Spencer & Gillen

A journey through Aboriginal Australia

Spencer Journal March - April 1901 (no.1)

Physical Description

Four black notebooks marked “S” and “G” (Spencer and Gillen) containing B.S.’s rough journal of his expedition with Gillen to the Northern Territory. a) March 19 – April 17, 1901.

Primary Comments

Four black notebooks marked “S” and “G” (Spencer and Gillen) containing B.S.’s rough journal of his expedition with Gillen to the Northern Territory. The four books relate respectively to: a) March 19 – April 17, 1901 b) April 18 – July 10 c) July 12 – November 21 d) November 21 – March 16, 1902


Spencer Journal March - April 1901 (no.1) - Page 1

S. &. G. 1901-1902
March 19 – Ap. 17
Box VI 3A
March 19 – April 17 1901
1901-2 Expedition
March 19. 1901.
No 1. Swallow. Wilparinna
Left Oodnadatta 10.30 a.m. having sent Chance with big buggy & stores on ahead the day before. Got 6 horses from Maronsan to Bend at £12 with option of purchase at £10 a head. 4 from government & 2 from Wallace. 4 in big buggy. 3 packs. 2 black boys went with Chance Warwick & Sambo – the latter on his way back from Port Augusta after sentence for cattle stealing. Said goodbye to Mrs. Ross. Had to go back for whip & leather which had been dropped out. Overtook Chance at Swallow (Wilparinna) water hole where camped. Aft. in repacking. Put up mosquito tent. Found Apus on water (very muddy).

Spencer Journal March - April 1901 (no.1) - Page 2

Ood. 680 ad.
C.W. 140. to ood.
C.W. 210. to Alice.
Evening changing plates, talking over plans etc. Very comfortable camp except for flies which were so thick as to make work impossible
Solar rad. 144. Fairly strong S.E. wind & not very hot.
Saw very few birds a few plovers & little else. Very little animal life. Only lizard seen A. barbatus. Lewis with team of horses came up late in aft.
March 20.1901. Wednesday.
Tenert. min. 50.5. No 2 Wire Creek
Up at sunrise. Breakfast 7.30. Packed up ready to start but only 8 out of 12 horses to be found. Warwick not return till 10. Those horses had wandered back during night to Oodnadatta. Boy with wires. One from Sir. S. Way in regard to Camels other from a Mr. Brook of Cambridge asking to be allowed

Spencer Journal March - April 1901 (no.1) - Page 3

to accompany us. Wired in reply saying party complete: he also asked us to be sure & measure children. Also wired to Sydney declining life insurance as premium too high. Got away at 10.15 – G & I in small buggy - travelled slowly on to Storm Creek wh. had muddy water holes all along it. Then on to wire creek where we found H Lewis with horses. Had lunch with him. Flies & fine sand very bad. Rigged fly tent & wrote in aft. Country all gibber plain only covered with green grass – mostly tribulus but fortunately fruit not ripe. Bore at Wire creek too hot to hold hand in.
Solar rad. 145.5.
Camp 2. Uring-ga.

Spencer Journal March - April 1901 (no.1) - Page 4

March 21. Thursday. Ten. Temp. 51.5.
Left Wire Creek 8 a.m. crossed wide open well grassed gibber plain for about 12 miles. Clay pan drying up & in some places crammed full of Apus & estheria with a few Branchipus. A little Mitchell grass but most tribulus with fruits fortunately not set and hard. Crossed Albeya where was plenty of water with Apus some of which had 10 & 12 water beetles hanging on to & devouring their appendages. As on previous occasions the Apus was, many of them, struggling to get out of the water on to the edge of the sand presumably to lay eggs. A few plants of Darling Lillie near the creek. Gillen & self with small buggy & Nugget & Barber crossed easily but Chance with

Spencer Journal March - April 1901 (no.1) - Page 5

heavy buggy & Maronsan team got bogged. Sent back Lepper & Baldy to take place of two of team & then got through. G & self went on to Mrs. McGowan at Macumba. waited two hours till Chance came up. Latter blind with 2 ‘bung eyes’ could not see to drive so dare not go on & camped on flat by fine water hole in Stevenson close to Macumba. Comparatively few birds seen plover, lark, letter wing kite, crows & water hen. No natives about.
Large numbers young Limnodynastes ornatus on sand at Alberga (juv). Water from bore at Wire Creek too hot to hold hand in ? composition.
Camp 3 Macumba
Native name Unthurtinna
Solar max. 140.5.

Page 19

Brown snake man
Only call man akilcha = blind man
Old Harry carpet snake totem, Okranina is now the property of a snake man named Erli-killi-kurra of C.W.
Evening Finke Harry and Jim
1. Lartna Song N. Arunta
2. Lalira song by Harry (Mulpumunika) and Alec (Oknapitchilika).
3. Snake totem of akiltcha (quabara photod) by Mulpumunika and Erli-killi-kurra
4. Kangaroo totem of Erltinta
Solar max 136


Rights: Pitt Rivers Museum

Document Details

Date Made
March - April 1901
Mid - Far North
South Australia


Language Groups


Pitt Rivers Museum