Taking a departure from Charleville in the first week of 1874 I commenced my survey by traversing the Langlo River from its junction with the Ward River, already surveyed by Mr. F.T. Gregory, who had also surveyed the Warrego River. It was accordingly, from his marked trees on the last mentioned river that I had to take my starting point to continue the surveys westward.
Upon reaching the Langro I was surprised at its apparently barren conditions, the grass was so scarce that our horse could only graze around the waterholes. I nevertheless pushed on with the surveys, making progress at the rate of ten miles a day, for which I was to receive one pound per mile. All, however, is not gold that glitters as travelling and map drawing occupied a serious expenditure of time, during which, while my men were not earning money, their wages were accumulating.
My survey of the Langlo proved a revelation to me. When I commenced the country was well-nigh bare of grass in some places like a road. The plains which bordered the river were comparatively devoid of vegetation, with patches of herbage and dry grass. Water, however, was abundant, the river being a succession of waterholes, some of them miles in length and very deep. From the main channel, billabongs extended, in some places spreading out over the dead level country, which characterises the Western districts. The river ran only in times of rain, whereby the waterholes were maintained.
I had completed the survey of the river and reached Mr Bucknall’s station, which after a succession of ominous clouds which had threatened for a week, with the attendant scorching heat, the weather broke in a terrific thunderstorm just as we were enjoying our slumbers and the rain came down in torrents. The local rain gauges registered 14in which fell between 10 p.m and daylight on the following morning, raising a flood which spread over the plains like a sea.
As an accompaniment of heavy rain, the country got so soft that for some days horses could not travel. The wet weather continued for a week, culminating in successive heavy rains until the floods rose to an unprecedented height. We had reached the comfortable shelter of Mr Bucknell’s station, situated on the banks of the Langro, with a billabong in the rear. Here the waters rose so rapidly that we were compelled to make our exit and encamp on a low ridge across the billabong, whence we witnessed the homestead deluged through the rise of the river, reaching four feet above the floor.
As we returned from the survey of the Langlo, we were positively amazed at the luxuriant growth of grass during our three weeks absence. We found the plains transformed into a verdant stretch resembling a wheat field. The country had been previously occupied and abandoned so that I only found two settlers – namely Messrs Pettiford and Bucknell.