wide, which, with a current running upwards of five
knots an hour, makes it an exhausting swim even for
a strong horse. The next morning three more
horses were crossed. The five expedition horses
which these re-placed were in a miserable condition.
Three of them had given in on the preceding day, two
miles from the township, and had to be left behind
for the time. With the fresh horses the Brothers
were enabled to take a look about them, and select
a site for the formation of a cattle station.
A convenient spot was chosen at Vallack Point, about
three miles from Somerset, to which it now only remained
for them to fetch up their companions and the cattle.
Two days were spent in recruiting the horses, the
explorers themselves, probably, enjoying the “dolce
far niente” and change of diet. The black
guides were not forgotten, and received their reward
of biscuit and tobacco. The manner in which
they use this latter is curious, and worthy of notice.
Not satisfied with the ordinary “cutty”
of the whites, they inhale it in volumes through a
bamboo cane. The effect is a profound stupefaction,
which appears to be their acme of enjoyment.
On the morning of the 5th, taking with them their
younger brother, John Jardine, and their two guides,
Harricome and Monuwah, and the five fresh horses, in
addition to their own, the Brothers started to return
to the cattle party, who were anxiously awaiting their
return on the banks of the flooded Jardine.
The black pilots were made to understand where the
camp was, and promised to take them by a good road.
The first stage was to the Saltwater Creek, on which
they had camped with the tribe, which they reached
in about 17 miles, passing on the way, three fine
lakes, Wetura, Baronto, and “Chappagynyah,”
at two, four, and eight miles from Somerset.
The road was a fair one for the cattle, keeping along
the line marked by Mr. Jardine the preceding year as
before mentioned, and only presented a few light belts
of scrub to go through. They were likewise enabled
to choose a better crossing of the Saltwater Creek,
where the swamps join and form a defined channel.
The last two miles were very boggy, even the fresh
and well-conditioned horses getting stuck occasionally.
‘March’ 6.—The camp was reached
in the evening of to-day, at the end of about 22 miles,
but the black pilots were of very little use, as shortly
after starting they fairly got out of their latitude,
and were obliged to resign the lead to the Brothers,
who hit the river a little before dark, nearly opposite
the camp. They found it about the same height
as when first crossed, but it had been considerably
higher during their absence. It being too late
to cross, the party camped on their own side, and
Messrs. Harricome and Monuwah swam over to see the
new strangers and get a supply of beef. They
returned with nearly a shoulder of a good sized steer,
which entirely disappeared before morning, the whole
night being devoted to feeding. The quantity
of meat that a hungry native can consume is something
astounding, but in this case beat anything that any
of the whole party had ever seen. The natural
result was a semi-torpor and a perfectly visible distention.