Explorers 13. Chapman

James Chapman (1831-1872) – our first South African-born explorer, hunter, trader and photographer. Enough Swedes, Scots and Frogs, here’s a homeboy! Again, if you want really accurate history, you’ve stumbled on the wrong place – but check the sources!

A son of James Chapman and Elizabeth Greeff of Malmesbury, he was educated in Cape Town and left for Durban when 14 years old. He was appointed as chief clerk in the Native Affairs Department in 1848. Liewe blksem, Native Affairs even then! 124 years later when I matriculated you could still work for the Native Affairs Dept! We’re lucky the ANC didn’t institute a Dept of Umlungu Affairs in 1994.

A year later he settled in Potchefstroom, where he became one of the first storekeepers. Shortly after, in 1852, he ventured across the mighty Limpopo River and into Bamangwato country, where one of the sons of the Bamangwato chief guided him to the (truly mighty) Chobe River. Early the following year they took him to the Zambezi River to within 70 miles of the Big Falls – the one with the Smoke that Thunders. He would have beaten David Livingstone to their discovery. But closies don’t count. He turned back.

By 1854 he had teamed up with Samuel H. Edwards and launched an expedition to Lake Ngami (we once paddled into Ngami), after which he trekked through the territory between Northern Bechuanaland and the Zambesi. An easygoing man, he was able to get on with the Bushman / San hunters of the semi-desert interior and spent long periods in their company, obtaining valuable help from them. Like I always say, our ‘intrepid explorers’ were actually just tourists being shown around by local guides! Returning to Ngami, he traveled north to the Okavango River, crossing Damaraland and reaching Walvis Bay. Here he busied himself with cattle-trading in Damaraland, before setting out on a long expedition with his brother Henry and Thomas Baines. He traveled from December 1860 to September 1864. Now THAT’S an expedition-length trip!

Their aim was to explore the Zambesi from the Victoria Falls down to its delta, with a view to testing its navigability. However, these plans were bedeviled by sickness and misfortune. They did reach the Zambesi, but did not get to explore the mouth. On 23 July 1862 they reached the Falls – Mosi oa Tunya. Yes, Mosi-oa-Tunya, not another English queen’s name! Hell, even Harrismith OFS had a ‘Lake Victoria’ – gimme a break!

Chapman’s attempt at exploring the Zambesi ruined his health and exhausted his finances. He returned to Cape Town in 1864, dispirited and fever-stricken. The expedition was notable since it was the first time that a stereoscopic camera had been used to record its progress. Chapman’s photos did not come out well though, even according to Chapman himself. The negatives were of a rather poor quality, and when they reached the famous waterfall he failed to get any photos at all. This reminded me of one Jonathan Taylor, a more recent ‘photographic explorer’ and his failure to capture a key moment on an expedition.

Chapman describes the Falls: ‘. . . immediately before you, a large body of water, stealing at first with rapid and snake-like undulations over the hard and slippery rock, at length leaping at an angle of thirty degrees, then forty-five degrees, for more than one hundred yards, and then, with the impetus its rapid descent has given it, bounding bodily fifteen or twenty feet clear of the rock, and falling with thundering report into the dark and boiling chasm beneath, seeming, by it’s velocity, so to entrance the nervous spectator that he fancies himself being involuntarily drawn into the stream, and by some invisible spell tempted to fling himself headlong into it and join in its gambols;Wow! and Bliksem! ‘ . . but anon he recovers himself with a nervous start and draws back a pace or two, gazing in awe and wonder upon the stream as it goes leaping wildly and with delirious bound over huge rocks. It is a scene of wild sublimity.’

As they clambered about the Falls on the wet cliff edges, Chapman wrote: ‘It was necessary to proceed farther to obtain a more extended view. One look for me is enough, but my nerves are sorely tired by Baines, who finding everywhere new beauties for his pencil, must needs drags me along to the very edge, he gazing with delight, I with terror, down into the lowest depths of the chasm.’

Baines painted, his brush and easel working where Chapman’s camera didn’t:

Sir George Grey had commissioned Chapman to capture live animals and to compile glossaries of the Bantu languages. He kept diaries throughout his journeys, but his Travels in the Interior of South Africa appeared only in 1868, shortly before his death. Chapman also traveled at times with Charles Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton and Swede CJ Andersson.

He tried farming on the banks of the Swakop river around 1864, but he says the Nama-Ovaherero War interfered with that venture – a timeline says a treaty was signed in 1870 between the Nama and the Herero after a prolonged period of war between the two communities. He then lived at various places in South Africa, later returned as a trader and hunter to old South West Africa after that treaty, then died at Du Toit’s Pan near Kimberley in 1872, aged 40 years.


wikipedia; tothevictoriafalls; christies to buy expensive paintings; namibia timeline;

Some of Chapman’s photographs are apparently at the Africana Museum in Johannesburg, but so far I haven’t found any.

Explorers 12. Baines

(John) Thomas Baines (1820–1875) – was an English artist and explorer of British colonial southern Africa and Australia. He was most famous for his beautiful paintings – especially of ‘Baines Baobabs’ in present day Botswana and the mighty Mosi oa Tunya Falls in present day Zimbabwe.

Apprenticed to a coach painter at an early age, he left England aged 22 for South Africa aboard the ‘Olivia,’ captained by a family friend. He worked for a while in Cape Town as a scenic and portrait artist, then as an official war artist for the British Army during the so-called Eighth Frontier War against the Xhosas.

In 1858 Baines accompanied that maniac David Livingstone on a disastrous trip along the Zambezi River, from which he was dismissed by the irrational Livingstone after a disagreement with Livingstone’s brother.

From 1861 to 1862 Baines and ivory trader James Chapman undertook an epic expedition to South West Africa. Starting in ‘Walvisch Bay,’ they crossed the Namib Desert, then the Kalahari to Lake Ngami, over the Boteti and Tamalakhane rivers, and then on eastwards to the Zambezi river, on which they were paddled downstream by local boatman to where they could view the falls. If you tried to retrace his steps with even the best 4X4 today (don’t take a Landrover) without using any roads, you would have an epic journey and it would be an amazing achievement. Best you ask a local guide to help you, too. As always – and as still – Baines & co were guided by local people who did not feature in their epic tales of ‘we did it:’

– pommy tourists being ferried downstream towards the falls by Makololo boatmen –
– the falls from the west –
– the falls from the east –

This was the first expedition during which extensive use was made of both photography and painting, and in addition both men kept journals in which, amongst other things, they commented on their own and each other’s practice. This makes their accounts, Chapman’s Travels in the Interior of South Africa (1868) and Baines’ Explorations in South-West Africa. Being an account of a journey in the years 1861 and 1862 from Walvisch bay, on the western coast, to lake Ngami and the Victoria falls (1864), especially interesting. They provide a rare account of different perspectives on the same trip.

On the way they camped under the now famous ‘Baines Baobabs’ on Nxai Pan in Botswana:

– beaut pic from thelawofadventures.com –

Baines gives a delightful description of the tribulations of the artist at his easel in Africa: ‘Another hindrance is the annoyance caused to the painter by the incessant persecutions of the tsetse (fly). At the moment perhaps when one requires the utmost steadiness and delicacy of hand, a dozen of these little pests take advantage of his stillness, and simultaneously plunge their predatory lancets into the neck, wrists and the tenderest parts of the body.’ Awoooo!

– elephants at the falls –

In 1869 Baines led one of the first gold prospecting expeditions to Mashonaland between the Gweru and Hunyani rivers. He was given permission by King Lobengula, leader of the Matabele nation in what became Rhodesia, then Zimbabwe. He later traveled in Natal and witnessed the coronation of Cetshwayo.

– crossing a drift in Natal –
– lots of chasing – black rhino –
– lots of killing – white rhino
– lots of killing –

Thomas Baines never achieved financial security. He died in poverty in Durban in 1875 of dysentery, at the age of 55 while writing up his latest expeditions. He is buried in West Street Cemetery. A generous eulogy was read in London at a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society by its President, Sir Henry Rawlinson.

– Zambezi river at Tete village –
– lion family –


Thank you Jane Carruthers; Jane Carruthers again; His art 1. 2. 3. ; britannica.com brief biography; wikipedia;


Baines wrote another book in 1871: Shifts and Expedients of Camp Life, Travel & Exploration, by Baines and Lord. My kind of book! I’ll blog about Galton’s book separately, as I’m pleased to see Baines acknowledged it. I couldn’t resist buying that one – Galton’s first edition was in 1855

Hacks, Shifts and Contrivances

The internet is full of ‘hacks’: Simple and – sometimes – effective solutions to everyday problems (or ‘problems’). Often quirky or inelegant. Sometimes satirised. Here’s a typical geek hack:

dirty dishes

I found some camping hacks – these are a bit more real: a handy tent floor; a shoe-holder kitchen; eggs in a bottle; a toilet paper jar; pre-made sangria; etc.

camping hacks

But here’s what really got me going: An 1872 book on ‘hacks’ for going on a long expedition into Darkest Africa called The Art of Travel, or Shifts and Contrivances Available in Wild Countries by Francis Galton, grandson of the famous Erasmus Darwin and cousin of the even more famous Charles Darwin.

The first edition was written in 1855. It provides detailed instructions on ‘wagons and boats, horses and oxen, tents and firearms, hunting and fishing, observing and collecting, carpentry and metal-working, camping requisites, bush cuisine, medical improvisation, the best ways to cross rivers, how to move heavy objects and how to build huts.’

– 1855 edition – Galton book – The Art of Travel – Shifts and Contrivances – My reprint –

Now, let me tell ya: If you have traveled before reading this book you didn’t know what you were doing. You took a big chance! Read this sound advice and find out what you SHOULD have done:

MoneyTravelers must be healthy, adventurous, and have ‘at least a moderate fortune.’ If your fortune isn’t quite large enough, shoot elephants for their ivory or collect insects, birds and plants and sell them to fund your travels – Galton had inherited enough loot from his family that he had no need to make any more. He could travel without collecting beetles!

Washing ClothesHere’s how to wash your clothes after you have worn them night and day for six weeks: Kill an animal – any animal – take its gall bladder and add it to boiling water full of ash from the fire. Peel off your greasy clothes and soak them in this mess overnight. Next morning, take them to water and wash and beat them with a flat piece of wood. To get rid of the vermin with which you are infested by now, take half an ounce of mercury, mix it with old tea leaves reduced to pulp by mastication and add saliva (not water) to make a paste. Infuse this into a string which you hang around your neck. The lice will be sure to bite at the bait, swell, become red and die. See. Easy.

Making SoapSave up the fat from the cooking till you have half a bucket-full. Collect as much wood as you can and wood ashes from plants whose ashes taste acrid. Correct, taste the ashes. Get a man to make two very large clay pots, ‘which is a very easy thing to do when proper clay can be obtained.’ In one pot place the ashes. In the other, under which a fire has been lit, place the fat. Now employ a Damara of sedentary disposition to supervise the process to the end, he or she simply having to keep the fire going under the grease-pot night and day, and from time to time ladle into it a spoonful of the ash-water or lye. This ash-water is sucked up by the grease and in only ten days of constant attendance the stuff is transformed into good white soap. See. Easy.

Make a BoatIf you need to cross a river with your belongings, a make-shift boat is useful: Kill two bulls – or in Africa, maybe buffaloes; skin them and sew the skins together. Cut down ten small willow trees, fourteen feet long. Lash the willow poles as shown, wrap the skins around them. Two men can make this craft in a mere two days.

Galton shift boat

Easy. Assuming, of course, that the buffaloes cooperate.

– uncooperative buffalo pic from Jock of the Bushveld –

Theory of Loads and Distances – and WomenYou need to take a lot of stuff along, so Galton works out how much you can get animals and men to carry. He does this ‘partly by theory and partly by experiment’!

“Let d be the distance the beast or man could travel daily if unburdened; Let b be the burden which would just suffice to prevent an animal from moving a step; Let b’ be some burden less than b and let d’ be the distance he could travel daily when carrying b’.”

He comes to a magic formula b’d² = b(d – d’)² which ‘proves’ the pack animal can carry 4/9 of his maximum staggering load! From this he works out that a man can carry 119lbs a distance of 11 miles a day. By this he means of course, ‘some other man,’ not himself. A bit like the definition of minor surgery: Minor surgery is surgery on someone else.

He also confidently states that – unlike many travelers – he believes taking women along is an asset, ‘for they work hard and can carry double the load men can.’ Mind you, this is the man who once used his expertise in trigonometry to discreetly measure the posterior development (her bum) of a South African woman at a distance. Ahem, proper English gentleman, he was.

Taking along the wives of the hired hands ‘gives great life to a party,’ and they can endure a long journey ‘nearly as well as a man, and certainly better than a horse or a bullock.’ Women were also ‘invaluable in picking up and retailing information and hearsay gossip’ which the traveler might otherwise miss. Plus, they are cheap to run, as Samuel Hearne of the Hudson’s Bay Company had pointed out: ‘Women were made for labor, and though they do everything, they are maintained at a trifling expense, for, as they always cook, the very licking of their fingers, in scarce times, is sufficient for their subsistence.’

Noisy Donkeys? Just tie a heavy stone around the ass’s tail. ‘When an ass wants to bray, he elevates his tail, and, if his tail be weighted down, he has not the heart to bray.’

Solitary Travel‘Neither sleepy nor deaf men should think of traveling alone.’ What’s that!?

On Being Held Up by Brigands When the robber orders you to lie down, draw your own gun and yell, ‘If this were loaded, you should not treat me thus!’ Then lie on the ground as ordered. As the robber approaches to relieve you of your belongings, ‘aim quickly and shoot him dead – the pistol being really loaded all the time. It’s a trick that has been practiced in most countries, from England to Peru.’ – Right. Although one supposes that dramatic speech might work better if uttered in the local tongue? Say, Damara if uttered in South West Africa?

SuppliesAfter giving long lists of necessities per day and per person and per six months, he comes to a final rough formula for ‘Stores for Individual Use’: You need 7lbs a month for every white man and 3lbs a month for every black man. – ‘Cos, you know . . .

MedicineYou need to take aperient, cordial, quinine, camphor, carbolic acid, Warburg’s fever drops, glycerine, mustard paper, and emetic. Or, for an emetic you could use a charge of gunpowder in a tumblerful of warm water, then tickle your throat with a feather. A bustard feather works best.

Boots Pinching? ‘A raw egg broken into the boot before putting it on, greatly softens the leather.’ – Probly also stops your companions from crowding around you?

BeddingYour bedding must be warm and windproof, but not airtight, as ‘sleeping clothes that are absolutely impervious to the passage of the wind necessarily retain the cutaneous excretions. These poison the sleeper, acting upon his blood through his skin, and materially weaken his power of emitting vital heat: the fire of his life burns more languidly.’ He also advises you to sleep outside: ‘a tent is too much like home.’ – And anyway, how the hyenas gonna get you in that tent?

Always Keep a DiaryKeep a daily travelogue: ‘It appears impossible to a traveler, at the close of his journey, to believe he will ever forget its events, however trivial. They seem branded into his memory. But this is not the case – the crowds of new impressions during a few months of civilised life will efface the sharpness of the old ones. I have conversed with . . many men . . the greater part of whose experiences in savagedom had passed out of their memories like the events of a dream. So, every day, write up your diary, you ous! All of you.

Galton camp SWA
– Galton’s camp in Damaraland – or savagedom –

To Raise and Move a Heavy Body – When a violent hurricane had driven his eighty ton schooner several hundred yards inland, Mr Williams, a missionary in the South Sea Islands, said, ‘The method by which we raised and moved the vessel was exceedingly simple and we accomplished the task with great ease.’ They raised her out of the 4ft hole she had worked herself into by levering her out with long levers and stone weights. Then they filled the bog that lay between her and the sea with stones and logs as rollers. Then they used a chain cable and ‘compelled her to take a short voyage upon the land before she floated in her pride on the sea once more.’ It was easy.

Oh, and then he did deign to mention, the ‘great ease with which they accomplished this task’ took ‘the united strength of about 2000 people.’ ‘Twas nothing, I did it myself,’ the missionary reverend murmured modestly .


What a delightful book of days gone by! I love it! Days of adventure, of knowing everything, including what other men and – especially – women thought, needed and wanted – without ever having to go through the tedious process of asking them! 366 pages of the Good Old Daze indeed.

– just get me to the river and I’ll make a boat of your hide – OK? –


Another Book Of Advice

Sixteen years later, in 1871 Thomas Baines decided he too, had advice for travelers:

– Shifts and Expedients of Camp Life –

Thomas Baines 1871 book: Shifts and Expedients of Camp Life, Travel & Exploration, written with William Barry Lord, a soldier with the Royal Artillery, built on Galton – and offered even more detail.

Your clothes – have them made. Firstly, shirts: – Have them made to measure from flannel which has been previously well shrunk, of thoroughly good quality, of medium substance, and unobtrusive pattern or colour. It will be well to order them of extra length, both of sleeve and body, so as to allow for the shrinkage which is certain to take place after a few washings, in spite of all precautions. Two breast pockets should be made in each. These are very convenient for holding a variety of small matters when no waistcoat is worn. For outer clothing nothing can surpass good heather-coloured tweed, or Waterford frieze, for ordinary wear; jackets of shooting-coat pattern, made with plenty of pockets, formed from much stronger materials than are usually made use of by tailors for that purpose, will be found most useful for knocking about in.

Your coat: – Take a blue cloth pilot coat, cut long enough to reach just below the knees; have it lined throughout with woollen material; let the pockets be made extra strong, and order the buttons to be large, of black horn, and sewn on with double-waxed thread. The left hand breast pocket should be deep and lined with leather, as it not unfrequently becomes a resting-place for the revolver when you do not wish to make an ostentatious display of it.

Boots and shoes: – For real work these are in no part of the world equal to those made at home, and a thoroughly good stock should be laid in before quitting England; ‘Butcher boots,’ so made as to fit the leg compactly just below the bend of the knee, with low heels, and broad heel seats; several pairs of shooting boots of the regular ankle-jack gamekeeper’s pattern, tipped at toe and heel; A pair or two of high shoes made from soft undressed russet leather will be found very useful to wear instead of slippers, or for camp use when the ground is dry; A pair of Cording’s wading boots will be found invaluable. They occupy little space, are comparatively light, and keep the legs and feet dry and warm when nothing else will; It will be well also to provide two or three pairs of brown leather shooting boots without heels and with single soles, free from nails, and flexible enough to admit of the wearer walking softly and with perfect freedom.

– a velschoen –

Making your own shoes: – Most countries have some form of shoe easily made from materials obtainable upon the spot, and in Africa the ‘velschoen’ of untanned leather is the general wear. Sometimes these are very clumsily made, the naked foot is planted on the piece of leather intended for the sole, and the outline is marked out with the point of a knife, the blade being held so far clear as to obviate all danger of cutting the foot, a plan which certainly has the merit of making the shoe sufficiently roomy.

The hides of the giraffe, the eland, or the buffalo are used for soles, and a piece large enough for a pair may generally be purchased for eighteenpence. These are simply dried, and a native must be hired to beat and soften them, working grease into them as he does so till they become so soft and supple that, though they are not waterproof in the sense of absolutely repelling the liquid, they may be wetted through and dried again without becoming hard. Sometimes a native will do this for a knife (value ninepence or a shilling) and the grease; but a sharp look-out must be kept upon the latter, or he will rub it into his own skin instead of that which he is employed to soften. An African can no more be trusted with fat than many of our own countrymen with ardent spirits.

What? Only one gun? – To the traveler whose means of transport confine him to the possession of only one gun, we say without hesitation, purchase a plain, strong, muzzle-loading, double-barrelled smooth bore of 11 or 12 gauge. Length of barrel, 2ft. 6in., weight 8½lb. without the ramrod, a front action bar, side locks, and ramrod pipes large enough to carry a rod of extra large size and power. Two pairs of spare nipples, and one pair of fitted main springs, in addition to those in the locks. Bullets. A bell-metal or iron spherical bullet mould must be selected with the greatest care, as it by no means follows that because the figure 12 or 11 is stamped on it, that, like a wadding punch, it is calculated for a gun of the same gauge. – And so on and on – I have given here 130 words of Baines’ 4628 words on guns! Get the book!

Sketching – For persons wishing to employ their leisure in pleasing mementoes of the scenes they visit, perhaps the following brief list—amplified, should they desire it—will afford sufficient guidance; and they will also do well to choose one or more of the shilling handbooks published by Rowney and Co., or Winsor and Newton.

A sketching portfolio, with folding tin frame to confine the paper while in use, and pocket for spare paper—quarto size.

A good strong havresac of canvas, with leather slings for each folio. Stout canvas is almost waterproof. This should have pockets for colour box, water bottle, pencils, and penknife.

Half quire Whatman’s drawing paper (white). Some of it should be cut to the size of the folio.

Half quire sketching cartridge for less finished work.

Half quire tinted drawing paper (pearl, light drab, cool and warm greys).

A proportion of all these papers should be cut to the size of the sketch book when purchased; but a few sheets should be kept whole, as a larger drawing may be required.

Two dozen drawing pencils—eight HH, twelve H and four HB. In practice, it will be found HB is black enough, and it should be used sparingly, as, unless a drawing is fixed immediately, the deep shades are very apt to smear when the backs of other sketches are packed against them.

Two single bladed penknives.

Very compact sketching boxes with assorted colours in cakes, in porcelain pans, or in collapsible tubes, are provided; and the amateur can hardly do better than select one of these with any number of colours.

One tube of sepia and a cake of Chinese white. With these we should advise three brown sable pencils in flat German silver ferrules—Nos. 1, 3, and 6. With the addition to these of the three primitive colours—red, blue, and yellow—a considerable range of subjects may be painted; indeed could we obtain these in perfect purity, we should require no other. But, as this is impossible, we subjoin a list of colours, placing first in order those that we have found most useful:—

  • Indian yellow, Carmine, French blue, Yellow ochre, Light red, Prussian blue, Gamboge, Rose madder (perhaps in cake), Cobalt, Raw sienna (cake), burnt sienna, Indigo, Yellow lake, Mars orange, Payne’s grey, Vermilion (cake), Vandyke brown, Emerald green, Scarlet lake (cake), Crimson lake, Purple lake, Cadmium yellow (cake), Brown madder (cake), Purple madder (cake).

With these, the whole set from 1 to 6 of the sables in flat albata will be needed, and we advise two each of 1, 2, and 3, as well as one or two large swans’ quills for washing in the sky or flat tints. A tripod sketching stool folding to the size of a special’s staff would be useful, but the rivet should be strong and well clinched. Let the watercolour box have divisions on the edge of the palette for every colour it contains. If you take an easel, let the joint be brass. – (Note: Here I give you 516 words of Baines’ 1677. Being an artist, this subject would have been close to his heart).

The Traveler’s Library:

I used to schlep along rather a lot of books, but of course less now that my phone and laptop and the internet have the rest, not to mention maps and GPS, wikipedia, etc! Baines suggested these 32 (note he gives their price in shillings and pence):

Astronomy: – Outlines of Astronomy. Sir J. Herschel, Bart (Longman and Co. 1858) 11s. – Astronomy and General Physics. W. Whewell (W. Pickering. 1857) 4s. – Illustrated London Astronomy. J. R. Hind (Ingram and Co. 1853) 1s. 6d. – Handbook—Descriptive and Practical Astronomy. G. F. Chambers (J. Murray. 1861) 10s. – Elements of Plane Astronomy. J. Brinkley, D.D (Hodges and Smith. 1845) 6s. – Orbs of Heaven; Planetary and Stellar Worlds. O. M. Mitchell (N. Cooke. 1856) 2s. 3d.

Navigation: – Navigation and Nautical Astronomy. Rev. J. Inman (Rivingtons. 1862) 6s. 3d. – Complete Epitome of Practical Navigation (J. W. Norie. 1864) 14s. [N.B. The latest edition should be asked for.] – Lunar Time Tables. J. Gordon (Imray. 1853) 7s. – Handbook for the Stars. H. W. Jeans (Levey, Robson, and Co. 1848) 3s. 6d.

Mathematics, Trigonometry, and Spherics: – Manual of Mathematical Tables. Galbraith and Houghton (Longman and Co. 1860) 2s. – Mathematical Tracts. G. B. Airy (J. W. Parker. 1842) 9s. 6d. – Treatise on Practical Mensuration. A. Nesbit (Longman and Co. 1864) 5s. 4d. – Practical Introduction to Spherics and Nautical Astronomy. P. Kelly, LL.D (Baldwin and Co. 1822) 7s. – Treatise on Trigonometry. G. B. Airy (Griffin and Co. 1855) 2s. 3d.

For Travellers: – What to Observe; or, Travelling Remembrancer. Col. Jackson. Revised by Dr. Norton Shaw (Houlston and Wright. 1861) 9s. 6d.Geodesy and Surveying, Military, Nautical, and Land Surveying. – Treatise on Military Surveying. Lieut. Col. Jackson (Allen and Co. 1860) 12s. – Outline of Method of conducting a Trigonometrical Survey. Col. Frome (Weale. 1862) 10s. 6d. – Practical Geodesy. J. W. Williams (Parker and Son. 1835) 7s. 6d. – Trigonometrical Surveying, Levelling, and Engineering. W. Galbraith (Blackwood and Son. 1842) 6s. 9d. – Engineering Field Notes on Parish and Railway Surveying and Levelling. H. J. Castle (Simpkin and Co. 1847) 8s. – Practice of Engineering Field Work. W. D. Haskoll (Atchley and Co. 1858) 17s. 6d. – Treatise on Nautical Surveyings. Com. Belcher (Richardson. 1835) 12s.

Weights and Measures: – Weights and Measures of All Nations. W. Woolhouse (Virtue Bros. 1863) 1s. 6d. – Foreign Measures and their English Values. R. C. Carrington (Potter. 1864)

Construction of Maps: – Manual of Map-making. A. Jamieson (Fullarton. 1846) 2s. – Manual of Topographical Drawing. Lieut. R. Smith (J. Wiley. 1854) 5s.Projection of the Sphere. – Projection and Calculation of the Sphere. S. M. Saxby (Longman and Co. 1861) 4s. 3d.

Use of Instruments: – Treatise on Principal Mathematical and Drawing Instruments. F. Williams (Weale. 1857) 3s. 2d. – The Sextant and its Applications. Simms (Troughton and Simms. 1858) 4s. 6d. – Treatise on Mathematical Instruments. J. Heather (Virtue Bros. 1863) 1s.

Geography: – Geography Generalised. R. Sullivan (Longman and Co. 1863) 2s.

In addition to these, every one ought to possess the Admiralty Manual of Scientific Enquiry, which is a series of papers written for the direction of explorers by men of the highest standing in various sciences; and no better general work can be recommended.

– my little sample book set for a trip to Botswana – mammals missing! –

Off we go then:

Should twenty one of us decide on an eighteen month expedition, we would need – among other stuff – the following:

The Commander (that would be me!), an Assistant (you), a Geologist, an Artist and Storekeeper, a Surgeon and Naturalist (me too), a Botanist, a Collector, Natural History, &c., an Overseer, a Farrier and Smith; a Harness-maker; Stockmen and Shepherds (you could be one of these too).

Provisions, &c. for 18 months.—17,000lb. flour, 5000lb. salt pork, 2000lb. bacon, 2000lb. preserved fresh meat in 6lb. tins, 2800lb. rice, 2500lb. sugar, 400lb. tea, 350lb. tobacco, 350lb. soap, 50lb. pepper, 500lb. salt, 100 galls. vinegar, 300 sheep, 200lb. sago, 640 pints peas, 2 cwt. coffee, 500lb. lime juice, 6 galls. lamp oil, 1lb. cotton wick, 3 cwt. preserved potatoes.

Land Conveyance.—50 horses, 35 pack saddles, 15 riding saddles, 50 horse blankets, 800 fathoms tether rope 1½in. and 2in., 20 horse bells with straps, 100 pair hobbles, 3 light horse drays; 3 sets harness, 3 horses each; 50 spare girths, 50yds. strong girth web, 50 bridles, 10 pair holster bags, 10 pair stirrup leathers, 5 pair stirrup irons, 40 pair canvas pack-saddle bags, 100 straps, 200 buckles, 4 leather water bags, 20 pair spurs, 150lb. leather for repairs, 600 horseshoes and nails, 240 provision bags, 300 yds. canvas, 20lb. sewing twine, 100 needles, 6 palms, 24 saddler’s awls, 48 balls hemp, ½lb. bristles, 6lb. resin, 6lb. beeswax, 12 hanks small cord, 6 currycombs and brushes, 25 tether swivels.

Arms and Ammunition.—16 double guns, 4 rifles, 10 revolvers, 10 pistols, 200lb. gunpowder, 1000lb. shot and lead, 30,000 percussion caps, 20 belts and pouches, 15 gun buckets, straps, locks, spare nipples, moulds, punches, 4 ladles, powder flasks, shot pouches, &c., for each gun.

Camp Furniture.—5 tents 8ft. square calico, 150 yds. calico, 12 camp kettles (½ to 3 galls.), 6 doz. pannikins, 4 doz. tin dishes (small), 1 doz. large, 4 doz. knives and forks, 4 doz. iron spoons, 6 frying pans, 6 leather buckets, 6 water kegs (6, 4, and 2 galls.), 6 spades, 4 socket shovels, 4 pickaxes, 2 spring balances (25 and 50lb.), 1 steelyard (150lb.), 1 sheep net (150 yds.). And I’d need a deckchair – one of those that tilt back, with a footrest.

Instruments.—2 sextants (5in. and 6in.), 2 box do., 2 artificial horizons, 10lb. mercury in 2 iron bottles, 4 prismatic compasses, 11 pocket compasses, spare cards and glasses for compasses, 3 aneroid barometers, 4 thermometers to 180°, 2 telescopes, 1 duplex watch, 1 lever watch, 1 case drawing instruments; 2 pocket cases, pillar compass, and protractor; surveying chain and arrows, 2 measuring tapes, 1 drawing board (30 × 40 inches), 2 pocket lenses.

Stationery and Nautical Tables.

Tools.—1 portable forge, 1 anvil (½ cwt.), 2 hammers and set of tongs, 10lb. cast steel, 11lb. blister steel, 100lb. bar and rod iron, 3 smiths’ files, 3 large axes (American), 6 small do.; 1 large tool chest.

Clothing.—120 pair moleskin trowsers, 120 serge shirts, 120 cotton shirts, 60 pair boots, 40 oiled calico capes, 40 hats (Manilla), 40 blankets.

Artists’ Materials. See Baines’ needs above.

Miscellaneous.—5 yds. mosquito net, green; 500 fish-hooks, 25 fishing-lines, 2 gross matches, 1 gross tobacco-pipes; 2 strong cases, or instruments, stationery, &c.; 8 doz. pocket-knives, 8 doz. pocket-combs, 20 yds. red serge for presents to blacks, 20lb. iron wire, 5lb. brass ditto, grindstone and spindle, coffee-mill, 3 iron saucepans, 2 iron kettles, 6 galls. linseed oil, 6 pints olive oil, 2lb. red lead, 23lb. alum, 1lb. borax.

Forage for Horses and Sheep from Moreton Bay to Victoria River, 2200 miles, at 14lb. per diem.—13 tons pressed hay, 9 tons bran, 200 bushels maize or barley, 500 bushels corn for horses after landing.

Medical Chest for 2 years and 20 men.

Naturalists’ Stores.

I can’t help noticing – who else noticed? – he has forgotten the fridge and the beer!! This puts the rest of the book’s authority in some doubt, no?


Sometimes Baines would offer a simple solution. I like his blanket tent – this is a bit more like a Harrismith he-man traveling light !


I have given here about ten pages of information. The book is 831 pages! Just on Boats, Rafts and Make-Shift Floats, Baines and Lord write 36 786 words! And I’ve not even got to communication in the days before satellite phones. Suffice to say: You build a stone cairn; you dig a deep hole ten feet north of it; in the hole you leave instructions written on a lead sheet made from three melted bullets . . .


You can read it online at gutenberg.org – after the 831 pages there are useful advertisements for shops that can supply your needs, including gun shops where you can buy your muzzle loader; and you’ll find ladies waterproofs and portable boats are in the same department . . . What a WONDERFUL book!