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Home -> David W Carnegie -> Spinifex and Sand -> Part 5 Chapter 18

Spinifex and Sand - Part 5 Chapter 18

1. Part 1 Chapter 1

2. Part 1 Chapter 2

3. Part 1 Chapter 3

4. Part 2 Chapter 1

5. Part 2 Chapter 2

6. Part 2 Chapter 3

7. Part 3 Chapter 1

8. Part 3 Chapter 2

9. Part 3 Chapter 3

10. Part 3 Chapter 4

11. Part 3 Chapter 5

12. Part 3 Chapter 6

13. Part 3 Chapter 7

14. Part 4 Chapter 1

15. Part 5 Chapter 1

16. Part 5 Chapter 2

17. Part 5 Chapter 3

18. Part 5 Chapter 4

19. Part 5 Chapter 5

20. Part 5 Chapter 6

21. Part 5 Chapter 7

22. Part 5 Chapter 8

23. Part 5 Chapter 9

24. Part 5 Chapter 10

25. Part 5 Chapter 11

26. Part 5 Chapter 12

27. Part 5 Chapter 13

28. Part 5 Chapter 14

29. Part 5 Chapter 15

30. Part 5 Chapter 16

31. Part 5 Chapter 17

32. Part 5 Chapter 18

33. Part 5 Appendix

34. Part 6 Chapter 1

35. Part 6 Chapter 2

36. Part 6 Chapter 3

37. Part 6 Chapter 4

38. Part 6 Chapter 5

39. Part 6 Chapter 6

40. Part 6 Chapter 7

41. Part 6 Chapter 8

42. Part 6 Chapter 9

43. Part 6 Chapter 10

44. Appendix



Had I known how long our stay in the North was to be, I should have taken
the opportunity of further studying the natives and their habits, and
should certainly have visited them in their wild homes in the unknown
portion of Kimberley. As it was I daily expected a message asking me to
start in search of the missing men, and held myself in readiness
accordingly. Our small caravan, now further reduced by the death of
Czar--a sad loss, for he was one of my old friends, and one of the
staunchest camels I have known (together we had seen many a tough bit of
work); he fell down a steep gully at night, poor old beast, and so
injured himself that he died almost immediately--was increased by the
purchase of three horses, with which I intended to carry out my plan of
search; since, however, it was never instituted, I need not explain its
nature. It sufficiently accounts for the presence of horses in the
caravan with which the return journey was made.

As time dragged on it became clear that the missing men could no longer
be living, and since there were two search parties already in the field,
I felt that I was only wasting time by staying longer in idleness. We
were too far off to make any search except by a protracted expedition,
and, since I was morally sure of the men's death, I did not feel called
upon to expose my party to the risks of the desert when no useful object
could be accomplished. Had the intervening country been unknown I should
have been quite ready to start forth, for in that case, whatever the
result of the search, I should have felt rewarded for any losses
incurred, by the knowledge that we had been the means of opening up a
further tract of an unexplored region. As it was we should only have
followed a route previously traversed by Warburton, from which, unless
we achieved the melancholy satisfaction of finding the scene of the
disaster, no useful results could follow. I determined, therefore, to
leave the search to those who could best afford the time and expense, and
set about planning our return to Coolgardie. We had four routes open to
us--either the road to Derby and thence by steamer: the road to Derby and
thence along the coastal telegraph line: the way we had come: and an
entirely new route, taking our chances of the desert. The first was
dismissed as feeble, the second as useless, and the third as idiotic.
Therefore the fourth remained, and though it was natural enough for me to
wish to win distinction in the world of travel (and I daresay this was
the motive that inspired me), surely it speaks well for them indeed, that
Breaden and Massie were willing to accompany me.

Without the slightest hesitation, though knowing full well what lay
before us, that we might even encounter worse difficulties than before,
without any thought of prospective gain--for their salary was no
fortune--they signified their readiness to return by whatever route I
proposed. This is a point that I should like to make clear to all who may
read this, for it is indicative of a trait often lost sight of by those
accustomed to having, in novels and so forth, the more mercenary side of
the Australian's character pointed out to them. A common subject of
speculation is whether or no Australians would make good soldiers; as to
that my belief is, that once they felt confidence in their officers none
could make more loyal or willing troops; without that confidence they
would be ill to manage, for the Australian is not the man to obey
another, merely because he is in authority--first he must prove himself
fit to have that authority.

If, therefore, we are deserving of any credit for again tackling the
sand, let it be remembered that my companions are more worthy of it than
their leader--for they had nothing to gain, whilst I had at least the
distinction of leaving my name upon the map--and though I made plans,
without good and true men I could not have carried them out. There seemed
to me to be a slight chance of finding better country to the eastward of
our first route, and, besides the geographical interest, there would
result the proof of the practicability or otherwise of a stock route to
the southern goldfields--a route which would be such a boon to the
Kimberley squatters. I may as well state at once that such a route is
quite out of the question, and that I would hesitate to undertake the
journey with a mob of more than twenty camels, let alone cattle.

Fortunately I was able to purchase three more camels, the property of the
South Australian Government, which Mr. Buchanan had brought from the
Northern Territory for the purpose of looking for a stock route. However,
a day or two beyond the end of Sturt Creek satisfied him as to the
impracticability of the scheme, and he returned to Flora Valley, a cattle
station close to Hall's Creek, that is to say, twenty-five miles away. At
the time of our arrival Mr. Buchanan was out with Mr. Wells, and did most
valuable service in the search for the missing men. After his return he
was very glad to get the camels, which he neither liked nor understood,
off his hands.

With eight camels and three horses our caravan was brought up to
strength. In the matter of provisioning, equipment, and way of
travelling, I made some alteration. Everything was considered with a view
to lightness, therefore only absolute necessaries were carried. All
tools, except those used in "soak-sucking," and so forth, were discarded;
the provisions consisted of salt beef (tinned meat being unprocurable),
flour, tea, sugar, and a few tins of condensed milk (damaged and unfit
for use in the ordinary way). All possible room was given to
water-carrying appliances, so that we could carry in all about one
hundred gallons. Had it not been for my former plans I should not have
taken horses; but they are animals easier to buy than to sell, and would
certainly be most useful if only we could find food and water to keep
them alive. With sorrow and regret I had to part with Val, for only a few
days before our departure she gave birth to a litter of pups, and had of
course to be left behind. However, the Warden, to whom I gave her,
promised to be kind to her, as indeed I am sure he has been--nevertheless
it was a sad wrench. In her place I took a small mongrel which belonged
to the Warden, an "Italian greyhound," as some one suggested, though I
never saw a like breed! He rejoiced in the name of "Devil-devil,"
because, I suppose, he was quite black.

I made no attempt to replace poor Charlie Stansmore, since there were no
men willing to come whom I should have cared to take. I cannot say enough
in gratitude for the hospitality that we met with at Hall's Creek, from
the Warden, whose guests we were the whole time, and every member of the
small community. I shall look back with pleasure to our stay in that
faraway spot.

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