Ernest Giles must have been a phlegmatic individual, for example:
Monday 1 December [1873, p127] ...
the thermometer indicating 106[F] in the shade. Our water supply gradually
decreasing. It is evident, I must again retreat from here; for in two days
every drop will be gone. This is certainly not a delightful position to hold;
The book consists of Giles' diaries kept during his first two expeditions from central Australia,
(i.e. the area around Ayres Rock, now Uluru), west in search of a route to the coast of Western Australia. He used horses and his bush skills and calm assurance in searching for feed for them and for water for the party and the horses are evident - a good man to have
around in a tight spot.
Giles' had difficulty getting backing -
his first expedition was financed by himself and by von Mueller. His second was
financed by some Victorians and by the Government of South Australia.
The diaries record the day to day
progress, or lack of it, of the expeditions - perhaps a paragraph, perhaps a
page, per day. What is absolutely gripping is the terrible hardship that they
frequently faced, described calmly and even with humour!
He didn't succeed on the 1872-1874
attempts, and in fact a companion, Gibson, died but in 1875 he did
cross from the centre to the west coast of Australia, and back again in 1876.
First published in 1875, with the first facsimile edition printed in 1993. This second facsimile edition brings this fascinating work to all again who is travelling in central Australia or who is interested in Australian history. It is a 'must read'.