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Monday, 12 May 2014

Overland 3

The next installment of William David Hamilton's narrative, from Bringalbert to Alice Springs.

Leaving early in October 1872 we passed through the Tatiara country into the 90 mile desert, along the Coorong and thence to Adelaide. Here it was necessary to equip ourselves as adequately as possible for the inland journey since we were not likely to encounter settlements where food or other commodities might be obtained. An American covered wagon and 6 pack saddles were acquired and a six month’s food supply was loaded up. We then started northwards gradually leaving civilization behind us. 
Wherever possible we followed the route of the overland telegraph which was then in the course of construction. From this route we struck off East or West as terraces of good grazing country appeared.

Overland Telegraph route
These hardy pioneers of the telegraph route were, with the exception of three explorers – Major Warburton, Mr. Gosse and Mr. Giles – the only white contacts we had after leaving Alice Springs.
The season was a dry one and soon the heat, dust and flies became separate torments. Men, horses and dogs were equally afflicted. The dust and flies affected my eyes to such an extent that after one particularly severe dust storm I developed sandy blight and for ten days was completely blind. Daily I had to be led to and from my horse.
At the Fink[e] River (river in name only) we had the misfortune to lose our wagon. For a time it had been gradually been falling to pieces but still miraculously held together. Crossing one sandy bed of the river it collapsed entirely and had to be abandoned. From then on pack-horses carried our stores and belongings.
At Alice Springs, which we reached after many months, Mr. Hassell and his two men dropped out of the party to investigate more fully the McDonnell Ranges. My uncle, however, was satisfied from the little he saw of the ranges that they contained reasonably good pastoral lands. Later on he proposed to return and establish A cattle station there. But he was destined never to again penetrate the centre.

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