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Home -> David W Carnegie -> Spinifex and Sand -> Part 6 Chapter 8

Spinifex and Sand - Part 6 Chapter 8

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



June 12th, 13th, 14th, we rested at the welcome creek and had time to
examine our surroundings. I made the position of our camp to be in lat.
26 degrees 0 minutes, long. 125 degrees 22 minutes, and marked a gum tree
near it with C7. Therefore I concluded that this was the Blythe Creek, of
Forrest; everything pointed to my conclusion being correct, excepting the
failure to find Forrest's marked tree, and to locate his Sutherland
Range. However, the bark might have grown over the marking on the
tree--and several trees showed places where bark had been cut out by the
natives for coolimans, and subsequently closed again--or the tree might
have been burned, or blown down. As to the second, I am convinced that
Forrest mistook the butt-ends of the sand-ridges cut off by Lake Breaden
for a range of hills, for he only saw them from a distance. The creek
heads in a broken sandstone range of tabletops and cliffs; from its head
I sighted a peculiar peak, about nine miles distant, which I took to be
Forrest's "Remarkable Peak," marked on his map. From the sketch that I
made, Sir John recognised the peak at once. From the cliffs the sandhills
round Lake Breaden look exactly like a range of hills "covered," as
Forrest said, "with spinifex." Another proof of the non-existence of, at
all events, the northern portion of the Sutherland Range, is afforded by
Breaden's experience. As I have already stated, he accompanied Mr.
Carr-Boyd on a prospecting trip along this part of Forrest's Route. From
his diary I see that they passed about three miles North of Forrest's
peak, which Breaden identified, though by Mr. Carr-Boyd's reckoning they
should have been twenty miles from it. Travelling due West across the
creek on which we were camped, they found a large clay-pan, and were then
hourly expecting to cross the Sutherland Range. However, no range was
seen, only high sandhills. That Breaden's reckoning was correct was soon
proved, for he and I walked from our camp and six miles West found the
big clay-pan and their camel tracks. The lagoon was dry, though they had
found it full of water. It is clear, therefore, that the range exists
only as sandhills, north of lat. 26 degrees 0 minutes. Numerous other
creeks rise in the broken range, and no doubt their waters, after rain,
find their way into Lake Breaden.

Our camp was on the longest of them, though others that I followed down
were broader. Above our camp, that is to the South-East, a ledge of rock
crossed the creek forming a deep little pool which would hold plenty of
water. I much regretted being unable to find Forrest's tree--but a tree
unless close to some landmark is not easily come upon--as at its foot he
buried a bottle holding letters and his position for that camp.

We saw no more of the natives who had been camped on the creek, but left
some articles that should be of great use to them. Everything of weight
that was not absolutely necessary was left here, and this included a
number of horseshoes.

On, the 15th we were ready to start, and marched on a West-South-West
course until we should sight Mount Worsnop, and turn West to the
Woodhouse Lagoon. A mile and a half from our camp we crossed another
creek, and on its banks a tree marked G.H.S., and NARROO cut in the bark.
Evidently the prospectors had been pushing out in our absence, or else it
was another overland party from South Australia, for Forrest's route has
become quite a fashionable track, some half-dozen parties having crossed
the Colony in this latitude. On the next day we sighted Mount Worsnop
from eight miles (from the East it is more prominent than from the
South). This was a day of miracles! It RAINED--actually RAINED! The first
rain we had seen in the interior--not a hard rain, but an all-day
drizzle. How cold it made us, and how wet!--not that we minded that. But
the winter was approaching, we were daily getting further south, and with
our blood thin and poor, our clothes of the lightest and most ragged,
accustomed to scorching heat, we felt the cold rain very much indeed. Our
teeth chattered, and our hands were so numbed that at night we could
hardly undo the straps and ropes of our loads. A cold night, accompanied
by a heavy dew, followed the rain; and for the first time on either
journey we pitched a tent. During this, Devil-devil, wet and shivering,
sneaked into my blankets for warmth, for, as a rule, he slept outside, in
a little nest I made for him in one of the camel saddles. Such sudden
changes in temperature made any "Barcoo" sores most painful; but
fortunately we had suffered comparatively little from this unpleasant
disease. A beautiful sun dried and warmed us in the morning, and crossing
a narrow salt-lake (probably a continuation of Lake Breaden), we reached
our old friend Woodhouse Lagoon on June 17th, nearly a year having
elapsed since our first visit, August 19th, in 1896.

We were disappointed, but not surprised, to find the lagoon nearly dry,
holding no more than six inches of water in the deepest place. But
curiously enough Alexander Spring, found dry before, was now brimful,
evidently filled by the recent rain, which had not been heavy enough to
fill the lagoon. Here we camped for two days, which we could ill afford,
as already we had to cut down our rations, and before long our meals
would dwindle to one instead of two a day. Godfrey's sickness
necessitated a delay--he suffered from such fearful pains in his head,
poor fellow! Often after a day's march he would collapse, and lie prone
with his head nearly bursting from pain. A drink of strong tea would
relieve him, but when water was scarce he had just to suffer.

I had a splendid chance of replenishing our larder, and, fool that I was,
I missed it. I was riding The Warden to the spring, when a kangaroo
popped up on his hind legs, and sat looking at me. The Warden would not
keep still; the surprised kangaroo actually waited for me to dismount and
aim my rifle, but just as I fired The Warden jerked my arm and I missed,
and away bounded many a good meal--and with it the pony! So I continued
my way on foot, and was rewarded by finding some interesting things. A
big camp of natives had been here in our absence; near the spring in the
scrub was a cleared corroboree ground, twenty feet by fifty yards,
cleaned of all stones and enclosed by a fallen brush-fence (this older
than the other work, showing this is a favourite meeting-place). At one
end was a sort of altar of bushes, and hidden beneath them a long, carved
board. This I took, and afterwards gave to Sir John Forrest. In every
tree surrounding the clearing a stone was lodged in the forked branches.

The pile of stones on Mount Allott had not been touched, nor had my board
been removed. On it I found an addition to my directions to the
lagoon--an addition made by two prospectors, Swincer and Haden, who had
been in this locality two months after our first visit. I did not meet
either Mr. Swincer or Mr. Haden, but I heard that my board had been of
great service to them, for without it they would not have known of the
lagoon, where they camped some time. G.H.S. carved on a tree near the
Blythe Creek was also due to them; I believe that was about their
furthest point reached, from which they returned to Lake Darlot. On their
return they depended on a water which failed them, and they had in
consequence a narrow squeak for their lives. On nearing camp I met
Breaden and Warri, who had started to track me up, for Warden's return
with an empty saddle had caused a little anxiety.

I observed for latitude that night, and was pleased to find that my two
positions for the lagoon agreed almost exactly, both in latitude and
longitude--a very satisfactory result considering the distance we had

On the 20th we started again, steering a course a little South of West,
my intention being to round the North end of Lake Wells, and cut the
Bonython Creek, with the object of seeing if another oasis, on our
suggested stock route from South Australia, could be found. It need
hardly be said that any idea of a stock route from Hall's Creek is
absolutely impracticable. Between Woodhouse Lagoon and Lake Wells the
country consists of low sand-ridges, on which grows an abundance of
acacia bushes and others suitable for camels, alternating with open
spinifex plains, mulga scrubs in which good grass grows, and nearer the
lagoon one or two small grass plains. All through cliffs and bluffs are
met with, from which small creeks ending in a grassy avenue run; and, as
Lake Wells is approached, table-topped hills and low ranges occur, and
occasional flats of salt-bush country. We had no longer any difficulty
with regard to water, the rain having left frequent puddles where any
rocky or clayey ground was crossed. In the sand no water could be seen;
indeed we had a sharp shower one morning, water was running down the
slopes of sand, but half an hour afterwards no sign of it could be seen
on the surface. On the 23rd we sighted, and steered for, a very prominent
headland in a gap in a long range of cliffs. Sandhills abut right on to
them, and dense scrub surrounds their foot. The headland, which I named
Point Robert, after my brother, is of sandstone, and stands squarely and
steep-cliffed above a stony slope of what resembles nothing so much as a
huge heap of broken crockery.

We camped at the head of a little gorge that night, having found a rocky
pool; the rain cleared off, out came the stars, and a sharp frost
followed, the first of the year. The character of the country was
extraordinarily patchy; after crossing ridges of sand, and then an open,
stony plain, on the 25th we camped on a little flat of salt-bush and
grass. Our position was lat. 26 degrees 20 minutes, long. 123 degrees 23
minutes, and seven miles to the North-West a flat-topped hill, at the end
of a range, stood out noticeably above the horizon of scrub; this I named
Mount Lancelot, after another brother. The next day it rained again,
making the ground soft and slippery. In the evening, to our surprise and
disgust, further passage that day was cut off by a salt swamp. Not
wishing to get fixed in a lake during rain, we camped early, pitched our
tent and hoped for the rain to stop--an unholy wish in this country, but
salt-lakes are bad enough without rain! The next two days were spent in
trying to find a crossing, for we found ourselves confronted by a series
of swamps, samphire flats, and lake channels running away to the North as
far as could be seen by field-glasses--a chain of lakes, hemmed in by
sandhills, an unmarked arm of Lake Wells. If we could not cross here we
might have to go seventy miles out of our way, round the South of Lake
Wells, and then back to the Bonython.

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