‘December’ 5.—Turning their backs on the Ferguson or Staaten the party steered north, and at starting crossed the head of the sand-flats, described by Leichhardt. The rest of the day’s stage was over sandy ridges covered with tea-tree and pandanus, tolerably grassed, no creek or water-course of any description occurred along the line, and the party had to camp without water at about 13 miles: but as the Leader had not expected to find any at all for at least 40, this was not thought much of. The camp though waterless was well grassed, and by dint of searching a small pool of slimy green water was found before dark, about two-and-a-half miles to the N.N.W. in a small watercourse, and by starting off the black boys, enough was procured in the “billies” for the use of the party for supper. This is marked a red day in Frank Jardine’s diary, who closes his notes with this entry. “Distance 13 miles. Course North at last.” (Camp XXXVII.)
‘December’ 6.—The satisfaction of the party in getting away from the Staaten and travelling on the right course was destined to receive a check, and the Brothers to find they had not yet quite done with that river. This morning about half the horses were away, and a worse place for finding them, saving scrub, could hardly be imagined. It was fortunate that the pool of water mentioned yesterday had been found, as the cattle would have had to turn back to the river, but this they were saved from. They were started away for the water at day-break, in charge of two of the black boys, with instructions to stay and feed them there until the horses came up or they were relieved by Binney. No horses coming in, Binney was sent after them. The Brothers searching for the horses, followed an hour-and-a-half after, but on arriving at the pool found the cattle and boys but no Binney. Returning to the camp they instructed the party to shift the packs to the pool on the twelve horses that had been found. Binney here came into the camp along the yesterday’s tracks. He had missed the cattle and did not know where he had been to. He was started again on the cattle track by the Brothers, who then went in search of more water, sending two more black boys to look for the horses. At about four miles away they themselves came on to their tracks, which they ran for about eight miles towards the coast, when they found six. Continuing to follow the trail they were led to their 35th camp on the Staaten, when they found three more. Here, as the sun went down they were obliged to camp, and after short hobbling the horses laid down by their fire, supperless, and without blankets. They saw no water through the whole of the day, which was the cause of the restlessness of the horses the previous night, and of their straying, in spite of short hobbles. The myriads of mosquitoes too, which now annoyed them may possibly have contributed to that end.