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Taking it to the edge: Land: John McDouall Stuart - the north coast

The sixth expedition: the north coast

'I dipped my feet, and washed my face and hands in the sea, as I had promised the late Governor Sir Richard MacDonnell I would do if I reached it.'
South Australian Parliamentary Paper no. 21 1863, p. 24

Stuart was now moving forward more confidently - a number of rivers were crossed and named for friends or members of his party - the Chambers, Waterhouse, Fanny and Katherine.  Kekwick Springs and Billiatt Springs were discovered and named.  Stuart thought he was following the Adelaide River - in fact he was further east on the Mary River.  Even if he had determined his longitude regularly it would have been of little assistance as this part of northern Australia was only poorly charted (from coastal surveys and Gregory's expedition of 1856).  After days of travelling through undulating well grassed plains, or over granite rises, the the country deteriorated to swamp.  Stuart went to the east and more easterly again trying to avoid the swamp.  He was aware they were approaching the coast, but did not disclose this to any members of the party except Thring and Auld.  Finally on 24 July 1862, Stuart rode forward through thick scrub and onto the beach.  He dipped his feet in the Indian Ocean and washed his hands and face in it.  Thring called out 'The sea the sea' and the rest of the party came forward.  Stuart's initials were carved in a nearby tree, but it was impossible to bring the horses all the way onto the beach.

Stuart had hoped to be able to travel along the beach to the mouth of the Adelaide River, a mere day's ride away.  This however was impossible as there was no firm ground.  In the end they backtracked some distance and travelled west-north-west for about two miles.  Here a tall tree was stripped of its branches and the flag raised.  An airtight tin was buried at the foot of the tree - it contained a note declaring that the South Australia Great Northern Exploring Expedition had reached 'this spot on the 25th day of July 1862 having crossed the entire continent of Australia from the Southern to the Indian Ocean, passing through the Centre…'  They also carved a message on the tree 'Dig one foot -S'.

Central Mt Stuart
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Confrontation with Aboriginal men: diary 26 May 1861
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MacDonnell Ranges to Kekwick's Ponds
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Memorandum on Central Mount Sturt
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Planting the flag on the shore of the Indian Ocean
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Stuart continues to search for a path forward
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Stuart's Glandfield Lagoon: diary 25 May 1861
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Stuart's path is blocked by a marsh
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Stuart's route to the Hugh
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Stuart's route to the north
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The flag is raised at Chambers Bay
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The north coast of Australia is reached
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