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