PREFACE BY THE EDITOR.
The explorations of Mr. John McDouall Stuart may truly be said, without disparaging his brotherexplorers, to be amongst the most important in the history of Australian discovery. In 1844 hegained his first experiences under the guidance of that distinguished explorer, Captain Sturt,whose expedition he accompanied in the capacity of draughtsman. Leaving Lake Torrens on theleft, Captain Sturt and his party passed up the Murray and the Darling, until finding that the latterwould carry him too far from the northern course, which was the one he had marked out forhimself, he turned up a small tributary known to the natives as the Williorara. The water of thisstream failing him, he pushed on over a barren tract, until he suddenly came upon a fruitful andwell-watered spot, which he named the Rocky Glen. In this picturesque glen they were detainedfor six months, during which time no rain fell. The heat of the sun was so intense that every screwin their boxes was drawn, and all horn handles and combs split into fine laminae. The leaddropped from their pencils, their finger-nails became as brittle as glass, and their hair, and thewool on their sheep, ceased to grow. Scurvy attacked them all, and Mr. Poole, the second incommand, died. In order to avoid the scorching rays of the sun, they had excavated anunderground chamber, to which they retired during the heat of the day.When the long-expected rain fell, they pushed on for fifty miles to another suitable halting-place,which was called Park Depot. From this depot Captain Sturt made two attempts to reach theCentre of the continent. He started, accompanied by four of his party, advancing over a countrywhich resembled an ocean whose mighty billows, fifty or sixty feet high, had become suddenlyhardened into long parallel ridges of solid sand. The abrupt termination of this was succeeded attwo hundred miles by what is now so well known as Sturt’s Stony Desert, to which frequentallusion is made by Mr. Stuart in his journals. After thirty miles more, this stony desert ceased withequal abruptness, and was followed by a vast plain of dried mud, which Captain Sturt describesas "a boundless ploughed field, on which floods had settled and subsided." After advancing twohundred miles beyond the Stony Desert, and to within one hundred and fifty miles of the Centre ofthe continent, they were compelled to return to Park Depot, where they arrived in a mostexhausted condition.A short rest at the Depot was followed by another expedition, Captain Sturt being on this occasionaccompanied by Mr. Stuart and two men. The seventh day of their journey brought them to thebanks of a fine creek, now so well known as Cooper Creek in connection with the fate of thoseunfortunate explorers, Burke and Wills. At two hundred miles from Cooper Creek Captain Sturtand his party were again met by the Stony Desert, but slightly varied in its aspect. Beforeabandoning his attempt to proceed, the leader of the expedition laid the matter before hiscompanions, and he writes as follows: "I should be doing an injustice to Mr. Stuart and my men, ifI did not here mention that I told them the position we were placed in, and the chance on whichour safety would depend if we went on. They might well have been excused if they expressed anopinion contrary to such a course; but the only reply they made me was to assure me that theywere ready and willing to follow me to the last."With much reluctance, however, Captain Sturt determined to return to Cooper Creek withoutdelay. They travelled night and day without interruption, and on the morning of their arrival at thecreek, one of those terrible hot north winds, so much dreaded by the colonists, began to blow withunusual violence. Lucky was it for them that it had not overtaken them in the Desert, for they couldscarcely have survived it. The heat was awful; a thermometer, graduated to 127 degrees, burst,
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