Like him, too, M'Kinlay missed following up the Flinders. He crossed on to the head of the head of the Burdekin, which river he followed down, continually trusting to meet the advancing flocks and herds of the settlers, then pushing forward into the new country.
M'Kinlay soon kept more to the westward and crossed the stony range, which bears his name, in much the same place that Burke and Wills did. He christened many of the large tributaries of the inland watershed, but most of his names have been replaced by others, it having been difficult to determine them, as in many cases, the creeks he named were but anabranches.
At the Gulf of Carpentaria the township of Burketown was springing into existence, under the care of William Landsborough, the explorer; and in the north of Arnhern's Land, M'Kinlay was looking for a suitable site to establish a port for South Australia.
Writers, however, were still found to argue that things must be after the old opinion. When M'Kinlay took his little flock of sheep across Australia and found them grow so fat that, when at the Gulf, he had to select the leanest one to kill from choice, they cried out triumphantly, "Ah, but the flesh was tasteless!"
From information, all Burke's party were killed and eaten. "If you had any difficulty in reaching this spot, and wish to return to Adelaide by a more practicable route, you may do so for at least three months to come, by driving west eighteen miles, then south of west, cutting our dray track within thirty miles. Abundance of water and feed at easy stages." M'Kinlay next sent Mr.
M'Kinlay was now quite satisfied that he had found all that remained of the Victorian expedition; and after burying a letter for the information of any after comers, they left Lake Massacre, as he called it, and returned to his depot camp. The letter hidden was as follows: "S.A.B.R. Expedition, "October 23rd, 1861. "To the leader of any expedition seeking tidings of Burke and party:
The equipment of the explorer, especially as regards the use of camels, has been a matter of much dispute. M'Kinlay speaks highly in praise of them, Warburton and Giles both ascribe their safety to having them with them. But although they have been the means of achieving long stages over dry country, they are treacherous and dangerous animals to deal with.
On the way over, M'Intyre found and buried the bodies of two unfortunate pioneers who had preceded him, Messrs. Curlewis and M'Culloch. They had. been murdered when asleep by the natives. Twenty-two days after leaving the Paroo they reached Cooper's Creek, and then pursued much the same track to the Gulf as that formerly followed by Burke and Wills, and M'Kinlay.
M'Kinlay himself. There were few who grudged John this rapid advancement, for it was obviously due to neither chance nor favouritism, but entirely to his marvellous powers of application and industry. From early morning until late in the night he laboured hard in the service of his employer, checking, overlooking, superintending, setting an example to all of cheerful devotion to duty.
On the north coast, Burketown, under the care of William Landsbrough, was growing up, and in the north of Arnheim's Land, M'Kinlay was looking for a suitable site to establish a port for the South Australian Government. Somerset was formed on the mainland of Cape York Peninsula, and the formation of this led to the expedition of the Jardine brothers.