Heavy rains set in.
Country impassable for several days.
Excursion to the plundered camp of Mr. Finch.
Recover the cart and trunks.
Bury the bodies.
Columns of smoke.
Signals of the natives.
Courage and humanity of one of the men.
Homeward journey continued.
Civility of the tribe first met.
Regain the Namoi.
Ascend Mount Warroga.
Re-cross the Peel.
We had arrived at the point where I considered it necessary to quit our former route, and cross the open country towards the range that we might thus fall into our old track within a few days’ journey of our last camp on the Namoi. This direction would cut off ten days’ journey of the route outward, and extended across open plains where the party would be much more secure than in the woods, at a time when the natives had given us so much cause to be vigilant. But these plains, however favourable, afforded only an accidental advantage, for had the situations of wood and plain been reversed, we must still have endeavoured to penetrate by the route which was the most direct.
Keeping the lagoon on our right we travelled as its winding shores permitted, towards the hills, and we thus made a good journey of ten miles in the direction of Mount Frazer. In our way we crossed a chain of ponds which entered the lagoon from the east, and was doubtless a branch from some of the channels crossed by us in our outward journey; but it was difficult to say which, from the winding course and number, of those which thus intersect the country.
When we had proceeded a few miles a loud cooey was heard from the banks of the lagoon, and on perceiving smoke ascending also I rode across to ascertain what natives were there; but although I found newly-burnt grass and a tree still on fire, also many trees from which the bark had been newly stripped, I could discover no inhabitants.
These ponds coming from the eastward at length lay in our way so much that it was necessary to cross them; and having effected this at a dry part of the hollow channel we encamped on the banks, as it was unlikely that any water might be found beyond for some distance. It now appeared very probable, from their general direction, that these were a continuation of Bombelli’s Ponds, named after my unfortunate courier whose bones still lay there. That point, our present camp and Meadow Ponds, where I intended to strike again into our former track, formed an equilateral triangle, the length of each side being about twenty-two miles. I could therefore, during the next twenty-two miles of our route, make an excursion to the scene of pillage from any point which might be most convenient. I preferred the earliest opportunity, in hopes of