WYNDHAM, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
September 21, 1929
I have just finished a hectic day packing the truck for the long trek across the continent to Sydney. I don’t think I ever wrote you about our first visit here. ‘Down South,’and even as far up as Broome, everybody said, ‘Don’t go into Wyndham; it is the hell hole of the North Country. All the crooks of the “Never Never Land” and the Indian Ocean gather there, and it is always hot.’ But to Wyndham we went, as it suited our plans better.
Wyndham is situated at the head of the Cambridge Gulf, and exists, like Derby, only as an outlet for the cattle and beef of the back country. There are about a hundred regular inhabitants — a mixed population of whites and old Chinese who drifted in before exclusion took effect. The town is on a marsh just at the foot of a range of hills about a thousand feet high. The gulf is approximately sixty miles long and ten miles wide and, like all bays and gulfs along this coast, treacherous because of the tremendous tide which rises and falls thirty feet. The water is deep right up to the shore and is very muddy because of the rush of water back and forth over the alluvial soil brought down by the heavy rains during the wet. These muddy waters are full of crocodiles, fourteen of whose heads we saw the other day as they came up around the drainpipe of the meat works. The Ord River enters from the east, and along its valley, stretching three or four hundred miles southward, are the cattle stations which keep the town alive. The government maintains a large modern meat works about a mile from the village, but this is only operated for six months of the year because of the heat. Wyndham has the highest mean temperature of any recorded in the world — 85 degrees. The entire staff for the plant is brought up from Perth in April and taken back in September. In the winter the climate is good — no rain, cloudless skies and warm; but in the summer, with torrential rains and heat, it is unbearable.
It was Saturday afternoon, the first time we came in, about four-thirty. I think the whole population of the town and meat works were at the ‘pub’ and I must say that our first impression was that our warnings had been correct. When we went into the hotel office, which was across the hall from the bar, we were greeted with ‘Who the blankety-blank are you?' and when we explained, ‘Oh, so you are the blankety-blank bunch of Yanks we read about. Well, have a “spot.”’ There was no refusing, for a refusal to drink in this country is an insult and everybody ‘shouts,’ as they call treating, for the stranger. Of course he is supposed to reciprocate later. We found there was only one vacant room in the hotel, but the proprietor promised to put beds on the verandah for the rest of us, so I put Professor Porteus and Mr. Childs in the room. King, Wilson, and I took the verandah.
We were rather tired, so after a dinner entirely lacking in vegetables we went to bed, and, in spite of the din in the bar below, had fallen asleep when, about midnight, the bar having closed, the guests of the hotel struggled up to bed. Apparently each man was armed with at least twelve bottles of beer. At any rate, the two occupants of the room opening on to the verandah had two dozen bottles. They very carefully attempted to pull down the blind before turning on the light, but the shade evidently had not been used for many moons, for with the first tug down came the blind, sash and all, causing great consternation and, of course, fully arousing all who were sleeping. King could not help laughing, which was enough to break the ice. He was invited to share the beer. On his declining, the beer was brought out on to the verandah. No amount of refusal was sufficient to stem the flow, and the party was on.
Fortunately for me, doctors are rare and highly respected in the Northwest, so that after one glass I was not molested further, but poor King was swamped. When the first supply ran out, reënforcements sprang from bureau drawers and closets in extraordinary quantities, and, with new ammunition, new members were added to the jollification. It quieted down about three o’clock, but began again at four-thirty when a stockman from the back country arrived for his week-end. No one drinks alone in the North Country, so that, having been denied the earlier celebration, he felt it his right to treat the crowd. I was aroused by King’s protestations that he did not want any more beer and the insistence of the newcomer that, if he did not swallow it, it would be poured in his ear, a threat which was promptly carried out. When morning finally arrived there were not less than thirtytwo empty bottles under King’s bed alone. But, with all, there was nothing but the most friendly, cordial feeling.
This morning, while packing the truck, our operations were watched with keen interest by a group of townspeople and stockmen in from the back country, as this is again Saturday. Several violent arguments occurred between old Pop Flinders — who has lived here for some forty years, sometimes as a storekeeper and tradesman, at other times as prospector, drover, or stockman — and Chris Newton, a drover, who yesterday brought in five hundred odd head of cattle for shipment to the Philippines. Chris had been paid off and was in an argumentative mood, and old Flinders was his ‘meat.’ They argued about everything, from the condition of the cattle to the best track to take and as to when the rain would begin.
Chris insistently asked me for medical attention. He claimed that something was wrong with his heart. I gave him a casual examination and found nothing, but he insisted he must have some medicine. As I had a spare bottle of liquid petrolatum, which we carried along the coast to keep the cameras and guns from rusting, I gave it to him as the least harmful medicine I could think of and advised him to take a tablespoonful twice a day. This hardly seemed enough to him, so he proceeded to take half a quart bottle for the first dose and declared it the best medicine he had ever taken. He was so pleased with the attention that he announced he would make the trip across the continent with us. No amount of reasoning to the effect that we had no room for him or that he must not leave his outfit, consisting of a thousand camels, thirty horses and mules, to say nothing of other kit, could dissuade him. He even went so far as to go to one of the stores and buy a large box of oranges and apples, saying that that would be his donation to the ‘tucker’ for the trip.
WAVE HILL, NORTHERN TERRITORY
September 24, 1929
In my last letter we were just leaving Wyndham. When I was almost packed, a bushman — who in Australia is not an aboriginal, but a frontiersman — by the name of Jack Lester came and asked me if I could possibly give him a ride to Queensland. His story was such that I could hardly refuse. Jack has been in this country about thirty-three years, although he has made several trips ‘home’ during that time. He is engaged to be married in Melbourne on the sixteenth of November. About two months ago he started across the continent with a friend in a truck. With them were the friend’s wife and little boy. Some eighty miles out of Wyndham the truck swerved in some sand and the little boy’s leg was caught between the truck and the branch of a tree. The youngster sustained a compound fracture of the leg. They rushed him back to Wyndham, where the local doctor felt he could not save the leg, but advised that if they could get the boy to Perth it might be saved. Jack, out of the kindness of his heart, advanced these people about a thousand dollars, as they had practically nothing themselves, and sent the whole family off to Perth. He himself expected to catch the next steamer to Darwin, due this month. From Darwin he was going down the coast to Queensland, where he had lumber interests to settle.
Unfortunately for Jack, the State steamer Colinda, which goes to Wyndham every other month, went on the rocks the last trip and has had to go to Surabaya for repairs, so that Jack cannot possibly reach Melbourne before Christmas unless we take him. Everyone about town speaks very highly of Lester and he will be of tremendous assistance to us, as he knows all the tracks across the continent. I had made arrangements with Ron Woodland, the twenty-year-old son of the manager of the government station at Moola Bulla, to act as our guide on this trip. Ron has been brought up in this country and is a good bushman, but he has never made the transcontinental trip, so that it will be much easier having Jack. However, in order to make room for another person on the truck I had to lighten the load by selling two of our four spare tires. This is cutting things rather dose, but so far we have had no tire difficulty on this trip.
We left Wyndham about fourthirty in the afternoon. Chris Newton, whom I mentioned before, was like a leech and we could not shake him. Propped up between Ron and Red Wilson, he rode with us as far as ‘Nine Miles.’ Here he had his camp, with his camels, horses, donkeys, and blacks. There is a small pub here, and through the good graces of the keeper we were able to convince Chris that he should not go farther. However, before we left he insisted on giving me his diary, which he had kept for many years, as he said it had all the routes across the continent with mileages and marks. I glanced through it and decided it would require an expert in hieroglyphics to decipher it, so slipped it to the pub keeper to return to Chris when he sobered up.
After we got rid of Chris we rode off into the night along the Ord River. It was a beautiful full-moon night and the track was good, so we made excellent progress until we struck Ivanhoe Station, about fifty miles out. We stopped here for water, but decided to keep on for a couple of hours longer, and finally reached Heeley’s Dump at one this morning. This Dump is characteristic. Heeley runs a truck business up through this part of the country, trucking goods from station to station. Right out in the middle of the plain he has established the Dump, which consists of bags of flour and other staples and is really an open warehouse, from which various stations are fed. An old fellow called Tom keeps the Dump. He was asleep when we arrived, but, like all these hospitable people, as soon as he was aroused he put the kettle on to serve tea and cooked us a good supper. He was up long before us in the morning and had awaiting us a breakfast of sardines, crackers, and apples. We were off before seven o’clock, heading south.
We are taking the inland route. That means we follow the river for about 400 miles until we strike the edge of the desert and then skirt the desert until we have crossed the northern territory into Queensland. This route is less traveled and stations are farther apart, but it saves almost 200 miles and Jack says the tracks are about as good one way as the other, so we should make better time. Time is all-important at present. If we do not get into Southern Queensland before the middle of October, we may not get there till next year. When the rains once begin here, all travel is impossible.
The day after leaving the Dump we cut off from the main road to follow a very indistinct track to a little station called Mistake Creek. Here we had our first demonstration of Jack’s ability to find his way. I could not see that there was any track at all, but Jack was apparently following horses’ hoofprints which he knew would lead us to the station. About four in the afternoon we ran into a terrific sand storm. We had seen in the south for almost an hour what looked like a dense thundercloud gathering. Jack told us it was dust, and it surely was. It struck us with the force of a tornado, and except for the windshield the sand would have torn our faces to ribbons. Fortunately it hit us when we were only five miles from the station house. Even as it was, by the time we reached there our eyes, noses, cars, and throats were full of dust.
Mistake Creek is a little outpost, a branch of the great Vesti’s holdings. At this station live Paddy Ryan, the superintendent, and Tom Farrell, the cook, two delightful old codgers who have spent most of their lives in the bush. They were pleased to see us, as they knew both Ron and Jack, and we sat down to a most delightful dinner of oxtail soup, roast beef, and gooseberry tart, to which I added a bottle of old port. After dinner we listened to stories of the life in the Northwest.
We got away early the next morning and picked up a good ‘fire-plough’ track. On the Vesti’s holdings, the main roads joining the stations are fire-plough; that is, a heavy log is dragged over the soft, sandy soil by a bullock team, which improves the track tremendously and makes it easy to follow. This particular fire-plough road runs all the way from Mistake Creek to Wave Hill, a distance of 250 miles. We were able to make this in one day, by far the greatest mileage we have been able to make in a day on the whole trip.
At noon we stopped at Invernay Station, which is owned by three old brothers by the name of Farquharson. They are all bachelors and have lived here for years, owning about twelve hundred head of cattle and nearly a million acres of land; but there is no motor of any kind on this enormous station. They travel from place to place on horseback or in carts. Two of the brothers were at home and proved to be charming hosts, well read and well informed, although their news is always about six months old. As at all stations, we were invited to spend at least a week, for strangers are a great source of pleasure to these people, but we had to push on.
We spent last night at the police station at Wave Hill. The constable was away on a trip to Darwin, but as the police station is common property we knew we were welcome, so made ourselves at home, using the constable’s stove and dishes as if they had been our own.
This morning we came over to the station house. Here we found Mr. McGoogan as manager and he fixed us up with gas, as we were running low. Incidentally gas costs $1.25 a gallon, the highest price I have had to pay, but Wave Hill is 300 miles from the nearest railhead at Katherine, and, as the roads are anything but good, trucking is expensive.
Wave Hill is an important centre in this neck of the woods because it has a wireless station through which it keeps in touch with the rest of the world. It is situated right on the edge of the desert, and it was only eighty miles from here that the aviator Keith Anderson and his mechanic died of thirst last April when they were forced down while hunting for KingsfordSmith.
McGoogan was formerly the manager of one of the big cattle stations in Queensland and has only been here three years. His wife, a sweet little woman, is like all the few women in this isolated country, brave and uncomplaining. There are two dear children, Pat and Betty. The McGoogans take a keen interest in the help on the station, both white and black, and Mrs. McGoogan asked me to look at two of her patients. One was an undernourished little black baby, the other an old black man. The latter had sustained a bad crush of one of his fingers, with a compound fracture which had gone septic. It was a nastylooking hand. Unfortunately my surgical kit was left at Forest River Mission, so I had to doctor the finger as best I could with the things at hand, with no gloves and no hot water.
Mr. McGoogan, although he has never been over the route, gave us some helpful directions for our trip from here to Newcastle Waters, our next station, some 300 miles to the east. These may give you some idea of the ease of travel here: —
After going through the station gate there are two tracks leading off at right angles to one another, but they both go to the Katherine, so that even if you get on the wrong one at first you will land at the same place, but the track to the right is better, as the other, though shorter, is very rocky. Eight miles along the right-hand track you come to No. 12 Bore (water hole) and paddock. Go around the paddock and due north until you come to the gate in the boundary fence. This is the last gate for 300 miles. From here follow the main Katherine road for about 19 miles, then take a fire-plough track to the right, — ploughed in 1927, not very plain now, — and follow this for about 42 miles to No. 49 Bore, the third bore on the track; the fire-plough track ceases here. Continue in the direction it was going and turn into a water hole on King Creek about four miles (no water). Continue on down the creek about a mile and a half, when you will strike the stock route. No fire-plough road or track here, but two years ago a car went over and there may be tracks. Turn to the right and follow the stock route — the bullock pads are plain — until you strike the Armstrong, about six miles beyond Montgomerie Station, which you will not see. Then turn up to the right and find the best crossing — a car has been along here. Then follow the Armstrong for about 30 miles, very rough, until you come to the Jump Up. Here you will have to find the best track over the Jump Up. Beyond the Jump Up the stock route is plain until you come to No. 13 Bore, where you will find a fire-plough road following the bores to Newcastle Waters — a bore about every 20 miles.
I shall not be able to mail this letter until we reach civilization, but I shall jot down things of interest from day to day or as they occur.
September 26, 1929
We have just finished following Mr. McGoogan’s directions over 276 difficult miles. We had no trouble until we reached No. 49 Bore, where ‘the track ceases’; but to continue in the same direction and find a water hole with no water proved the first of many stumbling-blocks. Of course there is no water in any of these creeks and rivers at this time of year and we came upon half a dozen places that might have been the water hole meant. However, we chose one as a starting point and from there followed the creek a mile and a half down and struck the stock route. From then on it sounds simple, but the stock route is not less than a mile wide at any place, and where, in this desolate country, its edges were, it was very difficult to determine. Every year several thousand cattle are driven overland from Wave Hill to Queensland, and the only thing that controls the route is the question of water. As you know, cattle have a curious way of wandering off in all directions; still, we had a general guide and followed along the bullock pads, picking out the smoothest road we could. It grew dark before we struck any sign of the Armstrong River or Montgomerie Station, so we had to camp.
In the morning Jack scouted around and found a dim trace of car tracks in one place, so, using this as a guide, we headed in the direction we knew the Armstrong must be. We estimated that we had camped within five or six miles of Montgomerie Station, which place is merely an outpost for Wave Hill, where one man and a Chinese cook live. We had made thirty miles over rough ground, bearing toward the east and being forced to make numerous detours because of rocky hills and dry washouts, when we overtook three natives, two young men and a woman, who were obviously on a ‘walk-about,’ as they carried their spears and boomerangs and were hunting. I called to them, asking directions, but received no answer, whereupon Jack interrupted with ‘You don’t know the language,’ and proceeded by signs and gesticulations to get the information we needed. It turned out that we had been, as we thought, very close to Montgomerie Station, but our thirty-mile ride had carried us only two miles along our direct way. The blacks put us back on the right track and soon we struck the Armstrong. Then followed thirty or forty miles of the worst going I have ever traveled. There were bullock pads everywhere, but to pick out the best course was a matter of sheer luck. Fortunately some thirty years ago somebody had marked this trail with blazes on the trees. The original marks are, of course, entirely effaced, but the scars still remain. To Jack’s bushman’s eyes they were quite plain, though the rest of us could not see how he could distinguish a scar from an ordinary wood wart. The route lay along the river, which has hundreds of gully-like branches, and at times the truck’s motor was taxed to its limit to pull up the steep sides.
Finally we came to an open space and before us stretched what we knew must be the Jump Up. For about five miles the land gradually rises away from the river and at the end of this rise is a chain of low hills with an elevation of perhaps two or three hundred feet. Beyond the hills is a sudden drop to the level plains, which stretch from this point as far as the eye can see. We made five attempts before succeeding in finding a place where we could descend the far side of the Jump Up, but when once down our going was easy, as we soon struck the main stock route across the northern territory.
Along this route from the Katherine to Queensland the government has combined with the cattlemen to provide water for the stock, so that roughly every twenty miles an artesian well has been bored. It is a strange fact that all over Australia — or rather I should say ‘under’ — there appears to be a great artesian basin, so that by boring anywhere from 300 to 1500 feet water can be procured. This water is perfectly good for drinking purposes, but is too full of mineral to be of much value agriculturally.
We have seen a good deal of game during the last couple of days, chiefly birds, such as pigeons, quail, and turkeys. Yesterday we saw the most beautiful dingo we have sighted on the whole trip. When I first saw him he looked so well fed and big that I expected to see a man in the neighborhood, and by the time I had decided he was a wild dog and had my rifle out he had taken to his heels. He would have made a splendid specimen, as he stood as high as a big Airedale and his skin was unusually sleek. Last night I broiled the breasts of two turkeys, the most delicious meat we have had for some time.
Newcastle Waters, from where I am writing, is a large cattle station much like Wave Hill. It is the end of the telegraph line from Darwin south and is the northern outpost of the desert route from Adelaide to Darwin. This place gets its name from a lagoon which never goes dry even after years of drought. The water in the lagoon is a milky white because of the chalk. There are few trees on these plains, but a scrubby grass grows everywhere. This at present is very dry, as there has been practically no rain for three years and the cattle have eaten it down pretty well.
We found great excitement at this station because word had come of a big silver strike 200 miles east of Alice Springs. I asked Jack if he wanted to go to the silver strike, as it is about the same distance to Alice Springs (where we could take a train and probably sell our truck at a big profit) as it is to go through to the east by way of Queensland. He answered by taking a coin out of his pocket. ‘Heads we go to Alice Springs, tails we go by way of Queensland.’ Tails it came down.
We left Newcastle Waters at tenthirty in the morning and eighteen miles out struck the first bore, where we stopped to water up. While the others filled the radiator and the water bags, I attended to the three little parrots which we picked up in Wyndham and which we have carried in an improvised cage made of a gasoline case and wire netting. In removing the netting I pricked my left forefinger, which has been bothering me off and on all day. It was a sharp stab, and from the sensation I knew it was deep, but no blood came. I had no needle with which to cauterize it, but I washed it well with alcohol.
Just after lunch we came upon a lone footman, what we should call a tramp in our country, but here designated a ‘foot-walker.’ His name is Lynch; he is fifty-five years old and has been wandering all his life; no home, just going from one job to another. He wore long mustachios and carried a heavy swag made up of a couple of blankets, a canvas, some billy cans, and a water bag. We were heavily loaded, but it was so far from anywhere that I offered him a ride.
We stopped for tea at one of the bores, where King shot eight beautiful bronze-winged pigeons for supper. We lost some of our sympathy for Lynch here, for while the rest of us gathered such scant firewood as we could find and prepared the meal he sat calmly by and watched us work. After tea we resumed our trip and after some twenty-four miles stopped for a ‘yarn’ with a lone camper. He was bound for Wave Hill with a couple of pack horses. Just as we were leaving this camp, Lynch discovered that his swag had fallen off. I offered to make him up another, but he insisted he must go back, so, rather than risk the man’s perishing in the desert , — for this country is nothing but miles and miles of dry plains with only the bores every twenty miles and little grass at this time of year, — I decided to go back. We retraced our tracks thirteen miles before finding the swag and so went twenty-six miles out of our way and were much later getting to this camp, which is just beyond Anthony’s Lagoon, than we had expected. Our run for the day has been 226 miles, and we are all tired.
September 27. — I had scarcely fallen asleep when I was awakened by a throbbing pain in my left hand. I got up to find it tense and painful and the glands in my arm tender. I was considerably worried because of the rapid development, and I remembered the bad hand of the native I had dressed at Wave Hill and feared that I had carried some of the germs on my finger and with the stab had planted them deep in the tissues. I opened the finger as best I could without my scalpel and put on a wet dressing, after which I got some relief.
We reached Brunette Downs at about 11 A.M. This is a big cattle station and has a machine shop, so we made some minor repairs to the truck. We dropped Lynch here, as he had decided to go to the new silver strike. At five this afternoon we reached Rankin, where there was a little store, and we bought beer and ginger ale as well as potatoes and meat, and then pushed on. During the latter part of the afternoon my hand began to throb, and I was anxious to get as far as Camooweal, where I am told there are a doctor and a hospital. We drove as late as ten o’clock, trying to make Camooweal, and then I felt too rocky to go farther, as I was having chills as well as severe pain, so we have camped here. A cold southeast wind adds to my discomfort.
September 28. — Had a miserable night with chills and fever and pain, and slept only with large doses of aspirin plus such relief as I could get from a cracker poultice. We got into Camooweal at 10 A.M. and I went straight to the hospital. Dr. Pincus gave me a general anæsthetic, incised the finger, and also gave me antistreptococcus serum. The incision brought great relief, but the serum a tremendous reaction — hives, itching, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and vomiting. The reaction lasted for about two hours. I feel better now, though late this afternoon it was necessary to make another incision.
September 29. — The infection has spread still further, so it was necessary for the doctor to give me an anæsthetic and make another incision, opening well up into the palm. I had a small hemorrhage following this, and it worried Pincus. He tried to get the flying doctor from Cloncurry, 300 miles away, to come over and transfer me to Cloncurry, where there is a larger hospital, but the doctor’s wife had appendicitis and the doctor was unwilling to leave her. Took more antistreptococcus serum with no reaction.
September 30. — Felt much better this morning, but by noon my hand had begun to act up and I discovered new tender spots, so that Pincus had to anæsthetize me again and make further incisions. Found a little more pus. Took more anti-streptococcus serum.
October 1. — Took general ether anæsthesia to-day and had hand thoroughly explored — found more pus. Had a hard day, but feel better now.
October 2. — A truck came in to-day from Mt. Isa and brought some ice (first we’ve had, and the thermometer is around 104 degrees) and some more serum. Ice bag on hand and arm. Temperature better to-day. Used new serum. More comfortable to-day, though flies are terrible and there are no screens.
October 3. — Good day up until noon, when serum reaction began. Had terrible œdema, nausea, and vomiting. Temperature up, with chills. Used pituitrin, adrenalin, morphine, ice baths, and so on. Am able to direct everything. Worst day so far.
October 4. — Very weak to-day and extremely stiff on right side, which is badly swollen. Hot and uncomfortable. Plane came in from south. Pilot Tapp, a young Englishman, nice chap, brought money and ice. A little more comfortable since he arrived. I am going to try to fly south to-morrow. Will buy an extra seat so that I can lie down.
October 5. — Last night was a terror. About 8.30 P.M. an obstetrical case came in. As she had albumin and swollen feet she required immediate attention. Pincus and Sister Smallhorn were just fixing me up for the night and an early get-away, and had to leave me as I was. To make matters worse, a woman came in with a very sick baby. One of the two nurses is recuperating from an appendix operation and poor Pincus and Sister Smallhorn have been running a threering circus. I am glad, for their sakes, that I was able to leave to-day. Pincus is a good little man, a graduate of Melbourne, and did absolutely everything that could be done for me, but I could see that he was worried. I slept about an hour last night, but the poor doctor and nurse got no sleep at all. Got up at 4.30 A.M. and left at 5.45. King, who remained in Camooweal in order to be with me, and Pilot Tapp took out the front seat of the plane so that I could lie down. It was a long, hard flight, but I felt better as soon as I got into the air where it was cooler. We had two pilots from Cloncurry to Longreach. They were wonderful and flew the plane so as to avoid bumps, and at the stops got tea for me, so that I really felt better when we got to Longreach this afternoon at 3 P.M. after 800 miles of flying, although I was wobbly. Dr. Brown met the plane and took me to the hospital, which is his own and very nice. Here I have had diathermy and excellent attention. We found much excitement in town because of wires from Sydney relative to my condition. Tales were afloat that I had been speared by an ‘abo.’ Found Jack and the boys had come in the afternoon before.
Charleville, October 6. — Slept well last night. Dr. Brown came to the hospital at 5 A.M. and dressed my hand. I put on my clothes and had breakfast and took the plane at six. Have made an excellent trip to Charleville in a big six-passenger De Haviland. I went straight to Dr. Shanasy and got him to send me to the hospital. As there were no rooms available, I have had to go into a ward. Not so good. It is Sunday and they are evidently short-handed.
Toowooba, October 7. — I certainly had a miserable day of it yesterday after I put myself in the hospital at Charleville. In the afternoon the doctor thought my hand ought to be cleaned out more, so he gave me an anæsthetic and curetted out the incisions and packed them with gauze. I think he over-cleaned the wounds and I know he over-packed them, for from the time I awoke from the anæsthetic until midnight I was in agony. The doctor was called out into the country and the nurses did not dare to give any drugs or change the dressings without his orders. So about eight o’clock, after a supper of corned beef and toast, I decided to go to the hotel, where I could be my own physician. There I took out most of the packing and got to sleep shortly after midnight. I had barely fallen asleep, however, when I was awakened by King and Tapp, who, having taken this occasion to celebrate, had become suddenly very solicitous for my welfare and came up to my room to inquire as to my comfort. It was only with the greatest persuasion that I was able to get them off to bed.
I had difficulty rousing King this morning, but by the time I had packed our bags he was ready to board the plane at 4.30. Captain Moody made a fine flight to Toowooba. We maintained an elevation of about 5000 feet most of the 500 miles, and it was interesting to watch the country change from pastoral to agricultural. On reaching Toowooba, I went to see Dr. MacKenzie. He dressed my hand and gave me additional dressings for the trip to Sydney. We are going by fast mail train to Sydney from here, as there is no airplane service.
HOTEL AUSTRALIA, SYDNEY
October 12, 1929
From the cables we have sent and received in return I know that you know that I am well on the road to recovery, the hand is saved, and the worst that can happen is a useless left forefinger, due to the destruction of the tendons. And even the use of the finger can be restored by a successful operation. Of course, one of the most wonderful things that have happened has been the opportunity to talk with you by Morse code through the kindness of the amateur radio fans. To be able to send messages back and forth for an hour, to ask questions and have them answered just as easily as if you were in the next room, is one of the marvels of the age as well as one of its comforts.
You know now through the ‘hams’ practically all that has happened. Directly on arriving in Sydney I went to see Dr. Royle. He and his whole staff have been simply wonderful to me. I go twice a day for diathermic treatments and already am getting good results. I am still weak and get out of breath if I walk far. I shall remain in Sydney until all the pus clears up and I am sure that no infection remains in the deep tissues.
Jack and the two boys got here safely with the truck. They had good luck until they got to Bathurst, 150 miles out of Sydney, when it began to rain. It rained from ten to seventeen inches and they were held up for five days. Dr. Porteus and King leave on the next boat for home. Would that I were sailing too!