Patrol Report I S Johnston April 1963

Narional Archives of Australia Canberra Office A6456 R136/008 Patrol - 25th April to 8th May, 1963 Patrol Report I S Johnston April 1963 Special Report Investigation Patrol for Natives Missing in Central Reserve I S Johnston, Welfare Inspector, Laverton in company with Constable Hopkins, Laverton Period and Length of Tour From 25th April to 8th May 1963, covering a total mileage of 1985 miles. Introduction Instructions were received from the District Welfare Officer - Eastern District on April 24th to commence this patrol next day to investigate the following report: A woman named Yipati with two children, and also a man named Willie, were missing in the Central Reserve area, having left some two months previously from the vicinity of Mt Davies. Because several natives had been reported as dying of thirst in this area during February and March, it was considered necessary that a patrol of investigation be carried out. Further information indicated that Yipati Mitchell and her two children, Owen (12) and Kaye (6), left with Yampuluru Mitchell and her two children, from the Mt Davies area, en route to Warburton approximately eight weeks earlier. Along the track the two women split up and took different routes. Mr De Graffe, Headteacher Warburton School, when en route to Ernabella Mission at Easter time, found Yampuluru's two children near Karnga water hole, fifty miles east of Warburton, both in poor condition without food or water. It was ascertained by him that the mother had died near Blackstone Camp. People related to Willie at Warburton, were concerned for his welfare, as he also was reported to have left Mt Davies at the same time, but had not shown up. Patrol Report On Thursday, 25th April 1963, Constable Hopkins and myself departed from Laverton for Warburton at 11.30am, covering 203 miles the first day. Friday 26th April Arrived Warburton 2.15pm, and immediately instituted enquiries into reports received. Information collated here did not bring to light any new facts, so we departed for Mt Davies at 5.15pm, making our camp five miles east of the Mission. 171 miles covered. Saturday 27th April Contacted RFDS Kalgoolie to advise position, and also RFDS Alice Springs with memo for Mr Vickery of Musgrave Park. Broke camp 8.30am, and headed toward Blackstone Camp. Water holes were inspected along the track but all were found dry. Arrived Blackstone 6.15pm and made camp. 130 miles covered for day. Sunday 28th April Mr De Graffe arrived at camp 8.15am on return journey to Warburton. Discussed with Mr De Graffe the burial of native woman Yampuluru, at Blackstone, also the finding of her two children near Karnga WH. 9.00am contact with RFDS Kalgoolie advising that 8 WGZ transceiver was now in our custody. 10.15am headed north of Blackstone to inspect the grave of Yampuluru Mitchell which is located 3 miles north-east of Blackstone. Mr De Graffe had done an excellent job in locating the body and interring it. Returned to camp 12.30pm. Some water found in 44 gallon drum but was foul smelling. Departed Blackstone 2.15pm and arrived at Mt Davies 4.15pm after travelling via Wingelina. 75 miles covered for day. Monday 29th April Contact made with RFDS Kalgoolie at 8.30am advising position and arranged to call again 3.45pm when Mr Harman would be at base. Visited the native camp and enquired for information as to dates Yipati and Willie departed from the area and also possible routes taken by them. Facts given revealed that Yipati left from Chunginya WH about 10 miles further east. A visit was made to this water but no evidence could be found of route taken. No water here at time of visit. Particulars regarding Willie were not clearly defined. Mr Vickery arrived Mt Davies 1.15pm. Discussion with Mr Vickery regarding people purported missing and several points cleared up. 3.45pm Mr Harman given progress report and proposed plans. 40 miles covered for day. Tuesday 30th April Vehicle topped up with 20 gallons of petrol from Mr Vickery. Native camp visited and further enquiries made re missing people. It was considered more important to locate the missing woman and her two children, so two trackers who knew the waters across to Warburton were located and at 9.10am we departed for Giles road in search of tracks. Approximately 13 miles north of the Blackstone turn-off, tracks were seen to cross the road and the trackers indicated these were made by Yampurulu and her children. Tracks were again sighted one mile further north and trackers claimed these were made by Yipati and children - these were followed across sand and spinifex for a short distance where it was apparent that Yipati was heading for Pulpal WH. It was not accessible from this point by vehicle. By returning to Blackstone camp we were able to follow a track for some distance north and then making our own track arrived at a point within half an hours walking distance of Pulpal WH. Pulpal is a limestone cavity approximately 40 foot long in sand and spinifex country. No water found here but Yipati's tracks were seen to be heading west. Contact made RFDS Kalgoolie 4.15pm. Camp made here. 101 miles covered for day. Wednesday 1st May Broke camp 7.50am and travelled around sandhills to pick up tracks and then headed for Oontjiri WH in the Murray Ranges. Arrived at waterhole at 10.25am and found no water. Tracks were located and found to head into sandhill country not easily traversible by vehicle so returned to Blackstone - Warburton road and headed west. Nine miles west of Lightning Rocks we cut north to Tjullulyi WH which is about 4 miles off the track. No water or tracks found here. Contact made with RFDS and Mr Harman given progress report. Continued in a northerly direction headed for Weergooral WH in the Jamieson Range by following an old vehicle track. Made camp 5.15pm. 110 miles for day. Thursday 2nd May Broke camp 7.30am and travelled 11 mile to Weergooral WH which was dry. No evidence of tracks found so headed for Moorungul WH where the same conditions were found. From here we headed for Ungul WH but at 10.00am tracks were sighted and followed through a mulga thicket. Signs indicated thirst for in several places Yipati had dug deep for tree roots. It also appeared that a kangaroo had been obtained for food - believe Yipati had happened along as dingo was killing 'roo. Three miles further east we arrived at Ungul WH where signs indicated Yipati and children had camped a few days. No water found. Tracks headed north-west into sandhill country towards Kuntjil WH but could not gain access by vehicle from this point. By backtracking to the Jamieson Range we then headed north-east to Leelyuri WH in limestone country. No water here or signs of tracks. Journeyed on towards Kuntjil WH. Made camp 5pm. 71 miles for day. Friday 3rd May Broke camp 6.25am and travelled approximately 7 miles to Kuntjil WH arriving there 7.00am. No signs of water. Yipati and childrens tracks found headed for Nartjun WH. Although Nartjun WH is in sandhill and spinifex country we were able to drive reasonably close to it from this point. Some water found here - about enough to fill a cup. Yipati and children were headed for Buntjarpila WH which was not accessible from here. At 9.15am we departed for the Warburton - Blackstone track arriving at Winburn Rocks just in time to meet Mr MacDougall, Commonwealth Patrol Officer, who had carried petrol and water to this point for our use. 30 gallons petrol added and water tank filled. Left Winburn Rocks 2.00pm headed west and 7 miles along the track, made track in north-west direction behind the Barrow Range and after travelling a further 23 miles arrived at Palkutja WH. This is in calcrete limestone and the hole drops 6 feet then a cavity protrudes west for 30 feet. Water was found here and also Yipati's camp. Yipati and children were out hunting but returned at 4.5pm. Yipati and children were out hunting but returned at 4.5pm. Yipati had dug a rabbit burrow out to produce a large rabbit. Both she and the children appeared dehydrated. Each were given a dring of Viterra by Constable Hopkins. Camp made here. 81 miles for day. Saturday 4th May Broke camp 6.55am taking Yipati and children in Landrover. After travelling 16 miles across sand and spinifex country we met the Warburton - Blackstone track. 9.00am contact through RFDS Kalgoolie to Mr Harman advising of success and future plans. Yipati was travel sick at this point. Arrived at Warburton 11.15am taking Yipati and children to hospital for observation. Departed Warburton 2.30pm for Mt Davies to return tracker and make further enquiries about Willie. Camp made 5pm about 49 miles east of Warburton. 124 miles for day. Sunday 5th May Broke camp 7.00am and headed for Mt Davies. At Blackstone we headed south around the Bell Rock Range and Skirmish Hills in an endeavour to locate Willie's tracks. The Warburton people claimed he headed on this southern route but Mt Davies people were definite that he headed north to the Rawlinsons, his home country. Arrived at Mt Davies 3.45pm and proceeded to native camp where Larry McLean our tracker unloaded. Further enquiries made on Willie did not reveal anything concrete. People denied that Willie had been in trouble at the camp. No one could be located who knew the waters to the Rawlinsons. People advised not to travel this country west till after big rain in area as all waterholes are dry. Night camp made Mt Davies. 170 miles for day. Monday 6th May Broke camp 7.20am and left after visiting the native camp for Giles. The only waterhole known to us was inspected and found dry. It is called Warabara WH, 34 miles south of Giles in sandhill and spinifex country. Looking from here to Mt Davies all that could be seen for miles, was sandhills and spinifex. Arrived Giles in afternoon. Only one native camped in immediate vicinity who could understand little English. When shown a picture of Willie, recognition was given but had not seen recently. 121 miles for day. Tuesday 7th May Broke camp 6.55am and headed for Warburton arriving there 3.15pm. Final business over death of Yampuluru arranged. Check on condition of Yipati and children made and found to be very satisfactory. Native camp visited to advise them not to travel east until big rain in area, also various other matters. Departed Warburton 5.15pm making night camp Hunt Oil at Gunba WH. 278 miles for day. Wednesday 8th May Broke camp 7.00am and travelled to Laverton arriving 4.30pm. 310 miles for day. General Tyre trouble was experienced on this trip with 6 punctures, three of which were blowouts caused by stakes. On the route to Warburton a trailer hitch bolt sheared, thus we had to rearrange the load and leave the trailer. We were able to repair the hitch at Warburton. Eight miles this Laverton side of Cosmo Newbury Mission on our return the trailer axle broke inside the right hand wheel. Conclusion Although no signs of Willie were found it is considered the Patrol was successful. Information on Willie was disjointed from both the group at Warburton and Mt Davies, thus detailed investigation was not possible. I herewith submit this report for your consideration. I S Johnston Welfare Inspector Laverton