walker_brothersDiary. Walker Brothers Prospecting Expedition 1913.

Edited and annotated by by Jeremy Long and David Nash.

ISBN 978-0-85905-727-1, (New, 2022), 165 x 240, casebound, 180 pages, well illustrated in colour, with maps, indexed, 600grams, $90.00*

The annals of Australian land exploration include many expeditions remembered for misfortune, inexperience, or poor bushcraft. None of this applies to the eight months in 1913 when Chris Walker (1861–1930) led his brother Arthur and two other men (Crofts and Everett) prospecting by camel from Ryan’s Well (north of Alice Springs) west and southwest to Wiluna. The aim was to investigate ‘unknown country’ between the routes of previous desert explorers.  The party proceeded carefully, by scouting ahead for water before moving all the camels and equipment on from a known water source. They had no serious misadventures, and Chris Walker sent his diary and map to Canberra with its negative findings of any ‘mining or pastoral worth’. Their only backers were themselves and the Commonwealth Government, and both apparently had no interest in self-promotion. The report was eclipsed by the Great War (WWI), and although the WA section was serialised in a Perth newspaper in 1934, it has been largely overlooked.

Yet Walker’s competent journal includes numerous geological and natural history observations, and several interesting particular notes relating to Aborigines. Walker’s records are the earliest of what was later called Lake Mackay, well before the 1930 sighting by Mackay’s aerial survey.

The book includes maps, and photographs illustrating the route and the people. There are seven appendices, with biographies of the expedition members, a history of the recognition of Lake Mackay, a summary of the flora mentioned, and three indexes.