75. DERWENT CREEK.
"we had to use the matting to reach the creek itself".
COOTE 85. 
 

The Derwent Creek ended the expeditions hopes for a record days run on 30/07/30, the men had travelled over forty circuitous miles since leaving Dashwood Creek that morning. There was room to manoeuvre the three vehicle convoy through the sand and mulga and there was little axe or mat work, Taylor had the rare pleasure of driving the Thornycroft across clay pans in top gear, "Although it was in a zig-zag fashion we made good progress". According to Coote, Fred Colson showed particular interest in the country, the best seen since leaving Alice Springs, he had taken up a lease of 400 square miles in the vicinity with the intention of raising cattle and rounding up the hundreds of brumbies, and Blakeley must have been feeling indulgent to allow time for Coote and the Captain to dig energetically but fruitlessly for yams, it seems, "all hands were having a quiet holiday", until the Derwent.

The creek is located immediately to the east of Haasts Bluff and is a large, deep and normally dry channel with sandhills and soft ground on the eastern approach. It required several hours of matting to get the vehicles to the creek bank, and then a deep cutting had to be made, at an awkward angle, to get the machines down to the creek bed. Although Blakeley noted that the bottom was firm, Coote writes that the Thornycroft fell aslant the corduroy track, and it took two hours of sweating and swearing to get the heavy truck across, "we cursed that truck". It was late afternoon when the expedition camped about a mile from the foot of the 'Bluff' while Colson and Blakeley searched unsuccessfully along the creek for water.

In Dream Millions, Blakeley has confused the location and perhaps the name of the creek in relation to the site of the crash of the Golden Quest at Ai Ai Creek. At the end of August, when the men return east over their tracks for the fourth time in search of the overdue Colson they stop for a late afternoon tea at Ai Ai Creek while "
Harry went over and had a look at the marks where the plane had crashed". Resuming the journey Taylor sets the objective of reaching, "that bad creek with the angle crossing", before declaring camp for the night.

The men arrived at the Derwent after sunset and matted the truck across to the eastern bank, Colson arrived at the camp later that evening. This passage in chapter 22 of Dream Millions places the crash site west of the Derwent, earlier in Chapter 6 Blakeley has located the airstrip where the crash occurred at an unnamed creek between the Dashwood and the Derwent, the expeditions maps did not show the name of this creek, "so we called it after Phil", thus placing Taylor's Creek or Ai Ai Creek east of the Derwent.

LASSETERIA


R.Ross. 1999-2006

Blakeley Fred Dream Millions 36,37,118,119. Coote E.H. Hell's Airport 83-85.