would that I were gifted with his skill - 9 p.m. Bar. 28.43. Aneroid 1,175 ft. At. Ther. 63.7. Swinging Ther. 65.
April, 20th. Camp No. 20. Sand-hills 18 miles from D[eep] Well. Bar. 28.42. Aneroid 1,380. Ter. Min. 43.7. At. Ther. 445 - 6.30 a.m. All awakened by a mob of wild dogs corroboreeing close to the camp. They had previously awakened us in the night. Breakfasted on pea soup and started at 7.25 and reached Deep Well James Ranges at 9 a.m. This well is situated at the base of the James Ranges at a spot called by the natives Atumba Atnunta: it is 200 feet deep and yields a large supply of water; we found the windlass and top gear in a disgraceful condition and it is evident that, unless the well is soon looked to, it will fall in and the public will be seriously inconvenienced. There are some dilapidated wooden shambles: the remains of Hayes’s old homestead; the family now occupy the old MtBurrell Station buildings. The whole appearance of the place had a most depressing effect upon us and we were glad to get away. Resumed our journey at 1.30 travelling steadily over red sand-hills, densely scrubbed in places with desert oak, the most sombre of sombre trees. Camped at 6 p.m., having travelled 18 miles, in a patch of green feed, horses looking tucked up but they will have to do without water until midday tomorrow. Spencer talking about past Association meetings while we travelled along, I
was greatly interested in his racy anecdotes about several of the leading members. Both feeling very tired tonight and shall I confess it, dear diary, a little homesick 9 p.m. Bar. 28.32. Aneroid 1,580 ft. At. Ther. 63. S.T. 64.
April, 21st. Camp No. 21. Ooraminna (Edith Ranges). Up as usual, very heavy dew, everything moist. Bar. 28.32 Aneroid 1,575. Ter. Min. 40°, just 8 degrees above freezing point. All glad to make for the fire when we got out of our bunks; heavy dew last night, everything moist, so horses will not suffer any inconvenience through want of water. Clouds all cleared off. Breakfasted on pea soup and damper and started at 7.10. I walked the first three miles and enjoyed the fresh morning air; quite a crisp wintry morning and not a fly to be seen until long after sunrise; four miles from our camp we reached the Ooraminna Pinch which we crossed successfully. Spencer snapshotted the buggy midway up. The approach to the Pinch from the mouth of the gorge was always very bad but it is now much worse than I have ever seen it. From the Pinch to this camp the road winds in and out amongst the Edith Ranges and is mostly heavy sand. The Ranges are composed of Silurian sandstone and quartzite. Unlike the desert sandstone hills of the south they present, at a distance, a
blue black appearance and this is probably due to the fact that they are timbered with mulga (Acacia aneura), a tree which always makes me thirsty to look at it. Spencer has a great aversion to the desert oak which I rather admire because of its splendid shade. We reached here at 11.45 having travelled 14 miles and as the horses are looking a bit fagged we decided to camp for the day. I thought last night’s dew would have prevented our horses from being very thirsty but it does not appear to have done so, for as soon as we released them from their tackling they scampered off up the gorge, at a trot, to the rock-hole. We scurried after them expecting to find that one or two of them had tumbled in, but by the time we reached the hole they had all had a drink and were contentedly browsing upon green grass amongst the rocks. Ooraminna rock-hole is situated at the head of a steep rocky quartzite gorge in the Edith Ranges and is one of the largest rock water-holes known to whitemen in the Interior. Probably there are others equally good but if so the blacks are careful not to divulge their whereabouts. The surrounding rocks slope towards the hole from these directions and as the catchment area is of considerable extent, it takes very little rain to fill the hole. Probably this water lasted six months or more
before the whiteman with his horses and [the] Afghan with his camels made it a place of call. The rocks in the immediate vicinity of the hole are of white, very hard quartzite, polished smooth by the waters which have trickled over them for centuries. The place is one to appeal to the imagination of a blackfellow and about it they have many extraordinary traditions. In view of our camp is the spot where we formed camp and erected our tent when first I brought my wife to Alice Springs. Here we were met by Jim Field and I remember how we all three sat around the camp-fire and chatted far into the night. As I recall all this I wish that the last nine years could be blotted out and that we were here now to begin our married life at the old place where we spent so many happy but all too swiftly passing years. A mulga tree a little to the south reminds me of a miserable day spent here in the rain when little Jack was only four months old; the remains of our camp-fire are still visible and as I glanced at it in passing this morning, I recalled little Bri, as he then was, standing in his overcoat warming himself at the fire and his mother at the tent door remonstrating with him for going out in the rain - At last, at last, at last, we are clear of the confounded sand-hills which neither of us ever wish to see again unless perhaps from the window of a railway carriage. If ever a railway is run through this country and funds
will permit, I shall do myself the pleasure of journeying to the MacDonnells - the first glimpse of which we got this morning - so that I may ride in comfort through the sand which has so often been a source of tribulation to me - In the evening several blacks visited our camp - they are camped up in the range above the rock-hole amongst them were several old favorites of mine including poor old Lulu who is now a widow with six children, Tom her husband having died a few months ago. I named two piccaninnies one, a boy ‘Spencer’ and a little girl ‘Chappie’ after the Profs’ little daughter. We regaled the piccaninnies, 5 in number, on damper and jam and their mothers on damper and tinned meat, tobacco and flour and they have gone off to camp in a high state of glee - poor beggers! I find that many have died since I left Alice Springs. They all seemed delighted to see me and the women all enquired about Minnie and the kiddies. They miss Minnie, there are no dresses made and served out to them under the new regime - The women when returning to their camps this afternoon were laden with Claytonia seed (Ingnitchica) and lizards - One man had a poisonous snake which he carefully carried, gripped tightly by the neck, lest it should come to life again - 9 p.m. Bar. 28.20. Aner. 1,700 ft. A.T. 59.5. S.T. 62.
April, 22nd. Camp No. 22. Alice Springs (Tchauritji). Ter. Min. 43.7. Bar. 28.20. Aneroid 1,700 ft. Ther. 48. Up before daylight, breakfasted frugally on pea soup and damper. At sunrise an old blackfellow of the Small Hawk (Ullakupera) totem came to our camp and presented us with two sacred totem stones (Churinga). Started at 7.25 and in a few minutes caught sight of a portion of the MacDonnell Range looming up densely blue in the distance, in three miles a great stretch of the main mountain range came into view and Mt. Gillen (Okniumbantwa) showed out prominently. It thrilled me with pleasant recollections of happy years, to see the familiar outline of the mountains once more, and I recalled the first occasion upon which I pointed out to my wife the scene of her future home. Travelling in the fresh morning air was very pleasant, the flies were conspicuous by their absence and by noon we had travelled about 20 miles so we turned out, had some lunch under the shade of a fine ironwood tree (Acacia salicina) and rested for a couple of hours; resuming our journey at 2 o’clock we travelled steadily until 5 when we pulled up and formed our camp close by the historic Engwura ground, the scene of many of our
ethnological triumphs. Here we quickly unharnessed and Spencer and I at once sauntered down to the spot at which, some 5 years ago, we spent three very interesting months. In the evening three of the operators, Messrs. Harris, Supple and Moore, visited us, Mr. McFeat who is in charge in the absence of Mr. Bradshaw was on duty and did not come. The night is cold and windy and we are glad to keep close to the fire; our travel-stained and unshaven appearance compels us to defer visiting the Station until tomorrow. On arrival I sent off a wire to the little wife and promptly received a reply saying that all well at home. Spencer and I lie awake later than usual chatting over the old Engwura days; it is hard to realise that I am here a stranger in the place over which I ruled so long. The effects of the drought are everywhere perceptible; on the Emily Plain most of the eucalypts on the swampy flat were practically dead when the rain came, now they are throwing out fresh shoots and coming to life again. The dense forest of Acacia between Heavitree Gap and the township of Stuart is all dead and what was once an almost impenetrable mass of Acacia trees is now a saltbush plain.
Many of the pepper and gum trees which I planted around the Station fell victims to the all-devouring drought as did several old favourite buggy horses. The town of Stuart, which so far is the only memorial erected to the memory of our greatest explorer, appears to be in a moribund condition; passing through we saw a Chinaman, too intent upon transplanting cabbages to look at us, one wretched drunk staggering off to his camp and one other man, all the others are probably ‘suffering a recovery’. This township, probably the smallest in the colony, consists of 9 buildings three of which are breweries! 1 public house, 3 stores and 2 dwelling houses. Can any town of its size in the world produce three breweries? I doubt it. All three are shut up and present a woebegone appearance, evidently beer brewing did not pay. Some say the liquor was not strong enough for the leathern throats of the sun-dried Nor’Westers, others vow that the brewers were always their own best customers and consumed the amber-coloured liquid before it had time to cool. The township is rather prettily situated on the banks of the river Todd and nestles amongst some fine gum trees which give to it a cosy appearance. It lies two miles south of the Telegraph Station which is built
on the bank of the Todd and is closely surrounded by an amphitheatre of granite hills. The place is certainly picturesque and its natural advantages have been improved by the growth of a considerable number of pepper trees. Alice Springs was discovered and named a after the late Lady Todd by Mr. W. W. Mills who was one of the surveyors employed in the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line. At the time of discovery a large waterhole well, protected by gigantic reeds and situated at the base of a huge granite rock which dips into the river on the eastern bank, was thought to be a permanent spring but after the reeds had been broken down and destroyed by the Station stock, the waterhole silted up and has since on several occasions been dry. There is however abundant water in the sandy bed of the river and from this source the drinking water used on the Station is drawn. 9 p.m. Bar. 28.16. Aneroid 1,725. A.T. 59.5. S.T. 61.
April, 23rd. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 39. Bar. 28.12. Aneroid 1,750 - A cold night and I did not sleep comfortably - must increase my bedding. Being in camp we indulged in a late rising and did not turn out until 8 a.m. Cloudy, windy, cold morning. After breakfast we went to the Station where we met Mr. McFeat and called upon Mrs. Bradshaw who was most cordial and kind. Dined with the operators and then returned
to camp where a number of natives, with their bodies painted in various coloured designs, assembled to give us a formal welcome. We chatted with them and arranged for a series of corroborees of which we are to get photo and kinematographic records. Took two photos of a group of several heads of men. In the evening developed our plates at the Station where Mrs. Bradshaw very kindly allowed us the use of the schoolroom, my old den. Many alterations are noticeable at the Station since we left, some decided improvements, some otherwise - Not one of the old staff remains and I miss their faces greatly. The old place seems preternaturally quiet and were it not for the Bradshaw children it would almost seem deserted. The mail unexpectedly arrived this evening. It is not due till noon tomorrow. We were delighted to get our letters and each pokes away in a corner to enjoy them, after which Mrs. Bradshaw treats us to some excellent coffee and cake. I am specially pleased to have a fine photo of my children.
April, 24th. Camp No. 22. Up at 7.30, breakfasted in camp and then went to Station and overhauled our stores, of which we have 7 cwt. not including flour. Brought some knives, tomahawks, etc. to camp. Took some photographs and then returned to Station where we spent the morning printing photos. Mr. McFeat very kindly supplying us with Sun printing paper and toning
material. Dined with the operators, all nice quiet fellows who appear to be anxious to help us, and spent the afternoon toning duplicate copies of each negative. While I was occupied toning, Spencer developed negatives taken this morning, using my old den as a dark room. Chance packed up two Nurtunjas, one left here for me by Jack and one very kindly given to me by Mr. Supple. Later in the day Mr. McFeat gave us another so that we now have three Nurtunjas. These Nurtunja are ceremonial poles used in ceremonies and at the initiatory rites, through which all young men have to pass, before being made acquainted with the sacred mysteries and traditions of the tribe - some years ago I presented one of these poles to the Adelaide Museum and it was the first specimen of its kind ever exhibited in a public institution. Since then one has been added to the Melbourne Museum collection. We intend to present one to the British Museum, one to Professor Tylor for the Oxford Museum, one to the Anthropological Institute and one to America - packed up and sent off small box of Churinga, etc. to my wife, these were left here for me by Jack Besley. In the evening I had a conversation on the line with Frank Scott who promises us a hearty welcome at the Barrow. Spent the evening printing bromides, with fair results. At 10 p.m. some blacks came to the Station and calling one out they invited us to go and sleep at the men’s camp about half a mile away, so that we might witness certain ceremonies in connection with one of the initiatory
rites. The night is cold and the prospect of getting any sleep is very remote but we cheerfully submit ourselves to their guidance and soon find ourselves at the camp at which a considerable amount of men are assembled. Two youths or rather young men are to undergo the third initiatory rite at daylight; they are decorated with peculiar head-dresses made of leaves, wound round with fur string, and their appearance is decidedly subdued. The men are all singing vigorously and though we take the trouble to arrange our blankets on the softest spot available we feel that there is no prospect of sleep. The scene is a wild one, the blacks are squatting in clusters of three or four around small fires, the background of the camp is formed of lean long spectral-looking young gum trees. Would that I had the gift to transfer the scene to this page but I haven’t. The din is fearful. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
April, 25th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 42. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T. As we laid down in our clothes and only had fitful dozes through the night I cannot say that we got up at any special time. I was shiveringly waiting for daylight for hours, after we had burnt out our stock of wood. The Prof. wrapped himself in a huge English-made overcoat and was comparatively comfortable. I am feeling very much off colour and my tongue tastes like a bit of decayed green hide. There is no mistaking the symptoms, I am in for a bilious attack, the canned ‘hardships’ of this Expedition do not agree
with my digestive apparatus. I shall have to eschew turkey and tongue and kindred hardships and browse on homelier fare. Just after daylight the initiatory rites were performed upon the two young men amidst a wild scene of noise and excitement. We took a number of photographs but as the light was not sufficiently bright for instantaneous work, our results are very feeble; just a bare outline of the figures can be seen upon the plates not sufficiently distinct to print from, but they will afford material from which drawings can be made. The blacks gave us the Nurtunja - a very fine one - used in the ceremony. At breakfast time they all visited our camp when we served a pannican of flour and a plug of tobacco to each. Spencer, greatly pleased and fresh as a confounded kitten, spent the morning developing plates, etc; in the afternoon more developing and I contrive to have a much needed forty winks which refreshes me considerably. In the evening we printed off some bromides and Spencer prepared the cinematograph for tomorrow. We are much concerned to find that the film holders have warped and shrunk to an alarming extent and we fear that light will get at the films in which ghastly event they will be seriously damaged. The Premier Hon. F. W. Holder wired us this afternoon as follows: ‘Hearty congratulations on having fairly begun your great work and best wishes for continued success’. I am glad the day is ended and it is with a sense of relief
that I return to camp at 10 p.m. Am feeling very seedy and hollow, have not been able to take any food today except Bovril, am hoping to be right again tomorrow in which case, dear diary, I shall carefully eschew ‘hardships’. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
April, 26th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
Up at 7, feeling very much better. Did ample justice to some cold corn beef and good bread which Chance made yesterday. Spencer breakfasted on Bovril and looked askance at our fare. After breakfast, went up to Station and both occupied writing letters until dinner time; dined with the operators. In the afternoon I printed off a number of silver prints some of which were from negatives taken by Mr. McFeat and kindly lent to us. Mr. Bradshaw arrived at Oodnadatta where he will have to wait three days for the train, I do not envy him his spell there. Had tea at the Station and spent the evening there, writing our mail. Chance visited township in the afternoon and inspected a wagon and 8 sets of harness which has been offered to us by F. Raggatt for £56, his report is satisfactory and we have practically decided to buy - We find that the big buggy supplied to us by the Government is not sufficiently
strong or roomy to carry on our stores and things we may collect from the blacks along the road. We already have 5 draught horses and are offered 3 more for £30. Possession of a wagon will remove many difficulties and although it will necessitate travelling slowly and making short stages, I think we are doing wisely. The light buckboard which Spencer and I use will now be relieved of much of its loading and will not be so heavy on the horses. We shall regret parting with the Government buggy because it is splendidly fitted up with waterproof hood, etc. but funds will not permit of our engaging another man, which would be necessary if we retained it. Chance will drive the wagon - M. C. Bennett arrived from Barrow Creek during the afternoon bringing with him two Aboriginal prisoners who were charged with stealing goats. I heard the case and there was not a tittle of evidence against the prisoners, whose arrest was in my opinion unwarranted. I dismissed the case and expressed myself strongly against the arbitrary action of the Police and instructed M. C. Bennett to see that the blacks were taken back, but not in custody, to their own country. I am
afraid that instances have occurred up here in which innocent Aboriginals have been sent to gaol and it would be a sound and fair principle if their plea were always taken as ‘not guilty’ for some semi-wild natives with very little knowledge of English will plead guilty just for the sake of pleasing the whiteman and because they think, not having the faintest idea of the Law, that it doesn’t matter - Before returning to camp Mrs. Bradshaw gave us some coffee which had the effect of making us wakeful. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
April, 27th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 28°, four degrees below freezing point. Both reluctantly left our blankets and quickly scampered off to the fire, a raw cold wind blowing, most invigorating. We sniff the steaming coffee with a thrill of satisfaction and feel that, after all, the peripatetic ethnologist’s life is not without its bright side. While discussing breakfast two blackfellows came shivering to the camp and asked us to go as soon as possible to the blacks’ corroboree ground where a performance was about to take place. We quickly swallowed our coffee and proceeded to the ground laden with kine and photo plant. Took three kine records and 19 snapshots - One of the kine films unfortunately slipped out of its holder and
was utterly spoilt, which means a loss to us of 50/- worth of film. Each film is 150 feet in length and cost us in London 4d. per foot. The kine is much affected by this dry atmosphere and we are in constant fear of light getting at the films. It will be a relief to us when we have completed the series of records and dispatched the instrument to Adelaide and as we doubt whether it would stand carting further north, we have decided to remain here until the films are completed. Spent the day developing plates and toning prints, many of this morning’s negatives, for instantaneous work, are excellent. Served out liberal quantity flour, tea, sugar and tobacco to those who took part in the corroboree. Dined at the camp where we found the flies in full force - When passing the Old Depot on the Hugh River we noticed a comparatively new grave neatly fenced; neither Chance nor I could make out who could be buried there. Yesterday I mentioned the matter to some men here who told me that some time before Bob Cran died and in the earlier stages of his insanity he sold a favorite horse for £10 and spreed the money away. When he recovered from his spree, full of remorse he dug a grave and, solemnly filling it in, said that he had buried himself, that Robert Cameron
Cran had ceased to exist and that in future he would be known as Hard-fisted Cran. In the evening we wrote for an hour and at 8 bolted back to our camp to avoid coffee and chatter. Chatted around the camp-fire, building ethnological air castles until 10 when we turned in, well pleased with our day’s work. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
April, 28th. Camp No. 22. Ter. M. 24.2. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T. Did not sleep well, too cold, must abandon my hammock and take to mother earth until the weather becomes warmer. Fresh beef for breakfast, I grilled some lovely steak which Chance valued at 16 pence in Moonta and it was simply delicious. Truly I am a wonderful handler of steak in the open air. Fellows at the Station complain that theirs was tough and tasteless. It was fried. I consider it nothing short of a crime to fry steak. The only proper way to cook a steak is to grill it in the open air and even then the griller must be an artist. It did me good to see Spencer pegging into his substantial grill this morning - After partaking of such a feast we feel fit for any amount of work. I spent the morning printing and toning, Spencer writing. In the afternoon we proceeded to the blacks’ camp and secured 3 kine records and 22 photographs of the
Chitchingalla corroboree. Mr. Bradshaw spoke on the telephone from Oodnadatta and I was surprised at the extraordinary clearness of the signals, it really sounded as if he were in the room - Writing all the evening. Coffee with Mrs. Bradshaw at 9 p.m. and then back to camp where we had a chat over the fire and then to roost. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
April, 29th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 24.3. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T. Very cold and clear, a delightful morning. Awakened by the singing of a couple of magpies which appear to have made an old gum tree near our camp their head-quarters. There is nothing I like better to hear in the early morning than the cheery note of this delightful bird. Unlike the drought-stricken Stevenson this place appears to have had sufficient water to preserve its bird life during the long series of dry years which preceded the February floods. By special request I preside over the grilling of a juicy looking steak but the fire is not good or the steak is cut too near the horns, or something else is wrong, for my success of yesterday is not repeated and nasty remarks are made about people who fancy themselves born cooks and turn out stuff tougher than green hide. This is a memorable day for, unto me a son was born, and I am painfully conscious that this great event means an increase in my already large boot bill - boots run into money especially children’s boots. The news came to me by wire a little after 9 a.m. and I am greatly relieved to hear that Minnie
and the little chap are doing splendidly - Naturally the news excites me and I cannot help feeling more than a tinge of regret, when I think that nearly 12 months must elapse before I can make his acquaintance. I try to draw some consolation from the thought that I shall miss the squawking period in his career but I am forced to admit that I would put up with that inconvenience cheerfully if only fortune had allowed me to remain at Moonta. I am specially pleased that the young fellow is a boy. After finishing our mail Spencer, McFeat and I journey to our camp where the first ceremony in connection with his advent is performed viz. solemnly “wetting his head” in good whisky; the modest father stands aside while McFeat drinks to the little fellow’s health with a hope that he may grow up as good a man as his father. Spencer expresses a fervent wish that he may grow up better, while the modest father hopes that he may grow up as good a man as Spencer whose name he is to bear.
Returning from the camp I am waited on by a young gin with her first baby - a few weeks old and with more hair than I can boast of - who requests me to name it. I cheerfully undertake this responsibility and I feel as if I am capable of naming any number of babies, black or otherwise, today. I critically examine the little ebony skinned fellow and wonder if this newest addition to my household is anything like him; personally I never could detect any difference between black and white babies except the colour. They are both equally wooden-looking, equally fat, and equally alternating between squawking and sleeping - When I solemnly and with due reverence conferred upon this child the name O’Donovan Rossa, its little fists clenched and its face became distorted, as if the name disagreed with him. The mother did not appear to be too favourably impressed with the name which she persisted in pronouncing O’Dunabun with an emphasis on the Bun until I assured her that it was borne by a distinguished scion of the ancient Irish nobility - a man who never yielded to the hated Anglo-Saxon. After this explanation and half a stick of tobacco she appeared to go her way contentedly. I envied O’Dunabun his hair and wondered if my little one had any, my
previous experience with his three predecessors point to an absolutely bald babyhood. The mail left here for Oodnadatta at 1 p.m. and we are heartily glad to see it depart; we have been so very busy at photographic work, day and night, since its arrival that it was only at odd stolen moments we could find time to write our letters. Spencer sent off the first instalment of a series of illustrated articles to The Age. These articles will give details of our journey across the continent but they will contain no scientific information. This afternoon we printed some photos in readiness for toning tomorrow, visited the blacks’ corroboree ground and took 10 pictures of the Chitchingalla corroboree and developed most of them before tea. After which we visited our camp, made up our bunks, had a chat with the old geezer and returned to Station where we completed developing negatives and charged our slides in readiness for tomorrow - Results from Spencer’s camera today first rate, mine nothing to become excited about, certainly no masterpieces, plates all foggy through being up here so long during the hottest part of the Summer. In the evening I received following wire from Dr. Archer: “Mrs. Gillen and fine boy doing splendidly no need
anxiety”. Very good of the kindly doctor whom I am thanking by telegraph. It has been an eventful day and we are both tired out. When we reach camp at 9 p.m. we indulge in a little whisky which, out here under the cold blue canopy of heaven, is perhaps more keenly relished by us than anywhere else - We of course talk of the little one and Spencer appears to like the idea of its being called after him - It is a special occasion and we indulge in one nobbler beyond our modest limit so that the child’s head may be properly 'wet' and then we hurriedly retire, lest the temptations to do some more wetting should come upon us and result in swelled heads in the morning. It would be interesting to know where this custom of "wetting" a newly born child’s head originated. One thing only is certain and that is that it dates from a far back time before the races of Europe had emerged from barbarism. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
.c.April, 30th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 26.2. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T. Both awoke feeling very fit. I again officiated at the grill of which Spencer ate very sparingly, breakfasting principally on pea soup. His teeth are very bad and he
suffers a good deal from indigestion. I am afraid we are indulging in too much meat but as long as I keep off “hardships” I get along all right. Spencer’s forte is brewing coffee, at which he is certainly an adept. We have some first rate coffee purchased with our stores and, as the old geezer forages a quart of milk for breakfast every morning, we can produce a brew equal to anything provided in the best ordered households. The fact that it invariably gets cold two or three times while we are occupied in eating and has to be warmed up again is a trifle exasperating but after a time one gets used to that. After breakfast we proceed to the Station where we spent the morning in photographic work. Started printing from quarter plate negatives with half plate frame but could not make any headway so we are getting Chance who is a very handy fellow to knock up some suitable frames. In the afternoon obtained some more Chitchingalla photos: mine as usual very unsatisfactory, Spencer’s good. Developing until 9 p.m. Ð Gill wired through Waddy saying that kine films we sent from Charlotte Waters were delivered to Baker and Rouse in Melbourne on the 26th inst.
We are anxiously awaiting telegraphic news of their development. Should they turn out well we shall feel quite happy. If on the other hand they are fogged then there is little hope of the remaining films being of much account. Spencer revels in this free, open air life and he is growing in girth daily while I am contracting; since leaving Oodnadatta I have had to take up two holes in my belt; at this rate I shall reach Pt. Darwin with a graceful figure like my friends Uffindell or Haining. Had tea with Mrs. Bradshaw who has shown us much kindness. I am afraid she shudders at the condition of the schoolroom which we are using as our special den, but this is by no means the only room in which we create disorder. After I had been writing for a few hours in McFeat’s room today he came in and looked around with a hopeless long-suffering look such as our dog Quiz [Phiz?] puts on when he has picked up a three cornered Jack which declines to be extracted in the ordinary canine way -Usual camp-fire chat. Bar. An. A.T. S.T.
.c.May, 1st. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 27.7. Bar. An. A.T. S.T. -Welcome May! for it is indeed a delightful morning. All nature seems aglow
with joyousness, even the great green caterpillars are affected by the delicious glow of the newly risen sun and disport themselves at full length on the sun-kissed sides of the shrubs and tussocks. Various birds are singing their greeting to the bright May morn, our friends the magpies are in great form and there is even a tinge of joyousness in the usually harsh note of the crow. The catbird’s shrill cry is less shrill and the bellbird’s note more mellow and rich -It is a pleasure to be alive on such a day, one never experiences such perfect weather in the settled districts. Engaged in printing and toning until dinner time after which we had an hour to spare, really the first since our arrival here, and we hardly know what to do with ourselves. I should like a snooze but the fear that I might miss some ceremony impels me to forego that luxury. At 2.30 a dusky and odorous messenger arrived from the camp and summoned us to go and witness a sacred ceremony; laden with our cameras and the cinematograph, we tramped over the hills and up the creek for half a mile where in a secluded spot we found a blackfellow, gorgeously decorated, awaiting our arrival. We quickly focussed the instruments upon him and he performed Quabara Earitja of Undoolya, a sacred ceremony of the Eaglehawk totem of Undoolya.
Returned to Station developed plates and went to our camp with the intention of having tea there but the “old geezer” had been covering our galvanized iron canteens with green hide which attracted the flies in millions so we quickly returned to the Station where we had tea in comfort with the operators. After tea Spencer busy printing bromides until [blank] p.m., while I was trimming and pressing prints. Mr. Bogner arrived from Mission Station during the evening and returns again tomorrow. Cheery news from Dick about Minnie’s progress. Blacks are arriving in twos and threes daily and if we remain much longer the whole tribe will be assembled, our supplies dwindling visibly. Trimming prints and printing bromides until 9 p.m. when we returned to camp and turned in. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
.c.May, 2nd. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 27. Bar. An. A.T. S.T. Another delightful morning. While at breakfast, blackfellow came to camp and informed us that the men were preparing to perform a sacred ceremony. Had a smoke and, camera laden Spencer staggering under the cinematograph, we trudged over the hills to a secluded spot where we witnessed
Quabara Earitja (Irrunturinya) of Kampilya, of which we obtained photos and 1 kine record, which latter unfortunately became disarranged in the machine, necessitating its being cut in two and rewound. We rather fear that the unavoidable and rather long exposure to the red light may fog it. Of all our records this is probably the one in which the general public would be most interested and it certainly is riling to think that it should have gone wrong. The ceremony of the Eaglehawk totem of a place called Kampilya belongs to the class of sacred ceremonies which are communicated to certain specially gifted men “who were born with their eyes open” by the spirits who roam the bush and whom the blacks call Irrunturinya. Every blackfellow believes that he possesses a spirit double or invisible, except to special individuals, counterpart. He styles his own double his Arumburinga, but speaking collectively he uses the term Irrunturinya. Some men -particularly if born with their eyes open -are specially gifted and claim to be able to see and communicate with the spirits and no blackfellow ever dreams of doubting their ability to do so -The Irrunturinya make Medicine men by first killing and disembowelling them
and then furnishing them with a completely new set of intestines, studded with magic crystals, which give to them the necessary magic power. These so-called Medicine men are in reality magicians; there is no attempt made to cure by any form of medical treatment; all disease is the result of magic and when a cure is effected it is the result of counter magic. There are three classes of magicians: those made by the Irrunturinya, those made by old Magicians of high reputation and those who receive their diploma from a benevolent sort of “devil” who dwells in certain spots and whom the blacks call Oruncha. Of the three schools perhaps those who graduate from the Irrunturinya are perhaps the most thought of. The blacks believe that I have the power of communicating with the Irrunturinya. Some years ago at daylight one morning, I caught a boy in the act of stealing jam. It was quite contrary to my custom to get up at such an ungodly hour and I explained to the blacks that the Irrunturinya had come to my window and told me that this boy was stealing jam. They were greatly impressed and there was much yabber amongst the old men. Busy printing and toning until dinner time after which we developed some plates. I tried one of the new plates without getting a trace
of fog, all the plates which have been stored here, awaiting our arrival, are damaged by exposure to the heat and damp of last summer; it is a very great pity but quite unavoidable, since we had to send our stores on ahead -In the afternoon we had a couple of hours “off duty” and I had a look through the papers. Trimming prints during the evening while Spencer engaged in printing bromides. Wired as follows to Commissioner of Crown Lands through Sir C. Todd “We find buggy supplied by you not strong enough to carry on our equipment and supplies, obliged buy waggon here. May we dispose of buggy and apply proceeds to Expedition fund or shall we hand it over to Telegraph Authorities”. At the conclusion of all sacred ceremonies it is customary for the performer to press against the stomachs of all men present (no women or uninitiated men are ever allowed to witness sacred ceremonies) some article used in the performance such as a head-dress, a wand, a Nurtunja or perhaps only a piece of birds’ down, this curious custom is called Atnitta Ulpalima or the “disentangling and softening of the intestines”. Men witnessing these ceremonies are supposed to be moved to such an extent that their intestines, in which all emotion is centred, become entangled and
hardened and this uncomfortable effect is removed by touching their stomachs with some sacred emblem used by the performer. As a fully fledged member of the Arunta tribe and one holding the distinguished rank of an Oknirabata (great Instructor) I am supposed to submit to the touching process and today Spencer wickedly took a snapshot of me, solemnly submitting to my best waistcoat being stained with grease, red ochre and feathers, while my brethren of the Arunta smiled approvingly. They treated him in a similar manner but unfortunately I did not get a snapshot -Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
.c.May, 3rd. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 33. Weather warming up again. We are about shortly after daylight and at the Station at graft by eight o”clock. I toned a number of prints and trimmed the bromides done by Spencer last night. Spencer busy, all the morning, fixing up an arrangement for enlarging quarter plates -Fine comet visible a few degrees south of west last night. After dinner we got kine and photo records of Quabara Kukaitja of Akakia totem (Quiurnpa), a very effective picture if only our kine films are not fogged. Took 10 photos with the two cameras and got some excellent results, developed all the
plates before tea. In the evening we witnessed the Ilyarnpa corroboree performed by 11 men of the Undoolya group to which this corroboree belongs; a very monotonous show; we wonder how the performers can have energy or interest enough to keep it up, hour after hour; we wonder still more at the tireless enthusiasm of the singers who as they sing beat their boomerangs together. It is a motley crowd of onlookers, men, women and children squatting together in a heap, the men in front, some clothed, some in rags, the Station boys are noticeable by the smartness of their attire, some naked and not ashamed and these to us are the most picturesque and decent. There is something of nobility in the carriage of the naked savage, his movements are full of grace, he is lithe, active and alert; clothe him in ill-fitting garments, he loses his gracefulness and becomes a slouching, miserable understudy of the whiteman, who in natural gracefulness or elegance of carriage cannot compare with him. I am glad to have a chat with my old friend Unchalka, head of the Udnirringita or Witchetty Grub totem, to which I have the honour to belong. There has
been a death in the old fellow’s family and he is in mourning. His body, after the manner of his tribe, being decorated with white pipeclay, a Y shaped design beginning at the collar bones and extending down to the stomach. We talk over old times and the traditions of the Udnirringita and he expresses a wish that I should come back and live amongst my tribe at Alice Springs and, when I tell him that is impossible because of my wife and piccaninnies, he gravely advises me to throw away my wife and get another one. He has been away in the bush for some time and only returned yesterday. At the conclusion of the ceremony today I had again to submit to the Atnitta Ulpalima and as I look upon my best vest, which I was reserving for state occasions, I feel thankful that my wife is not within 1,000 miles. I really must get some sort of covering made for these occasions -a sort of long bib would do nicely -or I shall have to discard the vest. The decorations on the men”s bodies at the corroboree tonight were very effective, some of the designs being of a most elaborate character. The material used for decorative purposes is the fluffy down of a species of portulaca plant. A botanist would describe
the stuff as the involucral hairs of the plant; by means of white pipeclay and red ochre they get the two colours, red and white, which on their black hides show out clearly; it is stuck to the body with human blood -drawn from one of the veins of the arm -after a corroboree it is some days before all traces of the decorations are removed. They brush off as much as possible but small particles obstinately cling to the body and the man so adorned presents a curious appearance. The down of eaglehawks, used only in ceremonies of a sacred nature, is even more difficult to remove. Chance began shoeing horses for our trek northwards. Returned to camp early and retired. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
.c.May, 4th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 36. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T. Up shortly after daylight, very satisfactory breakfast of salt junk which Chance cooks to perfection. Spencer in great form devoured a whole tin of smoked sardines, he grows steadily. At the Station by 8 o”clock, Spencer had just fixed up his apparatus for enlarging quarter plates when a nigger arrived summoning us to the corroboree ground where several men were about to dance the Ilyarnpa so that
we might get snapshots. When we reached the ground, we found them only half decorated and as it meant waiting another hour to get them in full rig out, we gave them some tobacco and flour and told them we could not spare time to photograph them today. Returned to Station and I spent morning printing and toning; Spencer perspiring freely over his enlarging experiment which is not yet quite a success but he will doubtless overcome all difficulties and have things in working order tomorrow. In the afternoon we witnessed Quabara Udnirringita of Unthurqua i.e. the sacred ceremony of the Udnirringita totem of a place called Unthurqua. Obtained kine record and 14 photographs including some pictures of Quabara Unchalka of Atnurinya which followed closely upon the conclusion of the first mentioned ceremony. I am specially interested in the first ceremony because the performer represented Urangara, my ancestor of the Alcheringa or dream times, and the ceremony is in reality my property: I am supposed to be the reincarnation of a celebrated Alcheringa man who is famous for his skill as a great magician. The old men of the tribe had
to account in some way for the remarkable interest I took in their manners and customs and the quite unusual sympathy I showed for their beliefs, so they talked the matter over and persuaded themselves that I was the reincarnation of the great Urangara, whose name must not be mentioned in the presence of women or the uninitiated. The performance was undertaken by my old friend Unchalka, head man of the Udnirringita totem, who, gorgeously decorated with birds’ down and the white tail tips of the rabbit bandicoot, squatted down holding a decorated wooden Pitchi in his hands; at a given signal the audience came running forward and silently grouped themselves in a semicircle on one side; the men of the totem then began to sing of “Urangara who marched from Wulpa” and the performance went through a variety of sinuous movements, intended to represent my ancestor in search of food and, in the moth stage, fluttering about a fire. As soon as the performance, which lasted only a few minutes, was concluded the audience rose
and walked to a spot about 50 yds. off, where another decorated man was silently squatted with a beautifully painted shield in front of him. He went through movements similar to the previous performer and representing the Unchalka in the moth stage trying to fly. The painting on the shield represented the eremophila bush on which the Unchalka, in its moth stage, lays its eggs and the performer is supposed to represent the moth fluttering about the bush. At the conclusion of this ceremony which, like the first, was gone through with the greatest solemnity, the singers chanting in hushed tones, all the men returned and squatted around the first performer who remained sitting silently until they took their places around him. The second performer came a little later and took up a position close to the first performer, then each man present was touched on the stomach with the Pitchi and shield and some young men who had not previously seen the performance were told the traditions relating to the two Alcheringa men whom the performers
represented. Again of course I had to submit to the inevitable Atnitta Ulpalima of which Spencer took a snapshot with the avowed intention of sending it on to my wife whose wrath, when she sees it, will probably eventuate in the smashing of crockery or perhaps the total destruction of my den -Before tea we developed all our plates, mine have turned out splendidly and I am glad to have a good photographic record of my own special ceremony -Regaled the niggers on 50 or 60 lbs. of salt junk which brought forth smiles so expansive that we could not measure them -Secured the decorated shield and Pitchi used in the ceremonies, also two hair girdles, a blood stained shield the haft of which was used as a receptacle for holding blood when decorating the performers. Dined sumptuously at our camp tonight off skirting and sweet-breads. The Station people killed a cow tonight of which we are taking half -An exceedingly busy day and we are both feeling a bit knocked out, the amount of work we get through
rather astonishes the operators; we never seem to have a minute to spare and we are always up very shortly after daylight when the magpies carol sweetly -Dick wires that Minnie and the boy are doing splendidly and I am made happy. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 5th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. Bar. S.T. It is Sunday and I should much like a rest. I would even go to Church cheerfully if only to have a sleep but duty compels me to graft, so I spent the morning trimming and labelling prints and printing from yesterday’s negatives; after dinner I toned some prints and at 2 o”clock we loaded the boys with our paraphernalia and proceeded up the Todd about 3/4 of a mile where we witnessed Quabara Unjiamba and Ochirka of Urparla. This ceremony represents an Alcheringa man of the Unjiamba (Hakea) totem and a woman of the Ochirka or Sun totem who sprang up at Urparla on the Unjiamba country and died there in the Alcheringa. The man carried on his head a small Nurtunja worn horizontally and made of twigs, wound around with
human hair string, which was decorated with alternate red and white rings; the material used being the down of the portulaca plant. The Nurtunja was intended to represent the Unjiamba honey upon which the Alcheringa people of that totem are believed to have lived. The second performer represented a woman of the Sun totem and carried in his hand a decorated spherical article which was intended to represent the woman’s child, it is made in imitation of the Sun and the rays are represented by straight red lines alternating with white, the material used being birds’ down (Undattha). We secured, for a consideration of course, the two articles used and they make a valuable addition to our growing collection. Got kine record and 13 photos all of which we developed before tea. Spencer has succeeded with his improvised enlarging apparatus and during the morning he produced a number of enlargements which look first rate -Two men of the Ilpirra tribe started today to warn their people of our approach. We shall probably be met at Ryan”s Well by a powerful deputation. This morning McFeat came to breakfast with us, by invitation, and as luck would
have it we were later than usual and the flies were in millions. The morning was warm, he tried hard to look as if he were enjoying himself but asked afterwards how he enjoyed my cooking, he replied that he had not much chance of judging as he had breakfasted mostly off flies! During the afternoon McFeat put the telephone in circuit with 6 Meidenger battery cells and 2 Leclanche cells and I spoke [with] Mr. Little at Pt. Darwin very clearly. At the Pt. Darwin end they had 4 Leclanche cells in circuit and with this very weak battery power it is extraordinary to think that the human voice can carry so far. This is the first occasion upon which Pt. Darwin has been spoken with on the phone. Really the speaker’s voice reached me as clearly as the voices are heard in the Moonta office when the Mines people are speaking. Mr. Little expressed his cordial good wishes for the success of our Expedition and said that he hoped to meet us somewhere on the Line in July next. I introduced the Prof. to him
and they chatted for a few minutes. Comet more brilliant tonight, throwing off lengthy reflection from nucleus. Tonight we heard that the Duke of York has arrived and we thank the Lord that we shall escape Knighthood. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
.c.May, 6th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 37.7. Bar. Aneroid. A very mild night. Spencer and Chance both had bad night with toothache, I generously offer to operate, Spencer bluntly says that nothing would persuade him to let me operate, while Chance declares he would gladly yield himself up to my tender mercies but the refractory tooth is his pipe gripper and he does not like to sacrifice it. Trimming, printing and toning all the morning, Spencer doing enlargements from quarter plates. In the afternoon proceeded to corroboree ground and got 6 photos of men dancing the Ilyarnpa corroboree also took three snapshots of children and developed all the plates before tea -niggers quite run out of birds’ down therefore unable to perform any sacred ceremonies until a fresh supply is procured. This means the slaughter of a number of hawks, and every wretched bird of that species found prowling for stray birds about our camp is immolated in the interests of science -Mr. McMillan, manager of
Bonds Springs, called here today and has kindly undertaken to furnish us with a supply of spiced beef for our northern trip. Everyone in the country seems anxious to help us along and it is nice to have their sympathy, especially as we know that they look upon our work as “tommy rot” -The average bushman has a profound contempt for science and if there is one branch more than another that he disregards it is ethnology. I heard a little story today that amused me greatly. Mr. Supple’s father is a prominent Milesian, on one occasion the old man dropped across an advertisement in one of the Adelaide dailies concluding with the words “No Irish need apply” the old fellow snorted and said “No Irish need apply indeed. Sure and that’s written over the gates of Hell too!” Warm day, flies more plentiful than cousin Jennies in George Street on Saturday nights. Comet increasing in brilliancy now presents the appearance of a giant pair of compasses. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
.c.May, 7th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 36.7. Out at daylight and breakfasted before the wretched flies got about. We are praying hard for a stiff frost to come along and wipe them out of existence -Spencer enlarging quarter plates all day -I printed and toned a few during the morning. Mail arrived at 3 p.m. and I spent a delightful hour reading my letters. Bri and Jack’s masterpieces are specially entertaining but I have a shrewd suspicion that Jack was helped. There is a regularity about his letter which is very unlike John the ruffian. I lazed through the afternoon skimming the newspapers. Chance delighted when I told him that George Hicks has thoughtfully sent me some copies of that Mighty Organ The Peoples Weekly . This is the first afternoon off I have had since our arrival here, and much as I wanted a rest I should not care for many idle days, for time drags very heavily when one is doing nothing -Commr. of Crown Lands wired in reply to our message of the 2nd inst. “Leave buggy at Alice Springs if disposed of. Application of proceeds will be decided later”. I am rather surprised that he did not authorise us to sell it, apply proceeds
to Expedition fund. Chance on sick list today, he was rather badly squeezed by one of our draught horses yesterday, when shoeing. Spencer and I ascended our old perch of the Engwura days, after tea, and watched the setting sun. We found it difficult to realize that it is 5 years since we last sat there together, jubilantly discussing the various phases of the Engwura and puzzling over many things that were then strange to us, but which have since been made clear and now lie enshrined in our book. Blacks rather annoyed because we did not go to the corroboree ground this afternoon but we were too much interested in our mail. I am tiring of corroborees and shall be glad when the time comes for us to move on -During the day I collected a few words of the Kaitish language spoken at Barrow Creek which will be very useful to us -got all the pronouns and some adverbs -Returned to camp at 9 had usual chat and turned in at 10. Comet very brilliant. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
.c.May, 8th. Camp No. 22. Up at first streak of dawn. Spencer wakeful and afraid that breakfast would not be ready before
the flies turned
out. One wonders where on earth these little pests sleep, it cannot be in the grass or one would disturb them walking about. You never see one until the sun begins to rise and then they descend upon us in myriads as if from space -Did justice to some juicy steak artistically cooked. I am too modest to mention the cook and got to the Station at 8 a.m. Did some bartering with the natives and added three spears and two woomeras to our collection, also a tradition relating to a place called Ulkultha, 1 mile N. of Undoolya Station. At this place there is a heap of stones covered with a great quantity of twigs which to all appearance have been steadily added to for centuries. The blacks say that in the Alcheringa by which is meant the far back time, when the people changed from animals or plants into men, two men of the Eaglehawk (Irritcha) totem killed and ate a number of men, women and children of the same totem, filling themselves very full until they became very sick and lost their savory (?) meal; the heap of stones, now hidden by its covering of twigs, represents the vomit and from this an evil magic influence which produces sickness is thrown off. To
prevent the evil magic which is called Arungquiltha from escaping, each passer-by man, woman or child must add a twig or more to the already large heap. It is evident from examination that twigs have been added quite recently and in some instances by civilized boys, which goes to show that the old superstitions have not been eradicated. Old men, saturated with the traditions of their race, declare that within their lifetime men who have looked upon the stones and neglected to add some twigs have been seized with violent vomiting, which resulted in them throwing up their liver and dying. Probably the cases they refer to were cases of hemorrhage in which the blood was discharged in clots and the persons referred to, having passed the spot recently, it was assumed that they had neglected to comply with the ancient custom. The blacks, as probably everyone knows, do not believe that death occurs from natural causes. It is always regarded as the result of evil magic in some form or other -Mr. Fitz, manager of Undoolya Station, who is a fine type of the higher class bushman was here today and extended to us a cordial invitation to visit him at Undoolya, we are however too much pressed for time and had to decline. He has a wide experience
of the Queensland back blocks and was for 5 years manager of a Station for the celebrated Jimmy Tyson of whom he speaks very highly. He ridicules the many newspaper yarns which were circulated after Tyson”s death with regard to his meanness. He furnished me with particulars of a couple of interesting ceremonies which he witnessed amongst the blacks of the Yandrawandra tribe on the Diamantina River and we shall probably make use of his information. Spencer busy enlarging all day; he is a perfect demon to work. In the morning I trimmed up all outstanding prints. In the afternoon we went up the Creek to witness a sacred ceremony of the Echunpa or Big Lizard totem but the confounded performers, two in number, instead of performing within the field covered by the Bioscope made a wide semi-circular sweep which took them out of the field and practically wasted a film. I used language, Spencer smiled grimly and in provokingly calm tones said, philosophically, it’s no use getting excited. I secured one photo of the concluding scene. Spencer and I again ascended our old perch and, while watching the setting sun and its
glorious effect upon the distant hills, we talked of the dear ones we had left behind. Returned to camp at 9 p.m. Spencer very tired. Comet very brilliant. Bar. Aneroid. A.T. S.T.
.c.May, 9th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 43.5. A very mild night and the flies are about early. Feeling “livery” this morning, everything seems to be topsy turvey, the coffee is thin and smoked, the meat is tough, the bread doughy, and my appetite dainty, and altogether I am in a very unamiable mood. I arrive at the Station at 8 a.m. and feel that I would give more than a trifle to work off some bile by slating the staff all round, as they say I used to do in the old days -Amiability after all is a question of good or bad digestion, Spencer busy enlarging all the morning, I kill time doing odd jobs. Today the Duke of Cornwall is to open the Commonwealth Parliament. We speculate as to who will receive Knighthood and hope that Professor Morris will be so honoured. Neither of us would care to be present at the great function of which not even the faintest rumble reaches us here. This afternoon we were to have witnessed a sacred ceremony of the Arunta but the plans of the local men were upset by the arrival of a deputation of about 25 men who came from the Eastern MacDonnells and Owen Springs to see us. They arrived in full
dress each with a bunch of eaglehawk or emu feathers in his waist girdle and armed with spears, boomerangs and shields; as soon as the local men heard that the party was approaching, they hurried to their camps and decorated themselves with yellow ochre and charcoal and, mustering together all fully armed, they marched to meet the visitors; both parties, when within a few hundred yards of the meeting place, began to dance in a warlike manner, carrying their spears upright and shields in front as if for protection. Joining forces they continued dancing for a few minutes led by one man who took up a position some yards ahead of the others. It was a savage-looking scene and one that fairly warmed the cockles of Spencer’s big heart. I took one picture with the half plate camera, he secured 18. At the conclusion of the dance the parties separated sitting about 40 yds. apart, then some of the local men rushed out and called upon some of the visitors to come and cut their shoulders. The men called upon were tribal sons-in-law of a man recently deceased and the men who invited them to cut were also tribal sons-in-law of the dead man and this was their manner of showing their grief. This cutting of the
shoulders is a rite most rigidly practised after the death of a man. All men who stand in the relationship of actual or potential sons-in-law, i.e. all men who might legally marry the daughters, must have their shoulders cut. The rite is termed Unangara. An hour or two was spent in raking up old grievances and discussing them in furious tones, all speaking at once. Boomerangs were on several occasions thrown and, with one exception, cleverly parried. Some men, foaming and quivering with rage, tried to use their spears but the women rushed in and with the assistance of the more peaceful of the men stopped them. One tribal brother of mine, who ought to know better, challenged all and sundry of the Westerners to battle, on the ground that some of them had recently, by means of evil magic, killed one of his wives. Things calmed down by degrees and after the more belligerent characters had grown too hoarse to make themselves heard, I served out a stick of tobacco to each man which put them all in good humour. Casualties: some broken weapons and one nasty flesh wound. Secured from the visitors 3 spears (Ilcherta), 2 woomeras, 1 shield, 1 bunch eaglehawk
feathers and 5 stone Churinga of Yelka and Unjiamba totems, in return for which I served out flour. At 4 p.m. I drove to the township with McFeat, saw Raggatt and arranged with him to deliver wagon, 8 sets of harness, 3 draught horses and a wagon-jack, on the 13th instant, in consideration for which we are to pay him £87. I am greatly pleased with the wagon, we are fortunate indeed in being able to secure one so suitable so far from the centres of settlement. We shall now be able to carry anything up to 4 tons but our stages will have to be short and progress slow. Developed two plates. Spencer did 18. McFeat and I sent £1 to Tattersalls sweep in joint account. May Fortune prove kindly. Comet very brilliant. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 10th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 36. Heavy dew last night, my blankets quite moist. Breakfast at 7, coffee lovely, liver ditto. Spent morning writing. On a scrap of paper I found the following: King O”Malley to a persistent interjector at one of his Tasmanian meetings -“I can tell by the length of your nose that if all the brains you have were scooped out, dried in the sun, placed in a quill taken from the wing of a little cock sparrow, and blown into the eye of a flea, “twouldn”t make the flea wink!!” Collapse of interjector. I think this is very funny and very characteristic of the
Gum tree near our camp on which the magpies perch and sing daily
Native stalking a kangaroo
the O’Malley. In the afternoon we obtained kine records of Quabara Echunpa of Ariala (Sac. ceremony of the Great Lizard of Ariala) and Quabara Achilpa of Adnirra-engwura-munia (Sacd. Cer. of Wild Cat of etc.) and five photographs. Developed latter and Spencer went on enlarging until tea time. Secured Nurtunja used in the Achilpa ceremony, also 1 spear, 1 woomera, 1 emu feather plume (Tara) and 1 eaglehawk ditto (Ilpilla). One or other of these plumes is always worn by men, when on fighting expeditions or during big corroborees, it is believed that they impart alertness and agility to the wearer. I heard an original saying today. An engaged couple, friends of one of the operators here, had a squabble and the engagement was broken off, leaving ill feeling on both sides, the girl made some remarks reflecting upon her late lover’s personal appearance. These were repeated to him probably with additions and he replied Pooh! She hasn”t much to boast about for she has a complexion as hard as a goat’s knees! The same man criticising a friend who was blessed with a capacious mouth said “his smile would trip a goat” -Spencer attempted [to] photograph the Comet tonight, exposed a plate for half an hour but we scarcely hope to get a decent result. Bar. An. A.T. S.T.
c.May, 11th. Camp No. 22. Ter Min. 28.2. Slept cold last night. I accidentally skipped the two preceding pages and rather than leave them blank I requested Erlikilyika, otherwise “the Subdued”, to fill in the pages with examples of his artistic skill. I left the book with him this morning and on returning to camp tonight I found -well I can”t trust myself to express my feelings.
—“It is just as well that the said feelings are not expressed in black and white: his language was “painful and free” and for a time I could scarcely see the camp which was shrouded in a veil of sulphurous hue.” —
Alas for the modest record. There is only one relief or rather two, first that you will be spared the reading of an amount of romance equivalent to the space occupied by these artistic masterpieces and second that at last you will find something in the volume true to nature. This is the only part of the contents of this sacred volume on which [no] mortal eye save the Pontiff”s has been permitted to gaze.
It will be seen from Spencer’s interpolation that I was not permitted to express my feelings. I should like it to be understood that I do not plead guilty to the “sulphurous fumes”. I intended “the Subdued” to fill in the skipped pages, he thought I wanted him to fill in the whole book and he has spent the whole day industriously trying to do so -it’s an example of original drawing by our Australian natives. The pictures are not without interest and I have decided to let them stand but in future I shall not entrust this modest record to the tender mercies of my friend Erlikilyika. Spencer is hugely delighted and the hills fairly rang with his laughter when he discovered what the nigger had done -The blacks again assembled fully armed and in war paint and performed their war dance of which we got 7 photographs and 1 kine record. This completes our work with the kinematograph and the film exposed today will, from a popular point of view, be the most interesting of the series. The instrument and films will now be sent back
to Melbourne where the films are to be developed and stored until we return. At the conclusion of the dance we distributed 50 lbs. of flour, 50 sticks of tobacco and the darkies were greatly pleased. We have today recorded a very interesting custom connected with the sending out of avenging parties but it is not suitable for recording in these pages. Spent the afternoon and evening writing letters. Spencer’s photo of the Comet not a success. Returned to camp at 9.30 p.m. Night cold and camp-fire rather scanty so we quickly turned in. Bar. An. S.T.
.c.May, 12th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 25.2. From our bunks to the fire, at daylight, we scampered with an alacrity which could not be exceeded by a fifteen year old athlete. Cold wind blowing. Breakfasted off steak which has been hanging in our camp for a week and is now nice and tender. At the Station by 8 o”clock and started graft at once. Spent the morning photographing the blacks who went through various interesting but indescribable ceremonies in connection with the avenging expedition, which started this afternoon with the intention of killing a man in the Strangways Range, who speared a man belonging to the Bonds Springs locality some time ago. The party is led by the blood brother of the deceased who carries with him a sacred hair girdle called Kirra Urkna made from the hair of the dead man. Before starting, the leader of the party pressed the Kirra Urkna against the bodies of each man and each of them seized one end and, gripping it with the teeth, threw the head back. The Kirra Urkna is believed to contain the spirit of the dead man whose hair it is composed of and the man who
carries it is temporarily endowed with the strength of the dead. It has the faculty of making the wearer invisible to his enemies in battle. It ensures accuracy of aim and in various other ways assists the wearer. Each man who had it pressed against his body, believes that he is thereby strengthened and made braver and that the spirit of the dead man will watch over and afford him protection. We secured 26 plates of the ceremonies, a complete, interesting, and very valuable series. We hoped to have been able to devote the day, or at any rate part of it, to letter writing but our master’s the blacks willed otherwise and our friends will probably think they are forgotten. A curious and significant feature of the avenging ceremonies
today was the stacking of all the spears in an upright column around which the avenging party (Atninga) danced for some time shouting Wah! Wah! Wah!, then laying the spears on the ground, they suddenly fell forward in a crouching attitude forming a circle with heads in the centre. The stacking of the spears was intended to represent the body of the enemy riddled with the weapons and the crouching of the men represented the mourning of the enemy”s friends over his dead body. A wildly savage sight not to be readily forgotten. Spencer delighted and mourning the fact that we cannot devote two instead of one year to the work upon which we are engaged. He is horrified when I tell him that nothing would induce me to spend a second year away from my family. Returned to camp at 9.30 tired out. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
c.May, 13th. Camp No. 22. Ter Min. 27. Wild dogs hunting around our camp all night and our fox terriers barking at them, in between the two our rest was much broken. Breakfasted and reached Station at 8 a.m. Busy all morning finishing up our mail. Sent off box containing kine films to Gill through Sir Chas Todd, also sent copies of all negatives to Dick who is to store them in my den until I return. Mail left at 2 p.m. Spencer busy enlarging all the afternoon. I tried to steal a snooze but a Miss Wells from the township drove up and begged me to draw a tooth for her; the operation was performed successfully although the patient was very nervous. Although she has rather nice brown eyes -mind I prefer blue -I can”t quite forgive her for spoiling my forty winks and I”m afraid that my desire to alleviate her suffering was tinged with a
certain amount of malicious satisfaction at the prospect of being able to punish her. What brutes men are, dear diary. Chance busy preparing for our trek north. Now that our work here, with our brethren of the Arunta, is finished we shall be glad to be on the road again. Returned to camp 9 p.m. and comfortably wrapped in our rugs by 10. Bar. An. S.T.
.c.May, 14th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 30.7. Up at daylight, our magpies singing gaily -Chance and I breakfasted on salt junk, the Prof. indulged in hardships in which he fairly revels. We envy him his magnificent liver. At work by 8 a.m., self trimming prints and doing odd jobs all the morning, Spencer enlarging a special set of pictures for his Age articles. In the afternoon I ascended big hill S. west of Station and took three very fine views: 1 showing Mt. Gillen and ranges to westward, 1 showing Heavitree Gap in the distance and 1 fine view showing the Station snugly nestling in the valley of the Todd, surrounded with rocky granite hills. Spencer has
decided to use these pictures for the Age articles. Chance visited township and took delivery of our wagon and 3 horses purchased from Raggatt; the team which consists of eight light draught horses shaped splendidly and I shall be surprised if we do not make something substantial out of them, on reaching the Pine Creek Railway, provided we can keep them in fair condition. We have purchased for £2 an iron tank capable of
A Debbil Debil corroboree belonging to Charlotte Waters. This drawing is intended to present the final scene in a Corroboree performed at Charlotte Waters. The central figure represents Kulbirra a certain devil who resides in the Anderson range and who occasionally makes medicine men and the figures on each side are women who attempted to slay the devil but were frightened away by the sight of his stone knife.
100 gallons of water, so that on long dry stages we shall be able to carry sufficient water to give the wagon horses a good drink. I was very pleased today to receive from Llewellyn of Moonta the following wire: “Best wishes for continuous success kind regards.” It is nice to feel that one is not forgotten by one’s friends. Gradually getting things ready for a start but afraid we shall not be able to get away this week, there are a thousand and one things to do. The temptation to wait for the mail is very great -very great indeed for I am anxious to receive news of my little son whose acquaintance I shall not make until he is nearly a year old. To camp at 9. Parunda”s laugh rings out in the keen night air and echoes through the hills. Parunda “the brave and gallant” as we call him is in his way a character. Like the “old geezer”, he expands daily. When we got him at Oodnadatta he was a scarecrow wreck, so thin that one could see through him, and on rough nights we thought it advisable to tie him to one of the packsaddles lest he should be blown away. He shaves religiously every three or four days in imitation of his masters; somewhere along the track he acquired, how we know not, a venerable
razor blade which is carefully carried along wrapped in about three lbs. weight of various coloured rags. It takes him just half an hour to scrape his angular face and the operation is punctuated with moans which show that the ancient blade is not as keen as it should be. Heroic Parunda! He has a keen eye for the ladies of his colour and when he joined us was suffering from the effects of an adventure in which he, a jealous husband, and a stout rail were the leading elements. The rail was hopelessly shattered and Parunda still nurses the scar. Comet waning, travelling to the north. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 15th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 30.2. Up at daylight, breakfasted and at Station by 7.30. I drove with McFeat to Emily Gap, one of the most interesting spots in this locality. Obtained 5 photos, had lunch and returned to Station by 2.30 p.m. Spencer busy numbering and indexing plates -Developed plates, all of which turned out first class, probably the best photos I have ever taken, but this is due entirely to the Ross Gertz lens with which the camera is fitted. This lens cost £12.10.0 and it is Spencer’s private property. Wish I owned it. In the evening Spencer printed off some capital bromides -We are nearly out of printing paper. Sir Chas Todd wired “Gill says Baker and Rouse
report films exposed fairly correct (this refers to kinematograph films sent down from Charlotte Waters) but machine too far away from object taken (the only effect this would have is to make object appear small). Extreme care required in handling films, those received finger-marked from damp or perspiring hands. If you still have phonograph Mr. Johnson willing to send more cylinders”. Considering that the films were never touched while in our hands the finger marks must have been made by the person who opened or developed them in Melbourne. The phonograph has been sent back to Adelaide to await our return but in view of Mr. Johnson’s generous offer we shall probably arrange to have it sent round with additional cylinders to meet us at the Katherine -Only this morning I had been thinking of suggesting to Spencer that we should get it sent round with some cylinders, if our funds permitted. We have every reason to be satisfied with Baker and Rouse’s report. “Fairly correct” is an excellent result considering the conditions under which the films were exposed; one never knows exactly in which direction the blacks are going to move when performing ceremonies
or corroborees. It is quite different in taking street scenes or anything of that sort, for the field is then limited and the operator knows that provided his instrument is in focus the object cannot escape him. Chance making necessary alterations and repairs to wagon. Collected: 1 stone Churinga Kangaroo totem, 2 Churinga Nama Twinna, 1 Ilyippa hair shoulder suspender, used by women for carrying wooden Pitchis. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 16th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 28.2. Up at daylight. Chance assisting at Station, cutting up bullock killed last night. Spencer and I breakfasted on skirting and sweetbread before the old geezer returned, smiling, with some of the choicest morsels of rump steak, which he informed us was worth 10d. per lb. in Moonta; he appraises everything by Moonta values. Busy all the morning numbering, indexing and packing plates of which we now have 243. In the afternoon Spencer and I each took a view using the Isochromatic yellow screen and stopping the lens down to its lowest aperture F64, results simply splendid; really the two finest negatives I have ever seen. I am but beginning to know something of the art of photography. Cowle and Fitz arrived in the evening, former looking more like a Greek bandit than a Police Officer, his belt is laden with cartridges,
revolver and handcuffs, and altogether he presents a formidable appearance. He is disgusted to find that the Expedition does not keep a supply of whisky on hand, and indulges in scathing remarks about our parsimony. A very pleasant evening spent in reminiscing and telling yarns. Fitz is very entertaining and can tell more interesting lies to the hour than any man I know. He and Premier Toby Barton were at the Sydney University together; he says as a young man Barton whom he invariably styles “Toby” was known as a fellow who could never say No. He knew George Reid when he was a clerk in the Treasury and they belonged to the same literary society and Model Parliament in which the rotund George was always either Premier or Leader of the Opposition. Returned to camp at 9.30 and found the old geezer poring over the fire. Bed at 10.30.
Bar. An. S.T.
.c.May, 17th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 27. A delightfully bracing morning, one feels very much alive on such a morning. Had breakfast and reached Station at 8. Writing and doing odd jobs all day, Spencer began his Age articles and has ground away at them all day. Had party”s photo taken but it is not good of Spencer or the boys, so we intend trying another tomorrow. Chance busy making cases
to pack native implements, of which we have quite a goodly store. Decided not to leave here until after arrival of mail on 21st; we have plenty of work on hand to keep us engaged until then. It is a comfort to me to know that I shall get another mail without having to wait weeks for it. Tom Hanley who is one of my oldest friends in the Interior and under whose wing I made my first entrance into bush life arrived from the north today: time is beginning to tell upon him, he is grey and gnarled-looking; a trifle more cynical but still the same splendid type of hardy bushman. We are delighted to meet again and some pleasant hours are spent in reminiscing. I find it hard to realise that it is 25 years since he first introduced me to camp life at a spot about 10 miles north of the present Beltana township which then consisted only of a Telegraph Station. What changes have been effected since then; it is marvellous. At that time the Northern Railway system terminated at the Burra from whence we travelled by a badly horsed and rickety coach to Blinman which was then quite a prosperous bush township. From the Blinman we travelled to Beltana by hired trap which was driven by an old Blinman
identity, rejoicing in the name of Jimmy Duck, who still flourishes in the Leigh Creek locality. Horses had been sent to meet us from Strangways Springs and one, a young bay colt, was allotted to me. The man who broke him in, brought the horses down and assured me that my mount was as quiet as a lamb, spirited and playful as a respectable young horse should be, “but no vice, Mister, you can take it from me”. I saddled him up and at once experienced some of his playfulness, in the shape of a sharp nip which deprived me of portion of my shirt. I began to funk and mildly suggested that his eye looked wicked, whereupon my friend the breaker mumbling something about limejuicers and with a look of scorn, took hold of the reins, gripped the beast’s ear with one hand and saying “Whoa my pretty!” threw himself lightly into the saddle; in an instant the playful viceless animal had assumed the position depicted above and for 10 solid, and to me awful, minutes he made frantic efforts to turn
himself inside out, then, exhausted with his efforts he stopped and the breaker patting his neck and saying “good little hoss” got off and led the brute up to me remarking “what more do you want, Mister, aint he a bloomin lamb, no vice, you see he didn”t squeal once”. I said thanks I”ll ride in the wagon and I did for several days until some of the “playfulness!” had been knocked out of him. At last I mustered up courage to mount him one afternoon, he had been ridden all the morning. I remained in the saddle just three minutes and for the rest of the day travelled in the ambulance. Returned to camp at 9 p.m. Bar. An. S.T.
.c.May, 18th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 28.5. Up at daylight both feeling very fit -at Station by 7.30. McFeat photographed our party. Negative only fair: Supple”s bald head crept in to the picture in the distance and we are trying to block it out. Cowle and Fitz at Station this morning; we bought from Cowle a fine brown gelding for £10. This horse will be called Rossa and he is to be my hack. In the afternoon I visited the Town and paid Raggatt’s and other accounts. People eager to fill me up with beer. Cowle and Brookes held sales of effects of two dead men. Spencer busy writing Age articles and packing all day. Cowle
Cowle and Fitz came up for a couple of hours in the evening. To camp at 10 p.m. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 19th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 39. Very mild morning and in dread of the flies, we hurriedly prepare breakfast. At Station by 7.30. Self busy all morning printing and toning photographs, Cowle came up for an hour or two in the afternoon -paid him for horses “Rossa” and “Cowle”. Busy all the evening trimming prints. Spencer writing. Chance resplendent in his Sunday garments, takes a rest and enjoys the papers. To camp at 9 p.m. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 20th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 38. Another mild morning all very fit and greatly enjoyed a delicious grill. Chance’s appetite increases with the rise in the price of meat at Moonta. Busy all morning printing and toning. Picture of Expedition has turned out fairly good and after considerable trouble we have succeeded in blotting out the irrepressible Supple. Sending copies to Arthur Treloar, Cock, Uffindell, Warren and others. Tried a new toning solution today which gives brown pictures, do not like it. Packed up kinematograph and addressed it through Cave and Co. to A. M. Henderson, Melbourne, also packed negatives, 245 in number, and sent them to Gill, Treasury, Adelaide. Hanley is very
kindly taking all our stuff as far as Charlotte Waters where it will be put on teams. Cases he is taking are numbered 3 and 4 and contain all loot collected up to date. Cowle came up for couple of hours in the afternoon. Received following wire from Sir Chas Todd: “The question has been raised by the Audit Department whether you are receiving any pay from the promoters of the Expedition on which you are engaged apart from the salary and allowances received from the South Australian Government. Please give me this information”. I replied “I am not receiving any pay from promoters of Expedition”. Evidently the Commissioner of Audit is afraid that I am making something over and above my official salary, a crime not to be tolerated in a Civil Servant. I regard his action as paltry and should much like to tell him so. Spencer still grinding out copy for the Age -Self busy trimming prints in the evening. Comet becoming very faint. Old Tom Hanley and I reminisce on every available opportunity; he moralises amusingly on the evils of smoking, a luxury which his medical man prohibits and, while moralizing, takes care to get well within sniffing distance of the smoke from my pipe. To camp at 9 p m. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 21st. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 45°. Very mild night but S. wind sprang up about 9 a.m. and the day has been one of the coolest experienced here since our arrival. Both busy all day fixing things up for wagon, which starts tomorrow. Load consists of about 30 cwt., it is astonishing how the stuff mounts up. We shall be relieved when we know that Chance has got safely through the range and on to the Burt Plain. The first 10 miles is probably the worst stretch of road in this State and has smashed more wheels than perhaps any other stretch of equal length in Australia. Mail arrived at 3 p.m. and we are delighted to get our letters. About 80 lbs. of photographic material arrived for us and we are rejoiced to think that we have so much fresh material to work upon. Posted few photos to Haining, Cock, Uffindell and Page. They are not good but with the material at our disposal it is not possible to get satisfactory prints. Spencer still stewing up stuff for the Age. Shifted camp from the Engwura ground to back of Station. Since the removal of our tent and buggies, the old camp in which we have not been unhappy, presents a deserted appearance. Handed Govt. buggy over to Mr. McFeat, acting Station Master, who is to hold it pending instructions from the Commissioner of Crown Lands. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 22nd. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. [blank]. Up at daylight but Spencer being unable to sleep turned out at 4.30. He has not slept well for several nights, looks like a touch of insomnia. Chance got away at 10 a.m. Hanley lent us a couple of good leaders to straighten up the team until they got used to the collar, and the Line teamster McDill drove the team out until they passed the much dreaded vehicle smashing, Devils Pinch, 3 miles north of the Station. We were relieved when McDill returned and informed us that they had crossed it safely. The Atninga (war) party which left here on the 12th instant returned this afternoon, decorated with twigs of eremophila in their armlets, forehead bands and through the nose septum, denoting that the expedition had succeeded in killing an enemy. They danced up the bed of the river Todd past the camps, fully armed and with the usual characteristic high knee action. Upon enquiry I found that five of the younger men had, in the absence of the majority of the party, found and killed an old man who was the father of the man they were in search of. A clear case of murder but not a breach of aboriginal law which exacts the old biblical penalty of an eye for an eye.
We succeeded in obtaining 12 photos of the ceremony of the testing of the shields which is fully described in our previous work but not illustrated. After the warriors had come to a halt, two old women danced up to them brandishing yam-sticks with which they struck the shield of each man who took part in the actual killing; the men stood in the front line stiff as ramrods and holding their shields with the convex side outwards; when the women had finished and retired, the Immirinja as the actual killers are designated danced out with exaggerated high knee action, brandishing their spears and boomerangs and, finally halting, stood holding their shields in the manner described, until the men who had not taken part in the expedition came out and struck them with boomerangs. This ceremony is of great importance and everyone listens intently to the sound produced by the blow. If it be hollow the owner of the shield is under some malignant influence and he will not live long; if on the other hand, the sound is firm and strong then he is safe and is not a victim of magic. Developed plates before tea, all turned out well -We have now 257 negatives! Posted packet No. 4 photos to Dick, also a packet of views to wife. Bar. Aneroid. S.T.
.c.May, 23rd. Camp No 22. Ter. Min. 31.5. Up rather later than usual. Spencer slept better. We miss the camp-fire and the old geezer buzzing about. This camp is remarkable for its absence of homeliness. We are too close to the buildings. There is an air of wild dissipation about our bunks which was not noticeable in other camps. Even the little buggy looks lonely. Busy all morning toning prints. Spencer engaged all day posting up official journal. Dick wired that he was keeping a sharp look out on my fowls during Jim’s stay in Moonta and I am relieved. Yesterday I expressed myself in terms of strong disapproval about the action of some of the avenging party in killing a helpless old man. Today a deputation waited on me and explained that the old man’s son had recently come to this locality in the form of Kurdaitja and had pointed a bone at the wife of one of the party, causing her great suffering and death. The old man knew of his son”s malicious intentions and did not try to prevent him carrying them out, he was therefore slaughtered. A certain Medicine man had discovered and indicated the guilty parties -Probably the Medicine man had a grudge against the individual he pointed out. Of course the man never went Kurdaitja -they never do. While the members of a group fully realise
that they cannot go Kurdaitja, that they cannot in fact impart to the feather shoes the magic properties which make them leave no track, they cannot be brought to believe that other groups are equally powerless. It is a case of both parties being innocent, while believing each other guilty. Writing my mail at odd intervals during the day and in the evening. To roost at 9.
.c.May, 24th. Camp No. 22. Ter. Min. 29. Slept cold -Raw bracing morning makes one feel alive all over -Busy cleaning up room which we have used for photo purposes here, also packing things for buggy. Printed and toned some plate pictures of the shield striking ceremony. Both writing at intervals all day. To roost at 9.30.
.c.May, 25th. Camp No. 23. Bonds Springs (Ilpma). Ter. Min. 34.2. Up just in time for breakfast bell, we are falling into bad habits since removing up to the Station. There must be something in the atmosphere to cause drowsiness for at camp we never slept after the first streak of dawn. Two blackfellows brought me two Kirraurkna, sacred girdles of dead men”s hair. I knew the men from whose hair they were made, one died about 10 years ago and the other about 8 years. These girdles are most difficult to get hold of and form a very valuable addition to our collection. My old friend the head man of
Witchetty Grub totem brought me a sacred necklace (Ochinchaluninna Irulknakinna) which contains the hair of a dead warrior, this, like the Kirraurkna, is worn when going in to battle or on war expeditions -Sent parcel to Walcott, National Museum, Melbourne containing articles mentioned -Packed up and after saying goodbye to our kind friends at the Alice once more started on our great trek. Leaving the Station at 1.15 p.m. after travelling 12 miles, we reached Bonds Springs Station where we are camping for the night, 12 awful miles which we are glad to have accomplished without an accident. We wonder that the Government have not been requested to make this piece of road safe for vehicle traffic; at present it is in a most dangerous condition and few vehicles pass over it without incurring serious injury -Country passed over consists of jumbly gneissic hills, almost destitute of soil and lightly timbered and grassed. Timber consists of Eucalyptus terminalis, E. tesselaris, Acacia salicina and aneura with E. rostrata in the creeks which, here and there, ran across the track. We are hospitably received at the Bond by the manager Mr. McMillan, who is an old acquaintance of mine. We are camping
on the ground close to our buggy and find our couches anything but luxurious. Both glad to be on the road again. Found a fresh horse waiting for us here, one of the lot purchased from Robertson and as we have already sufficient horses, we are sending “Biluta” back to McFeat who is anxious to purchase him for £6. He is a nice little horse, more fit for the racing track than for our work. We have named the new horse Biluta, he is a fine upstanding animal, a fair hack and very quiet. Country about this Station probably gold-bearing slates and quartz outcropping. The Station buildings are of a most primitive kind consisting of a building of one room used as a kitchen and a pokey little 1 roomed hut which is occupied by the manager. The stockmen appear to have no quarters. The Station is built on the bank of a small tributary of the Todd River and for a few months after rain there are a couple of nice waterholes within 100 yds. of the buildings. Very few blacks here and apparently no old people at all. They are probably all out in the bush where vegetable foods are now plentiful. To roost at 9.30. Bar. An.
.c.May, 26th. Camp No. 24. Burt Creek. Up before daylight making as much noise as possible so as to rouse up the old cook, who very kindly promised to let us have an early breakfast. On examining
our buggy found three bolts had been broken in crossing the range yesterday, fortunately McMillan had some suitable bolts in stock so we were able to effect repairs. Started at 8 a.m. driving Lang and Lubbock; in one mile we found ourselves bidding adieu to the MacDonnell Ranges and before us, as far as the eye could see, a vast plain thickly covered in places with mulga (Acacia aneura) scrub. The weather is perfect for travelling, there is a strong, bracing wind blowing, the road is good, our load light and we skim along merrily for about 16 miles and then camp for dinner which we enjoy with a zest that a London Alderman might envy -The banquet consists of cold salt junk, a piece of the brisket, washed down with a bottle of Walkerville ale which we brought from the Alice. Just as we finished dinner a traveller hove in sight and when he pulled up we found that he was a negro, black as ebony, with a fine set of teeth and dressed like a dandy stockman. He has just ridden through from the Newcastle Waters Station and intends going through to Pt. Augusta and taking ship there for England. His frizzy hair and intensely black skin greatly interested Parunda, whose mouth expanded from ear to ear when the darkie raised his hat and waved us good day. Camped 1 hour, then harnessed
up Fraser and Tylor and travelled on another 12 miles to the Burt Creek Well, where we found the old geezer comfortably camped and wreathed in smiles. He reports that he got through without any difficulty, the team behaved splendidly and barring a few bolts in the range there was no breakage; few teams get through the range with such trifling casualties. The Burt Creek on which we are camped is a shallow watercourse, thinly fringed with half-starved looking gums (E. rostrata), it contains a few waterholes which last for about 3 months after rain. Along its banks is a fine stretch of open country, dotted here and there with clumps of mulga, and splendidly grassed -perhaps the best grassed piece of country we have met with on our journey -Travellers draw their supplies of water from a well 90 ft. deep, which yields a very limited supply of water in dry seasons; at present it contains about 30 ft. of water, the result of soakage from summer floods. Chance, to celebrate our return to camp, provided a plum pudding for tea; not a masterpiece but very palatable; judging by the size of it I fancy he intends it to last a week. Spencer is very partial to duff and I marvel at his capacity to stow it away. The night is bitterly cold and we are glad to hang around the fire which Chance reckons would cost about 2/3 in Moonta. To our great regret Spencer accidentally
Thermometer this morning; we hoped to have had a series of readings right through the continent but unfortunately we are not provided with a spare instrument. It is my wife”s birthday and before turning in, we solemnly broach the medical comforts and drink long life and good health to her. We shall always identify Chance”s duff with her birthday. To roost at 9.30. Bar. 27.650. Aneroid 2230. S. Ther. 57. A.T. 56°.
.c.May, 27th. Camp No. 25. Connors Well. Roused out before daylight, fierce cold wind blowing; felt cold all night, very scrappy sleep. I was sleeping on a canvas-covered stretcher which I procured at the Alice in exchange for one of our hammocks, and a colder couch I do not think it would be possible to find. In future I shall sleep on the ground until we get into warmer latitudes. Nine of the horses away at 9 o”clock so Spencer and I decided to push through to Connors Well and left Chance instructions to start after dinner and track on until dusk and camp without water. Parunda to follow us with the loose horses. We drove “Little Jack” and “Todd” for the first time and, as they had both been a long time out of harness, they were none too quiet or easily managed. When within sight of Connors Well, Todd cut up rusty and made a determined attempt to bolt into the scrub. Had he succeeded in his amiable design our frail buggy would probably have been smashed to smithereens. I think we'll give Master Todd
a turn in the chains of the wagon or better still, if opportunity offers, exchange him for a less spirited animal. Arrived here at 1 o”clock having covered 24 miles in 4 hours which is an excellent record on a bush track where stumps are thick as leaves in Vallambrosa and sand is not an unknown quantity. Country travelled over wretched, mulga scrub with patches of sand and spinifex but very little grass. Dotted here and there throughout the scrub are great red ant-hills ranging from 1 to 5 ft. in height and inhabited by one of the pests of this country, the all-devouring white ant, a species of termites which is not an ant at all for it is allied to the cockroaches. Saw one emu. Just around the well, which is 65 ft. deep and yields a good supply of fresh water, there is a narrow strip of fairly grassed land on which our neddies should do well tonight, if they will only be content to feed instead of aimlessly wandering away south. From our camp Hanns Range is visible running across from east to west. I should think this about the last spot at which one would expect to obtain water by sinking, all the surface indications are against obtaining a supply; the water appears to have been found underlying a seam of opaline quartz in dioritic formation with seams of travertine limestone. The man who chose this spot for putting down a well has posed as an expert ever since and no thirsty traveller would dream of disputing his
right to that title. Spencer and I filled in the afternoon erecting a substantial break wind and storing up a supply of fire wood. A cold wind has been blowing all day and if it continues through the night we shall appreciate a snug camp. Parunda arrived at 5 o”clock with the loose horses for which he and Spencer pulled water. I am a helpless creature at a well and never go near one unless absolutely obliged to. The yawning mouth of a well always makes me feel as if am about to swoon and, whenever I have been obliged to pull water from one, the strain has made me feel quite ill for an hour or two afterwards. Spent a delightful evening at our fine camp-fire the Prof. in great buckle talked interestingly on various topics. We agree to hand “Todd” over to the tender mercies of Chance. I am loath to give him best but fear that it would be folly to run the risk of having our buggy smashed and ourselves hurt. Turned in at 9.30. Bar. 27.90. Aneroid 1975. A.T. 49. S.T. 41.5.
c.May, 28th. Camp No. 25. Bar. 28.00. Aneroid 1895. A.T. 46. S.T. 49. A very snug night but found the ground rather hard. Did not turn out until 8.30 when the sun was well up and the gay Parunda was coming in with the horses. Wild dogs howling around our camp all night, evidently watering at these troughs - Sharp frost, the first we have experienced since starting. A long, tedious, anxious day. We expected Chance to arrive about noon.
At 5 p.m. he had not arrived and looking along the telegraph line from the top of a pole we could not see any sign of him so we dispatched Parunda on a good horse with a note asking Chance what was wrong; at 7 p.m. he returned bringing a note from Chance who states that at 5.25 boy had only found 3 of the horses and these he had to follow back to the Burt, a distance of 16 miles, the other 5 horses were still unfound and they have been without water since noon yesterday. Confound the brutes. They have caused us a lot of anxiety. We conjured up all sorts of horrors and pictured Chance”s mangled remains hanging in a mulga tree with the wild dogs howling around him. Howitt and Fison are the two horses responsible for the trouble. It appears that as soon as they were hobbled out last night, they shot straight back for the Burt where there is beautiful feed. If the two distinguished men after whom they are named heard some of the terms applied to them, on receipt of the old geezers note tonight, their venerable ears would tingle -even the Prof said d…n viciously. He spent nearly the whole afternoon on top of a telegraph pole with a pair of field-glasses glued to his eyes and looking away south. We were out of tucker and had just dined frugally on scraps which
generally fall to Phiz when Parunda returned carrying in his shirt a couple of tins of meat and some damper. At 8.30 we were relieved to hear the distant crack of a whip and at 9.20 Chance arrived driving six horses, the remaining two were still unfound and boy states they have wandered off to the west. Chance reports having spent a very anxious day; most of his time was spent on top of the wagon peering away south to see if the horses were coming; when the boy turned up at 2 o”clock with only three, he indulged in language which would turn this page blue if I recorded it but when the boy returned a second time at 6 p.m. with only 3 instead of 5, he was too overcome to express himself at all, so hurriedly yoked up and pushed on in here for water; 3 of the team had not had water for 36 hours. Turned under the shelter of our break wind at 10.15 p.m. Bar. 27,960 Aneroid 1908. A.T. 48. S.T. 61.
.c.May, 29th. Camp No. 26. Near Native Well Gap Hanns Range. Bar. 27.970. Aneroid 1920. A.T. 52. S.T. 49. Up at daylight had breakfast and started. Erlikilyika riding Rossa to search for missing horses, he carries with him some tucker and we are leaving a further supply for him here. Did some rifle practice, Chance shooting well, Spencer promises to become a good shot, self indifferent and I am afraid I shall never improve much. Chance”s team looking tucked up so we have decided to spell them half a day and start on about 2 o”clock and camp without
water. Had lunch at 12 and started on at 2 o”clock driving Fraser and Tylor. Travelled until 6 p.m. when we camped half a mile from Native Well Gap Hanns Range, distance travelled 13 1/2 miles. A snug little camp, good feed for the horses and plenty of firewood for ourselves. We collected an immense heap of wood and lit a great fire to guide Chance on his way; he reached camp at 8 p.m. and, an hour afterwards, Erlikilyika returned with the missing horses which he found about 16 or 17 miles west of where they were lost, or 38 miles from our present camp. The horses look no worse for their experience, although they had been 56 hours without water when they reached the Connors Well troughs this afternoon. The boy quite knocked up with his long ride of about 62 miles. Hoped to see some kangaroo this afternoon but not one visible; the drought has played havoc with animal life in this country. Where there were hundreds of animals there is not one now visible, it will take the country years to recover. We have built a very fine break wind of boughs behind which we are snugly protected from the cold south east winds which at times blow very fiercely. I am scribbling this by the light of the camp-fire, the flames
are leaping high in the air lighting up the surrounding mulgas; the boys have three fires between which they are lying on their rugs discussing the day’s doings. Chance at another fire near the wagon is putting on some bread which will not be cooked until midnight. The moon is shining brightly overhead the great black outline of the Hanns Range stands sentinel over us and altogether the scene is a pleasant one, purely characteristic of the bush and unlike anything one ever sees in the settled districts. A feeling of exhilaration comes over me as I drain my quart pot of tea and forget for the time that only a few hours previously I had been condemning the country through which we were travelling, as unfit for man or beast. For 11 miles after leaving Connors Well we passed through wretched sandy spinifex country with stunted Hakea and Mallee and utterly destitute of grass. It would take about 100 square miles of such country to graze a jew lizard. Spencer talking brightly of his Oxford University life and it is nearly 12 when we bid each other good night. Chance still poring over the fire, watching his batch of damper. Bar. 27,730. Aneroid 2150. A.T. 48. S.T. 52.
.c.May, 30th. Camp No. 27. Ryans Well. Bar. 27.780. Aneroid 2100. A.T. 51. S.T. 57. The rosy streak of dawn had been visible for some time before we awoke this morning; last night”s late hours made sluggards of us. We are packed up and off at 5 minutes to 9 and in half a mile pass through the Native Well Gap where we examined the site of an old native soakage which yielded a good supply of water, until one of the telegraph officials thinking to improve the supply, deepened it by blasting and having destroyed the rock which dammed the water back, it escaped through the porous rocks underneath and there was no longer a soakage. Hanns Creek Range consists of Silurian red sandstone, quartzite and gritty conglomerate and on its sides and at its base there are a few pine trees growing. Passing through the Gap we quickly found ourselves travelling through fine grazing country with cotton, saltbush (Atriplex), and a variety of good grass: fairly open country with belts of mulga here and there, it seems a pity to see such country unstocked but alas there is not a thimbleful of surface water on it, and, judging by the yield in this well, water for stock purposes could not be obtained by sinking. Distance travelled 72 miles. As it is 30 miles on to the nearest water we have
decided to spell the horses here today so that they may benefit by the excellent feed. We shall push on to the Woodforde with the little buggy and loose horses tomorrow and Chance will follow with the wagon, but it is hardly likely that he will get out more than 20 miles. He will carry on his wagon 100 gallons of water just about sufficient to give his neddies a drink. We have a 100 gallon tank. My muscles received a considerable amount of exercise this afternoon filling the tank. Shot a galah which Spencer skinned and cured. It seems a crime to destroy such beautiful birds but we must have specimens. In the afternoon we did some rifle practice Chance as usual distinguishing himself. At 4 p.m. spoke with Alice Springs from the shackle and wired to our wives. Charged our firearms for the first time. We are now in country in which the blacks have often proved hostile and even now it is not wise to trust them too far. Only a few years ago two men quietly sleeping in their camp were attacked just before daylight, at a point about 10 miles north of here; both men were wounded but not seriously. In future we shall each carry a loaded revolver in our belts but I shall be surprised indeed if we are ever called upon to use it. During all the years I spent in the Interior I was never obliged to fire a
shot at a blackfellow and I should not like to break that record now. Bar. 27.735. Aneroid 2140. A.T. 48. S.T. 57.
.c.May, 31st. Camp No. 28. Woodforde Creek. Bar. 27.730. Aneroid 2150. A.T. 29.5. S.T. 34 at 7.30 a.m. Up shortly after 4 a.m., my watch in some unaccountable manner has gained nearly an hour since yesterday. Breakfasted before daylight and at the first streak of dawn the boys were away after the horses which split up into three mobs and did not reach camp until after 8. Spencer and I started at 8.20 driving Little Jack and Wallis. The first four miles, nice light road running through good country, showing scattered pebbles of quartz and shingle, then for 9 miles over sand and loam flats with grass and spinifex where for the first time we met with Stuarts Bean tree (Erythrina vespertilio). At 13 miles we passed through Prouse’s Gap, a wing of the Reynolds Ranges. Here the rocks are gneissic granite with diorite and quartz veins. A mile to the west of the gap there is a good rock-hole which however is now dry. Away to the west, perhaps five miles distant are Mts. Boothby, Glaisher and Wells, all fine looking peaks rising about 500 or 600 feet above the level of the plains. In three miles from the gap we pass Mt. Boothby rock-hole shackle, where a low gneissic granite hill rises out of the plain. On this hill are a few small rock-holes which hold water for a few weeks after rain. From here the telegraph line stretches away to the north in a straight unbroken line for 15 miles, the first 6 of which takes us through dreary sand, spinifex and hungry- looking, scattered scrub in which
takes us through dreary sand, spinifex and hungry- looking, scattered scrub in which no living creature bird or beast appears to dwell. From this point the country improves and in a mile or two we find ourselves passing through fine, open, well-grassed plains, slipping away to the Woodforde River which we reached at 5.20 p.m., having travelled 32 miles -Parunda got in ahead of us with the loose horses and by the time we arrived he had dug out a fine soakage in the river bed at which our horses were watered. The Woodforde was discovered and named by John McDouall Stuart on his first attempt to cross the continent; like all Central Australian main watercourses it consists of a shallow wide sandy bed fringed with gum trees. The telegraph line crosses the river about 1/4 of a mile east of our camp, at this point the river narrows and breaks up into a number of small channels and, in flood time, the water covers a wide area which is clearly marked by the growth of Eucalypts on the alluvial flats. Feed on these flats is abundant and grows to a height of about 2 ft. 6 inches. Within sight of our camp some hundreds of tons of very fine grass hay could be cut, where some months ago -before rain fell -there was not sufficient to graze a field mouse. The sand soakages in the river bed only last for a few months and when these dry, there will be a stretch of 47 miles from Ryans Well to the Titree without water -Given a
decent rainfall there would be no limit to the stock carrying capacity of the Woodforde but under present climatic conditions it is valueless. A considerable amount of money has been spent in sinking wells along its banks but with the exception of the Titree well no water has been struck. Built a fine break wind of gum boughs and made ourselves very comfortable. Chatting until 10 p.m. Bar. 28.012. Aneroid 1875 ft. A.T. 52.5. S.T. 58.
.c.June, 1st. Camp No. 28. Woodforde. Bar. 28.012. Aneroid 1875 ft. A.T. 64. S.T. 56. Indulged in our rugs until sunrise, a mild night, with mild cloudy morning. Sunrise very beautiful. Breakfasted at 8. At 11.30 Chance arrived with team, reports camping 10 miles back last night. Put Biluta in the wagon yesterday and drove him all day, promises to make a good harness horse. Jumped about a bit when first put in, smashing the spider, but soon settled down and pulled like a Trojan. When he becomes thoroughly quiet we shall drive him in our buggy. He is good in saddle and pack. Spencer photographed team arriving crossing the river. In the afternoon we did some rifle practice, all improving, ammunition running short but further supplies await us at the depots. Flies very bad here, owing probably to the sheltered situation of our camp of which I took a photograph this afternoon with Chance and the Prof. sitting a
table. Erlikilyika started out with a gun at 2 p.m. returned at 6 with a fine fat young turkey; as we saw him come up the bank of the river carrying the bird a spontaneous cheer went up, in which Parunda joined. We shall carry it a day or two before cooking and Chance is to make a special batch of bread tonight so that we may have suitable stuffing. What a banquet we shall have. I suggested that it should be handed over to me to grill but my suggestion met with a chorus of jeering disapproval, and I subsided meekly, remarking that it might be better stuffed and roasted. We dined late and the old geezer dished up a monster plum duff, a perfect masterpiece nearly wholly made of raisins, currants and dates. Spencer who rarely touches sweets down country enjoyed it immensely. So did I but I rather dread tonight’s dreams. Bar. 27.975. Aneroid 1910. A.T. 43. S.T. 53.
.c.June, 2nd. Camp No. 29. Titree Well. Bar. 28.005. Aneroid 1880. A.T. 41. S.T. 43.5. Up at dawn and breakfasted before sunrise. (I dare not relate even to you, my diary, the dreams resulting from the geezer’s plum duff. Suffice it to say that I committed about 3 murders and fell down numberless yawning chasms.) Fine, fresh morning, glass at 29° when we turned out. Started at 8.20, horses looking all the better for their rest on good feed, travelling over sand and loam flats, well-grassed and timbered, for 16 miles at which we reached Titree Well on the Woodforde and camped at 12.30. This well is probably the best on the overland route: it is 24 ft. deep, yields 24,00
gallons per day and the water rises to within 10 ft. of the surface. Just here the banks of the Woodforde are thickly ringed with Ti tree (Leptospermum) hence the name of the well. Ti tree is often a good indication of water. The surrounding country within a radius of 2 or 3 miles is patchy, consisting of grass and spinifex with mulga scrub. Saw two turkeys this morning. I had a shot at one but only succeeded in wounding the bird. Chance reached camp with the wagon at 3 p.m. reported having seen an aboriginal tree grave 4 miles south and about 300 yds. to the east of track. Evidently tree burial is customary here. I was under the impression that it did not extend below Central Mount Stuart. Had we seen the grave we should have bagged the bones and added them to our collection. Chance severely reprimanded for not at least laying violent hands on the skull and so that there may be no repetition of such remissness he is promptly and solemnly appointed Chief body snatcher to the Expedition. I shot a crow here which upon examination proved to be brown-eyed, a rare if not new species, so Spencer skinned and added it to the collection. Spencer and Chance both rejoicing in mild bunged eyes -I have supplied Erlikilyika with a book which he is going to fill with original sketches for my boys. To roost at 10. Bar. 28,055. Aneroid 1815. A.T. 52. S.T. 52. 9 p.m.
c.June, 3rd. Camp No. 30. Central Mount Stuart Bullocky Camp in Hanson (Atna). Bar. 28.020. Aneroid 1865. A.T. 38. S.T. 41.5 -8 a.m. Up at earliest dawn. Number of beautiful topknot pigeons came in to water. I shot two for our collection. Left camp at 8.20 driving Little Jack and Wallis. At 9 miles passed unnamed low range stretching away to the eastward, continued on for four miles through sand and spinifex country with patches of mulga and struck the Hanson river, a wide shallow eucalyptus clad watercourse lying at the foot of Central Mt. Stuart, followed the bank of the river for five miles and camped at 1.30 p.m. at a soakage known as Bullocky Camp. Central Mt. Stuart (Abmakunga) was discovered by John McDouall Stuart on his first attempt to cross the continent. In the first instance he named it after his patron John Chambers who however insisted upon it being called after the intrepid discoverer. Our camp is four miles from the base of the Mount which rises up, a great sombre-looking mass of blue black appearance; the rock of which it is composed is described by the Government Geologist, Mr. Brown, as alternating strata of red and bluish grit, quartzite, sandstone and hard shale or slate. Its elevation above our camp is 800 ft. or a total of 2500 ft. above sea level. This mountain from its geographical position — as nearly as possible in the
centre of the continent — is perhaps one of the most interesting features in Australian landscape. My old friend Mr. John Ross who was sent out by the Govt. of the day to follow Stuart’s tracks and mark out the route for the Overland Telegraph Line ascended the mountain and discovered there the flagstaff and cairn of stones erected by Stuart many years before and underneath the cairn he dug up a bottle planted by Stuart containing a memorandum of the day and date of discovery and the names of the members of the Expedition. We should much like to ascend the mountain and stand where the great little Scotchman stood when he proudly planted the British flag in mid- continent but time will not permit of our wasting a day. To celebrate the occasion we had a state dinner of which the turkey was the pièce de résistance. Chance put “Haddon” in the wagon today, he went along quietly and promises to develop into a fine buggy horse -Distance travelled 18 miles -Our camp surroundings to the westward very depressing, dirty-looking spinifex with stunted bushes and a few straggly looking Eucalyptus tesselaris. Horses obliged to feed along the bed of the river. To roost at 10. Bar. 28.020. Aneroid 1865. A.T. 38. S.T. 41.5
.c.June, 4th. Camp No. 31. Hanson Well Hanson River (Ilpirita). Bar. 28.080. Aneroid 1800. A.T. 58. S.T. 55. Up rather later than usual, old Chance never thinks of turning out until I sing out “All aboard”. Very mild night, temperature on rising, 38°. North west wind blowing I am feeling off colour as I always do when this wind comes at unseasonable times -Some people would attribute my condition to too much turkey -Horses split up into three mobs and wandered during the night. Started at 9.20 driving Little Jack and Wallis; to see this pair start one would think they were all fire and go, Chance and the niggers have to hang on to their heads while they are being put in, then with a plunge and a rear they bound off at a great pace, which continues for about 100 yds., after which it is difficult to persuade them to move faster than a slow walk. Travelling along the Hanson River over sand and loam flats, some bad, some good patches, for 17 miles which brought us to the Hanson Well on the bank of the river -Here we camped at 1.45. It has been a most disagreeable day hot winds and dust. A few sprinkles of rain during the evening but not sufficient to warrant us in erecting tent. Boys dug out a soakage in bed of river at which our horses were watered and from which we are drawing our
supplies. The Well here is about 40 ft. deep and yields but a scanty supply of very brackish water so we are glad to be able to get water in the sand which although strongly impregnated with gum leaves is vastly superior to the well water. Thermometer registered 86° at 4 p.m. To roost at 9.30 -Very cloudy. Bar. 28.175. Aneroid 1720. A.T. 72. S.T. 71.
.c.June, 5th. Camp No. 32. Stirling Creek near Base of Foster Range (Irpula). Bar. 28.270. Aneroid 1630. A.T. 61. 8.T. 63. -Up at daylight, disagreeable, windy, warm night with flies about in millions. Spencer awoke with two bunged eyes; south east wind sprang up just before daylight and weather gradually became cooler. Started at 8.20 travelling over sandy country with shallow swamps covered with samphire and low-lying, well-grassed flats for 8 miles at which we reached the old Stirling Creek Station (Injirailunkna) now abandoned except that a man named Abbott is squatting there with forty head of horses waiting for something to turn up. Travelled on for another 7 miles over well-grassed sand and loam flats and camped at a waterhole in the Stirling Creek, near to the base of the Foster Range. It is a pleasure indeed to see a decent waterhole once more. I indulged in a swim and found the water icily cold. Chance arrived at 4 p.m. bringing with him a fine turkey which the “Subdued” had shot. It is temptingly fat but
he heroically decided to take it into the Barrow where we hope to arrive at noon tomorrow. We collected some beetles and frogs this afternoon but could find no trace of small marsupials; here, as lower down the track, animal life appears to have been almost annihilated by the drought. Shortly after we formed camp a wild dog came and inspected us but promptly moved off when I produced a rifle. The boys are determined to impress the Barrow Creek lubras tomorrow, their spare time this afternoon has been occupied in washing their clothes. Parunda will be simply irresistible, he has taken in the legs of his moleskin trousers so that they fit tightly from thigh to heel; one more washing and he won”t be able to get his arm into them. Around his hat he has sewn on a piece of bright red flannel and altogether he considers his get up very fetching. Chance regaling us with
- MV.CollectishPlatform.Common.Entities.ImageFileDetails. http://spencerandgillen.net/media/collectors/4fac697e023fd704f475b34f/items/4fbb272e2162ef0a5c0ddc3f/4fbb28782162ef0a5c0dddc4/SpencerAndGillen-large.jpg
- MV.CollectishPlatform.Common.Entities.ImageFileDetails. http://spencerandgillen.net/media/collectors/4fac697e023fd704f475b34f/items/4fbb272e2162ef0a5c0ddc3f/5007a0612162ef0a500f25d5/SpencerAndGillen-large.jpg
Rights: State Library of South Australia
- Date Made
- Mar 1901 - Jun 1901
- Date Collected
- Central Australia
- South Australia and the Northern Territory
- Number of Pages
- Language Groups
- State Library of South Australia