The personalities of the party were reduced to a minimum, and what was supposed to be absolutely necessary, one pack (the mule’s) being devoted to odds and ends, or what are termed in bush parlance, ‘manavlins’. Three light tents only were carried, more for protecting the stores than for shelter for the party.
All were in excellent health, and good spirits, and eager to make a start.
Start from Carpentaria Downs—Order of Travel—Canal Creek— Cawana Swamp—Simons’ Gap—Cowderoy’s Bluff—Barney’s Nob— Casualties in Parallel Creek—Basaltic Wall—Singular Fish— Black Carbonado—Improvement in Country—Search for the Lynd— Doubts—First rain—Error of Starting point—Large ant-hills— Ship’s iron found—Native nets—Second start in search of Lynd— Return—Byerley Creek—The whole party moves forward—Belle Creek—Maroon Creek—Cockburn Creek—Short Commons—Camp Burned—The Powder saved—Maramie Creek—The Staaten—First hostility of Natives—Poison—“Marion” abandoned—Conclusion as to River—Heavy rain—First attack of Natives—Horses lost— Barren Country—Detention—Leader attacked by Natives— Black-boy attacked—A “growl”—Mosquitoes and flies—Kites— Cattle missing—Horses found—Leader again attacked—Main party attacked—Return to the River—Character of Staaten—Lagoon Creek—Tea-tree levels—Junction of Maramie Creek—Reach head of tide—Confirmation of opinion.
‘October’ 11.—At sunrise the cattle was started with Cowderoy and two black-boys, Eulah and Barney, the former acting as pilot. Their instructions were to camp at the swamp at the junction of Pluto Creek, seventeen miles from McDonald’s station, mentioned on 3rd. September. The pack-horses were not got away until half-past 12, two, “Rasper,” and the mule (as often provokingly happens when most wanted) being astray, and having to be hunted for. There was also the usual amount of “bucking” incident to a start, the unpractised pack-horses rebelling against the unwonted load and amount of gear, and with a few vigorous plunges sending pack-bags, pots, hobbles, and chains in scattered confusion all round them. Few starts of a large party occur without similar mischances, but a day or two, suffices for the horses to settle to their work, after which all goes smoothly. The country travelled has been described in the preceding chapter. A hill at five miles on Pluto Creek, received the name of Mount Eulah. On reaching the swamp, the brothers found the cattle party had not arrived. This was the first of many similar annoyances during the journey. It being between 8 and 9 p.m., it was useless to think of looking for them at that time of night. They therefore encamped on the river, intending to return and run the tracks of the cattle in the morning. The distance travelled was about 20 miles.