Last changed 15 December 2009

1891 Hemphill letter

With thanks to RG Kimber (October 1982 and December 2009).
The Adelaide Observer Saturday, April 4, 1891. Page 27, column 1.


Sir -- I am glad to notice from the telegraphic advices received from Adelaide that the Central Australian exploring party will shortly start from near the Peake, taking a westerly direction midway between Forrest's tracks in 1874 and Giles's in 1875, and also exploring between Giles's track in 1876 and Warburton's in 1873.  This will be really useful work, and I feel sure that all colonists will wish the party every success.  We are also told that the party will 'explore' the country between Tennant's Creek on the Overland Telegraph Line in the Northern Territory and the Western Australian boundary.  I hardly think this is necessary.  Camels are certainly not necessary unless to add to the pomp and dignity of the cavalcade, for the simple reason that if the party strike out west from Tennant's Creek, hit the different springs in the spinifex (they can generally be found by the native smokes), and keep a bit to the north of west when nearing the Western Australian boundary they will 'discover' Mr. Nathaniel Buchanan's Wave Hill Cattle Station, on Sturt's Creek, as pretty Mitchell grass country as ever the eyes of man looked on — you have nothing like it about Adelaide. At Wave Hill Station they will meet the Manager, my old friend, Sam Johnson, better known as 'Greenhide Sam' — as thorough a bushman as can be found in the whole of Australia.  Some of the Wave Hill cattle strayed across to the Tomkinson Creek (a little north of Tennant's Creek) when I was on the Powell's Creek cattle station, and Sam came across mustering with two black-boys and a few spare horses — no camels; how he would smile at the idea! Sam took the cattle back to Wave Hill with others mustered at Corella Downs, Eva Downs, Anthony Lagoon, Buchanan Downs, and Newcastle Waters, without even a compass over country that that king of Australian explorers, the late John McDouall Stuart, described as waterless.  The whole secret was that Sam had blackboys who could show him the different waters without hesitation. In conclusion I wish the Central Australian Exploring Party every success, but I hope they will avoid 'discovering' country as well known to some of the stockmen on as the various Northern Territory cattle stations as your own Strathalbyn district is to the good folk of Adelaide. — I am Sir, &c.
                C. HEMPHILL.
     North-road, Elsternwick, Victoria, March 28."


John Dymock’s historical compilation (seen July 1991) lists the Hemphill brothers as having droved cattle across the Gulf area in 1884-5. ('Cornerstones to the Northern Territory's Pastoral History', A resource document prepared for The National Trust of Australia (N.T.) 1991)

The Central Australian exploring party was the Elder Scientific Exploration Expedition under David Lindsay which left the railway at Warrina, south of Oodnadatta, on 2 May 1891 [source].

Sam Johnson may well have been the same person as Sam Croker: see details of Sam Croker's 1886 traverses.

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2009 David Nash
Created 28 November 2009
Modified 16 December 2009