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The Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872

14 February 1872

14 February 1872

In the morning we start to cross the for wide estuary in a boat;- the expedition consisting of Llewellyn, Chamberlain, Dunny, Self, “Moon” our guide, and a Pack-horse. Three horses cross first with Llewellyn and “Moon”. The rest follow, but my Grey “War Eagle” the winner of 3 races, swims faster than the rest. He towed the boat for a while, then turning round, plunged and kicked at the boat nearly drowning himself and causing us great alarm lest the boat should be “holed” and made leaky by his shoes. At last we let him go, when he got foul with his tether rope among the other horses, but soon afterwards got loose and swam back to shore. We landed the others and returned for him. He had broken one of our oars, and knocked himself up – rather page 59 a bad start for a hard day’s ride. Night came on much sooner than we wished, and Lln. and Chamberlain riding on before us, we lost them in the dusk. After stopping and cooeying a long time, we sent on the guide in search who returned without them and said, we should have to push on or the ride would stop us, and that most likely the two would have gone on the sands before us. We tried to trace them, but no trace could be found. A half-caste from the crossing was following us with the pack horses, and we hoped he might fall in with them. It was 11 o’Clock at night before we got to the river at Maketa, Dunny, of course very tired. We found the natives fishing – and while we waited, Dunny wrapped in a shawl, fell asleep on the sand. The natives noticing the bundle – one of them soon approached, but was greatly terrified by seeing it move; - they are a superstitious race, especially at night. The guide was at this time crossing the horses with a native in a canoe. The frightened men therefore came up to me and called my attention to the mysterious movement of the bundle. When I explained to them by signs they laughed heartily and danced like children, exclaiming “Piccanini” Piccanini” “Oh” &c. I could not help laughing, altho’ I was anything but happy about our friends. The half-caste arrived during the time we were waiting, and we sent him back to look for them, but he did not return to us altho’ we paid him to do so. The Inn, or Accommodation House, at which we stayed, was as usual replete with insect life not conducive to rest. The food was poor, and the leg of mutton on which we had page 60 reckoned, proved worthless.