By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Among Cannibals: An Account of Four Years’ Travels in Australia and of Camp Life With the Aborigines of Queensland
Author: Lumholtz, Carl
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Among Cannibals: An Account of Four Years’ Travels in Australia and of Camp Life With the Aborigines of Queensland" ***

                            AMONG CANNIBALS


                            AMONG CANNIBALS

                             AN ACCOUNT OF

                          CARL LUMHOLTZ, M.A.

                             TRANSLATED BY
                           RASMUS B. ANDERSON


                                NEW YORK
                        CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS

                          COPYRIGHT, 1889, BY
                        CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS

                               NEW YORK.


                         =Paul B. Du Chaillu,=




                             AS EVINCED BY





                               THE AUTHOR

                            AUTHOR’S PREFACE

In the year 1880 I undertook an expedition to Australia, partly at the
expense of the University of Christiania, with the object of making
collections for the zoological and zootomical museums of the University,
and of instituting researches into the customs and anthropology of the
little-known native tribes which inhabit that continent.

At the commencement of my travels, which occupied four years, I spent
some time in the south-eastern colonies, South Australia, Victoria, and
New South Wales; and succeeded in establishing connections with the
museums in the cities of Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, and I may add
that everywhere I met with the most cordial reception. I am particularly
indebted to the distinguished botanist Baron Ferd. von Mueller, of
Melbourne; to Fred. M‘Coy, Professor of Zoology and Mineralogy in
Melbourne University; and to Dr. E. P. Ramsay, Director of the Museum in

More than ten months from November 1880 to August 1881 were spent by me
at the fine station of Gracemere in Central Queensland, belonging to
Messrs. Archer and Co. Both here and elsewhere I was indebted to various
members of the Archer family for kindnesses, which in many ways aided me
in my work. I was placed under similar obligations to Walter J. Scott,
Esq., the proprietor of the Valley of Lagoons station in Northern
Queensland. To all these gentlemen I desire to express my sincere

In August 1881 I entered upon my first journey of discovery, in the
course of which I penetrated about 800 miles into Western Queensland,
but the results in nowise corresponded to the hardships I had to endure.

I thereupon selected Northern Queensland as the field of my chief
exploration, and here I spent fourteen months in constant travel and
study. From August 1882 to July 1883 I made my headquarters in the
valley of the short but comparatively broad and deep Herbert river,
which empties itself into the Pacific Ocean at about 18° S. lat., and
there I lived alone among a race of people whose culture—if indeed they
can be said to have any culture whatever—must be characterised as the
lowest to be found among the whole genus _homo sapiens_. Not only are
many of the Australian aborigines cannibals, but most of the tribes have
not yet emerged from the Stone Age in the history of their development.
Others have studied the ethnographic peculiarities of this race; but my
predecessors have mainly directed their attention to the tribes of the
southern part of Australia, which in many respects have attained a
higher intellectual development than their northern kinsmen.

From my base on the Herbert river I made expeditions in various
directions, extending in some instances to nearly 100 miles. The greater
part of the volume now offered to the public is devoted to descriptions
of my life in the camps of the northern savages in different districts.
It has been my purpose to present a faithful picture, based on my own
observations, of the life, manners, and customs of the Australian
aborigines from their birth and infancy to their old age and death; and
thus to rescue, for the science of ethnography, facts concerning tribes
that have never before come into contact with white men, and that within
a generation or two will have disappeared from the face of the earth.

While making these anthropological studies I also succeeded in securing
a collection of zoological specimens, some of which are new to science,
and all of which may be seen in the museums of the Christiania
University. The collection consists mainly of vertebrates, including a
considerable number of mammals, which have been described by Professor
R. Collett in _Zoologischer Jahrbücher_, Jena, 1887. I brought home
about 700 specimens of birds, a large number of reptiles and
batrachians, numerous fishes, also some insects and lower animals. Among
other things I discovered four new mammals, which have been described
and named by Professor R. Collett in the _Proceedings of the Zoological
Society of London_, 1884. The four new mammals are: _Dendrolagus
lumholtzii_ (the tree-kangaroo); and three opossums, _Pseudochirus
archeri_, _Pseudochirus herbertensis_, and _Pseudochirus lemuroides_.

In conclusion, I desire to express my obligations to the friends who
have helped me in carrying on my work, and in writing this record of
it—to Professor Robert Collett and Professor Ossian Sars, of Christiania
University, who first encouraged me to undertake the journey, and who
never have failed to render me valuable aid and advice; to Dr. H. Reusch
and Mr. A. M. Hansen, for their co-operation in drawing up a portion of
the appendix to this volume; to Professor R. B. Anderson (late United
States Minister to Denmark), for his aid in the preparation of the
English edition; to Mr. M. R. Oldfield Thomas, for having revised the
scientific names in the proofs for me during my absence in America; and
to Mr. John Murray jun., for his assistance in the correction and
supervision of the whole work while passing through the press.

Most of the illustrations are by Norwegian and French artists from
original photographs, sketches, and specimens brought back by me from

It should be observed that the area marked red on the map as indicating
the district explored by me should be extended so as to include
Cashmere, Glendhu, the Valley of Lagoons, and all the intervening

As a foreigner, I would ask for the kind indulgence of my readers and
critics towards any literary shortcomings in this English edition of my

                                                          CARL LUMHOLTZ.

 LONDON, _August 1889_.


                                CHAPTER I

 Introductory—Voyage to Australia—Arrival at
   Adelaide—Description of the city—Melbourne, the Queen of
   the South—Working men—The highest trees in the world—Two
   of the most common mammals in Australia                    Pages 1–12

                               CHAPTER II

 Sydney harbour—Jealousy between Sydney and Melbourne—The
   Blue Mountains—Brisbane and Rockhampton—First evening in
   tropical Australia—Gracemere station—Animal and plant
   life—Vine-scrubs—Excursion into the neighbouring
   districts—A Norseman who feels cold in Australia                13–30

                               CHAPTER III

 Journey to Western Queensland—Camping out—_Damper_
   (Australian bread)—The song of the magpie—Australian
   scrubs—Hunting the kangaroo—Devotion of parrots—Station
   life—Lonely shepherds—Migration of rats—Native
   justice—Australian fleas—Native mounted police—A
   remarkable flint instrument—The boomerang                       31–52

                               CHAPTER IV

 Struggle between blacks and whites—116° Fahrenheit—Cool
   nights—Troubles—Bush-life—How the bushman spends his
   money—Inundations—Back again to Gracemere—A greedy
   snake—Courtship in the bush                                     53–62

                                CHAPTER V

 Journey to Northern Queensland—Mackay-sugar—Employment of
   South Sea Islanders—Townsville—A rough northern man—Sugar
   district on Lower Herbert—Visit to a successful
   Scandinavian—Blacks near Gardiner’s
   farm—Nolla-nolla—Spring—Arrival at Herbert Vale                 63–75

                               CHAPTER VI

 Headquarters at Herbert Vale—Civilised blacks—Domestic
   life—Nelly the cook—Cats—Swimming in fat—My bill of
   fare—Killing the bullock—Strong stomachs and bad fare           76–88

                               CHAPTER VII

 Kāmin (implement for climbing)—On the top of the
   gum-trees—Hunting the wallaby—The spear of the
   natives—Bird life in the open
   country—Jungle-hens—Cassowary                                   89–99

                              CHAPTER VIII

 Pleasant companions—Two new mammals—Large scrubs in the
   Coast Mountains—The lawyer-palm—“Never have a black-fellow
   behind you”—I decide to live with the blacks—Great
   expectations—My outfit—Tobacco is money—The baby of the
   gun                                                           100–111

                               CHAPTER IX

 My first expedition with the blacks—A night in the
   forest—Fear of evil spirits—Morning toilet—_Maja
   yarri_—_Borboby_—The “lists” of blacks—Warriors in full
   dress—Swords and shields—Fights—The rights of black
   women—Abduction of women                                      112–127

                                CHAPTER X

 The appearance of the aborigines in the different parts of
   the continent—My pack-horse in danger—Tracks of the
   _boongary_ (tree-kangaroo)—Bower-birds—The blacks in rainy
   weather—Making fire in the scrubs—A messenger from the
   civilised world—The relations of the various
   tribes—Tattooing                                              128–146

                               CHAPTER XI

 Respect for right of property—New country—My camp—Mountain
   ascent—Tree-ferns—A dangerous nettle—A night in a
   cavern—Art among the blacks—Edible larvæ—_Omelette aux
   coléoptères_—Music of the blacks—Impudent begging             147–159

                               CHAPTER XII

 The position of women among the blacks—The husband the
   hunter, and the woman the provider of the family—Black
   female slaves—“Marking” the wives—A twelve-year-old
   wife—Considerate husbands—Wives an inheritance—Deserted by
   my followers—Reasoning power of the blacks—Darkness and
   rain                                                          160–171

                              CHAPTER XIII

 _Mongan_, a new mammal—For my collection or to feed the
   blacks?—Natives do not eat raw meat—A young yarri—A
   meteorite—Fear of attacks—Cannibals on the war-path—The
   relations between the tribes                                  172–177

                               CHAPTER XIV

 Dingo a member of the family—A black who does not
   smoke—Hunting the flying-squirrel—Diseases among the
   natives—Their remedies—A splendid offer—Unpleasant
   companions—Trouble in getting dogs                            178–187

                               CHAPTER XV

 Blacks on the track—A foreign tribe—Native baskets—Two black
   boys—Bringing up of the children—_Pseudochirus lemuroides_
   with its young—The effect of a shot—A native
   swell—Relationship among the blacks—Their old women           188–200

                               CHAPTER XVI

 Wild landscape on the Upper Herbert—_Kvingan_, the devil of
   the blacks—A fatal eel—Mourning dress—Flight of the
   blacks—A compromise—Christmas Eve—Lonely—Christmas fare—A
   “faithful” relative—A welcome wallaby                         201–211

                              CHAPTER XVII

 A wedding—Love among the Australian natives—My first meeting
   with Yokkai—Big eaters—An accident—Left alone with
   Yokkai—A difficult descent—Return to Herbert Vale—A new
   beetle—Friends of the animals                                 212–222

                              CHAPTER XVIII

 Native politeness—How a native uses a newspaper—“Fat”
   living—Painful joy—_Boongary, boongary_—Veracity of the
   natives—A short joy—A perfect cure—An offer of
   marriage—Refusal                                              223–235

                               CHAPTER XIX

 A festival dance of the blacks—Their orchestra—A plain
   table—Yokkai wants to become “a white man”—Yokkai’s
   confession—A dangerous situation—A family drama               236–246

                               CHAPTER XX

 Arrival of the native police—The murderer
   caught—Examination—Jimmy is taken to Cardwell—Flight of
   the prisoner—The officer of the law—Expedition to the
   Valley of Lagoons—A mother eats her own child—My authority
   receives a shock                                              247–255

                               CHAPTER XXI

 The rainy season—How the evenings are spent—Hardy
   children—Mangola-Maggi’s revenge—The crania of the
   Australians—The expedition to Cardwell—Dalrymple Gap—A
   scandalous murder—Entry into Cardwell—Yokkai as
   cook—“Balnglan’s” death—Tobacco cures sorrow                  256–268

                              CHAPTER XXII

 Unpleasantnesses at Herbert Vale—New expeditions—Hunting
   human flesh—Cannibalism—Human flesh is the greatest
   delicacy of the Australian blacks—Superstitions in
   connection with the eating of human flesh—The taste of the
   cannibals—Cannibalism in Burma                                269–274

                              CHAPTER XXIII

 The burial of the blacks—Black mummies—Sorcerers or
   wizards—Myths and legends—The doctrine of the Trinity in
   New South Wales—The belief in a future life among the
   blacks                                                        275–285

                              CHAPTER XXIV

 My life in danger—Morbora’s ingratitude—Another danger—My
   position grows more precarious—The black man’s fondness
   for imitating                                                 286–292

                               CHAPTER XXV

 Winter in Northern Queensland—Snakes as food—Hunting
   snakes—An unexpected guest at night—Yokkai’s first
   dress—Norway’s “mountains of food”—Departure from Herbert
   Vale—Farewell to the world of the blacks                      293–302

                              CHAPTER XXVI

 Message sticks—The common origin of the dialects—Remarkably
   complicated grammar—The language on Herbert
   river—Comparison of a few dialects                            303–313

                              CHAPTER XXVII

 Frozen meat—Again in Gracemere—Australian scenery—In a
   carriole—Hunting the dugong—Cosmopolitan quarters for the
   night—Cure for nervous diseases—Poisonous rabbits—Marry
   only a person with good teeth—Bush girls—Mount Morgan         314–324

                             CHAPTER XXVIII

 A family of zoologists—Flesh-eating kangaroos—How the
   ant-eater propagates—Civilised natives—Weapons and
   implements—Civilisation and demoralisation                    325–338

                              CHAPTER XXIX

 Religion—Blacks in the service of the white men—Fickle
   minds—Settlers and natives on the borders of
   civilisation—Morality—A life and death struggle—The
   cruelty of the whites—Future prospects of the Australian
   natives                                                       339–349


      The Condition before the European Discovery                    353

      History of the Discovery                                       355

      History of the Colonies                                        359

  II. GEOLOGY                                                        366

 III. FLORA                                                          369

  IV. FAUNA                                                          376

 INDEX                                                               389

     Ἀνδροφάγοι δὲ ἀγριώτατα πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἔχουσιν ἤθεα οὔτε
     δίκην νομίζοντες οὔτε νόμῳ οὐδενὶ χρεόμενοι· νομάδες δὲ εἴσιν.

                                               HERODOTUS, IV. 106.


 PORTRAIT OF AUTHOR IN AUSTRALIAN DRESS                   _Frontispiece_


 BLACK SWAN                                                            1

 FLINDERS STREET, ADELAIDE                                             3

 VIEW NEAR ADELAIDE                                                    4

 THE LIBRARY, MELBOURNE                                                6

 THE GOVERNOR’S HOUSE, MELBOURNE                                       7

 NATIVE BEAR WITH ITS YOUNG                                           10

 HUNTING THE OPOSSUM                                      _To face page_

 TREE-FERNS IN VICTORIA                                               11

 SYDNEY HARBOUR                                                       13

 THE BLUE MOUNTAINS                                                   15

 THE PARLIAMENT HOUSE, BRISBANE                                       17

 FROGS (_Hyla cærulea_) ENTERING A WATER-JAR                          18

 GRACEMERE STATION                                                    20

 THE MAIN BUILDING, GRACEMERE STATION                                 21

 IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF ROCKHAMPTON                      _To face page_

 LAUGHING JACKASS (_Dacelo gigas_)                                    26

 VINE-SCRUB NEAR GRACEMERE                                _To face page_

 TRUE AUSTRALIAN SCENERY                                  _To face page_

 A WOOL-WAGGON                                                        31

 HEAD OF “MORE PORK” (_Podargus cuvierii_)                            32

 A KANGAROO HUNT                                          _To face page_

 SPIDER PARALYSED BY A HORNET                                         38

 QUEENSLAND NATIVE MOUNTED POLICE                                     46


 POUCH FOR THE CARRYING OF PITURI                                     49

 BOOMERANGS FROM QUEENSLAND                                           51

 STOCK-MAN’S WHIP                                                     53

 REST UNDER A BOTTLE-TREE (_Sterculia_)                               55

 BUSHMEN                                                              58

 A SQUATTER’S HOMESTEAD                                               59

 ELEPHANT SUGAR-CANE, MACKAY                                          63

 MY GORDON SETTER POINTING A BLACK SNAKE                  _To face page_


   ROCKHAMPTON                                                        69

 NOLLA-NOLLAS                                                         73

 PECULIAR POSITION OF NATIVES WHEN RESTING                            77

 NELLY IN THE KITCHEN                                     _To face page_

 JACKY, A “CIVILISED” BLACK-FELLOW                                    83

 CLIMBING WITH THE AID OF KĀMIN                           _To face page_

 WALLABY HUNT                                             _To face page_

 WALLABY NET FROM HERBERT RIVER                                       94

 THE SCREW-PALM (_Pandanus_)                                          95

 YOUNG CASSOWARY                                                      98

 PALM FOREST IN NORTHERN QUEENSLAND                                  103


 MY CAMP                                                  _To face page_

 WOODEN SHIELDS FROM NORTHERN QUEENSLAND                             120


   COMMENCES                                                         122

 A BORBOBY                                                _To face page_

 OLD WOMEN PROTECTING A FALLEN WARRIOR                               125



 AN OLD MAN FROM HERBERT RIVER                                       132

 A GROUP OF NATIVES FROM HERBERT RIVER                               133

   SCARS                                                             135


 MAKING FIRE                                                         141

 JUNGLE-HEN (_Megapodius tumulus_)                                   149

 TOOLLAH (_Pseudochirus archeri_)—Coloured plate          _To face page_

 EDIBLE BEETLE (_Eurynassa australis_)                               154

 LARVA OF SAME                                                       154

 NATIVES FROM HERBERT RIVER                               _To face page_

 RIFLE-BIRD (_Ptiloris victoriæ_)                                    171

 MONGAN (_Pseudochirus herbertensis_)—Coloured plate      _To face page_

 YARRI (_Dasyurus maculatus_)                                        174

 DINGO                                                               179

 START FOR AN EXPEDITION                                  _To face page_

 BASKET FROM NORTH QUEENSLAND                                        190

   RIVER                                                             194

   DOTS OF HUMAN BLOOD                                               195

 YABBY (_Pseudochirus lemuroides_)—Coloured plate         _To face page_

   MOURNING                                                          203

 _Cicada aurora_                                                     222

 BOONGARY (_Dendrolagus lumholtzii_)—Coloured plate       _To face page_

 ALL THE DOGS WERE PRODUCED                               _To face page_

 KÉLANMI                                                             233

 A TUFT OF TALEGALLA FEATHERS                                        237

 A SHELL USED AS AN ORNAMENT                                         237

 DANCE OF THE NATIVES                                     _To face page_

 STRIPED-FACED POUCHED MOUSE (_Sminthopsis virginiæ_)                252

 JIMMY                                                               255

   SEEN FROM FIVE SIDES                                              259

 DALRYMPLE CREEK                                          _To face page_


 NATIVES ON HERBERT RIVER                                            269

 BURIAL IN NORTHERN QUEENSLAND                                       275

   CHILDREN                                                          276

 HUNTING THE PYTHON                                                  293

 SNAKE FEAST IN MY CAMP                                   _To face page_

 A MESSAGE STICK FROM CENTRAL QUEENSLAND                             304

 REVERSE SIDE OF THE SAME                                            304


   ROCKHAMPTON                                                       314

 A WIRE HARPOON POINT                                                317

 A WOODEN PLUG                                                       317

 A WOODEN HARPOON POINT                                              317

 THE DUGONG, OR AUSTRALIAN SEA-COW (_Halicore dugong_)               319

   FOREGROUND                                                        323

 MOUNT MORGAN GOLD MINE                                   _To face page_

 _Nephrurus asper_                                                   325

 NATIVES FROM THE VICINITY OF ROCKHAMPTON                            330

 BROW-BAND FROM CENTRAL QUEENSLAND                                   331

 OPOSSUM THREAD                                                      332

 APRON MADE FROM OPOSSUM YARN                                        332

 SHIELDS FROM CENTRAL QUEENSLAND                                     333

 WOODEN SWORD FROM CENTRAL QUEENSLAND                                334

 BENDI FROM COOMOOBOOLAROO                                           334



 “KING BILLY OF GRACEMERE” WITH HIS “GIN” (WIFE)                     337


   NEIGHBOURHOOD OF TOWNSVILLE                                       344

 NATIVE POLICE DISPERSING THE BLACKS                      _To face page_

 COOK’S MONUMENT IN SYDNEY                                           356

   (_Inoceramus maximus_)                                            367

 LEAVES, FLOWERS, AND FRUIT OF _Eucalyptus amygdalina_               370

 AN AUSTRALIAN SPRUCE (_Araucaria bidwillii_)                        372

 THE TEA-TREE (_Melaleuca Leucadendron_)                             373

 _Chlamydosaurus kingii_                                             376

 WILD GEESE FROM NORTH QUEENSLAND (_Anseranas             _To face page_
   melanoleuca_)                                                     383

 EGG OF _Daphnia lumholtzii_                                         386

 _Daphnia lumholtzii_                                                386

 _Cyclestheria hislopi_                                              387

 SHELL OF A _Cyclestheria hislopi_                                   388

 MAP OF AUSTRALIA                                               _At end_




                               CHAPTER I

  Introductory—Voyage to Australia—Arrival at Adelaide—Description of
      the city—Melbourne, the Queen of the South—Working men—The highest
      trees in the world—Two of the most common mammals in Australia.

On May 24, 1880, I went on board the barque _Einar Tambarskjelver_ bound
from Snar Island near Christiania to Port Adelaide with a cargo of
planed lumber. I carried with me a hunter’s outfit, guns, ammunition,
and other articles necessary for the chase, furnished me by the
University of Norway, as well as some northern bird skins in order to
inaugurate exchange with Australian museums. Sailing in the north-east
trade-winds, a sunset in the tropics, or a mild starlit night on the
ocean with a blazing phosphorescent sea, do not fail to make a strong
impression. Then passing the pacific belt of the ocean, where a dead
calm is suddenly interrupted by the most violent storm, you soon reach,
by the aid of the south-east trades, the region of the westerly winds.
The Southern Cross and the cloud of Magellan, the gigantic sperm-whale,
whose huge head now and then appeared above the surface of the water,
and the albatross, whose glorious flight we never ceased to admire,
heralded our arrival within the limits of the Southern Ocean.
Cape-doves, albatrosses, and gulls accompanied us for weeks together.
The passage had, however, at times its dark sides. On August 17, at six
o’clock in the morning, we were overtaken by a most violent gale. All
the sails, except the close-reefed topsails and foresail, were taken in.
We shipped many seas. The stairs to the quarter-deck were crushed; one
wave broke through two doors in the companion-way to the steerage,
another set all the water-casks afloat in the maddest confusion, a third
filled the galley, so that the cook found himself waist-deep in water.
The fire was extinguished, and the food was mixed with the salt water.
Several times the seas broke through our main cabin door, filling my
cabin with water, making boots, socks, books, and other articles swim
about in all directions.

On a long journey one gets tired of the sea, this “desert of water,” as
the Arab calls it—and we long to set foot again on _terra firma_.
According to the calculations of the captain we were fifty geographical
miles from the coast of Australia, when one morning we perceived for the
first time the smell of land, in this instance a peculiarly bitter but
mildly aromatic odour, as of fragrant resin. This fragrance, doubtless,
came from the acacias, which at this time were in full bloom. For by the
aid of the wind these trees, particularly _Acacia fragrans_, diffuse the
fragrance of their flowers to a great distance, and this morning there
was blowing a fresh, damp breeze directly from the land.

On the afternoon of August 29 we got sight of land. In the evening we
saw the lighthouse on Kangaroo Island; followed by dolphins we navigated
through Investigator Straits, and on the afternoon of the next day we
anchored outside Port Adelaide. As it was raining, we contented
ourselves with viewing the town from the distance. Our eyes
involuntarily rested on a number of chimneys, an evidence of extensive



What most interested me here was the Botanical Garden, which I visited
the same day. The weather was splendid, the rays of the sun were
reflected in large ponds, where the water-fowl were swimming among
papyrus and Babylonian weeping-willows. The parrots chattered in their
cages, and displayed their brilliant plumage; the birds sang in the
cultivated bushes of the garden, and the frogs croaked with that harsh,
strong note, which seems especially developed in tropical lands. There
was a life, a throng, an assemblage of dazzling colours, which could not
but make a deep impression on a person whose eyes for a hundred days had
seen nothing but sky and water.

This fine garden contains forty-five acres, and is excellently managed
by Dr. R. Schomburgk, celebrated for his travels in British Guiana. In
the “palm-house,” built of glass and iron, are found tropical plants.
The most beautiful and most imposing part of the park is the so-called
garden of roses, a large square enclosure surrounded by garlands of
tastefully-arranged climbing roses. Here is an abundance of varieties,
beginning with the tallest rose-bushes and ending with the smallest
dwarf-roses, and the colours vary from the most dazzling white to the
darkest red or almost black.



Among the trees familiar to me in this park were an alder and a birch.
They stood very modestly, just putting forth their leaves in company
with grand magnolias in blossom, elegant araucarias, and magnificent
weeping-willows. The hot-houses near the superintendent’s dwelling were
admirable, and presented a wealth of the greatest variety of flowers
from all parts of the world, but mainly from Australia. Some groups of
fine bamboo particularly attracted my attention. The park is visited by
several thousand people every Sunday afternoon.

Adelaide, containing about 60,000 inhabitants, is a very regularly laid
out city. All the streets cross one another at right angles, and are
very broad. Along the gutters railings are placed, to which people may
hitch their horses. Even servants go to market on horseback with baskets
on their arms.

The residences are constructed in a very practical manner, suited to the
demands of the climate, with verandahs and beautiful gardens. In many
parts of the city there are public reading-rooms, where the latest
newspapers may be found. In the forenoon these reading-rooms are always
full of people, particularly of the working classes.

The city cannot fail to make a favourable impression upon the traveller.
It is cleanly and elegant, corresponding to its feminine name Adelaide.
The inhabitants are unusually amiable, and they are renowned for their
hospitality, and this is saying a great deal in so hospitable a land as

From Adelaide to Melbourne is a three days’ journey, and early one
morning I went on board a steamer bound for this port. Once there we
immediately perceive that we have come to a metropolis, for the flags of
all nations are unfurled to the breeze in its harbour.

The International Exhibition was to be opened in a few weeks, and in the
distance we could already see the great cupola of the building looming
up above the rest of the city. Great clouds of dust appeared in the
streets, giving us an idea of Melbourne’s dry climate. After a slow
voyage up the shallow Yarra river, during which we actually stuck in the
mud once or twice, we finally landed at the wharf.

Melbourne with its suburbs has only 300,000 inhabitants, but has the
appearance of being much larger on account of its broad and straight
streets and its numerous parks and magnificent public buildings.

The first building attracting our attention is the Library, a noble
structure in classical style, but the first thing the inhabitants want
the stranger to notice is the Post Office and Town Hall. The question is
being perpetually asked: “_Have_ you seen the Town Hall and the Post
Office?” The Assembly Room in the Town Hall contains one of the largest
organs in the world; it has 4373 pipes.

The residence of the Governor occupies a commanding height, and is
surrounded by a large park, which is directly connected with the
Botanical Garden.



The University, which is attended by about 400 students, has, since
1880, been open to women, who are now admitted to all the courses except
medicine! It possesses a large museum, where the animals are in part set
up in groups representing scenes from their daily life, a most
instructive arrangement. Here can also be seen a fossilised egg of the
extinct gigantic bird from Madagascar, the _Æpyornis maximus_.

The city contains a number of magnificent churches, hospitals, and
benevolent institutions. The streets are large, wide, and have immense
gutters. It has been well said by an author that Melbourne is London
seen through the small end of the telescope.

People seem to be very busy, and move through the streets with great
rapidity. Melbourne is a city of enjoyments and luxuries, equipped with
great elegance and comfort; everything suggests money and the power of
wealth. There is no article of luxury which is not to be found here,
from Norwegian herring to champagne in every degree of dryness.



Among sports, horse-racing ranks first, and not a week passes without
one or more races on the celebrated Flemmington racecourse, near the
city, taking place. Every year, in the beginning of November, about
120,000 people come together to witness the great Melbourne Cup race,
where fortunes are lost and won.

The whites born in Australia are gradually becoming a distinct race,
differing from other Englishmen. They have a more lively temperament,
and are slighter in frame, but tall, erect, and muscular. I also
observed in Queensland that some of the children had a tendency to the
American twang. The Australians pay great attention to travellers
visiting their country, and they are very proud of showing its
attractions. Thus a stranger may, as a rule, count on getting a free
pass on all the railroads. The ladies are free and easy in their
manners. They are frank and confiding, and their acquaintance is quickly
made. Their friendship, once gained, may be relied on, and they are
untiring in their acts of kindness.

In no other place in the world do the labouring classes have as much
influence as in Victoria; for the _working men_ in fact govern the
colony. As a rule, they are well educated, and keep abreast of the
times, but still their administration of affairs has not always been
successful. The economical condition of the labouring classes in
Melbourne is excellent, but they are rather fond of intoxicating drinks.
I am able to give an example, showing how the people of Australia keep
themselves informed on public questions. I once spoke to a labourer whom
I met on the street in Melbourne, and as he noticed that I was a
stranger, he asked me where my home was. When he learned that I came
from Norway, he exclaimed: “Oh, we know Norway very well, and _the
Norwegian scheme_!” He then explained this to me as best he could. I
afterwards learned that Victoria, in 1874, was on the point of adopting
a parliament like the Norwegian, with one chamber which divides itself
into two bodies (the odelsthing and lagthing), a proposition which was
on the point of being carried.

The climate of Melbourne is not particularly warm, though during the
summer excessively hot winds from the interior of the continent may blow
for a few days, and not infrequently children die from the heat at this
time. The sudden changes of temperature, peculiar to the southern part
of Australia, also annually demand their victims, though upon the whole
the climate must be regarded as very healthy.

Before leaving Melbourne I made several excursions far into the colony.
On one of these I visited the celebrated mining town Ballarat, the place
which marks the first epoch in the history of Victoria, and of all
Australia for that matter, for it was the gold which especially drew the
attention of the world to the new continent.

Since 1851 the annual production of gold in Australia has averaged ten
million pounds sterling.

No traveller should neglect to view “the highest trees in the world,”
for it is easy to see them near Melbourne. _Eucalyptus amygdalina_
grows, according to the famous botanist Baron F. v. Mueller, to a
greater height than the _Wellingtonia sequoia_ of California. Trees have
been measured more than 450 feet high. Though these gum-trees are
without comparison the highest in the world, they must yield the place
of honour in regard to beauty and wealth of foliage. They send forth but
a couple of solitary branches from their lofty tops. Thus the
_Wellingtonia_ retains the crown as the king of the vegetable kingdom.
F. v. Mueller says of _Eucalyptus amygdalina_: “It is a grand picture to
see a mass of enormously tall trees of this kind, with stems of
mast-like straightness and clear whiteness, so close together in the
forest as to allow them space only toward their summit to send their
scanty branches and sparse foliage to the free light.”

At a sheep station about 100 miles from Melbourne I made the
acquaintance of two of the most common mammals of Australia. One day I
went out hunting with a son of the friend that I was visiting. We
learned that a koala or native bear (_Phascolarctus cinereus_) was
sitting on a tree near the hut of a shepherd. Our way led us through a
large but not dense wood of leafless gum-trees. My companion told me
that the forest was dead, as a result of “ring-barking.” To get the
grass to grow better, the settler removes a band of bark near the root
of the tree. In a country where cattle-raising is carried on to so great
an extent this may be very practical, but it certainly does not beautify
the landscape. The trees die at once after this treatment, and it is a
sad and repulsive sight to see these withered giants as if in despair
stretching their white barkless branches towards the sky. When we came
to the spot, we found the bear asleep and perfectly calm on a branch of
a tree opposite the shepherd’s hut. One must not suppose that the
Australian bear is a dangerous animal. It is called “native bear,” but
is in nowise related to the bear family. It is an innocent and peaceful
marsupial, which is active only at night, and sluggishly climbs the
trees, eating leaves and sleeping during the whole day. As soon as the
young has left the pouch, the mother carries it with her on her back.



We did not think it worth while to shoot the sleeping animal, but sent a
little boy up in the tree to bring it down. He hit the bear on the head
with a club and pushed it so that it fell, taking care not to be
scratched by its claws, which are long and powerful.

The Australian bear is found in considerable numbers throughout the
eastern part of the continent, even within the tropical circle. I
discovered a new kind of tape-worm which, strange to say, is found in
this leaf-feeding animal.





One day our dog put up a kangaroo-rat, which fled to a hollow tree lying
on the ground. When we examined the tree it was found to contain another
animal also, namely an opossum (_Irichosurus vulpecula_). It is one of
the most common mammals in Australia, and is of great service to the
natives, its flesh being eaten and its skin used for clothes. The
civilised world, too, has begun to appreciate the value of this kind of
fur, which is now exported in large quantities to London. The natives
kill the animal in the daytime by dragging it out from the hollow trees
where it usually resides. Among the colonists the younger generation are
very zealous opossum hunters. They hunt them for sport, going out by
moonlight and watching the animal as it goes among the trees to seek its

I was now about to leave the capital of Victoria, a city which cannot
fail to be admired by the stranger. It is indeed a remarkable fact that
in the same place where fifty years ago the shriek of the parrot blended
with the noise of the camp of the native Australian, an international
exhibition should be held in a metropolis. The first house was built in
Melbourne in 1835—the “World’s Fair” took place in 1880. It is not
merely in jest that Melbourne is called “the Queen of the South.”

                               CHAPTER II

  Sydney harbour—Jealousy between Sydney and Melbourne—The Blue
      Mountains—Brisbane and Rockhampton—First evening in
      tropical Australia—Gracemere station—Animal and plant
      life—Vine-scrubs—Excursion into the neighbouring districts—A
      Norseman who feels cold in Australia.



My next visit was to Melbourne’s mother city, Sydney, the oldest city of

As is known, it was originally a colony of criminals, but when the
wealth of Australia, its gold and its rich pastures, were discovered,
the colony got a large accession of all classes of society, and before
long transportation ceased. The city is now very aristocratic and has a
more antique appearance than Melbourne; the streets are crooked and
uneven; but there are several fine buildings, which do not, however,
attract the attention they deserve on account of the unevenness of the
ground. The Museum is admirably situated, and its magnificent treasures
are well worth visiting. To our surprise we found it open on Sundays,
while in the other towns in Australia, even the smallest, the Sabbath is
observed as strictly as in England. Scientific investigation flourishes
in Sydney, and several natural history collections are owned by private
individuals. The museum of Mr. W. M‘Leay deserves special mention. It is
really wonderful. The city has reason to be proud of its Botanical
Garden, which extends down to the harbour, and is for a great part
washed by the sea. The climate is subtropical, so that plants from the
various zones grow side by side. Thus I noticed _Digitalis purpurea_ and
the elm-tree growing by the side of _Ficus elastica_ and other tropical
plants. On the yellow water-lilies (_Nuphar luteum_) the sparrows were
singing as merrily as if this were their native land.

In Adelaide I was advised to say, when I came to Melbourne, that
Adelaide was a hole, and that no city in the southern hemisphere could
be compared with Melbourne, the Queen of the South; but if I desired to
keep on good terms with the people of Sydney, I must take care not to
praise Melbourne. On the other hand, I was advised to praise Sydney
harbour as the finest in the world.

And it is truly a wonderful harbour. It is large enough to hold all the
fleets of the world, and its beauty reminds one of the celebrated
entrances to Rio and to Naples.

As the hotels of the city are not clean, and are supplied with most
impertinent servants, the visitor should try to secure an introduction
to one of the clubs, for there he is always sure of being perfectly

If a person comes from the busy and lively Melbourne, he may find Sydney
sleepy and lazy, but it must not be considered a city of loafers. It is
celebrated for its colossal wealth.

The lower class of the inhabitants seemed to me to be inquisitive and
greedy; the cultivated classes, on the other hand, are engaging and
hospitable, and make a most favourable impression.

Between Melbourne and Sydney there is great rivalry. “It is no
exaggeration to say that New South Wales and Victoria are no less rivals
than Germany and France,” said an Australian literary gentleman. How far
he was right I cannot say. Meanwhile the following circumstance shows
that the jealousy is very great. Immediately after Sydney, in the
seventies, had had an international exhibition, Melbourne arranged a
similar one, and though the two colonies were to be united by a
railroad, the two cities could not agree on the width of the gauge, so
that we have to change trains on the boundary.



By railroad we can make a very interesting excursion to the Blue
Mountains, where the aristocracy have their villas. The railway runs
zigzag up the mountains, and is regarded as a masterpiece of
engineering, sometimes mounting a gradient of 1 in 30. On the way we get
a splendid view of the landscape. The Parramatta river winds
picturesquely through the plain, and is bordered on both sides by
thriving dark orange-groves. The mountains, which are covered with trees
but are not cultivated, consist of a series of parallel ridges of the
same height, which are rent by deep ravines. One ridge rises beyond the
other until the last is lost in the blue distance.

It is a journey of but little more than two days to Brisbane, the
capital of Queensland. Not long after passing the boundaries of New
South Wales, the southern entrance of Moreton Bay is reached, a large
and shallow body of water not far from the city. When we neared the
shore, the sea broke over the long sand bars, which it was very
difficult to cross, but we soon afterwards found ourselves in the calm
water of the bay. The sun set as a blood-red disc in tropical splendour.
Immediately afterwards the full moon rose and shone on the beautiful
banks of the Brisbane river, while we steamed slowly up between the
forests of mangroves.

We now approached the land in whose solitary regions I was about to
spend several years. I stood alone on deck in the sultry night, and my
thoughts naturally turned to this strange country. What was I to find in
Queensland? Was I perhaps to leave my bones in this land, slain by the
blacks, bitten by a snake, or poisoned by malaria?

In Brisbane I met Mr. Archer, the Secretary of the Treasury of
Queensland. I had a letter of introduction to him from the zoological
professors of the University of Christiania, and was invited by him to
make my headquarters on his estate near Rockhampton.

After a journey of two days we arrived at the mouth of Fitzroy river.
Like all the rivers of Queensland, it is very shallow and not navigable
for large vessels. This is at present a great drawback to the maritime
commerce of the colony; but there are some good harbours, and efforts
are continually being made to remove obstacles by dredging.

Passengers and baggage were now transferred to a smaller steamboat,
which carried us up the stream. The left bank is flat and uninteresting;
while a range of mountains about 1400 feet high rises on the right bank.
After a few hours’ journey we pass a large establishment for canning
meat, in which solder alone for the tin cans amounts to about £300
annually,—and then almost immediately arrive at Rockhampton, the second
city in the young colony, containing about 9000 inhabitants. The first
thing which attracts attention on arrival is a remarkably fine
suspension bridge across the river.

The town itself contains nothing remarkable; still a fine hospital and a
large school-building, both built on a hill just behind the city, may be
worthy of mention. Rockhampton consists mainly of one-storied houses
with verandahs. The streets, as is the case in almost all Australian
towns, have awnings over the side-walks, a very wise provision against
the burning heat of the sun. Business is lively in the city, which is of
importance as the metropolis of a large extent of territory whose
products are marketed and exported here. This is also the distributing
point from which stations in the western part of Queensland are supplied
with all sorts of articles of necessity and luxury. A railway extends
nearly 300 miles to the west.



Like other Australian cities, Rockhampton of course has its botanical
gardens, which in time will be very fine.

We at once drove to Gracemere, Messrs. Archer’s cattle station, situated
seven miles from the city. The country was flat, monotonous, and swampy,
but on approaching the station the ground began to rise. On reaching the
highest point a wide view suddenly burst upon us. Before us lay a large
lake sparkling in the last rays of the setting sun, hundreds of birds
swam on its glassy surface, and on the green shores was feeding a large
flock of geese, which hissed and took flight as we passed. On a
promontory extending far out into the lake was the station, which was to
be my home for some time to come; with its many houses it had the
appearance from the distance of a small village.


  FROGS (_Hyla cærulea_) ENTERING A WATER-JAR.

We drove along a mighty hedge of cactus to the main building, which lay
on the extreme point of the land. The bare timber walls did not impress
me very favourably, coming as I did from the luxury of Melbourne and
Sydney, but the spacious apartments and cool verandahs gave me a
hospitable greeting and looked cheerful and inviting.

When we had taken tea, Mr. Archer brought out his microscope in order to
let me examine some insects, thousands of which were swarming about the
lamp. But white ants had taken possession of the case, so that the
microscope was unfit for use. These insects are a great nuisance
throughout Queensland, and precautions must always be taken against them
when a house is built. It was a strange life which I now experienced for
the first time in the Australian “bush.” The summer heat was oppressive
in the pitchy darkness of a November evening, though now and then
lighted up by flashes of lightning. The insects gathered in great
numbers on the ceiling, and blinded by the lamplight they fell in such
thick layers on the table that it was not possible to read. Bats
fluttered in and out through the open windows and doors. Not only on the
floor, but, incredible as it may seem, even in the water-jar, the frogs
croaked merrily and often so loudly as to interfere with conversation.

I, however, soon felt perfectly comfortable at the station, where I
spent seven pleasant months of summer and winter, busily engaged in my
new and rich field of activity. A small house was given me as my
working-room, and it was so arranged as to serve as a safe repository
for my collections.

My European summer clothes soon became too warm for me, and the first
thing I did was to secure the usual Australian dress, which everybody
wears who lives in the bush. A light merino-wool shirt, having over this
a coloured cotton shirt open in the neck, with sleeves rolled up to the
elbows, trousers of heavy white cotton cloth called moleskin, white
cotton socks, shoes, a broad-brimmed felt hat with the brim turned down,
constitute the dress of the bushmen. This suit of clothes, which can be
bought ready-made at a low price anywhere in Australia, is neat and
cleanly and very convenient.

The region about Rockhampton is well known for its warm and dry climate,
100° F. being quite frequent during the summer months. Gracemere lies
just far enough within the tropical circle to permit us to speak of
tropical Australia; the heat is even greater here than farther north in
the more damp sea-climate, where the tradewind blows. In the winter,
hoar-frost is occasionally seen on the ground, and now and then ice may
form on a pool of water. Thus it will be seen that the thermometer does
not really go very low, but at such times the cold is felt so intensely
that it is a comfort to get near a fire.

The sky is almost always clear and cloudless; the air is pure and
transparent, especially in winter, when the mountains have a very
beautiful deep blue colour. In the clear winter evenings after sunset
the heavens often assume a remarkable greenish hue.



It cannot be denied that there is something wearisome and monotonous in
a continuous summer—for there is nothing but summer in the greater part
of the land—yet every one who rejoices in sunshine and warmth will be
contented in the climate of Queensland; it is doubtless more salubrious
than any other in the tropical world.

The principal building at the station, like all the other houses, is
almost entirely surrounded by a verandah, which is enclosed in a
remarkable manner by creeping fig-trees clinging firmly to the posts.
The roof is covered after the Australian fashion with sheets of zinc,
and large iron tanks are placed at the corners of the house to catch the
rain-water, for this is almost universally used for drinking throughout
Australia; it is usually suspended on the verandah in canvas bags, which
exposes it to a rapid evaporation and makes it as cold as ice. Down
towards the lake there is a very fine garden, where orange-trees, vines,
and the European fig-tree grow side by side with the pine-apple and the
mango of the tropical zone. In the winter, stocks, recedas, and asters
flourish very well, but the summer is too warm for them. Pelargonium and
calladium glow in brilliant colours.



The other most conspicuous trees in the garden are the magnificent
Madagascar _Poinciana regia_, tamarind, the Brazilian jacaranda, and
several sorts of Australian spruce, especially a beautiful specimen of
bunya-bunya (_Araucaria bidwillii_). This grand tree grows only in a
limited territory from Darling Downs north to Burnett river, and is
protected by the Government for the sake of the aborigines, who collect
the huge cones and use the seeds for food.

Cocoa-nut and date-palms delight the eye, but do not bear good fruit,
although the reason is not apparent.

Near the lake the celebrated Egyptian papyrus has been planted in large
quantities, and forms a perfect grove. A little singer, the
_Acrocephalus australis_, has made his home in this papyrus grove, where
several pairs are nesting. It sings in the evening and in the night, and
is considered to be Australia’s best song-bird. The lake, or lagoon as
it is called here, is a little more than a mile long and half a mile
wide, and is the resort of a great number of water-fowls. In the winter
more than 400 pelicans are seen here, but in the middle of the summer
most of them depart.

The pelicans do the most of their fishing in the night, and together.
The noise they make with the splashing of their wings while thus
occupied sounds something like that of a paddle-wheel steamer in motion.
Occasionally I could see them rise, apparently without moving their
wings, in a spiral direction, higher and higher, until they disappeared
from sight. It seemed as if they did it only for amusement or for the
purpose of enjoying the sunshine. When they return, they come down so
swiftly that a sough is heard in the air.

A few black swans (_Cygnus atratus_) are seen now and then. In November
I frequently heard them sing on the water in the evening. Ducks and
geese abound, and so do gray and blue cranes, cormorants, and
snake-birds (_Plotus_). Not many years ago Mr. A. Archer counted
thirty-seven kinds of birds on the lagoon. And still the birds are few
now, both as to numbers and species, as compared with what they were
twenty years ago. The cattle have eaten the tall grass and the weeds
growing in the shallow water near the shores of the lake, where
thousands of birds found their homes. Even black swans made their nests
here. Mr. Archer believes that a few years ago there were more than
10,000 birds on this lake. If a gun was fired, the birds rose with a
noise like distant thunder.

The most striking bird on the lagoon is doubtless the beautiful _Parra
gallinacea_, which in Australia is called the lotus-bird. It sits on
leaves that float on the water, particularly those of the water-lily.
Blue water-lilies are found in great numbers along the edge of the
lagoon, and hence the lotus-bird is very common here. It is somewhat
larger than a thrush, and has very long legs, and particularly highly
developed toes, which enable it to walk about on the floating leaves.
Its food consists chiefly of snails and insects, which it usually finds
by turning the lily leaf. Its simple nest is also built on the leaves.

The eggs, which are a beautiful brown with lines and spots, are
considered very rare, and are remarkable both on account of their form
and colour. They look, says Gould, as though they were drawn by a man
who had amused himself by covering the surface with fantastic lines. The
young look very funny on account of their long legs and big toes as
compared with their small bodies.

The grown bird is not shy, but the young are extremely timid. I had once
or twice seen the old birds with young, but as soon as I approached
them, the young always disappeared, while the old birds walked about
fearlessly, as if there was no danger. It long remained a mystery to me,
how they could conceal themselves so well and so long, but one day the
problem was solved. An old bird came walking with two young ones near
shore. I hid behind a tree and let them come close to me. As I suddenly
made my appearance, the small ones dived under the water and held
themselves fast to the bottom, while I watched them for a quarter of an
hour, before taking them up.

There are large quantities of fish in the lagoon, several varieties of
perch, eel, and a kind of pike with a very long snout (the gar-fish).
But the fresh-water mullet (_Mugil_) is particularly abundant: it has a
remarkable power of leaping out of the water, and in so doing it
frequently comes unawares up into the boat and is caught. When the
lagoon, on account of long-continued drought, is very low, you can
always be sure while bathing of coming in contact with some kind of
fish, which sometimes flies over your head.

Gracemere was originally a sheep station, but latterly the sheep have
entirely given place to cattle on the whole coast. This change is partly
due to the climate, which is too moist, and partly to a nocuous kind of
grass, namely the dreaded spear-grass (_Andropogon contortus_), which
grows on the coast, and which rendered sheep-raising impossible. It
stuck fast in the wool of the sheep, or worked itself into their very
bodies and killed them. For this reason Gracemere is now exclusively a
cattle station. The sheep were about 350 miles farther west.

As a curiosity it may be mentioned that in the vicinity of Gracemere I
saw the _Phragmites communis_, so well known in Norway, probably the
only plant which the Norwegian and Queensland floras have in common.

As Messrs. Archer are naturalised Norwegians from Scotland, it may
perhaps be interesting to learn that they were the first white men who
occupied the spot where Rockhampton now is situated. They have also
given Norse names to several localities in the vicinity, as for instance
Mount Berserker and Mount Sleipner. The run of their station was at
first fifty miles long and twenty miles wide. But gradually, as the
country became settled, the “squatters” were not permitted to retain
these larger pastures, which they do not themselves own, but occupy by
paying rent to the Government. Hence the area of the station very soon
became reduced, when the land, owing to the increase of population, was
offered for sale. This is usually the case with all new land in
Australia. First comes the large sheep and cattle-owner—the squatter—who
often lays claim to immense territory. Later he must give place to the
smaller selectors, who as a rule cultivate the soil. The squatter is,
however, allowed to purchase a certain part of the land for his own
possession and use. This the Archers had done. On the run there were at
this time only 4000 head of cattle, but they were all of pure pedigree.
They had recently brought from Melbourne a bull nine months old for
which they had paid £315. It is for the sake of the beef and not for
milk that so much stress is laid upon the blood of cattle in Australia.



The vicinity around Rockhampton and Gracemere furnishes considerable
variety both of flora and of fauna. The country is hilly, and well
watered with small lakes and streams. Along the streams vine-scrubs
often abound. The gum-tree (_Eucalyptus_), so characteristic of
Australia, also marks the woodlands here, and appears in greater variety
than is generally seen in so limited a territory. The gum-trees fit for
lumber, _Eucalyptus tereticornis_ and _Eucalyptus brachypoda_, are very
abundant in swampy places, along with isolated groups of the well-known
_Melaleuca leucadendron_, called by the colonists tea-tree, from which
is extracted what is known in medicine as cajeput oil. The heights
nearest the station are particularly well covered with the tree familiar
to the colonists as blood-wood (_Eucalyptus terminalis_), besides a
great many other trees of the same family. A few varieties of acacia,
_e.g._, _A. bidwillii_ and _A. salicina_, are found where the hills are
drier. On the plains box-tree (_Eucalyptus polyanthemos_) predominates.
In a circle of fifteen miles about Rockhampton there are found so many
useful trees that the number of species is about one-third of all the
useful trees in the colony. Although many of these have great value as
strong and solid timber, still they fall far short of being utilised as
they deserve. The colonists use the most valuable wood for ordinary
purposes, as for building houses and fences. In a tree like _Tristiana
suaveolens_ may be found a remarkably fine material for work under
water, while the _Eucalyptus robusta_ furnishes the best mahogany that
can be desired.

Various parasites and epiphytes are found in great numbers in the
woodlands, as for instance the _Ficus platypoda_ and _Ficus
cunninghamii_, which grow on the large gum-trees. They send their roots
down from giddy heights, enclose the tree, and at last destroy it.

Though the gum-trees usually give the Australian landscape a monotonous
appearance, the region about Rockhampton is very beautiful and
picturesque. The many little lakes and the changing forms of the hills
contribute much to this result. On the lagoons float the beautiful blue
water-lilies; the rare and splendid _Nelumbium speciosum_ is also
occasionally found.

But the greatest interest centres in the scrubs along the little
streams. In contrast with the woodland, where a single kind of tree may
prevail, we here find a multitude of families, genera, and species, of
which none predominates. All are mixed together, but form more or less a
harmonious whole. The average colour of this scrub is usually dark
green, but in the edges we find a pleasing change into a lighter green.
Here we find the _Bauhinia hookerii_, with its fine light-coloured
leaves, and _Capparis nobilis_ shines with its large white flowers.

There are only a few ground-flowers, but a number of creeping plants.
The trees are festooned with climbing plants such as _Vitis climatidea_
and others. Vitis in great abundance and of many varieties are found
especially in the scrubs, hence the colonists call this kind of brush
_vine-scrub_. The charming _Callistemon lanceolatum_, which is common in
the scrubs along the Queensland streams, attracts our attention on
account of its rich scarlet flowers, the more so since the total effect
of a scrub is green and very monotonous.


  LAUGHING JACKASS (_Dacelo gigas_).

This does not however hinder us from finding beautiful woody scenes
along the streams, often indeed so charming that we fancy ourselves
transported to an ideal landscape. It is not necessary to be a special
lover of nature in order to be captivated by the picturesque arches of
the trees over the winding stream, where the silence is broken only by
the shrill cry of the cockatoo or the tittering ha! ha! ha! ha! of the
laughing jackass. Suddenly, as we walk through the vine-scrub, a lizard
will throw itself down into the water with a great splash to disturb a
poor water-hen that has become absorbed in its own meditations on the



Few of the birds of Australia have pleased me as much as this curious
laughing jackass, though it is both clumsy and unattractive in colour.
Far from deserving its name jackass, it is on the contrary very wise and
also very courageous. It boldly attacks venomous snakes and large
lizards, and is consequently the friend of the colonist.

The animal life in these woods was of the greatest interest to me, and
every day I added to my collection during the excursions I made in the
vicinity of Gracemere. In the scrub I shot a _Pitta strepitans_, which
is very rare in these parts, but common in Northern Queensland.

As the region around Rockhampton is comparatively civilised, I could not
look for any large number of mammals, for they are the first to yield to
civilisation. Those that live in trees were still frequently to be
found. The common opossum abounded, and the hollow trunks of the
gum-trees generally served as abodes of the bandicoot, of the native cat
(_Dasyurus_), and of the kangaroo-rat.

It is very interesting to observe how a kind of “white ant” make their
nests. They build them high up in trees, constructing tunnels along the
stem of the tree to the ground. If the tree leans, they always build the
tunnels on the under side, to avoid the opossum, which climbs on the
upper side.

My collections consisted chiefly of birds, fishes, and lower animals,
especially _Coleoptera_. I was fortunate enough to discover a new
fresh-water cod, the fish called black-fish by the colonists. It is so
little shy that it would even bite my leg when I bathed. I at one time
had an opportunity of observing that it can live for nine hours out of

One of the largest land-snails of Australia, the _Helix cunninghamii_,
is found on the hills near the station.

My excursions extended not only to the immediate vicinity of Gracemere,
but I made journeys of investigation to regions 200 miles away. Near
Westwood, a little town about thirty miles from Rockhampton, I found for
the first time the so-called bower-birds (_Chlamydodera maculata_), a
family that has become celebrated on account of the bowers which they
build for their amusement.

These bowers, which must not be confounded with nests, are used, as is
well known, exclusively for amusement. They are always found in small
brushwood, never in the open field, and in their immediate vicinity the
bird collects a mass of different kinds of objects, especially
snail-shells, which are laid in two heaps, one at each entrance, the one
being much larger than the other. There are frequently hundreds of
shells, about three hundred in one heap and fifty in the other. There is
also usually a handful of green berries partly inside and partly outside
of the bower; but like the empty shells and the other things collected,
they are simply for amusement. Besides, these birds doubtless have the
sense of beauty, as is indicated by the variegated and glittering
objects gathered. This bower-bird has another remarkable quality, in its
wonderful power of imitating sounds. When it visits the farms, where it
commits great depredations in the gardens, it soon learns to mew like a
cat or to crow like a cock.

In the woods here I shot a young cuckoo (_Eudynamis flindersii_), which
was fed by four wood-swallows (_Artamus sordidus_). One of the swallows
fell to the same shot. The three survivors swooped down toward the young
cuckoo several times, but they took no notice whatever of their dead
companion. I tried to approach the place, but the bold birds kept flying
against me, as if to prevent me from proceeding, or to exhibit their
wrath at what had happened. I shot one more, and waited to see what
would happen. Both disappeared, but in the course of half an hour they
returned accompanied by two others.

On a farm outside the village I saw a large nocuous insect, a moth which
sucked the juice out of the oranges in the garden. Every evening a war
of extermination had to be made against these animals, which are all the
same very beautiful. Farmers have many other foes in tropical Australia.
The large fruit-eating bat (_Pteropus_) does great damage to the
orchards, and it is no pleasant sight for the industrious farmer to see
the devouring swarms of these so-called flying-foxes advancing on his
crops of an evening. Were it not for these enemies, fruit-growing in
Queensland would be still more profitable than it is. An orange is no
cheaper in Australia than in Norway, and all kinds of fruit are paid for
in proportion.



Nor is the European bee, introduced by the colonists, permitted to live
in peace in its new home. A kind of moth attacks the larvæ and destroys

From Westwood I proceeded to Peak Downs. Outside the village the
landscape was enlivened by the rare sight of flowers on the ground, the
red blossoms of the _Pimelea hæmatostachya_ affording an agreeable
change to the eye.

At Peak Downs, situated about 200 miles west of Rockhampton, I received
the first impression of genuine native Australian scenery. Large plains,
with here and there an isolated gum-tree; extensive scrubs, and now and
then low mountain-ridges in the background; sometimes an emu would
appear, or a little flock of kangaroos that are suddenly startled—all of
which is so characteristic of the country.

I was surprised at the great number of marsupials that had their abode
there. They had proved to be so troublesome that several of the
squatters had found it necessary to surround their large pastures with
fences so high that the animals could not jump over them and consume the
grass. One of the sheep-owners told me that in the course of eighteen
months he had killed 64,000 of these animals, especially wallabies
(_Macropus dorsalis_) and kangaroo-rats (_Lagorchestes conspicillatus_),
and also many thousands of the larger kangaroo (_Macropus giganteus_).
The bodies of these animals are left to lie and rot, for none but the
natives will eat the flesh; and although the skin of the large kangaroo
can be tanned into an excellent leather, still it does not pay to skin
the animal so far away from the coast. The only part that is used
occasionally is the tail, from which a fine soup is produced.

The squatters at Peak Downs took great interest in my work, and my first
experience of Australian “bush-life” was particularly agreeable. They
placed their men at my disposal, so that I had a splendid opportunity of
adding to my collections. At the station where I was a guest, even one
of the ladies of the house offered me her assistance, and once or twice
she accompanied me when I went after emus and kangaroos, which are
easily approached when you are driving in a buggy. My fair companion
held the reins while I did the shooting.

Emus are very inquisitive, and can therefore easily be enticed within
shooting range. Thus a man at Peak Downs told me that he frequently had
attracted their attention by lying on his back and kicking his feet in
the air. When the animals came near enough he shot them.

In the winter I made an excursion to Calliungal, where the inhabitants
were surprised that I suffered so much from the cold. As a joke they
invited their nearest neighbours to come and look at “a Norseman who
felt cold in Australia.” It was so cold in the nights that the pools
were frozen over, while the day was comparatively hot. On account of the
cold nights I, who was unaccustomed to this climate, found it difficult
to get woollen blankets enough for my bed.

In the Dee river, which flows by Calliungal, I observed several times
the remarkable Platypus (_Ornithorhynchus anatinus_) swimming rapidly
about after the small water insects and vegetable particles which
constitute its food. It shows only a part of its back above water, and
is so quick in its movements that it frequently dives under water before
the shot can reach it.

                              CHAPTER III

  Journey to Western Queensland—Camping out—_Damper_ (Australian
      bread)—The song of the magpie—Australian scrubs—Hunting
      the kangaroo—Devotion of parrots—Station life—Lonely
      shepherds—Migration of rats—Native justice—Australian fleas—Native
      mounted police—A remarkable flint instrument—The boomerang.



In the beginning of July I prepared myself for a long journey to the
west. I first despatched several cases of things collected to
Christiania, and then proceeded on my journey in company with a man who
was to bring provisions to Minnie Downs, Messrs. Archer’s sheep station,
about 350 miles west from Rockhampton.

I had long contemplated this journey, as Western Queensland was in my
imagination a veritable Eldorado for the naturalist. So far as I knew,
no zoologist had yet studied the fauna of the far west. With my limited
acquaintance with Australian bush-life I was happy to get a companion;
he had a waggon drawn by three horses, so that our day’s journey was
comparatively short, which was a great advantage to me. I thus had the
opportunity of making many digressions on the way, and of procuring many
animals, while my companion preceded me. The greater part of the day I
was occupied on my own account in hunting and in preparing my game. In
the course of the afternoon I overtook the waggon, the track of which I
was always able to follow.

At sunset we encamped for the night, and the horses were let loose with
their forefeet hobbled. We made a large fire and prepared our supper,
which, as is common in the bush, consisted of salt beef and _damper_.
The latter is the name of a kind of bread made of wheat flour and water.
The dough is shaped into a flat, round cake, which is baked in red-hot
ashes. This bread looks very inviting, and tastes very good, as long as
it is fresh, but it soon becomes hard and dry.


  HEAD OF “MORE PORK” (_Podargus cuvierii_).

After supper we immediately made up our beds, which consisted simply of
a waterproof laid on the ground and some woollen blankets. For the sake
of convenience we usually slept under the waggon with the fire before
us. Generally there is no other roof for the Australian traveller than
the sky, and this is, as a rule, quite sufficient in Western Queensland,
where no dew falls except immediately after the rainy season. On the
coast it is, however, necessary to be more prudent; if you do not sleep
in a tent, you should at least take care to have something over your
head, so as not to inhale the dew. A couple of boughs will often
answer—a precaution never taken by the careless bushmen.

How well one feels in this out-of-door life! When we lie down to rest we
are lulled to sleep by the melancholy, sleep-inspiring, and not
disagreeable voices of the night bird _Podargus_—“more pork! more
pork!”—and we are awakened in the bracing morning air, before the sun is
up, by the wondrous melodious organ-tones of the Australian magpie
(_Gymnorhina tibicen_).

At Expedition Range we came to dense scrubs, the so-called
Brigalow-scrubs. The motley blending of plants which characterises the
scrubs of the sea-board is not found here. The Brigalow (_Acacia
harpophylla_) frequently occupies the whole ground for miles around; the
air is heavy and oppressive; occasionally the gray monotony is broken by
an isolated bottle-tree (p. 55) (_Sterculia rupestris_), which derives
its name from the wonderful resemblance of the stem to a bottle. The
inner part of this tree is porous and spongy, and therefore absorbs a
great deal of moisture, a fact of which the cattle-owner sometimes
avails himself during a prolonged drought. In a few places this damp
wood, which contains a great deal of starch, is used for fodder.

After journeying two or three days through this gray wilderness, we
crossed Comet river. Along its banks my attention was drawn to a number
of _Casuarinas_—those leafless, dark trees which always make a sad
impression on the traveller; even a casual observer will notice the
dull, depressing sigh which comes from a grove of these trees when there
is the least breeze. Near Springsure I stopped a day at a station, where
I was invited to take part in a kangaroo hunt. There were several of us
in the company, all on horseback. Toward sunset we set out, for the
animals at that time go out to feed, and it was not long before we
caught sight of one of them. Our dogs, which were all fine kangaroo
hounds, were now let loose, and we galloped after them as fast as our
horses could carry us.

The kangaroo jumps as quickly as a galloping horse, but usually it gets
tired soon, especially if it is an “old man,” as the colonists say. He
then places himself with his back against the trunk of a tree and seeks
to protect himself from the dogs to the last. Woe be to the dog who
comes within reach of his paws! He seizes it with his arms, and rips its
belly open with his strong big toe. The dog therefore takes good care
not to come too near. Sometimes the kangaroo takes refuge in a pool of
water, and if the dog is too intrusive, the kangaroo ducks it
instinctively under water, and holds it there till it is dead. The hunt
proceeded as rapidly as our fast horses could gallop, but it did not
take long before the kangaroo turned on the dogs in the manner I have
described. One of the hunters came up, dismounted, and one or two
powerful blows from his club put an end to the animal. We killed six of
them in this manner.

Not far from Nogoa river I overtook my travelling companion. In this
region I shot two specimens of the beautiful parrot _Platycercus
pulcherrimus_ under the following remarkable circumstances. An hour
before sunset I left the camp with my gun, and soon caught sight of a
pair of these parrots, a male and a female, that were walking near an
ant-hill eating grass-seed. After I had shot the male, the female flew
up into a neighbouring tree. I did not at once go to pick up the dead
bird—the fine scarlet feathers of the lower part of its belly, which
shone in the rays of the setting sun, could easily be seen in the
distance. Soon after the female came flying down to her dead mate. With
her beak she repeatedly lifted the dead head up from the ground, walked
to and fro over the body, as if she would bring it to life again; then
she flew away, but immediately returned with some dry straws of grass in
her beak, and laid them before the dead bird, evidently for the purpose
of getting him to eat the seed. As this too was in vain, she began again
to raise her mate’s head and to trample on his body, and finally flew
away to a tree just as darkness was coming on. I approached the tree,
and a shot put an end to the faithful animal’s sorrow.



About 250 miles from the coast we passed the part of the Great Dividing
Range, which here forms the watershed between Eastern and Western
Queensland. In this part the watershed consists of a low range.
Nevertheless no one can fail to observe the great difference in animal
life on the two sides as well as the immediate change in the character
and aspect of the country. No sooner is the range passed than we meet
with the red-breasted cockatoo (_Cacatua roseicapilla_), which is never
found on the eastern side.

From this time we were in Western Queensland, as it is called, the great
rich pasturage, where millions of sheep wander about, and we were soon
aware that we had come within the confines of the squatters. One can
scarcely imagine a more characteristic picture of Australian bush-life
than the sight of a wool-waggon approaching from the distance. Eighteen
or twenty strong oxen in the scorching heat, their tongues far out of
their mouths, laboriously drag a heavy waggon loaded with bales of wool.
By the side of the caravan walks the driver, sunburnt and dusty, with
his long whip in his hand. Under an awning on the top of the load, which
is as high as a house, the driver’s family have their quarters, and a
few sheep and goats follow behind.

Such a carrier makes his living by transporting wool from stations in
the far west to the coast, and also by bringing back supplies. Thus he
spends his life on the road from one year’s end to another. He is
himself the owner of both oxen and waggon. If he has several of such
teams and also a wife, she usually drives one, plying her whip as
dexterously as any man.

Finally we meet the great flocks of sheep from Minnie Downs, proof that
we are now near this station, our goal. The month I spent here gave me
an excellent knowledge of station life. The raising of cattle and sheep,
the most important industry of Australia, has more or less influence on
all kinds of business in that country. In the older colonies the cattle
and sheep farmers are also the owners of the land where their herds and
flocks graze, but in the larger part of Queensland the pastures are
rented from the Government. These great cattle and sheep farmers are
called squatters, and they are the aristocracy of Australia. If the
squatter is a sheep-farmer, he not unfrequently has 200,000 sheep upon
his station, while the cattle-farmer often owns 15,000 head. He does not
hesitate to pay as high as £2000 for a fine bull, or as high as £600 for
a ram of choice pedigree.

A station resembles a little village. Besides the main building, which
is the residence of the squatter or his superintendent, there are a
number of shanties for the workmen, a butcher’s shop, a storehouse for
wool, and a shop where most of the necessaries of life may be bought. A
garden of vegetables may usually be found down by the water, for there
is always a creek or a water-hole near every station. The garden is
generally managed by skilful Chinamen, who are, it is true, hated by all
colonists (every Chinaman must pay £30 for permission to settle in
Queensland), but at the same time are recognised as the most able
gardeners. The secret of their art is chiefly the untiring attention
they give to the plants, watering them early and late in sunshine and
even in rain.

The stock-yard is an enclosure indispensable to every station. The
cattle are driven into it when they are to be captured, but it is
usually occupied by the horses, which are lodged there every morning so
that the stock-man may select his own animal. Most of the work on a
station is done on horseback, and one can hardly conceive of an
Australian unable to ride.

There is of course much work to be done on a station having such
extensive pasturage. The sheep cause the most trouble. The
transportation of the wool to the coast is very expensive, and often
costs more than the freight from the coast to England. And yet
sheep-raising may often give a profit of as much as thirty per cent. The
cattle are sent alive to the cities to be slaughtered. Milk is scarcely
used at all in the bush. On a station containing about 10,000 head not
more than three or four cows may be milked, as the cattle are half wild
and have to be tamed for milking purposes. The chief stress is laid on
the beef. What, then, becomes of this immense quantity of beef? The
greater part is eaten in Australia, where the consumption is enormous.
More recently establishments have been built, in which the beef is
either canned or frozen for export. Besides, considerable quantities are
used for the production of tallow. In the neighbourhood of Rockhampton
there is an establishment where the carcasses of about 100,000 cattle
and sheep are annually boiled down and converted into tallow.

In Australia, wherever there are good pastures to be found, the land is
quickly taken up for the feeding of large droves of cattle and flocks of
sheep. First, the cattle consume the coarse grass, then the sheep are
turned into the pastures. Distance is a matter of no consequence. It may
require months to bring the stock up to the new station, but no place is
so far away that there is any hesitation about forming a station there,
provided the pasturage is good. The greatest difficulty with which the
squatter has to contend is the climate, for prolonged drought may
completely ruin him.

I was now in one of the best grazing districts of Australia, covered for
hundreds of miles with the well-known Mitchell-grass (_Astrebla
elymoides_), which has a remarkable power of withstanding the drought
without losing its nourishing qualities.

In the vicinity of Minnie Downs there still were scrubs, but farther
west they became less abundant. These were mainly Brigalow-scrubs, and
near the station they occupy large tracts of land. Here we also become
acquainted with a new kind of scrub, called by the colonists gidyascrub,
which manifests itself even at a distance by a very characteristic but
not agreeable odour, being especially pungent after rain. The Australian
inland scrubs give a vivid impression of solitude and desolation, with
their gray or brown masses of stiff, often shadeless trees, which like a
sea undulate over barren plains and low hills. To ramble in these woods,
where all is dry and hot, and silent as the grave, is no pleasure as it
would be elsewhere. It is very difficult to discover life in this woody
wilderness, and the monotony is rarely broken by the sight of a bird or
any other living thing. These scrubs, which sometimes are of immense
extent (for instance in South Australia 9000 square miles), are peculiar
to Australia, and, as Mr. Wood well says, are just as characteristic of
the country as the steppes of Tartary, the prairies of America, and the
deserts of Africa are of these respective countries.

In the great gidya and Brigalow-scrubs in the vicinity of the station I
could not therefore expect to find any great variety of animal life. Nor
does it exist to any extent in the open country generally. The
Australian dog (_dingo_) was formerly very numerous here and in all
Western Queensland. But as it is the sworn enemy of the squatters they
have begun to kill it, so that it is now in course of extermination. On
the large stations a man is kept whose sole work it is to lay out poison
for the dingo. The black variety with white breast generally appears in
Western Queensland along with the red.



I frequently had occasion to observe the spiders, and among them the
large woolly _Phrictis crassipes_ was found in great numbers. It makes a
hole 18 inches deep, and in a slanting position, but the entrance is not
supplied with a trap-door, as is the case with the burrows of many other
spiders out here. I once saw a hornet (_Mygnimia australasiæ_) proceed
boldly into one of these holes, which I then immediately closed. I dug
to the bottom of the hole from the side. There I saw the spider
paralysed by the plucky hornet, which was sitting on its back. I was
anxious to test the effect of the poison of this colossal spider, and
once let it bite the snout of a kitten, which thereupon became very sick
and vomited violently, but soon recovered.

Another spider (_Lathrodectus scelio_), which is very common here and
everywhere in Queensland, is very dangerous even to men. It is a small
black animal, of the size of our house-spider, with a brilliant scarlet
mark on its back. A friend of mine was bitten in the leg by one of these
dangerous spiders, which is feared like a snake. The pain was violent,
and was followed by paralysis which lasted for three days. He was able
to feel the venom work its way up the leg, pass through the bowels, and
descend down the other leg, whereupon it ascended to the breast. But on
the third day he had a cold perspiration, and recovered.

This spider is found especially in old wood and rubbish, but is also
fond of staying in houses, keeping itself concealed during the day and
coming out at night. On my verandah at Gracemere I could collect as many
as I pleased, for they are not at all timid.

I soon began to long for regions farther west, where the fauna is more
abundant, and continued my journey alone with only two horses. As a rule
there was a path which I could follow. When no path was to be found, I
proceeded as best I could, and made my camp wherever night overtook me.
Every day I expected new scenes, but I was always disappointed. It was
the same over and over again; large, gray plains covered with dry
Mitchell-grass undulated before me; here and there stood a solitary
gum-tree, especially on the banks of the rivers. Dwarf scrubs were the
only things that occasionally varied the landscape.

When I arrived at Barcoo river, I discovered to my surprise only a dry
river-bed with pools of water here and there, instead of a veritable
stream. Yet this is naturally explained by the fact that the river owes
its existence exclusively to the rains, which is the case with the
majority of the Australian streams.

It seldom rains in Western Queensland; but during the rainy season the
rivers rapidly fill their beds, overflow their banks, and in some places
become several miles wide. The water, however, soon disappears again,
and the high temperature reduces the mighty stream to isolated
water-holes. Water is therefore a precious article in the Australian
bush. To furnish drink for the cattle the squatter must build large
dams, especially across the rivers, and thus gather a supply which may
protect him against irreparable losses. In recent years water has been
obtained by boring very deep wells. I may here mention the fact that, at
the end of 1887, water was found in Barcaldine at a depth of 691 feet by
an artesian boring. It was clear as crystal and perfectly fresh, but
very warm, the temperature being 101°F. Through a pipe 10 inches in
diameter it rose with such force that it formed a fountain above the
ground, and carried to the surface stones of the size of emu eggs. The
amount of water from this artesian well is about 176,000 gallons per

Footnote 1:

  The artesian well at Blackall last year struck water at the depth of
  1666 feet and gives 300,000 gallons per day, at a temperature of 119°.
  In other places several borings have been successful at a slight

The soil consists, as a rule, of a fertile, deep, and chocolate-coloured
deposit. Water is all that is wanted to make a great deal of Western
Queensland a large wheat-growing country, and I feel sure, owing to the
great success artesian borings of late have had, that such a future is
really in store for this country. In the present circumstances it is
difficult to keep garden flowers alive.

In Western Queensland nobody is surprised if a drop of rain does not
fall for eight or ten months together. Nevertheless, cattle and sheep
keep fat all the year, for the grass retains its nutriment even though
it looks dry and gray, and a shower will make these dry stalks green.

On the way to Thompson river I spent a night with an Irish shepherd, who
lived far away from any neighbour, occupied wholly with his sheep. As a
peculiar and pedantic hermit, he preferred this solitary life, to which
he had accustomed himself for many years. He could not bear any
interruption in his habits, and with Australian straightforwardness he
did not hesitate to make it apparent that all things in his neat little
cottage must be kept in their places. But if one adapted oneself to his
habits, it was not difficult to get on with him. He was, in fact, a type
of those old Australian shepherds who are rapidly being relegated to the
domain of history. Though his hair had turned gray in the bush, he had
not forgotten his Irish descent. “England is too powerful,” said he;
“her fate will be like that of Rome in ancient times.”

After supper he spread some sacks on the floor, and these were to be my
bed. But I was not yet ready to retire, so I went out in the starry
night, where the moon and the Southern Cross shone cold on the lonely
landscape. The pure, clear winter air was chill on the gray plains and
dark green trees, while in the cottage the fire blazed high on the
hearth and shed a ray of light out through the small windows.

I opened the door and was deeply touched to find the hermit kneeling
before his bed. Here the old man lived alone with his God in the
desolate Australian bush.

On the banks of the Thompson river I observed the well-known nardu
(_Marsilea_). The seed of this plant is crushed and ground by the
natives, and used for food. Nardu has become painfully celebrated, for
it was on this seed that the famous travellers Burke and Wills subsisted
until they finally perished from starvation.

At Westlands station I had the good fortune to witness a _korroboree_,
that is, a festive dance by the natives in the neighbourhood. The melody
sung to this dance was genuine Australian, but the text was mixed with
English words. The air was as follows:—


    _Tempo di Valse._

                La - la - la - la - la La - la - la - la - la

                La - la - la - la - la La - la - la - la - la

                La - la - la - la - la La - la - la - la - la

                La - la - la - la - la La - la - la - la - la

                La - la - la - la - la all to - ge - ther

                yarn a - way all to - ge - ther yarn a -

                way all to - ge - ther yarn a - way. Bahl

                bood’gry Bo - ran - do Bahl bood’gry Bo - ran - do.

The water we are obliged to drink in the interior of Queensland is
wellnigh intolerable. Frequently it is so thick with mud that it has to
be boiled, after which the dirt is allowed to sink to the bottom. Very
often it is white, mixed with chalk, or it may be coloured black from
decayed leaves. When the bushman wants a drink of water he does not
hesitate to drink it as it is, and I have even seen these careless
people drink from a dam in which there lay a couple of putrid sheep.
That people do not oftener fall ill is doubtless due to the circumstance
that the water is almost universally drunk boiled with tea. Though the
water is not always as unhealthy as its appearance would indicate, I
seldom omitted to boil it; but as I often found it inconvenient to
dismount and make a fire, I accustomed myself to do without it all day
long. I made up for the want, however, in the evening, when I was lucky
enough to encamp near good water. At one station I emptied two large
pitchers in the course of an hour.

Though one perspires freely in this climate, still the moisture
evaporates so rapidly that one keeps perfectly dry while riding beneath
the perpendicular rays of the sun.

About a month after my departure from Minnie Downs I reached Windex
station, 650 miles from Rockhampton, where I found the same hospitable
reception always accorded a stranger in the Australian bush. I was
invited to remain for a while to explore the vicinity. The owner was
himself interested in zoology, and he believed it would pay me to stop;
he was right, for the animal life was interesting even if it were not
rich in species. I here added to my collection Australia’s smallest
marsupial animal, the beautiful _Phascologale minutissima_. A cat
playing with something that looked like a mouse led to the capture of
this specimen, for on closer examination it appeared that it was not an
animal of the mouse family, but this little marsupial. It had no less
than nine young in the pouch. From Windex I made an excursion for a few
days to a mountain region about thirty miles distant. Here I shot the
beautiful white species of kite (_Elanus axillaris_), and a couple of
specimens of the charming Diamantina-pigeon. These beautiful little
birds are very numerous here, and so tame that the stock-men can easily
kill them with their whips.

On the broad sandy heights in the vicinity the so-called spinifex is
found in great abundance. This grass (_Triodia irritans_) is the
traveller’s torment, and makes the plains, which it sometimes covers for
hundreds of miles, almost impassable. Its blades, which have points as
sharp as needles, often prick the horses’ legs till they bleed, and it
is generally regarded simply as a nocuous grass; still, the horses will
eat the tender blades of the young plant.

The district in which I now found myself had a year before been visited
by a plague of rats. They came from the north-west and proceeded, _viâ_
Winton, on their wanderings towards the east. A man in Ayrshire Downs
told me that they appeared in countless numbers—during the day they kept
concealed, but in the evening the ground seemed to be alive with them,
so numerous were they. One night for amusement he laid a piece of meat
on his threshold, and killed with a stick 400 of these animals which
came up to eat the meat. An occasional straggler was left behind, but
the main body disappeared in a short time. Afterwards I learned that an
army of rats had also passed Westwood, doubtless the same clan, but
greatly reduced in number, and probably but few of them reached the
coast. I have been informed that the small marsupials (_Phascologale
minutissima_) before mentioned make similar periodical migrations.

From Ayrshire Downs I proceeded south to Elderslie, a station in process
of construction. It was so difficult to get building timber in the
vicinity that it had been found expedient to use stone for building. The
station lies near the confluence of the Diamantina and Western rivers. I
here met two men who were looking for opals in the mountains east of the
Diamantina river. Not far north of Elderslie lies a very rich
copper-bearing district called Cloncurry, which is said to surpass even
the celebrated Lake Superior mines in North America. Moreover, gold and
actual mountains of pure iron ore abound here, but on account of the
difficulty of transportation this enormous wealth is not yet available.
Queensland will, it is said, become a centre for the production of
precious metals. Besides great wealth of gold, silver, tin, and other
metals, the land, according to recent investigations, has so vast an
amount of coal that its coast is destined in time to become the most
important emporium of coal on the southern hemisphere.

The natives near Diamantina river astonished me by their bodily
structure; neither before nor since have I seen them so tall and upon
the whole so well nourished as in the tribe near Elderslie. Some of the
women were even monstrously large; their hair was generally straight.
Their food consisted chiefly of fish, snakes, rats, and clams.

A conspicuous trait in the character of the Australian native is
treachery, and the colonists are wont to give the stranger the warning,
“Never have a black-fellow behind you.” Nor should one, as a rule, rely
on them. How difficult it is for them to lay aside their uncivilised
habits may be seen from the following incident, which happened at Dawson
river. A squatter was walking in the bush in company with his black boy,
hunting brush-turkey (_Talegalla_). As they sauntered forth, the black
boy touched him on the shoulder from behind and said, “Let me go ahead.”
When the squatter asked why he wished to go before him, the boy
answered, “I feel such an inclination to kill you.” The black boy had
been on the station for several years, where he had served as shepherd
and had proved himself very capable.

I observed an interesting fact among the natives of this locality. In
cases of murder they administer justice in a peculiar manner, as the
following instance will illustrate. A black boy at Connemara station was
sent on an errand to Diamantina gates. On his way home he fell in with
an old man and his two wives, all of whom belonged to the same tribe as
the boy. In the course of the journey the boy killed the old man and
took possession of the two young wives. Meanwhile, one of them escaped
and reported what had happened to the tribe, which caused universal
indignation. Fourteen men with spears and other weapons then proceeded
to Connemara to punish the murderer. The boy concealed himself, and the
white people on the station would not surrender him, for he was a good
servant. They even fired one or two shots at the blacks in order to
frighten them away. Three or four days passed, and the boy believed that
all danger was over. As he went out one morning to take in a horse, he
was killed by his tribal kinsmen only half a mile from the station.

From Peak Downs I have heard similar stories. A black man who was to be
punished, probably for murder, was pursued to the very station. When the
white folk got sight of him he was so covered with spears that he looked
like a porcupine.

In the new main building at Elderslie station the fleas had already made
their appearance. They usually live in the ground, and as soon as you
step on the soil they creep by the dozen up your legs. In Europe I have
never felt a bite of these insects, but the Australian representatives
were genuine blood-suckers. As I could not abstain from scratching, I
broke my skin, and thus produced a series of bad and irritable sores
which would not heal. At last I felt so uncomfortable when I moved, that
to my great annoyance I was obliged to keep still for a week. When the
week was over, this sitting still became unbearable. Besides, I had
received an invitation to take part in an expedition down the Diamantina



An inspector of the native police, whose barracks were down by the
river, was going to make a tour of inspection southward, and I was to go
with him. In spite of my wounds I started for the barracks, which were
situated about thirty miles south; but when I got there I was so ill
that I was obliged to give up my intention of joining the expedition. As
soon as I stirred, and especially when I rode, swellings arose on
various parts of my body, which, however, disappeared whenever I lay
down. There was accordingly nothing else to do but to remain idle, lying
on the verandah of the policemen’s bark hut. The native police, in whose
quarters I now was, is a body organised by the Government of Queensland
for the protection of the settlers. They are stationed in those parts of
the colony where the natives appear to be dangerous. Such a corps of
police consists of natives from other parts of Australia, and
consequently they are the natural enemies of the blacks against whom
they are employed. They are commanded by a white officer, the so-called
sub-inspector, and by a sergeant. The force is in uniform, armed with
rifles, and consists of splendid horsemen. From the barracks, which are
generally some low bark huts, the police several times a year make tours
of inspection through the large districts under their charge. When the
natives kill a white man, the police punish them, and if they prey upon
the cattle of the squatter, the latter sends word to the police barracks
and demands that the blacks be “dispersed.” As Queensland becomes
colonised, the native police force is being gradually reduced in
numbers, and at the present time there are but few barracks in the
northern and western part of the colony.

During my sojourn here I had the good luck to obtain a valuable flint
knife (p. 48) which the natives of Georgina river use for the peculiar
mika-operation[2] to prevent the increase of population. It has a very
sharp point and three sides, two of which are very sharp, so that the
blade is in fact two-edged. The handle is made of a lump of resin
(probably from a eucalyptus), and is in reality black, but is painted
with reddish-brown ochre. The knife is stuck into this handle, the resin
having been softened over the fire. On the other end of the handle a
flat piece of wood is fastened, painted with chalk figures. To the knife
belongs a sheath of the bark of the tea-tree. The pieces of bark are
placed side by side and bound together by a kind of string, which is
probably spun from the hair of the opossum.

Footnote 2:

  This remarkable custom, by which the natives produce hypospadi
  artificially, belongs especially to the tribes west of the Diamantina
  river, and west and north of the Gulf of Carpentaria, and does not, as
  might be supposed, originate in lack of means of sustenance, since the
  districts in question are full of rats, fish, and such vegetables as
  nardu, pigweed, and the like. In a few tribes the children are
  operated on, only about five per cent being spared. In other tribes it
  is the husband who, after becoming the father of one or two children,
  must submit to the requirements of the law, as it is said, amid
  certain festivities (as for example trees are cut down and stuck into
  the ground in a circle around the place of operation). A man about
  twenty years old from Georgina river, whom I examined, explained to me
  that the reason for the operation was, that the blacks “did not like
  to hear children cry in the camp,” and that they do not care to have
  many children. This person had not been operated on himself, as he had
  not yet been the father of a child. According to the information I
  gathered, the cut, which is about an inch long, extends almost to the
  scrotum. The surface of the wound is first burnt with hot stones,
  whereupon the wound is kept apart by little sticks which are inserted,
  and in this manner an opening is formed, through which the sperma is
  emitted. The natives of these tribes are fat and in good physical
  condition. Mr. White, a squatter from Rocklands in North-western
  Queensland, and an excellent observer of the blacks, noticed for the
  first time in 1876 near Boulya that some of them had been injured in
  some way, and found that they had been operated on in the manner
  described. Later he saw a number of cases, and they all explained to
  him that the reason was that they did not care to be burdened with too
  many children. (See in regard to this custom also two articles by
  Baron N. von Miklucho-Maclay in _Zeitschrift für Ethnologie_. Berlin,
  1880 and 1882.)



The outer side of the sheath is whitened with chalk, and at the small
end of it is a tuft of red cockatoo down. The natives procure the knife
by making a fire on the flint rock and then pouring water on it. Thus it
splits, and very nice pieces can easily be selected. This flint knife is
the finest Australian implement I have seen. One would hardly think that
it was made by an Australian native, so much labour has been bestowed
upon it.



I obtained the little pouch represented below on the same occasion. It
is a torpedo-shaped network made of plant fibre, and is used exclusively
for carrying the leaves of a tree called pituri (_Duboisia hopwoodii_).
The leaves contain a stimulant which possesses qualities similar to
those of tobacco and opium, and are chewed by several tribes in the
interior of Australia. Pituri is highly valued as a stimulant, and is
taken for barter far and wide; the habitat of the tree is, however,
probably not so limited as has been supposed. The pituri pouch obtained
by me was secured from natives about 200 miles west of Diamantina river,
and was knitted with great skill in about two hours.

When the native police are at home at their barracks they have not much
to do. The troopers are fond of roaming about in the woods, and they
devote themselves to the athletics peculiar to their race, usually
undressing themselves so as to be more free in their movements. In cool
evenings they often amuse themselves with throwing the boomerang, and
their matchless skill invariably commanded my admiration. It is strange
that so primitive a people as the Australian natives should have
invented this weapon, which, as we know, has the peculiarity of
returning to the thrower, provided it does not meet with any obstacle on
the way. The boomerang is a curved, somewhat flat and slender weapon
made from a hard and heavy wood, Brigalow (_Acacia excelsa_) or myall
(_A. pendula_), but the best one I found was made of a lighter kind of
wood. The curving of the boomerang, which often approaches a right
angle, must be natural and lie in the wood itself. One side is perfectly
flat and the other slightly rounded. The ends are pointed. The
peculiarity of the boomerang, viz. that it returns of itself to the
thrower, depends on the fact that it is twisted so that the ends are
bent in opposite directions; the twisting is accomplished by putting it
in water, then heating it in ashes, and finally bending it, but this
warp must occasionally be renewed, for it sometimes disappears,
especially if the weapon is made of light wood. Upon the whole, there is
no striking irregularity in the plan of the boomerang; this warped
boomerang is, as a rule, used only as a toy.

In Western Queensland, as elsewhere in Australia, numerous boomerangs
which are not twisted are used, but these, which are only for war and
hunting, do not return when thrown. They are thrown with killing effect
into flocks of pigeons and ducks.

When an Australian is throwing a boomerang, he seizes one end, which is
usually made rough in order to afford a better grip, and holds it
backward in such a manner that the concave side of the weapon turns
forward. Grasping it firmly, he runs a couple of paces forward, and then
throws his boomerang in a straight line before him. The moment it leaves
his hand it turns into a horizontal position, and starts off, buzzing
like a spinning-wheel. While going with great speed, it revolves round
its own axis, and in this manner takes a slanting direction upward
through the air. It does not return the same way as it went, but curves
toward the left, and thus describes an ellipse. Gradually it loses its
momentum and so falls slowly, sometimes only a couple of paces from its

Dexterity rather than strength is needed to throw the boomerang with
success. Above all, it is important to hold it firmly until it is
suddenly let loose. It cannot fail to astonish everybody to see how far
and at the same time how gracefully this weapon can whirl through the
air. I was never tired of witnessing this amusement, which is so highly
prized by the blacks, and also learned to throw the boomerang myself,
but did not acquire the skill of the natives. It is very difficult to
throw this weapon well, and it requires considerable practice. All the
blacks are by no means perfect in its use, and very few white people
acquire the art.

The natives frequently make the boomerang touch the ground ten or twelve
paces from where it is thrown; but this, far from diminishing the speed,
gives it on the contrary increased velocity. It may even touch the
ground a second time, and then whirl off in the above-described circle
from the right to the left. It is impossible to aim accurately with the
returning boomerang: with the plain one, which does not return, it is
much easier to do so, and the mark is not missed. A man is rarely killed
by a boomerang. An acquaintance of mine told me that he once in a
skirmish was hit in the thigh; the wound was only about an inch and a
half deep, and was soon cured. His horse was hit in several places,
without receiving any harm worth mentioning.



  _a_, _b_, _c_, plain ones from Central Queensland (Coomooboolaroo).
    _d_, a returning one from Herbert river.[3]

Footnote 3:

  On the Herbert river I never saw boomerangs ornamented with engraved
  lines like those farther south and west in Queensland.

It has been asserted that the Egyptians and Assyrians used the
boomerang, and from this the conclusion has been drawn that the
Australian natives are descended from a race that have had a higher
degree of development than they now possess. But, according to Mr. B.
Smyth, it is extremely doubtful whether the Dravidic or Egyptian
boomerang is identical with the Australian, since the former could not
have had the quality of returning. Moreover, we find in Australia
intermediate forms of this remarkable weapon, which show a development
towards, rather than a retrogression from, the present boomerang.

It is a remarkable fact, which is asserted by several persons, that the
boomerang is also used in South-eastern India; detailed accounts are,
however, lacking. This weapon reminds us of the myth about Thor’s
hammer, Mjolner, which also returned to the hands of the thrower.

To explain the origin of the boomerang, which is found as far north as
Herbert river, would be difficult. But we can conceive it to have been
invented by accident. A twig or a piece of wood which was on the ground
may have become warped by rain and sunshine, and thereby assumed a form
which revealed the striking quality of returning when it was thrown. In
the forests the natives generally lay hold of any piece of wood for the
purpose of killing a small animal. It is more probable, however, that
the idea was discovered in their games. The native Australian seems to
amuse himself with everything that comes in his way. Thus I have
frequently seen them fold the leaf of a common palm into a square, give
the two corners a little twist, one to each side, and throw it into the
air, making it skim round and return. A white man told me that his black
boys, while round the camp fire, used frequently to amuse themselves
with the leaves of the Brigalow-acacia, which have a striking
resemblance to the boomerang. They gave them a flick with the finger,
causing the leaves to start off, but to return in the same manner as the
boomerang. This seems to me to be the most reasonable explanation of the
matter. The blacks may also have received a suggestion from the whirling
movements described by the winged fruit of the gum-trees as it falls to
the ground.

                               CHAPTER IV

  Struggle between blacks and whites—116° F. heat—Cool
      nights—Troubles—Bush-life—How the bushman spends his
      money—Inundations—Back again to Gracemere—A greedy snake—Courtship
      in the bush.



After staying eight days at the barracks, I felt so well that I was able
to ride back to Elderslie. But on the way I became ill again, and
repeatedly had to dismount from my horse and lie down on the ground to

It was my original intention to go farther west and nearer the Gulf of
Carpentaria, but my miserable condition made it impossible for me to
proceed. I did not see how I was to get back to the coast, for I grew
worse and worse every day. After being ill for about a month, I was at
length able to start on my way back. I now laid my route _viâ_
Bledensbourne, chiefly for the purpose of getting possession of a large,
white, fruit-eating bat, but I did not succeed, although I searched
several caves which these animals were said to frequent. The large
lizards, commonly called iguana, here attain so great a size that they
possibly may be a new species.

In the vicinity of Bledensbourne I was shown a large number of skulls of
natives who had been shot by the black police in the following
circumstances:—A couple of teams with provisions for the far west,
conducted by two white men, had encamped near the blacks. The latter
were lying in ambush, and meant to make an assault, as two black women
had been ravished by the white men. Instead of defending themselves with
their weapons, the white men were cowardly enough to take flight,
leaving all their provisions, oxen, tent, and all their other things in
the hands of the blacks. The fugitives reported to the police that they
had been attacked, and so the “criminals” a few weeks afterwards were
pursued far into a narrow valley and shot. I visited the spot in company
with the manager of Bledensbourne station, and saw seven or eight of the
skulls. According to the statement made by several persons, nearly the
whole tribe was killed, as there was no opportunity of flight.

This is one of the many cruelties perpetrated by the native police
against the natives, and the most thrilling stories could be told of
their conduct. Their cruelties constitute the black page in the annals
of Australian colonisation. This police force has become more and more
unpopular, and voices have been raised for its entire abolition. The
police inspector often left it to his men to do the murdering, “to
disperse the blacks,” as it is called, at their own risk. He thus
shirked the responsibility and retained his post; for he does not dare
kill the blacks openly, at least not at the present time.

It is not strange that such an institution is hated by the blacks, or
that they take every opportunity of revenge. During my sojourn here an
inspector was killed by a spear hurled by the blacks, while he was
treating with the savages, and a year later they killed another
inspector in his own camp at night.



The summer heat had now set in, as it was already late in November. The
sun was at its zenith, and poured down its scorching rays day by day,
unrelieved by a cooling breath of air or by any refreshing lake or
prattling brook—only mocking _fata morgana_. There was no animal life to
be seen; all living things sought refuge from the burning heat of the
sun. 104° to 105° F. in the shade was the average heat. The highest
temperature I observed was 116° F., and the heat was then so great that
it seemed oppressive even to sit still. The wind that blew was as hot as
if it came from an oven, and the thermometer rose and fell with the
wind. Still, the climate was more tolerable here than on the banks of
the Diamantina river, where the thermometer rose to 126° F. in three
consecutive days, a perfectly exceptional heat, even in tropical
Australia. The trees which are to be found furnish but little protection
against the beams of the sun, for their foliage generally hangs
vertically from the branches, and consequently gives but little shade.
When I rested at noon, I could find shade nowhere except under the
horse. As a rule I do not suffer from heat, and am able to ride all day
long beneath the perpendicular rays of the sun; but at this time I was
weak from my illness, and the hot weather was too much for me. Many
times in a day I had to lie down in the burning rays of the sun and rest
my weary limbs.

The coolness of the night, however, makes the people in general feel
comfortable. As soon as the sun sets the air is cooled, as it is not
moist enough to retain much of the heat. The thermometer would sink 40°
F., so that I needed a woollen blanket to keep myself warm during the
night. To my other troubles was added the annoyance of the flies, which
at some stations were so bad that it was necessary to eat under
mosquito-nets. These nuisances are especially troublesome to the eyes,
which when bitten by the flies first smart and then swell up, so that
they sometimes cannot be opened for several hours. To keep the flies
away from the eyes, we wore nets over our faces, and even the horses
were protected in this manner.

“Life in Western Queensland during the summer is simply a struggle with
the flies”; “When I am about to sign a draft, I must have a man to fan
the flies away and watch the inkstand,” are expressions which I still
remember to have heard in that country.

The specimens I had collected were kept in a number of pasteboard boxes,
which had to be loaded and unloaded every morning and evening. I had to
dismount many times a day to straighten them, for they soon became
disordered, and galled the back of the horse by not being evenly
balanced. Once I nearly lost all, as my active pack-horse got loose and
galloped away, kicking up all sorts of pranks and nearly getting the
whole load under his belly. Gradually my horses became so lean and poor
from the long journey that I scarcely believed they would live till I
reached my destination. In spite of every care taken, the back of my
pack-horse became galled, and this was another reason why I had to
travel slowly.

Both at Winton and at Thompson I found an old acquaintance from Europe,
the greenshank (_Totanus glottis_), but both times I saw but one bird,
and it was exceedingly shy. Animal life awakes and makes its appearance
only about sunset, and is observed chiefly near the water-holes. There
are many varieties of birds, but as a rule there are but few of each
kind; generally they are scattered over a large territory, though some
of them are strangely confined to a very limited territory. The
cockatoos and hawks are comparatively numerous, and the kites and the
beautiful black falcons (_Falco subniger_) are particularly noticeable.

After many difficulties I finally came to a hut, in which there lived a
boundary-rider. I now began to approach more densely-populated regions,
and the next day I arrived tired, with my exhausted horses, at Isis
Downs station, where I for several days enjoyed much-needed rest and
obtained milk, which is a great rarity in Western Queensland.

Christmas Eve I returned to Minnie Downs in terribly hot weather. It was
so hot that even under cover at the station we had to seek relief in wet
towels wound about the head. In such weather, when the air seems to
vibrate, we shrink from going out, just as much as we do at home in
Norway when it is bitterly cold. As a rule people in Australia pay no
attention to the heat. The work goes on regularly at the station, and
singularly enough, the heat is felt much less out of doors when one is
hard at work than when sitting still doing nothing in the house. Those
who drink to excess are most troubled by it. In Rockhampton, for
instance, nine drunkards died in one week. But, with all this, the
climate of Queensland is healthier than that of any other country in the
same degree of latitude. It is not necessary here, as in many other
tropical lands, to send the children to colder climes to be reared. They
grow strong, and are the pictures of health. Of course there is fever,
but almost exclusively in new-settled districts, where the soil is yet
uncultivated. Though sometimes fatal, it is generally of a far milder
type here than in other tropical lands. A man who had lived for two
years in a fever locality without perceiving any symptoms of the
disease, had his first attack after taking cold. As the soil gradually
becomes cultivated, the fever disappears.

Another illness which troubles the colonists is sandy blight, a very
severe disease of the eye, which sometimes ends in blindness. In Western
Queensland people are also subject to bad sores on the hand, called
_Barcoo-rot_; a traveller will be struck by the fact that nearly
everybody wears a bandage about his hands, because the most
insignificant scratch develops into a large sore which may last for
months. _Beliander_ is also a common disease in Queensland; without the
slightest apparent cause, a person is suddenly seized with vomiting, but
is relieved just as suddenly. These diseases doubtless have their origin
in the climatic conditions, and the colonists have therefore acquired
the habit of blaming the climate whenever they are ill.



It cannot but surprise us how people keep in tolerably good health who
take as little care of themselves as the bushman does. He gets up before
sunrise, eats, saddles his horse and rides to his work. As a rule, he is
out all day until sunset. He sleeps in rainy weather under the open sky;
he eats whenever it happens to be convenient, if he has the time—if not
he waits until he finds time; he lives on salt beef and damper every
day; he drinks muddy water or alcohol: such is the bushman’s mode of

Externally there is no difference between the squatter and his workmen.
All are dressed alike, and do the same work; no kind of work is
dishonourable. I have seen young gentlemen beneath a scorching sun do
work that the common labourer in Norway would regard as below his
dignity. The long, short-handled whip, which the bushman uses for horses
and cattle, is his chief implement, and this he handles with great



When the day’s work is done, the squatter retires in the evening to the
main building, where he usually takes a bath previous to his dinner,
which is of a solid kind, frequently with vegetables, but without much
variety. At the same time the working man goes to his more modest hut,
where he drinks his tea with damper and salt beef. Jams are not uncommon
as articles of luxury, and are eaten with the bread.

Women are but seldom seen at the stations. The squatter is usually a
married man, at least in the most civilised districts, but the hands
rarely have wives. Hence the women who venture into this far west
country soon find their fortunes, for in Queensland there are 142 men to
every 100 women.

During my stay at Winton I had an opportunity of observing how quickly
the chains of matrimony are forged in Western Queensland. An Irish girl
who had recently arrived was standing over the wash-tub, and soon
attracted the attention of a bushman. He entered into conversation with
her, and after half an hour they agreed to get married; she wiped the
soap off her arms, and so both proceeded without making any further
toilet to the magistrate to have the ceremony performed.

In the long run the station life becomes very monotonous. The squatter
therefore makes a trip to Melbourne, to Sydney, or even to Europe, while
the labourer amuses himself as best he can where he is. Twice a year
races are got up. The men are very fond of horses, and they take a deep
interest in the races in the cities, betting heavily on the different
events. Newspapers, which are extensively read everywhere in Australia,
also find their way to the bush, as the Government provides for the
carrying of mails to nearly every station.

The bushman has but few wants, and consequently saves nearly all his
wages; but after a year or two he naturally feels the need of change,
and so goes to the squatter to ask for a cheque—for ready money is not
used in the bush. It frequently amounts to £100, and then he makes up
his mind to have some sport. He takes his horses, rides off, dismounts
in the first little village and “has a good time”—that is to say, he
drinks every kind of liquor that is to be had. He hands his cheque or
draft to his host, and from this time forward he lives in a perpetual
state of intoxication as long as he has a penny left, and all who
approach him drink his health at his expense—live and let live! Nervous
and prostrated, he finally comes back to the bush, works a year or two
more, and again returns to the village as a man of means to repeat the
old story. The liquors he consumes are of course manufactured according
to the receipt of the keeper of the dram-shop; they are poor and
adulterated—simple poison. This shameful business is chiefly carried on
on the borders of civilisation, and there are many stories about
dram-shop keepers who have accumulated fortunes by vending this awful
stuff. A few years ago there was a terrible report about such a
liquor-dealer in Isisford. He had a special burial-place for all those
who were not strong enough to survive his treatment.

Towards the end of January 1882 I bade farewell to Western Queensland,
and left Minnie Downs. From Tambo I travelled for a time in the coach of
the well-known stage company, Cobb and Co., but as there was no place
for my dog, I had to walk the last twenty-seven miles before I reached
the railroad station, and from there I had a long day’s journey by rail
to Rockhampton. During the last fourteen days the heat was very
oppressive; black clouds gathered in the rainy season; and I reached
Gracemere just in the right time, for the following day the rain began
to pour down in the greater part of Central Queensland, and it rained so
violently that large districts were flooded. A mail-carrier from Aramac
had to stay for three days in a tree to escape the flood. These terrible
inundations are thought to be periodical. Mr. C. Russel tries to show
that they occur every nineteenth year in the Darling river district.

It seemed refreshing to be once more in a moist coast climate. The
results of my journey did not correspond to my exertions, although I had
found some very interesting objects. Amid many privations I had
traversed 1700 miles, and was now merely gathering strength for a
journey to Northern Queensland.

Before I leave Gracemere I must relate a snake story connected with it.
One forenoon I was asked to come down to the garden to kill a snake. As
I approached the place I was greatly astonished to find the reptile
hanging dead down a stone wall. At the same time I noticed the head of
another snake concealed farther up the wall, which had seized the dead
serpent by the middle, so that the head and tail of the latter touched
the ground. As it was difficult for the victor to swallow his prey in
the above-described position, he dropped it to the ground and crept down
after it. Meanwhile I had stepped back, and from my place of concealment
I could now watch and see what it was going to do. They were both of
about the same size. The serpent laid itself conveniently opposite its
victim, and began to swallow it. Its jaws were opened wide, wild with
desire; the head of the dead serpent disappeared past its greedy teeth,
and the rest of it soon slipped down.

I allowed it to swallow about one-third of the dead serpent; then I
stepped forward and gave it a blow across the back. It now tried with
all its might to get rid of its prey, but the head stuck fast in its
throat, and it soon had to succumb to my blows. In this condition they
were put in spirits, as they could not be separated except by force. The
greedy animal was a brown snake (_Hoplocephalus_), one of the most
venomous in Australia. Its prey was a harmless kind, the so-called brown
tree-snake (_Dipsas fusca_). The venomous one measured 4 feet 2 inches,
and the other 4 feet 7 inches.

Snakes were numerous in this vicinity, as everywhere in Australia. At
Waverley station, not far from Gracemere, one man in two days killed
203. The country was flat, and stood under water in the rainy season.
The snakes found their way up to his hut, which was situated on high
ground, so that he could do nothing for two days but defend himself, as
they literally besieged his house.

                               CHAPTER V

  Journey to Northern Queensland—Mackay-sugar—Employment of South Sea
      Islanders—Townsville—A rough northern man—Sugar district in Lower
      Herbert—Visit to a successful Scandinavian—Blacks near Gardiner’s
      farm—Nolla-nolla—Spring—Arrival at Herbert Vale.

In May 1882 I was at length able to set out on my journey to Northern
Queensland. Early one morning at four o’clock I arrived by the steamer
at Mackay, where I put up at the city hotel. Everything was open; there
was nobody to receive you, nor would anybody get up for the purpose. I
had to look for my room myself, and at last I succeeded in finding one.



Mackay is a small town, owing its existence to the production of sugar,
and the vicinity, celebrated for its fertility, is at the present time
the most important sugar-producing district of the colony. Queensland
has been found to be upon the whole especially adapted to the
cultivation of the sugar-cane, and the colonists have learned how to
overcome all the disadvantages of the climate, so that the sugar-cane is
raised not only in the tropical regions in the north, but also as far
south as the vicinity of Brisbane. The work on these plantations has in
a great measure been done by the natives of the South Sea Islands, who
in Australia are called Kanakas—a capable and intelligent race,
especially suited to this kind of work, for they are strong, and endure
the tropical heat far better than the whites. They contract to stay
three years, and are paid £18, and get a free passage both ways. As a
rule they are well treated on the plantations, and it frequently happens
that they settle in the land. They are well liked, because they are
willing to work; but they are hated by the white workmen, who look upon
them as competitors. Many abuses have crept in through the introduction
of the Kanakas, and the Government, earnestly supported by the white
working men, has to a great extent prohibited their importation. The
result is that it has become necessary to limit the cultivation of sugar
in many places, which is very unfortunate, for the Queensland sugar is
strong and of an excellent quality. There is an abundance of fertile
lands, so that the production of sugar must in time become one of the
most important industries of the colony.

During my sojourn in Mackay my dog, a fine Gordon setter, was exposed to
great danger at a station near the town. She suddenly stopped in the
high grass, and as I cautiously drew near I discovered in front of her a
splendid specimen of the black snake (_Pseudechis_), whose head had
assumed the flat form which is peculiar to venomous snakes when they
become excited. The hot weather had made it still more angry. With the
head slightly raised from the ground, it lay just ready to give my dog a
fatal bite if the latter made the slightest motion. I hastily called the
dog back, broke off a branch from a tree, and killed the treacherous
enemy, the most venomous snake of Australia. It was glistening black
with a reddish belly, and longer than myself when I held it up.



                  *       *       *       *       *

In July I embarked in a coasting steamer which was to take me farther
north, and after a journey of two days we reached Townsville. The
steam-launch met us out in the bay in order to bring us ashore, for the
harbour is so shallow that large ships cannot lie alongside the wharf.
Townsville is situated on Cleveland Bay, partly along a little river and
partly on the slope of a mountain which rises to the elevation of 900
feet above the town. The latter accordingly has a very fine situation.
The locality now occupied by Townsville was first discovered in 1864.
The town is growing so rapidly that it is already regarded as the chief
metropolis of Northern Queensland, and there is no doubt that it will
take the first rank when this part of Queensland is divided from the
south as a separate colony.

The value of land in this city, which now contains about 7000
inhabitants, has risen so enormously that it borders on the phenomenal,
even in a newly settled land like this. Thus it has not unfrequently
happened that a lot in the course of two or three years has doubled in
value several times.

Townsville is the terminal station of the northern railway, and were it
not for the shallow harbour it might safely be predicted that it would
become one of the principal cities of Australia, both on account of its
extensive shipping and of the rich soil of the interior. The chief
industry in the vicinity is cattle and sheep-raising, and wool is the
principal article of export. Nor is the town without importance in
relation to the rich gold beds at Charters Towers. As Townsville has an
agreeable climate, the squatters in the arid west are accustomed to come
to the comfortable Queen’s Hotel, which is situated by the seaside, in
order to seek recreation after all their hard work and privations. I
also put up at the Queen’s, which in spite of its northern situation is
undoubtedly the best hotel in Queensland; but this is, after all, not
saying very much in its favour.

My destination was Herbert Vale, a deserted cattle station on Herbert
river. My first intention was to get there by way of Cardwell, a little
coast town north of the mouth of Herbert river, from which the distance
to Herbert Vale would be only twenty miles, while from Dungeness, which
is situated at the mouth, it was at least forty miles up the river.

Meanwhile I learned that there were many obstacles in the way of
reaching Herbert Vale from Cardwell. On the other hand, I was strongly
advised to go to Dungeness and thence up the river by boat to some sugar
plantations, where I should have more chance of obtaining the necessary
horses than at Cardwell. Besides, I had a letter of introduction to one
of the largest plantation-owners there, and knowing from experience how
valuable such an introduction might be in uncivilised districts, I
decided to go by way of Dungeness.

In the afternoon, one or two hours before the departure of the little
coast steamer, I went down to the captain to buy a ticket for Dungeness.
All my baggage had already been sent on board marked “Cardwell.” I
requested the captain to look after it and have it sent ashore, and
showed him where it stood. But no sooner did he see that it was marked
“Cardwell” than he began to insist that I was obliged to go to Cardwell.
In vain did I strive to maintain my right to go where I pleased. The
captain insisted that I must go to Cardwell, and not to Dungeness. He
was one of those rough fellows whom we occasionally meet on the borders
of civilisation, and it was the first time that I made the acquaintance
of a specimen of that amiable race of Northern Queensland—the rough
northern men, as they are called.

I of course realised that every argument was superfluous; and therefore
made no objections, thinking matters would right themselves in due time.
The captain went down into his cabin, and I was on the point of going
ashore, wondering how so small and modest a boat really could contain so
mighty a man, when my eyes fell upon one of the crew, who looked more
accommodating than the others. I told him who I was, and that I was
bound for Herbert Vale, where I was to collect specimens of natural
history for the Christiania University. In proof of my statement I
pointed to my red-painted spirit cans which were marked, “University of
Christiania, Norway.”

“Why, are you Norwegian?” asked he with the usual coolness of a sailor;
“I am also from Christiania, and the captain yonder is from Horten,” he
added, in a genuine, broad Christiania dialect, pointing to a little
steam-ferry which lay moored by our side.

I expressed my surprise at meeting Norwegians so far up in the tropical
north, and in the name of our common country I asked him to help me. He
had heard my loud conversation with the captain, and exclaiming in a
very disrespectful tone that what the captain had said was a matter of
no moment, he at once began to have my baggage properly placed for my
destination, Dungeness. In the evening we weighed anchor and started for
the north. The captain came on deck intoxicated, as we were about to
start, and so the crew took command. The next day we arrived safely at
Dungeness at the mouth of Herbert river.

Hinchinbrook Island, a rocky isle rising to an elevation of about 2500
feet above the level of the sea and nearly always enveloped in fog,
attracts the attention of the traveller. The few white people who
heretofore have visited it were cedar-cutters. The valuable red cedar
(_Cedrela_) grows in the dense scrubs along the rivers in Northern
Queensland, and the timber is floated down the streams in the rainy
season. Unlike the Australian spruce, which soon decays, the cedar log
may lie a whole year in the woods before it is floated. The wood is as
beautiful as mahogany, but not quite so firm and solid. It has been in
such great demand that whole forests have been entirely exterminated in
the most accessible places; it is the only wood exported from

I at once proceeded in a boat up the river, whose banks for several
miles are covered with mangrove forests. The landscape gradually widens
into a broad and flat valley, with excellent sugar land, which is now
thoroughly cultivated; a steam-plough even having recently been brought
here. I was well received, but wholly failed to obtain horses, as I had
expected. There was none to be hired, nor could any be purchased; hardly
a saddle could be procured in this comparatively uncivilised district.



One day I went down to the mangrove swamps to shoot a small gray heron,
which I had seen on my arrival. On my way back I passed a farm, which
belonged to a countryman of mine. Fastening my boat to the river bank, I
went ashore to pay him a visit. The place gave me the impression of
wealth and comfort. A corn-field extended up to the house, and on the
verandah was a large heap of corn-husks. The farmer was married to a
Norwegian woman, but both had nearly forgotten their mother tongue. They
had several children, and the whole family, having been afflicted with
the malarial fever, looked pale; yet they were well and happy. The
husband had begun life in Australia as a carpenter on the first sugar
plantation in the district. Mechanics are usually the most successful
among Australian immigrants. Here, where the climate was unhealthy, they
were especially well paid. He therefore accumulated a considerable sum
of money in a short time, and bought land. Fortunately for him his
property soon rose in value, for the land along the whole river proved
to be excellent for sugar-growing. A large plantation was established
farther up the stream, and there being a good harbour on his property,
he sold a piece of land for a large price, and was now worth about
£10,000. Ten years ago he came here penniless.



The banks of the river consist of rich soil, and on the higher ground
are extensive plains covered with mighty gum-trees, which were
continually being felled, while the ground was being ploughed for
sugar-cane. Down by the river there are scrubs, the favourite of all
farmers on account of the fertility of the soil, and they are more dense
and thrive better than those in Mackay. The country is, upon the whole,
decidedly tropical. A great part of these woods had been cleared, and
large waving fields of sugar-cane with some patches of corn had taken
their place. The cultivated fields were being extended with great
industry, neither capital nor labour being spared, and it made me almost
sad to see the field of the naturalist daily disappearing. The large
flocks of pigeons had difficulty in finding the high quandang-trees, in
which they are wont to light. The magnificent “weaver-birds” flew about
homeless in large flocks, for the great trees in which the colony had
their numerous nests were felled. The cassowary became more and more
rare; still I could see its footprints in the sand. The only animal
which was not disturbed by the restless work of man was the crocodile,
which was not even affected by the traffic on the river. It frequently
happens that both blacks and whites disappear, for the crocodile is no
less bold in its own element than it is timid on land. Thus a Kanaka was
one day standing near the plantation washing his clothes in the river.
His companions suddenly shouted to him to warn him, but he thought they
were making fun, for he was standing scarcely up to his knees in the
water, and consequently gave no heed to the warning. The crocodile
approached noiselessly, pulled the unhappy man out into the river, and
the waves closed over them. Only a stream of blood indicated where he
had disappeared.

Having learned that a man who took an interest in natural history lived
in the neighbourhood, I one day paid him a visit. His name was Gardiner,
and he kindly invited me to stop at his house. Here I made my first
acquaintance with the blacks of Northern Queensland. A large number of
them, both men and women, all entirely naked, had their camp on his

The first thing which attracted my attention was Mr. Gardiner’s
treatment of these people. In the uncivilised districts the relations
between the whites and the blacks are as bad as possible. In the remote
districts the natives are treated almost like brutes. Still there are
persons who take an interest in them (the “protectors of the blacks”),
and Mr. Gardiner was one of them. He always had work for them on his
farm, he furnished them with tools, and frequently went with them,
cutting down trees, building fences, and the like. He had a remarkable
faculty for getting the slow and lazy people to work, but he was
certainly a great worker himself. By way of salary he gave them large
quantities of flour, sugar, and tea, and especially tobacco; when he
killed cattle, he also gave them meat.

He not only abundantly supplied the men who worked, but also furnished
the women with every necessity; in short, the whole camp lived at his
expense. No wonder then that the blacks were fond of him; they, however,
did not forget their nomadic nature. Now and then they had to return to
their native woods, but others would come in their places, so that Mr.
Gardiner always had a camp of blacks on his farm.

They had gradually learned to make damper from their flour, and they
made it as well as any white person. They prepared their own food in the
camp, where they had cooking utensils which Mr. Gardiner had provided
them with. They could be seen everywhere, even in the kitchen, where
they always tried to keep on good terms with the cook, but they were not
allowed to enter the sitting-room.

Mr. Gardiner liked to have these savages about him, still it was no easy
matter to manage them. When he was with them, one would not think that
he had much heart, for he addressed them in a harsh tone, and scolded
them terribly when they had done anything wrong. If the camp became too
unruly, he sometimes had to go out in the night and frighten them with a
rifle shot. This was quite necessary in order to maintain discipline,
though he was in reality goodness itself; he even protected their women
against the white working men on the neighbouring plantation.

It cannot be denied that he was too liberal toward the blacks. They were
quite spoiled, and did not appreciate his disinterestedness; the result
was that they became bold and aggressive. He told me himself that they
would steal from him whenever they got a chance, and everything had to
be kept under lock and key; he could never let the axes and knives which
they used lie out of doors, and once a black man even broke in and
stole. That, however, was an uncommon occurrence.

Upon the whole their civilisation was of a rather low order. Eleven days
before my arrival they had killed and eaten a man of another tribe on
some hills near the farm. They returned triumphant, and boasted of their
inhuman act. When they were abused for having eaten a man, they
gradually became silent, and understood that it was something which the
whites did not do and which accordingly was not right. This is always
the habit of the Australian natives: as long as they remain in their
native condition they make no secret of their cannibalism, but continued
intercourse with the whites teaches them to regard it as something which
is not _comme il faut_. Yet they keep up this infamous custom in secret
before abandoning it altogether.

I was continually with the natives, both during the day and in the
evening, hunting animals, and I was very much amused by the
companionship of these children of nature. The blacks of Herbert river
gave me from the very beginning an increased interest in the Australian

The boomerang was rare in these regions, for in the large scrubs there
is no use for it. On the other hand I frequently saw another weapon, the
“nolla-nolla” or club, the warlike weapon of the Australian native most
commonly in use. It is a piece of hard and heavy wood sharpened to a
point at both ends. One end is thick, and tapers gradually to the other
end, which is made rough in order to give the hand a more secure hold;
in using the weapon the heavy end is thrown back before it is hurled.

No great pains are taken in the making of these clubs. The majority of
them are about two feet long. At a distance of ten to twelve yards the
native will hit an object with a tolerable degree of certainty, but only
small animals can be killed with this weapon.


  “NOLLA-NOLLAS,” CLUBS (⅐ size).

  _a_, _c_, from Central Queensland, near Rockhampton; _b_, from
    Northern Queensland, Herbert Vale. The thickest end of that marked
    _c_ is usually stained dark brown.

As a weapon for hunting, the club is also of great service in another
way. The small end is used for digging up the ground and loosening it
when the native wants to bring out bandicoots, rats, roots, and similar
things. With it he searches for eggs in the remarkable mounds of the
talegalla. With his nolla-nolla he pounds at the trees to learn whether
they are sound, and picks out the larvæ from the decayed trunks.

One day an egg of a cassowary was brought to me; this bird, although it
is nearly akin to the ostrich and emu, does not, like the latter,
frequent the open plains, but the thick brushwood. The Australian
cassowary is found in Northern Queensland, from Herbert river
northwards, in all the large vine-scrubs on the banks of the rivers and
on the high mountains of the coasts.

For some time I made daily visits to the river bank and caught the
beautiful green and blue _Orthoptera_, which from ten to eleven o’clock
in the morning were found flitting among the trees and bushes.

In the vicinity of Mr. Gardiner’s farm there were both coffee and
tobacco plantations, where the plants throve very well. According to the
owner’s idea, however, the proper varieties had not yet been found. He
had a tobacco factory near the plantation, but the tobacco produced here
was so inferior in quality that the more fastidious even of the blacks
disdained it. Tobacco thrives very well everywhere in Northern
Queensland, and like cinchona, quinine, arrowroot, rice, and cotton,
which wherever planted have thriven well, its cultivation is doubtless
destined to become an important industry. It is only necessary to find
the variety adapted to the climate. It requires great care, and the
owner told me that he was obliged to look after every plant daily.

Although my visit to Mr. Gardiner’s farm was both interesting and
agreeable, I longed to get to my destination. Originally I intended to
go there on foot and get some of the blacks to carry my baggage, but Mr.
Gardiner surprised me one day by offering me an old horse (Kassik) which
he had kept in pasture for a year and a half on the other side of the
river. I was permitted to keep him as a pack-horse as long as I pleased.
He likewise placed a saddle-horse at my disposal for a limited time. I
felt very grateful for this liberal offer, which I accepted with
pleasure, as it would relieve me from many difficulties.

Cheerful and happy, I started on my journey in beautiful, sunny spring
weather, following the river upwards. All about me was fresh and green.
Light green patches of grass and thriving vine-scrubs, by the side of
brooks and streams, which crossed my path on their course down to the
river, passed, in pleasing succession. The dark green vine-scrubs which
extended along the banks on both sides of the river gave the landscape
its most conspicuous character, and contrasted well with the light green
spots. The bottom of the valley was flat and fertile. Before me I saw
continually the scrub-clad hills, the foot of which I knew to be my
destination. It was on these mountains that I based so many hopes. It is
true that Mr. Scott, the owner of this deserted cattle station, which he
had kindly invited me to use as my headquarters, had warned me that I
was coming to a poor place, where I must renounce every comfort. I was
well aware of this, but was prepared to submit to various kinds of
privation if I could but get the opportunity of living amid this
instructive Nature, where I anticipated such great results. It was
impossible to be melancholy in the midst of such wonderful surroundings!
All was bright and inspiring.

On the evening of the second day, as I was approaching Herbert Vale, I
constantly heard a peculiar whistling sound in the grass, which I could
not comprehend. On dismounting, I found that it came from an infinite
number of small grasshoppers which were not yet fully developed. They
retreated before my horses, and were so numerous that the blades of
grass literally bent under their weight. Herbert river is sometimes
visited by vast swarms of grasshoppers, which do considerable damage to
the young sugar-cane.

Darkness set in, but I continued to ride three-quarters of an hour after
sunset. Several times I was obliged to dismount in order to look for the
direction of the path. When at length I could no longer find my way in
the darkness of the night, I suddenly scented smoke, and after going a
few steps in that direction I discovered that the grass had been
recently burnt. Far away, the stumps of trees still shone with fresh
embers. Fortunately I came across a camp of blacks near the river’s
bank. To the great terror of the natives I entered their camp, but
quieted them immediately by showing them tobacco, for two pieces of
which currency I induced one of them to be my guide to Herbert Vale.

                               CHAPTER VI

  Headquarters at Herbert Vale—Civilised blacks—Domestic life—Nelly the
      cook—Cats—Swimming in fat—My bill of fare—Killing the
      bullock—Strong stomachs and bad fare.

Arriving at the entrance to the yard, I met a white object, which proved
to be a Kanaka in his Sunday clothes. He took my horses under his care
and called the superintendent of the station, who was an old white man.
A bureau, a couple of wooden chairs, and a camp-bed constituted the
entire furniture of my room. The bed, in which I slept exceedingly well,
possessed the unexampled luxury of two thick canvas sheets, and I had
been prudent enough to bring with me a heavy double woollen blanket. At
breakfast I asked the old man to introduce me to some of the blacks,
whose assistance I needed, for I could accomplish nothing without them.
I therefore also inquired whether there were any “civilised” ones among
them. The answer was, that for the last two years he had permitted them
to come to the station, and consequently some of them might have the
right to this title. To know that they will be killed if they murder a
white man, to be fond of wearing the garments and ornaments of white
people, and to smoke tobacco, is all that is required in order to be
styled “civilised” among the Australian blacks, though sometimes they do
learn a little more than that. These so-called “civilised” blacks look
upon their savage brethren with more or less contempt, and call them

Footnote 4:

  A tree (_Acacia pendula_) which grows extensively in the less
  civilised districts is called by the Europeans _myall_. This word was
  soon applied by the whites as a term for the wild blacks who
  frequented these large remote _myall_ woods. Strange to say, the
  blacks soon adopted this term themselves and used it as an epithet of
  abuse, and hence it soon came to mean a person of no culture.



We had not finished our breakfast when we saw their heads peeping
through the gate;—all were men armed with spears, as they were just
going out to hunt the wallaby. Most of them were slender and tolerably
well built, though on the average small. Their height varied greatly.
One of them, a lean and slender fellow, called by the old man Tommy, who
I afterwards learned had five wives, was distinguished for his stature;
but he was scarcely over 5 feet 8 inches in height. Their faces varied
conspicuously, some having longer noses than I had observed before among
the Australian natives, but very flat; all were entirely naked. Some of
them wore about their necks a sort of yellow band made of hollow straws
cut into small pieces. This band was wound several times round the neck.

The old superintendent pointed out one of these blacks, called Jacky,
who knew a few English words. He was a square-built, well-proportioned
man, in good physical condition, with a cunning but good-natured face.
As he was considered the most civilised person of the lot, I tried to
make him explain to the others that I desired to obtain all things
creeping on the ground or flying in the air, and that I would give them
tobacco for what they brought me. I also wanted one of them to go with
me and find _tshukki-tshukki_. This word is used to the civilised blacks
to indicate birds. Jacky said he would “belong to me” to-morrow, but now
they were all going out hunting; he added that they would bring me
something when they returned in the evening. Jacky was the only one with
whom I could talk; the others were silent.

I observed that some rested in a most peculiar position, a habit which I
have often noticed since then. They stood on one foot, and placed the
sole of the other on the inside of the thigh a little above the knee.
The whole person was easily supported by a spear (p. 77).[5]

Footnote 5:

  This custom also prevails among the inhabitants of the Soudan and the
  White Nile district. See James’s _Soudan_.

The blacks left us, and I took this opportunity of studying my
surroundings. Herbert Vale, which belongs to the Scott Brothers, had
been abandoned as a cattle station, because the soil along the lower
part of the river proved to be so excellent for sugar-growing that it
rose in value and became too expensive for cattle-raising. The
Englishman always knows how to make himself comfortable, so the station
had comparatively good houses, and for this reason the owners had left
an old white man in charge of the property. His chief duty was to keep
the blacks from setting fire to the houses when they burned the grass
while hunting.

Around the whole property there was a natural hedge of sharp thorns.
Passing through a little gate we came to a two-storied wooden house
painted red, the first floor of which was used for kitchen and
dining-room. The kitchen was quite primitive, having neither floor nor
door. The main building, a low one-storied house, stood a few steps
farther to the west nearer the river.

On the side facing Herbert river I had access from my room to a spacious
verandah, from which there was a fine view far up the river. Besides
these two buildings, a large storehouse, in which the superintendent
kept a supply of flour, sugar, tea, and tobacco, gave the impression of

Mr. Scott had made a large garden, which now unfortunately was in an
entirely dilapidated condition, as the old superintendent made no use of
it; the only thing he cultivated being some sweet-potatoes (_Batatas
edulis_). The only care which the garden received was that the grass was
mown now and then when it became too high, in order to keep it from
smothering the trees. In spite of the miserable condition of the garden
it was a pleasure to see that even in these uncivilised regions there
existed a taste for the beauties and comforts of life, and not simply a
love of money. The cheerful houses among the thriving trees could not
fail to gladden the traveller, whose eyes in this part of the country
rarely witness other than primitive cabins of bark. In Northern
Queensland it is even more rare to find things done simply for comfort
than it is farther south; farther west and north the country becomes
still more wild and uncivilised. The desire to earn money seems to
monopolise everything, and there is no time to think of such a luxury as
a garden. Of course occasionally a bed of cabbage, carrots,
sweet-potatoes, and the like, might be found, but fruit or shady trees
are looked for in vain.

In the middle of the garden stood a bread-tree, but it did not thrive;
this was also the case with a few cocoanut-palms. Conquat, loquat, and
guava-trees, on the other hand, bear excellent fruit. A granadilla,
which twined itself gracefully round an old fig-tree, furnished us for
Christmas with a small amount of palatable fruit. A part of the garden
might be called an orange-orchard, which bore oranges in abundance, but,
alas, they were, chiefly from want of care, too sour to be eaten. The
mango-tree yielded the best fruit to be found in the whole garden.

Herbert Vale lies about forty miles above the mouth of Herbert river,
18° S. lat.; its rainfall is about ninety inches annually. The locality
is exceedingly beautiful, occupying a high plain on the eastern bank of
the river where the latter makes a bend. The bottom of the river valley
is very flat, and dotted with grass and brushwood. In the distance in
almost every direction appear mountainous uplands covered to the very
horizon with dense scrubs, now and then broken by an opening, through
which picturesque waterfalls may be seen dashing down the hillside,
greatly enlivening the sombre groves. The streams which form these
waterfalls often unite and empty into Herbert river, and along their
whole course they are bordered with scrub on both sides. The mountains
are the same as those extending hundreds of miles northward to Cape

In the afternoon the natives returned, but, alas, it was a disagreeable
surprise to find what they had brought for me—the thigh and tail of a
kangaroo—in their estimation the most valuable thing they could procure.
It was always difficult to make them understand what I wanted. I
succeeded better after I had coaxed them to tell me what animals they
knew and what they called them. Notwithstanding the fact that they knew
they would be well paid for what they might bring, they rarely found
anything of interest; they were too lazy and too stupid to care for
anything beyond the present moment. If my efforts were to produce any
result, I would have to go with them myself, and stay with them early
and late, well supplied with tobacco, a small amount of which will
induce them to do anything in their power. For some time I succeeded in
keeping one man, who accompanied me on all my tours. Thus I made
excursions in the neighbourhood of Herbert Vale until towards the close
of October, always attended by the blacks.

I was deeply interested in the study of the Australian natives, who are
supposed to be the lowest order of the human race. I went with them on
their excursions through the dense scrubs; I admired their skill in
climbing the tall gum-trees; and wondered at their keen and trained
senses, by which they discovered animals in the most surprising manner.
We hunted the cassowary or dug out from the earth bandicoots and
_Dasyuridæ_—not a day passed on which we did not go out on some hunting
expedition; in short, I was constantly with them, and frequently spent
the evenings in their camp, which, as a rule, was pitched near the
station. As I gradually became able to make myself understood, my
interest in this remarkable and most primitive race of people increased.



Mr. Scott’s keeper at the station was a peevish, conceited old man, who
spent most of his time sleeping on a sort of cot which he had placed on
the verandah. He had left the care of the house entirely to a Kanaka.
This latter had purchased from the tribe in the neighbourhood of Herbert
Vale a girl, Nelly, for his wife, and the main burden of housekeeping
was put upon her. The only thing that the Kanaka did himself was to milk
the cow in the morning, bake the damper, and chop the fuel for the
kitchen. There was not much variety in our bill of fare: salt beef and
damper, damper and salt beef, were the standing dishes at all three
meals. On two occasions a chicken was killed, which was prepared in the
plainest manner; the head being chopped off, it was stripped of its
feathers, and at once put into the kettle to boil. For a time we also
had sweet-potatoes, which Nelly placed on the table for breakfast,
dinner, and supper as long as they lasted. No care was bestowed on our
hens, however; they laid many eggs, which Nelly, our skilful cook,
invariably did her best to serve in an almost petrified condition.

The old man delighted in a numerous family of cats; for, in his opinion,
after a woman, a cat was the chief source of domestic comfort. As soon
as they heard the sound of kettle and plates, they gathered in large
numbers from all quarters. As a rule a couple of them could be seen in
the forenoon sleeping among the washed plates on the kitchen table,
while the fowls wandered about everywhere. The cock crowed on the
dining-room table, and the hens laid their eggs on the hearthstone. It
was indeed strange to see how little pains the old man took to make
himself comfortable. How nice he could have made it here if he only had
taken some interest in the affairs of the household! Besides the
chickens, he had, as we have seen, a cow, and at times fresh meat, for
there were several cattle for slaughter left on the deserted station.

In the long run salt beef and damper make rather unwholesome food, and
though I therefore repeatedly tried to give Nelly lessons in cooking, my
efforts were fruitless. I wanted her to fry the beef, but she used such
a quantity of fat that it took away all my appetite. Too old to make any
progress in the art of cooking, Nelly clung to her former habits, and
preferred to boil salt beef and sweet-potatoes, if she had any. However,
I must confess that she had great talent for making the fire burn.
Sometimes the fat caught fire, and in this manner I got rid of the
detestable fluid; but then the meat was burnt to a cinder.

The fact that the old man evidently did not like me to meddle with the
kitchen affairs made it all the more difficult to bring about any
reformation in the culinary department; he preferred to keep matters in
the old groove and could not bear any interference on the part of an
epicure. Nelly had a high opinion of her own ability. When with a pipe
in her mouth, she was washing plates and knives, satisfaction beamed
from her dark brown face. Her appetite was marvellous; she not only
devoured incredible quantities in the kitchen, but also constantly
secured food by bartering with her black friends, for she appeared not
to have lost her appetite for their plain messes even after her
elevation as the white man’s cook. She always had a supply of baskets
filled with various kinds of vegetable provisions of the plainest sort
hanging in the kitchen.

The highest ideal of these natives’ existence is to have plenty to eat,
and Nelly ate most of the time. When she was not engaged in this her
favourite occupation, she smoked tobacco, and when she neither ate nor
smoked she slept. Thus her existence was a happy one, marred only by an
occasional flogging from her husband. In her domestic troubles she was
as a rule the wronged party, but being the weaker of the two she of
course could never claim the victory, which was determined by

Old Walters, the keeper, had forbidden the black men to come within the
enclosure, but the women had free admittance. In course of time the most
courageous ones ventured not only to pass through the gate but even to
steal into the kitchen. They tried to keep on good terms with Nelly, who
now and then would save a bite of food for them, especially if they
aided her with the work, which of course served them as a convenient
pretext. They took every opportunity of helping themselves to tallow and
meat, the women doing the stealing by day and the men by night.

I cannot deny that it annoyed me to know that the food was prepared by
the blacks; for the women who washed the dishes were naked, and filthy
in the extreme, and moreover the natives were troubled with skin
diseases, so that both the old man and myself were liable to catch the
infection. Such diseases, the faithful attendants of civilisation, have
also found their way to the natives of the Herbert river region.
Fortunately but few were sufficiently advanced in civilisation. Nor were
there very many who ventured into the kitchen, at least at first; but as
they gradually became acquainted with the place their number increased
in the same proportion as their respect for the keeper diminished.



The external mark of civilisation among the Australian natives is
usually a European shirt which has been white, but which, on account of
age and want of washing, has assumed a colour thoroughly in harmony with
the complexion of its owner. Nor is a common English clay pipe ever
wanting to complete the impression of being a “gentleman” among his
colleagues, to say nothing of a felt hat, which in the eyes of the
Australian native is the chief mark of distinction between a white and a
black man. They usually ask the white man for a civilised name, and if
this request is granted they are constantly called by it among their

The natives on Herbert river near my headquarters had just begun to
enter this state of civilisation, but very few of them had succeeded in
obtaining a shirt or an old hat. The fact of their incipient
civilisation was at least of one advantage to me—they were less afraid
of the white man.

Whenever a bullock was killed they regularly congregated in large
numbers at the station, for at such times there was always something to
get. The meat was salted in the usual manner, and the head, the hide,
the bones, and all the entrails were given to the blacks. A slaughter
day was a real festival at Herbert Vale. It was usually found out
several days in advance, was reported from one tribe to another, and was
a topic of conversation far away in the mountains among those who did
not dare to approach the station.

It amused me very much to watch the blacks in the slaughter-yard, an
enclosure about 150 yards from the main building. When the time
approached for the old keeper to appear with his rifle to shoot the
bullock—_tomóbero_, as the blacks call both the animal and the beef—they
came up from their camp, but were not allowed to stand near the
enclosure. As the Australian cattle are used to see men only on
horseback, they become very frightened at the sight of people on foot,
and especially of the blacks, not only because they are on foot, but
because the poor beasts occasionally have made the acquaintance of their

First, the blacks had to keep themselves concealed from the sight of the
bullock, for fear it should get frightened and run to and fro in the
yard, and thus make it impossible for the old man to shoot it. The
keeper would then get so angry that he would hurl empty threats at their
heads. They however gradually became so accustomed to this that they did
not mind it. Upon the whole his authority was not much respected by
them, and the fact that he often missed his mark when he shot at the
bullock materially increased their contempt for him, for the blacks
expect a man to hit the object at which he aims.

As soon as the animal falls, which is easy for them to observe from
their ambush, they rush forth from all parts of the wood and stand
around the enclosure—men, women, and children—all alike eager to get
their share of the slaughtered animal.

First, the throat of the bullock is pierced with a long knife that the
blood may run out. Some old women are then permitted to come within the
yard, and with both hands they scoop up from the ground the coagulated
blood into their baskets. Next the flaying begins, and several men are
allowed to come in and help. None of them seems much inclined to assist
in the work, but they all like to get inside the yard, for then they are
sure of securing some of the spoils. Some of them hold the beast by the
feet or tail while others remove the hide with the old keeper’s knives.
As soon as the animal is cut open it is important to be at hand ready to
lay hold of the largest pieces of the entrails, all of which fall to the
lot of the blacks. At this point men, women, and children all rush into
the yard.

Amid deafening noise and clamour a regular fight for the intestines
commences; they pull them into pieces in their tussle for them, each one
trying to secure the longest piece. The worthiest among them, that is to
say the strongest and those who have the most wives, have agreed
beforehand who is to have such delicate parts as the liver, the lungs,
and the heart. There is also a great struggle for the tail, to say
nothing of the hide, which is always an object of lively competition.

A number of blacks gather round it and hold it up between them, but it
is no easy matter to divide an ox hide, for it cannot be torn into
pieces. Iron implements are needed, and so the axe and large knives are
borrowed. One begins to cut out a large piece with the axe, while others
who have succeeded in getting knives pay no respect to an equitable
division of the booty, but cut out as large pieces as possible. Those
who have failed to secure any knife stand crestfallen, impatiently
watching the proceedings, and expecting every moment that the piece will
be cut out; but to their despair the sharp weapon continually plunges
farther into the hide. At length the cutting is finished, and only
miserable portions of the large hide remain. All that is now left to be
done is to divide the head between the two who have taken possession of
it, and who have agreed in advance to share it equally.

When the blacks have taken all they can, the whole crowd return to the
camp, where they gorge themselves not only with the entrails but also
with the hide. The intestines and the stomach have already been emptied
and are ready to be prepared for eating, the stomach having been turned
and the intestines emptied by drawing them between the fingers; washing
them is out of the question. They are torn into smaller pieces and laid
on the coals, and after being turned once or twice with a wooden stick,
are fished out of the fire and eaten. The hide is treated in the same

The old man now has the carcass left and the butchering is done. For
dinner, which is to be eaten in about half an hour, he lays aside the
most tender parts—the diaphragm, the kidneys, and the pancreas. This is
all prepared by Nelly, who on such solemn occasions is particularly
proud of her skill as cook. The meat floats on an ocean of fat, while
she now and then licks the point of the knife with delight. At such
times she can brook no joking, having a sublime sense of her own
importance, and being thoroughly convinced that she is indispensable.
This important task finished, the delicate viands are placed on a plate
in a pyramidal heap.

One gets accustomed to everything in Australia, and as when people are
hungry they will eat almost anything, so the inhabitants of Northern
Queensland are willing to live like pigs if they can only make money.
The man who can “work well” is most respected, and to this there can be
no objection; but the idea of a “good worker” implies that he is rough,
and does not care what he eats. They do not understand that it is
possible to work and eat in a decent manner at the same time. I remember
a proprietor in Northern Queensland speaking of this matter in a very
characteristic manner. His workmen had requested him to buy for them a
little butter and some pickles to eat with their plain food, a luxury
they could well afford, as they earned two pounds a week each. But the
fact that they could think of such a thing offended him to such a degree
that he said to me: “I really think it would be better for people to
spend all their money on liquor than to eat it up in this fashion.”

The only extra trouble Nelly had from a butchering, which occurred once
every three weeks, was that she had to make tallow for lighting, and for
greasing the boots. The tallow was placed in a tin cup in which a rag
torn from an old pair of corduroy breeches served as wick; that was our
lamp. Usually the tallow soon gave out; for it stood in a kettle on the
hearth, and here the fowls, in competition with the blacks, consumed it.
As we shall see later on, the blacks have a great predilection for fat.

We had now finished our dinner, which, in addition to the fresh beef,
consisted, as usual, of damper and sweet-potatoes. Making beef-tea or
soup from any part of the beef was utterly out of the question.

In the afternoon all the beef is to be salted, and this is old Walters’s
task. When he has eaten his dinner, he and Nelly and the Kanaka proceed
to the slaughter-house. Meanwhile the natives have returned from their
camp, and are sitting patiently waiting for the bones which fall to
their lot after the meat has been cut off. The large joints are roasted
and then gnawed most thoroughly, the cartilage, hoofs, and the softer
parts of the bone disappearing into their strong stomachs.

Nelly is wholly occupied with the great event of the day. Her movements
indicate unusual solemnity and earnestness. Conscious that something
important is going on to-day, she feels her own superiority as compared
with the other natives. The idea of belonging to the old man who has
such mountains of food! How grand she must appear to the other blacks!
To-night they expect bits of meat, which she steals from the kitchen and
divides among them. Nor does she neglect herself, but is continually
chewing something or other.

Soon after sunset all is over, and the blacks have retired to their camp
satiated and happy. They have to-day eaten _komorbory_, _i.e._ very
much, and consequently from their point of view have experienced the
greatest enjoyment that life can afford.

Such was a slaughter day at Herbert Vale. Now and then a sick animal was
shot and given to the blacks. I remember that an old cow which was so
lean and miserable from pleuro-pneumonia that it could scarcely walk,
was driven into the yard to be killed for the natives. Pleuro-pneumonia
causes great destruction of cattle in some parts of Australia. Many
cattle are saved by inoculating the virus near the upper end of the
tail, but the disease is contagious, and when an animal cannot be cured
it is best to kill it. The old cow fell at the first shot, and the
natives were permitted to do as they pleased with it. They borrowed an
axe with which they chopped it in two along the back to get at the
kidneys and the fat around them, for these parts they like best. There
was a little fat about the kidneys, but none elsewhere; scarcely any
meat could be found on the bones, and the lungs were consumed and had a
horrible smell. The natives do not like anything which smells bad, but
to reject other than the damaged parts was out of the question. The rest
was eaten, and no one was taken ill after this disgusting meal.

It must be admitted that my headquarters could hardly be called
comfortable; but if we understand the art of adapting ourselves to
circumstances, we may at all times make things more bearable than they
seem to be. In a new country like Northern Queensland, where people live
so far apart, and where each one thinks only of himself, it is easy to
see what a great advantage it must be to have a place where one can find
shelter. Besides, it was a real comfort to know that I was not likely to
die of starvation, thanks to Nelly’s damper and salt beef. During a
short period there was also fruit in the garden, but, after all, my
greatest treat when I came down from the mountains was milk. Every one
who has travelled in the tropics knows what a luxury this is.



                              CHAPTER VII

  Kāmin (implement for climbing)—On top of the gum-trees—Hunting the
      wallaby—The spear of the natives—Bird life in the open

A few days after my arrival at Herbert Vale, the natives were to
undertake a hunt of the wallaby, and with two black companions I
presented myself at the place where the hunt was to begin. We left home
in the morning. The forenoon was devoted to hunting for small mammals,
which during the daytime keep themselves concealed in the high trees.
With kind words and tobacco I induced my blacks to climb up one immense
gum-tree after the other.

The Australian black on the Herbert river was more skilful in climbing
than any of the other natives I had seen up to this time. If he has to
climb a high tree, he first goes into the scrub to fetch a piece of the
Australian calamus (_Calamus australis_), which he partly bites, partly
breaks off; he first bites on one side and breaks it down, then on the
other side and breaks it upwards—one, two, three, and this tough whip is
severed. At one end of it he makes a knot, the other he leaves as it is.
This implement, which is usually sixteen to eighteen feet long, is
called a kāmin.

After wiping his hands in the grass so as to remove all moisture from
perspiration, he takes the knot in his left hand, throws the kāmin
around the big tree-trunk, and tries to catch the other end with his
right hand. When, after a couple of abortive efforts, he has succeeded
in this, he winds this end a few times around the right arm and thus
gets a secure hold. The right foot is planted against the tree, the arms
are extended directly in front of him, the body is bent back, so that it
is kept as far as possible away from the tree, and then the ascent
begins. He keeps throwing the kāmin up the tree, and at the same time he
himself ascends about as easily as a sailor uses an accommodation
ladder, but as climbing by means of the kāmin is of course much harder
work, he is compelled to stop every few moments to take breath. When he
has reached the branches of the tree he hangs the kāmin on one of them,
while he examines the holes in the trunk.

It seemed to me that he placed his kāmin so carelessly that it might
easily fall down while he was engaged in the hunt for animals in the
tree. If this should happen, I hardly know how he could get down those
high and smooth trees. But with the aid of the kāmin it is easy enough.
He walks down backwards very rapidly. If it is a very large tree, and
the bark very smooth, he chops niches in it for his big toe. He takes
his tomahawk in his mouth, and when he wants to use it removes the kāmin
from his right arm and winds it around his right thigh, whereupon with
his free hand he cuts the next niche or two in the bark of the tree.

Thus we see the importance of having a knot in one end of the kāmin and
none in the other. This arrangement has also another advantage, that the
kāmin can be used in a tree of unequal thickness, and in different
trees; for the native usually carries this implement with him and uses
it in a number of trees. Instead of rolling it together, or winding—it
into a coil, he draws it behind him, simply holding on to the knotted
end. Strange to say, this is the most practical way of carrying it, for
the kāmin is hard and smooth, so that it never sticks fast in the
brushwood. Rolled into a ring it would doubtless be a great source of
trouble in the dense scrub. No tree is too high or too smooth for the
Australian native to climb, provided its circumference is not too great.

But my blacks climbed the high gum-trees in vain. They did not succeed
in discovering a single opossum, flying-squirrel,[6] or any other
nocturnal animal that hides in tree-trunks. The reason for this, in the
opinion of the blacks, was a circumstance unknown to me, viz. that both
the opossum and the flying-squirrel disappear in the summer time and do
not return before the rainy season, at which time they are abundant. At
first I had grave doubts in regard to this explanation, and made my
natives climb a number of trees, but as I did not find a single
specimen, I came to the conclusion that they were right. The opossum
(_Irichosurus vulpecula_) and the flying-squirrel leave the bottom of
the valley in the summer. I do not know what becomes of the former, but
I found _Petauroides volans_ and several species of _Petaurus_ in the
middle of the summer on the open grass plains in the mountain regions
near Herbert Vale. In the rainy season the opossum and the
flying-squirrels were very numerous about the station.

Footnote 6:

  The marsupial flying-phalanger is so called by the Australians.

Late in the afternoon I arrived with my companions at the spot where the
wallaby hunt was to take place. It was a large plain, surrounded on all
sides by scrub and overgrown with high dense grass. The wallabies
(_Macropus agilis_) are very numerous in the Herbert river bottoms, but
keep themselves concealed during the day. The usual way of hunting these
animals is by setting fire to the grass; this starts them up and they
try to escape. The natives stand on guard ready to attack the flying
animals, and try to kill them with spears while they, fleet as the wind,
run by. As a rule the hunt is postponed until the afternoon, for there
is so much dew in the morning that the grass looks as if there had been
a shower of rain; but after noon it is quite dry again.

I looked in vain for my black hunting companions, but soon discovered
that they were just crossing the river, which flowed among the scrubs
below the plain. I rode to the bank and discovered one group after the
other coming into view behind the trees on the other side, the women
peeping curiously from behind the bushes to catch a glimpse of the white
man. They looked timid, and deemed it safest to cross the river higher
up, where they came over each with her children on her shoulders and a
basket on her back. Some of them had fire with them, carrying burning
sticks in their hands. The men waded across at the place where I stood.
It interested me to watch them in their natural nakedness as they
gradually gathered around me on the bank of the river, but as usual it
was necessary to be watchful of the long spears which they bore.

They soon separated, some of them stationing themselves on the outside
of the field, while the rest remained to set fire to the grass. Jacky,
one of my blacks, indicated to me that for the sake of the horse I had
better remain where I was. He himself went with the other men, and took
his station on the side of the field. Soon those who had remained behind
spread themselves out, set fire to the grass simultaneously at different
points, and then quickly joined the rest. The dry grass rapidly blazed
up, tongues of fire licked the air, dense clouds of smoke rose, and the
whole landscape was soon enveloped as in a fog.

I fastened up my horse and went into this semi-darkness, watching the
blacks, who ran about like shadows, casting their spears after the
animals that fled from the flames. But though many spears whizzed
through the air, and though a large field was burned, not a single
wallaby was slain.

The Australians have the reputation of being able to hurl the spear
skilfully; they do much damage to the white man’s cattle, and many a
white man is killed by this weapon; but, strange to say, I have never
observed any remarkable skill in its use among the blacks of Herbert
river. This may be explained by the fact that in a great measure they
find their food in the scrubs, where spears cannot be used. Of course it
is difficult to hit an animal running at full speed, but I have often
seen them miss sitting shots. On the other hand, it sometimes happens
that they kill three or four during a hunt.

This time all the booty consisted of a few bandicoots (_Peramelidæ_),
which were dug out of the ground between the roots of a large gum-tree.
While the men were busy doing this the women stood ready to receive the
game and take it home. The bandicoots are good eating even for
Europeans, and in my opinion are the only Australian mammals fit to eat.
They resemble pigs, and the flesh tastes somewhat like pork.



During the whole chase the women took the greatest delight in watching
the sport of the men. At the same time they were busily occupied in
pulling up the roots of acacias, inside which a larva (_Eurynassa
australis_) is concealed, which is eagerly sought after, and is regarded
by the natives as a most delicate morsel. The larva when found was
immediately roasted in the red-hot ashes lying everywhere on the ground,
and was at once devoured.

On grassy plains the hunt of the wallaby, which is the sport most dear
to the men, is always carried on in the manner above described, that is,
by burning the grass or simply by wandering about hunting for the
sleeping animals. The wallabies have excellent ears, and start at the
least noise. They may sit for a few moments moving their large ears to
catch any suspicious sound; but, as a rule, even the catlike steps of
the blacks are too noisy to enable them to approach sufficiently near
the wallaby. When it rains they do not hear so well, and it is then
easier to kill them.

These wallabies, the large kangaroos, and the white man’s cattle are the
only animals which the blacks near Herbert Vale kill with their spears,
though the latter are their most important weapons. The spear, usually
eight to ten feet long, consists of two parts—the front, which is
sharp-pointed, made of a heavy hard kind of wood, and the butt end,
which is usually the longer of the two, of _Xanthorrhœa_ or a similar
light material. These two parts are joined and bound together with wood
fibres, or with sinews of the kangaroo’s tail, and beeswax heated over
the fire. The point is never envenomed, as they know little or nothing
about poison. Nor is there any flint point attached, as is often the
case in Australia. In Northern Queensland I have occasionally seen the
point of the spear furnished with a barb of fish bones for a length of
one or two feet up the spear. Such javelins were thicker and shorter
than the common ones and were used only for fishing.

The spear is thrown with the help of a throwing-stick, which is equal to
a quarter or a fifth part of the whole length of the weapon, and has a
hook at one end made of wood, likewise fastened with beeswax and fibres
of wood or the sinews of the kangaroo’s tail. This hook is attached to
the butt end of the spear, which has a socket fitting the hook. Thus the
stick lies along the under side of the spear. When the latter is to be
thrown, the stick and the weapon itself are seized with the first three
fingers. Both are carried back as far as possible, and the spear is
thrown with the force of a sling.



In the wallaby chase the blacks on Herbert river also use nets with
large meshes, placing them in a line between posts to which they are
fastened. Such a net is fifteen to twenty feet long, and the meshes are
about four inches each way.

The chase took place in the so-called open country on Herbert river,
which, to the superficial observer, does not differ in any striking
manner from that of Southern Queensland. The high gum-trees are found
here, but the country is more fertile, and the grass is so high that it
is difficult to get through it. On this moist soil grow whole forests of
the screw-palm (_Pandanus_, p. 95). The country altogether does not look
so dry as farther south; small swamps exist here and there, and brooks
often cross one’s path.

I found fewer birds in this open country than I used to see elsewhere in
Australia. Nor did I ever meet in the bottoms of Herbert river valley
with those birds which seem to belong inseparably to an Australian
forest landscape, such as the piping crow (_Gymnorhina tibicen_), the
butcher-bird (_Cracticus nigrogularis_), or the Australian wagtail
(_Grallina picata_). Parrots were also scarce, but in the scrubs up the
mountains I saw plenty of them. The bird _Centropus_, which is common in
all Queensland, is found here in great numbers. Although it really is a
cuckoo, the colonists call it the “swamp-pheasant,” because it has a
tail like a pheasant. It is a very remarkable bird, with stiff feathers,
and flies with difficulty on account of its small wings. The
“swamp-pheasant” has not the family weakness of the cuckoo, for it does
not lay its eggs in the nests of other birds. It has a peculiar clucking
voice, which reminds one of the sound produced when water is poured from
a bottle—a sound familiar to all who have camped beneath the gum-trees
of Australia.


  THE SCREW-PALM (_Pandanus_).

The open country was therefore not the best territory for me, for there
was but little game. On the other hand I reaped a more abundant harvest
in the scrubs, where there is a greater variety of animal life; and to
wander with the blacks in these almost impenetrable jungles in the wide
river valley was very interesting. Nothing escapes their notice. On one
occasion, in the middle of September, when I made an excursion with one
of them, he made me understand that he wished to go away for a moment to
look for something. Time passed, and I became impatient, but when I
began to shout for him I was not a little surprised to hear his response
coming from the far distance above. Approaching, I discovered him in the
top of an immensely high tree. He threw down to me two large young of
the gigantic wader Jabiru (_Mycteria australis_). Quickly, and with the
dexterity of an acrobat, he descended, laying hold with his hands of the
twining plants which hung like natural ropes down the trunk of the tree.

It is not easy to penetrate this scrub, which is so dense that one has
scarcely elbow-room; but along the rivers there is more breathing space.
Here beautiful landscapes are often disclosed to view; the most varied
trees vie with each other for a place along the quiet stream; while
creeping and twining plants hang in beautiful festoons over the water.

On first entering the scrub, the solemn quiet and solitude which reign
there are striking. You work your way through it by the sweat of your
brow; you startle a bird, which at once disappears, and your prevailing
impression is that there is no life. But if you come there in the early
morning or towards evening, and sit down quietly, it is surprising to
see the birds approaching gently, as if they had been called, and
disappearing as noiselessly as they came. Silence as a rule reigns in
the scrubs, and the song of birds is rarely heard; though the doves coo
in the evening, and sometimes the melancholy note of the jungle-hen is
to be heard, or even, if you are lucky, the thundering voice of the

One of the first birds you notice is the cat-bird (_Ælurœdus
maculosus_), which makes its appearance towards evening, and has a voice
strikingly like the mewing of a cat. The elegant metallic-looking
“glossy starlings” (_Callornis metallica_) greedily swoop with a
horrible shriek upon the fruit of the Australian cardamom[7] tree. The
ingenious nests of this bird were found in the scrubs near Herbert
Vale—a great many in the same tree. Although this bird is a starling,
the colonists call it “weaver-bird.”

Footnote 7:

  This is a fictitious name, as are the names of many Australian plants
  and animals. The tree belongs to the nutmeg family, and its real name
  is _Myristica insipida_. The name owes its existence to the similarity
  of the fruit to the real cardamom. But the fruit of the _myristica_
  has not so strong and pleasant an odour as the real cardamom, and
  hence the tree is called _insipida_.

There are few birds that look better in the green tree-tops than the
Torres Strait pigeons (_Carpophaga spilorrhoa_), which is white, like a
ptarmigan in winter dress, with the exception of its wings and tail,
which are black. In November a pair of them built their nest in a high
tree near the, scrub, and like several other varieties of birds, had
just arrived from the northernmost part of Queensland and New Guinea;
for it was now spring, and all the birds that migrate northward in the
winter had returned, such as the celebrated Australian giant cuckoos
(_Scythrops novæ-hollandiæ_), whose terrible shrieks are heard at a
great distance when in scores they gorge themselves in the large
fig-trees. On the banks of a stream I shot a specimen of the very small
kingfisher (_Ceyx pusilla_), which belongs to New Guinea and Northern
Australia. It was the only specimen I saw on Herbert river. The
racket-tail kingfisher (_Tanysiptera_) has also been shot in the scrubs

But what especially gives life and character to these woods are the
jungle-hens (mound-builders), which I have already mentioned. The weird,
melancholy cry of these birds once heard is not easily forgotten; at
sunset and in the twilight of the evening it is in perfect harmony with
the stillness and repose of nature. The bird is of a brownish hue, with
yellow legs and immensely large feet; hence its name _Megapodius_. It is
very shy, and therefore it is not easy to get a glimpse of it, but its
remarkable nests, which are formed of large heaps of earth and decayed
leaves, like those of the talegalla, are frequently to be found in the
scrubs. From my own experience I venture to assert that the mounds of
the jungle-hen are larger than those of the talegalla. For many years
they were thought to be the burying-grounds of the natives, says Mr.
Eden, who mentions one which was sixteen feet high and sixty-two feet in
circumference at the base. One would hardly think that birds could build
so large a mound.

In these scrubs the proud cassowary, the stateliest bird of Australia,
is also to be found. I had already made several vain attempts to secure
a specimen of this beautiful and comparatively rare creature. We had
frequently seen traces of it under the large fig-trees, the fruit of
which it eats. The excrement of the cassowary looks more like that of a
horse than of a bird, and I saw large heaps under the fig-trees. We
often approached without seeing it, for it is exceedingly shy and
departs on the slightest noise, consequently it is very difficult to get
a shot.



On October 6 the natives brought me two eggs and a young bird just
hatched. I at once requested one of them to guide me to the nest,
whither I took it, hoping thereby to attract the old bird. Near the
nest, which was formed of a not very soft bed of loose leaves massed
together, we placed the young one and then stepped aside to see what
would happen. It first began to run after us, but as it soon lost sight
of us, commenced to cry violently. After a lapse of about ten minutes we
suddenly heard the voice of the cassowary, which usually sounds like
thunder in the distance, but now, when calling its young, it reminded us
of the lowing of a cow to its calf. The sound came nearer and nearer,
and soon the beautiful blue and red neck of the bird appeared among the
trees, and its black body became visible. It stopped and scanned its
surroundings carefully in the dense scrub, but a charge of No. 3 shot,
fired from a distance of fifteen paces, laid it low.

My black companion gave a shout of victory, and ran back to the camp to
get some men to carry the precious burden home. Six natives took turns
in carrying it to the station, where I at once set to work skinning it.
The blacks made a feast of its flesh, and the skin formed a valuable
addition to my collection. It was an unusually fine specimen of a male,
who thus appears to care for the young, at least in the early stage. The
eggs, three[8] in number, are frequently laid at long intervals. In this
instance there was a bird just hatched, an egg almost hatched, and
another egg the contents of which could easily be blown out. Thus we see
that the young are not hatched at the same time, and that the male must
therefore care for them while the female is busy brooding. After the
third egg is hatched, the male and female probably share the burden of
supporting the family.

Footnote 8:

  The colour, which is a light green, varies in shade in the three eggs.

The first specimen of this variety of cassowary (_Casuarius australis_)
was shot in these same scrubs near the close of the sixties.

Its eyes, which cannot fail to be admired, form the most beautiful
feature of the cassowary. Their expression is defiant and proud, as that
of the eagle’s eyes. The natives hunt the bird with the aid of their
dingoes, which are able to kill the half-grown and sometimes even the
old birds. The flesh tastes very much like beef, and is very fat. In the
rainy season the cassowary is sometimes compelled to take to the water,
and proves itself to be a good swimmer.

The blacks claim that their hands become white if washed in the contents
of its stomach at the season of the year when it mainly feeds on a fruit
which they call _tobola_. I give this for what it is worth; but I have
seen natives having on their hands white spots which they insisted were
produced in this manner; no doubt these spots were nothing more than
_vitiligo_ or _leucopathia acquisita_, found among all races of men.

                              CHAPTER VIII

  Pleasant companions—Two new mammals—Large scrubs in the Coast
      Mountains—The lawyer-palm—“Never have a black-fellow behind you”—I
      decide to live with the blacks—Great expectations—My
      outfit—Tobacco is money—The baby of the gun.

No person can spend many days with the Australian natives before finding
out that one of their chief traits is their never-ceasing begging. If
you give one thing to a black man, he finds ten other things to ask for,
and he is not ashamed to ask for all that you have, and more too. He is
never satisfied. Gratitude does not exist in his breast, and friendship
he is unable to appreciate. An Australian native can betray anybody, and
confidence can rarely be placed in him. You should never let him walk
behind you, but always in front. There is not one among them who will
not lie if it is to his advantage. Though it is their nature to be lazy,
and though they have no inclination whatever for work, yet they can on a
hunt develop remarkable energy and endurance.

The women are the humble servants or rather slaves of the native. He
does only what pleases himself, and leaves all work to his wives;
therefore the more wives he has the richer he is.

The Australian aborigines do not cultivate the soil, and their only
domestic animal is the dingo (dog). Living from hand to mouth on
vegetables or animal flesh, they are constantly flitting from place to
place to find their subsistence, and have no permanent abodes. Their
character is like their mode of life; they are the children of the
moment—capricious; a resolution is quickly formed and as quickly
abandoned. They are humorous by nature, have a keen sense of what is
comical, and a cheerful disposition; though free from care, they are
never without a secret fear of being attacked by other tribes, for the
tribes are each other’s mortal foes.

What they lack in personal courage they make up by craft and cunning. If
they can kill their enemies by a treacherous attack, they do so without
hesitation. The attacked party takes to flight, each one thinking of his
own safety alone, for self-preservation is their only law.

The Australians are cannibals. A fallen foe, be it man, woman, or child,
is eaten as the choicest delicacy; they know no greater luxury than the
flesh of a black man. There are superstitious notions connected with
cannibalism, and though they have no idols and no form of divine
worship, they seem to fear an evil being who seeks to haunt them, but of
whom their notions are very vague. Of a supreme good being they have no
conception whatever, nor do they believe in any existence after death.
Such are in brief the main characteristics of the Australian native as I
came to know him on the Herbert river.

During my association with these savages I learned that on the summit of
the Coast Mountains, before mentioned, there lived two varieties of
mammals which seemed to me to be unknown to science; but I had much
difficulty in acquiring this knowledge. One of the animals they called
_yarri_. From their description I conceived it to be a marsupial tiger.
It was said to be about the size of a dingo, though its legs were
shorter and its tail long, and it was described by the blacks as being
very savage. If pursued it climbed up the trees, where the natives did
not dare follow it, and by gestures they explained to me how at such
times it would growl and bite their hands. Rocky retreats were its most
favourite habitat, and its principal food was said to be a little brown
variety of wallaby common in Northern Queensland scrubs. Its flesh was
not particularly appreciated by the blacks, and if they accidentally
killed a yarri they gave it to their old women. In Western Queensland I
heard much about an animal which seemed to me to be identical with the
yarri here described, and a specimen was once nearly shot by an officer
of the black police in the regions I was now visiting.

The other animal also lived in the trees, but fed exclusively on leaves.
According to the statement of the blacks, it was a kangaroo which lived
in the highest trees on the summit of the Coast Mountains. It had a very
long tail, and was as large as a medium-sized dog, climbed the trees in
the same manner as the natives themselves, and was called _boongăry_. I
was sure that it could be none other than a tree-kangaroo
(_Dendrolagus_). Tree-kangaroos were known to exist in New Guinea, but
none had yet been found on the Australian continent.

As is well known, the Great Dividing Range stretches along the coast of
Australia at a distance of from fifty to some three hundred miles
inland. This range forms in general the watershed between the eastern
and western waters, but there are chains of mountains visible from the
coast that are often of greater elevation than this range, such as the
Blue Mountains, where the streams break through the mountain masses in
picturesque chasms on their way to the Pacific. The Dividing Range is
sometimes not easily traced, and the spurs coming from it, as well as
detached mountains near the coast, are often much higher and are
frequently taken for the main range. The whole body of mountains from
south to north is spoken of as the Great Dividing Range, and forms, as
it were, the Australian Cordilleras. On the extreme south-east the
mountains attain an elevation of 5000 to 6000 feet; going north, they
diminish rapidly and considerably. In the south part of Queensland they
are low, but in Northern Queensland they again rise to a height of 2000
to 4000 feet (the Bellenden Kerr Hills are even 5400 feet high), then
they once more diminish, and gradually disappear into the low-lying
country of Cape York. The moist monsoons blow over these mountains and
are converted into rain, which, together with the warm climate, produces
a luxuriant tropical vegetation. Hence these mountains from base to top
are extensively covered with scrubs.

On Herbert river and northward the Coast Mountains are difficult of
access. Perpendicular chasms and tracts covered with loose stone abound;
but wherever a root could take hold large trees and bushes have grown,
while creeping and twining plants form a carpet on the ground. There are
hilly but less stony parts, where the vegetation is so dense that a
person can hardly penetrate it without being so torn and pricked that
blood flows from the wounds.



In the mountain scrubs there grows a very luxuriant kind of palm
(_Calamus australis_), whose stem, of a finger’s thickness, like the
East Indian Rotang-palm, creeps through the woods for hundreds of feet,
twining round trees in its path, and at times forming so dense a wattle
that it is impossible to get through it. The stem and leaves are studded
with the sharpest thorns, which continually cling to you and draw blood,
hence its not very polite name of _lawyer-palm_.

In the lower regions the common Australian palm and the fan-palm
(_Livistonia_) are found. There is also the beautiful banana-palm, with
its bright green, and towards the summit magnificent tree-ferns spread
their splendid leaves over the rivers in the humid vales, blending with
the endless mass of other trees and bushes. Rivers and streams
everywhere tumble down the mountain sides, and frequently form beautiful
waterfalls surrounded by luxuriant scrubs. Here, in the shadow of dense
trees hiding the sun from sight, the water is cool and clear as crystal.

The real scrubs once left behind, and the summit reached, you come to a
more open country, Leichhardt’s basaltic table-land. At first there are
hills and dales with the same kind of scrubs as below, but not so dense,
for the lawyer-palm is here more rare.

In these picturesque but very inaccessible scrubs the natives live in
large numbers undisturbed by the white man, for there is no gold or
other treasure to tempt him to subject himself to all the inconveniences
connected with the effort to penetrate into these regions.

After having studied the neighbourhood of the station for some time, I
soon discovered that I must abandon Herbert Vale as my night quarters
and go farther up into the wild woods of the Coast Mountains, where
there was much to entice me. Here I was to find the natives in their
original condition, uninfluenced by intercourse with the white man. I
had long desired to study these savages—the Australian aborigines, the
lowest of the human race—in their actual conditions of existence; for
the ethnological student no phase of human life is so interesting as the
most primitive one. It also seemed clear at the outset that new species
of animal life must be found there, and that I might secure them with
the aid of the blacks. Having heard them speak of the two remarkable
mammals, I resolved to do all in my power to get into these regions. But
I could not think of going by myself; I needed help to carry my baggage,
and not having any white servant, I was obliged to select black
attendants, the only ones of course who could be of any real service to
me in the scrubs. It would, moreover, be very difficult to find a
capable white man willing to accompany me. In all probability he would
not understand how to treat the savages, and this might soon result in
death for both of us. It is difficult for a white man to find his way in
these pathless regions; besides, it is not likely he would be able to
trace the wild animals without the aid of the natives who have their
hunting-grounds here. My only choice was to secure natives, and make
them my friends and comrades, if I wished to attain my purpose; and so I
resolved to live surrounded by them alone.

My first object was to find persons willing to go with me; no easy task,
for the “civilised” natives on Herbert river were very lazy, and did not
care to go up into these mountain regions; besides, they were but poorly
acquainted with them. I therefore had to address myself to more remote
tribes living nearer the regions which were my goal. From the civilised
blacks I had become tolerably well acquainted with the natives. I knew a
little of their language, and having had some experience of the manner
in which to treat them in order to make them useful to me, I felt
comparatively safe; but I must confess to considerable curiosity as to
what the result would be.

It was a new experience to a white man this camping with Australian
natives, who dwell in miserable huts made of leaves, who have no
domestic animals, and are ignorant of agriculture, as well as savage and
treacherous. A human life has so little value for them that they think
no more of killing a man than we of breaking a glass; provided they feel
sufficiently safe, they will kill a white man for a piece of tobacco or
a shirt. But on picturing to myself the very interesting life in store
for me, my doubts and hesitations were overcome. I was now to have a
splendid opportunity of studying these natives. I was to be with them in
sunshine and in rain in their own forests; to see them uninfluenced by
any form of civilisation, and in their company to make many interesting
discoveries and observations.

                  *       *       *       *       *

In the course of this and the following year I made many expeditions in
company with the blacks. I began with the nearest tribes and worked my
way up through these to the more remote ones, until at last I lived in
huts with natives of Australia who never come into contact with the
white man.

My supplies on these expeditions usually consisted of from ten to twelve
pieces of salt beef in a bag, about thirty pounds of wheat flour for
baking damper, and a small sack of sugar. Instead of tea I drank simply
sugar-water. It is a cooling pleasant drink, especially when the water
is as clear and good as in Northern Queensland.

When my provisions were consumed—and they never lasted very long, for
the natives liked them too well—I lived on their fare, which was
anything but savoury. If I had been obliged to depend on their vegetable
food I should soon have starved to death, but fortunately the large
lizards, snakes, larvæ, eggs, etc., and what I shot for myself, to some
extent took the place of civilised food. The worst was when the sugar
gave out, for the plain dishes on which I had to depend went down much
more easily with sweet water. I had no canned food, and of stimulants,
which as a rule I consider superfluous in the tropics, I had only a
bottle of whisky. I never carried salt, and, like the natives, I
experienced no inconvenience from the want of it when eating eggs,
lizards, fish, game, etc.

As money I used tobacco; my provisions served the same purpose, and
these were swallowed by the natives, no matter how satiated they might
be with other food. When I ran short of tobacco I was always obliged to
go back to the station. Even such things as a shirt or a handkerchief so
fell in value when tobacco was wanting as to be almost worthless.

The natives along Herbert river, who do not come in contact with white
people, have but few wants. They never wear clothes either winter or
summer, and consequently money has no value. Their only drink is water
or water mixed with honey. The blacks of Herbert river have no
stimulants, and this is the secret of the influence of tobacco, which
they value so highly that they sometimes wrap a small piece of about
three to four inches long in grass, in order to enjoy it later with
allied tribes with whom they are on a friendly footing, or they may send
it in exchange for other advantages to another tribe. In this manner the
use of tobacco may be known among tribes who have never seen a white
man. The tobacco is not chewed, but only smoked, and they believe that
it is good for everybody; I have even seen a mother put a pipe into the
mouth of her babe, which was sitting on her shoulder, and the little one
apparently enjoyed a whiff.

Besides tobacco, which I continually dealt out in small quantities to
maintain its value, I had to take with me clay pipes, for the blacks
cannot even make such things as these. Still, it was more easy to
satisfy them with pipes, for the whole camp was usually content with one
or two, which were passed from mouth to mouth.



Of kitchen utensils I took with me only a tin pail to fetch and keep
water in, and a knife, for I soon learned from the natives how to
prepare my food in a less elaborate manner than that adopted in a
civilised kitchen, so that I easily got on without kettle or frying-pan,
hunger and fatigue making sauce and spices superfluous. In addition to
the necessary chemicals for preserving specimens, I carried with me a
small flask of quinine, two bottles containing medicine for the stomach,
and one containing ammonia as an antidote to serpent bites; this and a
small amount of lunar caustic constituted my whole drug store. A light
merino shirt, a coloured shirt, a pair of corduroy trousers, two pairs
of cotton socks, and a pair of shoes, constituted my whole wardrobe. For
the night I had a large, double, white woollen blanket in which to wrap
myself, and a piece of mackintosh about two yards square, which I spread
out on the ground to lie upon. I also always took with me an overcoat,
which I put on when it rained. For my toilet I had a tooth-brush, a
piece of soap, and a towel. I let my hair grow until I came to the
station, where the keeper, who had been a sheep-shearer, plied the
shears as a haircutter with all his accustomed skill.

My watch and compass were left at Herbert Vale, for it was important to
be as unencumbered as possible. With the natives I learned to determine
time by the sun, and what was lacking in my ability to find my bearings
was supplied by the remarkable instinct of the blacks for finding their
way everywhere. A double-barrelled gun and an excellent American
revolver were of course the most important parts of my whole equipment,
which, as has been shown, was plain, but I was obliged to limit my
necessities as much as possible. The natives, who dislike to carry
anything, looked upon everything save provisions and tobacco as

The gun and revolver had even more power over them than the tobacco. The
Australian aborigines are in great fear of firearms, for they themselves
do not even use bows and arrows, except in the outlying parts of Cape
York, where they have some clumsy weapons of this kind. But you must be
careful not to miss your mark in their presence. You must hit all you
aim at, or they will lose their respect for you. It makes no difference
whether the object you shoot at is in motion or not; they are as much
surprised when an opossum is brought down from his tree as when the
swiftest bird is shot on the wing. When I was not quite sure of my shot,
I took good care not to use the revolver, for it is difficult, as
everybody knows, to hit the mark with this weapon. They had great
respect for the baby of the gun, as they called the revolver, believing
that it never ceased shooting, and I need not add that I allowed them to
retain this belief. As a rule they were so afraid of the baby that they
did not care to touch it. It was in my belt day and night.

It was exceedingly difficult to secure men among the lazy natives for
these expeditions; at first my friend Jacky assisted me. On account of
his strength and cunning he was highly respected, and looked upon as the
first man in his tribe, and he supported me with his influence. First,
it was necessary to get him to tell me who were the best hunters, and
then, by promising him tobacco, I either got him to go with me to the
tribe in question or to find another person willing to do so.

It sometimes took several days to find these people and treat with them.
Frequently they changed their minds, and as they were continually moving
from place to place I had to give Jacky more tobacco and take a fresh
start to find them. At last I would get my people together. As a rule I
was attended by five or six young men, sometimes by more, sometimes by
less; occasionally women and children, even the whole tribe, went with
me. The natives led the way, the one immediately before me leading the
pack-horse, while I followed on horseback.

On the first expeditions it only took us a day or two to get to the base
of the mountain range. Here we selected a convenient spot for a camp; a
place where there was plenty of grass and water for the two horses,
which could not go with us into the large dense scrubs. Their forefeet
were hobbled, and they were left to themselves during our absence.

The next morning we were ready to proceed on our journey, the saddles
and bridles were hung up in the trees in order that they might not be
consumed by wild dogs, my baggage was divided among the natives, and the
ascent of the scrub-clad mountain began.

As it is easier to get through the scrubs along a river-bed, over stones
and crevasses, than it is to crawl through the dense brushwood and be
pricked by thorns and sharp branches, we as a rule followed a mountain
stream to reach the summit, where were my real hunting-grounds. We
frequently made long journeys across the table-land, but every
expedition was of course not precisely like the one above described. As
a rule we went as far as possible on horseback, then we would penetrate
the scrubs and gain the table-lands, where the scrubs, as above
indicated, appear in patches of various sizes, partly as isolated groves
and partly as a continuation of the forests which cover the ridges next
to the ocean.

Every evening I pitched my camp and slept in a hut of leaves built
exactly like those of the natives, except that it was a little more
tightly put together, so that it usually afforded me protection from the
rain. It was put up very hastily just before sundown. A few branches
were stuck in the ground and their tops united, and this framework was
covered with large leaves of the banana or other palms, or with long
grass. A door was out of the question; there was simply an opening large
enough for me to crawl through, for the whole hut was not higher than my

Such is also the _mitta_, the abode of the natives, which is intended
only for a short stay, and adapted to the nomadic life of these people.
I took care to have my hut made long enough to enable me to lie
straight, and to see that my bed was perfectly horizontal, a matter of
no importance to the blacks. It makes no difference to them whether the
feet lie higher or lower than the head. My people were on either side of
the entrance to my hut, where they built flimsy roofs of trees and
grass; if there was promise of fine weather for the night, they simply
cut down a tree and laid themselves by the side of it. In the centre a
fire was kept burning.



Every evening, before going to sleep, I went outside my hut and fired my
revolver to remind my companions of the existence of this terrible
weapon, and in case we were on the territory of strange tribes, to keep
them from attacking us. This precaution was my way of saying good-night
to my men. I may add that I never had exactly the same companions on
these various expeditions, because it is necessary that the blacks
should not become too well acquainted with you: as long as they respect
the white man it is less dangerous to camp with them; but as soon as
they become familiar with his customs and find out that there is no
danger in associating with him, he is liable at any moment to a
treacherous assault.

That I was not killed by my men (a circumstance which white people whom
I have met have wondered at), I owed to the fact that they never wholly
lost their respect for my firearms. At first, at least, I was regarded
by them as something inexplicable—as a sort of mysterious being who
could travel from land to land without being eaten, and whose chief
interest lay in things which, in their eyes, were utterly useless, such
as the skins and bones of slain animals.

There was a peculiar protection to me in the fortunate circumstance that
they imagined that I did not sleep, and I think this was the chief
reason why they did not attack me in the night. During the winter, when
there was a great difference between the temperature of the night and
that of the day, the cold was very trying to me, and I awoke regularly
once or twice in the night when our large camp fire had gone out. All my
men lay entirely naked around the extinguished fire; some sleeping,
others cold and half awake, who, however, thought it too much of an
effort to go after fuel. I then usually called one of them, and by
promising tobacco—and I had made them accustomed to have entire
confidence in my words—induced him to go out in the dark night and
procure more fuel.

By being thus perpetually disturbed they acquired the idea that the
“white man” was always on the alert and had the “baby of the gun” ready.

                               CHAPTER IX

  My first expedition with the blacks—A night in the forest—Fear of evil
      spirits—Morning toilet—_Maja yarri_—_Borboby_—The “lists” of the
      natives—Warriors in full dress—Swords and shields—Fights—The
      rights of black women—Abduction of women.

The first black man recommended to me by Jacky was named Morbŏra. He
belonged to a remote tribe on friendly terms with the blacks of Herbert
river, and was regarded as an excellent hunter. Both he and his brother
Mangōran declared themselves willing to accompany me. Morbora was a
strong, muscular, square-built man hardly twenty years old, with a
remarkably low forehead. He was unable to speak a word of English, and
trembled with fear when Jacky introduced him to me. I did all in my
power to quiet this young black, and took more than usual interest in
him, though I soon noticed that he, like all his black brethren, sought
to take advantage of my friendliness; still he was very useful to me.

Mangoran was lean and slender in comparison with his brother, and he
looked more like a brute than a human being. His mouth was large,
extending almost from one ear to the other. When he talked he rubbed his
belly with complacency, as if the sight of me made his mouth water, and
he gave me an impression that he would like to devour me on the spot. He
always wore a smiling face, a mask behind which all the natives conceal
their treacherous nature. Besides these two I secured a young lad, whom
we called Pickle-bottle. He was to some extent “civilised,” and had
learned a few English words; the other two were _myall_.

When we set out we were joined by Mangoran’s wife, a tolerably
good-looking woman. The first night we encamped near a brook under a
newly-fallen tree; we cut down some small trees, laid them sloping on
both sides of the tree-trunk, and made a roof of grass.

Outside this cabin, of which I took possession, my blacks encamped in
the shelter of some bushes which they had procured for the night, for
the weather was very fine. I let the horses loose, tied bells on to
their necks, and fetched some water in a big tin pail which I had
brought with me on this trip to boil the meat in. A large fire was
built, as we had to bake bread and needed plenty of ashes. After these
preparations, and when I had been to the brook and taken my usual bath,
I had to prepare supper. I sent one of the blacks to the nearest large
gum-tree to chop off a piece of bark, on which, with the skill of a
bushman, I kneaded the dough of wheat flour and water into the regular
round cake. This damper was then baked in the ashes, while the beef was
slowly boiling in the tin pail.

My companions were impatient for their supper, for the white man’s food
is a delicacy wellnigh equal to human flesh. I distributed beef and
damper equally among them, but I noticed to my surprise that they all
gave Mangoran a part of their share, Morbora being particularly
generous. The cause of this generosity was not then clear to me; for
Mangoran was a very poor hunter and not very strong, neither did he
possess more than one wife, so that his authority could not rest on
those qualifications, which usually carry influence among allied tribes.
I afterwards learned that he was a cunning fellow, and was successful in
procuring human flesh, and there is nothing else that ensures respect
among the Australian aborigines in so high a degree. In regard to the
relation between the two brothers, I afterwards discovered that Mangoran
was simply a black _Alphonse_. Without much physical strength, and very
lazy, he preferred to live in idleness, and he left it to his brother to
furnish the _ménage à trois_ with the necessities of the day.

The food quickly disappeared into the greedy stomachs, and then they all
called for tobacco (_suttungo_) and pipes (_pipo_). I gave them a piece
each. They minced up the tobacco with their nails, rolled it between
their hands, put it into their pipes, and gave themselves up to the
highest enjoyment.

The night was dark, but radiant with stars. The blacks were lying on
their backs round the fire smoking their pipes, which now and then went
out, for the tobacco was fresh and damp. The smoker rises a little,
supports himself on his elbow, and tries to suck fire into his pipe
again; then he lays himself down once more and revels in existence. But
tobacco makes a man thirsty, especially if he spits a great deal, and
now they want water, and their gestures and a few words indicate to me
that they want to borrow my tin pail. One gets up and takes the pail,
another plucks a handful of grass and twists it around a piece of dry
wood or bark. This torch is lit, and a similar one is taken to light the
way back. This is done, not so much to find the way, as for the reason
that they are afraid to leave the camp in the dark. They are partly
afraid of their devil, who is supposed to be prowling about at night,
and partly they fear attacks from other tribes. All day long the native
is cheerful and happy, but when the sun begins to set he becomes
restless from the thoughts of the evil spirits of the night, and
especially from remembering his strange neighbours, who may kill and eat

The blacks now kept quiet round the fire. All was still; not a sound was
heard except the solitary melancholy bell which indicated where the
horses were grazing. The natives usually lie on their backs when they
sleep, and sometimes on their sides, but they never have anything under
their heads, nor do they use any covering in the night. They therefore
frequently waken from the cold, and then turn the other side to the
fire. As a rule, they lie two or three huddled together in order to keep
each other warm.

Early the next morning Morbora and I went out into the scrubs which
covered a rocky hill close by. He thoroughly examined the trees, and
looked carefully among the orchids and ferns, which grew as parasites
far up the tree-stems, for rats and pouched mice (_Phascologale_), and
among the fallen leaves he searched for the rare yopolo (_Hypsiprymnodon
moschatus_). According to the uniform custom of the natives when they
ramble through the woods, he frequently took a handful of dirt or
rubbish out of a crevice in the rock, or from a cleft in a tree, and
smelt it to see if any animal had passed over it. The Australian has,
upon the whole, a highly developed sense of smell. Of him the
Scandinavian phrase is literally true, that he “sticks his finger in the
ground and smells what land he is in.” When he, for instance, digs a
pouched mouse out of its hole, he now and then smells a handful of the
earth to see whether the animal is at home or not. In this way he
perceives whether he is approaching it. Although I know the smell
peculiar to this animal, I was never able to discover it in the ground.

Morbora’s skill in climbing trees was truly wonderful. He ascended them
with about the same ease as we climb a flight of stairs, and everywhere
all his senses were on the alert.

As there was no lawyer-palm near from which he could get a kāmin to
assist him in climbing, he had to manage in some other way. He broke a
few branches from a little tree, made them all the same size, and laid
them side by side, leaving the leaves on them. But as the branches were
not so long as a kāmin, he could not climb in the same manner as with
the latter. The leaves furnished a hold and prevented his hands from
slipping, thus compensating for the knot and greater length of the
kāmin; but in order to climb the tree he had to draw his heels right up
to his body, which gave him a striking resemblance to a frog jumping up.
If the tree was not too large in circumference, he simply embraced it
with his arms without using the improvised kāmin; he folded his hands
and leaped up in the same curious attitude. If the tree leaned, it never
occurred to him to climb with his knees as a white man would do, but he
crawled up in the same manner as an ape would, on all fours, perfectly
secure and well balanced.

Although the Australian natives are exceptionally skilful in climbing,
still it would be an exaggeration to compare them in this respect to the
apes. I also know white people in Australia who from childhood have
practised climbing trees, and who have attained the same skill as the

After a day’s march we came to a valley which extended to the summit of
the Coast Mountains. We were to encamp near the foot of the mountain
range, but the air in the bottom of the valley being surcharged with the
fragrance of flowers, very hot, damp, and malarial, I determined to
pitch our camp higher up, where the air was more pure, a thing utterly
incomprehensible to the blacks. I followed my old rule and made my camp
on high ground, to escape the miasma which produces fever and is found
only in the bottoms. We had hard work to make our way up the slope in
order to find a suitable place for encampment. It was dark before I
released the horses, which disappeared in the tall grass.

As usual we awoke a little before sunrise; but it took the natives some
time to rub the sleep out of their eyes. When a black is roused he does
not at once recover his senses, and he needs more time than the
uneducated whites to pull himself together. It was always difficult for
my men to find their bearings in the morning, and they always had much
to do before they were ready to begin the day. They lazily stretch and
rub their limbs, and then sit down by the fire and light their pipes.
When they at length are entirely awake they go to work and make a sort
of toilet. They clean out their noses in a manner more peculiar than
graceful. This morning I took particular notice of Morbora, who took a
little round stick and put it up his nose horizontally, at the same time
twirling it between his fingers, whereupon the contents disappeared in
the same manner as among the apes in zoological gardens. The natives
hardly ever wash themselves. In the heat of the summer, it is true, they
throw themselves into every pool of water they come to, just like a dog;
but this is done only in order to cool themselves, and not for the sake
of cleanliness. In the winter, when it is cold, they never bathe. If
they have soiled their hands with honey or blood they usually wipe them
on the grass, or even sometimes wash them in their own water.

In the morning, or when they sit round the fire, they are usually
occupied in pulling their beards and the hair from their bodies. It is
also a common thing to see even the women take a fire-brand and scorch
the hairs off. The hair on the head is never pulled out, but at rare
intervals, when it grows too long, is burned off with a fire-brand or
cut away with a sharp clam-shell or a stone. When they come in contact
with civilisation they generally use pieces of glass for this purpose,
and I have even seen a black cut his hair off with a blunt axe which he
had borrowed from a white man. This is all the care which their hair and
beard receive, except that it is now and then freed from vermin, a
feature of the toilet which must be regarded as a gastronomic enjoyment.
The blacks are not troubled with fleas, but they are full of lice, which
are rather large, of a dark colour, and quite different from the common
_Pediculus capitis_; they frequently went astray and came into my
quarters, but fortunately they did not there find the necessaries of
life. Some of the natives are free from them, but the majority
constantly betray their disagreeable presence by scratching their heads
with both hands. These animals are also found upon the body, and their
possessor may be constantly seen hunting them, an occupation which is at
the same time a veritable enjoyment to him, for to speak plainly—he eats
them. The blacks also practise this sport on each other for mutual
gratification, and the operation is evidence of friendship and

Morbora and I again went out to look for yarri, and we followed the
valley to the summit of the mountain range. It was a difficult march,
over large heaps of debris covered with carpets of creeping plants.
Every now and then he would exclaim: “Now we will soon come to yarri!”
for during the daytime the yarri sleeps in this sort of stony place, and
Morbora examined with the greatest care every rocky cave in our path. He
stated positively that we would find many yarri (_Komórbory yarri_) when
we had ascended farther. But when we finally, with the greatest
difficulty, had toiled our way to the summit, he proposed that we should
go down again, saying, _Maja yarri_—that is, No yarri. The fact was that
Morbora did not know the district. I became angry, and expressed my
dissatisfaction in pretty strong terms, which made such an impression
upon him that he showed a disposition to run away. The expression of his
countenance and his whole manner were suddenly changed, and I was
obliged to alter the tone of my voice at once. Had I spoken more angrily
than I did, he doubtless would have disappeared and abandoned me to my

Several times we saw some small black ants which lay their eggs in
trees. Morbora struck the trunk of the tree with my tomahawk while I
held my hands out below to receive them. Several handfuls came down, and
I winnowed them in the same manner as my companion did—that is, by
throwing them up in the air and at the same time blowing at them. In
this manner the fragments of bark were separated from the eggs, which
remained in my hands, and were refreshing and tasted like nuts.

When we returned to the camp we found the others lying round the fire
waiting for something to eat. They had brought me nothing useful, as
they were simply interested in filling their stomachs. The only things
they had for me were some miserable remnants of honey and some white
larvæ, delicacies with which they had been gorging themselves all day.
We removed our camp to another part of the valley, and made excursions
in this region for a couple of days. But it soon appeared that Morbora,
who was known as a skilful huntsman, could find nothing and was a
stranger in this land, while the others cared only for my provisions and
for eating honey and larvæ, so I concluded that it would be a waste of
time to stay here. Mangoran, who was a great glutton, always smelt of
honey, of which the natives are so fond that they can live on it
exclusively for several days at a time. He was lazy and most unreliable,
and simply a parasite whom I had to tolerate for the sake of his
brother; he only did me harm by demoralising my other people. On one
occasion Pickle-bottle stated that there were no boongary to be found
here, but that in another “land” he had seen the marks of their claws on
the tree-trunks as distinct as if they had been cut with a knife. This
was another reason for my leaving as soon as possible. The main result
of this, my first expedition, was therefore some valuable experience. I
returned to the station and remained there a couple of days, preparing
myself for a new expedition to another “land,” where the natives said
that yarri and boongary were found in abundance.

A great _borboby_ was to take place three miles from Herbert Vale. A
borboby is a meeting for contest, where the blacks assemble from many
“lands” in order to decide their disputes by combat. As I felt a desire
to witness this assembly, I asked Jacky if I could accompany him and
those who were going with him, and no objection was made.

In the afternoon we all started from Herbert Vale, I on horseback and
taking my gun with me. We crossed Herbert river three times, and as we
gradually approached the fighting-ground we met more and more small
tribes who had been lying the whole day in the cool scrubs along the
river to gather strength for the impending conflict. All of them, even
the women and the children, joined us, except a small company of the
former who remained near the river. I learned that these women were not
permitted to be present because they had menses. As far as I know, the
Australians everywhere regard their women as unclean in such
circumstances. In some parts of the continent they are isolated in huts
by themselves, and no one will touch a dish which they use; among other
tribes a woman in this condition is not permitted to walk over the net
which the men are making.

All were in their best toilet, for when the blacks are to go to dance or
to borboby they decorate themselves as best they can. The preparations
take several days, spent in seeking earth colours and wax, which are
kept by the most prominent members of the tribe until the day of the

On the forenoon of the borboby day they remain in camp and do not go out
hunting, for they are then occupied in decorating themselves. They rub
themselves partially or wholly with the red or yellow earth paint;
sometimes they besmear their whole body with a mixture of crushed
charcoal and fat—as if they were not already black enough! As a rule,
they do not mind whether the whole body is painted or not, if only the
face has been thoroughly coloured.

Not only do the men but the women also, though in a less degree, paint
grotesque figures of red earth and charcoal across their faces. But one
of the most important considerations on these solemn occasions is the
dressing of the hair. It is filled with beeswax, so that it stands out
in large tufts, or at times it has the appearance of a single large
cake. They also frequently stick feathers into it. The wax remains there
for weeks, until it finally disappears from wear or bathing. This waxed
headgear shines and glistens in the sun, and gives them a sort of
“polished” exterior. Some of the most “civilised” natives may wear a
shirt or a hat. On this occasion two of them were fortunate enough to
own old shirts, two others had hats on their heads, while the variegated
colour of the body was a substitute for the rest of their attire.



Jacky was the best dressed fellow of the lot. His suit consisted of a
white and, strange to say, clean body of a dress that had previously
belonged to a woman. How he had obtained it in this part of the country
was a mystery to me. As he was stoutly built, this product of
civilisation looked like a strait-waistcoat, and threatened every moment
to burst in the back. He strutted about among his comrades majestically,
with a sense of being far removed above the “_myall_” (the mob). Two of
the natives distinguished themselves by being painted yellow over the
whole body except the hair. This was thought to be a very imposing
attire, especially calculated to inspire fear.

All the natives were armed. They had quantities of spears, whole bundles
of nolla-nollas and boomerangs, besides their large wooden shields and
wooden swords. The shield, which reaches to a man’s hip and is about
half as wide as it is long, is made of a kind of light fig-tree wood. It
is oval, massive, and slightly convex. In the centre, on the front side,
there is a sort of shield-boss, the inner side being nearly flat. When
the native holds this shield in his left hand before him, the greater
part of his body is protected. The front is painted in a grotesque and
effective manner with red, white, and yellow earth colours, and is
divided into fields which, wonderfully enough, differ in each man’s
shield, and thus constitute his coat of arms.

The wooden sword, the necessary companion of the shield, is about five
inches wide up to the point, which is slightly rounded, and usually
reaches from the foot to the shoulder. It is made of hard wood, with a
short handle for only one hand, and is so heavy that any one not used to
it can scarcely balance it perpendicularly with half-extended arm—the
position always adopted before the battle begins.



A couple of hours before sunset we crossed Herbert river for the third
time, and landed near a high bank, which it was very difficult for the
horse to climb. Here I was surprised to find a very large grassy plain,
made, as it were, expressly for a tournament. Immediately in front of me
was a tolerably open forest of large gum-trees with white trunks, then a
large open space, and beyond it another grove of gum-trees. On the west
side of the plain was Herbert river, and farther to the west, on the
other side of the river, was Sea-View Range, behind the summits of which
the sun was soon to set. The battlefield was bounded on the east by a
high hill clad from base to top with dark green scrubs, which, in the
twilight, looked almost black by the side of the fresh bright green of
the grass and the white gum-trees. Near the edge of the woods Jacky’s
men and the savages who had joined us on the road made a brief pause.
One of those who had last arrived began to run round in a challenging
manner like a man in a rage. He was very tall (about 6 feet 4 inches),
and like some of the natives in this neighbourhood, his hair bore a
strong resemblance to that of the Papuans, being about a foot and a half
long, closely matted together, and standing out in all directions.
Shaking this heavy head of hair like a madman, with head and shoulders
thrown back, he made long jumps and wild leaps, holding his large wooden
sword perpendicularly in front of him in his right hand, and the shield
in his left.

When he had run enough to cool his savage warlike ardour he stopped near
me. He was so hot that perspiration streamed from him, and the red paint
ran in long streaks down his face. Around his head he wore a very
beautiful brow-band, for which I offered him a stick of tobacco, and he
immediately untied it and gave it to me. It was an extraordinarily neat
piece of work, like the finest net, four inches wide, and made of plant
fibre forming a delicate and regular texture. The whole was painted red.
I saw two others who sold me their brow-bands for tobacco, so that I
secured three of these valuable pieces of handiwork (p. 121).

Meanwhile the enthusiastic warrior from whom I had purchased the first
brow-band was again busy taking great leaps; gradually the conversation
became more lively, the warlike ardour increased, and all held their
weapons in readiness.

Suddenly an old man uttered a terrible war-cry, and swung his bundle of
spears over his head. This acted, as it were, like an electric shock on
all of them; they at once gathered together, shouted with all their
might, and raised their shields with their left hands, swinging swords,
spears, boomerangs, and nolla-nollas in the air. Then they all rushed
with a savage war-cry through the grove of gum-trees and marched by a
zigzag route against their enemies, who were standing far away on the
other side of the plain. At every new turn they stopped and were silent
for a moment, then with a terrific howl started afresh, until at the
third turn they stood in the middle of the plain directly opposite their
opponents, where they remained.

I fastened up my horse at some distance and followed them as quickly as
I could; the women and children also hastened to the scene of conflict.



The strange tribes on the other side stood in a group in front of their
huts, which were picturesquely situated near the edge of the forest, at
the foot of the scrub-clad hill. As soon as our men had halted, three
men from the hostile ranks came forward in a threatening manner with
shields in their left hands and swords held perpendicularly in their
right. Their heads were covered with the elegant yellow and white
topknots of the white cockatoos. Each man wore at least forty of these,
which were fastened in his hair with beeswax, and gave the head the
appearance of a large aster. The three men approached ours very rapidly,
running forward with long elastic leaps. Now and then they jumped high
in the air like cats, and fell down behind their shields, so well
concealed that we saw but little of them above the high grass. This
manœuvre was repeated until they came within about twenty yards from our
men; then they halted in an erect position, the large shields before
them and the points of their swords resting on the ground, ready for the
fight. The large crowd of strange tribes followed them slowly.

Now the duels were to begin; three men came forward from our side and
accepted the challenge, the rest remaining quiet for the present.

The common position for challenging is as follows: the shield is held in
the left hand, and the sword perpendicularly in the right. But, owing to
the weight of the sword, it must be used almost like a blacksmith’s
sledgehammer in order to hit the shield of the opponent with full force;
the combatant is therefore obliged to let the weapon rest in front on
the ground a few moments before the duel begins, when he swings it back
and past his head against his opponent. When one of them has made his
blow, it is his opponent’s turn, and thus they exchange blows until one
of them gets tired and gives up, or his shield is cloven, in which case
he is regarded as unfit for the fight.

While the first three pairs were fighting, others began to exchange
blows. There was no regularity in the fight. The duel usually began with
spears, then they came nearer to each other and took to their swords.
Sometimes the matter was decided at a distance, boomerangs,
nolla-nollas, and spears being thrown against the shields. The natives
are exceedingly skilful in parrying, so that they are seldom wounded by
the first two kinds of weapons. On the other hand, the spears easily
penetrate the shields, and sometimes injure the bearer, who is then
regarded as disqualified and must declare himself beaten. There were
always some combatants in the field, frequently seven or eight pairs at
a time; but the duellists were continually changing.

The women gather up the weapons, and when a warrior has to engage in
several duels, his wives continually supply him with weapons. The other
women stand and look on, watching the conflict with the greatest
attention, for they have much at stake. Many a one changes husbands on
that night. As the natives frequently rob each other of their wives, the
conflicts arising from this cause are settled by borboby, the victor
retaining the woman.

The old women also take part in the fray. They stand behind the
combatants with the same kind of sticks as those used for digging up
roots. They hold the stick with both hands, beat the ground hard with
it, and jump up and down in a state of wild excitement. They cry to the
men, egging and urging them on, four or five frequently surrounding one
man, and acting as if perfectly mad. The men become more and more
excited, perspiration pours from them, and they exert themselves to the

If one of the men is conquered, the old women gather around him and
protect him with their sticks, parrying the sword blows of his opponent,
constantly shouting, “Do not kill him, do not kill him!”

In order that the natives might not suspect me of hostile purposes I
had, in the presence of all, put my gun against the trunk of a gum-tree
hard by, thus at the same time showing them that I was not unarmed. I
went to the fighting-ground and took my place among the spectators,
consisting chiefly of women. The Kanaka, being a foreigner, felt
insecure, and thought it wisest to stay near me. He had borrowed one of
Mr. Walters’ revolvers at the station, hoping thereby to inspire the
blacks with respect; but as it was so rusty and worn that it usually
missed fire, he had finally lost all faith in its virtue as a weapon of





With the greatest attention I watched the interesting duels, which
lasted only about three-quarters of an hour, but which entertained me
more than any performance I ever witnessed. Where the conflict was
hottest my friend Jacky stood cool and dignified, and was more than ever
conscious of his civilised superiority. The old white body evidently
inspired the multitude with awe. Boomerangs and nolla-nollas whizzed
about our ears, without however hindering me from watching with interest
the passion of these wild children of nature—the desperate exertions of
the men, the zeal of the young women, and the foolish rage of the old
women, whose discordant voices blended with the din of the weapons, with
the dull blows of the swords, with the clang of the nolla-nollas, and
with the flight of the boomerangs whizzing through the air. Here all
disputes and legal conflicts were settled, not only between tribes but
also between individuals. That the lowest races of men do not try to
settle their disputes in a more parliamentary manner need not cause any
surprise, but it may appear strange to us that aged women take so active
a part in the issue of these conflicts.

With the exception of the murder of a member of the same tribe, the
aboriginal Australian knows only one crime, and that is theft, and the
punishment for violating the right of possession is not inflicted by the
community, but by the individual wronged. The thief is challenged by his
victim to a duel with wooden swords and shields; and the matter is
settled sometimes privately the relatives of both parties serving as
witnesses, sometimes publicly at the borboby, where two hundred to three
hundred meet from various tribes to decide all their disputes. The
victor in the duel wins in the dispute.

The robbery of women, who also among these savages are regarded as a
man’s most valuable property, is both the grossest and the most common
theft; for it is the usual way of getting a wife. Hence woman is the
chief cause of disputes. Inchastity, which is called _gramma_, _i.e._ to
steal, also falls under the head of theft.

The theft of weapons, implements, and food is rarely the cause of a
duel. I do not remember a single instance of weapons being stolen. If an
inconsiderable amount of food or some other trifle has been stolen, it
frequently happens that the victim, instead of challenging the thief,
simply plays the part of an offended person, especially if he considers
himself inferior in strength and in the use of weapons. In cases where
the food has not been eaten but is returned, then the victim is
satisfied with compensation, in the form of tobacco, food, or weapons,
and thus friendship is at once reestablished.

Even when the thief regards himself as superior in strength, he does not
care to have a duel in prospect, for these savages shrink from every
inconvenience. The idea of having to fight with his victim is a greater
punishment for the thief than one would think, even though bloodshed is

In these duels the issue does not depend wholly on physical strength, as
the relatives play a conspicuous part in the matter. The possession of
many strong men on his side is a great moral support to the combatant.
He knows that his opponent, through fear of his relatives, will not
carry the conflict to the extreme; he is also certain that, if
necessary, they will interfere and prevent his getting wounded. The
relatives and friends are of great importance in the decision of
conflicts among the natives, though physical strength, of course, is the
first consideration.

After such a conflict the reader possibly expects a description of
fallen warriors swimming in blood; but relatives and friends take care
that none of the combatants are injured. Mortal wounds are extremely
rare. Mangoran had received a slight wound in the arm above the elbow
from a boomerang, and was therefore pitied by everybody. In the next
borboby one person happened to be pierced by a spear, which, being
barbed, could not be removed. His tribe carried him about with them for
three days before he died.

As soon as the sun had set the conflict ceased. The people separated,
each one going to his own camp, all deeply interested in the events of
the day. There was not much sleep that night, and conversation was
lively round the small camp fires. As a result of the borboby several
family revolutions had already taken place, men had lost their wives and
women had acquired new husbands. In the cool morning of the next day the
duels were continued for an hour; then the crowds scattered, each tribe
returning to its own “land.” While I remained at Herbert river four
borbobies occurred with three to four weeks intervening between each, in
the months of November, December, January, and February—that is, in the
hottest season of the year. During the winter no borboby is held.

                               CHAPTER X

  The appearance of the aborigines in the different parts of the
      continent—My pack-horse in danger—Tracks of the _boongary_
      (tree-kangaroo)—Bower-birds—The blacks in rainy weather—Making
      fire in the scrubs—A messenger from the civilised world—The
      relations of the various tribes—Tattooing.

The natural conditions varying in different parts of Australia, a fact
not to be wondered at in so large a continent, the natives also vary in
physical and mental development. Mr. B. Smyth is of opinion that the
natives in the different parts of the country are as unlike each other
in physical structure and colour of skin as the inhabitants of England,
Germany, France, and Italy. The following description applies mainly to
the natives on the Herbert river.

The southern part of Australia is, both as regards natural condition and
climate, so unlike the tropical north that the mode of life of the
natives is materially modified. Thus in the south-eastern part the
natives live mainly on animal food, while in the tropical north they
subsist chiefly on vegetables. This has no slight influence on their
physical development. Those that live near bodies of water, and have an
opportunity of securing fish in addition to game and other animal food,
are more vigorous physically than those who have to be satisfied with
snakes, lizards, and indigestible vegetables—the latter affording but
little nourishment. I found the strongest and healthiest blacks in the
interior of Queensland, on Diamantina river, where even the women are
tall and muscular. According to trustworthy reports the same is true of
the natives on Boulya and Georgina rivers, farther west. In the coast
districts of Queensland they seem to me to be smaller of stature and to
have more slender limbs. It is, however, asserted by other writers that
the most powerful natives are to be found on the coast.




Farther south in Australia the climate is cool, and hence the natives
have to protect themselves with blankets made of opossum skin, things
not needed in the northern part of the continent, where they roam about
naked both winter and summer. Upon the whole the struggle for existence
is more severe in the south, but as a compensation the natives there
attain a higher intellectual development.

The natives in one part of Australia have words for numbers up to four
or five, while in other parts they have no terms beyond three. The
natives along Herbert river have very crude and confused religious
notions, but it is claimed that even an idea of the Trinity, strikingly
like that of the Christian religion, has been discovered among tribes in
the south-eastern part of the continent; idolatry exists nowhere in
Australia. The blacks in the north-western part of the continent are
praised for their honesty and industry, and are employed by the
colonists in all kinds of work at the stations. In the rest of Australia
the natives are treacherous and indolent.

According to the investigations of Dr. Topinard there are two different
types of men among the natives of Australia. Those of the lower type are
small and black, have curly hair, weak muscles, and prominent
cheek-bones. The higher type, on the other hand, are taller, have smooth
hair, and a less dolichocephalous form of head. This also agrees with
the reports of travellers; at all events, there is no doubt that the
tribes of Northern Queensland are inferior to those found in the
southern part of the continent, and a theory has been presented that the
higher race living mainly in the southern part of Australia has been a
race of conquerors who have subjugated the weaker and driven them to the

In New South Wales the average size of the tribes is tolerably high, and
equals that of Europeans (5 ft. 2 in. to 5 ft. 6 in.) At Murrumbidgee
the natives are of medium height. Round Lake Torrens they attain,
according to Stuart, a height of only 3 ft. 8 in., while the average
height in the interior is 5 ft. 11 in. During my sojourn on the
Diamantina river I heard of a black at Mullagan (twenty-five miles west
of Georgina) who was about 7 ft. high. He was well known at the stations
out there, and died just before my arrival. In the coast districts along
the eastern side of Queensland they are small, while along Herbert river
their size was surprisingly irregular; few of them could be called
corpulent, a large number were in good condition and well formed though
their necks were somewhat short, while others were lean and slender.

The most characteristic feature of an Australian’s face is the low
receding forehead and the prominence of the part immediately above the
eyes. The latter might indicate keen perception, and in this they are
not lacking. Their eyes are expressive, dark brown, frequently with a
tinge of deep blue. The white of the eye is of a dirty yellow colour and
very much bloodshot, which gives them a savage look. The nose is flat
and triangular, and narrow at the top, thus bringing the eyes near
together. The partition between the two nostrils is very large and
conspicuous. Many of the natives pierce it and put a yellow stick into
it as an ornament. My men, who of course had neither pockets nor
pipe-cases, frequently put their pipes into these holes in their noses
as a convenient place to keep them, and fancied that their noses looked
all the better for it. Now and then I met men whose noses were almost
Roman, and there were all the transitional forms between these and the
flat triangular noses. I have also heard of high aquiline noses among
the natives of New South Wales. I think it probable that the large noses
sometimes found in Northern Queensland may be attributed to a mixture
with Papuans, whose noses are known to be their pride. The irregular
size of their bodies is evidence in the same direction.

The Australian aborigines have high cheek-bones and large, open,
ugly-looking mouths. But the blacks on Herbert river usually keep their
mouths shut, which improves their looks, and they are, upon the whole, a
better looking race than the natives in the south. Their lips are a
reddish-blue, and they have small receding chins. Their muscular
development is usually slight and their legs and arms are particularly
slender; still I have seen many exceptions to this rule. The women are
always knock-kneed, and this is often the case with the men, although
with them it is not nearly so marked, their legs being almost straight.
They are seldom bow-legged to any great extent. The feet, which as a
rule are large, leave footprints that are either straight or show the
toes slightly turned outward. They have great skill in seizing spears
and similar objects with their toes, and in this way they avoid stooping
to pick up things.




Though the natives are slender, they have a remarkable control over
their bodies. They bear themselves as if conscious that they are the
lords of creation, and one might envy them the dignity and ease of their
movements. The women carry themselves in a dignified manner, and do not
look so savage as the men.

The hair and beard, which are as black as pitch, are slightly curly, but
not woolly, like those of the African negro. I seldom saw straight hair
on the blacks near Herbert river (I should say not over five per cent
had straight hair), but it is quite common in the rest of Australia,
especially in the interior. Men and women wear hair of the same length.
I only once saw a man with his hair standing out in all directions, like
that of the Papuans. There is generally little hair on the rest of the
body. Some of the old men near Herbert river had a heavy growth of hair
on their breasts and partly on their backs and arms, a fact I have never
observed among the women. The natives along Herbert river had but little
beard, and they constantly pulled out what little they had. In the rest
of Australia men are frequently met with who have fine beards, but they
do not themselves regard the beard as an ornament. In New South Wales
even women are found with a heavy growth of beard. The hair and beard of
the Australian are not coarse, and would be bright and beautiful if he
were more cleanly. On Balonne river in Queensland there is a family (not
a tribe) of persons who are perfectly hairless. Old individuals
sometimes have snow-white hair, but, so far as I know, albinos have
never been discovered in Australia.

The natives of Australia are called blacks, but as a rule they are
chocolate brown; this colour is particularly conspicuous when they are
under water while bathing. Their complexion manifestly changes with
their emotions; they turn pale from fear—that is to say, the skin
assumes a grayish colour. I have even seen young persons, whose skin is
thin and transparent, blush. Infants are a light yellow or brown, but at
the age of two years they have already assumed the hue of their parents.



The race must be characterised as ugly-looking, though the expression of
the countenance is not, as a rule, disagreeable, especially when their
attention is awakened. Occasionally handsome individuals may be found,
particularly among the men, who as a rule are better shaped than the
women. The latter have more slender limbs; the abdomen is prominent, and
they have hanging breasts, mainly the result of hard work, unhealthy
vegetable food, and early marriage. I have on two occasions seen what
might be called beauties among the women of Western Queensland. Their
hands were small, their feet neat and well shaped, with so high an
instep that one asked oneself involuntarily where in the world they had
acquired this aristocratic mark of beauty. Their figure was above
criticism, and their skin, as is usually the case among the young women,
was as soft as velvet. When these black daughters of Eve smiled and
showed their beautiful white teeth, and when their eyes peeped
coquettishly from beneath the curly hair which hung in quite the modern
fashion down over their foreheads, it is not difficult to understand
that even here women are not quite deprived of that influence ascribed
by Goethe to the fair sex generally. On the Herbert river I never saw a
beautiful girl, but about seventy miles west from there, on the
table-land, I met a young woman who had a good figure and a remarkably
symmetrical face, beautiful eyes, and a well-shaped nose, the lower part
of which was narrower than is usual, and consequently the triangular
form was less conspicuous. I must confess, however, that I have never
seen uglier specimens of human beings than the old women are as they sit
crouching round the fire scratching their lean limbs. They have hardly
any muscles left. Their abdomen is large, the skin wrinkled, the hair
gray and thin, and the face most repulsive, especially as the eyes are
hardly visible. The women fade early, and on account of the hard life
they live do not attain the age of the men, the latter living a little
more than fifty years. It has been thought that the men in some parts of
the interior of Queensland attain an age of even seventy to eighty
years, but in the northernmost part of the country few are said to live
more than forty years. On Herbert river the women are more numerous than
the men; this is also the case among the tribes south-west of the
Carpentarian Gulf and elsewhere. But according to accurate observations
the opposite is the case in a large part of Australia. The women bear
their first children at the age of eighteen to twenty years, sometimes
later, and seldom have more than three or four. Twins are very rare.



The birth of a child does not seem to give the mother much trouble. She
goes a short distance from the camp, together with an old woman, and
when the interesting event has taken place and the child has been washed
in the brook, she returns as if nothing had happened, and no one takes
the slightest notice of the occurrence. For a long time afterwards she
must keep away from her husband. A woman is proud of being with child,
and I am able to state as a curiosity that the tribes around the
Carpentarian Gulf think they are able to predict the sex of the babe a
few months before birth by counting the number of rings on the _papillæ
mammæ_ of the mother.

On account of the unhealthy food of the blacks the children are weaned
late, and it even happens that a child is nursed at its mother’s breast
with the next older brother or sister.

Instances of death from childbearing are very rare. The advent of a baby
is not always regarded with favour, and infanticide is therefore common
in Australia, especially when there is a scarcity of food, as under such
circumstances they even eat the child. In their nomadic life children
are a burden to them, and the men particularly do not like to see the
women, who work hard and procure much food, troubled with many children.
In some parts of Australia the _papillæ mammæ_ are cut off to hinder the
women from nursing children.



The strong smell of the blacks is quite different from that of an
unclean white man. Nor can it be doubted that the blacks have a peculiar
smell which disturbs cattle, dogs, and horses when they approach the
natives, even if the latter are not seen; this, no doubt, has frequently
saved the lives of travellers. This strong odour, moreover, is mixed
with the smell of dirt, smoke, paint, and other things with which they
constantly smear themselves.

The voice of the Australian is melodious, though sometimes hoarse, and
gives evidence of musical propensity. Both men and women have a high
tone of voice; bass and falsetto voices are rare.

The natives are as fond of decorating their bodies as a sailor is, but
they do it clumsily with a sharp stone or a clam-shell, with which
primitive instruments they cut parallel lines across the breast and
stomach. To keep the wounds from healing they put charcoal or ashes in
them for a month or two until they swell up into rough ridges. Sometimes
they gain the same result by letting ants walk about in the wounds. The
shoulders are cut in the same manner, with lines running down three or
four inches, making them look as if they had epaulets. In course of time
these peculiar lines, which in young men are conspicuous and as thick as
one’s little finger, become indistinct, so that on old men they are
scarcely visible. They always indicate a certain rank, determined by
age. Young boys below a certain age are not decorated, but in course of
time they get a few lines across the breast and stomach. Gradually the
number of lines is increased, and at last when the lad is full grown,
crescents are cut round the papillæ of the breast, the horns of the
crescent turning outward, thus: ·) (·. This external evidence that the
boy is of age is given to him with certain ceremonies, and the strips of
skin, which gradually fall off from the wounds as they heal, are
gathered in a little basket, which he subsequently carries for some time
about his neck until he finally throws its contents out in the
woods—gives it to the “devil” as it is called. This is the only trace of
a cult that I observed among the blacks of Herbert river, and they
doubtless regard it as a sort of sacrifice to avert the wrath of evil
spirits. From this time the young man is permitted to eat whatever he
pleases, but previously he has been obliged to abstain from certain
things, such as eels, large lizards, etc. The transition from boyhood to
manhood is not here, as it is in many other parts of Australia, marked
by the extraction of one of the front teeth.[9]

Footnote 9:

  A gentleman well known to me told me the following about the
  Rockhampton blacks: I one day made two or three of those buzzing
  things, formed by cutting notches in a thin piece of wood with a hole
  at one end, through which a piece of string is tied; this instrument
  is whirled quickly round and round one’s head, producing a great
  noise. I gave these to some black children near my station to play
  with; directly the noise began the women covered their heads at the
  command of their men; some of the blacks bolted into the scrub, while
  two ran up and seized the things from the boys, whom they sent off to
  the camp. They then told me that in old times these boys would have
  been killed for seeing those things, which were used only at their
  “Bora” (transition from boyhood to manhood) ceremonies. I told them
  that such pieces of wood were common playthings in my country,
  nevertheless they burnt them in the scrub shortly after.



In addition to these marks of dignity, a man also gets other lines,
which are intended as an ornament and are found chiefly on the arms.
They are straight, short, parallel lines made in groups across the arm,
and the wounds are permitted to heal, so that the lines do not become
too prominent. A deep cut here and there is also made on the back or on
the shoulder-blade. I never saw the face ornamented by incisions.

The men alone receive the above-described marks of dignity on their
chests, stomachs, and shoulders. It is their privilege to be decorated
with lines and marks cut in the flesh, and it is not considered proper
for women to pay much attention to ornaments. The greatest ornament that
a woman ever has is a few clumsy marks across the chest (frequently
across the breasts), arms, and back. She is very fond of the ornaments
granted her, and the sensitiveness which usually characterises the
natives is entirely wanting when they are about to be adorned in this
way. I once saw two women engaged in cutting marks on each other’s arms
with a piece of glass. These marks consisted of short parallel lines
down the arms like those worn by the men, but the operation did not seem
to give them the least pain, for they smoked their pipes the whole time.

Tattooing in the strictest sense of the word—that is, pricking the skin
with a sharp instrument—does not exist among the Australians, but only
the above-described custom of cutting wounds in the flesh.

                  *       *       *       *       *

On the same morning that the borboby ended I started on my new
expedition, taking this opportunity of securing companions, there being
so many blacks assembled. In addition to those who accompanied me on my
first expedition I secured three new men. We were to go to another
“land,” where yarri and boongary were abundant. Tired from the exertions
of the previous day, and consequently more lazy than usual, the blacks
repeatedly urged me to encamp, although we had travelled only a few
miles. We ascended along a mountain stream and passed on our way one of
the deserted camps of the blacks, where Pickle-bottle was determined to
stop. I called his attention to the fact that the “sun was yet large”
(still early in the day), and that neither yarri nor boongary were to be
found here; but he replied that there were plenty of them in this
locality, and that this was a good place to eat.

He, of course, sulked when I did not yield to his lazy desires, still he
continued the march, leading my pack-horse, as he was the most civilised
and was best acquainted with the country. Instead of proceeding up the
eastern mountain slope, which seemed to be most accessible, he guided us
along the foaming stream, of which the bed became more contracted and
the banks more steep as we advanced. Still I depended upon Pickle-bottle
as our guide, until the path at length became so narrow that progress
was impossible. I now understood that he wanted to force me to submit to
his will and get me to encamp in the place which he had proposed. I had
no other choice but to return by the same way as we had come, until we
could find a convenient place for the ascent. With great difficulty the
horses were turned, but being angry on account of the delay, I now led
the way myself and gave the blacks orders to follow me.

Now and then I looked back to assure myself that I had them all near me.
But to my great surprise I discovered at a turn of the way Pickle-bottle
and the pack-horse high up the slope, not far from the place where our
progress had been blocked. When he saw that I was determined to advance,
he wanted to save part of the road, and had resolved to climb with the
horse straight over the high and steep precipice. He believed, like most
of the blacks, that a horse can go wherever a man can pass. He was just
at the point of bringing the horse over the summit—its forefeet were
already planted on the top—when it lost its foothold and its balance
among the loose stones, and came rolling slowly down the steep slope
like a heavy sack of flour. Greatly excited, I expected every moment
that it would stop. But it rolled on and on until it came to the edge of
the river, where it fortunately stopped.

Pickle-bottle and the other blacks vanished. When they saw that I was
becoming angry they were afraid that I would shoot them, so they hid in
the scrubs. Calling to them in a friendly tone of voice, I at once began
to loosen the pack from the fallen horse. They cautiously peeped at me
from behind the trees to see in what mood I was, then they took courage
and came out. I now found to my great satisfaction and surprise that the
horse, barring a few unimportant scratches, was not injured and had not
broken a bone. When we had raised him on to his feet again and washed
him in the river, he shook himself, snorted, and seemed to feel as well
as ever after his unsuccessful effort to climb the mountain.

We continued the journey, and Pickle-bottle was henceforth less
obstinate. “No tobacco to-day, Pickle-bottle,” I said to him, a threat
which made him very thoughtful. He now easily found the right ascent,
and for an hour or two we followed the paths of the blacks up the
ridges. The scrubs were very dense on all sides, and the mountains came
closer and closer together, until suddenly the landscape expanded into a
broad, high valley with grassy plains in the bottom surrounded by
scrub-clad hills. Here we encamped on the bank of the river. There was
plenty of grass for the horses, for the soil was fertile and the ground
had never been used for pasture.

This camp was made the starting-point of many excursions into the
surrounding scrubs. One day the blacks showed me traces of boongary on
the trunk of a tree. I was now certain of the existence of the animal,
and resolved not to give up till I had a specimen in my possession. I
did not realise how many annoyances were in store for me, and that I was
to wander about for three months before I should succeed in securing it.
The traces were old, but still so distinct as to be unmistakable.

On one of these excursions on the top of the mountain I heard in the
dense scrubs the loud and unceasing voice of a bird. I carefully
approached it as it sat on the ground, and shot it. It was one of the
bower-birds already mentioned (_Scenopæus dentirostris_), with a gray
and very modest plumage, and of the size of a thrush.

As I picked up the bird my attention was drawn to a fresh covering of
green leaves on the black soil. This was the bird’s place of amusement,
which beneath the dense scrubs formed a square about one yard each way,
the ground having been cleared of leaves and rubbish. On this neatly
cleared spot the bird had laid large fresh leaves, one by the side of
the other, with considerable regularity, and close by he sat singing,
apparently extremely happy over his work. As soon as the leaves decay
they are replaced by new ones. On this excursion I saw three such places
of amusement, all near one another, and all had fresh leaves from the
same kind of trees, while a large heap of dry withered leaves was lying
close by. It seems that the bird scrapes away the mould every time it
changes the leaves, so as to have a dark background, against which the
green leaves make a better appearance. Can any one doubt that this bird
has the sense of beauty?

The bird was quite common. Later on I frequently found it on the summit
of the Coast Mountains in the large scrubs, which it never abandons. The
natives call _gramma_—that is, the thief—because it steals the leaves
which it uses to play with.

During the summer there is much rain in the mountains. You are never
sure of dry weather, and nearly every night it pours. One day we were
overtaken by a heavy shower. The mountain brook grew fast into a
torrent, down which we waded to get home, preferring this road to the
scrubs, which in rain are impassable and dripping wet and dark.

The natives, who under such circumstances are much more susceptible than
Europeans, do not like this sort of weather. When it rained I could
never persuade them to accompany me, and they have such a dread of rain
that in the wet season they prefer to starve for several days rather
than leave their huts in quest of food. They shrugged their shoulders,
and shivering with cold, hastened down the brook so fast that I could
scarcely keep up with them. On the way we found a place where the
mountain formed a shelter, and here the blacks soon discovered with
their keen sight that a fire could be built, and so they halted. I could
not understand where they would find dry faggots, as everything was
dripping wet. It did not take long, however, before the shivering
fellows found handfuls of dry rubbish from hollow trees and bundles of
leaves from the lawyer-palm. A little fire was soon blazing, and the
natives crept round it like kittens, wafting the smoke on to themselves
with their hands in order to get warm more quickly.



When my men had to make a fire, I usually gave them matches, which they
were so delighted to use that they always asked for them to light their
pipes with, even when a large fire was burning. They called them
_mardshe_, after the English “matches,” a word which I gradually taught
them. As a rule, they produce fire with two pieces of light wood from
eight to fifteen inches long, either cork-tree (_Erythrina vespertilio_)
or black fig. One piece, which is half of a split branch, is laid on the
ground with the flat side up, the other, a round straight stick, is
placed perpendicularly on the former, and is twirled rapidly between the
hands, so that it is bored into the lower piece, the wood of which is
usually of a softer kind. After a few seconds they begin to smoke, and
soon there fall out of the bore-hole red-hot sparks which kindle the dry
leaves laid around. The man assists by blowing at the sparks. Twigs and
branches, which are now quickly collected, are not broken in the manner
usual with us—across the knees—but always across their hard skull, the
bone of which is so thick that they can easily break branches one and a
half to two inches in diameter. The natives usually carry with them the
two pieces of wood for kindling fire as long as they are serviceable. I
tried to use them, but succeeded only in producing smoke.

Whenever the Australians rest they build a fire, though it be ever so
warm, and at all times of the day, partly for comfort, partly in order
to roast the provisions which they may have found. On short expeditions
they usually make the women carry a fire-brand with them, finding this
more convenient than to use the apparatus above described. They always
have fire in front of their huts, but usually a small one, no doubt to
avoid attracting the attention of hostile tribes.

As we were encamped round the fire I, feeling icy cold in my wet
clothes, could not help envying the naked blacks who, independent of
garments, became warm and goodhumoured in a few minutes. But in a short
time they were as cold as ever, for we had to proceed on our journey in
the ceaseless rain. Now and then they exclaimed with a sigh, _Takolgŏro
ngipa!_—that is, Poor me!—and we had to halt, so that they might warm
themselves again, and soon they were once more merry and happy.

The rain had ceased when, late in the evening, we returned to our camp.
The natives were hungry, and were determined to hinder me from taking my
usual bath, striking their stomachs impatiently, and crying, _Ammeri!
ammeri!_—that is, Hungry! hungry! I threatened them with my revolver, as
I did not wish to be cheated out of my only pleasure for the day, so
they became quiet, and I took a refreshing bath in the clear water of a
mountain brook.

I always began the day before sunrise, and after making the necessary
preparations for the excursion, I rambled about with the blacks all day
long, frequently without eating. Marching through the dense scrubs is
very exhausting, the hot climate makes one weak, and it requires much
effort to maintain one’s good humour and courage and at the same time to
stimulate the indolent natives to do their work. Add to this that it is
constantly necessary to be on one’s guard against attacks, and it will
be evident that I needed a few moments’ respite; and in order to
preserve my health and vigour I availed myself of the opportunity of
taking a bath in the nearest pond or brook.

After refreshing myself in this manner I had to be cook both for myself
and my greedy companions. Fortunately I did not that evening have to
prepare the animals I had shot, for the weather was so cool after the
rain that they would keep overnight.

On the way home to Herbert Vale we passed the forests of gum-trees which
clothe the base of the mountain range. Here is the favourite resort of
the bees, and my blacks at once began to look for their hives, for honey
is a highly valued food of the natives, and is eaten in great
quantities. Strange to say, they refuse the larvæ, however hungry they
may be. The wax is used as a glue in the making of various implements,
and also serves as a pomade for dressing the hair for their dances and
festivals. The Australian bee is not so large as our house-fly, and
deposits its honey in hollow trees, the hives sometimes being high up.
While passing through the woods the blacks, whose eyes are very keen,
can discover the little bees in the clear air as the latter are flying
thirty yards high to and from the little hole which leads into their
storehouse. When the natives ramble about in the woods they continually
pay attention to the bees, and when I met blacks in the forests they
were as a rule gazing up in the trees. Although my eyesight, according
to the statement of an oculist, is twice as keen as that of a normal
eye, it was usually impossible for me to discover the bees, even after
the blacks had indicated to me where they were. The blacks also have a
great advantage over the white man, owing to the fact that the sun does
not dazzle their eyes to so great an extent. One day I discovered a
small swarm about four yards up from the ground, and thereby greatly
astonished my men. One expressed his joy by rolling in the grass, the
others shouted aloud their surprise that a white man could find honey.

It is an amusing sight to observe the natives gathering honey. One of
them will climb the tree and cut a hole large enough to put his arm
through, whereupon he takes out one piece after another of the
honeycombs, and as a rule does not neglect to put a morsel or two of the
sweet food into his mouth. He drops the pieces down to his comrades, who
stand below and catch them in their hands. At the same time the bees
swarm round him like a black cloud, but without annoying him to any
great extent, for these bees do not sting, they only bite a little.

Most of the honey is consumed on the spot, but part of it is taken to
the camp, being transported in baskets specially made for this purpose.
These baskets are of the same form as the other baskets made by the
natives, but more solid and smaller in size; they are made of bark, so
closely joined with wax that they will hold water. Sometimes the honey
is carried a short distance on a piece of bark, a border of fine chewed
grass being laid round the edges in order to keep it from running off.
Sometimes also a palm leaf is used, which is folded and tied at both
ends, so that it looks like a trough. It is the same kind of trough as
the natives use for carrying water, and can be made in a few minutes.

In almost every hive some old honey is to be found which has fermented
and become sour, because these bees, which have only rudimentary stings,
are not in possession of any poison to preserve it with. It must also be
noted as a remarkable fact that this honey yielded by the poisonless
bees never quite agreed with me; it used to give me, nay even the
natives, diarrhœa, while on the other hand I can enjoy any quantity of
European honey with perfect comfort. The old honey, which the bees do
not eat themselves, looks like soft yellow cheese, and the civilised
blacks call it old-man-sugar-bag. The blacks do not reject it, but mix
it with fresh honey and water in the troughs just described. Fresh honey
is also sometimes mixed with water.

This mixture of honey and water is not drunk, as one would suppose, but
is consumed in a peculiar manner. The blacks take a little fine grass
and chew it, thus making a tuft which they dip in the trough and from
which they suck the honey as from a sponge. While they eat they sit
crouching round the trough, and as each one tries to get as much as
possible, the contents quickly disappear. Where spoons are wanting this
would seem a natural and practical invention, and is surely calculated
to secure an equitable division of the honey, as in this way it is
difficult for any one person to get more than his share. After the meal
the tufts are placed in the basket, where they are carried as long as
they are fit for use.

The Australian wild honey, which is of a dark brown colour, is hardly
equal to the best European. Its aroma is too pungent, and its flavour is
not so delicate. In the trunks of the trees it keeps cool even when the
weather is very hot, and supplies a healthy, pleasant food; but I could
not, like the natives, make a meal of it. I soon grew tired of it,
although it now and then formed an agreeable change in my simple bill of
fare, and was to some extent a substitute for sugar. In the large scrubs
we never found honey.

When I reached Herbert Vale the mail had just arrived. It was a real
festival when the postman, twice a month, passed the station and brought
us news from the outside world. He was in the habit of spending the
night here on his way up to the table-land, where there were some
stations. Armed with a revolver or a rifle, a postman must often ride
300 miles to deliver the mail.

Sometimes in an evening the Kanaka and I would sit together at the
hearth and listen to the postman’s stories and news from the civilised
world. He was a man of varied experience, and a fine specimen of the
so-called rough men, who are not, however, always so repulsive as the
name would imply. The horse was not to be found that he could not ride;
or, as he expressed himself, “I can ride any beast that has got hair
on.” He was a reckless fellow, utterly indifferent, always cool and
self-possessed, and he shrank from nothing. He cared not what he ate so
that he got food, and whether it rained or shone was a matter of supreme
indifference to him.

Born in Victoria, he had been obliged to leave that colony on account of
some of his youthful exploits, and had come to these uncivilised regions
of the north, but ere long his admiration for the fair sex was
transferred to the sable beauties of the forest, and for this very
reason he had accepted employment in these wilds of the blacks. Upon the
whole he was a good-natured fellow, and a type of the working class
among the white men of Australia. They are reliable, correct in their
habits, and attentive to their duties, open-handed, but reckless and
unrestrained in their associations. “I care for nobody, and nobody cares
for me” is their motto.

At the station I met another “rough man,” less chivalrous than the
postman, and his revolver rested less firmly in his belt. He had
encamped close by, and expected to make money by catching living
cassowary young for the zoological gardens. He also looked for a kind of
palm, which he claimed would make splendid billiard cues. Supplied with
tobacco and coloured handkerchiefs as a means of paying the blacks, he
made a number of fruitless excursions.

I happened to tell him that I had been present at a borboby, and this
aroused his desire to witness the next one, which was to take place in a
few days. He did not want me to be the only white man who had seen such
a contest, and got the Kanaka to show him the way up there. But both
were obliged to save their lives by flight, the blacks having surrounded
them, shouting, _Talgȏro, talgȏro!_—that is, Human flesh, human flesh!

Willy, one of the blacks who sometimes came to the station, had noticed
that I had both meat and tobacco, and one day expressed a desire to
accompany me. He said, “Go with me to my land, and you shall get both
yarri and boongary.” Willy’s land is not far from Herbert Vale, and his
mountain tribe was on friendly terms with many of the blacks of Herbert
river; but still, being a border tribe, it was on an unfriendly footing
with others. As I was fairly well acquainted with Willy, and had some
confidence in him, I resolved to visit this region which he praised in
such high terms.

                               CHAPTER XI

  Respect for right of property—New country—My camp—Mountain
      ascent—Tree-ferns—A dangerous nettle—A night in a cavern—Art among
      the blacks—Eatable larvæ—_Omelette aux coléoptères_—Music of the
      blacks—Impudent begging.

I was now to make an expedition to Willy’s much-lauded country, taking
both him and his friend Chinaman into my service, and retaining some of
my previous companions. On account of the recent borboby, several of my
men were supplied with swords and spears. As they would have no use for
them, they hid them in the course of the day under a bush for some other
occasion. I never heard of such things being stolen from them. They
always left them in the fullest confidence that they would find them
again. The contrary is the case with provisions, which they sometimes
conceal in this manner; every man will take what food he can lay his
hands on. There is, however, considerable respect for the right of
property, and they do not steal from one another to any great extent.

If, for instance, a native finds a hive of honey in a tree, but has not
an immediate opportunity of chopping it out, he can safely leave it till
some other day; the discoverer owns it, and nobody else will touch it if
he has either given an account of it or marked the tree, as is the
custom in some parts of Western Queensland. If they hunt they will not
take another person’s game, all the members of the same tribe having
apparently full confidence in each other. Thus the right of property is
to a certain extent respected; but least of all, as has before been
pointed out, when it concerns their dearest possession—the women. But it
is, of course, solely among members of the same tribe that there is so
great a difference between mine and thine; strange tribes look upon each
other as wild beasts.

The road was very difficult. We climbed hills and marched through deep
valleys, and sometimes had to fell the trees in order to get through. I
was surprised to see how quickly the blacks cut down the trees with
their tomahawks. Though I was stronger than they, still they brought a
tree down more rapidly, because they understood how to give the axe more
force. After riding for some time up a grassy slope, which at length
became perfectly level, we suddenly caught sight of a broad and long
scrub-grown mountain valley, through which there flowed a river, which
now foamed in rapid currents and now fell over high precipices, forming
magnificent waterfalls. The roar of the waters and the dark green
vegetation clothing the hills on both sides of the valley from base to
top made me cheerful, and awakened in me hopes of interesting finds.
Against the dark green background the palms stood out in strong contrast
among the lower parts of the scrub. There were great numbers of these
stately trees, with their bright, glittering crowns towering far above
the rest of the forest.

An air of indescribable freshness seemed to breathe upon us as we
entered the last grassy plateau. Willy proposed that we should build our
huts in a different manner from what we had done before. His motive was,
of course, laziness, for he wanted to avoid fetching palm leaves from
the scrub, but his proposition was a fortunate one, for I thereby
obtained a more solid hut than I should otherwise have had. He hewed the
stems of some slender trees, and made four short fork-shaped stakes, the
lower ends of which were sharpened so as to be easily driven into the
ground. The stakes were put in a square, and were scarcely a yard high.
In the forks long branches were laid, and over these the roof was made
with more branches and long dry grass. I made myself a very comfortable
bed of leaves and grass, spreading a mackintosh over the latter, and
using some of the things I carried with me for a pillow; among these was
my dearest treasure—the tobacco. By my side was my gun, which was always
my faithful bedfellow.

While we were occupied in making the huts, Chinaman had disappeared. He
soon returned with a large number of jungle-hens or _grauan_
(_Megapodius tumulus_), a name applied by the natives both to the bird
and to its eggs. This was Chinaman’s own “land,” and so he knew every
spot in the forest, and particularly all the mounds in which
jungle-hens’ eggs were to be found. November was just the time for the
_grauan_, which is found in great abundance in the lower part of the
scrubs, but not higher up, where the _cootjari_ (_Talegalla_) takes its


  JUNGLE-HEN (_Megapodius tumulus_).

The eggs are about four times the size of hens’ eggs, and are prepared
and eaten in the following original manner: The blacks, having first
made a hole on one side of the egg, place it on the hot ashes, and after
a minute or two the contents begin to boil. Two objects are gained by
making a hole in the egg—in the first place it does not break easily,
and in the second place it can be eaten while lying boiling in the
ashes. They dip into the egg the end of a cane that has been chewed so
as to form a brush, and use this as a spoon.

As is well known, the jungle-hen, like the brush-turkey (_Talegalla_),
hatches her eggs in a large mound, which she constructs herself from
earth and all sorts of vegetable debris; and the heat generated in the
mound by the fermenting of the decaying vegetable matter is sufficient
for hatching the eggs. Several females use the same mound, and the eggs
being laid at long intervals, they are, of course, in different stages
of development. As a rule there are chickens in them, but far from being
rejected these eggs are preferred to the fresh ones. If the chicken is
about half developed and lies, so to speak, in its own sauce, the
natives first eat with their “spoons” the white and what remains of the
yolk, and then the egg is crushed and the chicken taken out. The down
having been removed, the chicken is laid on the coals, and then
eaten—head, claws, and all.

The next day we made our ascent along the river. We had to wade most of
the time. The natives made the most remarkable progress, stepping
lightly on the stones, while I with my shoes on could scarcely keep pace
with them. It was a long and difficult road to travel. Weary and
thirsty, I often stooped to drink the cool water, and to bathe my head
in it. But I was cheered by the sight of the luxuriant and beautiful
surroundings. Trees and bushes formed a wall along the mountain stream,
overhanging the babbling water. In the woods all was dark and damp, but
on gazing upward I saw the tree-tops flooded with the most brilliant
sunlight, which occasionally penetrated through the branches, and above
us was spread the sky in an infinite expanse of azure blue. Occasionally
among the trees I caught a glimpse of the hills, rising on both sides in
a mass of green of the most varied shades and tints. Here and there
could be seen the tall slender stem of the common Australian palm, or of
the fan-palm with its large glistening leaves.

Now and then we startle from its branch the beautiful little indigo blue
and red kingfisher (_Alcyone azurea_), which with quick wing-strokes
flies before us up the stream. Among the tree-tops the large brilliant
blue or green butterflies (_Ornithoptera_) flutter. In the water pools
were seen numerous crawfish, which the natives are fond of spearing with
a stiff palm branch sharpened at one end, which they thrust down to the
creature, at the same time uttering a low babbling sound to attract its
attention. The crawfish takes hold of the stake; a quick thrust with the
nimble hand of the black man, and it is pierced by the point.

As we ascend, the landscape gradually grows wilder and more picturesque.
The river gorge becomes narrower, the amount of water diminishes, and no
more kingfishers are seen. The palms are replaced by gigantic
tree-ferns, which here, in the damp rocky clefts, spread their mighty
leaves in all their splendour over trickling brooks, which frequently
disappear in little waterfalls down steep precipices. To form an idea of
the size of these ferns I broke off one of the secondary leaves, and
found that it reached up to my chin, but I saw several that were much
larger. The effects of light and shade are magnificent here, the scenery
is simply overwhelming in its splendour, and yet there is no one to
admire all this beauty save the blacks, who do not comprehend it!

Thus approaching the end of our day’s march, and making our way up among
the rocks, Willy, who led the way, suddenly stopped, and gave me to
understand that I must come to him quickly with my gun. But before I got
half way the animal had disappeared. It was a young yarri, which he had
frightened up from its lair only a few steps away. Willy might have
killed it with his tomahawk, but neglected to do so, as he had
contracted the habit of thinking that everything must be shot with the
gun, in whose fatal and unerring influence my blacks had acquired great
confidence, and for this reason they usually left it to me to kill the
game we happened to find. On account of Willy’s stupidity we this time
failed to secure this rare animal. Then we had a difficult march over
debris of round stones or in thorny scrubs. Among these thick masses of
stony debris there grew tall, slender, foliferous trees, and here it was
that my blacks expected to find boongary; for the leaves of these trees
are their principal food. Where no trees grew, creeping plants covered
the debris like a carpet, which made walking dangerous, for the stones
would roll away, while our feet stuck fast in this net of climbing

On the summit we also meet with scenes of a wholly different character.
Here is the real home of the lawyer-palm, which grows on small hills,
where the soil consists of a deep black mould, and consequently is so
fertile that it produces everything in the greatest abundance. Progress
is difficult here, because this palm grows into immense heaps twenty to
twenty-eight feet high, one by the side of the other, and often firmly
woven together. In this way large connected masses are formed, appearing
like an impenetrable wall. But the native usually finds a narrow
passage, through which he can crawl, but not without getting badly

In this dense and pathless forest the boongary has his home, and we
found many traces of the animal, some of them quite recent, both on the
high slender stems and on the smaller trees of the scrub.

Working our way up the side of the mountain near the summit, the natives
called my attention to an animal the size of a cat, which ran about in
the branches of a tree. They called it toollah. It was late in the
afternoon when I killed this animal, which proved to be a kind of
opossum now known in zoology by the name of _Pseudochirus archeri_; it
has a peculiar greenish-yellow colour with a few indistinct stripes of
black or white, and thus looks very much like a moss-grown tree-trunk.
Though it is a night animal, it also comes out about three or four
o’clock in the afternoon, and is the only one of the family which
appears in the daytime.

One of the greatest annoyances in this almost inaccessible region is the
poisonous nettle, the stinging-tree (_Laportea moroides_). It is so
poisonous that if its beautiful heart-shaped leaves are only put in
motion they cause you to sneeze. The fruit resembles raspberries in
appearance, the leaves are covered with nettles on both sides, and a
sting from them gives great pain. It will make a dog howl with all his
might; but it has an especially violent effect on horses. They roll
themselves as if mad from pain, and if they do not at once receive
attention they will in this way kill themselves, as frequently happens
in Northern Queensland. The natives greatly dread being stung by this
nettle, and always avoid it. If you are stung in the hand you soon feel
a pricking pain up the whole arm, and finally in the lymphatic glands of
the armpit. You sleep restlessly the first night. The pain gradually
leaves the arm, but for two to three weeks you have a sense of having
burned your hand if the latter comes in contact with water, for then the
pain at once returns where you were stung by the nettle.


  Harald Jensen lith. Hoffensberg & Trap^ṣ Etabl.


Still, I found the fear of this nettle to be exaggerated. If you at once
put on some of the juice of the plant called _Colocasia macrorhiza_,
which resembles an _arum_, and which is always found growing near the
nettle, the pain is soothed and the effect of the poison neutralised.
This sharp white juice, which is itself poisonous, produces a violent
smarting pain where the skin is thin, as for instance on the lips.

It is a remarkable fact that the antidote to this poisonous nettle
always grows in its immediate vicinity, and I cannot help thinking of a
parallel case, viz. _kusso_ and _kamala_, the best remedies for
tape-worm, which are found in Abyssinia, the home of the tape-worm.

One night we spent in a cave near the brook. I had some hesitation at
first in spending the night in these scrubs, where the air is unhealthy
and apt to produce fever. Four white men died in one week in the scrubs
along Johnston river. But I assumed that I, being by this time used to
the climate, could sleep there as well as the blacks, who did so without
injury. Besides, the lower scrubs are surely much more unhealthy than
those farther up the mountains, and I had never suffered any harm from
stopping in them overnight. The cave was not large, and was low, cold,
and damp, and thus not very inviting. We had but its naked stones for a
couch, for there was of course no grass to be found in the scrub. A big
fire was kindled; outside it was pitch dark.

My blacks had found in a large fallen tree some larvæ of beetles
(_Coleoptera_), on which we feasted. There are several varieties of
these edible larvæ, and all have a different taste. The best one is
glittering white, of the thickness of a finger, and is found in the
acacia-trees. The others live in the scrubs, and are smaller, and not
equal to the former in flavour. The blacks are so fond of them that they
even eat them alive while they pick them out of the decayed trunk of a
tree—a not very attractive spectacle. The larvæ were usually collected
in baskets and so taken to the camp. The Australian does not as a rule
eat raw animal food; the only exception I know of being these coleoptera


  Edible Beetle (_Eurynassa australis_) (natural size).


  Larva of Same (natural size).

The large fire crackled lustily in the cave while we sat round it
preparing the larvæ. We simply placed them in the red-hot ashes, where
they at once became brown and crisp, and the fat fairly bubbled in them
while they were being thus prepared. After being turned once or twice
they were thrown out from the ashes with a stick, and were ready to be
eaten. Strange to say, these larvæ were the best food the natives were
able to offer me, and the only kind which I really enjoyed. If such a
larva is broken in two, it will be found to consist of a yellow and
tolerably compact mass rather like an omelette. In taste it resembles an
egg, but it seemed to me that the best kind, namely the acacia larva,
which has the flavour of nuts, tasted even better than a European
omelette. The natives always consumed the entire larva, while I usually
bit off the head and threw aside the skin, but my men always consumed my
leavings with great gusto. They also ate the beetles as greedily as the
larvæ, simply removing the hard wings before roasting them. The natives
are also fond of eating the larger species of wood-beetles. Some
crawfish, moreover, were roasted, and had as fine a flavour as those in
Europe; unfortunately there were not many of them.

In the strong light from the fire my eyes discovered on the roof of the
cave some figures made by the blacks who frequented these regions: these
figures represented a man and a woman with a baby. The drawing consisted
merely of a few lines scratched with charcoal and red paint, and the
figures had large spreading fingers and toes. They were upon the whole
very imperfect, still not without symmetry; the left side was precisely
like the right, but apart from this the figures were very irregular. The
natives can draw pictures only of the crudest kind. I once showed them
my photograph, but they had no idea of what it was meant to represent,
or of how it was to be held; they turned it upside down and every other
way, but the Kanaka, who was present, at once knew what it was. The
civilised blacks, on the other hand, have a clearer notion of pictures,
and easily recognise a person from a photograph.

In the morning we were roused by the lively singing of birds. Most
prominent was the monotonous and persistent sound of a bird which the
blacks call towdala, on account of its unceasing chattering. Its breast
is reddish-brown; it is about as large as a quail, is very shy, and
usually stays on the ground, moving very rapidly. This morning one was
sitting on the other side of the river singing so persistently and so
loudly that it irritated one of the natives, who tried to drive it away,
throwing stones at it. The bird (_Orthonyx spaldingii_) is inseparably
connected with the scrubs, and keeps up a lively song morning and
evening. Though its song is monotonous, I always liked to hear its
jubilant and happy voice.

In the sand along the stream the common “water-iguana” had laid its
eggs, which are so well concealed that it is almost impossible to find
them, but nothing escapes the keen eyes of the natives. Every now and
then they dig out the eggs, which are not, however, very numerous in any
one place. They also occasionally succeed in capturing the lizard
itself, or in killing it by throwing sticks at it. It usually lies
resting near the stream, but is very shy, and on being disturbed
disappears into the water with a great splash. Both the lizard, which
tastes like a chicken, and its eggs are eagerly eaten by the natives.

We spent several nights at our headquarters in this beautiful and
invigorating mountain region. When we had eaten our supper and put all
things to rights we laid ourselves round the fire, feeling very
comfortable after the fatiguing journeys of the day. One of the natives
then usually sang a song while lying on his back, accompanying himself
with two wooden sticks. The song was, as usual, a ceaseless repetition
of a couple of strophes, each one of which ended in a long monotonous
series of deep tones by which the strophe was repeated. To be able to
hold the last tone very long is a sign of ability to sing well. If a
song has been known a long time in a tribe, it gradually loses its
popularity, and gives place to a new composition, which is either
original or borrowed from a neighbouring tribe. But they do not often
have the opportunity of learning new songs, and consequently their
repertoire is very limited. The song in vogue at this time, and which
was sung repeatedly, was as follows:—


    _Tempo di marcia._

                    Mol-le-mom-bâ  va-ri-nâ   (â)  mombâ va-ri - nâ

                Kat - su - râ    in-dan-gô    gân-go-ril - la

                mol-le-mom-bâ  va - ri - nâ  mom-bâ

                va - ri - nâ  kat-su-bu - râ  in-dan-go  gan-go-

                ril - la mol - le - mom-bâ va - ri - nâ mom-bâ

                va - ri - nâ  kat-su-bu - râ  in-dan-gô  gan-go-

                ril - la -  - -  -

It is a remarkable fact that they themselves sometimes do not understand
the words which they sing, the song having been learned from a tribe
which speaks another dialect. Thus a good song will travel from tribe to
tribe. I heard the above-quoted song sung by “civilised” blacks near
Rockhampton, 500 miles due south of Herbert Vale. Doubtless it
originated in the vicinity of Rockhampton, and accordingly it must have
travelled through “many lands” before it came to the savages in the
mountains on Herbert river, where it was sung without being understood.

They rarely sing without accompaniment. The singer produces this by
beating a boomerang against a nolla-nolla, the former hitting the latter
with both ends, but not quite simultaneously. When weapons are wanting,
pieces of wood are used. Sometimes they also have their own musical
instrument. It is a somewhat thick piece of hard wood in the form of a
club. But this, their only musical instrument, is rare, and I only saw
it once on Herbert river.

The natives have a better ear for rhythm than for melody. Still I
learned from them a few tolerably melodious songs, as for instance the
one above quoted. They took no interest whatever in my songs. There was
but one of them that they could appreciate at all, and this only when
strongly accentuated, namely, Erik Bögh’s: “I have sailed around the
world, and I have walked many a mile.” But I did not often attempt to
entertain so unappreciative an audience.

Their voices are hoarse, but never seem to give out. The singer in the
camp usually sits with his legs crossed before the fire. As a rule only
one, but sometimes two, sing at a time, accompanying themselves, but
they never sing in chorus. A black man rambling among the trees alone
may at times be heard making the woods echo with his joyful song. He
feels free and happy in his native hunting-grounds. The following
war-song, which celebrates the knob on the throwing-stick, I used to
hear in the woods on Herbert river:—



                Wom - bon  ma - ræ - ry!  Wom - bon  ma-

            ræ - ry!  mo - ri - dan  ko - by  bee - bon  bindalgoh!

The women are also sometimes heard singing in the woods, but hardly ever
in the camp.

The Australian natives are gay and happy, but their song is rather
melancholy, and in excellent harmony with the sombre nature of
Australia. It awakened feelings of sadness in me when I heard it from
the solemn gum-tree forest, accompanied by the monotonous clatter of the
two wooden weapons.

My men were in good spirits on this expedition, and they sang nearly
every night of their own accord. The sole cause of their happiness was
that they received plenty of the white man’s food. I had taken with me
an abundance of provisions, and I distributed them liberally, on the
false assumption that the more I gave them the better they would work.
Though I had long been careful to give them nothing gratis, and always
to demand work for what I bestowed, I had not yet learned to give them
_only_ fair compensation, for the more they get the more they want. To
be liberal is simply dangerous, for they assume that the gift is
bestowed out of fear, and they look upon the giver as a person easy to
kill. Too great liberality demoralises them. They become exacting and
disobedient, and finally treacherously assault the giver.

As long as they understand that they can have advantages from a white
man, they let him live. The one thing which keeps them from killing him
is fear.

After having received all the food they wanted they became lazy, and
demanded a fuller compensation for their work. Their demands increased
day by day, and were no longer limited to food, but gradually included
the most unreasonable things, such as the clothes I wore, not to mention
my weapons and the whole supply of tobacco.

One morning when Willy and I went out to get the horses, he boldly
demanded the trousers I was wearing. When I positively refused to give
them to him, he wanted to borrow them to protect himself from the dew on
the grass, which he said annoyed him.

No matter how much they had eaten, they never said no when I, in
excessive liberality, offered them more food. They laid by what they did
not eat, but I did not scold them, for I was anxious to keep them in my
service. It soon became plain to me, however, that I must take a
different course if I wished to save my life.

                              CHAPTER XII

  The position of woman among the blacks—The husband the hunter, and the
      woman the provider of the family—Black female slaves—“Marking” the
      wives—A twelve-year-old wife—Considerate husbands—Wives an
      inheritance—Deserted by my followers—Reasoning power of the
      blacks—Darkness and rain.

The wives of Willy and Chinaman had kept far in the rear of the
expedition all the time, as they, in company with other women of the
tribe, were in search of fruits and larvæ. Among the blacks it is the
women who daily provide food, and they frequently make long excursions
to collect things to eat. The position of woman here, as elsewhere among
savages, is a very subordinate one.

She must do all the hard work, go out with her basket and her stick to
gather fruits, dig roots, or chop larvæ out of the tree-stems. She finds
the fruits partly within her reach, partly in the trees, which she
climbs, though less skilfully than the men. The stick in question, the
woman’s only implement, is indispensable to her on her expeditions after
food. It is made of hard tough wood four or five feet long, and has a
sharp point at one end made by alternately burning it in the fire and
rubbing it with a stone. Even at dances and festivals the married women
carry this stick as an emblem of dignity, as the provider of the family.

The woman is often obliged to carry her little child on her shoulders
during the whole day, only setting it down when she has to dig in the
ground or climb trees.

When she comes home again, she usually has to make great preparations
for beating, roasting, and soaking the fruits, which are very often
poisonous. It is also the woman’s duty to make a hut and gather the
materials for the purpose. Her husband assists her in cutting down the
four or five slender trees for the frame, but the woman herself has to
carry the large armfuls of palm leaves or grass to the camp, and level
the ground for the hut, removing with her stick and her fingers all
inequalities. She also provides water and fuel.

When they travel from place to place the woman has to carry all the
baggage. The husband is therefore always seen in advance with no burden
save a few light weapons, such as spears, clubs, or boomerangs, while
his wives follow laden like pack-horses with even as many as five
baskets containing provisions. There is frequently a little child in one
of the baskets, and a larger child may also be carried on the shoulders.

The husband’s contribution to the household is chiefly honey, but
occasionally he provides eggs, game, lizards, and the like. He very
often, however, keeps the animal food for himself, while the woman has
to depend principally upon vegetables for herself and her child. The
husband hunts more for sport than to supply the family with necessaries,
a matter that does not really concern him. Upon the whole he feels no
responsibility as the father of a family, but lives a thoroughly selfish
life, waiting in the morning until the grass is dry before he goes out,
and often returning to the camp with empty hands, having consumed his
game where he caught it.

He treats his wife with but little consideration, and is often very
cruel; he may take her life if he desires. In cold rainy nights she is
obliged to go out to fetch water and fuel. If in the evening I requested
one of my blacks to do this, he usually transferred the order to one of
his wives, who went at once; as a rule he had no regard for her age.
During one night which I passed on a farm not far from Mackay, I heard a
terrible cry in a camp of civilised blacks near by. On going down there
the next morning we found one of the young women in a pitiful condition,
bathed in blood and weeping; two of her fingers were broken. She said
that her husband had flogged her during the night. I asked him why he
had done so, and he answered that it had been very cold in the night,
and that this wretch of a woman had not been willing to go at once and
fetch fuel for the camp fire. He was an unusually capable black, who, on
one occasion, had accompanied a Catholic missionary across the continent
to the Gulf of Carpentaria. But with all his good qualities he had not
yet learned to treat his wife otherwise than his black brethren, who do
not regard her as a human being like themselves.

The worst crime a woman can commit is, of course, to run away from her
husband, whose slave she in reality is. She is oppressed, but is as a
rule contented with slavery, having no knowledge of a freer condition.
She has no will of her own, and she knows that her husband will not
brook opposition. But, however subject to the will of her husband she
may appear to be, and however oppressed she has been for generations,
many instances are still to be found where she has refused to submit to
her fate and has taken flight. She may also have some one whom she
adores, and a woman frequently runs away to a person she loves, although
she risks punishment; she may even be maimed by her husband if he ever
gets hold of her again. In such cases he usually gives her one or two
blows on the back with his tomahawk, which the blacks call “marking” the
woman. Frequently the woman is killed, particularly if she tries to run
away a second time.

When a wife is punished for other errors, the husband usually gives her
a rap on the head with the first object he can lay his hands on. As a
result of this treatment the women are often marked or scarred from
blows received from their cruel husbands. The punishments are quite
informal, and are inflicted in the excitement of the moment, no matter
whether others are present or not.

As the women perform all the labour, they are the most important part of
the property of an Australian native, who is rich in proportion to the
number of wives he possesses.



They usually have two, frequently three, sometimes four wives, and I saw
one man who had six. All the wives live in the same hut with their
husband. He who has many is envied by the others. “No one should have
more than two wives,” said my men to me, who had only one wife apiece,
and whose highest ambition it was to double the number. The black man
usually has a favourite wife, whom he prefers to the others and treats
better. Still, polygamy does not give rise to as many family troubles as
one would think, though there may be discord enough among the men on
account of the women. As a rule, man and wife apparently get on very
well, and the women are not constantly being flogged. I have even seen
instances where the husband was governed by his wife, and was scolded
and corrected by her, and I have also seen husbands ask their wives for
advice; but such cases as these are, of course, very rare.

It must be admitted that sometimes the Australian treats his wives well,
even in cases where the husband is the _boss_, and two of the men who
were with me on this expedition were exceptions of this kind.

It was an unusually fine trait in the characters of Willy and Chinaman
that they saved part of the provisions which they received from me for
their wives. One afternoon, when they wanted to go and see their wives,
they asked me to lend them a bag, and soon afterwards I saw them
starting off with a large amount of provisions which they had saved.
This consideration did not imply any self-denial on their part, for I
had given them more than they could eat, but I have since learned that
they sometimes did make sacrifices for their wives, and in this instance
it may be said to their credit that they gave them what they themselves
might have consumed at a later time.

Willy and Chinaman’s wives were very young, one of them being a little
girl of about twelve years. As long as the wives are so young I think
they receive better treatment than they do later on.

Thus even Australian women may have their honeymoon. These two men were
proud of their young wives, because it is, as a rule, difficult for
young men to marry before they are thirty years old. The old men have
the youngest and best looking wives, while a young man must consider
himself fortunate if he can get an old woman.

A woman is delivered over to her husband when she is about nine or ten
years old. It is simply ridiculous to see a man with a wife whom one
would take to be his young daughter. She lives with her husband, who may
be said to rear her, the two being at the same time really married. In
this respect the custom existing among the more southern tribes, as, for
instance, near Rockhampton, where the woman is not married before she
has reached maturity, differs from that on Herbert river; even here,
however, some respect is paid to her age, for a twelve-year-old wife is
not expected to provide as much as a grown woman. “She runs about too
much when she is so little,” said Willy and Chinaman, meaning that she
was not as capable as the older ones of finding food. I invariably
observed that the grown woman performed her work in an earnest and
careful manner, and did not permit herself to be disturbed. It is not
uncommon for an Australian to inherit a wife; the custom being that a
widow falls to the lot of the brother of the deceased husband. But the
commonest way of getting a wife is by giving a sister or a daughter in
exchange. Marriage may be either exogamous or endogamous. I have
previously stated that it is usual to steal one another’s wives; but it
should be added that this, as a rule, occurs among the smaller families
or sub-tribes, and but rarely among the larger tribes. A beautiful girl
from another tribe was maltreated and killed not far from my
headquarters. When I asked why they did not keep her rather than take
her life in this manner, they said that they feared the strange tribe,
to whose attacks they would continually be exposed if they kept the
woman alive. Killing her would give less cause for resentment.

Willy and Chinaman always took into consideration the youth of their
wives, and did not make them carry the large burdens usually laid upon
women. Of course they had to fetch leaves and grass for the hut, run
after water, and find larvæ and fruits, and go on errands in general,
but upon the whole they had an easy time of it, and their husbands gave
them a considerable amount of food. Surely when they received the bag of
food I mentioned before, their husbands must have been prompted by
higher motives than simply the idea that the food would make them
stronger, and therefore capable of doing more work.

In the evening, when Willy and Chinaman came back from their wives, they
brought a basket of fruit from the poisonous palm _Cycas media_, which
is called by the natives _kadjĕra_. When the nut is cracked, the kernel
is subjected to an elaborate process of pounding, roasting, and soaking,
until all is changed into a white porridge. Although my men were very
fond of my fare, which I shared with them plentifully, still they felt a
need of their own food. _Kadjera_ constitutes during this season of the
year, from October to December, the principal food of the blacks,
_tobŏla_ and _koraddan_, other fruits, being what they live chiefly upon
from January to March. When the time comes for harvesting these fruits,
the women set out together to gather and prepare them, and they are
frequently absent from the camp for several days.

We had now exerted ourselves a long time, and suffered much fatigue from
trying to secure a specimen of boongary, when all the men one day
suddenly declared that nothing would induce them to hunt the boongary
without a dog, and that there was no use in continuing the expedition.
Though this was a great disappointment to me, there was nothing else to
do but to return to my headquarters to get a dingo and more provisions.

On my arrival at Herbert Vale I also secured some new men. Among them
Jimmy was especially noteworthy. He was a square-built, athletic fellow
with a short neck and broad shoulders. There was a sinister expression
in his face, and he was a man of few words. I also enlisted in my
service another native, Mangola-Maggi, a smooth-haired young man who, in
spite of his youth, was highly respected among the blacks on account of
his ability to procure _talgoro_—that is, human flesh. This was
certainly not the particular qualification that I sought. What I wanted
was good hunters, and in choosing my men I had to pay special attention
to this point without regard to other less desirable qualities.

I suggested that they should take their wives with them, and they were
the more easily persuaded to do so as the women were going in the same
direction to gather fruits, and the latter received orders to keep a
sharp look-out for boongary, which during the day sleep in the high

On our journey across the open country Willy and I led the way. In the
afternoon some of my people remained behind to dig out a bandicoot,
among them Lucy, Willy’s wife. She had stayed without her husband’s
consent, and for this she must be punished. When, after about an hour,
she overtook us, Willy, greatly enraged, asked her why she had remained
behind, and at the same time picked up a large piece of wood and hurled
it past her face. She did not dare to stir or hardly to blink with her
eyes, and made no effort to ward off the projectile, knowing that her
husband would become only more angry and try the more to hit her. As it
was, he only threw the piece of wood several times to frighten her.

The bandicoot, which had given rise to this domestic scene between Willy
and Lucy, I wanted for my collection; but Chinaman would not give it up.
He was, on the whole, very selfish, passionate, and greedy. He twice
told me that he liked the flesh of little children better than that of
grownup people, because the former were “so fat.” When we had slain an
animal the thought of eating was uppermost in his mind, and I often
failed to secure rare specimens which he and his comrades had killed and
eaten before I could claim them. It was therefore necessary not only to
find and kill the animals, but also to save them from disappearing into
the hungry stomachs of the blacks. Even though they knew that they would
get tobacco for the animal, momentary enjoyment so predominated in their
minds that they had no time to think of the tobacco.

We rose at sunrise the next morning, and continued the ascent. I had so
distributed my baggage among the natives that the women carried the
provisions and the men the gun and ammunition and the thighs of a
wallaby, which I had taken as a lure for yarri. Saturated with
strychnine, the flesh of the wallaby was exposed in various places along
the river, particularly where brooks emptied into the latter, for here,
according to the statements of the natives, the yarri were apt to be
found during the night.

We worked our way up over large stones and among creeping vines, and
toward noon approached the goal of our day’s march, about 600 ft. below
the level of the mountain summit. Before us we still had a very steep
and difficult country to traverse, and we now halted near the confluence
of two mountain brooks to get something to eat.

I had so planned that the women were to go for several days by
themselves in another direction in order to search the scrubs, and at
the same time gather fruits, while we were to follow the brook and make
our camp on the summit of the mountain. The woods are so dense that a
man cannot make a long journey in a day, and as it was of importance to
investigate as large a region as possible, I hoped that the women would
in this way be of great use to us. The men were, however, unwilling to
agree to this plan, and they suggested instead not to send the women out
until the next day, but to send them on now with the provisions and
baggage to the proposed camping-place, while they and I were to make a
digression to the south in order to look for boongary. We were to meet
again on the top of the mountain. Their proposition seemed to me
excellent, for in this way we might make a better use of our time, and
so we set out, without any suspicion on my part of their treacherous
intentions. As usual, it was not long before I was some distance behind
my people, who during such ascents were wont to proceed much more
rapidly than I did; my boots making it difficult for me to keep pace
with them. Certainly I thought they were in a greater hurry than usual,
but I paid no particular attention to this fact. Finally, I had only
Chinaman and his dog before me. Our course along a little brook was very
steep, and so narrow that we frequently had to creep on our hands and
knees under the enormous fern-trees, in order to get through.

Presently Chinaman also disappeared in the scrub, and I suddenly found
myself all alone with my dog “Donna.” I shouted, but heard no answer,
and it now dawned upon my mind that I was the victim of a plot. In order
to get possession of my provisions, they had, of course, agreed on a
place where they were to join the women, or perhaps they intended to
meet at the place fixed upon for a camp, in order to feast on my food. I
knew that they would not rob and eat everything, for like children who
help themselves to sweets, they imagine that nothing will be discovered
if only something is left, be it ever so little. There was danger,
however, that my provisions would be consumed to such a degree as to
make it impossible to continue the expedition. I had been careless
enough to leave the food in two open bags, but had looked better after
the tobacco, the latter being well packed in the centre of my baggage.

After a short time I heard them in the distance giving signals to the
women. The only thing for me to do was to make an effort to proceed
alone. I knew pretty nearly where we were to encamp, but it was not so
easy to find the way through the scrub, where nothing is to be seen to
guide the traveller.

I was several hours in reaching the summit. Meanwhile it had begun to
rain, sunset was drawing on, and it was high time that I found the camp.
At length I heard the blacks talking on the top of a little hill near
by, and I soon found the place, a little opening in the dense scrub
scarcely eight yards square, where they had already built their huts. It
was a very convenient place for a camp, and I could see that it had
frequently been used for this purpose, for on all sides there were large
heaps of fruit husks.

I at once commanded them to produce the provision bags, and discovered
to my satisfaction that they had consumed less of the contents than I
feared. When I asked them why they had abandoned me in order to steal
the provisions, they answered that they had been very much afraid that
the white man would get lost, but added, in an ingratiating manner, that
they were now going to make him a good hut. The only way to punish them
which was left me was to shoot one of them, and I therefore let the
matter drop, but gave them to understand that if the offence was
repeated I should use the revolver. I then ordered them to build a hut,
as it was already night and the rain was increasing. From this incident
it is clear that it is not true, as many maintain, that the Australian
native is guided wholly by his instincts. I am willing to admit that his
reasoning powers are but slightly developed, as he is unable to
concentrate his thoughts for any length of time on one subject, but he
can come to a logical conclusion, a fact which has been denied.[10]

Footnote 10:

  See, for example, _Transactions of Royal Society of New South Wales_
  for January 1883.

In a few minutes my hut was ready. It made me feel depressed to be alone
with the savages in such a stormy night. The fog was dense, and it was
so dark that we could not see our hands before our eyes. As my hut stood
in the centre of those of the natives, I had built a fire on either
side, and in order to keep close watch of them I made two entrances. I
was tired, and soon fell asleep.

Later in the night a most violent shower of rain suddenly fell upon us;
the water poured through the roofs of our huts and put out the fires. I
awoke in inky darkness and heard the natives groaning in their disgust
at this unexpected shower-bath on their naked bodies. I got up and drew
my woollen blanket close around me and waited for the dawn of day.

Long before daybreak the natives began making fresh fires, and with
their remarkable skill in this respect they soon had a fire kindled in
front of each hut. By constructing a sort of shed of palm leaves they
succeeded in keeping them alive through the night. Every now and then
they had to go out into the scrubs and gather pieces of bark or dry
rubbish from hollow trees. Our huts became united, as it were, by these
little sheds under one roof, and the result was that we were
considerably troubled by smoke.

It is most delightful to be able to stretch one’s wet and tired limbs by
the fire even in the hut of a savage, and to be warm and cosy while the
rain pours down outside. To the Australian the fire is, of course, of
great importance, for with him it takes the place of clothes in cold
weather. On Herbert river the natives, as before stated, go naked all
the year round. The women, and particularly the older ones, may
occasionally be seen covered with a mat made from the inner bark of the
tea-tree, and this mat was also sometimes used on the floor of the hut.
They wear it over their shoulders, but it scarcely does more than cover
their shoulderblades, like a lady’s cape. The skins of animals are never
used as mats or clothes.

During the two or three days that we stayed here the blacks spent most
of the time in sleeping and eating. The women mended the fires and
repaired the roofs where they leaked. I was busy much of the time drying
my clothes. I hung them in front of the fire, and in the course of a day
they were sufficiently dry to put on. As exercise in the open air was
out of the question, I had to spend these days in my hut either in a
reclining or a sitting position, and, like the blacks, tried to pass the
time by sleeping. The unceasing rain soon destroyed the roofs of our
huts, so that both the men and the women had to repair to the scrub and
get more palm leaves. They also made a little trench round each hut to
carry the water away, but they were usually idle. When they did not
sleep they continually demanded food and tobacco; the men had some right
to do so, but the women had no claim on me, for it was originally agreed
that they were to accompany me at their own expense. They had also
brought with them their own food, consisting of the usual unpalatable
plants and fruits.

My people had noticed that I took my meals—breakfast, dinner, and
supper—regularly, and this had given rise to their habit of asking for
food at the same time and of applying civilised names to the meals.
Savages live irregularly, and eat when they are hungry. It was curious
to hear them demand “breakfast,” “dinner,” and “supper,” even if they
had just been gorging themselves with their own food. During these days
I scarcely heard any other words from their lips.

I was astonished to see the men on this occasion give the women a part
of their rations, and what particularly surprised me was that they gave
them more than they kept themselves. The native likes to assume a
liberal air, sometimes even towards his wife; for a person bestowing
gifts right and left is looked upon as a great man. Thus it is the
custom for a man who has slain a wild animal to eat but little of it
himself, and to distribute it freely among his comrades, whom he watches
with satisfaction while they prepare and consume his game. This chivalry
towards the fair sex was an annoyance to me, for my provisions were not
over abundant.

As the rain continued some days longer, I was obliged to call the
attention of the blacks to the fact that my provisions were nearly
consumed, so that they must look for their own food. Two of them did go
out, and soon returned with a few larvæ and some young shoots of the
palm-tree. This was all the effort considered necessary to supply
themselves with food for a whole day. These shoots consisted of the
fresh buddings of the _Ptychosperma cunninghamii_. It was roasted in the
ashes, but is usually eaten raw. I could not eat it, for it has an
insipid and revolting taste even when boiled in water.


  RIFLE-BIRD (_Ptiloris victoriæ_).

One day, as I went outside the hut to stretch my cramped legs, I
discovered in the fog a bird which acted in a singular manner. While
sitting on a branch it raised its wings, twisting its body to either
side, in which position it looked like a cormorant drying its wings. I
shot it, and the blacks fetched it to me out of the scrub. It was an
Australian bird of paradise, the celebrated Rifle-bird (_Ptiloris
victoriæ_), which, according to Gould, has the most brilliant plumage of
all Australian birds. It is difficult to determine its colour, as its
velvet-like plumage assumes the most varied tints according as the light
falls upon it.

                              CHAPTER XIII

  _Mongan_, a new mammal—For my collection or to feed the
      blacks?—Natives do not eat raw meat—A young yarri—A meteorite—Fear
      of attacks—Cannibals on the war-path—The relations between the

The following day the rain had entirely ceased, but the natives refused
to continue the journey because the scrub was so wet. Still I had
determined to raise the disagreeable quarantine, even though I should
expose myself to still greater discomfiture. After an hour or two I
actually succeeded in getting them to start, in spite of Willy’s
assurances that it was impossible to get into the other valley for which
I was making. Jimmy went alone upon some hills to find _mongan_, a
mammal which the natives had mentioned to me, but which I had not yet
seen. The women were excused from gathering fruits in the scrub, which
was now scarcely accessible, and instead they were to go down to the
grassy plain and examine the poisoned meat which we had laid there as
lures for the yarri. The men accompanied me to a neighbouring valley,
where the women declared they had seen boongary on one of their
expeditions to gather fruit.

The long incessant rain had formed countless brooks, which, with their
clear and sparkling water, frequently crossed our path to vanish in the
dense scrub. The sky was now clear and cloudless, and the wet, dense
forest lay bathed in the bright glittering sunshine, which produced an
intense heat, while warm vapours rising from the ground and from the
trees made the air so damp and oppressive that we became very much

We often found large coils of the lawyer-palm obstructing our passage.
Willy repeatedly called my attention to the fact that he had been right
in urging that the scrub was impassable, but still we managed to get on,
partly by going round, partly by creeping under the obstructions.


  Harald Jensen lith. Hoffensberg & Trap^ṣ Etabl.


When we got out of the scrub we went along the side of a steep heap of
debris overgrown with creeping plants, a difficult road, for the stones
were continually loosened under our feet and rolled down with a
tremendous crash. We saw nothing but old traces of boongary; on the
other hand, I shot a specimen of the toollah (_Pseudochirus archeri_)
described above. The dogs proved useless, my Gordon setter was, of
course, too heavy to work in the scrub, to which she was not accustomed,
and Chinaman’s dog also disappointed my expectations, for it refused to
range at all, thereby making its master so angry that he pelted it with
sticks. We had agreed to meet the women and Jimmy at the foot of the
mountains, and when we reached the camp at dusk we found them already
there; they had inspected all the poisoned meat lures, but none of them
had been touched. Jimmy, however, had, to my great delight, found mongan
(_Pseudochirus herbertensis_), a new and very pretty mammal, whose
habitat is exclusively the highest tops of the scrubs in the Coast
Mountains (see coloured plate).

Willy and Chinaman persisted in having the toollah which I had shot, and
as our provisions were giving out, I was obliged to surrender it, much
to my chagrin. I tried to keep the skin, but they eagerly objected that
the animal would lose its flavour if roasted without it. In order to
satisfy their hunger, I was therefore obliged to give them both the skin
and the body.

They now threw the animal on the fire, in order to singe the hair off.
Then they cut its belly open with a sharp piece of wood, placed it on
the coals, and as soon as it was half roasted it was torn into several
pieces and distributed, whereupon each one roasted his share. In this
way the Australian prepares and roasts all small mammals. He does not
like to eat the meat raw, but has not the patience to wait until it is
thoroughly done. As soon as a crust is formed on the meat, he takes it
from the coals and gnaws off the roasted part; he then puts it back to
roast the rest.

The women returned from their expedition with a lot of fruit rather like
red peas, called by the natives _koraddan_. It grows on a climbing plant
found in abundance in the scrub, but as a rule cannot be reached from
the ground, hence the women must climb the trees to gather it. The
koraddan is roasted between grass and hot stones, and has a
comparatively good flavour, smelling and tasting like boiled peas.


  YARRI (_Dasyurus maculatus_).

I had much trouble in getting the natives to look after the strychnine
lures, in the effect of which they had no faith, as they are not in
possession of any kind of poison. I promised them tobacco if they could
bring me the animal I wanted. At last they started, and one day, to my
great surprise, they brought me a yarri. The natives having a
superstition that “a great water will rise” if a young man picks up a
dead yarri, Jimmy, who was the oldest, had to carry the animal, and at
the head of the others he brought it in triumph to the camp, holding it
carefully by the tail high in the air. Had he not been present, I doubt
whether I should have obtained the animal.

I concealed my joy, and in order to test them insisted that it was not a
yarri that they had caught, but they shouted wildly _Yarri, yarri,
yarri!_ declaring, however, that it was a young one. The skin was hardly
three feet long from the snout to the end of the tail. It was of a
yellowish-gray colour, with whitish round spots. It proved to be a
_Dasyurus maculatus_, yarri being a name applied to the whole family of
_Dasyuridæ_. I am, however, convinced that there exists a large animal
of this kind that has not yet been discovered. The one which the natives
particularly call yarri I shall have occasion to mention farther on.

I was sorry to find that the specimen now brought to me had been lying
so long that it had already become greenish on the under side, and had a
bad smell. As my knives were rather blunt, it was no pleasant task to
flay the animal, whose skin is very tough. Unfortunately my knife
slipped and cut a deep gash in my thumb. To prevent blood-poisoning I
applied caustic and carbolic acid, and continued my work with a bandage
on my thumb.

One day I secured a specimen of the wonderful _Hypsiprymnodon
moschatus_, which forms the connecting link between the kangaroos and
the phalangers. This animal, called by the natives _yopŏlo_, is not very
rare in the lower part of the scrubs, but is difficult to kill, as it
haunts the banks of the rivers and is never seen on the grassy plain.
When we walked along a river in the scrubs my blacks would often make a
smacking sound that causes the animal, which is very curious, to come
forth and thus be discovered. The yopolo is brown, and about the size of
a stoat. Its lair is formed like a globular nest from fallen leaves near
the root of a tree, but it is only to be discovered among the leaves and
grass by the keen eyes of the blacks. The natives frequently succeed in
catching the animal by placing their feet quickly on the lair, but as a
rule the yopolo is hunted with a dingo.

The last evening but one of this expedition a very curious event
happened. While we were eating supper we suddenly heard a terrible cry
from the women, who had a camp by themselves farther down the river.
After a moment’s reflection the men ran down and soon brought the women
up to our camp. A stone been thrown against a rock close by, nearly
hitting one of them, and this made them afraid of camping down there
alone. They assumed that the stone had been thrown by strange natives,
and they requested me to “shoot the land” to frighten them. When I had
fired four or five times they thought they would be able to “sleep

The next morning I went down to the deserted camp, and they at once
pointed out to me where the stone had hit the rock with great force.
Close by we also found all the pieces, which together formed a heavy
stone about the size of a potato, and was, no doubt, a meteorite. The
women had made a false alarm, and there was no danger on this occasion.
But as a rule they have every reason for being on their guard, for the
neighbouring tribes are continually on a war-footing, and they are
always in danger of attacks.

Individuals belonging to the same tribe are usually on the best of
terms, but the different tribes are each other’s mortal enemies. Woe
therefore to the stranger who dares trespass on the land of another
tribe! He is pursued like a wild beast and slain and eaten. In
connection with this it should, however, be stated that the small
subdivisions of the tribes that live nearest the border are on amicable
terms with their neighbours, and that accordingly the borders between
the tribes are frequently very indistinct. The family tribes have
well-defined limits, and as a rule they are on friendly terms with each
other. I am hardly able to state the extent of a tribe. The one living
around Herbert Vale owned an area of land which I should estimate to be
about forty miles long and thirty miles wide. It was divided into many
sub-tribes or family tribes, which lived within their own well-defined
limits, the country within which was well known to them. Outside their
borders they had no acquaintance with the country. This was one of the
difficulties I had to contend with, as I soon found that a native
outside his own “land” was of little or no service to me, for he there
felt very insecure. The case was still worse when he entered the domain
of another tribe; there he was utterly restless and timid.

In a family tribe there may be about twenty to twenty-five individuals,
often less. How many such small divisions it takes to make a tribe it is
impossible to say, as there exists no sort of organisation. They do not
even have chiefs, and in this respect they differ from the natives in
other parts of Australia, where there are sometimes even two chiefs in
one tribe, usually an old man and a young man. It is probably not far
from the truth to estimate a tribe at two hundred to two hundred and
fifty individuals. On important occasions the old men’s advice is
sought, and their counsel is mostly taken by the whole tribe, but there
is no restraint put on the liberty of the individual. When a camp is
broken up, those who wish to follow, do so; those who prefer to go
somewhere else or to remain, take their choice. In most cases, however,
there is a wonderful consonance between them. The natives on Herbert
river have not much use for a chief, as the tribes do not, as in Western
Queensland, carry on open warfare with each other, but simply seek to
diminish the number of their enemies by treacherous attacks.

The Australian rambles about in his woods all day long, free from care,
though he always feels a secret fear of strange blacks. But when “the
sun is near the mountains” (_vi molle mongan_), he is filled with
anxiety and restlessness at the thought of the dangers which threaten
him after darkness falls upon the earth. The least sound makes him
suspicious; he shudders and listens, and whispers timidly to his
comrades, _Kolle! mal!_—that is, Hush! man! When he has assured himself
that the fear is unfounded, he soon recovers his balance, to be again
frightened by the next suspicious sound. During the daytime a torn-off
leaf or a footprint which he does not understand at once awakens his

                              CHAPTER XIV

  Dingo a member of the family—A black who does not smoke—Hunting the
      flying-squirrel—Diseases among the natives—Their remedies—A
      splendid offer—Unpleasant companions—Trouble in getting dogs.

It was a pleasure to return to Herbert Vale and meet once more Nelly’s
smiling face at the gate. She asked with deep interest what kind of
animals I had secured, and seemed delighted when I showed her the skins
I had brought. My first visit was to the kitchen cupboard, where I took
possession of a bowl of fresh milk. Into it I broke a piece of
fresh-made damper and sprinkled on it a lot of sugar, making a dish
which, under the circumstances, tasted better to me than a dinner at

In the middle of the night both the superintendent and myself were
roused by a terrible howl from Nelly, who was being flogged by her
husband, the Kanaka, up in the loft of the storehouse. Old Walters had
to go up there with his cane, which he always kept near the door, but he
did not succeed in getting the Kanaka to respect his authority.

The next morning I at once set out to find a dingo suitable for my next
expedition; this was a very difficult matter, for the dingoes are much
more rare here than farther south in Australia, where natives can be
seen followed by ten or twelve dogs, which are of different breeds, for
the dingoes of the natives quickly mix with the shepherd-dogs,
greyhounds, and terriers of the colonists. On Herbert river there are
rarely more than one or two dingoes in each tribe, and as a rule they
are of pure blood. The natives find them as puppies in the hollow trunks
of trees, and rear them with greater care than they bestow on their own
children. The dingo is an important member of the family; it sleeps in
the huts and gets plenty to eat, not only of meat, but also of fruit.
Its master never strikes, but merely threatens it. He caresses it like a
child, eats the fleas off it, and then kisses it on the snout.



Though the dingo is treated so well it often runs away, especially in
the pairing season, and at such times it never returns. Thus it never
becomes perfectly domesticated, still is very useful to the natives, for
it has a keen scent and traces every kind of game; it never barks, and
hunts less wildly than our dogs, but very rapidly, frequently capturing
the game on the run. Sometimes it refuses to go any farther, and its
owner has then to carry it on his shoulders, a luxury of which it is
very fond. The dingo will follow nobody else but its owner; this
materially increased my difficulties in finding a dog, for it was
useless unless the owner could be persuaded to go with me; besides, but
few of the dingoes understand hunting the boongary, for which they have
to be specially trained from the beginning.

In company with four men I rode across Sea-View Range. On its summit a
tribe was said to be encamped owning a very good dog, which I had heard
much talked of. I sent two of my men to the camp with a supply of
tobacco, in order to borrow the dog, but they returned in the evening
minus both dog and tobacco, for the dog had followed its owner to
another camp, and still they had, with their usual liberality,
distributed the tobacco right and left.

On the way I shot a kangaroo, which I wanted to use as a lure. Kangaroos
are very hard to kill, and once one of these animals hopped ninety paces
after it had been shot by an express rifle, the exploding ball of which
had torn its heart into pieces. According to my experience they die most
speedily when they are hit in the breast with a charge of large shot,
which, if the distance is not too great, generally makes them fall on
the spot. In such a case the quick death of the kangaroo made so deep an
impression upon my natives that the event was the topic of their
conversation for several days, accustomed, as they are, to see kangaroos
run away pierced with several spears.

In the evening, as we approached the tribe said to have the dog, I sent
two of my men in advance to inform the natives of my coming, otherwise
they would be afraid of the white man and take to their heels. We
encamped close by on a plat of grass extending into the scrubs. Gongola,
the owner of the dog, and two other men came to me when they had learned
the object of our visit. Gongola was a large stout fellow, and very
friendly. In order to get on the right side of him I at once gave him a
piece of tobacco, which he appropriated and then went away.

Before long he returned with two mound-builder’s eggs, which he
presented to me. This liberality surprised me, for it is rare among the
blacks, except among themselves. I suppose he wanted to show me that I
was welcome. My experience is, on the whole, that uncivilised blacks are
much more friendly and unpretentious than those who have been in contact
with the white men. Gongola’s friendliness was all the more
praiseworthy, since my gift was of no value to him; for he did not like
tobacco. It is rare to meet natives who are not fond of tobacco; I only
saw one other besides Gongola. I invited him to have supper with us, and
he took his meals with us as long as we remained here.

Late in the evening my men heard the flying-squirrel (_Petauroides_)
climbing the tall gum-trees above our heads, and the next day the blacks
hunted these animals. Some of the men climbed the trees with the aid of
their kāmins, in order to frighten them out from their abodes. Like
chimney-sweeps they pulled the kāmins up and down in the hollow
tree-trunks, at the same time shouting _Po-pò! po-pò!_ in imitation of a
night bird, and this _po-pò_ was repeated by all those who stood below.
The natives think that in this manner they can give the flying-squirrels
the impression that it is night, and thus more easily coax them out. As
a rule, they come forth quite suddenly, stretch their fliers, and fly
slowly and elegantly into another tree, and while climbing the stem of
this tree they are killed with sticks thrown at them.

They soon succeeded in frightening one of these animals out of a tree,
and although the sun was shining in all its splendour, the squirrel
landed with remarkable accuracy at the foot of a gum-tree eighty paces
distant. While ascending the trunk I shot it.

The natives here, particularly the women, looked wretched, being both
poor and filthy. Some of them had a sickly, pale complexion and dry
skin, and many of the children were covered with eruptions. My
impression is that there was too little variety in their food, as they
lived chiefly on vegetables. The Australian is usually sound and
healthy, and not much troubled with illness. But for the skin diseases,
which he gets from the white men, he is usually a healthy individual. It
is very rare to see any one with a bodily defect, though an old warrior
with one hand was well known near Rockhampton.

In Central Queensland, about 300 miles west of Rockhampton, an epidemic
of erysipelas is said to have raged about fifty years ago. The manager
of a station in that district told me that there were caves on the
property in which there were hundreds of skeletons, indicating that
there must have been an epidemic among the natives. The blacks had
informed him that a great many had died at the same time, being “sick in
their mouths and noses.” Smallpox has also been known among the
Australian natives, for example, near Murrumbidgee in New South Wales,
as reported by Beveridge.

I did not think lung diseases possible among the savages of Australia
before I saw these pale faces on Sea-View Range. They certainly looked
as if they had consumption. But as I had no other symptoms to go by than
their exterior, my assumption is not of course of much value.

Strange to say, the natives on Herbert river never complained of
rheumatism. They were to some extent troubled with venereal diseases,
against which they know no remedy; but these diseases do not appear in
their most violent forms in Australia. The blacks who came in to Herbert
Vale used to rub their wounds with tar, which they procured at the
station. Apart from this, they let the disease run its course.

When the Australian becomes “civilised” and begins to wear clothes he
becomes more subject to disease. He regards clothes simply as ornaments
that he may wear or not as he pleases. He will perspire during the whole
day in a woollen jacket, but in the evening, when he really might need
it on account of the cool temperature, he is sure to take it off and
sleep in his old-fashioned way. On a hunt he lays aside all clothes for
the sake of convenience, no matter how “civilised” he may be, for he
wants to be naked when he climbs trees and pursues animals. But this
thoughtless way of wearing clothes brings on colds, and as a result
rheumatic fevers and lung diseases. I never found fever and ague among
the Australian savages, except in the solitary case of a well-dressed
civilised black on Herbert river.

As the hard and tough vegetables eaten by the blacks are a severe tax on
their teeth, which they also constantly use for making their implements,
the older members of the tribe have their fore-teeth worn down to the
gums, which therefore become very tender. I have also seen blacks
troubled with toothache. In such cases they make one of their comrades
suck the cheek until the blood flows, very much as we use leeches.
Toothache in one of the front teeth is sometimes radically cured by
placing a stick against the tooth, whereupon the “dentist” with a
violent blow knocks the tooth into the mouth.

The Herbert river blacks have no medicines. The only remedies used are
to suck out the blood over the spot where the pain is felt, or to rub
the sore place with saliva. The sick are treated by the “doctor,” who as
a rule is the most cunning man in the tribe and a great humbug. When he
has sucked blood from a spot where the patient feels pain, he usually
shows to the latter a piece of bone or a little stone, which he pretends
he has sucked out, and which he declares to be the cause of the illness.
In other parts of Australia, where diseases must be more common, the
blacks are said to know healing herbs, and in many places they have
peculiar ways of treating diseases.

On Herbert river no remedy is known against snake bites. The victim
simply lays himself down to die. In New South Wales, on the other hand,
snake bites are cured in a very interesting manner. The wound is
squeezed between the thumb nails until the blood flows; then a piece of
warm opossum skin is laid on the wound, which is sucked as soon as the
skin becomes cold. The opossum is warmed a second time, and the process
is repeated until the patient is out of danger. The operation usually
lasts about forty-five minutes. It is a remarkable fact that the Herbert
river natives attribute a healing virtue to the sweat of the armpits, to
which they attach supernatural qualities, putting it under the nose of
the patient to make him well.

Wounds and scratches on the blacks heal with remarkable rapidity. Two
natives near a station, having borrowed knives from white men, fought.
One cut numerous gashes in his opponent’s back, while the other
continually inflicted wounds right down to the hip-bone of the former.
The combatants were separated and brought into the camp in a miserable
condition. All their comrades did was to strew ashes in the wounds, and
after three weeks’ time the victims were perfectly restored.

The natives are very kind and sympathetic towards those who are ill, and
they carry them from camp to camp. This is the only noble trait that I
discovered in the Australian natives.

After having borrowed Gongola’s dog in return for a large piece of
damper, I rambled about for a few days before I returned to Herbert
Vale. The chief result of the hunt was a kind of bandicoot (_Perameles
nasuta_), which utters a peculiar sound which the natives imitate in
order to coax it out.

The next evening I was requested by the young men of the tribe to lead
an attack on a neighbouring tribe. The purpose was to steal women. They
represented to me what beautiful women there were in the other tribe,
and how easy it would be to make an assault with a gun. To tempt me
still further they held out a promise of the first choice in the
division of the spoils. They also called my attention to the fact that
we would find a number of yarri. I declined all their tempting offers,
but they continued to urge on me their plans for this “Rape of the
Sabines”; as they were unable to persuade me, and consequently failed to
get the valuable support of the gun, they finally desisted from their

The majority of the young men wait a long time before they get wives,
partly for the reason that they have not the courage to fight the
requisite duel for one with an older man. They therefore prefer to wait
until they can get a wife in exchange or by inheritance. It is rare,
however, for a man to die unmarried, and as the majority of men have at
least two wives, the women are more numerous on Herbert river than the
men. The same observation is made by the excellent observer Mr. White of
Western Queensland, but so far as I know the opposite is true of a large
portion of Australia.

After spending the night at Herbert Vale, where I secured more men, I
started on a new expedition. I was supplied with provisions for a long
time, had an excellent dog and several capable hunters, one of whom was
well acquainted with the regions I intended to visit. I started early
the next morning in the finest of summer weather. A heavy dew had fallen
in the night, running like rain from the roofs of the station houses,
and the wet grass glistened in the bright sunshine. There was every
promise of a successful expedition. At noon the natives were determined
to turn northward, as they wanted to go to the “land” that I had visited
on my last expedition, urging that we would there find many boongary.
Their real reason was no doubt that, as they knew the country, they
would have an easy time of it consuming my provisions, and thus escape
the long difficult journey to the strange “land.” I became angry, and
called their attention to the fact that they had agreed to accompany me
to this more distant region, and I gave them distinct orders to proceed.

Slowly and lazily they started on the journey, and continually presented
new difficulties. They frequently stopped in order to prove to me that
it was impossible to progress. We came to a river with steep banks,
which it was necessary to cross, but I could not possibly get the blacks
to show me the fording-place, and so was obliged to search up and down
the river in order to find a place myself where it was possible to get
to the other side.

Chinaman, who was our guide and the only person acquainted with the
country, proved himself to be a perfect rascal, and was the leading
spirit in all these intrigues. He preferred my food and his own comfort
to the fatigues of the journey, but as I firmly opposed all his
pretexts, he finally declared that he was unwilling to toil any longer
among these rocks and scrubs! It was impossible to attempt to cross that
night, for the sun was already setting behind the mountains.

We experienced some difficulty in finding materials for our huts on this
grassy plain. A few trees were cut down and made into a shed, open on
one side. This was all the shelter we had, and I made a pillar of
brushwood, which at the same time formed a partition wall between me and
the blacks. Two of my companions, who had a fancy to imitate the white
man, laid claim to the opposite side of my pillow. Although I was not
particularly pleased at having them so close, I was too tired to make
any objections.

I felt Ganindali’s waxed hair against my head, and knew that it was
inhabited by those small black animals which give so much trouble to the
natives; but as they thrive only on the blacks, I felt no uneasiness
about going to sleep. Now and then my bedfellows roused me by scratching
their heads to get at the uninvited guests, of which process my head not
unfrequently had to pay the penalty. When, under these disagreeable
circumstances, I was aroused from my sleep, I noticed a horrible smell,
which I could not understand.

Finally the odour became so strong that I could not sleep, and not until
I had ordered the blacks away did I get peace for the rest of the night.
In the morning I discovered that the terrible smell came from a large
sore on Ganindali. His comrades told me that he had had it from
childhood, and that he had got it from the devil. It cannot be denied
that it was very disagreeable to have such a fellow in our company, but
the dog would follow no one else, and so he was indispensable.

To my great annoyance Chinaman had disappeared, having deserted during
the night; I hoped he would come back, and waited for him until noon,
but he did not put in an appearance. We then proceeded without him, and
succeeded in finding a good place to cross the river. In the evening we
encamped at the foot of the mountains. My people were very willing to do
all in their power, but it proved to be utterly impossible to accomplish
anything in this unknown country without a guide.

There was therefore nothing else to be done except to accommodate myself
to the circumstances and to return to Herbert Vale to make preparations
for an expedition in some other direction. I started on my way back in
low spirits, my thoughts dwelling on the folly of mankind. As a warning
to the others, I threatened to shoot Chinaman if he ever came near me.

The heat was intense; the ground was gray, the grass withered and
scorched by the sun; everything had a wintry look. The appearance of
Herbert Vale at this time therefore was not inviting. Large swarms of
grasshoppers filled the air, greedily attacking the few green shoots to
be found at the bottom of the dry grass. They produced a peculiar
buzzing sound when in dense swarms they flew up from the ground, and as
I stood among them I could not help thinking of a snowstorm. Black lads
amused themselves by running round and frightening the grasshoppers. The
women gathered large quantities of them in their baskets. In one place a
number of natives sat round a fire eating them. First, the contents of
the baskets are thrown into the fire in order to burn off the wings and
legs, whereupon each grasshopper is roasted separately; they taste like
nuts, but there is of course very little to eat on them.

I ordered my blacks to encamp near the station, and at once began to get
ready for a new expedition, but as it was difficult to secure more men
in a hurry, they became impatient and disappeared with the dog, and thus
all my plans were frustrated for the present.

Finally, having secured the aid of a few men, I rode off as soon as
possible to capture the fugitives, and after a couple of days succeeded
in finding Ganindali and some other blacks out hunting, but they had
already delivered the dog to its owner, Gongola. They came to me
rejoicing, and told me that it had recently captured a large yarri. It
had chased the animal up into a tree, and the natives had themselves
killed it with clubs. I asked very eagerly where the animal was, but
alas! the old women had already eaten it, they said. The poor comfort I
received was that next time they would give the yarri to me.

From Gongola’s tribe I had frequently heard that there were many
boongaries in a “land” very far away.

They pointed up Herbert river valley to some mountains in the far
distance, and thither I now resolved to make my next expedition.

                               CHAPTER XV

  Blacks on the track—A foreign tribe—Native baskets—Two black
      boys—Bringing up of the children—_Pseudochirus lemuroides_ with
      its young—The effect of a shot—A native swell—Relationship among
      the blacks—Their old women.

It was more difficult than ever to secure men. The country we were to
visit was situated so far away that the blacks I approached made all
sorts of objections. They did not care to run the risk of being eaten.
My friends also advised me most positively not to undertake the
expedition. Both Willy and Jacky shook their heads, saying, _Komórbŏry
talgoro_—that is, Much human flesh. The people there were all _myall_,
they said, and would eat both us and our horses, but I comforted myself
with the fact that I had in my company a man who belonged to a family
tribe living near the boundary of the land we were to visit. Ganindali
was also acquainted with one of the neighbouring tribes. Besides, I had
with me a “civilised” black, on whom I could place considerable

On leaving Herbert Vale in the morning the old women took leave of us in
a horrible manner, crying and groaning because their friends were going
to a dangerous land; there is, however, an old saying that you must not
take evil omens from old women.

We followed Herbert river in a north-western direction, and at noon
rested on the river bank. Just as we were ready to continue our journey,
we were overtaken by a violent thunderstorm. Before the rainy season
begins thunder-showers are frequent, and come on very suddenly,
sometimes attended by terrific winds. Flashes of lightning and peals of
thunder came almost simultaneously. My men at once sought shelter under
the trees, and they could not comprehend why I stood in the open field
and got wet. Strange to say, the natives have no fear of thunder and
lightning, which they say are very angry with the trees but do not kill
the blacks. Though many trees are seen splintered by lightning, they do
not understand that it is dangerous for them to seek shelter under them
in a thunderstorm.



We went up along the river as far as it was possible to ride, and
crossed it three times. In some places it was a raging torrent, while in
others it flowed quietly, but the large stones on the bottom always made
the crossing difficult, and twice I had to unload the baggage and let
the natives carry it. For the sake of convenience I was lightly clad,
wearing simply a shirt, shoes, and round my waist a belt in which I
carried my revolver. I also tried to go barefooted like the natives, but
I had to give it up, for the stones, heated by the sun, burned my feet.
Sometimes the river formed large basins, in which the water was deep,
dark, and still, as in a pond. These the crocodiles like to frequent.

The farther we ascended the narrower the valley became, and at last it
was impassable for horses. So we made a camp, where we left the horses,
distributing the baggage among the natives. Our aim now was to find a
little tribe with which Ganindali was acquainted, and which I hoped
would be of service to us in hunting the boongary.

I observed with interest how my men acted in order to discover these
people. They sought out every trace to be found, took notice of broken
branches and bark, or of stones that were turned, or of a little moss
that had been rubbed off; in short, of everything that would escape a
white man’s attention, and which he hardly would understand if his
attention were drawn to it.

The keen ability of the Australian to find and follow traces seems to be
unique, and doubtless surpasses even that of the North American Indians.
The white population has been greatly benefited by this sleuth-hound
talent of theirs, which has rendered valuable service in the discovery
of murderers. A black tracker of the native police can pursue a trace at
full gallop.

The first day we did not succeed in finding the above tribe, but we saw
several of their deserted camps. The natives do not destroy their
primitive huts when they change their abode, but outside the camp they
leave a palm leaf to indicate to their friends in what direction they
have gone. By the aid of these signals we finally got on the sure track
of the strange tribe. At one of these camps we also found a dingo that
had run away from its owner. As it might prove useful to us, we fed it,
and thus persuaded it to go with us.



Not until the afternoon of the third day did we approach the little
tribe. The natives showed me smoke not far away. As usual, I sent a
couple of men in advance to announce our arrival. The strangers were
reserved and silent, as they usually are the first time they come in
contact with the white man. Some tribes are less cautious on such
occasions, and they are in the habit of feeling him all over his body to
assure themselves that he is a human being.

On entering the camp I noticed a few women, who sat beating fruits,
while two or three of the older men were busy plaiting baskets. The
young men were lying down doing nothing.

As soon as the natives became acquainted with my purpose, they were so
polite that they sent a message to an old man who lived in the
neighbourhood, and had the reputation of being a most skilful boongary
hunter. We had to wait for the old man about a day, and this time I
spent in the camp with these children of nature. Here they lived
uninfluenced by any form of civilisation, uncontaminated by the
corruption which always manifests itself when the natives have had
intercourse with white men. It was nature in her pristine state, and it
is this kind of savage which it is most profitable to study. Nor are
these blacks as dangerous as those who have become familiar with the
white man’s customs and character.

The men sleep late in the morning, for they do not care to go out before
ten or eleven o’clock, when the dew has left the grass. The first task
of the women in the morning is to kindle a fire, which is always built
at the entrance to the hut, where the family gradually assemble. They
seat themselves in the ashes, stretch themselves a long time, and spend
half an hour in scraping and scratching their bodies, a favourite
occupation when they sit round the fire. When the men are thoroughly
awake they reach out for the baskets, which are filled with tobola,
kadjera, or perchance with the remnants of a roasted wallaby. What the
blacks are unable to eat on the spot is put away, and may be kept for
one or two days. Meat is slightly roasted for this purpose, or it may be
preserved in water. Then the women and the children go out to gather
fruits, while the men proceed on some hunting expedition or to look for
honey. Every day, when it does not rain, the Australian must have his
hunt; even the natives who are sufficiently civilised to be employed in
the native police force feel this necessity so strongly that they
occasionally take off their clothes and make an expedition with the
tomahawk. When they return in the afternoon the inevitable fires are at
once built; some of them lie down to sleep, while others chat a little
and wait for the women to come back with fruits. Some one of the old men
may go to work at a basket on which he is engaged.

The women come home late in the afternoon, and then have their hands
full preparing the poisonous plants, but they never work late in the
evening. If they have brought much they leave it until the next day. All
now enjoy a _dolce far niente_ after the more or less fatiguing work of
the day. There is nothing to tax their brains, and they have no cares.
They have no concern about the morrow or for the future in general. But
few words are spoken. They feel somewhat anxious for their lives when
night drops her curtain upon the camp, but gradually the whole family
falls asleep, and nothing is heard save the melancholy buzzing of
insects in the profound silence of the scrubs.

A little before sundown the next day the old man arrived, accompanied by
his two good-looking, well-fed wives. He was one of the oldest men in
the tribe and was highly respected. As soon as they entered the camp
they seated themselves with crossed legs, but said nothing. When they
had rested a while the old man ordered out his wives to find palm leaves
for a hut, which was built in a few minutes. To show us that we were
welcome, they sent a present, consisting of two large baskets, to our
camp, which we had made close by. It was an act of politeness which my
blacks expected, and had mentioned to me in advance. The baskets were
very nice, in fact admirable specimens of native handiwork (see p. 190).

In this strange tribe there were two little boys who pleased me
particularly. They took a deep interest in me and my camp, and they were
not afraid to approach me. They were also very accommodating. I was
astonished to find them so obliging and kind, but I have since seen
other instances of a similar kind. The black children are not, upon the
whole, as bad as one might suppose, considering their education, in
which their wills are never resisted. The mother is always fond of her
child, and I have often admired her patience with it. She constantly
carries it with her at first in a basket, but later on, when it is big
enough, on her shoulders, where either she supports it with her hand or
else the child holds itself fast by its mother’s head. Thus she carries
it with her till it is several years old. If the child cries she may
perhaps get angry, but she will never allow herself to strike it. The
children are never chastised either by the father or the mother.

An acquaintance of mine, who had associated extensively with the blacks,
once gave a naughty child a box on the ear, at which the mother became
very much excited, and said, “There was no use in striking the child. He
was only a little fellow, not big enough.”

Before the children are big enough to hold a pipe in their mouth they
are permitted to smoke, and the mother will share her pipe with the
nursing babe.

The children always belong to the tribe of their father, but are fonder
of their mother than of their father. When grown up they rarely mention
him, in fact oftentimes do not know who he is; for the women frequently
change husbands. The father may also be good to the child, and he
frequently carries it, takes it in his lap, pats it, searches its hair,
plays with it, and makes little boomerangs which he teaches it to throw.
He however, prefers boys to girls, and does not pay much attention to
the latter. The children play all day long, build mounds, draw figures
in the sand, throw boomerangs, etc.

Thus they grow up in perfect freedom, and are never punished. As soon as
they can walk they acquire the manners and habits of their elders, but
the boys are not permitted to go hunting with their fathers before they
are nine years old. Little boys are treated like grown men, or to speak
more correctly, the Australian never becomes a man, the father being in
thought and deed as much a child as the son.

When the men are in camp their chief occupation, providing they do not
sleep, is to make weapons, and particularly to plait baskets. It was
interesting to observe their marvellous skill in this work. Only the men
plait baskets—the women never—and they are proud of exhibiting the most
beautiful specimens of their handiwork.

The basket varies in size, but the shape is usually the same, more or
less oval, narrow at the top and broad at the bottom. The material
consists almost exclusively of the branches of the lawyer-palm, which
are split with the aid of the teeth into thin slender strings, and these
are scraped smooth and even with clam-shells and stones. The baskets are
made wonderfully fine and strong, and are often painted with red,
yellow, or white ochre, and sometimes with stripes or dots of human
blood, which the maker takes from his own arm. The basket is carried by
a handle made of the same material, and hangs down the back. The handle
is placed against the forehead, so that the weight of the basket rests
on the head of the person carrying it, as the blacks do not like to
carry anything in their hands.



We arose early in the morning to hunt the boongary; for we had a long
day’s march before us to the place where this animal was said to be
found in great numbers. I did not expect anybody but the old man and one
or two of the blacks to accompany me, but we were joined by the whole
tribe, so that we were a large party as we proceeded across the
table-land. At noon we discovered in the distance a series of scrub-clad
hills rising one above the other, and these we were to reach in the
evening. The men and I then took a circuitous route through a scrub,
while the women, carrying the provisions and the men’s weapons, went
directly to the place where we were to pitch our camp for the night. On
their journeys the natives seldom carry their provisions with them, but
depend for their subsistence on what they can find on the way. They
therefore take different routes, not very wide apart, and assemble in
the evening in the place agreed upon for a camp, bringing with them the
opossums, lizards, eggs, honey, and whatever else they may have
collected during the day.

The only result of our march was a considerable amount of honey, which
we found near the top of a high tree, which from its character the
natives believed to be hollow all the way down to the root. The honey
would in that case have fallen to the bottom and been wasted if they had
attempted to gather it in the usual way—by cutting a hole in the trunk.
They therefore borrowed my axe to fell the large tree, which was more
than three feet in diameter, and of very hard wood. They worked very
industriously for an hour and a half, taking turns at chopping down the
gigantic tree, and they did not rest till it fell. This may serve as an
illustration of the perseverance and energy of the otherwise indolent
and lazy Australian native while pursuing any game that he has


    BLOOD (¼ size).

They were well rewarded for their trouble. The great amount of honey
found in this tree astonished me, and it had a fine flavour and in spite
of the excessive heat was solid and cool. The natives brought the
greater part of the honey to a brook close by, and not having any trough
at hand, they mixed the old and the new honey with water in the most
primitive manner. They laid the honey in a hollow rock near the stream,
and scooped water into it with both hands, afterwards stirring it. Then
they all sat down round the “flowing bowl,” and with tufts of fine grass
growing near, they soon emptied the hollow rock.

Upon our arrival at the camp the women were sitting on the green grass
round a little fire. A strange tribe had come to the camp, who were
friendly to my companions. All were as lazy as possible; some lying on
their backs, others sitting still and gazing vacantly into space, while
a few were engaged in conversation. The women had told the strange tribe
about the arrival of the white man, and had of course made great boasts
of the tobacco and provisions which he carried with him. They were very
proud of having him with their own tribe, but had not made the slightest
preparations for building huts nor even gathered palm leaves. As soon as
we came the women began to bestir themselves, for the sun was already
setting. The strange tribe, and many of those who had come with me,
encamped on the one side of the valley, while my men and I pitched our
camp on the other side.

It was an excellent locality for hunting the boongary, and not so
difficult to penetrate as the scrubs in the mountains. Our semi-wild
dingo was utterly useless, and I had no person with me whom it would
follow; but I was now accompanied by so large a number of natives that I
still looked for good results.

In the scrubs here I shot a very remarkable specimen of a phalanger,
which has since been described by the name of _Pseudochirus lemuroides_,
because it bears a certain resemblance to the lemurs of Madagascar; its
tail is not smooth on the under side, as in the other members of this
family, but is nearly entirely covered with hair. In some respects it
unites the characteristics of the phalanger proper with the
pseudochirus, and thus possibly forms a new sub-genus, _Hemibelideus_.
The natives call it _yabby_. They first attempted to kill it in the
usual way—by climbing the trees and throwing sticks at it. The animal is
not very shy, but when disturbed it runs rapidly out upon the branches,
so that it is difficult for a native to kill it unless he has one or two
of his companions to hinder it escaping on to the neighbouring trees.
The natives kill all phalangers in this manner. In order to end the
chase the natives shouted to me and asked me to shoot it. It fell from
the branch, but remained for a moment suspended by the tail before it
dropped down dead. When they saw the animal fall from so great a height
they broke out in shouts of wonderment, and this event was for a long
time the leading subject of conversation among them. It proved to be a
female with a remarkably large young one, entirely covered with hair, in
her pouch. The young one, which had also received a fatal shot, was
nearly half the size of its mother. Although it was midsummer, the
animal had a full coat of hair on its beautiful skin. I have found no
marsupials of this kind since, and the two above described are the only
specimens that have hitherto been shot. The _Pseudochirus lemuroides_ is
not found in the part of the Coast Mountains lying east of Gowri Creek.
We first meet with it in the mountains between Gowri Creek and Herbert
river, and it increases in number as we proceed toward the north; these
two specimens were shot in a table-land scrub.


  Bolboceras rhinoceros.


  Stigmodera alternata. N.sp.


  Harald Jensen lith. Hoffensberg & Trap^ṣ Etabl.


Late one evening, after we, as usual, had encamped on both sides of the
little valley which extended down toward the river, a shout came from
the other camp that hostile natives were heard in the grass on the other
side of the river from where our camp was situated. My companions arose
at once and cried _Kolle! mal!_—that is, Hush! man!

I was so accustomed to the imaginary fears of the natives in the evening
that I did not pay much attention to their alarm, but a few moments
later I too thought I heard voices in the distance. No sooner had my men
discovered my suspicion than they called over to the other camp,
“_Mami_[11] also hears.” There was now a stillness so profound that a
leaf falling to the ground might have been heard. For my part I
attributed the suspicious sound to the trees rubbing against each other
in the evening breeze. My opinion was at once reported to the other
camp; but the natives there were not to be quieted; they still heard
voices, and after a short time a number of young men, followed by
children crying with all their might, came to me: all were very much
frightened. I was obliged to rise and fire two shots in the pitchy
darkness of the night; this quieted my men, and they even expressed
their sympathy for their comrades in the other camp, where there reigned
the stillness of death, and where an old man stood guard during the
whole night. From what I afterwards learned I am persuaded that we had
actually heard the voices of a hostile tribe, which in all probability
would have attacked us had I not frightened them away with my shooting.
How little it takes to demonstrate the superiority of a civilised man
over the savage!

Footnote 11:

  _Mami_, which means a great man, is the same name as the natives give
  to the officers of the native police. Thus they gave me the highest
  title of which they had any knowledge.

I found it useless to remain here any longer. There were but few traces
of boongary to be seen, and the natives had, during the whole time,
evinced little disposition to hunt them, partly because the animals were
so scarce, and partly because we did not have dogs. My men, however, had
much to say of a more distant “land,” where they claimed there were
_komórbory_ (many) boongary. They were, however, afraid to accompany me
thither, on account of strange tribes. Nevertheless I determined to
visit this “land,” but as not one of my people would admit that he was
acquainted with it, I had to try to find a guide among natives who had
friends there. This proved to be a far more difficult task than I had
supposed. I offered provisions, I offered tobacco—but all in vain. All
thought it was sheer madness to attempt to go there, for they were
afraid of the strangers whom they had heard that night.

I tried to make a friend of the old boongary hunter, and gave him
something to eat. Before meeting me he had tasted neither salt beef nor
damper, and he had become exceedingly fond of both. He ate with a
ravenous appetite, but stubbornly refused to accede to my wishes. After
much parleying I at length succeeded in inducing one of them to go with
me by giving him a shirt and the promise of much tobacco and much food
if he procured a boongary. To make sure of him I gave the old hunter,
who had considerable influence over him, a large piece of meat, and
requested him to encourage my new guide to stand by his purpose and go
with me.

The old man kept but a very small piece for himself, and with the
liberality peculiar to the Australian native, generously distributed the
rest in all directions for the purpose of enhancing his influence in the
tribe. The Australian native is by nature lavish, and when he bestows
gifts he does it liberally. Thus when a civilised black man returns with
his master to the station after a prolonged journey he shows great
liberality to his comrades, who then gather round him. His new clothes
are freely distributed, and after a few hours one black may be seen
wearing his trousers, another his spurs, a third his hat, etc., while he
himself frequently retains nothing but the shirt.

The black man whom I had persuaded to go with me was related to one of
my men, Yanki. He was Yanki’s _Otero_. In the tribes the words _otĕro_,
_gorgĕro_, _gorilla_, and _gorgorilla_ are found, which designate
various kinds of relations. Sometimes a man would be called _otero_ or
_gorgero_ without the addition of any other name, and still everybody
knew who was meant. There are similar words to designate female
relatives, in which case the termination _ingan_ is substituted for the
final _o_ or _a_, thus _oteringan_, _gorgeringan_, etc.

Doubtless these appellations are in some way connected with the
matrimonial system of the natives, but I have never been able to get to
the bottom of this subject. The natives were either unwilling or unable
to give me a satisfactory explanation, while the men, contrary to what
has been experienced in other places, made no objections to telling me
their own or the women’s names, or who was their _otero_, etc. As a rule
the members of Australian communities are divided into four classes, and
according to the Australian author Mr. E. M. Curr, the object of this
division is to prevent the intermarriage of relatives, a thing for which
the Australian natives appear to have the greatest abhorrence.

Yanki was exceedingly amiable to his _otero_, and was very happy that he
was to be one of my party. Yanki was to share his bed and his tobacco
with him, and they were to have a very nice time together. And now the
rest of my men were willing to accompany me. Happy at the result, I gave
small pieces of meat to those who were not going with me, and we parted
the best of friends.

It did not escape my observation that during all these negotiations the
blacks kept consulting an old woman. She took a very serious part in the
discussion, and gave the most positive advice not to accompany me
because _mal_ had been so near to us that night. The reason why the
natives consulted her I do not know. It may be that she was skilful in
procuring human flesh and other food. The Australian native has a
certain respect for old women, provided the latter are not too old to be
useful. The instinct of the blacks for finding food seems to increase
with their years, the fact being, I suppose, that they have the
advantage of experience. Old women usually take part in the hunting of
human game, and they even find means of supporting those of their sex
who are too old to leave the camp and seek food for themselves. Were
this not the case the men would certainly soon get these old women out
of the way; for the Australian does not hesitate to remove anything
which is an obstacle to him. But these old women are far from being
superfluous. I have often seen strong young men appeal to them for food,
and their requests have been granted.

As we were proceeding across the grassy plain my men suddenly shouted,
_Boongary! boongary!_ and started off after an animal which disappeared
behind a grassy hill. They soon returned with empty hands, but they were
convinced that they had seen a boongary. I expressed my surprise at its
being found on the grassy plain; but the natives assured me that it
moved about a great deal, and made long journeys across the table-land
from one scrub to the other.

                              CHAPTER XVI

  Wild landscape on the Upper Herbert—_Kvingan_, the devil of the
      blacks—A fatal eel—Mourning dress—Flight of the blacks—A
      compromise—Christmas Eve—Lonely—Christmas fare—A “faithful”
      relative—A welcome wallaby.

The season was already so far advanced that it was out of the question
to get back to my headquarters before Christmas. The new “land,” which
we reached after a short time, presented a grand, wild, and romantic
aspect. We descended from the table-land and suddenly got sight of
Herbert river, flowing dark and restless far down in the depths below.

We followed the bend of the river to the east, walking on a ledge of the
steep mountain nearly a thousand feet above the level of the water.
Below us the mountain presented a wild, broken mass, while above it was
overgrown with dense scrubs. Near the chief bend of the river we made
our camp by the side of a mountain brook which plunged down over the
precipice. It was no easy matter to find a place for a camp here, for it
was a spot on which a person could scarcely lie in a horizontal

The natives had some strange superstitions in regard to this place. In
the depths below dwelt a monster, _Yamina_, which ate men, and of which
the natives stood in mortal fear. No one dared to sleep down there.
Blacks who had attempted to do so had been eaten, and once, when a dance
had been held there, some persons had been lost. I proposed to take a
walk thither, but they simply shrugged their shoulders and did not
answer. A gun would be of no use they said, for the monster was

It was _Kvingan_, their evil spirit, who chiefly haunted this spot. His
voice was often heard of an evening or at night from the abyss or from
the scrubs. I made the discovery that the strange melancholy voice which
they attributed to the spirit belonged to a bird which could be heard at
a very great distance. But I must admit that it is the most mysterious
bird’s voice that I have ever heard, and it is not strange that a people
so savage as the Australian natives should have formed superstitious
notions in regard to it. _Kvingan_ is found in the most inaccessible
mountain regions, and I have heard it not only here but also in the
adjoining districts. During these moonlight nights I tried several times
to induce the natives to go with me to shoot the bird, but it was, of
course, blasphemous to propose such a thing, and their consent was out
of the question.

At other times, when they spoke of their evil spirit, I found that it
manifested itself in a cicada. Their notions in regard to their evil
spirit appeared to be very much confused. This insect, the cicada,
produces in the summer a very shrill sound in the tree-tops, but it is
impossible to discover it by the sound. It is this loud shrill sound,
which comes from every direction, and which is not to be traced to any
particular place, that has evidently given rise to superstitious ideas
concerning it.

In the south-eastern part of Australia the evil spirit of the natives is
called _Bunjup_, a monster which is believed to dwell in the lakes. It
has of late been supposed that this is a mammal of considerable size
that has not yet been discovered. It may be added that the devil in
various parts of Australia is described as a monster with countless eyes
and ears, so that he is able to see and hear in all directions. He has
sharp claws, and can run so fast that it is difficult to escape him. He
is cruel, and spares no one either young or old. The reason that the
natives so frequently move their camp is, no doubt, owing to the fact
that they are anxious to avoid the devil, who constantly discovers where
they are. At times he is supposed to reveal himself to the older and
more experienced men in the tribe, who accordingly are highly esteemed.
The natives on the Gulf of Carpentaria say that the devil’s lips are
fastened by a string to his forehead.

With the exception of the instance already described,[12] I never heard
of any effort being made by the natives to propitiate the wrath of this
evil being. They simply have a superstitious fear of it and of the
unknown generally.

Footnote 12:

  Page 136.



We searched the scrubs in the vicinity thoroughly, and found many traces
of boongary in the trees, but they were all old. The animal had been
exterminated by the natives. It could be hunted more easily here, for
the reason that the lawyer-palm is rare, and consequently the woods are
less dense. The natives told me that their “old men” in former times had
killed many boongary in these woods on the table-land.

Two of my men brought to the camp a very large eel, about as thick as a
man’s arm and very long. They had found it dead, for the sun had dried
up the puddle in which it had lived. This was enough to keep me from
tasting it; but the blacks were very much excited about it. It was
prepared in the same refined manner as the chief delicacies of the

Several of my companions were not old enough to be permitted to enjoy
the privilege of tasting it. Others wearing yellow necklaces as an
emblem of sorrow were also forbidden to eat of this aristocratic food.
These necklaces consist, as above stated, of short-cut pieces of yellow
grass strung on a string long enough to go round the neck ten to twelve
times. Sometimes they are worn as ornaments by both men and women. While
in mourning the Australian natives carefully abstain from certain kinds
of food, and it was a surprise to me that they could maintain this fast
so well as they did; but at last I found out that the reason for this
was a superstitious notion that the forbidden food, if eaten, would burn
up their bowels. They are very happy when the season of mourning is
ended, and although they have but vague notions of time, they know
precisely when they may lay aside their mourning dress—that is, the
yellow necklace. I have also seen the women paint their bodies with
chalk while they are in mourning. Near Rockhampton the blacks used to
cut themselves with stones or tomahawks; the women besides paint round
their eyes with white chalk. On the Barcoo I once met two women who had
their whole head plastered over with the same kind of stuff, which they
wear for weeks.

Their sorrow for the dead is not very deep; they chant their funeral
dirge for several evenings, but this is simply a formal respect paid the
deceased. I have many times heard these melancholy mourning tunes in the
silent night. The same strophe—for example, _Wainta, bēmo, bémo, yongool
naiko?_ (Where is my brother’s son, the only one I had?)—was continually
repeated. As a rule, the old women furnished the lamentations.

In the vicinity of Coomooboolaroo in Central Queensland an old woman
exhibited her sorrow at the deathbed of her husband in a very singular
manner. Having made a series of breakneck somersaults along the ground,
she took two pieces of wood and beat them together in despair. Her
husband died soon afterwards, and in a quarter of an hour he was buried.

During the days of mourning the deceased is rarely mentioned, and when
the yellow necklace has been laid aside his name is never heard again.
This is doubtless the reason why the Australian natives have no
traditions. Many of them do not even know their father, and any
knowledge of earlier generations is out of the question. Strange
thoughts came to my mind as I walked the scrub paths which the blacks
had trodden with their naked feet for centuries. Here generation had
succeeded generation without a thought in regard to the past, and with
no care in reference to the future, living only for the present moment.

In the evening, after the eel had been consumed, the natives laid
themselves round the fire and enjoyed rest after the toils of the day.
It was late, and I thought my men were sleeping. The beaming rays of the
full moon illuminated the romantic landscape. Now and then the silence
was broken by the mysterious notes of that singular night bird, the evil
spirit of the natives. Suddenly two of the natives arose, came to my
hut, and said: “We must depart, a great water will rise here; this is
not a good place to remain in!”

I remained perfectly calm and quiet in my hut, and expressed my contempt
for their silly notions. I answered that they might go if they pleased,
but that I would stay where I was. My opinion was that they would remain
with me. But presently they all got up, and pointing with their open
hands to the two persons who had eaten the eel, they said that these men
best understood the dangers connected with this place.

The fact was, of course, that they had become ill from eating the eel,
which had died a natural death. They now cursed the place by spitting in
all directions. The others followed their example, and immediately
thereupon they all proceeded up the mountain slope, spitting all the
time. I hoped they would return, but in this I was disappointed.

At length I came to the conclusion that it would be best for me to
follow them, lest they should leave me altogether. In that case my
situation would be a most deplorable one; for, although I had abundance
of tobacco, my supply of provisions was very low, and without the aid of
the natives I would be unable to get the necessaries of life. Game is
scarce in this part of the world, and the vegetables are either
uneatable or of very poor quality. All I had in my possession was a
small piece of meat and a handful or two of flour, scarcely enough for a
small damper.

I arose and climbed after them up a grassy and stony slope extending to
the top of the mountain along the scrub. The moon shone bright and
clear, so that it was not difficult to find the path. I called to them,
but they did not answer. Finally I reached the summit, and there I
caught sight of them. They sat crouched together under a casuarina-tree,
and were utterly speechless. They had actually intended to run away. But
when they heard me calling they decided to wait, in order that I might
join them and go to the “land” we had left. This place was evidently too
full of _Kvingan_.

I refused, however, to go, and threatened to return to Herbert Vale and
get the black police to deal with the matter, and they, I said, would
hunt them for months and shoot them. On the other hand, I used kind
words and promised them much tobacco, the only thing I had left worth
mentioning. Without guides I could not, of course, continue my journey.
We finally compromised the matter. I agreed that we should all sleep on
the summit of the mountain, but, on the other hand, they were to go with
me down to the camp to fetch our baggage. Strange to say, they made no
objections to this proposition. Their main object was to avoid sleeping
down in the valley.

On our return to the camp we found that the dingo had availed himself of
the opportunity of stealing the small piece of meat I had left. All
agreed that he should suffer for this mischief, but unfortunately he was
nowhere to be found.

The next day we came into a wild region abounding in scrubs and
declivities. Progress was most difficult, and it was almost impossible
to find a place suitable for a camp. _Otero_, who knew the country,
conducted us at last to a small flat spot near the upper edge of the
scrub. Here there was a little brook, though, upon the whole, water was
very scarce in this region. We remained here several days. I had never
before seen so many fresh traces of boongary, and the natives did their
best to secure specimens of the animal in this terrible locality; but we
had no dog, for the tribes we had visited had none, and the want of dogs
was a great misfortune. Still we were not discouraged. It must, however,
be admitted that the blacks did not feel perfectly safe in this region:
_mal_ was not very far away. We could see smoke on the mountains very
distinctly, when they burned the grass to hunt the wallaby.

One day, as we were rambling through the scrubs, we heard somebody
chopping with an axe in the distance. _Otero_ climbed a tree in order to
give a signal to the persons chopping, for he was acquainted with the
tribe that owned this “land.” He shouted at the top of his voice, the
chopping ceased, and a shout was heard from the distance.

_Otero_ shouted: _Ngipa ngipa Ka-au-ri!_—that is, I—I [am] Ka-au-ri!

My blacks had already comprehended the situation. The man whom we had
heard chopping was out in search of honey, and from this they at once
made up their minds as to where his camp was, for the natives usually
have regular places for camping. They also discovered his name, for they
knew whose land it was. Where the women of the tribe were, and what they
were doing, my men also seemed to know; for it was the season for
harvesting a certain kind of fruit, and they knew where this fruit grew
most abundantly.

In other parts of Australia I have seen the people make signals with
fires, indicating by the number of columns of smoke in what direction
they intended to go, etc. It is said that they can also make themselves
understood by the inflection of the words shouted.

It was Christmas Eve, and in honour of the day I had requested my men to
do their best to procure me something good to eat. I had promised them
twice the usual amount of tobacco if they were successful.

I was sitting all alone by my hut. A strange feeling came over me as I
pondered on the fact that it was Christmas Eve, and that I was in the
midst of an Australian forest and far away from the borders of
civilisation. The summer sun had clad the neighbouring hills with a
heavy carpet of green, the gloomy scrubs below had the appearance of a
boundless sea, and the sun shone in all its effulgence on the fresh
colours. On the summit of the mountain where I was sitting it was
somewhat cooler than in the bottom of the valley, where the heat was
oppressive. There was not a breath of air stirring, and the entire
landscape presented a scene of refreshing repose. In the tree-tops the
cicadas vociferously chanted the praises of the midsummer. All was light
and cheerful,—if we had only had something to eat!

All I had was a piece of bread; rather slender fare for Christmas. In
the afternoon the natives returned, bringing a few pieces of a rare root
called _vondo_, some honey, and a few white larvæ. But the nicest
present they brought me was an animal, which I had not seen before. The
natives called it _borrogo_. It is a marsupial of a brownish-yellow
colour, and about the size of a small cat. My _menu_ therefore was:
broiled borrogo, a small piece of bread, broiled vondo, and honey mixed
with water. The food was not to be complained of, the only trouble being
that there was not enough for so many people as we were. I could not
help thinking of all the kettles in which delicious rice porridge was
now boiling in far-off Norway. What would I not have given for a plate
of it!

Thus it will be seen that it is no easy matter to sustain life in the
wilds of North Australia, when one has to depend upon what he can find
in the woods and on the plains. The fare of the Australian native is not
well adapted to the wants of the constitution of a European. The flesh
of the marsupials has a sickly taste, while talegallas and pigeons, the
best game to be had, are rare. Lizards are not bad, but snakes are dry
and tasteless. There are only one or two kinds of fruits or roots that
can be eaten with appetite. One of them is the above-mentioned vondo,
which grows in sandy soil on the summit of the scrub-clad mountains, has
a stem as slender as a thread, and climbs the trees; hence is difficult
for any one but a native to find it. A fig called _yanki_, which is
yellowish in colour and semi-transparent, has an excellent flavour, but
it is so rare that I did not see it more than a single time during my
whole sojourn in Northern Queensland. Another variety of fig, _veera_,
grows on the grassy plains and is more common.

One evening a dingo came stealing into the camp, and we soon discovered
that it was our old runaway rogue who had abused our hospitality in so
shameful a manner. The natives eagerly besought me to shoot it, and
although I had a faint hope that it might be of some use to me, I
finally yielded to their entreaties, and to their great satisfaction
made the dingo suffer the penalty of death.

On our march through the scrub I heard _Otero_ tell one of his comrades,
that in that very place he had once seen a boongary jump from a tree
down on the ground and then disappear. He pointed out the tree. This
report made me still more eager, but all our exertions were in vain.
Meanwhile we secured a few other specimens of Australian fauna, and
among them four little flying-squirrels (_Petaurus breviceps_), which we
found lying together in a hollow tree.

It was still very difficult to secure a sufficient amount of food; and
when _Otero_ one day suddenly absconded, remaining longer was out of the
question, for the others were all strangers in this “land,” and hence
they felt unsafe and were anxious to get home.

The one who, next after me, had the most cause to be vexed at _Otero’s_
flight was Yanki, his faithful relative. Yanki had on all occasions
devoted himself to his _Otero_—had shared with him his food, his
tobacco, and all other good things he had. Despite his innocent looks,
_Otero_ had now run away, and he had also taken Yanki’s shirt with him.
His conduct was most disgraceful, and it illustrates how little the
Australian blacks are to be depended on.

I persuaded the others to remain here one day longer, and promised them
to shoot a wallaby when we reached the grassy plain. But they were of
but little service to me after we had lost our guide, and we were
obliged to leave, to get something to eat, if for no other reason.

We had to take a zigzag course to reach the bottom of Herbert river
valley, so steep was the descent. A rock-wallaby ran across our path and
disappeared at once. At noon we passed the great falls of the river, and
made a short halt in their vicinity. The surroundings were exceedingly
wild and romantic, but I confess I was too hungry to enjoy the imposing
scenery. Then we followed the course of the river, and walked as fast as
we were able in the high grass. All nature seemed to be fast asleep. We
did not see a sign of life as we walked along the bank of the river in
the scorching heat of the sun and in the tall grass. The only sound I
heard was the roar of the waterfall thundering among the mountains in
the distance. It has been said that an Australian landscape breathes
melancholy, and the truth of this statement is fully appreciated by a
person who, on a day like this, wanders amid these sober, awe-inspiring
gum-trees and acacias. One’s mind cannot help being overcome by a sense
of solitude and desertion.

One or two hours before sunset and early in the morning the wallabies
are in the habit of coming out to feed on the grass, and at such times
it is not very difficult to get within shooting range of them; but on
this particular evening they were very shy. The few that we got sight of
disappeared again, thus frustrating all hopes of getting a good supper
that night.

It was late and perfectly dark when we arrived at our old camp, where we
had left our horses. I had been prudent enough to save a small piece of
bread for myself, and I would have preferred as usual to share it with
my men, but it was not enough to divide, and besides, I knew that the
natives were able to endure hunger far better than I was.

As they had nothing to eat, I gave them a little tobacco, in order that
they might have some comfort; but they put it away without smoking it,
and soon laid themselves down by the fire to sleep the time away—a
common habit of the blacks when it, for instance in the wet season, is
difficult to secure food to allay their hunger.

We had left the horses in a place enclosed by nature in such a manner
that they could not get away. It would, therefore, be an easy matter to
find them, provided they had not been killed by the natives during our
long absence. There was reason to suspect this, and we were agreeably
surprised when, in the darkness of the night, we heard the tinkling of
the bell, and the next morning found them all safe and sound.

Before sunrise the next morning Ganindali and I set out to hunt the
wallaby, and near the camp we discovered a large number feeding on the
grass, and shot two of them. Ganindali brought one to the camp, and
asked one of his comrades to fetch the other, while he and the rest
began to cook the first. This produced life in the camp! Within two
minutes a splendid fire was burning. One of the animals was thrown upon
the burning embers, and was turned by its long tail. Ganindali acted as
chief cook. When the hair was scorched off the skin, the animal was
dragged out of the fire. The belly was opened with a sharp stone, and
the entrails were drawn out. Four red-hot stones replaced the bowels,
and the animal was placed on the cinders. As soon as it was tolerably
well roasted, the blacks attacked it most greedily and tore it into

Before long they had eaten their fill of the juicy meat; then they ran
down to the river, waded a little way into the stream, and drank from
the hollow of their hands. Having quenched their thirst, they returned
in a leisurely way to the camp and resumed their eating. Then they sat
down round the fire and began lighting their pipes. But they did not
want to light their pipes with embers from the fire; they demanded
matches. I did not as a rule give them matches when we sat round a
blazing fire, but now, as our journey was nearly at an end, I did not
begrudge them the pleasure of lighting their pipes in the same manner as
the white man does, and of hearing the crack of a match. Meanwhile I,
too, had finished my supper, and the unsavoury kangaroo flesh had a most
excellent flavour on this occasion.

                              CHAPTER XVII

  A wedding—Love among the Australian natives—My first meeting with
      Yokkai—Big eaters—An accident—Left alone with Yokkai—A difficult
      descent—Return to Herbert Vale—A new beetle—Friends of the

On our return to Herbert Vale after a month’s absence the old keeper
gave me an unusually friendly reception. He said he had repeatedly been
on the point of sending some blacks to look for me, as he feared I might
have been attacked by the natives.

I experienced great satisfaction in being able to sleep comfortably and
safely once more.

The next day two natives came down from the mountains and reported that
the blacks with two dogs “were killing and eating a lot of boongary up
there.” The result was that I had to be off again, and I made haste to
gather men and provisions; but the next day, just as we were ready to
start, it began to rain. I feared that the rainy season had set in, and
in that case it would be impossible to undertake an expedition. The
rainy season usually lasts from three to four months, with slight
interruptions, in Northern Queensland, generally commencing in January,
and we were now at the beginning of this month. After a day or two,
however, the rain ceased, and we started on our journey.

Near Herbert Vale I had the good fortune to be able to witness a
marriage among the blacks. A camp of natives was just at the point of
breaking up, when an old man suddenly approached a woman, seized her by
the wrist of her left hand and shouted, _Yongul ngipa!_—that is, This
one belongs to me (literally “one I”). She resisted with feet and hands,
and cried, but he dragged her off, though she made resistance during the
whole time and cried at the top of her voice. For a mile away we could
hear her shrieks. I jokingly asked some of my men if they did not want
to help her, but they simply laughed at me. There had long been gossip
about this match. What was now happening was simply the public
declaration of the marriage, and there are no other wedding ceremonies.
In this instance the match was a very appropriate one. He was a widower,
she a widow. But the women always make resistance, for they do not like
to leave their tribe, and in many instances they have the best of
reasons for kicking their lovers. If a man thinks he is strong enough,
he will take hold of any woman’s hand and utter his _yongul ngipa_. If a
woman is good-looking, all the men want her, and the one who is most
influential, or who is the strongest, is accordingly generally the
victor. Thus she may happen to change husbands many times in her life,
but sometimes, despite the fact that her consent is not asked, she gets
the one she loves—for a black woman can love too,—and then she is very
happy. It not infrequently happens that women elope with men whom they
love. The black women are also capable of being jealous, and they often
have bitter quarrels about men whom they love and are anxious to marry.
If the husband is unfaithful, the wife frequently becomes greatly
enraged. However fond a man and his wife may be of each other, they are
never known to kiss each other.

The women are more fond of a handsome face than of a good figure, though
they do not despise the latter. They take particular notice of the part
of the face about the eyes, and they like to see a frank and open, or
perhaps more correctly a wild, expression of the countenance. They pay
but little attention to a man’s size.

That these blacks also may be greatly overcome by the sentiment of love
is illustrated by the following incident. A “civilised” black man
entered a station on Georgina river and carried off a woman who belonged
to a young black man at the station. She loved her paramour and was glad
to get away from the station; but the whites desired to keep her for
their black servant, as he could not be made to stay without her, and
they brought her back, threatening to shoot the stranger if he came
again. Heedless of the threat, he afterwards made a second attempt to
elope with his beloved, but the white men pursued the couple and shot
the poor fellow.

Our first camp was in a valley far up in the mountains, where we fell in
with some blacks, who had just killed a very young ornithorhynchus in a
brook which falls into Herbert river, and here we left our horses.

The next day as we proceeded up the valley we met two natives, who had
taken part in the boongary hunt which had been reported to me. My men
informed me that these two men owned one of the dogs that had been used
in the chase and it was therefore of importance to secure the attendance
of both the men and the dog. The one remained half concealed behind a
gum-tree, but kept peeping out and laughing the whole time, while the
other man stood perfectly quiet by his side. Apparently they had never
before seen a white man in this part of the country, and could not
comprehend what business I had there. I offered them food and tobacco,
and asked if they would not take their dog and come with me. They seemed
to be very anxious to do so, this being particularly the case with the
one who stood behind the tree. His name was Yokkai. Although the dog was
with a tribe far away, they offered to go and fetch it and join me as
soon as possible, so we agreed to meet on the top of the mountain.

After a few hours’ march we came to a little tribe camping near the foot
of the mountain where we hoped to find the other dog. But after the hunt
the tribe had scattered in various directions, and I was consequently
unable to secure many men. We encamped in the evening far up in the
mountain, in order to wait for the two men with the dogs. As the weather
was clear, the natives put up a hut for me alone. The strangers, who
were perfectly savage, looked at my baggage with the greatest curiosity,
and watched every motion of mine with intense interest.

Up here I saw several nests of the beautiful king-pigeon (_Megaloprepia
magnifica_). The nest is built near the outer end of a branch, and
according to the habit of the pigeons, it is constructed very
carelessly, consisting simply of a few sticks. I never found more than
one egg in these nests. How the young keep from falling down when the
wind blows is a mystery to me. The natives, who are fond of eating them,
generally shake them down.

On the summit of the mountain there were also talegallas in great
numbers. My men found several of their nests, and dug out a considerable
number of eggs from the large mounds. While the result of my hunt was of
but little consequence, the natives were perfectly happy, and burst out
in shouts of joy every time they found talegalla eggs. Once or twice we
stopped to rest, and then they fairly gorged themselves with these large
eggs. One man consumed fourteen of them in two hours, and yet he felt no
inconvenience therefrom. It was a feast day for my men.

In the course of the day Willy procured me an unusually large specimen
of mongan (_Pseudochirus herbertensis_), full grown, black as coal, with
a bright white breast and white shoulders. He was proud of his conquest,
and expected a fine lot of tobacco. Though I was very anxious to secure
the specimen, still I told him to keep it, for I wanted to make it plain
that it was boongary I was in search of.

I soon made up my mind that these big eaters were of no use to me, and I
therefore resolved to go to another tribe to find men who could be of
service to me. On my way I met the two natives with the dog. They had
put on their best clothes. One of them strutted about in a shirt, the
other wore a woman’s hat. Articles of clothing are precious ornaments in
the eyes of the blacks, and they pass from one tribe to another, from
the more “civilised,” who dwell near the settlers, to the savages who
have never come in contact with the white man. Ere long the hat was
borrowed by my men, and several of them sported this emblem of
civilisation. One of them presented a most comical figure as he strutted
before me and perspired _in puris naturalibus_, with my gun on his
shoulders and the woman’s hat aslant on his head. I could not help
thinking of all the experiences of this hat on its long and eventful
journey from its original white owner to these savages in the mountains.

When we came down to the camp of the strange tribe, Willy’s game was to
be prepared. It vexed me to see the beautiful skin scorched over the
fire, for it deserved a better fate, but this could not be helped.

I still had difficulties in securing people to assist me. In addition to
the two who owned the dog, I secured only four for the continuation of
the journey. Willy, who was well acquainted with the “land” we were to
visit, could not be persuaded to go with us. Another person whom I had
positively counted on also failed me. He and I had gone out in the
morning in order to find the horses and ride them home, but when we
dismounted he declared that he was unable either to walk or ride any
farther, and so refused to continue the journey. I became vexed at this
ridiculous excuse, but his comrades took his side and assured me that he
was wholly unable to take part in the expedition. The blacks doubtless
suffer less pain from wounds or scratches than we do, but they are
utterly lacking in endurance and in patience, and if one of them has a
crack in the skin of his toe, he is the object of everybody’s sympathy
and remains at home in the camp.

By an insignificant circumstance like this I lost another man, so that
there were only five of us when we started. After a journey of two days
we reached the summit of our hunting district, where we made our camp.
The natives were not able to find their bearings. The only exception was
Mangola-Maggi, who had twice before been with me on similar expeditions.
He was not, however, an ideal man, but a lazy cunning fellow, whose
highest ambition was to consume my provisions. Not only, therefore, was
his acquaintance with the country of no advantage to me, but on the
contrary he demoralised the others, who were lazy and silent, and
utterly indifferent to the things that interested me. It may be, too,
that they stood in more or less fear of the white man. Nor could they
understand why a man should travel so far and have so much trouble for
the sake of a boongary. The dog kept faithfully in the footsteps of its
master and did not care to chase the game.

It was also a source of great annoyance to me that I did not have
suitable shoes. My shoes were worn out, and the soles fell off, so that
I was obliged to stop several times and tie them on with bark strips of
the lawyer-palm.

The next day I sent two of the blacks away to look after the poisoned
pieces of meat, which I had laid in various places for the yarri. I
showed them a lot of tobacco, which I said I would give them if they
came back with any game. Having been assured again and again that the
other dog, “Balnglan,” which had been mentioned to me, was the only one
fit to be used, I resolved to send two other blacks to fetch it. I gave
them a lot of meat and damper, and promised them more if they brought
the dog. I showed them my whole store of provisions, in order to make
sure of their return.

Thus I was now left alone with only one of the blacks in the midst of
the dense scrubs. It was Yokkai, the above-named owner of our dog. We
spent the day in rambling about waiting for the return of the others.
Yokkai gathered fruits and I shot a talegalla, but on our return in the
evening the camp was still deserted, not even those who went to look
after the poisoned meat having returned.

In the evening Yokkai prepared tobola, and ate with all his might. I
also ate half a dozen roasted kernels, but I neglected to beat them
before doing so. An hour afterwards I was sick and chilly, and felt very
ill. I feared I had taken malarial fever, but Yokkai at once understood
that the cause of my indisposition was the fact that I had eaten the
tobola without beating it. He was right, and the next morning I was well

The four men did not return the next day, and so I was forced to the
conclusion that they had deserted me. The atmosphere was clear and hot,
but heavy and oppressive. Not a leaf was seen to stir, and the only
sound that came to my ears was the monotonous, melancholy humming of the
cicadas in the tree-tops, a sound that only served to increase the sense
of desolation. The only rational being near me was Yokkai, but it was
very difficult to make ourselves understood to each other; besides, he
was still more or less timid. It surprised me that he, too, did not find
an opportunity of stealing away. Evidently he was not sufficiently well
acquainted with these regions.

He was a well-built man, but not strong, with something almost feminine
in his looks. His forehead was very low and receding, still less so than
the average foreheads of the blacks. For a black man, he had uncommonly
beautiful eyes; hazel-brown and clear, with long eyelashes, but at times
when the light fell on them in a certain way they had a bluish tinge.
His nose had an upward tendency, and bore the marks of having once been
broken. There were distinct scars on the rest of his body. He spoke a
different dialect from that of the other blacks of Herbert Vale.

We waited and waited. Alone we could do nothing. I did not even dare use
my gun, for Yokkai might get frightened and run away.

When it became dark I had given up all hopes of my men returning. I was
left to my fate on the summit of a steep mountain difficult of access,
surrounded on all sides by dense scrubs, and thus shut out from the
world. The damp air, like that of a cellar, streamed in upon me in the
inky darkness. The only light I had came from my camp fire, and this
illuminated Yokkai’s despairing face. If he, too, deserted me, I should
have to climb down the rocks alone with my gun.

I went into my hut and tried to sleep. I then observed that my tomahawk
was not in its place, and I asked Yokkai, who had borrowed it during the
day, where he had put it. He did not know, and began to look for it.
After he had searched for it everywhere, both in-doors and out-of-doors,
and after I had given up all hopes of getting it back, he suddenly, to
my great surprise, found it in his own hut. This was rather suspicious,
and I scarcely knew what to make of it. Perhaps I misjudged Yokkai, but
I feared that my provisions—a large bag of meat—were a greater
temptation than he could bear, and I was well aware that the Australian
natives do not hesitate to sacrifice the life of a man to satisfy their
desires. Meanwhile I concealed the tomahawk, and decided to rise early
the next morning and watch him so that he might not run away.

I slept quietly that night, and rose early the next morning, and then
waked my companion, whereupon we at once got ready for the descent. I
promised him plenty of food and tobacco if he would assist me in
carrying my baggage. Strange to say, he agreed to this, and he helped me
faithfully during the whole day.

During this difficult descent I discovered that Yokkai was no common
black man, and before I reached my headquarters I had formed a very high
opinion of him. From that time he was my constant companion until I left
Herbert river, and during these many months he was of great help and
service to me; nay, he even saved my life several times, and he was at
all times faithful and devoted to me. Still I could not place full
confidence even in him, and I was always obliged to be cautious in
regard to him; for he had a flighty temperament, and I was not sure but
that his black companions might at any time persuade him to betray me,
and find some opportunity of taking my life.

Yokkai was not so lazy as the other blacks with whom I had had to deal.
Upon the whole, though active and lively, and far more frank and
emotional than the other natives, he was cunning and had a perception
quick as lightning and a good understanding. When I asked him to do
anything, he never grumbled, but was attentive and helpful, and
frequently did things without being asked to do them.

He thought the descent proceeded rather slowly, and repeatedly urged me
to quicken my steps or we would not reach the foot of the mountain
before night. But the march was a severe one. I frequently had to crawl
on my hands and feet and drag the baggage after me. Add to this, that my
boots were in the worst possible condition. Yokkai was now and then
obliged to find strips of bark with which to fasten the soles on. If we
waded across a river I had at least this advantage, that the water ran
out of my boots as fast as it came into them. Sometimes leeches would
creep in through the holes in my socks and fasten themselves between my

A short time before sunset we reached the foot of the mountain, and
having rested there, we finally arrived at the station in safety.

The rainy season had set in, but much rain had not yet fallen. Meanwhile
wet weather might be looked for any day. It was, therefore, impossible
to think of undertaking long expeditions. We might run the risk of
finding our return cut off, for the heavy rains make the rivers utterly
impassable. During this season the blacks stay on the grassy plains, and
are unwilling to visit the scrubs. The animals, and all nature for that
matter, were now one scene of restlessness. It was evident that we were
in the transition between two seasons. The birds of passage had nested,
or hatched their young, and were only waiting for cooler weather to
start for the north. The Torres-Strait pigeons (_Carpophaga spilorrhoa_)
were now very numerous, and had nests everywhere in the trees.

During the expeditions I made in the neighbourhood of the station I
succeeded in securing a number of interesting specimens for my
collection. I also shot a snipe and a white kite of the same kind as
that which I secured in Western Queensland (_Elanus axillaris_). The
blacks brought me a fine specimen of the beautiful black and white
_ngalloa_ (_Dactylopsila trivirgata_), which is as fond of honey as the
natives themselves. This rare animal, which also occurs in New Guinea,
is not found south of Herbert river.

I gathered several beautiful beetles both in the trees and in the grass.
Thus I found in the grass near Herbert river, near the end of December
1882, a beautiful beetle, a _Stigmodera_ (see coloured plate), which is
new to science. The head and the under side of the body are of a
metallic green; the thorax is nearly a purple-blue. The wing-cases are
yellow a little more than one-third from the base; the rest is dark blue
with a red band about a third of the distance from the point, the band
being narrowest at the centre. Underneath, the body has five yellow
spots on each side. The length of the beetle is one inch. I would
suggest that it be denominated _Stigmodera alternata_.

One day I observed a peculiarity of conduct, which shows what respect
the natives may have for the relations of their wives. I was walking
with one of my men in the scrub, when we discovered thousands of
flying-foxes (_Pteropus_) hanging down in long strings from the
branches. My companion urged me to shoot some of these animals for him,
though I had no use for them and did not care to frighten the game I was
pursuing; but he persisted in his request, and explained to me what a
delicate morsel these animals would be for him, especially now, as he
was so hungry. At length I yielded to his requests and shot three of the
flying-foxes. On our way home we met an old man who was returning from
the chase, and my companion surprised me by immediately throwing the
three animals to the old man, who was exceedingly glad to get them. To
my question why he did not himself keep what I had shot for him, he
replied that the stranger was his wife’s uncle. Though himself hungry,
he wanted to show magnanimity to his uncle, from whom he had received
his wife, and he was anxious to give some proof of the gratitude he owed
him. This young man had not stolen his wife, nor did he have any sister
or daughter to give in exchange. He must, therefore, have obtained her
in some other way. I have reasons for believing that certain peculiar
laws exist, known only to the blacks, according to which women even from
their birth are intended for certain men. The man who has obtained a
wife in this manner shows his gratitude to her relatives by gifts of
food, tobacco, and other things.

The weather continued to grow more variable, and in the evenings we
frequently had heavy thunderstorms. At Herbert Vale everything was quiet
as usual. The only change I observed was that the natives about the
station had become much more bold than they were before. They entered
everywhere, stole potatoes from the garden and meat from the kitchen.
They usually stole into the kitchen in the twilight of the evening, and
there took what they could find.

One evening we caught in the kitchen a half-tame opossum (_Ir.
vulpecula_). It made the most violent resistance, and wanted to get away
from us. One of the blacks then offered to quiet it. He seized it with
one hand and held it close to him, while with the other hand he gathered
perspiration from his armpits and rubbed it on the nose of the opossum.
This did not, however, seem to do any good, for the animal was as wild
as ever. I take this opportunity of remarking that the civilised blacks
have a remarkable talent for gaining the goodwill of the domestic
animals of Europe, especially of horses. No matter how wild and
unmanageable a horse may be, they make it so gentle that a white man
will scarcely care to ride so dull a beast. More than once did I get
vexed at Nelly for spoiling my dog; for she used to take it into her lap
to hunt fleas, and would keep it on her knees by the hour and eat the
fleas she found.

During my sojourn at Herbert Vale a woman offered to sell me a bird,
which she had deprived of the power of flight by plucking out the
feathers of the wings and tail. She laughed at and was merry over the
poor bird, which was unable to fly away. The natives may often appear
cruel toward animals and birds, though it is not their intention to give
pain to the game they capture. It amuses them to see maimed animals
making desperate efforts to get away. As a rule they kill the animal at
once, not for the purpose of relieving it from pain, but simply to make
sure of their game. On many occasions I observed how the blacks amused
themselves by watching kangaroos whose hind legs had been maimed
struggling in vain to get away.

Any studied cruelty toward the white men is out of the question. They do
not, like the Indians, use torture, for they are anxious to take the
life of their enemies as quickly as possible.


  _Cicada aurora._

                             CHAPTER XVIII

  Native politeness—How a native uses a newspaper—“Fat” living—Painful
      joy—_Boongary, boongary_—Veracity of the natives—A short joy—A
      perfect cure—An offer of marriage—Refusal.

The blacks had for several days been talking about a dance to be held in
a remote valley.

A tribe had learned a new song and new dances, and was going to make an
exhibition of what it had learned to a number of people. The Herbert
Vale tribe had received a special invitation to be present, and the
natives assured me that there would be great fun. My action was
determined by the fact that Nilgŏra, who owned the splendid dog
“Balnglan,” already mentioned, would be there. But I had my misgivings
on account of the horses, for as we were in the midst of the rainy
season, I ran some risk of not being able to bring them back again.

Early one morning we set out, a large party of men, women, and children.
A short time before reaching our destination we were met by a number of
natives, for they expected us that night. Some of the strangers were old
acquaintances of my people, but this fact was not noticeable, for they
exchanged no greetings. In fact an Australian native does not know what
it is to extend a greeting. When two acquaintances meet, they act like
total strangers, and do not even say “good-day” to each other. Nor do
they shake hands. After they have been together for some time they show
the first signs of joy over their meeting.

If a black man desires to show how glad he is to meet his old friend, he
sits down, takes his friend’s head into his lap, and begins to look for
the countless little animals that annoy the natives, and which they are
fond of eating. When the one has had his head cleaned in this manner,
the two change places, and the other is treated with the same
politeness. I accustomed myself to many of the habits of the natives
during my sojourn among these children of nature, but this revolting
operation, I confess, was a great annoyance to me. A more emphatic sign
of joy at meeting again is given by uttering shrieks of lamentation on
account of the arrival of strangers to the camp. I was frequently
surprised at hearing shrieks of this sort in the evenings, and found
upon examination that they were uttered in honour of some stranger who
had arrived in the course of the day. This peculiar salutation did not
last more than a few moments, but was repeated several evenings in
succession during the visit of the stranger. The highest token of joy on
such occasions is shown by cutting their bodies in some way or other.

Later in the afternoon we arrived in the valley where the dance was to
be. Those who were to take part in the dance had already been encamped
there for several days. We had also taken time by the forelock, for the
festivities were not to begin before the next evening. Several new
arrivals were expected in the course of the next day, among them
Nilgora. A proposition was made that two men should be sent to meet him
on the mountain and request him to look for boongary on the way down,
and early the next morning before sunrise they actually started after
being supplied with a little tobacco.

My men and I had encamped about 200 paces from the others. I made a
larger and more substantial hut than was my usual custom. It did not
reach higher than my chest, but the roof was made very thick and tight
on account of the rain. At first the blacks were very timid, but
gradually the bravest ones among them began to approach my hut. As was
their wont, they examined everything with the greatest curiosity. Yokkai
walked about in the most conscious manner possible, and assumed an air
of knowing everything. He brought water from the brook, put the tin pail
over the fire, and accompanied by one or two admirers, went down to the
brook to wash the salt out of some salt beef which was to be boiled. The
matches, the great amount of tobacco, my pocket handkerchief, my
clothes, and my boots,—all made the deepest impression upon the savages.
After unpacking, a newspaper was left on the ground. One of the natives
sat down and put it over his shoulders like a shawl, examining himself
to see how he looked in it; but when he noticed the flimsy nature of the
material, he carelessly let it slip down upon the ground again.

My white woollen blanket provoked their greatest admiration, which they
expressed by smacking with their tongues, and exclaiming in ecstasy:
_Tamin, tamin!_—that is, Fat, fat! The idea of “excellent” is expressed
by the natives, as in certain European languages, by the word “fat.”

It is an interesting fact that, much as the civilised Australian blacks
like fat, they can never be persuaded to eat pork. “There is too much
devil in it,” they say.

At noon I heard continuous lamentations, but as I supposed they were for
some one deceased, I paid but little attention to them at first.
Lamentations for the dead, however, usually take place in the evening,
and so I decided to go and find out what was going on. Outside of a hut
I found an old woman in the most miserable plight. She had torn and
scratched her body with a sharp stone, so that the blood was running and
became blended with the tears, which were flowing down her cheeks as she
sobbed aloud.

Uncertain as to the cause of all this lamentation, I entered the hut,
and there I found a strong young woman, lying half on her back and half
on her side, playing with a child. I approached her. She turned her
handsome face toward me, and showed me a pair of roguish eyes and teeth
as white as snow, a very pleasing but utterly incomprehensible contrast
to the pitiful scene outside. I learned that the young woman inside was
a daughter of the old woman, who had not seen her child for a long time,
and now gave expression to her joy in this singular manner. I expressed
my surprise that the old woman’s face did not beam with joy, but this
seemed to be strange language to them. These children of nature must
howl when they desire to express deep feeling.

Night was approaching, the sun was already setting behind the horizon,
the air was very hot and oppressive, and it was evident that there would
soon be a thunderstorm. The blacks sat at home in their huts or
sauntered lazily from place to place, waiting until it became cool
enough for the dance to begin. I had just eaten my dinner, and was
enjoying the shade in my hut, while my men were lying round about
smoking their pipes, when there was suddenly heard a shout from the camp
of the natives. My companions rose, turned their faces toward the
mountain, and shouted, _Boongary, boongary!_ A few black men were seen
coming out of the woods and down the green slope as fast as their legs
could carry them. One of them had a large dark animal on his back.

Was it truly a boongary? I soon caught sight of the dog “Balnglan”
running in advance and followed by Nilgora, a tall powerful man.

The dark animal was thrown on the ground at my feet, but none of the
blacks spoke a word. They simply stood waiting for presents from me.

At last, then, I had a boongary, which I had been seeking so long. It is
not necessary to describe my joy at having this animal, hitherto a
stranger to science, at my feet. Of course I did not forget the natives
who had brought me so great a prize. To Nilgora I gave a shirt, to the
man who had carried the boongary, a handkerchief, and to all, food. Nor
did I omit to distribute tobacco.

I at once began to skin the animal, but first I had to loosen the
withies with which its legs had been tied for the men to carry it. The
ends of these withies or bands rested against the man’s forehead, while
the animal hung down his back, so that, as is customary among the
Australians, the whole weight rested on his head.

I at once saw that it was a tree-kangaroo (_Dendrolagus_). It was very
large, but still I had expected to find a larger animal, for according
to the statements of the natives, a full-grown specimen was larger than
a wallaby—that is to say, about the size of a sheep. This one proved to
be a young male.


  Harald Jensen lith. Hoffensberg & Trap^ṣ Etabl.


The tree-kangaroo is without comparison a better proportioned animal
than the common kangaroo. The forefeet, which are nearly as perfectly
developed as the hind-feet, have large crooked claws, while the
hind-feet are somewhat like those of a kangaroo, though not so powerful.
The sole of the foot is somewhat broader and more elastic, on account of
a thick layer of fat under the skin. In soft ground its footprints are
very similar to those of a child. The ears are small and erect, and the
tail is as long as the body of the animal. The skin is tough, and the
fur is very strong and beautiful. The colour of the male is a
yellowish-brown, that of the female and of the young is grayish, but the
head, the feet, and the under side of the tail are black. Thus it will
be seen that this tree-kangaroo is more variegated in colour than those
species which are found in New Guinea.

Upon the whole, the boongary is the most beautiful mammal I have seen in
Australia. It is a marsupial, and goes out only in the night. During the
day it sleeps in the trees, and feeds on the leaves. It is able to jump
down from a great height and can run fast on the ground. So far as my
observation goes, it seems to live exclusively in _one_ very lofty kind
of tree, which is very common on the Coast Mountains, but of which I do
not know the name. During rainy weather the boongary prefers the young
low trees, and always frequents the most rocky and inaccessible
localities. It always stays near the summit of the mountains, and
frequently far from water, and hence the natives assured me that it
never went down to drink.

During the hot season it is much bothered with flies, and then, in
accordance with statements made to me by the savages, it is discovered
by the sound of the blow by which it kills the fly. In the night, they
say, the boongary can be heard walking in the trees.

I had finished skinning the animal, and so I put a lot of arsenic on the
skin and laid it away to dry in the roof of my hut, where I thought it
would be safe, and placed the skin there in such a way that it was
protected on all sides.

Meanwhile my men had gone down to witness the dance. Happy over my day’s
success I too decided to go thither and amuse myself, but before I had
prepared the skin with arsenic and could get away, darkness had already
set in, and the dancing was postponed until the moon was up. The natives
had in the meantime retired to their camps until the dance was to begin

The tribe that was to give the dance had its camp farthest away, while
the other tribes, who were simply spectators, had made their camps near
mine. There was lively conversation among the huts. All were seated
round the camp fires and had nothing to do, the women with their
children in their laps, and those who had pipes smoking tobacco. I went
from one group to the other and chatted with them; they liked to talk
with me, for they invariably expected me to give them tobacco. Occasions
like this are valuable for obtaining information from the natives.
Still, it is difficult to get any trustworthy facts, for they are great
liars, not to mention their tendency to exaggerate greatly when they
attempt to describe anything. Besides, they have no patience to be
examined, and they do not like to be asked the same thing twice. It
takes time to learn to understand whether they are telling the truth or
not, and how to coax information out of them. The best way is to mention
the thing you want to know in the most indifferent manner possible. The
best information is secured by paying attention to their own
conversations. If you ask them questions, they simply try to guess what
answers you would like, and then they give such responses as they think
will please you. This is the reason why so many have been deceived by
the savages, and this is the source of all the absurd stories about the
Australian blacks.

Among the huts the camp fires were burning, and outside of the camp it
was dark as pitch, so that the figures of the natives were drawn like
silhouette pictures in fantastic groups against the dark background.

It amused me to make these visits, but my thoughts were chiefly occupied
with the great event of the day. In the camp there were several dingoes,
and although the boongary skin was carefully put away, I did not feel
perfectly safe in regard to it. I therefore returned at once to look
after my treasure; I stepped quickly into my hut, and thrust my hand in
among the leaves to see whether the skin was safe; but imagine my dismay
when I found that it was gone.



I was perfectly shocked. Who could have taken the skin? I at once called
the blacks, among whom the news spread like wild-fire, and after looking
for a short time one of them came running with a torn skin, which he had
found outside the camp. The whole head, a part of the tail and legs,
were eaten. It was my poor boongary skin that one of the dingoes had
stolen and abused in this manner. I had no better place to put it, so I
laid it back again in the same part of the roof, and then, sad and
dejected in spirits, I sauntered down to the natives again.

Here every one tried to convince me that it was not _his_ dog that was
the culprit. All the dogs were produced, and each owner kept striking
his dog’s belly to show that it was empty, in his eagerness to prove its
innocence. Finally a half-grown cur was produced. The owner laid it on
its back, seized it by the belly once or twice, and exclaimed, _Ammery,
ammery!_—that is, Hungry, hungry! But his abuse of the dog soon acted as
an emetic, and presently a mass of skin-rags was strewed on the ground
in front of it.

My first impulse was to gather them up, but they were chewed so fine
that they were useless. As the skin had been thoroughly prepared with
arsenic, it was of importance to me to save the life of the dog,
otherwise I would never again be able to borrow another.

Besides, I had a rare opportunity of increasing the respect of the
natives for me. I told them that the dog had eaten _kóla_—that is,
wrath—as they called poison, and as my men had gradually learned to look
at it with great awe, it would elevate me in their eyes if I could save
the life of the dog. I made haste to mix tobacco and water. This I
poured into the dog, and thus caused it to vomit up the remainder of the
poisoned skin. The life of the dog was saved, and all joined in the
loudest praises of what I had done. They promised me the loan of
“Balnglan” again, and thus I had hopes of securing another boongary; of
course they added as a condition that I must give them a lot of tobacco.

The next morning early I persuaded them to get ready for the chase, but
they did not want me to go with them, as the dog was afraid of the white

Most of the blacks remained to witness the dance, for the camp was in a
festive mood, and in the morning before daylight I was awakened by the
noise. As soon as the weather became hot, they again gathered in groups
under the shady trees, where they chatted in idleness until it became
cool enough to dance again in the evening. I went from one group to the
other. They asked me to give them European names, a request often made
to me on my journeys among the tribes. The reason appeared to be that
the savage blacks, who had not been in contact with the white man, were
anxious to acquire this first mark of civilisation, which they found
among my men, and which they imagined brought tobacco and other gifts.
Among themselves these savage natives kept their own names, which, as a
rule, are taken for both men and women from animals, birds, etc. The
father will under no circumstances give his son his own name.

I gave them various Norwegian names. It was difficult for them to
pronounce some of them, but such names as Ragna, Inga, Harald, Ola,
Eivind, etc., became very popular.

One of the natives came to me and asked for some salt beef, giving as an
excuse that he had a pain in his stomach, because he had for a long time
eaten nothing but tobola, the main food of the natives during about two
months of the year. This fruit, which grows in the scrubs on the
mountain tops, is of a bluish colour, and of the size of a plum. The
tree is very large and has long spreading branches, so that the natives
prefer waiting until the fruit falls on the ground to climbing the trees
for it. It is gathered by the women and brought to the camp, where it is
roasted over the fire until the flesh is entirely burnt off and the
kernel is thoroughly done. The shell round the kernel then becomes so
brittle that it is easily peeled off. Then the kernels are beaten
between two flat stones until they form a mass like paste. When they
have been beaten thoroughly in this manner, they are placed in baskets
and set in the brook to be washed out, and the day after they are fit to
be eaten. The paste, which is white as chalk and contains much water,
looks inviting, but is wellnigh tasteless. The blacks eat this porridge
with their hands, which they half close into the form of a spoon. This
food is certainly very unwholesome, for the natives, who, by the way,
are very fond of it, often complained that they did not feel well after
eating it for some time. The amount of nourishment in tobola is very
small, and the natives eat a very large amount before they satisfy their
hunger, a fact which, in connection with its indigestible character,
cannot fail to produce harm. I have often wondered how they can preserve
their health so well as they do, considering all the unwholesome and
indigestible vegetable food they consume, and the great lack of variety.
It is even more surprising that they have found out that there is any
nourishment at all in the poisonous plants, which they know how to
prepare, and which at the very outset would appear to be unfit for human
food. It is also an interesting fact that different poisonous plants, or
plants not fit to be eaten raw, are used in different parts of Australia
and prepared by one tribe in a manner of which another tribe has no

On my visits to the huts I met Chinaman, who had deserted me in so
disgraceful a manner and ruined my whole expedition. He now imagined
that all was forgotten. After a month the blacks think no insult is
remembered, not even a murder. Chinaman tried to be polite, but I kept
him at a respectable distance in order to show the blacks that I did not
tolerate such conduct as that of which he was guilty.

Late in the afternoon we were overtaken as usual by a heavy
thunderstorm. One flash of lightning followed the other in rapid
succession. The thunder-claps were echoed back from the steep mountain
walls, and I expected the trees around us would be struck by lightning
every moment. The natives, however, were not afraid. At every flash of
lightning they shouted with all their might and laughed heartily. It was
a great amusement to them.

At sunset, just as the dance was to begin, Nilgora and his companions
returned from their hunt, and to my great satisfaction they brought with
them another boongary. This was also a male, but somewhat smaller than
the one I had lost. On its back it had distinct marks of “Balnglan’s”
teeth. As I have since learned, this animal is hunted in the following

The chase begins early in the morning, while the scent of the boongary’s
footprints is still fresh on the ground. The dog takes his time, stops
now and then, and examines the ground carefully with his nose. Its
master keeps continually urging it on, and addresses it in the following
manner: _Tshe’—tshe’—gangary pul—pulka—tshe’, pul—tshinscherri
dundun—mormango—tshe’, pul—pulka!_ etc.—that is, _Tshe’—tshe’—tshe’_,
smell boongary—smell him—_tshe’_, smell—seize him by the legs—smart
fellow—_tshe’_, smell—smell him, etc. If the dog finds the scent, it
will pursue it to the tree which the animal has climbed. Then some of
the natives climb the surrounding trees to keep it from escaping, while
another person, armed with a stick, ascends the tree where the animal
is. He either seizes the animal by the tail and crushes its head with
the stick, or he compels it to jump down, where the dingo stands ready
to kill it.

In the evening, when I came down to the blacks, who were waiting for the
moon to give light to the dancers, my men expressed a fear that strange
tribes would attack the camp in the course of the night. I ridiculed
this fear, now that they were assembled in such numbers, but they
replied that the strangers also were numerous, and they would not be at
rest until I had fired a shot.

Thereupon a few persons came in great haste to the blacks with whom I
was talking, from the camp of the dancers, who had evidently been
frightened by the shot, and explained that they would like to talk with
me, and asked me to go with them, so we all went to the dancers, where
all was excitement; everybody was talking at the same time, but when I
came nearer I could catch in the midst of the confusion such words as
_kóla_ (anger), _nili_ (young girl), _Kélanmi Mamigo_[13] (Kélanmi shall
belong to Mami). One of my men explained to me: The blacks wish to give
you a _nili_. They are afraid of the baby of the gun! “Very well,” I
answered, “bring her to my hut.”

Footnote 13:

  _Go_ is a suffix, which means with reference to; thus literally,
  Kélanmi with reference to Mami—that is, me.

The blacks had become afraid of me, having interpreted the shot I fired
as a sign that I was angry, and to propitiate me they wished to give me
Kélanmi, a young girl, who was looked upon as the prettiest woman in the
whole tribe. When I agreed to accept her they became quiet and their
fears were allayed.



Evidently Kélanmi was afraid of the white man, and was reluctant to
leave her tribe; when I went away I heard them scold her and try to
force her to go to the white man. I learned that she was, in fact,
promised to one of the blacks, by name Kāl-Dúbbaroh, and so I asked him
to go with her to my hut. I kindled a fire in my hut, and waited for
them to come with Kélanmi. The moon was just rising, so that I was able
to discern the dark figures approaching me, but at first I saw no
_nili_, as she was walking behind one of the men, who held her by the
wrist. She made no resistance, and came willingly. When the party
reached my hut the men let go of the girl, but said nothing, and I asked
her to sit down. She was a young and tolerably handsome girl about
twelve years old, with a good figure, and was clad in her finest attire
in honour of the dance, both her face and her whole body being pretty
well covered with red ochre. She was very much opposed to getting
married, particularly to a white man, and sat trembling by the fire,
awaiting the orders of her new master. To quiet her, I at once got some
bread and beef, but she concealed it, out of fear of the bystanders, for
such delicacies are too good for a woman. Then I gave her a little
tobacco, which she also put away. No doubt she intended to give it to
her old adorer Kal-Dubbaroh, who I suppose expected some compensation
for his loss. I pitied the little embarrassed girl, and told her, to the
great surprise of the spectators, that she might go, whereupon she
immediately ran out. This puzzled the blacks, who could not conceive any
other reason for my refusal than that I was displeased with her, and so
they offered me another girl. But I tried to explain to them that all
was well between us, and I proposed that we should go down and dance.

They were just beginning to dance when we came down to the camp, where I
sat down among the spectators and amused myself by witnessing the manner
in which the natives enjoyed themselves on such occasions. To give them
a proof of my goodwill, I took a whole stick of tobacco and threw it
down among the dancers. This liberality was a surprise to the natives,
who, of course, vied with each other in trying to secure the tobacco.
Quick as lightning, one of the men caught hold of the stick and ran with
it to his hut.

On the way home Yokkai urged me to shoot Kal-Dubbaroh, saying:
“Kal-Dubbaroh not good man.” I could not quite comprehend the meaning of
this. The fact was, however, as I afterwards learned, owing to his so
frequently troubling me with this request, that Yokkai himself was
anxious to marry Kélanmi, and consequently would like to have his rival
out of the way.

The next day Nilgora again consented to go out hunting, and returned
with a young boongary, still smaller than the others. The day was so hot
that when I undertook to prepare the new specimen, the feet had already
begun to decay, and I was afraid the animal would spoil before I got the
skin off it. I therefore took it to the coolest place I could find, and
prepared the skin. I sat in the shade of a gum-tree, and had to keep
continually moving out of the sun’s scorching rays. The flesh, which we
roasted on the coals, had a fine gamey flavour, and did not taste at all
like kangaroo meat. One circumstance, however, detracted from the
enjoyment. The boongary, like most of the Australian mammals living in
the trees, is infested by a slender, round, hard worm, which lies
between the muscles and the skin. There these little worms, rolled
together in coils, are found in great numbers. They did not trouble the
natives, who did not even take the pains to pick them out.

They grumbled, on the other hand, because they were not permitted to
gnaw the bones, especially the feet, which they looked upon as the best
part of the animal.


                              CHAPTER XIX

  A festival dance of the blacks—Their orchestra—A plain table—Yokkai
      wants to become a “white man”—Yokkai’s confession—A dangerous
      situation—A family drama.

The next day, before sunset, the dance began again. At one end of the
little place for dancing, where the grass had already been well trampled
down, sat the orchestra, consisting, as usual, of only one, or sometimes
of two men. The musician was sitting on the ground with his legs
crossed, and was singing the new song, accompanying himself by beating
together a boomerang and a nolla-nolla.

In front of him on the little plat of level ground fourteen to sixteen
men were dancing in ranks of four or five each. Near the orchestra, on
the right, a woman kept dancing up and down, keeping time with the men
and with the music.

On Herbert river more than one woman never takes part in the dance. This
is a great honour to her, and she is envied by all the other women, who
sit in rows on both sides of her and the musician. They assume their
favourite position and do not, like the men, cross their legs before
them or sit on one of their hams, but they rest on their legs and heels,
the legs being very close together. In this position they usually play
an accompaniment to the music by beating both their open hands against
their laps, thus producing a loud hollow sound.

The spectators sit on both sides of the dancers all the way up to the
corners occupied by the women. The arrangement is as follows:—


                      |                                    |
                      |             _d._              |
                      |            ——————           |
                      |                                    |
                      |             _d._              |
            _s._ |           ——————            |_s._
                      |                                    |
                      |             _d._              |
                      |            ——————           |
                      |                                    |
                      |             _d._              |
                      |            ——————           |
                   —————  ———— —————  —————
                   _w._   _m._ _f.d._  _w._

 _m._ the music. _f.d._ the female dancer. _ww._ the women. _dddd._ the
                     dancers. _ss._ the spectators.





As a rule the spectators do not decorate themselves much for the
occasion; one may be seen here and there who has painted himself with a
little ochre borrowed from a comrade. The dancers, on the other hand,
have done all in their power to beautify themselves. Their bodies shine
with red, yellow, or white paint. Their hair is well filled with
beeswax, and decorated with feathers, with the crests of cockatoos, and
similar ornaments. For the purpose of giving themselves a savage look,
some of them hold in their mouths tufts either of talegalla feathers or
of yarn made from opossum hair. The latter kind of tufts or tassels the
natives call _itaka_. Some of the natives have mussel-shells glued fast
to their beards with wax. The Australian blacks and the Malayans are the
only savages who employ this ornament in this manner.

Several of the women had painted themselves, some of them with
alternating black and red bands across the face. Strange to say, the
_dombi-dombi_ (dancing-woman) wore no ornaments. She was middle-aged,
with a pair of beautiful eyes, but her limbs were slender, and she had a
large protruding stomach. The very uniform hopping movements of her lean
body were not graceful. She kept her arms extended and spread the long
slender fingers of her hands as far apart as possible. The sight of this
woman jumping up and down in the same place, in the attitude above
described, and with her large breasts dangling, was truly disgusting.
But the woman seemed to enjoy herself wonderfully, and she was not
relieved by any of the other women.

The chief attention centres on the male dancers, who are the heroes of
the day. They start on the open side of the ground opposite the
orchestra, and gradually approach the latter. Their twists and turns
keep time with the music, and they continually give forth a grunting
sound with accents in harmony with the music and their own movements.
Near the orchestra they suddenly pause, scatter for a moment, and then
begin again as before.

The music was quick and not very melancholy; the monotonous clattering,
the hollow accompaniment of the women, the grunting and the heavy
footfall of the men, reminded me, especially when I was some distance
away from the scene, of a steam-engine at work.

While both the music and the song are an endless repetition of the same
strophes, the dance has a few variations. Now and then a different
figure is presented. One of those figures looked very well. Six men
marched to the music in closed ranks, accompanying the rhythmical
tramping of their feet with blows to the right and left with tomahawks
and boomerangs. In other figures they presented a variety of comical
movements. With arms akimbo, they spread their knees as far apart as
possible, and jumped and grunted in time with the music.



The dance was utterly childish, but it interested me to observe that
they had a somewhat different programme for each evening. They several
times produced what might be called a pantomime, but, as I did not quite
comprehend it, I cannot fully describe it. On the open side of the
square, opposite the music, a sort of chamber was constructed, where the
chief performers made their toilets and kept themselves concealed until
the performance commenced. When it was time to begin the pantomime, they
rushed forth, all more ornamented than usual with ochre spots of
different colours over their whole bodies, and with false beards and
hair made of fibres of wood. They took their places in line with the
other dancers, and with the usual twists and turns and keeping time with
the music, marched up to the orchestra, where they paused for a moment.
Then they formed in two long lines, opposite each other, and two of the
most gaudily decorated men stepped forth from the ranks. While the
others remained standing in their places, these two kept running up and
down along the ranks, acting like clowns, and making all sorts of
ridiculous gestures. The most important part of their acting consisted
in kneeling down opposite one another and putting a stick into the
ground with the right hand, at the same time bending to one another with
various kinds of gestures and grimaces. Thus they kept entertaining the
spectators for a long time, and it must be admitted that these two
natives gave evidence by their performances of no small amount of comic
talent. The closing scene was vociferously applauded, and the charmed
natives asked me if I, too, did not think the acting splendid. I could
not induce them to explain to me the significance of the performance,
but still I managed to find out that it had some connection with the

The spectators now and then indicate their approbation by laughing
aloud. The women sit with smiles on their lips, and take great pleasure
in witnessing the performance. The female dancer also keeps her eyes
constantly on the male dancers, but the musician at her side apparently
takes no interest in what is going on. He sits there beating his wooden
weapons together and singing with his hoarse but powerful tenor voice.
He rarely looks up, as he has already been watching the exercises for
weeks, and knows them all by heart; but even he sometimes seems to be
amused. Now and then he raises his eyes and looks happy as a lark at the
naked figures moving backwards and forwards in the strangest
contortions. He never tires of singing, and whenever he begins the
strophe anew he raises his voice with a sort of enthusiasm.

These festivals, called by the civilised blacks _korroboree_, are of
course evidence of friendly relations between the tribes. On this
occasion the dance was given by several neighbouring tribes that were on
friendly terms with each other. As a rule, however, the korroborees in
Australia are given upon the settlement of wars and feuds among the
tribes, and are a sort of ratification of the treaty of peace. Doubtless
these festivals have, in the history of Australia, been of considerable
importance in regard to the social development of the natives. The
korroborees have facilitated bartering among them, and have also
contributed toward promoting social intercourse among the tribes. It is
a curious fact that these “ratifications of treaties of peace”
frequently give rise to new feuds, on account of insults to women that
are apt to occur at such festivals.

The dance always begins with the full moon and about half an hour before
sunset. When the sun’s last rays disappear from the horizon there is a
pause until the moon rises, when the dancing begins in earnest and may
last all night; but, not satisfied with the pale light of the moon, they
kindle a large camp fire, the red flames of which, mingling with the
white light of the moon, produce a strange fantastic effect. Toward
morning they took a little rest, but before dawn I was again awakened by
their monotonous song and clattering. When the sun rises it becomes too
hot to dance.

The natives are wonderfully frugal in their eating at their festivals. I
have never seen them eat together for pleasure or to celebrate any
event. Anything like a banquet is entirely out of the question, nay, on
the occasion I have described they might be said to be fasting. Those
invited had taken no provisions with them, as they expected to be fed by
their hosts. The latter supposed that the guests would bring food with
them, and the result was that they had to subsist on almost nothing
during the three days devoted to the dance. Some of them got a little
tobacco. There were no other stimulants, for the blacks of Herbert river
produce no intoxicating drink. They contented themselves with pleasure
and water, but when the three days were gone they had to take to the
scrubs and look for tobola. After gathering tobola for a few days, they
renewed the dance in another place, where the same songs and the same
performances were repeated, after which they again took to the woods to
find means of subsistence.

In this manner the scene of the dance gradually approached Herbert Vale,
and as the dancers were on a friendly footing with the blacks of that
district, they gave entertainments on two evenings for their benefit.
These festivities continued for nearly six weeks. On the other hand, it
may take years before the blacks give another dance, for they must have
new dances and new songs every time they dance, and their song-makers
and dancing-masters, do not care to bother their brains with too much

While the blacks went up into the mountains to gather tobola, I
persuaded Nilgora and one or two others to remain with Yokkai and me. I
did not like to leave a place where boongary were to be found without
securing a full-grown specimen, but they preferred to go up the
mountains with the others, and were tired of hunting for me day after
day. The natives are fond of change, and cannot endure monotony. They
repeatedly tried to convince me that there were no more boongary, but I
knew this to be mere pretext. I explained to them what I would pay them,
and though I offered them all I had, even the shirt I wore, if they
could procure me a boongary, they still answered _Wainta boongary,
wainta? maja, maja! nongarshly yongul!_ (Where is boongary, where? no,
no! there is but one in the woods).

Finally Nilgora and his men started early one morning to go hunting with
“Balnglan.” As he returned in the evening without any game, I had the
next morning to renew my persuasions, and I showed him my tobacco. My
provisions were no temptation to Nilgora, for I had none, and as I had
already given him a shirt, the one I wore was no inducement to him. My
last hope was my hat, an ornament highly prized by the blacks. He
finally yielded, but to no purpose, as he returned in the evening as
empty-handed as the day before.

Nilgora started for the mountains to attend the dance, while Yokkai and
I betook ourselves back to Herbert Vale.

Nilgora was a typical savage, and as he had never before been in contact
with white men, he was more easy to manage than the others, but was
reticent and reserved. I was surprised to find him always armed with a
sword-bayonet, the history of which it was impossible for me to get at.
He was very much afraid of the white men, and for this reason he never
came down from the mountains, and hence I infer that this weapon must
long have travelled from tribe to tribe before it came into his
possession. The native police do not use bayonets.

What particularly attracted my attention in Nilgora’s looks were his
tall powerful figure and his almost Roman nose, another proof to me that
the natives here are mixed with the Papuans.

On the descent to Herbert Vale, Yokkai had the important task of
carrying the skins in a bag. They had to be handled with great care, a
fact that my black friend did not understand. Fortunately, he was afraid
of the poison with which the skins were prepared, and this made him very

In a cheerful frame of mind I proceeded down to the grassy plain. The
dark claws of the boongary protruding out of the bag reminded me of what
had been accomplished during the past few days, and besides it was a
source of gratification to me that Yokkai did not, on a nearer
acquaintance, disappoint the good hopes I had formed in regard to him on
our first meeting. I felt that I could look the future cheerfully in the
face, and I had reason to hope for good results so long as he was my
companion. Yokkai was well acquainted with several of the most savage
tribes in the neighbourhood, and with his help it would be more easy for
me to secure companions on my expeditions. By reason of his _naïveté_
and good humour, I might count on having in him a lively and
entertaining companion. Nor was he so savage and greedy as the other
blacks. A circumstance which made him particularly devoted to me was his
decided eagerness to become a “white man.” His ambition was to eat the
food of a white man, to smoke tobacco, to make damper, to shoot, to take
care of horses, to wear clothes, and to talk English.

He told me a number of stories in regard to himself, and gave me much
interesting information about the life and customs of the natives. Among
other things, he said that he once had stolen from a white man, but it
seems that in connection with that he acquired a great dread of the
white men and their dangerous weapons. The whites were too angry, he
said, and he assured me that he never more would _gramma_—that is,
steal. Together with his comrades, he had ventured to go down to a farm
near the coast, where he had been tempted by the sight of a wash-tub
containing some clothes. On one of his shoulders he still bore the mark
of a rifle ball, by which he had been greeted on his visit to the white

My plan now was to go to the table-land seventy miles to the west, where
Mr. Scott, the owner of Herbert Vale, had his head station, the Valley
of Lagoons. Up there it rains less in the rainy season than it does at
Herbert Vale, and for this reason I decided to change my headquarters.
When I came to the station, I met a white man who was going the same way
as I, and we decided to travel together. Yokkai remained at Herbert
Vale. The next day, January 30, we proceeded toward Sea-View Range,
where we arrived the first afternoon. Here my companion wanted to encamp
for the night.

I looked back upon the scrub-clad mountains on the other side of the
valley. The air was clear, and the setting sun caused long shadows to
fall in the mountain declivities. Far away, on the summit of a mountain,
smoke was ascending. The blacks were burning the grass and were hunting
the wallaby, free from every care and anxiety. The palms, the ferns, the
rays of the sun glistening in the waterfalls, all this charming scenery
I was now to abandon, and I was to live at a station with the white men
on the prosy plains. No, this was not possible; I longed to get back to
my black friends! When I saw the sun setting amid an effulgence of
crimson, and thus indicating fine weather for the morrow, my mind was
made up. I decided to wait for the rain as long as possible, and this
year the rainy season set in unusually late.

I bade farewell to my travelling companion, and started back for Herbert

Early the next morning I went in search of Yokkai, whom I soon found. He
and I started up the mountains to procure, if possible, more people to
assist us.

In a small tribe which we came to, some of the natives were found
willing to go with us, and soon afterwards we had the good fortune to
meet Nilgora and “Balnglan.” We made our camp in the same place as
before—on the old dancing-ground. Nilgora was now very accommodating. He
had employed his time since we parted in eating tobola, and was now
longing for the white man’s food, which he had learned to like when he
was with me before. During the four days we spent here we succeeded in
securing a small female boongary and a young one. Thus I now had in all
five males and one female, though none of them were full grown. The
female (represented on the coloured plate) had a little young one in her
pouch, but the black had already given it to “Balnglan,” thinking it was

One day, when Yokkai and I were left alone in the camp, he suddenly
broke out, “Poor fellow,—white-fellow!” Thinking that he referred to me,
I, half angry, asked him what was the matter. “Poor fellow,
white-fellow—Jimmy,” said he, beating the back of his head, “Jimmy,
white-fellow _ngallogo_”—that is, “in the water.” I now understood that
something was the matter, and on inquiry at last found out that the same
Jimmy who had been with me before had killed a white man and thrown him
into the water. The white man had been camping near a river in the
middle of the day, “while the sun was big,” not far from Herbert Vale.
Jimmy had gone to him and offered to find fuel and build a fire,
services which were accepted. The white man made his tea and sat down to
eat, but Jimmy did not get any of the food, and at once became angry,
and struck the white man on the back of the head with his tomahawk as he
brought his tin cup to his lips to drink, so that he fell down dead.
Then Jimmy robbed all that the white man had and threw his body into the

The report of the murder made a deep impression on me. Perhaps I ought
to be satisfied with the results I had already gained. If I remained
longer I might meet with a similar fate. I did not dare show Yokkai that
the information affected me, though the words did escape my lips, that
the black police would be angry with Jimmy and kill him.

When Nilgora came home in the evening, I heard Yokkai at once informing
him “that the police would kill Jimmy.” That whole evening the blacks
were very reticent and unapproachable. Doubtless my ill-advised
statement had frightened them, for they were aware that the police paid
no respect to persons, but would shoot the first native they found, and
they were also afraid that Yokkai would have to suffer for his
thoughtlessness in telling tales out of school.

It was necessary to be equal to every emergency, for it was in their
power to hinder the news of the murder from spreading. To avoid every
danger, I resolved to be on the alert that night—the only night I ever
kept awake during my life with the blacks. As was my custom, I fired a
shot to remind my companions that my weapon was still in existence.

The natives were lying down round the fire in front of the opening of my
hut, and from time to time they cast sly glances at me lying with
half-closed eyes in my hut. The camp fire made it easy for us to watch
each other. To convince them that I was wide awake, I now and then
ordered them to fetch wood for the fire. I did not feel at all safe, and
not until morning did I fall asleep, exhausted with fatigue.

When I opened my eyes the first rays of the morning sun were shining
into my hut, and it was a source of the keenest gratification to know
that I was unscathed. Never before had the dewy tropical morning seemed
so beautiful as it did after this night.

I decided to go back to Herbert Vale for the present, and the same day
Yokkai and I started on our return. I was determined to do all in my
power to secure the punishment of Jimmy. Something ought to be done to
show the blacks that they could not with impunity take the life of a
white man.

Jimmy had accompanied me on several expeditions, so that I knew him
well. He was a brutal, despotic fellow, and very reserved. Not long
before this he had also killed one of his wives. He had robbed a man of
his pretty young wife, Mólle-Mólle. But she loved her first husband and
could not get on well with Jimmy, the less so as he had another wife,
who was very jealous and always inflamed him against Mólle-Mólle. She
tried to escape to her former husband, but was recaptured by Jimmy, who
cut her on the shoulder with his axe to “mark” her. Still, she soon
again found an opportunity to escape, and came to Herbert Vale, where I
then happened to be staying. On her shoulder was a large open wound,
which did not, however, appear to give her much pain. She requested me
to shoot Jimmy, for he was “not good.” In spite of her beautiful,
beseeching eyes and her coquettish smiles, I could make her no promise,
but I urged her to make haste and go to her former husband, whom she was
seeking. The same night she disappeared.

I afterwards learned that she had found the man she loved, but her joy
was of short duration. Jimmy was the stronger of the two men; he
recaptured her, and punishment was again inflicted. According to the
statements of the natives, he had almost killed her. He had struck her
with a stone on the head, so that she fell as if dead on the hot sand.
There he left her, in the middle of the day, after covering her with
stones. The next time I saw Mólle-Mólle she had grown very thin and
pale, and had great scars on her head. She was on the point of going
with Jimmy down the river to another “land.” On this journey he killed
her with his tomahawk, and an old man buried her. This happened only
three weeks after Jimmy had slain the white man.

Yokkai was afraid that he would be killed by the blacks at Herbert Vale,
because he had revealed the murder of the white man, but I quieted him
with the assurance that his name should not be mentioned.

                               CHAPTER XX

  Arrival of the native police—The murderer caught—Examination—Jimmy is
      taken to Cardwell—Flight of the prisoner—The officer of the
      law—Expedition to the Valley of Lagoons—A mother eats her own
      child—My authority receives a shock.

When I arrived at the station I talked with the natives about the event.
They seemed to be surprised, but observing that I knew all about the
matter, they found there was no use of assuming ignorance, and they
began to converse with me about the murder as a matter well known to
them. Thus I secured all the details in regard to this horrible affair.
But they held it perfectly proper for Jimmy to kill the white man who
was unwilling to share his food with him. I made them understand that
this was not my view, and threatened to send for the police. This threat
I would also have carried out, had not, three days later, a sergeant of
the native police, with a few troopers, accidentally come and encamped
at Herbert Vale. He had been in Cardwell to fetch provisions and liquor
for his chief, who lived on the table-land.

When the blacks saw the police their memory again failed them. It was no
longer Jimmy who had murdered the white man, but two other blacks,
Kamera and Boko. In a certain sense this was true, for a year and a half
previously they had actually murdered a white man. It was thought that
he had been eaten by a crocodile, and now for the first time it was
discovered that a murder had been committed, but this man was not
Jimmy’s victim. By confusing the two events, they tried to draw
attention away from Jimmy. For Kamera and Boko they cared less, they
being strangers, but Jimmy belonged to their own tribe and must be
saved. The boldest and most experienced of these “civilised” natives
therefore sought to make friends with the police. They brought them
their best women, carried wood and water for them, and tried to serve
them in every way. I told the police sergeant what had happened, and
requested him to arrest Jimmy, who could be found at a great borboby
which was to be celebrated just at this time two or three miles from
Herbert Vale.

The next day the sergeant went to the borboby to arrest him, taking with
him three of the blacks at the station, and also the Kanaka, in order
that they might identify Jimmy.

While he was absent, the postman came from Cardwell. When he learned
what had happened, he remembered that he several times had felt a bad
smell where the murder was supposed to have taken place—that is, near
Dalrymple Creek.

We now hoped that the sergeant would bring the murderer in the evening,
but he returned without the prisoner. Three persons called Jimmy had
been shown to him, and they all denied having perpetrated the murder.
The natives who had gone with the sergeant to the borboby had declared
that the right Jimmy was not there. I knew this to be not true, and so I
requested the sergeant to make another effort. The Kanaka told me that
the right Jimmy really was there, and that it had vexed him to see that
the sergeant would not arrest him. The sergeant had given all his
attention to the fair sex, and had taken no interest in finding Jimmy.

As I insisted that the murderer should be arrested, the sergeant started
off early the next morning, again in company with the Kanaka. He now
took with him two of his own men and handcuffs for the culprit. In a few
hours they returned with the prisoner, and I was sent for. It was Jimmy.
He was handcuffed; his suspicious face was restless, the blood rose to
his face, and if a black man can be said to blush, then Jimmy did so

Under the storehouse, which stood on high posts, there was a large room
surrounded by a lattice. Here the court was held. The prisoner was
brought in by two of the troopers, and the examination began. The
persons present were the sergeant, the old keeper of the station, the
postman, the Kanaka, and I. The blacks stood outside the gate and
watched the whole proceeding with the greatest interest.

The sergeant, a tall powerful man, who was the representative of the law
there, began the trial by snatching a throwing-stick from one of those
standing outside and striking Jimmy on the head with it, in order to
force him in this brutal manner to tell the truth.

“You have killed the white man,” he kept repeating, and added new weight
to his words by inflicting fresh blows; but the criminal denied
everything, while he tried to protect himself with his fettered hands.

“You have killed your wife,” shrieked the sergeant; but Jimmy made no
answer to this charge, he simply tried to ward off the hard blows he was
getting. Suddenly the sergeant broke the stick over Jimmy’s head, which
fortunately ended this inquisitorial part of the trial. The sergeant,
who in the meantime had become heated by his exertions, then turned and
said in a faint voice: “There is no doubt that he is the culprit, but
let us now hear what the blacks have to say.”

One or two of them were called in, and made the same statements as
Jimmy, insisting that he had not killed the white man, but they all
testified unanimously that he had murdered his wife, Mólle-Mólle. As she
was a woman, they saw no peril in making this admission. Jimmy, too,
confessed this crime.

“That is quite sufficient,” muttered old Walters.

“Take him down to the river and wipe him out,” said the sergeant to his

“And throw him into the water, then there will be no smell,” added the

In a hesitating manner the troopers began to execute the order of their
stern master. One of them, David, suggested that the prisoner ought
first to show the body of the dead man, a pretext for getting the matter
postponed and thus saving Jimmy’s life, for the police were anxious to
do him and his friends a service in return for the women they had sent
as a bribe.

Meanwhile the sergeant gave orders that they should bring the culprit to
the camp and make short work of it. When Jimmy discovered that the
sergeant was in earnest he became literally pale, and went with them as
one having no will of his own. The natives, who at first were utterly
perplexed, followed slowly and silently.

The keeper of the station had during the trial suggested that the matter
ought not to be reported to any white man. The fact is, the police had
no authority to carry out the sergeant’s severe orders. I found upon
investigation that, no matter how clearly the murder is established, the
English law does not permit the shooting of a criminal in this manner
without a regular procedure. The prisoner had not confessed the murder,
nor, as was remarked by David, had the corpse been produced. I was
anxious that the proceedings should be in all respects regular and
legal. I therefore at once went down to the camp and explained my doubts
in the matter to the sergeant.

Here all was quiet. The police were taking things easy, and the
prisoner, who had received something to eat, seemed very comfortable.

The sergeant informed me that the prisoner had now made a full
confession. When he got sight of the guns he became very communicative,
and had given a number of details. He had attacked the white man at
Dalrymple Creek, had given him a blow with his axe on the back of the
head, and had thrown his body into the water. He was also willing to
show the place where he had committed the murder.

I suggested to the sergeant that Jimmy should be taken to the Cardwell
police court, which was the proper court to decide this matter. On the
way thither the prisoner might show the body of the dead man. The
sergeant considered my suggestion to be very proper, and not thinking
himself particularly qualified to make a written statement to the
authorities, he left it to me to prepare the written report.

Jimmy rode a horse between David and another policeman. The handcuffs
were taken off, put on his ankles, and fastened to the stirrups. All
this surprised me, but I said nothing, as I supposed they knew best what
was necessary. In my letter to the police magistrate in Cardwell I
informed him that the prisoner had confessed the murder and was willing
to go and point out the body of his victim. The police were to travel
the whole night, and might be expected back in the evening of the next

The sergeant now relapsed into a most astonishing _dolce far niente_. He
went into his tent and began to drink the rum that belonged to his
chief, and for the sake of convenience he had set the jug by the side of
his bed.

Early the next morning I was greatly surprised at meeting David, who
handed me back the letter I had written, and told me they had had the
misfortune to lose the prisoner. On their arrival at Dalrymple Creek,
Jimmy had shown them the dead body in the creek, then he suddenly
severed the stirrup straps and fled with the irons on his feet. The
night was dark, and it was raining, so that it was easy for him to
escape, although the police fired some shots after him.

This information was a great disappointment to me, but it had an
opposite effect on the natives, who assured me that Jimmy would break
the irons with stones and thus free himself from them. I could not help
suspecting that David had been in collusion with the natives and given
aid to the prisoner, and I did not conceal the fact that I was greatly
displeased. Meanwhile it was impossible to discuss the matter with the
sergeant. He was dead drunk in his tent, and continued in this condition
for four days and nights. Now and then he became conscious, but then he
would take another drink, and perhaps request some one to fan him with
the tent door. Once or twice a day he would take a little walk round the
tent, supporting himself on two of the troopers, who almost had to carry
him. The condition of affairs kept growing worse. The troopers availed
themselves of this opportunity to help themselves from the jug, and they
even gave the natives grog, or “_gorrogo_,” as they called it.

In this manner the sergeant maintained the law in the eyes of the
natives, and in this manner he preserved discipline among his
subordinates. What an impression this would leave among the blacks in
regard to right and wrong! When sober, he was in the habit of saying
that “the only way of civilising a black-fellow is to give him a

I sent a letter to Mr. Stafford, the sergeant’s superior officer, who
lived in the police barracks on the table-land. I gave him an account of
what had happened, and demanded the punishment of Jimmy for the two
murders he had committed. I added that, if nothing was done in the
matter, I would make a full report to the Government.


  STRIPED-FACED POUCHED MOUSE (_Sminthopsis virginiæ_).

After putting my collections away in good order at my headquarters, I
got myself ready to depart for the Valley of Lagoons, where I intended
to pass the worst part of the rainy season. During the last days my
collection was augmented by the addition of two most interesting
specimens of the Australian fauna. The one was a pouched mouse
(_Sminthopsis virginiæ_) which is tolerably abundant in the Herbert,
river valley. It burrows in the earth and is dug up by the natives, who
are fond of its flesh. The specimen I secured is the only one to be
found in museums. From a complete description by De Tarragon in 1847 it
is evident that he found the same animal, but his specimen has been

Under very peculiar circumstances I also secured a young talegalla,
which the Kanaka had obtained from the blacks. It was in fact intended
for the sergeant, but he had requested the Kanaka to keep it for him.
The animal was placed under a kettle on the bare ground in the kitchen,
where it spent six days without food. The Kanaka informed me that the
talegalla was in his keeping, and offered it to me, since its rightful
owner was in no condition to take care of it. The poor creature had
tried to maintain life by scratching the hard ground, where no food was
to be found, and still it was in perfectly good condition. The blacks
had taken it out of the nest while they were digging for eggs, and when
found it was not more than one or two days old.

Near the end of February I said good-bye to Herbert Vale for a time, and
was glad to get away from the annoyances I had had during the latter
part of my sojourn there. My relations with the blacks had become more
complicated, for they had noticed that I was the only one who insisted
on the punishment of Jimmy, and they saw that my efforts were
frustrated. They had for the time being lost their respect for me, but I
had hopes of re-establishing my authority when Mr. Stafford came down
and made them fear the agents of the law. My safety demanded that severe
measures should be taken, and I therefore made up my mind to try to meet
him personally. He lived not far from Mr. Scott’s station, the Valley of

The scenery is quite different on the table-land from that in the
Herbert river valley, and consists of large green grassy fields
extending far and wide, sometimes covered with tall forests of
gum-trees. The heat and rainfall are considerably less, but still water
is abundant, especially around the Valley of Lagoons, which has its
beautiful name from the numerous fresh-water lakes found in that
locality. At the station, situated on a high hill, there was always a
cool refreshing breeze.

There are several indications that this region is gold-bearing, and some
day we may hear of the discovery of large quantities of the precious
metal. Near the station is a large district covered with lava, in which
are many caverns serving as hiding-places for the savages, who are
constantly at war with the white population. Rock-wallabies are fond of
this lava district. I there shot the beautiful little bird _Dicæum

In Burdekin river, which is full of fish, I one day discovered an
_Ornithorhynchus anatinus_ swimming in the clear water.

A few days after my arrival I received a visit from Mr. Stafford, who
expressed his regret that his men had acted so foolishly. As soon as he
could get his horses shod, he would himself go down to Herbert Vale and
“investigate the matter.” He said nothing about calling the sergeant to
account for his conduct, but seemed to be chiefly interested in a
journey which he was about to make to Townsville.

The blacks in this vicinity were not to be trifled with. They had
repeatedly surrounded the police barracks in the night, and there was
constant danger of an attack. They were also dangerous enemies to Mr.
Scott’s cattle, and according to the statement of the overseer, they had
killed thousands of them. Three blacks were servants at the station, and
were therefore “civilised,” but their life here had not had any visible
influence on their morals. One of them, a woman, told me that her
fellow-servant had given birth to three children, all of which had been
killed. The mother had put an end to two of them herself, while the
third had been permitted to live until it was big enough to be eaten.
The one who told me the story had herself put her foot on the child’s
breast and crushed it to death; then both had eaten the child. This was
told me as an everyday occurrence, and not at all as anything

I remained only fourteen days at this station, and in the middle of
March I was back at Herbert Vale. The keeper told me that Mr. Stafford
had spent a night at the station and had proceeded to Cardwell without
taking any step in regard to Jimmy. He might possibly give his attention
to the matter on his return. Meanwhile the postman and a sergeant sent
by the police court at Cardwell had found the body of the white man and
buried it. Jimmy had grown very bold, and had made his camp only a mile
and a half from Herbert Vale. Still, it would be difficult to capture
him. I tried to induce the blacks to kill him, representing to them that
in that event no one else would be shot, while, if they did not kill
him, they might all have to suffer.

They did, in fact, seem to get frightened, and told me they would have
him shot. Under all circumstances, they promised to deliver him up as
soon as Mr. Stafford returned. Had the latter taken up the matter on his
return, Jimmy would not have escaped his deserts. But Mr. Stafford was
wholly indifferent. He spent the night at the station, and in the
morning, as he was mounting his horse, he addressed a few words to one
or two natives who happened to be present, and said, “You had better
kill Jimmy yourselves.” That was all he did in the matter.

My position was a perilous one, and my authority among the blacks had
now received a new shock. The natives saw that they could take the life
of a white man with impunity, and that Mr. Stafford was unwilling to pay
any attention to my representations. From this they concluded that he
was on their side, and that it would be safe to kill me. Even Jimmy felt
secure. The next day he moved his camp nearer to Herbert Vale, and
before long he visited the station itself. Still I never saw him. A few
weeks later he broke into Mr. Gardiner’s farm on the Lower Herbert and
killed his dog.



                              CHAPTER XXI

  The rainy season—How the evenings are spent—Hardy
      children—Mangola-Maggi’s revenge—The crania of the Australians—The
      expedition to Cardwell—Dalrymple Gap—A scandalous murder—Entry
      into Cardwell—Yokkai as cook—“Balnglan’s” death—Tobacco cures

It grew more and more difficult to secure serviceable men. Yokkai I
could usually depend on, but all the others I suspected more or less.
Several times I was nearly ready for an expedition, when it began to
rain. The weather was, of course, very unreliable during the rainy
season. Old Walters had gone down to Cardwell for provisions, and I was
left alone at the station with the Kanaka, where time hung heavily on my
hands, for I had but few books. I kept writing as long as I was able,
and the rest of the day I sat in the kitchen chatting with the Kanaka
and the blacks, who usually came in late in the afternoon to warm their
naked bodies by the fire. Their bodies were washed clean by the rain,
and the wet steamed off them in the warm kitchen. They had a hard time
of it during this season. The weather was cold and wet, and the women
did not find much food in the woods, so that they suffered from hunger.

We generally sat round the fire, and the blacks told stories from their
everyday life. One of them, who was the most frequent visitor, was
Jacky, whom I mentioned before, a cunning black man, but upon the whole
a good-natured, sociable fellow, who was highly respected by his
companions. We therefore looked upon him as a sort of chief. One evening
he remained long, and entertained us with his stories. The conversation
turned upon our flour which was nearly finished, and it was stated that
we soon would have to live on the potatoes in the garden until the
overseer returned. It might take weeks before he came back, as the
rivers had overflowed their banks and the rain still continued. Jacky,
the rogue! pitied us. The next morning the Kanaka told me that most of
the potatoes were gone. Either Jacky’s women had stolen them, while he
kept us talking to prevent any suspicion on our part, or he must have
taken them immediately after he left us.

After a week’s continuous rain we again got clear weather. The only
pleasure I had had during this time was bathing. Whenever the weather
permitted, I would go down to the river in the misty cold air, but it
was necessary to keep a sharp look-out for crocodiles and not venture
too far out in the stream. In the same stream where I was in the habit
of bathing, a dog had recently been caught by a crocodile, while
swimming by the side of his master. Thus the dog saved the man’s life,
for the crocodile is particularly fond of dog’s flesh. Strange to say,
the natives are not afraid of swimming across a river, but I would not
advise a white man to attempt it.

Whenever it was possible I made excursions with the blacks, even during
this time. One day while we were out I met a black woman, who I knew had
a child two weeks old. She carried a basket on her back, and I, assuming
that the child was in the basket, asked her to show it to me. She at
once placed the basket on the ground, thrust her hand into it, seized
the child by the feet, and held it with the head down for me to look at.
The child awoke and began to cry a little, but did not seem to suffer
much by this treatment. The children are, upon the whole, hardy. At a
station near the tropics the white people several times saw a child only
a few days old lying out in the cold on a piece of bark with hoar-frost
round about it; and apparently it was not injured thereby.

At another time the conversation turned on a child that had died about a
month ago. One of the natives, who was aware that I collected various
things, asked me whether I would like to get this child, and added: “Why
have they been so stupid as to lay it in the ground? You and I will dig
it up and hang it in a tree to dry.” He was very eager to undertake this
work for me, hoping thereby to earn some tobacco. The child’s mother,
who had not thought of the possibility of getting any profit out of her
dead child, became from this moment very eager to sell it.

It is not often that it is so easy to get the natives to part with their
dead. They dislike to disturb their own, and are afraid to meddle with
those of other tribes. At this very time I was trying to secure a
cranium of a full-grown individual, and in connection with this I had
some very interesting experiences. I offered a reward of tobacco for the
head of a man of a distant tribe, who some time ago had been killed at a
borboby. From fear of the strange tribe they could not be persuaded to
procure it, so I made up my mind to try to get it myself. I took Yokkai
with me to show me the grave, but I did not find it.

Finally I succeeded in inducing Mangola-Maggi to fetch the head; but the
skull he brought me belonged to a young person and not to a full-grown
man. Besides, there was a large hole in the top of it, which made it
much less desirable as a cranium. I asked him what had produced the
hole. “Dingo has eaten it,” he said. Though I insisted that this could
not be true, he kept asserting that it was the right head. As, however,
he got no tobacco and as I promised him a large amount if he would bring
the right one, he set out again in company with another native. After he
had gone, the blacks explained to me the facts concerning this skull.
Mangola-Maggi as a young man had experienced great difficulty in getting
a wife, and had therefore requested an old man to give him one of his.
But, as was natural, the old man refused to do this. Mangola-Maggi, who
was a person of high authority on account of his ability to secure human
flesh, became angry, and decided to take revenge. On meeting the young
son of the man, he struck him on the head with a stone and killed him,
and it was the skull of this young man that they had now brought to me
and were trying to get a reward for. The body he had eaten immediately
after the murder.

The next day Mangola-Maggi and his companion brought the right cranium
and got their reward. When I reproached Mangola-Maggi for his conduct
toward the old man’s son, he simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled. I
afterwards learned that he was challenged by the father to a duel with
wooden swords and shields, and that in this manner the whole affair was



It is a well-known fact that the Australian natives, according to Gustaf
Retzius, belong to the prognathous dolichocephalous class. Their
projecting jaws make them resemble the apes more than any other race,
and their foreheads are as a rule very low and receding. The bone is
thick and strong. Few crania are to be found without marks of injuries,
whether they be male or female. The muscles of the face, particularly
the masticatory muscles, are very fully developed; the superciliary
arches are very prominent; the cheek-bones are high, and the temporal
fossæ very deep. The skull-bones form a high arch. The orbital margin is
very thick, the nasal bones are flat and broad, and the teeth large and
strong, the inner molars having as many as six cusps. The hollow of the
neck takes an upward and receding direction.

In the eight crania brought by me from Central and Northern Queensland
the length-breadth index is 71, the length averages 180.5, and the
breadth 128. The dolichocephalous character of the skull is mainly owing
to the great narrowness of the cranium.

The facial angle averages 68°. _Index orbitalis_ is microseme (81.5),
_index nasalis_ is platyrhine (53), and Daubenton’s angle averages 5°.

The male crania have the savage type even to a greater degree than the

The above measurements, particularly the small capacity of the cranium,
and the low receding forehead, which is unfavourable to a development of
the frontal lobes, indicate the low plane of intellectual development of
the Australian natives. The smaller the skull is the lower the race
ranks in culture, but the organs of the face are all the more developed
in comparison with the rest of the head.

The features distinguishing the cranium of the Australian from that of
the European are, in the first place, the projecting jaws (the
prognathous character), which are very rare and never marked among
Europeans; in the second place, the low forehead and the small capacity,
which among Europeans would be called microcephalous, and would indicate
a weak mind; in the third place, the flat nose, which is also very rare
in Europe; and finally, the large Daubenton angle.



In course of time we got better weather, so that I was able to start on
a long expedition to Cardwell to buy provisions, and thereupon to
examine the country north-west of this village. Yokkai and I succeeded
after much trouble in gathering a few people for this journey. We also
had the dog “Balnglan.” All looked fresh and green after the rain; but
it is wonderful how quickly everything dries up again, and how soon the
rivers fall to their usual level. After all the rainfall the air was
cool and very pleasant.

One evening I got a tangible proof, showing how important it is to clear
with fire the ground on which one is going to camp for the night. Yokkai
called my attention to the remains of a venomous serpent that had been
in the grass. The above precaution is also important in sanitary
respects, for the old grass is full of miasma, which makes the ground

On our way we passed the place on Dalrymple Creek where Jimmy had
murdered the white man. A heap of stones marked the spot where the
postman had buried him. In the pool of water hard by I found a few
bones. Soon after this we crossed the ridge at a place called Dalrymple
Gap. To a person looking down from the summit there is a most beautiful
view on either side. The spectator is greeted by a luxuriant tropical
vegetation; palms and bananas, and a multitude of other trees of greater
or lesser size, cover the ground, while across the gap hangs the
telegraph wire which connects civilised Australia with Europe. It made a
strange impression on me to find this emblem of civilisation after
spending so long a time among the savages. A wide swath for the
telegraph wire is cut through the dense forest, and continues its way
northward all the way to Cape York. This opening must constantly be
cleared, otherwise the rank vegetation would soon disturb the telegraph.

In these very regions a horrible murder was committed a few years ago by
the blacks. The fact is well known in Northern Queensland, but except
the natives, very few people are familiar with the details of the
murder. The natives often talked with me concerning this event, which
has not been forgotten by the white population either. The blacks did
not hesitate to talk about it now, as so long a time has elapsed since
it happened.

A settler named Mr. O’Connor, who had come to reside on the Lower
Herbert, cultivated a farm, and employed a great many blacks to help him
to clear the scrubs and to work in the fields. He paid them well, was
very kind to them, and did not shoot them, as so many of the other
colonists did, but was what is called “a blacks’ protector.” He paid
them in meat, flour, and tobacco, but was too kind to them, and so the
natives felt perfectly safe and had an irresistible desire to possess
all his property.

They resolved to make an attack on his farm, and marched against the
house armed with wooden swords and shields. O’Connor became alarmed,
took his revolver, and finally had to shoot at them. But at every shot
the natives ran behind the trees and shouted: “Shoot away, it will soon
be our turn!” At last he had fired his six shots without hitting one of
them. They had ceased to fear him to such a degree that they did not
even respect his revolver, and rushing upon him, they slew him with
their heavy swords, mangled his body, and plundered his house. They took
the bananas in his garden and stole his chickens. His wife was dragged
in an unconscious condition into the woods, where she was killed.

A police officer happened at the time to be on a tour of inspection in
the neighbourhood. As O’Connor was the only settler in this district,
the inspector wanted to visit him, and thus he discovered the crime that
had been committed. He ordered a battue of the blacks in all directions.
The troopers, who had on several occasions enjoyed the hospitality of
the settler, were furiously enraged, and pursued the criminals like
bloodhounds. The blacks report, however, that they did not succeed in
shooting more than two of the men—an old man and a youth—but nearly all
the women fell into their hands. The women, who generally are spared by
the native police, were on this occasion obliged to suffer for the
crimes of the men, and even the children were murdered and thrown into
the flames.

This account, given me by several natives whose statements agreed, I
consider perfectly reliable.

We encamped near Cardwell, a little settlement of about a hundred
inhabitants on the seashore. I had great trouble in getting any of my
men to go with me into the village, but finally succeeded in persuading
one man to accompany me, while the others remained in the camp awaiting
our return.



Our entrance into the village attracted considerable attention. I was on
horseback, and my attendant, Morbora, marched at my side in his
“garments of paradise.” With one hand he shouldered my gun, and with the
other hand he led the pack-horse. We must have looked like travelling

The people of the village gathered round us, and asked with the greatest
curiosity how I could live among the natives without being killed. They
all knew me from the postman, whose route began at Cardwell. I at once
went to the “hotel”—for there is no town with twenty inhabitants without
its hotel—to get my dinner, and procured for Morbora, who was sitting on
the verandah and taking care of the horse, a large amount of leavings—“a
black-fellow’s meal,” as it is called. He seemed to enjoy the food
immensely, as he had never before had such a feast. He was in perfect
ecstasy over all that he saw, and every trace of fear had left him. The
white men entered into conversation with him, and it surprised me to see
how well he used the few English words I had taught him. He felt like a
lord as he sat there eating the food of the white man.

I paid a visit to the police magistrate, and talked with him about
Jimmy. Then I bought provisions and returned to the camp, bringing with
me woollen blankets for all my men. The Government of Queensland
annually distributes blankets to the natives on the Queen’s birthday, if
they will but come and get them. This is the only thing the Government
does for the black inhabitants. The day for distribution had not yet
arrived, but I succeeded in getting blankets for my men in advance.
Here, on the borders of civilisation, there are but few natives who
avail themselves of this privilege, as they are too timid to approach
the whites.

On our return to the camp these blankets were a source of joy and
admiration. My blacks now made their first acquaintance with this sort
of luxury, and they seemed to be perfectly delighted. The flour and
sugar I had brought made, however, the deepest impression on them. The
amount was not large, but my blacks had never before seen such a lot of
dainties. In their simplicity they thought all was to be eaten at once,
though I tried to make them understand that it was to last a long time.
I did not give them much of the sugar, as they were able to procure
honey for themselves. Sugar had become an absolute necessity to me, and
I was unable to swallow my food without sweetening the water. It
frequently happened that I lay down in the evening munching dry food
without being able to swallow it. This made the natives envious, for,
having devoured their own share at once, they wanted to get what I was
trying to eat.

We proceeded up the Coast Mountains north-west from Cardwell, and
encamped near the summit on a grassy lawn in the scrub, constructing our
huts with more care than usual, and digging ditches round them so that
we could keep dry. The vegetation here was remarkably luxuriant. We had
a fine view of the ocean and of the coast below us, including a long
series of scrub-clad hills toward the north.

Yokkai, whom I had educated as well as I could to prepare the food, was
very proud of being permitted to handle the white man’s things. I had
taught him to wash himself and to keep himself clean, but only insisted
on his doing this when he acted as cook, and at such times I was always
present, as he was especially fond of baking damper. It was never
necessary to ask him twice to do this. He made no delay in procuring the
bark, on which he carefully laid the necessary amount of flour, adding
the proper amount of water, and kneaded the dough with a skill that a
baker might envy. When the dough was kneaded, and he had shaped it, he
threw it a few times into the air, and caught it like a ball, to show us
that he understood the art perfectly. After placing the cake in the
ashes, he carefully collected all the small pieces of dough remaining
and made a little cake of them, which he baked for his own special
benefit. Besides, I gave him, as his perquisite, a small piece of the
damper when it was done.

As he gradually grew more accustomed to the baking, I noticed that the
remnants of dough on the bark kept increasing in quantity, but as he
was, upon the whole, a rather scrupulous man, I said nothing about it. I
also gave him permission to prepare the meat. I had abandoned the tin
pail and now prepared my meat in the same manner as the natives.

We made daily excursions into the woods, which were unusually dense and
abounded with lawyer-palms. As usual, the leeches[14] were very numerous
in these mountains, and were very annoying. As you walk through the
woods, exhausted and dripping with perspiration, you scarcely notice
their bites before they have satisfied their thirst for blood, but then
the blood flows freely from the wound. The ticks, however, are a far
greater annoyance. All the scrubs up here are so full of these insects
that a white man dreads to enter them, though the natives are not at all
annoyed by them. A splendid remedy for the itching caused by these
insects is lemon juice, and hence I always took lemons with me on my
expeditions from Herbert Vale. I put this juice over my whole body, and
thus the insects were doubtless killed, for I immediately felt relief. A
larger species of tick is also found here which kills the dogs of
Europeans, but, strange to say, has no effect on the dingo. They are,
however, a great inconvenience to the white man, and should at once be
killed by applying petroleum to them. It is useless to try to jerk them
out, for a part of them will remain in the flesh and may cause bad
sores. I know a man who became blind for a few minutes on account of a
tick which he could not get entirely rid of, a part of it remaining in
the flesh of his back.

Footnote 14:

  They are not eaten by the natives.

On my wanderings here, my blacks found in a pool formed by a mountain
brook a toollah (_Pseudochirus archeri_). The natives all shouted at
once, _yarri_. They told me that the large yarri, which I never
succeeded in securing, but of whose existence I have no doubt, subsists
for a great part on this animal, which, in this instance, it had left in
the cool water for future consumption. One is tempted to believe that
the yarri understands the preserving quality of the water. The natives,
too, preserve their meat in the water during the hot summer months, as
the temperature of the water is, of course, lower than that of the air.
The fact probably is, that the yarri has found the water to be a safer
place for storing the meat. The toollah was put between some stones near
the edge of the river. I was much pleased with what the natives told me,
for it awakened in me hopes of securing a specimen of this large
marsupial. Fortunately, I had strychnine with me. I poisoned the toollah
and laid it on the bank. Farther up the stream I left several pieces of
meat, likewise prepared with poison, a source of great aggravation to
the blacks, who would have liked to eat the meat. As we went to examine
the snares every day, I was very much afraid that our dog might eat the
poison, and I kept constantly warning the blacks.

One day, as we were returning to the camp, the natives were to take a
beat by themselves through the scrub. I urged them particularly not to
return along the river, but to come through the woods, so as to avoid
the poisoned meat. Later in the day, as they were coming home, I heard
them talking about poison and about “Balnglan.” I at once became
suspicious, and asked if the dog had eaten any of the poison. They
denied it, but when I pressed them with questions they admitted that
they had returned by the way of the river, probably because they were
too lazy to go the other way, and they also confessed that “Balnglan”
had taken the poisoned toollah in his mouth. Yokkai had at once taken
the toollah out of “Balnglan’s” mouth, so that he had not eaten any of
it. No sooner had they made this statement than the dog fell into
spasms. I rushed into my hut, mixed as quickly as I could some tobacco
and water to pour down the dog’s throat, while Yokkai and another man
held it, but it died at once.

Yokkai gazed at it for a moment, then turned away and wept bitterly. He
sat down and wrung his hands in despair, while large tears rolled down
his cheeks. The other man also began to sob and cry aloud.

Though I felt the deepest sympathy for them, I could not endure these
endless lamentations. I got two large pieces of tobacco, and offered it
as a reward to them if they would cease their sobbing. Yokkai became
silent at once and straightened himself up, while he looked at the
tobacco with his eyes full of tears. He accepted it with contentment,
but there was not a smile on his face. The other continued sobbing until
it came to be his turn to get tobacco, then his sorrow was cured

I myself was touched by this event, for the good beast, which lay there
dead and rigid, had been of great service to me. It was the best dog for
miles round, and was the most intelligent dingo I have ever seen. I not
only placed a high value on it, but I was also very fond of it, though
it had several times attacked my leather traps, such as strings, shoes,
and even my revolver case. I was anxious to preserve at least its fine
black skin with white breast and yellow legs, and I suggested to Yokkai
that he should let me have it. Knowing that such a request would be
opposed, I at the same time offered tobacco as a compensation. He at
first objected, but when he saw two whole sticks of tobacco, every
scruple vanished and his eyes beamed with satisfaction. He even assisted
me in skinning the dingo, and from this time he regained his usual good
humour. He had some suspicions that Nilgora, the owner of the dog, would
become angry when he learned of this sad event, but he felt certain that
he could satisfy him by giving him his woollen blanket and some tobacco.

                              CHAPTER XXII

  Unpleasantnesses at Herbert Vale—New expeditions—Hunting human
      flesh—Cannibalism—Human flesh is the greatest delicacy of the
      Australian blacks—Superstitions in connection with the eating of
      human flesh—The taste of the cannibals—Cannibalism in Burma.



From this time forward I seldom visited Herbert Vale. It was easy to
understand that the old overseer was anxious to get rid of me, though I
had not troubled him much with my presence. He was one of those
Australian hermits who had lived so long by himself that he could not
brook others near him. I did all in my power to avoid any change in his
old habits. But he got tired of my skins and was annoyed by my
skeletons, the smell of which he could not bear, though I kept them in
another building. At last I hardly knew what to do with them. He was
peevish and unsociable. We never conversed unless it was absolutely

My relations with Nelly and the Kanaka had hitherto been pleasant; but
things came to pass which made a change in their conduct. Nelly had an
old one-eyed cur that it was dangerous to approach. When I returned from
the expedition to Cardwell it was determined to hinder me from entering
my room, barking the whole time and showing its angry teeth. I took a
stick and gave it a severe blow, but as I was too angry to calculate the
weight of the blow, the dog fell to the ground unconscious. Nelly, who
meanwhile had come to the rescue, at once uttered a shriek so terrible
that I could hardly conceive it as coming from a human being. It was
impossible to get her to stop. She threw herself upon the dog and did
not cease shrieking until it became conscious again. She thought I had
killed it, but it became perfectly well again, though the pleasant
relations between Nelly and myself were gone for ever.

The Kanaka did not take much interest in this matter, for he was used to
hearing Nelly cry, but another incident disturbed our intercourse. I
reproached him for his conduct towards a girl eleven years old, and for
this he could never forgive me.

On account of these strained relations, Herbert Vale was even less
attractive than before. I spent most of my time with the blacks, simply
paying an occasional short visit to the station. Yokkai was still my
faithful companion, and assisted me in gathering men.

One day we crossed a valley, where he told me many blacks had at one
time lived of whom not a trace was now to be seen. They had gradually
been killed and eaten by other tribes.

As has repeatedly been stated, the Australian tribes are constantly at
war with each other. They try to exterminate one another whenever there
is an opportunity. They constantly plan attacks, and in their warfare
exhibit a cunning worthy of a better cause. This enmity between the
tribes is attributable to the superstition that any black man can by
witchcraft cause death among the members of his tribe. Hence it is of
importance to kill as many strangers as possible, but as cowardice is no
vice or fault among the Australians, they content themselves with hating
and fearing one another, except when the opportunity of taking life is,
so to speak, forced upon them. There is much talking and loud boasting,
but the words seldom ripen into action. Still, it sometimes happens that
they attack each other for the purpose of revenging direct insults, as
for instance the stealing of women, hunting on another tribe’s
territory, or on account of some death, for which the strangers are of
course blamed. Then they are enticed by the hope of getting more wives;
but the greatest incentive to taking life is their appetite for human
flesh. The blacks never wage war to conquer new territory.

On Herbert river expeditions are sometimes undertaken for the special
purpose of securing _talgoro_—that is, human flesh. On such occasions a
small company of the boldest and most depraved gather together, and they
are, of course, persons of high standing in the tribe. They are not many
in number, as a rule only three or four; for the attacks are made on
small family tribes that live scattered through the district, sometimes
consisting of not more than five or six individuals. The expedition
travels slowly, as they have no provisions with them and must find their
subsistence from day to day. It is of course necessary to proceed with
the greatest caution, lest they be themselves discovered and attacked.

When they have found a small family tribe to be attacked, they try to
stay near their camp in the evening. Nothing having happened to cause
apprehension during the day, the family sits comparatively secure round
the camp fire. Early in the morning, before sunrise, a noise is suddenly
heard and the family wakes up in a fright. The black man’s
highly-wrought fancy always makes him imagine that his enemies are far
more numerous than they are in reality. Each one tries to save his life
as best he can; resistance being out of the question, there is no
gallant defence of women and children. Each one has to look after
himself; and it is generally worst for the old individuals, who are
killed and eaten. A woman is as a rule splendid booty; if she be young
her life is generally spared, but if she be old she is first ravished
and then killed and eaten.

The natives of Northern Queensland and of many other parts of Australia
are cannibals. My people never made any secret of this, and in the
evenings it was the leading topic of their conversation, which finally
both disgusted and irritated me. The greatest delicacy known to the
Australian native is human flesh. The very thought of _talgoro_ makes
his eye sparkle. When I asked my men what part of the human body they
liked best, they always struck their thighs. They never eat the head or
the entrails. The most delicate morsel of all is the fat about the
kidneys. By eating this they believe that they acquire a part of the
slain person’s strength, and so far as I could understand, this was even
more true of the kidneys themselves. For according to a widespread
Australian belief, the kidneys are the centre of life.

It happened years ago in Victoria that a white policeman was attacked by
the blacks. They struck him with their clubs until they believed him
dead, and then they took out his kidneys and ran away. The man came to
his senses again for a moment and was able to relate what had happened,
but a few hours afterwards he died. The natives on Herbert river are
particularly fond of the fat of a dead foe, which is not only eaten as a
delicacy and as a strengthening food, but is also carried as an amulet.
A small piece is done up in grass and kept in a basket worn round the
neck, and the effect of this is, in their opinion, success in the chase,
so that they can easily approach the game. A man told me that
immediately after beginning to wear a small piece of human fat, he waded
across the river, and came at once to a tree where he found a large
edible snake.

As a rule the Australian natives do not eat persons belonging to their
own tribe. Still, I know instances to the contrary, and I have even
heard of examples of mothers eating their own children. Besides the
circumstance already related, it happened in 1883, about a hundred miles
from Townsville, that a child which had died a natural death was eaten,
and that the mother herself took part in the feast. A day or two later
she too died and was eaten. In connection with this I must call
attention to the fact that the killing of children rarely happens on
Herbert river, for the mothers are invariably fond of their children. I
know of examples of their killing their children because they were a
burden to them, but such things also happen in civilised countries.
Moreover, the father is the one who determines whether the child is to
live or not, so that when the mother kills the child she usually obeys
the orders of her husband.

Mr. White has informed me that the natives south of the Carpentarian
Gulf also are cannibals to some extent. They never kill anybody for the
purpose of eating him, but the women eat those who die a natural death;
near Moreton Bay the dead are also eaten, and by their own relatives.

In Western Queensland, at Westlands station on Thompson river, a woman
belonging to a tribe of civilised blacks gave birth to a so-called
_half-caste_ child—that is, the offspring of a black mother and a white
father. Such half-breeds are not as a rule much liked, and are therefore
usually killed by the blacks who are in the first stages of
civilisation. In this instance the blacks had indeed been in long
intercourse with white people, and still the child was killed. It was
permitted to live about three weeks, but one day one of the men put his
hand round its neck and held it up till it was choked to death.
Thereupon it was roasted on the fire and distributed among those
present, and eaten most greedily. Many of the white people at the
station were witnesses of this event. It is not known whether the mother
in this instance ate any of the flesh of her child or not.

The blacks do not like to eat white people. When Jimmy had killed the
white man near my headquarters, my question as to whether the dead man
had been eaten caused great surprise. The answer was: _Kólle mah!
komorbory kawan!_—that is, By no means! terrible nausea! At the same
time the person pointed at his throat to indicate his disgust for the
flesh of a white man. The other persons present agreed with him. I have
often since heard them say that the white man’s flesh is not good; this
may be owing to his constant diet of salt beef, tea, and bread, which
possibly gives his flesh a different taste from that of the blacks. The
black man lives on vegetables nearly all his life. I have heard it
stated by “civilised” blacks that the white man’s flesh has a salt
taste, which the natives do not like.

This also seems to harmonise with their fondness for the flesh of the
Chinese, whose food consists largely of rice and other vegetables.
Farther north in Queensland it twice happened during my sojourn in
Australia that the blacks killed the Chinese in great numbers. It was
said that ten Chinamen were eaten at one dinner. All strangers who
travel through the land of a tribe are of course their enemies. This is
true both of the Chinese and the white men, both of which races are
looked upon as another kind of black who come from distant lands, and
are killed when the opportunity presents itself.

Human flesh, however, is not the daily food of the Australian. On the
contrary, he seldom gets a mouthful of this delicacy. During all the
time I spent on Herbert river only two blacks were killed and eaten. One
of them was a young man who had ventured to go into the territory of a
strange tribe, where he was surprised and killed. The other was an old
man who was not able to run fast enough when his tribe was attacked, and
he was stoned to death. His flesh was brought in baskets to Herbert

It is a mistake to suppose that the cannibals have an uglier look than
other savages. Those who go in search of human flesh are certainly the
boldest and the most cunning, but a cannibal may look very quiet and
approachable. Both men and women take part in the feast of human flesh.

Doubtless cannibals can be found even at the present time in other lands
than Australia. There are said to be cannibals in the interior of Africa
and in Borneo, but I doubt whether it is generally known that there is a
peculiar kind of cannibalism in certain hill districts of Burma, in
regard to which I have recently obtained interesting and reliable
information from the distinguished Burmese barrister Mr. Chan-Toon, and
I take this opportunity of relating some of the facts gathered from him.
He says that in the north-east part of Burma there are mountain tribes
who live a savage life resembling that of the Australian blacks, and who
eat the congealed blood of their enemies. The blood is poured into
bamboo reeds, corked up, and in course of time hardens. The filled reeds
are hung under the roofs of the huts, and when the chief of the tribe
wants to treat his friends to this kind of food the reed is broken and
the contents devoured with the greatest relish. The origin of this
custom is, according to Mr. Chan-Toon, a superstition that the natives
will thereby acquire the courage and strength of their enemies. He
thinks that at first the blood of captives must have been drunk as soon
as they were slain.

                             CHAPTER XXIII

  The burial of the blacks—Black mummies—Sorcerers or wizards—Myths and
      legends—The doctrine of the Trinity in New South Wales—The belief
      in a future life among the blacks.



On our way home from an expedition we discovered a grave in a “white
ants’” hill. The entrance was about a yard high. It was built on the
side of the ant-hill, extending about half way up, and had a sloping
front. In front of the opening large pieces of the bark of the tea-tree
were placed, on which heavy stones were rolled in order to keep wild
dogs from getting to the corpse. In a tree near the grave hung a
capacious basket. This led me to think that the Australian natives
probably believe in a future life, and I examined this basket to see
whether provisions had been left in it, but I found it empty. I asked
the natives whether there had been food in the basket, so that the
deceased might have something to eat, but this was an idea which they
could not comprehend. They informed me that a child was buried here. The
parents were so much grieved at the loss of their child that they did
not care to keep the basket in which they had carried it, and had
accordingly left it beside the grave.



The Australian natives usually bury their dead, but they invariably
strive to avoid letting the corpse come into direct contact with the
earth, and the dead body is therefore wrapped in bark or other
materials. The graves are not very deep, and sometimes have a direction
from east to west, and the foot of the grave is toward the rising sun.
In some parts of Queensland two sticks, painted red and about a yard
high, are erected near the grave, and on the tops of the sticks feathers
of the white cockatoo are fastened. If the deceased was a prominent man,
a hut is sometimes built over his grave. The entrance, which faces the
east, has an opening through which a grown person may creep. In some
parts of Australia the dead body is placed in a sitting posture, and a
mound is built over it. There are also tribes which bury their dead in a
standing position. Near Rockhampton I saw several graves not more than a
foot deep, in which the feet were directed toward the rising sun. Hills
are usually selected as burial-places. At Coomooboolaroo the dead bodies
both of women and men are laid into graves as long as the corpses, about
a yard under the sod, and wrapped in pieces of cloth or bark. The graves
are filled with small tree-trunks up to the level of the ground, and
then a thin layer of soil is laid on the top.

East of Fitzroy river women are laid in an open trench, the earth having
been dug out with a “yam-stick” and neatly piled up all round; the body
is in this way left quite exposed, and the legs are bent upwards. The
grass all round for a couple of yards or more is removed, leaving the
ground quite bare; this is probably done to protect the grave in case of
bush-fire. After a time their relations come and gather the bones, cut a
hole in a hollow tree, and put the bones into it. The hole is then
filled up with grass, and twigs or sticks are laid on the top to keep
the grass in. The tree-trunk above and below the hole (around which the
bark is cut away) they paint with red or red and white colours.

An old warrior who has been a strong man and therefore much respected by
his tribe, is after his death put on a platform made with forked sticks,
cross-pieces, and a sheet or two of bark; he is hoisted up amidst a
pandemonium of noise, howling, and wailing, besides much cutting with
tomahawks and banging of heads with nolla-nollas. He is laid on his back
with his knees up, like the females, and the grass is cleared away from
under and all round. The place is now for a long time carefully avoided,
till he is quite shrivelled, whereupon his bones are taken away and put
in a tree. The common man is buried like a woman, only that logs are put
over him and his bones are not removed. Young children are put bodily
into the trees.

The fact that the natives bestow any care on the bodies of the dead is
doubtless owing to their fear of the spirits of the departed. In some
places I have seen the legs drawn up and tied fast to the bodies, in
order to hinder the spirits of the dead, as it were, from getting out to
frighten the living. Women and children, whose spirits are not feared,
receive less attention and care after death.

In several tribes it is customary to bury the body where the person was
born. I know of a case where a dying man was transported fifty miles in
order to be buried in the place of his nativity. It has even happened
that the natives have begun digging outside a white man’s kitchen door,
because they wanted to bury an old man born there. In Central Queensland
I saw many burial-places on hills. Such are also said to be found in New
South Wales and in Victoria. These burial-grounds have been in use for
centuries, and are considered sacred.

In South Australia and in Victoria the head is not buried with the body,
for the skull is preserved and used as a drinking-cup. It is a common
custom to place the dead between pieces of bark and grass on a scaffold,
where they remain until they are decayed, and then the bones are buried
in the ground. In the northern part of Queensland I have heard people
say that the natives have a custom of placing themselves under these
scaffolds to let the fat drop on them, and that they believe that this
puts them in possession of the strength of the dead man.

A kind of mummy, dried by the aid of fire and smoke, is also found in
Australia. Male children are most frequently prepared in this manner.
The corpse is then packed into a bundle, which is carried for some time
by the mother. She has it with her constantly, and at night sleeps with
it at her side. After about six months, when nothing but the bones
remain, she buries it in the earth. Full-grown men are also sometimes
carried in this manner, particularly the bodies of great warriors. This
is done, for instance, in the southern part of Queensland, and a mummy
of this kind may be seen in the Brisbane Museum. Mr. Finch-Hatton
relates in _Advance Australia_ that when an old warrior dies he is
skinned with the greatest care, and after the survivors have eaten as
much of him as they like, the bones are cleaned and packed into the
skin, and thus the remains are carried for years.

The natives in the neighbourhood of Portland Bay, in the south-western
part of South Australia, cremate their dead by placing the corpse in a
hollow tree and setting fire to it. This is also done by the tribes west
of Townsville.

In connection with this, I am reminded of Lucian’s words: “Various
people have various modes of burial. The Greeks cremated their dead; the
Persians buried them; the Hindoos anoint them with a kind of gum; the
Scythians eat them; and the Egyptians embalm them.” Here we are given
nearly all the modes of burial which have existed both among civilised
people and among barbarians, and strange to say, we find all these modes
represented among the savages of Australia.

The natives of Australia have this peculiarity, in common with the
savages of other countries, that they never utter the names of the dead,
lest their spirits should hear the voices of the living and thus
discover their whereabouts.

There seems to be a widespread belief in the soul’s existence
independently of matter. On this point Fraser relates that the Kūlin
tribe (Victoria) believes that every man and animal has a _mūrŭp_ (ghost
or spirit), which can pass into other bodies. A person’s mūrŭp may in
his lifetime leave his body and visit other people in their dreams.
After death the mūrŭp is supposed to appear again, to visit the grave of
its former possessor, to communicate with living persons in their
dreams, to eat remnants of food lying near the camp, and to warm itself
by their night fires.[15] A similar belief has been observed among the
blacks of Lower Guinea. On my travels I, too, found a widespread fear of
the spirits of the dead, to which the imagination of the natives
attributed all sorts of remarkable qualities. The greater the man was on
earth the more his departed spirit is feared. Of the spirits of those
long since departed there is no dread. Upon the whole, it may be said
that these children of nature are unable to conceive a human soul
independent of the body, and the future life of the individual lasts no
longer than his physical remains.

Footnote 15:

  _Transactions of Royal Society of New South Wales_, 1882.

In the various tribes are so-called wizards, who pretend to communicate
with the spirits of the dead and get information from them. They are
able to produce sickness or death whenever they please, and they can
produce or stop rain and many other things. Hence these wizards are
greatly feared. Mr. Curr has very properly called attention to the
influence of this fear of witchcraft upon the character and customs of
the natives. It makes them bloodthirsty, and at the same time darkens
and embitters their existence. An Australian native is unable to
conceive death as natural, except as the result of an accident or of old
age, while diseases and plagues are always ascribed to witchcraft and to
hostile blacks.

This superstitious fear causes and maintains hatred between the tribes,
and is the chief reason why the Australian blacks continue to live in
small communities and are unable to rise to a higher plane of social

In order to be able to practise his arts against any black man, the
wizard must be in possession of some article that has belonged to
him—say, some of his hair or of the food left in his camp, or some
similar thing. On Herbert river the natives need only to know the name
of the person in question, and for this reason they rarely use their
proper names in addressing or speaking of each other, but simply their
class-names. The wizard is, as a rule, a man far advanced in years, but
I knew a youth of only twenty who enjoyed a great reputation for his
sorcery. The wizard is also the physician of the tribe, and imagines
that he can cure all diseases and that he has great power over the

I once met a black man who told me that he personally had been the
victim of strange wizards, and that ever since that time he had been a
sufferer from headache. One afternoon, many years ago, two wizards had
captured him and bound him; they had taken out his entrails and put in
grass instead, and had let him lie in this condition until sunrise. Then
he suddenly recovered his senses and became tolerably well, a result for
which he was indebted to a wizard of his own tribe, who thus proved
himself more powerful than the two strangers. The blacks call an
operation of this kind _kóbi_, and a man who is able to perform it, and
who, as a matter of course, is very much respected and feared, is said
to be “much kóbi,” a fact of which I, too, used to boast, for the
purpose of maintaining my importance in the eyes of the blacks, and in
this I was successful, at least in the beginning. “Kóbi” was the most
dreadful thing imaginable. It usually ended in death, and although the
life of the victim might be saved, he would for ever after have a
reminder in the form of constant headache.

An old warrior in a tribe not far from Rockhampton was taken very ill.
The tribe being at the time near a station, asked the manager, who was a
friend of mine, to give the sick man some medicine. “Holloway’s pills,”
the usual medicine in the bush, was accordingly supplied to him, but
without making him any better. The doctor of the tribe had then to bring
his powers into action. All the blacks attributed his illness to some
strange black-fellows who had put some pieces of broken glass into him,
and these the doctor was now willing to take out, in order to effect a
cure. The old man was laid in front of a big fire; all the members of
the tribe had placed themselves solemnly round him, some of his five
“gins” crying. Suddenly out of the darkness appeared a huge black-fellow
dressed up to his eyes in paint and feathers and carrying a long spear
in his one hand, while in the other he held a small pouch made out of a
kangaroo’s scrotum. Then began the most awful row one can
imagine—crocodile tears flowing in streams. The doctor placed himself
within reach of the patient, stretched out his spear and touched him
with the point, and all the noise at once ceased; the eager look on all
the dark faces round was something to see. Every time the doctor raised
his spear he produced a piece of broken glass from his hair and put it
into the bag, this performance being followed by a great yell from all
those assembled. He produced altogether seven pieces of glass, and the
crowd uttered a yell for each piece. When all was over, the doctor
disappeared into the darkness, and the sick man recovered. All the
blacks believed that he had drawn these pieces up the spear into his
hair, and to try to convince them of the absurdity of such an opinion
only made them sulkily say, “White-fellow stupid fellow.”

Strange to say, many of the civilised blacks believe that they will be
changed hereafter into white men—that they will “jump up white-fellow,”
and it is also an interesting fact that many tribes use the same word
for “spirit” and for “white man.” It has frequently happened that the
savages have taken white men to be their own deceased fellows, which
confirms the theory prevalent in many parts of Australia that the
natives believe in a future life. Near a station in Central Queensland
the white population observed that a black woman repeatedly brought food
to the grave of her deceased husband.

The Australian blacks do not, like many other savage tribes, attach any
ideas of divinity to the sun or moon. On one of our expeditions the full
moon rose large and red over the palm forest. Struck by the splendour of
the scene, I pointed at the moon and asked my companions: “Who made it?”
They answered: “Other blacks.” Thereupon I asked: “Who made the sun?”
and I got the same answer. The natives also believe that they themselves
can produce rain, particularly with the help of their wizards. To
produce rain they call _milka_. When on our expeditions we were
overtaken by violent tropical storms my blacks always became enraged at
the strangers who had caused the rain. Even my naïve friend Yokkai once
boasted that he and the young Mangola-Maggi, who was a wizard, had
produced rain to worry other blacks.

I never succeeded in discovering myths and legends among the blacks of
Herbert river; but they are close observers of the starry heavens, and I
was surprised to find that they had different names for the planets,
distinguishing them by their size. In other parts of Australia the fancy
of the natives makes the stars inhabited, and in this way several
beautiful myths have been developed.

The southern tribes of Australia not only occupy their minds with myths
and legends, but they also have definite religious notions. Some very
interesting information in regard to the idea of a God cherished by
these southern natives has been furnished by Mr. Manning, who in 1845
discovered among some tribes of New South Wales a doctrine of the
Trinity, which bears so striking a resemblance to that of the Christian
religion that we are tempted to take it to be the result of the
influence of missionaries.[16] But according to the author, the
missionaries did not visit these tribes until many years later. They
recognise a supreme, benevolent, omnipotent Being, _Boyma_, seated far
away in the north-east on an immense throne made of transparent crystal
and standing in a great lake. He has an omniscient son, _Grogoragally_,
who brings men to his father’s throne, to be judged by the latter, and
the son is the mediator. There is also a third person, half human, half
divine, _Moogeegally_, who is the great lawgiver to men, and who makes
Boyma’s will known to them. They also believe in a hell with everlasting
fire, and a heaven, where the blessed dance and amuse themselves.
Several other authors agree that the southern tribes of Australia
believe in a supreme good Being, though they have nowhere found a
religious system so perfectly developed as the one above described. Mr.
Ridley’s statements concerning the Kamilaroy tribe are particularly
remarkable. These natives believe in a creator, _Bhaiamé_, who is to
judge mankind. The word is derived from _baio_, to cut or make—thus
creator,—and is distinctly identical with Manning’s _Boyma_.

Footnote 16:

  _Transactions of Royal Society of New South Wales_, 1882.

Others again, as for instance Mr. Mann (in New South Wales), who has
made a thirty years’ study of the blacks, deny that the natives have any
religion whatever except fear of the “devil-devil.”

It is not easy to understand this want of agreement among the
authorities. If, however, the above-mentioned theory, that the south
part of Australia is inhabited by a higher and more developed race than
that in the north, is correct, then this supplies the solution of the

As to the natives on Herbert river, it is my opinion that they do not
believe in any supreme good Being, but only in a demon, and it was even
difficult for them to give any definite account of this devil. On the
other hand, it must be admitted that the natives are very reluctant to
give any information in regard to their religious beliefs. They look
upon them as secrets not to be divulged to persons not of their own
race. Hence there is a possibility that they believed in a God and had
more developed notions than I suspected, but I do not regard this as
probable. Besides, I have evidence from various sources that the same is
the case with other tribes.

Mr. George Angas[17] says of the tribes on Murray river in South
Australia: “They appear to have no religious observances whatever. They
acknowledge no Supreme Being, worship no idols, and believe only in the
existence of a spirit, whom they consider as the author of ill, and
regard with superstitious dread. They are in perpetual fear of malignant
spirits, or bad men, who, they say, go abroad at night; and they seldom
venture from the encampment after dusk, even to fetch water, without
carrying a fire-stick in their hands, which they consider has the
property of repelling these evil spirits.”

Footnote 17:

  _Savage Life and Scenes in Australia and New Zealand._ London, 1850,
  vol. i. p. 88.

In _The Fifth Continent_, p. 69, Mr. Charles Eden appears to me to use
rather strong language when he says: “I verily believe that we have
arrived at the sum total of their religion, if a superstitious dread of
the unknown can be so designated. Their mental capacity does not admit
of their grasping the higher truths of pure religion.”

Mr. Curr is of the opinion that the religious ideas which people claim
to have found among the Australian natives are simply the result of the
influence of the white man, the ideas being modified to suit the fancy
of the natives.

At all events, it is certain that neither idolatry nor sacrifices are to
be found in Australia. Nor have the natives, so far as I know, ever been
seen to pray.

In conclusion, I will give a brief account of a conversation which I had
one evening with the Kanaka at Herbert Vale, for in my estimation it
throws some light on this question. In his native home, in the far-off
South Sea Islands, he had received instruction from missionaries, but
had not been converted to Christianity. He said he did not like the
missionaries. On this occasion—it was a mild, starlit night, such a one
as can be seen only in the tropics—he asked me if it was true that we
would some day go to the stars up there. I explained to him what
Christianity teaches in regard to a life hereafter. “There is a much
better place up there after death,” he remarked. Some of the natives
were standing round us with their mouths wide open. Suddenly he burst
into laughter, and pointing with one hand to the glittering stars, said:
“The blacks do not believe that there is anybody above us up there.”

The objection might be made to this statement, that the natives,
particularly the older ones, had secrets which they were unwilling to
divulge to the younger members of the tribe, with whom the Kanaka mostly
associated, and that he consequently was not acquainted with the
religious ideas of the tribe, but it appears to me that so important a
matter as the belief in a God could scarcely have escaped his
observation, for he was constantly with them both by day and by night.
He spoke their language fluently, was married to a woman of their tribe,
and had become wholly identified with them in customs and habits of

                              CHAPTER XXIV

My life in danger—Morbora’s ingratitude—Another danger—My position grows
more precarious—The black man’s fondness for imitating.

During the last part of my sojourn in Australia my situation grew more
and more perilous. In an unguarded moment Yokkai even happened to tell
me how the blacks were constantly laying plots against me.

We were at this time about to set poison for some animals, which I was
trying to secure in Morbora’s “land.” Morbora was himself one of our
party, and I promised him not only tobacco, but also a handkerchief of
many colours, if he would tell me honestly where I had better lay the
poison. There were two valleys to choose between, and I had a strong
suspicion that he from sheer laziness chose the nearest one. I therefore
assured him most positively that if he deceived me he would get nothing,
but he insisted that the animals were usually found in the nearest
valley, which accordingly was to be preferred.

As the others declared themselves willing to go farther, but still
maintained that he was right, I was forced to believe him. We had much
work and trouble in placing poisoned pieces of meat in various places
along the river.

Here we remained for two days without catching anything, and I therefore
grew impatient, and declared that he had deceived me. To my surprise the
others admitted this with smiles in their faces: _Oito Morbora_—that is,
Morbora’s jest. He accordingly received no pay from me, although he
demanded it. Still, later in the evening, I gave him a little tobacco so
that he might be able to join the others in smoking, but he was not
satisfied with this. He had made up his mind to get possession of all
the tobacco I had left by taking my life. He got Mangola-Maggi—who, by
the way, had admitted that Morbora had lied to me—to join him in this
foul plot. As the reader will remember, he was an experienced cannibal.
Together with two others he had recently been out in search of human
flesh, and had been successful. He had no objection to give his
assistance on this occasion, the more so as the reward would be abundant
according to the standard of the blacks. Only the opportunity was

The opportunity presented itself the next morning. They, were all ready
to attack me, and a part was assigned to each one of them. Mangola-Maggi
was to seize me from behind my back, while Morbora, who was the
strongest, was to strike me on the head. I was sitting on the ground a
short distance from the hut, and had carelessly left my revolver and my
belt in my hut. They also tried to get Yokkai into the plot, but at this
time he had, fortunately for me, been inspired to do all in his power to
save my life, and so he detained them for some time with his objections,
advising them not to attack me just at that time. Before they had come
to any definite conclusion I had got up and gone into my hut, and so I
this time escaped Morbora’s murderous plot. It was not until some time
afterwards that I learned from Yokkai the details of this intended

Later in the day, while we were resting on the bank of a river which we
were about to cross, we met a dozen natives, with whom Morbora at once
entered into a spirited conversation. I had seated myself on the soft
sand, and intended to eat my dinner there, but I began to suspect that
mischief was brewing, for I observed that Morbora grew more and more
excited in his conversation with the strangers, and at last became
perfectly pale with rage. I therefore decided to cross the river and eat
my dinner on the other side, where I would feel more secure. I
afterwards learned from Yokkai that he had heard Morbora propose to the
strange blacks that they should join him in killing me now that the
opportunity was so favourable. It was not, therefore, strange that
Morbora did not cross the river with me. He remained with the natives he
had met, and with whom he soon disappeared in the scrubs. After that
time I never saw him again.

I had taken more interest in the education of this man than in that of
any other; I had treated him well and taught him, timid as he was in the
beginning, to have confidence in the white man. And now my reward was
that he tried to take my life no less than twice on the same day. It was
to me a new and striking evidence of the bad character of the Australian

At another time the danger was even more imminent. I had my camp near a
little tribe, where there was an old acquaintance of mine, viz.
Mangoran. As will be remembered, he had accompanied me on my first
expedition with the blacks.

We had just made our camp when he put in his appearance, and my people,
who were afraid of him, gave him the greater part of the food and
tobacco which they had received from me. This was more than I could
stand, and as his laziness, moreover, had a bad influence on my people,
I requested him to remain in his own camp. On this account Mangoran
became mortally offended, and from that day I was the object of his
deadly hate. My request that he should leave my premises was not
complied with at once, but threats to use my revolver had the desired
effect. Still, I did not care to lose sight of him, for my provisions
were never safe in his greedy propinquity.

Yokkai, too, comprehended the situation, for soon afterwards, when we
were to start on an expedition, he proposed that for safety’s sake we
should take Mangoran, otherwise he would steal our provisions during our
absence. Mangoran appeared willing at once, and seemed to be pleased
with the usual reward of meat and tobacco which he would get on our

The same evening I went down to the mountain stream near the camp to
take my bath. My daily intercourse with the natives had made me less
observant than caution demanded. I had left my revolver in the hut.
While I was absent a council of war was held in the camp. Mangoran, who
for several days had been looking for an opportunity, was now eagerly
urging the others to murder me, and was explaining how easy it would be
to do this.

The grass all the way to the bank of the river was tall, so that they
could steal down upon me unobserved. He explained to them what their
reward would be—flour, meat, tobacco, and a large woollen blanket. They
could take all, even my gun. The other blacks, however, hesitated. An
old man who once had been shot in the leg by the native police
considered the undertaking risky. Yokkai and another boy who was with me
also argued against killing the white man. The end of the deliberations
was that Mangoran and his wife should commit the murder. They were to
steal down through the grass and attack me in the water—he armed with an
axe, she with her “yam-stick.” It is not difficult to see how this
matter would have ended had I remained in the water as long as usual;
but as good luck would have it, the weather happened to be so cool that
I could only take a short bath, and I made haste to dress myself again.
Thus they did not get to the river in time to attack me in my
defenceless condition, and when they saw that I was already dressed and
on my way to my hut, they abandoned the project for the time.

When Yokkai, a long time afterwards, reported these facts to me, I asked
him if they were not afraid of the police, to which he made the very
appropriate response, “That the scrub is very large.” They had been so
sure that the murder would be a success that they had already in advance
divided my property among themselves, and decided that my body was to be
thrown into the water and not eaten. One of the horses was to be eaten,
but the other, the old pack-horse, which was very lean, was to be set at
liberty. Yokkai added that he had made up his mind not to allow this,
but would have taken both the horses to the station, and would there
have told the keeper what had happened. All this came from Yokkai’s lips
as naïvely and confidently as if he were talking about a person already
dead and gone.

It seemed to me like reading in a newspaper about my own death and all
its details, for I fully comprehended how near I had in fact been to
death’s door. I was surrounded by dangers on all sides, and I had no
reason to look for any bettering of the circumstances, for the natives
respect only those whites who shoot them, and as I did not use my gun
against them, I at length came to be looked upon as “a small white man.”
Yokkai frequently blamed me for not being sufficiently _kóla_—that is,
angry. “You do not shoot anybody,” he added.

My clothes were so tattered and torn that they scarcely hung together,
and this fact did not tend to raise me in the eyes of the natives, who,
like children, have a keen eye for such exterior matters, and regarded
my rags as evidence that I was no longer the great man they had
supposed. Add to this the defeat I had suffered on account of the
conduct of the police, and it is evident that my life hung by a thread.

The blacks near Herbert Vale having proved themselves lazy and useless,
I never took them with me, so they got no tobacco, which made them
angry. Every time I started out on an expedition they urged my people to
murder me and throw my body into the water. This advice came, not only
from my former friends Willy and Jacky, but even from Nelly and the

The greatest danger, however, threatened me from my own people, though I
felt convinced that Yokkai, despite his emotional disposition, would
defend me to the extent of his ability. He had himself on one occasion
told me that “he did like the white man.”

Despite these many difficulties, I was determined not to give up,
feeling sure that I would yet be able to make new discoveries in these
interesting and strange regions.

Yokkai was my only faithful friend. Once in a while he had to go to his
mother to get some tobola, but he soon returned, and he stayed with me,
for “he wanted to become white man.”

He had also made considerable progress. He could smoke tobacco as well
as anybody, was himself the owner of a clay pipe, and was able to use a
few English words with more or less ease. Still, there were some gaps in
his education. He was continually pestering me to teach him how to ride
and shoot. His eagerness to ride was soon cured. To mount the horse he
would climb up one of the forelegs, just as if he were about to climb a
tree. Not entirely pleased with this new style of being mounted, my
pack-horse, old Kassik, put forth the remnant of his strength and made a
buck, so that Yokkai came down much quicker than he had climbed up; and
from that time I heard no more about his desire to ride.

As my cook he was very useful, and saved me much trouble, but I always
had to watch him. On one occasion, when he was to bake damper (he first
had to wash his hands, a trouble he did not care to take), instead of
going down to the brook he filled his mouth with water from the pail and
squirted it upon his fingers, which, he thereupon dried on the grass. He
showed his hands to me to convince me that he had washed them, but I
insisted on his doing it once more and in the proper way.

Whatever fault might be found with Yokkai, he had become utterly
indispensable to me, and besides I gained much pleasure and
entertainment from his company.

I also made him laugh many a time, and after I had become a tolerable
master of his language, and was able to tell him things for his
amusement, he laughed so heartily that I have sometimes seen the tears
stream down his cheeks. What is comic to the blacks strikes them at
once, and makes them laugh immediately. They are very humorous, have a
decided talent for drollery, and are skilful mimics. I once saw a young
Australian receive an order from his master, whereupon he immediately
went to his companions and imitated his master’s manner of speaking and
acting, to the great amusement of the whole camp. In their dances they
imitate in a striking manner the hopping of the kangaroo and the solemn
movements of the emu, and never fail to make the spectators laugh.

The natives like to imitate the white man’s manners. My people had
observed that I rinsed my mouth every evening; when they had observed
this for some time I was surprised to find some of them doing the same
thing. They were also very fond of soap, not for the purpose of washing
themselves clean, but to wash some shirt or other article of clothing
which I had given them. They had frequently seen me use soap in washing
my clothes.

In spite of their respect for the gun, the clothes, and the many good
things of the white man, they still look upon him as their inferior when
they are on their own territory, and it must be admitted that there he
actually is their inferior in many respects.

                              CHAPTER XXV

  Winter in Northern Queensland—Snakes as food—Hunting snakes—An
      unexpected guest at night—Yokkai’s first dress—Norway’s “mountains
      of food”—Departure from Herbert Vale—Farewell to the world of the



Winter had now set in in earnest The fields were gray, and the sun had
lost much of its power. During the daytime it was still quite warm,
though the heat was not oppressive. A more agreeable temperature than
Northern Queensland during this season of the year can scarcely be
conceived, especially toward sunset. I felt perfectly comfortable in my
shirt sleeves without any vest. During the night so much dew falls that
the woollen blanket becomes saturated if one sleeps beneath the open
sky. Walking in the grass in the morning is almost like wading in a
river. One becomes drenched to the hips. But what glorious mornings!
They stimulate a person to work, and their freshness awakens all the
joys of life.

The scrubs are very still in winter, and it is this stillness that gives
the season its peculiar character. While the mammals and birds have
donned their most beautiful and warmest furs and plumage, the natives go
about as naked as in the summer. Not even in the night do they wear
clothes, but warm themselves by the camp fires. Yet it is easy to
procure subsistence during this season of the year. Fruits are not so
abundant, but, on the other hand, animal food is easily obtained. During
this season the natives are much occupied in hunting snakes, which
during the winter are very sluggish, and can be slain in great numbers.
The blacks are particularly fond of eating snakes, but they do not, like
many of the southern tribes, eat poisonous serpents.

One of the snakes most commonly eaten is the Australian python (_Morelia
variegata_), the largest snake found in Australia, which here in
Northern Queensland may even attain a length of more than twenty feet.
During winter it seems to prefer staying in the large clusters of ferns
found on the trunks of trees. At night it seeks shelter from the cold
among the leaves, but during the daytime it likes to bask in the
sunshine, which enables the natives to discover and kill it with their
clubs. If attacked it may bite with its many and sharp teeth, but the
wound produced is not dangerous. These ferns grow in wreaths round the
large trunks of trees, and look like the topsails of a ship, but they
are far more numerous, and like the orchids, which grow pretty much in
the same manner, are constant objects of interest to the natives, for in
them they find not only snakes, but also rats and other small mammals,
_Uromys_, _Sminthopsis_, _Phascologale_, etc. They therefore, as a rule,
take the trouble to climb the trees to make the necessary search. They
discover the snakes at a great distance, though the wreath may be fifty
to sixty yards above the ground.

We were at one time travelling along one of the mountain streams, while
the blacks as usual kept a sharp look-out and examined the numerous
clusters of fern in the scrub. Suddenly they discovered something lying
on the edge of one of these fern clusters, but very high in the air.
Notwithstanding their keen eyesight, they were unable to make out
whether it was a serpent or a broken branch, so a young boy, whom I
usually called Willy, climbed up in a neighbouring tree to investigate
the matter. Ere long he called down to us, _Vindcheh! vindcheh!_—that
is, Snake! snake! I was very much surprised, for the object looked to me
like an old leafless limb of a tree. Willy came down at once, and lost
no time in ascending the tree where the serpent was lying.

When he had obtained a foothold near the fern wreath, he broke off a
large branch and began striking the serpent, which now showed signs of
life. The lazy snake soon received so many blows on the head that it
fell down, and proved to be more than ten feet long. While we were
taking a look at it we heard Willy, whom it was almost impossible to
discover so high up in the tree, call down that he had found another
snake, and this made the blacks jubilant.

It seemed, however, to be more difficult for Willy to get this snake
down, for it was protected among the leaves, and he was obliged to use
his stick with all his might in order to drive it out. At last it tried
to make its escape, and crept out over the edge of the wreath of ferns
in order to lay hold of the tree-trunk, but the distance was too great,
and it slipped. It could not get back, for Willy stood there striking
it, and so this serpent, which was more than sixteen feet long, fell
off; in coming down it struck the crown of a palm-tree, which broke its
fall, and quick as lightning, it coiled itself round the trunk of the
tree like a corkscrew. Willy did not give up. He came down, and
immediately climbed up in the palm-tree to his victim, which was,
however, so tenacious of life that it did not let go its hold until its
head was crushed.

When we came to look for the former serpent we were astonished to find
it gone. We all searched carefully everywhere among the stones on the
bank of the river, but it was not to be found, and we had given up the
search when Willy, to our surprise, came dragging it behind him. He had
found it at the bottom of a hole in the river, and had dived after it.

These serpents are wonderfully tenacious of life. The one in question
was apparently dead and motionless when we left it, still it had been
able to crawl twenty paces, and keep itself hidden at the bottom of a
hole in the river-bed.

The natives, being anxious to secure themselves against other mishaps of
this sort, decided to roast the serpents at once. But, as we had not
time for this, they procured a withy band from a lawyer-palm, tied the
two together until we returned in the evening, and made them fast to a
tree, round the trunk of which the serpents coiled themselves. When we
passed the place in the afternoon there was still life in them, but they
were soon despatched, put together in bundles, and carried to the camp
to be roasted for supper.

As quickly as possible the camp fire was made and stones were heated;
for snakes are one of those delicacies which are prepared in the most
_recherché_ manner. The snakes were first laid carefully in circular
form, in order that they might occupy as small a space as possible; each
forming a disc fastened together with a reed, they looked like the
rope-coils made by sailors on the deck of a ship. Large serpents, and
the flesh of fish, cattle, and men, are all prepared in the following
interesting manner. First a hole is made in the ground about a foot
deep, and in it a great fire is built. Over the fire a few stones about
twice the size of a man’s fist are placed. When the stones have become
red-hot, they are laid aside and the rest of the fire is cleared away.
Then a number of the stones are put down into the hole, and over them
are laid fresh green leaves, especially of the so-called native ginger
(_Alpinia cærulea_). Upon these the meat is placed, and is covered with
leaves and with the rest of the hot stones; the dug-out earth is then
spread over the whole, which has the appearance of an ant-hill. If an
opening is discovered letting out steam, it is immediately covered so as
to keep the heat within the hill.

Now the baking is permitted to go on undisturbed. The natives know
precisely when the meat is done, and they never make a mistake. The hot
stones have developed an intense heat, which gradually bakes or roasts
the food thoroughly and preserves all its flavour.

On opening the mound the outer leaves are found to be scorched, while
the inner ones are fresh and green, and give the dish a very inviting
appearance. Beef prepared in this manner has a very fine flavour. If
leaves of the ginger-plant are used, they give the food a peculiar,
piquant taste. While I lived among the savages I adopted this manner of
preparing my salt beef, after leaving it in a brook over night to get
rid of the saltness.

No one who has never tasted meat prepared in this manner has any
conception of what an excellent flavour it has. The principle is much
the same as that applied in France, of roasting birds in clay; and in
America, of baking clams. In my opinion, fishermen and hunters should
adopt this method of preparing their meat. Large leaves are not
necessary—common grass may be used, but it must be fresh and green, and
must be put on in thick layers.

The Australian native does not take so great pains with common meat, but
simply roasts it on the fuel or in the hot ashes. In this manner he also
prepares his larvæ, beetles, birds, lizards, and eggs. His fish he wraps
up in leaves, and then roasts it in the ashes. The natives never use
boiling water in preparing their food, hence they have no kettles. Food
is not kept in a raw state, but is always roasted before it is put away.
There is, however, rarely anything to save.

When the serpents were done and were taken out of the hot leaves, they
were perfectly whole as before. The bands were loosened, and the snakes
stretched out to their full length and cut open along one side with one
of their own jaw-bones. First the fat is taken and handed in long
strings to the greedy mouths; then the heart, liver, and lungs; finally
the body itself is to be divided. As the jaw-bone is not a sufficiently
sharp tool for this purpose, they bite the serpent into pieces with
their teeth. Nothing is wasted, for even the back-bone is crushed
between the stones and eaten, and the blacks lick and suck the small
amount of juice which drops from the meat, and enjoy themselves hugely.
But the greatest delicacy is the fat. What cannot be eaten on the spot
is put away in the hut, and in this instance they ate the leavings for
four whole days, until the meat finally became putrid. When we left the
camp I observed that they, strange to say, did not burn these remains of
the serpents, which is their usual custom with uneaten food, in order to
prevent the witchcraft of strangers.

Snake-flesh has a white colour, and does not look unappetising, but it
is dry and almost tasteless. The liver, which I found excellent, tastes
remarkably like game, and reminds one of the best parts of the
ptarmigan. While they were being carved the serpents diffused an
agreeable fragrance like that of fresh beef, and the large liver, which
I obtained in exchange for tobacco, supplied me for several days with a
welcome change of my monotonous fare.

The natives stand in great fear of poisonous serpents, a fact no doubt
due to their helplessness against them. If they discover such a one they
usually get out of its way, and if they attempt to kill it they do so by
throwing at it from a distance. Accordingly the blacks were frequently
surprised to see me go close to a poisonous snake and kill it with a
stick. On such occasions they certainly realised the superiority of the
white man. For my part, I had gradually become so accustomed to snakes
that it simply amused me to see them, if they did not come into too
dangerous proximity. The beauty of their forms and motions awakened my
admiration, though on the other hand it must be admitted that their life
and habits are not particularly interesting.

About two-thirds of the Australian serpents are poisonous, but only five
varieties are said to be absolutely dangerous to man.

People who visit the tropics for the first time always fear these
reptiles at first, and no doubt justly so, but in course of time they
discover that their fear has been too great and that it should be
overcome. When a person is bitten it is especially important to keep
cool, for fear and excitement make the matter worse and may end in
disaster. It is no rare thing for a bushman when bitten to be foolish
enough to chop off the bitten limb.



As the serpents are so numerous in Australia, it is of course necessary
to keep a sharp look-out and not get too close to them. They may be met
with everywhere—on the ground, in the trees, in the water, nay, even in
the houses. Though most of the snakes seek their food at night, one’s
watchfulness should not be relaxed in the daytime. The bushman’s
precaution of always examining his bed before retiring to rest I deem
worthy of imitation. A boy near Rockhampton was bitten by a brown snake
in his bed and died.

Deaths from serpent bites are rare in Australia. In a case known to me a
man died from the bite of the brown serpent (_Diemenia_) without feeling
any pain to the very last, while I also know of instances where serpent
bites have caused the most violent pain.

The serpents are in fact timid, and are inclined to run away from
danger, and so far as I have been able to observe, they never attack men
unless during the pairing season. But if we come suddenly upon them,
their irritable and ugly temper makes them bite with a movement as quick
as lightning.

Poisonous serpents were not so numerous here as farther south in
Queensland, still they could not be called rare. One day, as we were
sitting together round the fire, I was startled by the cry of the
blacks, _Vindcheh! vindcheh!_—that is, Snake! snake! A serpent had
appeared in my hut, but hid when it heard the shouting of the blacks.
Being utterly unable to get it out of the foliage of which the wall of
my hut was constructed, I assumed that it had crept back into the grass
which grew outside. The same night I was awakened by some inexplicable
cause; there was no sound, and in the clear light of the camp fire no
suspicious object could be discerned. At the same moment I discovered a
serpent, which was slowly and noiselessly creeping up my left side
toward my head. I quietly allowed the snake to proceed until I saw its
tail pass my cheek. After a few moments I arose, quickly changed my bed,
and slept the rest of the night on the other side of the camp fire. Had
I made the slightest motion the snake would doubtless have bitten me.

                  *       *       *       *       *

It was near the end of June. The expeditions I had made during the last
weeks were in a certain sense interesting, but they were less profitable
than heretofore. I had discovered that there was not much more for me to
do here. And even though I might have had a rich field to explore, I was
hardly able to stand any longer the many privations and difficulties
with which I had to contend.

I did not find my occupation tedious, but still I could not help longing
to get away. There was here absolutely nothing of that to which I had
been accustomed; for months I had lived with people who were not even
able to pronounce my name. A feeling akin to home-sickness kept getting
possession of me. I longed for civilisation. No matter how zealous a
naturalist a man may be, he is first of all a human being, and when this
feeling comes upon us we cannot conquer it, but must perforce give in.

I accordingly went back to Herbert Vale, and prepared to leave these
regions and return to Central Queensland.

It was necessary to get some of the natives to go with me to assist in
carrying the baggage, but it was important to be careful in the choice
of men. I was unwilling to trust myself to the blacks about the station,
and the others were afraid of the strange land which we had to traverse.
Their speech would betray them, they said, and so they would in a short
time be killed and eaten. Yokkai alone expressed a desire to accompany
“Mami,” still he would not dare unless he was joined by another black
man, viz. Chinaman—the person I disliked most of them all. As the reader
may remember, he was a great rascal who had caused me much annoyance,
but as there was no other way, I had to swallow this bitter pill, for I
could not go alone.

With the greatest care all my specimens were packed into large cloths
which the postman had brought me from Cardwell, and which I had sewed
into a kind of bag. Then all was put on the backs of the horses, and it
made them look like camels. Yokkai and Chinaman carried some of the
smaller bundles and led the horses, and I followed on foot.

To Yokkai I had given a whole suit of clothes as a reward for his
services. I am sorry to say it was about all I was able to do for him.
He was, however, exceedingly happy in his first dress and felt more
secure against strange blacks, who would judge by his clothes that he
was in the service of a white man. The natives hesitate to attack a
black man who is dressed, for they are afraid they may be shot by his
master. Yokkai had of late talked much about going to Norway—across the
great water in the great canoe. There he was sure of getting all he
wanted of flour and tobacco. In Norway he would get him a wife, he said.
She must be a white woman, but one was enough; it would not be good to
have two, he thought. I had also taught him to say Norway, and he
believed that we were now bound for that country, with its mountains of
“food and tobacco.”

On the way my old pack-horse tumbled backwards down a steep river bank,
and lay on his side with my valuable baggage under him. I got him up
again, and was happy to find that no damage had been done. With the
exception of this mishap, I arrived unscathed at Mr. Gardiner’s farm at
Lower Herbert, where I met with the most friendly reception.

Great changes had been made here since I left. I could scarcely
recognise the place. Near the farm a whole sugar plantation had grown
up. Where the dense scrubs flourished when I was there before, the
fields were now covered with sugar-cane, and there was life and bustle
everywhere. On the plantation I got some boxes, in which I packed my
collection, and soon was ready to go on board a barge which was to carry
me down the river to Dungeness.

Yokkai took a deep interest in all that he saw and heard. He lived high,
stuffed himself with sugar-cane, and pretended to be a man of great
importance; in this case it certainly was “the clothes that made the
man.” But everything was so new and strange to him that he did not feel
perfectly at home. He had already given up the journey across the great
water, and he was longing to get back to his own mountains.

I had taken precautions that he should in no way suffer in “the strange
land,” and I also made arrangements for his safe return to his own

Before I went on board the boat I asked him if he would like to go with
me to Norway. He shrugged his shoulders and answered a positive No. I
shook his hand and bade him good-bye; but I did not discover the
faintest sign of emotion. He gazed at me steadfastly with his large
brown eyes beneath his broad-brimmed hat, but did not understand the
significance of shaking hands. Thus I parted from my only friend among
the savages, and many emotions crowded upon me as the vessel glided
away, memories of the stirring days I had passed with him, and a sense
of deep gratitude for the many services he had done me.

Upon the whole, I took leave of the country of the blacks and my
interesting life in the mountains with strange feelings in my breast.
Some of the impressions derived from this grand phase of nature I shall
never forget. When the tropical sun with its bright dazzling rays rises
in the early morning above the dewy trees of the scrub, when the
Australian bird of paradise arranges its magnificent plumage in the
first sunbeams, and when all nature awakens to a new life which can be
conceived but cannot be described, it makes one sorry to be alone to
admire all this beauty. Or when the full moon throws her pale light over
the scrub-clad tops of the mountains and over the vast plains below,
while the breezes play gently with the leaves of the palm-tree, and when
the mystic voices of the night birds ring out on the still quiet night,
there is indeed melancholy, but also untold beauty, in such a situation.

I was, however, not sorry to leave the people. I had come to Herbert
Vale full of sympathy for this race, which the settler drives before him
with the rifle, but after the long months I had spent with them my
sympathy was gone and only my interest in them remained. Experience had
taught me that it is not only among civilised people that men are not so
good as they ought to be.

                              CHAPTER XXVI

Message sticks—The common origin of the dialects—Remarkably complicated
grammar—The language on Herbert river—Comparison of a few dialects.

A race so uncivilised as the Australian natives has of course no written
language. Still they are able to make themselves understood by a kind of
sign language. Now and then the natives send information to other
tribes, and this is done by the aid of figures scratched on a “message
stick” made of wood, about four to seven inches long, and one inch wide.
Some of them are flat, while others are round and about as thick as a
man’s finger; they often are painted in different colours. I myself saw
one of these sticks which came to a native among my acquaintances on
Herbert river. The man told me that he understood the inscription
perfectly well, and he even prepared a similar stick, on which he wrote
an answer. The message stick shown on page 304 is from Central
Queensland. One side is meant to represent an enclosed piece of ground.
There is a gate in the fence, and the dots mean grass and sheep. I am
also fortunate in being able to give an illustration of another message
stick (p. 304), with the interpretation of its inscription, which
conveys a message from a black woman named Nowwanjung to her husband
Carralinga of the Woongo tribe. Other message sticks are engraved with
straight or circular lines in regular patterns as in embroidery; this
has caused an entirely different view of their significance, which
supposes them to be merely cards to identify the messenger. This view
may be correct, but it is not corroborated by my experience on Herbert

Nearly every tribe has its own language, or at least its own dialect, so
that the members of different tribes are unable to understand each
other. The reason for this is to a great extent the hostility existing
between the tribes. Of course every tribe is familiar with the language
of its nearest neighbours, and makes use of nearly the same dialect when
they talk with a friendly tribe, but they treat a hostile tribe with
scorn, and ridicule their language. The language, not being written, is
constantly undergoing change, and there is even a difference between the
speech of the old people and the children. If you put the same question
to a black man three or four times, his last answer will be expressed
differently, though he uses the same words.







  come here to-morrow and take



In spite of difference between the languages spoken in the various parts
of the continent, an intimate relation is believed to exist between
them, and it is the prevailing opinion that they spring from a common
root language. At all events it is a fact that many words are the same
in very large districts, even in places so far apart that they cannot
possibly have influenced each other by communication. I know a case
where a black man from Clermont understood the language spoken in Aramac
and on Georgina river, and yet he had never been there.

This similarity of vocabulary must not be confounded with those words
which are used everywhere, and which have been spread by Europeans. Many
of these are not Australian in their origin. The colonist, who moves
from one part of the country to another, generally takes with him some
of the words of the language of the blacks, and thus these are
transplanted into new soil. In this manner many words have emigrated
from Victoria and New South Wales, and have taken root with the new
civilisation. There are now a number of such words which are in vogue
throughout the civilised part of the continent—for example, _yariman_,
horse; _dillibag_, basket; _kabra_,[18] head; _bingee_, belly; _gin_,
woman; _gramma_, to steal; _bael_, not; _boodgary_, excellent;
_korroboree_, festive dance; _dingo_, dog, etc. We can even trace words
which the Europeans have imported from the natives of other
countries—for example, _picaninny_, a child. This word is said to have
come originally from the negroes of Africa through white immigrants. In
America the children of negroes are called _picaninny_. When the white
men came to Australia, they applied this word to the children of the
natives of this continent.

Footnote 18:

  According to a word-list from the beginning of the century this word
  was used in Port Macquarie (_cahbrah_), and Port Jackson (_cabbra_).

Such “civilised” words, however, seldom take root in the language of the
blacks. They simply use them in conversation with the white man. Though
a few words are carried in this manner from one district to another,
this method of transplanting is not of any great importance.

A natural affinity between the languages can with certainty be pointed
out. Some words are almost identical throughout the continent. An
excellent illustration of this is found in the word for _eye_.

In Caledon Bay, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, it is _mail_; Endeavour
river, on the north-west coast (16° S. lat.), _meul_; Moreton Bay (29°
S. lat.), _mill_; Port Macquarie (33° S. lat.), 68 miles south from
Sydney, _me_; Port Jackson (Sydney), _mi_ or _me_; Limestone Creek (140
miles west of Sydney), _milla_; Yarra tribe, Victoria, _mii_; King
George Sound (south-west coast, 35° S. lat.), _mil_; Herbert river (18°
S. lat.), _mill_.

An equally interesting example is found in the numeral 2, which is
tolerably constant throughout the continent—_bular_, _bulara_,
_buloara_, _budelar_, _burla_, _bulla_, _buled_, _boolray_, _pulette_,
_pular_, _pollai_, _bolita_, _bulicht_, _bollowin_, etc. Even in
Tasmania the word is found, _pualih_. The words for 1 and 3 are, on the
other hand, always different. For comparison I give the following table—


 │             │   1   │    2    │      3      │         4         │   5   │
 │Near         │kumande│purlaitye│marnkutye    │purlaitye-purlaitye│       │
 │  Adelaide,  │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │  South      │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │  Australia  │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │Moreton Bay, │ganar  │burla    │burla ganar  │burla burla        │korumba│
 │  Southern   │       │         │             │                   │(much) │
 │  Queensland │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │Boraipar,    │keiarpe│pulette  │pulekvia     │pulette-pulette    │       │
 │  West       │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │  Australia  │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │Burapper, S. │kiarp  │bullait  │bullait-kiarp│bullait bullait    │       │
 │  E.         │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │  Australia, │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │  near Murray│       │         │             │                   │       │
 │  river      │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │Mount Elliot,│woggin │boolray  │goodjoo      │munwool            │murgai │
 │  Northern   │       │         │             │                   │       │
 │  Queensland,│       │         │             │                   │       │
 │  19° S. lat.│       │         │             │                   │       │
 │Tasmania,    │marrava│pûalih   │             │wullyava           │       │
 │  south coast│       │         │             │                   │       │

A common root can also be shown in the personal pronoun. _I_ is called
_ngaia_, _nganya_, _ngatoa_, _ngaii_, _ngai_, _ngie_, _ngan_, _ngu_,
_ngipa_, _ngâpe_, etc. _Thou_—_inta_, _nginta_, _nginte_, _nginda_,
_ngin_, _ninna_, _nindu_, _nginne_, etc.

Upon the whole, though the various languages have but little in common,
there are certain peculiarities which may be regarded as characteristic
of them all. They are polysyllabic, the accent is usually on the
penultimate or antepenultimate, and the words are, therefore, not
unpleasant to the ear. Indeed, many of them are full of euphony and
harmony. The large number of vowels contributes much to this result.
Guttural sounds are particularly prominent. The _s_ sound appears to be
very rare. On Herbert river I heard only two words which contained the
letter _s_—_suttungo_, tobacco, and _sinchen_, syphilis, and so far as I
know, _s_ is found only in the beginning of words.

In grammar the languages also differ widely. At all events, the authors
who have sought to discuss these matters thoroughly have arrived at very
different results.

Mr. Beveridge, who has studied the languages of Victoria, claims that
the syntax is very simple, saying that the various grammatical relations
are expressed solely by prolongations, accentuations, and changes of
position of the words. Mr. Lang, on the contrary, holds an entirely
different opinion. He supports the popular theory that the Australian
natives have in the past occupied a much higher plane of civilisation
than at present, and thinks he is able to find traces of a decayed
civilisation in the languages of the tribes, which in his opinion are
very perfect.

As a striking example he mentions the inflections of the verbs. At
Moreton Bay the verbs have far more inflections than the verbs in the
Hebrew language. They can be conjugated reflexively, reciprocally,
frequentatively, causatively, and permissively. They have not only
indicative, imperative, and subjunctive, past, present, and future,
expressed by definite inflectional endings, but each one of these
endings may assume distinct shades of meaning expressed by different
inflections. The imperfect of the verb to speak (_goal_) has not only a
form which means “spoke,” but forms which mean “spoke to-day,” “spoke
yesterday,” “spoke some days ago,” etc. The same is the case with the
future. There are three imperatives: (1) speak; (2) thou shalt speak
(emphatic); (3) speak if you can, or if you dare (ironical). The nouns
are regularly inflected by suffixes; _ngu_ means of, _go_ to, _da_ in,
_di_ from, _kunda_ with, etc. The pronouns have both dual and plural
form: _ngaia_ I, _ngulle_ we two, you and I; _ngullina_ (comp. Herbert
river, _allingpa_) we two, he and I, etc. This complicated syntax is
found in many tribes, though they may have widely different languages.

Mr. E. M. Curr, of Melbourne, has recently in a great and very
meritorious work, _The Australian Race_, pointed out a most striking
resemblance between the languages of the Australian blacks and those of
the African negroes. His opinion is that the Australian natives are
descended from the African negroes by a cross with some other race. He
admits that the Australian blacks look quite different from the natives
of Africa, but he shows that the customs, the superstitions, and above
all the languages, agree in many respects in a most remarkable manner.
He points out the striking fact that while the Papuan and the Australian
languages are almost totally different, still many of the words used by
the Australian blacks are almost identical with those employed by the
negroes of Africa.

The language of the natives on Herbert river is imperative and brief. A
single word frequently expresses a whole sentence. “Will you go with
me?” is expressed simply by the interrogation _nginta?_ (thou?), and the
answer, “I will stay where I am,” by _karri ngipa_ (I remain). “I will
go home,” _ngipa míttago_ (literally, I in respect to the hut).

The suffix _go_ literally means “with regard to,” and is usually added
to nouns to give them a verbal meaning, but it is also sometimes added
to verbs. The question _Wainta Morbora?_—that is, “Where is
Morbora?”—can be answered by saying only _títyengo_ (he has gone hunting
_títyen_) (wallaby), (literally, with respect to wallaby); or, for
example, _mittago_ he is at home (literally, with regard to the hut).
_Mottaigo_ means “he is eating” (literally, with regard to eating).
“Throw him into the water,” is expressed simply by _ngallogo_. As is
evident, this is a very convenient suffix, as it saves a number of moods
and tenses. It may also be used to express the genitive—for example,
_toolgil tomoberogo_, the bones of the ox.

There frequently is no difference between nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
_Kola_ means wrath, angry, and to get angry. _Poka_ means smell, to
smell, and rotten; _oito_ means a jest, and to jest.

“It is noon,” is _vi ōrupi_ (sun big). “It is early in the morning,” is
_vi naklam_ (sun little). “It is near sunset,” is _vi molle mongan_.
_Kolle_ is a very common word. It is, in fact, used to call attention to
a strange or remarkable sound, and means “hush!” _Kolle mal!_ “Hush,
there is a strange man!” _Kólle_ is also used to express indignation or
a protest, “far from it.” A superlative of an adjective is expressed by
repetition—for example, _krally-krally_, “very old.”

The vocabulary is small. The language is rich in words describing
phenomena that attract the attention of the savage, but it lacks words
for abstract notions. The natives, being utterly unable to generalise,
have no words for kinds or classes of things, as tree, bird, fish, etc.
But each variety of these things has its own name. Strange to say, there
are words not only for the animals and plants which the natives
themselves use, but also for such as they have no use for or interest in
whatever. On Georgina river the natives have a special word for

On Herbert river I found, to my surprise, various names for flame and
coals. _Vákkun_ meant camp fire, coals, or the burning stick of wood,
while the flame was called _koyílla_.

Of numerals the Australian natives have no comprehension. Many tribes
have only two numerals, viz. 1 and 2, and by combining these they can
count to five, thus—1 _keiarpe_, 2 _pulette_, 3 _pulette-keiarpe_, 4
_pulette-pulette_, 5 _pulette-pulette-keiarpe_. Several tribes have
three numerals, as, for instance, Herbert Vale tribe—1 _yóngul_, 2
_yákkan_, 3 _kárbo_, 4, etc., is usually expressed by _taggin_ (many).
Occasionally a tribe may be found which has a word for 10. The word
literally means two hands (_bolita murrung_), a remarkable parallel
existing in many other languages (from the Sandwich Island to
Madagascar) in which the word _lima_ means both hand and five.

The dialects of the natives abound in proper nouns. Every locality has
its name, every mountain, every brook, every opening in the woods. Many
of these names are remarkable for their euphony. As a curiosity I quote
the following stanza—

              “I like the native names as _Paramatta_
              And _Illawarra_ and _Woolloomoollo_.
              _Toongabbe_, _Mittagong_, and _Coolingatta_,
              And _Yurumbon_, and _Coodgiegang_, _Meroo_,
              _Euranarina_, _Jackwa_, _Bulkomatta_,
              _Nandowra_, _Tumbarumba_, _Woogaroo_;
              The _Wollondilly_ and the _Wingycarribbee_,
              The _Warragumby_, _Daby_, _Bungarribee_.”

It is a strange fact that the dialects in a great part of the country
are named after their respective negatives. _Wiraiaroi_ is a dialect in
which _wirai_ means “no,” and _Wailiwun_ is one in which _wail_ means
“no.” Thus _Kamilaroi_, _Wolaroi_, etc. _Pikumbul_ is an exception. In
this dialect _piku_ means “yes.” One cannot help thinking of the French
_Langue d’Oc_ and _Langue d’Oyl_.


 │          │Endeavour │  Herbert  │   Mount   │  Moreton  │Goulbourn│
 │          │  river,  │  river,   │  Elliot,  │   Bay,    │ river,  │
 │          │   York   │ Northern  │ Northern  │ Southern  │New South│
 │          │peninsula.│Queensland.│Queensland,│Queensland.│ Wales.  │
 │          │          │           │19° S. lat.│           │         │
 │Man       │bama      │mal        │munyah     │malar      │goleen   │
 │          │          │           │           │           │         │
 │Woman     │mootjel   │dombi-dombi│youngoorah │jundal     │badyuroo │
 │Kangaroo  │kangooroo │           │oodra      │kurruman   │marram   │
 │          │          │           │bourgoola  │           │         │
 │Stone     │walbah    │faringa    │           │mulla      │moid     │
 │          │          │           │           │           │yerre    │
 │Water     │poorai    │ngallo     │doongalla  │dabil      │parn     │
 │Sun       │gallan    │vee        │ingin      │beeké      │nummi    │
 │Moon      │          │ballan     │wurboonbura│kibbom     │minnun   │
 │Head      │wageegee  │mogil      │coode      │magul      │kowanoo  │
 │Hair      │morye     │pocka      │weir       │kapui      │kowung   │
 │Hand      │marigal   │mallan     │(pl.)      │marra      │munangoo │
 │          │          │           │cabankabun │           │         │
 │Foot      │(pl.)     │bingan     │(pl.)      │sidney     │tinnanoo │
 │          │edamal    │           │deenah     │(tchidna)  │         │
 │Nose      │bonjo     │wooroo     │           │muloo      │garknoo  │
 │          │poteer    │           │           │           │         │
 │Belly     │melmal    │vomba      │booloo     │gunnung    │bendé    │
 │Excrements│          │kona       │           │koodna     │koornong │
 │Fire      │meanang   │(flame)    │ejugabah   │kuddum     │wein     │
 │          │          │koyilla    │           │           │         │

 │          │   Port   │         │   Near   │          │
 │          │ Jackson, │  Yarra  │Adelaide, │Boraipar, │
 │          │New South │ tribe,  │  South   │   West   │
 │          │  Wales.  │Victoria.│Australia.│Australia.│
 │          │          │         │          │          │
 │Man       │mulla     │kolin    │(pl.) meyu│(pl.)     │
 │          │          │         │          │wootawolli│
 │Woman     │din       │bajor    │ngammaitya│liu       │
 │Kangaroo  │wallibah  │mirrm    │nanto     │          │
 │          │          │         │wauwe     │          │
 │Stone     │keba[19]  │mojerr   │pure      │          │
 │          │giber     │         │          │          │
 │Water     │badoo     │paen     │kauwe     │wolpool   │
 │Sun       │goona     │ngumi    │tindo     │nauwingy  │
 │Moon      │yennadah  │meenean  │piki      │mityah    │
 │Head      │cobbra[20]│kuvang   │makarta   │poorpai   │
 │Hair      │kewarra   │yarré    │yoka      │          │
 │Hand      │tammirra  │marnong  │pemarra   │mannangy  │
 │          │          │         │          │          │
 │Foot      │manoe     │jenong   │(pl.)     │(pl.)     │
 │          │          │         │tidna     │tchinnangy│
 │Nose      │nogro     │kâ-ang   │mudla     │cheen-je  │
 │          │          │         │          │          │
 │Belly     │barrong   │         │          │          │
 │Excrements│          │conong   │kudna     │          │
 │Fire      │gweeyong  │ween     │gadla     │wanappe   │
 │          │          │         │          │          │
Footnote 19:

  See the Gospel of St. John i. 42, “Thou art Simon the son of Jona:
  thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.”
  Arabic: _ka-aba_ or _giber_ (Gibraltar).

Footnote 20:

  Spanish: _cobra_.


               (_g_ before _i_ and _a_ pronounced hard).

 Allínkpa, we two.

 Ámmery, hungry.

 Ámmon, breast.

 Átta [Moreton Bay and Rockhampton: atta], I.

 Bággoro, sword, serpent-liver.

 Bállan, moon.

 Bámbo, egg.

 Bámpa, distant.

 Bátta, take.

 Bémo, brother’s son.

 Bínghan, foot, footprint.

 Bínna, ear.

 Boongary, _Dendrolagus lumholtzii_.

 Bórboby, battle, duels.

 Bórrogo, a variety of _Pseudochirus_.

 Deerbera, to-morrow.

 Dómbi-dómbi, woman.

 Era, teeth.

 Etaka, tuft.

 Evin, _Calamus australis_.

 Farínga, stone, rock.

 Gangítta, handkerchief.

 Gílgla [the _l_ to be pronounced with thick palatal sound], cassowary.

 G’rauan, _Megapodius tumulus_ (bird, egg, nest).

 -Go [suffix, Moreton Bay: -co], in regard to.

 Gómbian, _Echidna_.

 Góri, blood.

 Hánka, whence?

 Káddera, opossum (_Irichosurus vulpecula_).

 Kádjera, _Cycas media_.

 Kainno, to-day.

 Kainno-kainno, well, sound.

 Kakavagó, go.

 Kalló, come on!

 Kāmin, climbing implement.

 Kāmo, water.

 Kárbo, 3.

 Kárri, remain.

 Kawan, nausea.

 Káwri, axe.

 Kedool, cold.

 Kelán, old man, sir [word of address].

 Kóbi, arts of witchcraft.

 Kóla [subst. and adj.], anger, angry.

 Kólle, hush!

 Komórbory, many, large multitude.

 Kóna, excrements.

 Kónka, unharmed, raw, not roasted.

 Kóntagan, nice weather.

 Kontáhberan, dark, dark night.

 Koonduno, thunder.

 Koráddan, a kind of fruit.

 Koyílla, flame.

 Králly, old.

 Kuroonguy, thirsty.

 Kootjary, _Talegalla lathami_.

 Kvíkkal, _Perameles nasuta_.

 Kvíngan, evil spirit, devil.

 Maja, not, no.

 Mal [Moreton Bay: malar. Yelta: mallé], man, especially of a strange
    and hostile tribe.

 Mállan, hand.

 Mally, good, excellent.

 Mami, master.

 Mánta, _membrum virile_.

 Manta korán, an oath of uncertain meaning, also a word of abuse.

 Márbo, louse.

 Márgin, gun.

 Máwa, crawfish.

 Mílka [verb], produce rain.

 Míll, eye.

 Minná [cf. Moreton Bay: menäh], how?

 Minná-minnana-gó, how in the world?

 Mítta, hut.

 Mogil [Moreton Bay: magul], head.

 Mólle, near.

 Móngan, mountain.

 Móngan, _Pseudochirus herbertensis_.

 Móttai [verb and subst.], eat, food.

 Móyo, _anus_.

 Nahyee, no.

 Naiko [verb], own.

 Naklam [the _l_ to be pronounced with thick palatal sound], little.

 Ngallo, water.

 Ngalloa, _Dactylopsila trivirgata_.

 Nginta, you.

 Ngipa, I.

 Nongáshly, only.

 Nili, girl.

 Oito, jest.

 Oonda, see.

 Ōrupi, large.

 Peera [subst. and adj.], fear, afraid.

 Pipo [from the English], pipe.

 Póka, hair; smell [Echuca: boka].

 Pókkan, grass-land, grass.

 Pul [verb], smell.

 Púlli, flea.

 Sinchen, rash, syphilis.

 Suttúngo, tobacco.

 Tággin, many, much, also the numeral 4.

 Takólgoro [a word of exclamation], poor fellow!

 Tálgoro, human flesh.

 Tállan, tongue.

 Tamin, fat.

 Tchígga, sit.

 Títyen, wallaby.

 Tobola, a kind of fruit.

 Tomóbero, cattle, meat.

 Toollah, _Pseudochirus archeri_.

 Toolgil, bone, bones.

 Toolgin, scrub.

 Toongna, drink.

 Toongu, sweet.

 Towdala, _Orthonyx spaldingii_.

 Vákkun, coals.

 Vaneera, hot.

 Vee, sun.

 Veera, a kind of fig which grows on grass-land.

 Vikku, bad.

 Víndcheh, snake.

 Vómba, belly.

 Vóndo, an edible root of a climbing plant.

 Vooly [adj.], dead.

 Vooroo, nose.

 Vótel, sleep.

 Vukka, thigh.

 Wainta, where?

 Yábby, _Pseudochirus lemuroides_.

 Yákkan, 2.

 Yálla, remain.

 Yamina, a monster (p. 201).

 Yanky, a kind of fig.

 Yárri, _Dasyurus_.

 Yári, honey.

 Yeergilíngera, star.

 Yókkan, fog, rain.

 Yóngul, 1.

 Yópolo, _Hypsiprymnodon moschatus_.

                                   NAMES OF MEN.

















                                   NAMES OF WOMEN.





                             CHAPTER XXVII

  Frozen meat—Again at Gracemere—Australian scenery—In a
      carriole—Hunting the dugong—Cosmopolitan quarters for the
      night—Cure for nervous diseases—Poisonous rabbits—Marry only a
      person with good teeth—Bush girls—Mount Morgan.



After a voyage of a few days I arrived in safety at Gracemere. On the
journey from Herbert river down the coast you pass two establishments
for freezing meat for export, viz. Bowen and Rockhampton. This
comparatively new industry in Australia has recently been largely
developed, and is no doubt destined to become of great importance to the
country, which will in this manner be able to dispose of its great
surplus of meat. The largest amount is exported from New Zealand.

Gracemere was now in its winter dress. How poor Central Queensland looks
to a person coming from the charming tropics of Northern Queensland! But
here in the south the genuine Australian landscape is found, the
characteristic feature of which is the fantastical and the gloomy;
solemn gum-trees, which lose their white bark in winter just as European
trees shed their leaves, stiff grass-trees, solemn-looking acacias, can
hardly give any charm to a landscape. And yet I have seen beautiful
landscapes outside Northern Queensland, as for instance the fern-tree
gully in Victoria, where the most splendid tree-ferns grow at the feet
of the highest trees in the world. The views from the heights in the
rear of the capital of South Australia across the wide Adelaide plains
are very imposing, as are also those obtained on a journey across the
Blue Mountains in New South Wales, especially where the windings of the
Paramatta river are seen in the distance.

Though I enjoyed in a high degree the pleasure attendant upon a return
to the comforts of civilisation, I soon began to make expeditions
northward along the coast.

On one occasion I was invited to take part in hunting the dugong
(_Halicore dugong_). I set out in the latter part of August in a
carriole (_karjol_) which the Archers many years ago had imported from
Norway, and which probably is the only one of the kind in all Australia.
A carriole requires a good road, for it easily upsets, on account of the
short distance between the two wheels, but in the open woodlands of
Australia it is possible to drive almost anywhere, if there are no
fences, brooks, or other obstacles.

After a journey of four days I arrived at Torilla, where preparations
were at once made for the hunt. The first need was a boat. My host had
only a small sailing boat given to him by some French Communists who had
escaped from their confinement in New Caledonia and landed on his
premises. One of these fugitives had been employed on the farm, and was
an excellent carpenter. He undertook to repair the old rotten hulk,
which had been lying on the bank of the river for a long time exposed to
the sun and rain. It was a well-built boat with new sails and good
masts, but in other respects it had seen its best days. The Frenchman
went to work industriously, encouraged by the lady of the house, who
promised him that he should be permitted to take part in the hunt, which
in her mind was a guarantee that he would repair the boat properly. And
after he had spent eight days in calking, rigging, and pitching the
craft, he declared her seaworthy, and we at length put to sea. The crew
consisted of my host, my English friend the squatter, the Frenchman, and
myself. We were to take turns in baling.

After a pleasant sail we reached an island late in the evening, and
there we made our camp on the shore. We had taken drinking water with
us. The old mangrove stems made an excellent fire, and the soft sand a
pleasant bed. We also set fire to some tall grass, in order to give the
signal to some blacks who had agreed to join us here.

Early the next morning two natives, who were to assist us in hunting,
came rowing in a canoe from the mainland. One of them paddled the canoe,
while the other one kept baling out water with a large shell.

The canoe of the natives here is made of three pieces of bark, one
forming the bottom and two the sides. The pieces are sewed together with
wood fibres, and there is nothing, by way of ribs, to keep the pieces of
bark together; simply a small cross-piece to support the sides, nor are
there rowlocks or rudder. There is only room for two, and as the water
continually pours in, one man is occupied in baling, while the other
paddles on the two sides alternately with a stick about two yards long.

We took both the blacks and their canoe on board and started with full
sail for Saltwater Bay. The difference between ebb and flood was here
about twenty-eight feet. In Broad Sound, which lies a little farther to
the north, the difference is said to be greater than anywhere else in
the world—that is, about thirty-three feet.

Saltwater Bay is very shallow, and the large fields of mud that become
visible at ebb-tide are covered with submarine Algæ. Here the dugong,
the strange Australian seacow, seeks its food when the tide rises. In
the innermost part of the bay we found a place for a camp; we rose early
the next morning, and as soon as the water was deep enough rowed out.
The blacks brought the implements to be used. The harpoon consists of
two parts, the handle and spear, of which I give an illustration below.
The point or spear is a piece of wire about eleven inches long,
sharpened at one end, the other being enclosed in grass and wood fibre,
forming a sort of knot which fits exactly into a hole in the handle so
as to be held firmly in its place. To this knot a line is fastened. When
the harpoon is thrown the point enters the animal, and at the same time
the handle is set free and floats about on the water. This handle is a
heavy wooden rod about three yards long.







Although the point is without barbs, still it sticks fast in the
dugong’s thick skin, as if the latter were made of gutta-percha. The
point of the harpoon is bent into a hook the moment the animal starts
away, and when, from tugging at the canoe, it has become sufficiently
exhausted, it is finally towed up to the boat and its nostrils adroitly
closed with wooden plugs, and thus it is choked. Before the natives in
this part of Australia had come in contact with Europeans and had
learned the value of iron, they used barbed harpoon points made of wood.
The manner in which the natives catch the dugong shows more thought and
reflection than we would expect from savages so low in the scale of
development as the Australian aborigines. The fact that the black man,
lazy as he is by nature, will submit to all the toil necessary to
capture the animal is proof of the great value he puts upon its flesh
and fat.

As we sailed across the bay before a light breeze our natives did not
fail to discover a large amount of loose grass floating on the water,
positive evidence that the dugong was not far away. Nor did many moments
pass before the man keeping watch in the stern of the boat called out:
_Parábela, parábela!_—that is, Dugong, dugong! We sent the blacks out in
their own canoe. One of them seized the baling-shell, while the other
put his long spear and his lines in order, and so they rowed softly out
among the animals, which kept coming nearer and nearer. We remained as
quiet as possible in the distance and witnessed the scene before us with
the deepest interest.

More than fifty dugongs were approaching, and one or two came within a
few yards of our boat. They frequently raised their heads above the
water to get breath; making a heavy loud expiration, and then, with a
quick inspiration, they again disappeared in the deep.

The blacks kept rowing among them in order to select a suitable victim.
At length the spear leaves the unerring hand of the black hunter. A
great splash in the water shows that the harpoon has not missed its aim.
The animal is pierced by a second harpoon and starts off with two lines.
After half an hour it is so exhausted that it can be brought up to the
canoe, where its nostrils are plugged.

By uniting our efforts we at length succeeded in bringing the animal
into our boat. Although it was a mere calf, it was no easy matter to get
it on board.

We took the blacks into our boat and set sail so as to reach our camp at
the head of the bay before the water became too shallow. It was a
touching sight to see the mother of the slain animal following us for a
long time, swimming to and fro near the boat for half an hour and then
going away.

We brought our game safe ashore, and at once began to skin it. In the
meantime the blacks were cooking a gray mullet (_Mugil_), which has an
excellent flavour. They fried it in fat from the dugong, and this,
accompanied by a glass of whisky, formed an excellent meal. The
successful hunt put us in the best of spirits. The squatter jokingly
proposed that we, like the blacks, should anoint our bodies with dugong
oil and dance a korroboree all night through. The Frenchman, our cook,
was as happy as a lark, and was quite in his element when some of the
most tender parts of the dugong were placed over the coals to roast.


  THE DUGONG, OR AUSTRALIAN SEA-COW (_Halicore dugong_).

The meat had an exceedingly delicate flavour, and tasted like something
midway between veal and pork, but far better than either. The squatter
imagined himself in Paris, and was reminded of the Hôtel du Louvre,
where he had spent many a day of his earlier life.

My host and myself were busy preparing the skin. The blacks were in the
best of spirits. They fried and ate as much of the meat as they pleased,
and thereupon an unlimited supply of tobacco was placed at their
disposal. When night set in, our camp presented a most picturesque
appearance. Three large camp fires blazed among the gum-trees, the
columns of smoke ascended in the calm evening, and the stars glittered
over a company as wide apart in tastes and interests as in nationality,
but all gay and happy: one Englishman, a white Australian, a Frenchman,
a Norseman, and two Australian blacks.

The dugong has become widely known on account of its fat, which even
several years ago was found to be an excellent remedy for consumption
and nervous prostration. A physician in Brisbane found it difficult to
procure cod-liver oil from Europe for his patients, and so he determined
to try the fat of the dugong. He boiled it into an oil, of which the
medicinal qualities were found to be most remarkable. Near Brisbane a
dugong-fishing establishment was started and a number of black
harpoonists were employed. Dugong oil fetched a high price, but
unfortunately it soon became adulterated with shark-liver oil and
similar fats. Its reputation fell, and the market was destroyed. There
was also a large demand for skeletons to supply all the museums of the

The fat used for medicinal purposes is taken from the sides, and the
oil, which is almost as clear as water, is absolutely tasteless. As the
animals have become very scarce, and as they, moreover, are very shy,
the oil is naturally very expensive. This fact is greatly to be
deplored, for its nourishing and nerve-invigorating qualities can
scarcely be over-estimated. There are most remarkable instances on
record of its having cured nervousness, and according to the report of
Dr. Hobbs it must be credited with being in all respects superior to
cod-liver oil. I am familiar by experience with the excellent effect of
both on the nervous system, and although I greatly prefer the dugong
oil, still, as we have in cod-liver oil so good a substitute for it, I
cannot but regret that the value of this kind of food is not appreciated
more than it is. Is it not possible that we here have a cure for the
overworked nerves of our time? Unfortunately most people have a dislike
to cod-liver oil, which is in part attributable to the poor preparation
of former times and in part to the fact that it is rarely obtained
fresh. Nowadays conscientious manufacturers produce an article having,
when in good condition, the flavour of fresh cod-liver oil, which by the
majority of people is looked upon as a delicacy. It now only remains to
find some way of preserving that flavour of the oil.

At present there are two dugong-fishing establishments in Queensland,
both on the east coast, but they are not managed with sufficient energy,
and the result is that cod-liver oil is used more extensively than
dugong oil. The fact that the animals move from one place to another,
and have to be followed by the fishermen, makes the capture of the
dugong very difficult. The fishing is carried on mainly by very strong
nets, in which the animals are caught when they return, with the
ebb-tide, from their pasture grounds on the shoals to deep water. The
dugong is not found south of Moreton Bay, but is plentiful everywhere
north of it, particularly in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is also found
in the Mozambique Channel and in the Indian Ocean, and the Malayans are
said to be skilful in harpooning it. Besides the oil, the skin of the
dugong, which is an inch thick, is also very valuable, as it is made
into a gelatine or into strong leather. The bones, which are very heavy,
may be used as a substitute for ivory.

It is said that the dugong mother constantly holds fast to her young
with her pectorals, and in ancient times this gave rise to the
traditions about sirens or mermaids. The Dutchman called the dugong
_baardmannetje_, _i.e._ the little bearded man.

The next morning, while I was putting the finishing touches to the
preparation of my skin, I heard the squatter cry out, “Here! the boat is
sinking!” We all ran to see what was the matter, and we discovered our
boat on the point of being swallowed by the waves, and my two bottles of
alcohol floating in the water. There was no actual danger of the boat
being lost, for the water was shallow, but the tide was now rising with
the force of a river, so that it was not long before only the masts of
our boat were visible. As there were traces of crocodiles to be seen
everywhere on the strand, one of us took a rifle in order to keep guard,
while the rest tried to save the boat, which after wading in mud up to
our waists, we finally succeeded in doing.

It was impossible to secure a full-grown dugong, for our lines were not
strong enough, and we therefore started on our journey home again. The
next night we made our camp on an island, and the squatter at once went
out to shoot rabbits with his rifle. The rabbits had been placed on this
island a few years previously, and although there was no fresh water
excepting when it rained, still they throve very well, and had greatly
increased in numbers. Strange to say, these rabbits are said to be
poisonous, doubtless on account of the food on which they are obliged to
subsist. The squatter informed me that a year ago he had visited this
island and shot some of these animals, which were roasted and eaten, but
had made both him and his companions ill.

A large number of Australian plum-trees were found on this island. We
shot a mound-builder and several pigeons. The next morning the blacks
left us, and we continued our sail home. On the coast we saw large
numbers of rock-oysters. It happened to be ebb-tide and there were three
large peninsulas, like a yellow-brown mass, entirely covered with these
fine-flavoured shell-fish.

I remained a few days longer with my most amiable hosts at Torilla. The
lady of the house was a very intelligent woman. Her parents had taught
her Greek and Hebrew in order to enable her to read both the Old and the
New Testament in the original tongue. Though she was well versed in both
languages, she was no blue-stocking, but a very practical woman. She
gave her daughter the very prudent advice, “Never you marry a bad
breakfast-man.” The first thing she noticed in a man was his teeth. If
these were sound, the rest of the body was sure to be right—a sound mind
in a healthy body. Like the majority of Australian ladies, the daughter
was natural and free from affectation. She took a deep interest in
zoology, and was an industrious collector of specimens. On her solitary
excursions she did not hesitate to climb trees after birds’ eggs, and
she complained bitterly that the men were too lazy to help her. The
ladies who are brought up in the Australian bush have, upon the whole, a
peculiar frankness and independence, for from their very childhood they
have to rely on themselves. Another “bush girl” of my acquaintance rode
thirty miles to try on a dress.



The whole family at Torilla were excellent riders, and had the
reputation of being the best in Queensland. An unmanageable horse at the
station had thrown both his master and mistress, nearly killing them,
but they nevertheless continued to care for the animal with the greatest
tenderness, a proof of the great sympathy an Australian feels for his

On my way back to Gracemere I saw a large number of wading birds in the
lagoons. I took special notice of the splendid Australian jabiru
(_Mycteria australis_), and I had the good fortune to shoot on the wing
a specimen of this beautiful variety of the stork family with swan shot
at a distance of no less than 127 paces.

I passed the oldest gold mine in Queensland, called Canoona Diggings,
but the place was now almost entirely abandoned. Here I met a Dane, who
was very kind to me. He had been in the gold mines since their
discovery, about thirty years ago, and in spite of the fact that both he
and his family had to work hard for a living, they looked healthy and

It is a great mistake to suppose that digging gold is easy work. As
everybody knows, “nuggets of gold” are scarce. Most of the gold is found
as fine grains, and requires great labour to separate it from the
gravel, which in this case had to be hauled a great distance to the only
place where water was to be found in the whole region. Here the water
was pumped up from a deep well by horse power. This is the so-called
alluvial gold. Gold in quartz has to be worked by mining and by costly
crushing machines, in the construction of which a fortune must be spent
before any pure ore can be secured. Most of the gold is now produced in
the latter manner in Australia.

I watered my horse at the pump of the gold digger, said good-bye to the
kind people, and continued my journey down along Fitzroy river.

The country along the lower part of this river is very rich in gold.
Farther east, near Rockhampton, a whole gold-bearing mountain was
discovered in 1884—Mount Morgan, which at present is the richest gold
bed in the whole world, and has made Queensland the first gold-producing
colony of Australia. It is also a remarkable fact that the gold here
appears in an entirely new form. Mount Morgan, which is about 300 feet
high, has been produced in the tertiary period by a hot spring, which
may have resembled the geysers of Iceland or the hot springs of
Yellowstone Park. It is formed of siliceous sinter, with some limonite
and clayey substances, and the gold is distributed throughout the rocky
mass. This discovery has made the owners immensely rich; the value of
some of the original shares exceeding one and a half million pounds. One
of my friends who bought a share for £1000 has now made out of this an
income of more than £2000 a year. By boring it has been demonstrated
that the gold increases in quantity with the depth, so that there seems
to be no end of this fabulous wealth. No wonder that it has attracted
the attention of speculators in every part of the world.

At the present time the weekly output of ore is 1500 tons. The average
yield is 6 ounces per ton, and accordingly £36,000 of pure gold is
produced per week.

This great find of gold is interesting, both from a theoretical and from
a practical point of view. It shows that gold-bearing siliceous sinter
can be the result of volcanic agencies, and that there is a hope that
gold may yet be found in formations that have hitherto been regarded as



                             CHAPTER XXVIII

  A family of zoologists—Flesh-eating kangaroos—How the ant-eater
      propagates—Civilised natives—Weapons and implements—Civilisation
      and demoralisation.


  _Nephrurus asper._

Some time afterwards I made a journey to the west to a station owned by
Mr. Barnard, and bearing the strange name Coomooboolaroo. The family of
the squatter was particularly interested in natural history, an interest
I had observed in several places, but rarely so marked as here. Mr.
Barnard himself was a very able entomologist, and possessed a fine
collection of insects, which he was constantly increasing. His wife was
a great help to him, and made excellent drawings of the specimens. Their
four sons had a similar taste, and they added to the family museum many
valuable specimens. Upon the whole, these boys were the most skilful
collectors I have ever met. They accompanied me on many excursions into
the woods, when we camped together, and on such occasions I had the best
opportunity of witnessing their matchless skill.

They climbed the trees as easily as any black man. When they had their
tomahawks in their hands no tree was too high for them. Like the blacks,
they cut niches in the bark for the support of their toes, and in this
way they were able to secure insects found only in the highest

They were always barefooted, in order to get about more easily, and the
stones and uneven ground gave them no trouble on our excursions, as they
planted their supple and sure feet in the most difficult places. Ever on
the alert, nothing escaped their attention. Even when they stood ready
to fire their guns, they would suddenly start off to catch an insect
flying by; and in the woods they were able to seize with their hands,
while running, one beetle after the other that came flying past.

Their keen faculty of observation astonished me again and again. They
studied the life and habits of animals, and gave me much valuable
information, for they knew the fauna of the locality perfectly. They did
not confine themselves to the neighbourhood of the station. Their father
sometimes sent them on long expeditions, and they invariably returned
with large collections.

There were many brush-turkeys (_Talegalla lathami_) in this region. So
far as I am aware, it has not hitherto been known how the young of this
bird work their way out of the peculiar mound in which the eggs are laid
to be hatched by artificial heat, after the custom of the megapodidæ.
Mr. Barnard thinks he has found this out. His sons had at one time
brought home some eggs from such a mound made of earth and decayed
plants. Two of them were laid under a hen, but rotted away. One egg he
placed in a heap of goats’ manure near his house. When a few days later
he went to look after the egg, and carefully removed the covering, he at
once discovered the fact that a little bird was lying on its back and
trying to work its way out of the heap of manure. It had already reached
to within two inches of the surface.

His sons had also, in digging for talegalla eggs, observed young birds
lying on their backs and trying to work their way out with their feet.
The material of the mound seems to be more loosely put together at the
bottom than at the top, where it is made of coarser stuff.

At a station in the neighbourhood there was a tame male talegalla which
lived with the hens. It was in the habit of chasing them together into a
little grove near the house, and the proprietor of the station was
convinced that the bird in this manner was trying to compel the hens to
build a mound. When the hens, not understanding what was expected of
them, ran away, the talegalla would chase them back into the grove, and
at last he became so troublesome that it was found necessary to shoot

Near Fairfield, close to the station, my young assistants found, in the
month of September, nests belonging to the beautiful Australian parrot
_Platycercus pulcherrimus_. Usually the nests were several miles apart.
The eggs were partly hatched. The strange fact about these nests is that
they are built in the hills of “the white ants.” There is an irregular
entrance about two inches in diameter and about a foot above the ground.
In the interior the parrot makes an opening about a foot high and two or
three feet in diameter. None of the building material is carried away,
but all the cells and canals are trampled down, so that there remains
simply a wall one or two inches thick around the whole nest. Here the
female lays five white eggs.

In this locality there were countless kangaroos. Though these animals
are really harmless, still the colonists keep at a respectful distance
from an old kangaroo which has been driven to a tree by the dogs. This
is not surprising, when we learn that in a sitting posture it may attain
a height of six to seven feet. A specimen measuring eight feet has been
shot. It is said that the male marsupials, particularly kangaroos,
continue to grow as long as they live. The kangaroos never make an
attack, but I know of instances when this animal has given proof not
only of its strength but also of its fearlessness.

Mr. Barnard informed me that his dogs were one day chasing an old
kangaroo when an ox-driver happened to be passing with his waggon. At
the sight of the animal the man ran behind his waggon to avoid the
kangaroo, which was advancing toward him, but when it came near the
ox-driver it made a jump sideways, seized him, and carried him about
twelve paces, until the dogs compelled the powerful animal to let go of
its victim.

A stalwart Highland shepherd was on his way home one evening with his
dog, when suddenly he discovered a large object in front of him. Having
lately come to Australia he had scarcely seen one of these animals
before, and being very superstitious, he thought it was the devil
himself. Meanwhile his dog attacked the monster, but instead of taking
flight it assumed the form of a great kangaroo, came up to the shepherd,
put its large arms around him, and hopped away with him. The dog pursued
the bold robber until the latter let go of its victim, after having
carried him ten to twelve paces.

On another occasion, when Mr. Barnard was out riding with some of his
friends, he met an “old man kangaroo.” One of the company galloped after
it and struck it several times with his whip, so as to compel it to sit
down and thus be more easily subdued; but suddenly the kangaroo turned,
clasped its arms round the neck of the horse, so that it was hanging
with its breast against the head of the horse. In this position the
kangaroo made desperate efforts to rip the horse’s belly open with its
large claw, while the horse, on the other hand, leapt about frantically
to get rid of its unwelcome embraces. That it was difficult for the
rider to keep his place in the saddle it is not necessary to state. The
scene was so comical that his companions were hardly able to give him
the necessary assistance as soon as they ought to have done.

When a kangaroo with a big young one in its pouch is pursued, it will
throw it out of the pouch in order to make its escape easier. This done,
the mother runs in a zigzag direction, probably to draw the attention of
the pursuer away from the young, which lies perfectly still where it is
dropped. A kangaroo never carries different broods in its pouch; but a
well-grown one may often be seen following its mother while she is
carrying a little one in her pouch.

I am able to relate, as a most remarkable fact, that a wallaroo, a
peculiar kind of kangaroo (_Macropus robustus_), which was kept tame at
a station, showed a marked fondness for animal food, particularly for
boiled salt beef. A dove had been its companion, and these two animals
were the best of friends for half a year, when the wallaroo one day
killed its companion and partly ate it. This wallaroo had been captured
while young, and had been brought up on milk, bread, and fresh grass. As
an analogous circumstance I may mention that rabbits which have been
brought up together with chickens have killed the latter and eaten some
of their flesh.

I brought many interesting things from my sojourn at Coomooboolaroo,
among others a fine collection of _Buprestidæ_. The strange-looking
lizard at the beginning of this chapter, _Nephrurus asper_, and the
_Bolboceras rhinoceros_, given on a separate plate, are also from this
locality. In the evenings a number of insects usually came flying into
the house, attracted by the light, and in this manner I caught this rare
beetle and many other specimens. On the ground near the station there
were large flocks of cockatoos. With their powerful beaks they dug up
roots of a grass (_Panicum semialatum_) of which they are very fond. It
interested me to observe that among the many kinds of grass, so similar
in appearance that a superficial observer would take them to be
identical, the cockatoos never failed to find at once the one they
wanted. One day the rare hawk variety _Astur radiatus_ was shot near the
station while it was consuming a white cockatoo it had caught. The nest,
found close by in the top of a high Moreton Bay ash, resembled the nests
of other hawks, and contained two eggs, of a dirty white colour, with a
few irregular light brown marks (length 2⁵⁄₁₆ inches, breadth 1¹⁵⁄₁₆

One of my chief occupations during these days was the study of the spiny
ant-eaters’ mode of propagation. One of my young friends at the station
and a black man had found a spiny ant-eater (_Echidna_), from whose
pouch they took an egg which, according to their description, was not
quite half the size of a hen’s egg, and the shell of which was like
leather and resembled that of an “iguana” egg. This egg, however, had
been destroyed, and so I resolved to do all in my power to investigate
the matter, and had a large number of ant-eaters examined. My
investigations extended from the beginning of February to the middle of
March, and I made the observation that the ovaries were constantly
growing in size during this time. As I had to leave Australia at the end
of March, I unfortunately was unable to continue my observations to the
end of the development, but still I came to the conclusion that the
reports I had received from the blacks corresponded with the facts, as
has since been demonstrated in other quarters. According to the
statements of the blacks, the ant-eaters were to have young in April or
May. The nearly mature eggs, lying in the ovaries and taken from a
full-grown specimen, in the beginning of March measured about ⅑ of an
inch[21] in diameter. The _mammæ_ of the same individual were large and
swollen, and contained much milk. The ovaries are very much like those
of birds in appearance, but are distinguished from the latter by the
fact that the right and left ovary are of the same size, while in birds
only one ovary is usually developed.

Footnote 21:

  Prof. G. A. Guldberg: _Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Eierstockeier bei
  Echidna_. Jena, 1885.



In August of the same year the English naturalist Mr. Caldwell
established the fact that the spiny ant-eater actually lays eggs, and he
has shown that the same is the case with the ornithorhynchus. The egg,
which was found at the same time by Mr. Haacke in Adelaide, was ¾ of an
inch in diameter, and had a shell like parchment, which was broken by a
slight pressure of the finger. As is well known, turtles and other
reptiles have eggs of this kind. By this important discovery it is
therefore established that the ant-eater and the ornithorhynchus nurse
their young with milk as do other mammals, but that they lay eggs like
birds and reptiles.

The natives occasionally came to Gracemere either to fish in the lagoon
or to gather the roots of the blue water-lily, which they use as food.
It is claimed that the blacks of this part of Australia are familiar
with the use of stimulants. If the leaves of _Erythroxylon australis_,
which is common in the scrubs near Rockhampton, possess stimulating
qualities similar to those of South America’s _Erythroxylon coca_
(“cocaine”), then we may presume that the blacks are aware of it.

At the lower part of Fitzroy river the natives used to catch mullets
with their hand-nets in the winter season; they knew by the appearance
of a certain star, which they called “Nia,” that the mullet was coming
down the river to spawn, and they always caught a great number of this
fish that were full of roe.



The Australian natives are very skilful in various kinds of handiwork,
but their talent manifests itself in different ways. One may excel in
making baskets, another in producing the best fishing-nets, a third the
best weapons, etc. I purchased a number of articles from the natives of
Central Queensland. Near the coast I secured several bands for the
forehead, remarkable for their solidity and beauty. The little bags,
which they plait with great skill, are also very strong and pretty. Some
of these things are made from cotton thread, but the most common
material is the so-called opossum yarn—that is, hairs pulled out of the
opossum skin (_Irichosurus vulpecula_) and twisted into threads between
the flat hand and the thigh. From this yarn the blacks make a little
apron, worn about the waist in this part of Australia. Opossum yarn is
also worn in bunches on various parts of the body, for instance round
the loins or over one shoulder. Sometimes a “band” of this sort is
thrown over each shoulder, in such a way that they form a cross on the
breast and on the back. I have even seen civilised blacks wearing these
bands under their clothes, but their purpose I do not know. The natives
are very willing to part with them. Frequently five or six threads of
opossum yarn are twisted together to form a plain ornament about the
wrist or neck. Opossum skins are also sewed together and used partly as
articles of clothing, partly as mats.


  OPOSSUM THREAD (¹⁄₁ size).

Their shields are small, and as a rule are made of the light cork-tree
(_Erythrina vespertilio_). The front side is rather curved, while the
reverse is flat and furnished with a little handle cut out of the shield
itself. Like most of the weapons of the natives, the shield is carved
and then usually painted with white and red.



Wooden swords are rare, and differ from those of Northern Queensland,
being more curved, not so broad, and usually coloured with cross-bars of
chalk. A weapon even more rare is the so-called _bendi_. It resembles a
small pickaxe, and is made of the _Eucalyptus exserata_, called by the
natives bendo. The bend or curve forms a right angle, and ends in a
point, the wood itself giving the weapon this form. Bendi is not a
javelin, but a weapon to strike with, and with it the natives try to hit
the kidneys of their opponents; for these they regard as the seat of



  Showing a part of the inner side with the handle.

The spears of these natives are thrown by the hand alone, without the
aid of any other implement. Near the point the spear has two to four
enlargements resembling rings, and as the latter are rifled, they form a
sort of barb.


  WOODEN SWORD (⅒ size).



The most important weapon of the Australian native is the tomahawk,
which is made of basalt, greenstone, or some other hard stone, sometimes
even of phonolite. The natives have been known to travel great distances
in order to secure, by barter from foreign tribes, the best material,
and thus trading centres sprang up in some districts. The stone is
either cut into the proper shape, or one is used which is naturally of
the correct form, and the edge is generally made sharp by whetting. The
handle is invariably made by bending a piece of vine stalk round the
stone, and then tying the ends of the stalk together with withies as
close under the stone as possible; gum is also put on to make the joint
more firm. Axes with holes through them have not been found. The
Australian makes most of his weapons with the tomahawk, which also
serves as his most important weapon for the chase, and which he is never
without. All kinds of fine work are performed with the aid of pieces of
hard stone, which he usually fastens to a handle and uses as a chisel.
For carving he uses implements of stone or of bone.





An idea of the culture of the Australian is easily gained by examining
his weapons and implements. They are made mostly of wood, and bows and
arrows are unknown. On Herbert river the natives employ javelins almost
exclusively for hunting, but when in the dense scrubs they are as a rule
unarmed. If they discover an animal they break branches off the trees,
and try to kill it with these. They are generally successful, for most
of the animals frequent the trees, and escape is therefore difficult
when the natives make an attack from all sides and surround them. When
an animal has been slain and is to be prepared for food, the belly is
opened by the first stone or piece of wood found suitable for the
purpose. The game is divided for distribution either with a stone or
with the teeth, which are also largely used for breaking off limbs of
trees and for making implements. The knives used by the natives of
Australia are either pieces of hard stone accidentally found ready for
use, or are secured by breaking pieces off the rock, but not much
additional labour is bestowed on them, though they are sometimes shaped
or fastened with glue to a kind of wooden handle. On the other hand, the
natives understand how to polish their tomahawks; and when tribes have
been found who had only roughly worked ones, the reason is not ignorance
in polishing, but that the hardness of the material made the tomahawks
quite sharp enough without it. Still, it will be seen that the
aboriginal Australian has not advanced very far in the stone age.

When the natives become “civilized” they at once exchange their stone
weapons for the white man’s weapons of iron. They are particularly fond
of his tomahawk. Even on Herbert river the stone axe had given place to
the latter tool, which however was so rare in some parts that a whole
tribe sometimes had to be satisfied with one or two implements of this
kind. Blacks who have never seen a white man occasionally get iron
implements by bartering with other tribes. After becoming civilised the
Australian native begins to make tomahawks from broken horse-shoes or
from some other piece of iron, and to stud his club with nails. There
are instances on record where the natives have cut down the telegraph
poles and used the wire for spear points and fish-hooks. After becoming
acquainted with the use of iron, the black man makes but little use of
his wooden weapons and implements, and strange to say, does not make
them so nicely as formerly, when his tools were inferior. He also takes
less pains with all kinds of carving.

The natives of Central Queensland have, as a matter of course,
obtained that kind of civilisation which necessarily results from a
prolonged intercourse with the white population. They have long since
recognised the superiority of Europeans, and the new condition of
things is leading them to give up their former occupations. The most
capable ones become servants at the stations, partly as cooks, partly
as stock-men and shepherds, and they are of considerable use to the
white population; but the great mass of them prefer to enjoy their
liberty, while at the same time contact with the white man gives their
life and habits a new character. The settlers are on account of their
flocks obliged to encroach on the hunting-grounds of the black, and
the natives, who have no thought of the future or of posterity, are
satisfied with the advantages obtained in exchange for the loss of
their hunting-grounds—that is, they get the leavings from the kitchen
and the slaughter-house, milk, old clothes, tobacco, etc. Sometimes
the squatter appoints the best native near his station a “king,” and
as a mark of this dignity he gives him a piece of brass containing his
civilised name to wear on his breast. In return for food, tobacco,
woollen blankets, and similar things, the “king” promises to watch his
tribe, and keep them from doing damage to the white man’s property.
Every native is anxious to become “king,” for the brass plate, which
is considered a great ornament, also secures the bearer many a meal.
At first, while the natives are more or less dangerous, a chief of
this kind may be very valuable to a squatter, who may in this way be
warned of attacks from hostile tribes, but after the natives have
become quiet and peaceable the institution is of value only to the
bearer of the brass plate, who continues to demand his pay.



The degeneration and demoralisation of the natives, which are an
inevitable result of the march of civilisation, are already far advanced
even in this part of Australia. The natives become more indolent, and
they lose their former self-reliance and independence after they acquire
the habit of relying on what they can get from the white man. They spend
most of their time near the stations and villages, where they are able
to obtain liquor and opium, for which the Chinese immigrants soon give
them a taste. I cannot conceive a more disgusting sight than a camp of
such ragged, impudent blacks marked by all the vices of civilisation. To
me, coming from Northern Queensland, where the natives still were in
their pristine vigour, the picture was an exceedingly sad one, when I
considered the future awaiting the friends I had left there.

Shortly before my return to Europe I visited a camp of “civilised”
blacks near Rockhampton. Even before reaching the camp I felt the smell
of opium, and on coming nearer I was the witness of a most disgusting
scene. Around the camp fires sat natives pale as death itself. The
opium-pipe was constantly in their mouths and their eyes stared out
bewildered from their deep hollow sockets. I approached the man whom I
wanted to see. He had lost his flesh, and his skin had become yellow and
sickly. It was all he could do to stammer forth a request for money to
buy more opium. A month ago I had seen him strong and well, now he was a
mere skeleton and presumably on the brink of the grave.

I turned my face away from this horrible scene and mounted my horse, sad
to think that this was to be my last impression of the world of the

                              CHAPTER XXIX

  Religion—Blacks in the service of the white men—Fickle minds—Settlers
      and natives on the borders of civilization—Morality—A life and
      death struggle—The cruelty of the whites—Future prospects of the
      Australian natives.

A native who had been brought up by the white men was visiting the
tribes near Peak Downs, where I stopped for a time. He was able to read
and write, and on Sundays he sometimes sent word to the station and
asked to borrow a Prayer-book, from which he would read passages aloud
to the other blacks in the tribe, who looked with wonderment upon his
superiority over them. He also frequently read chapters from the Bible
to them, but apparently he did not himself understand much of what he
read. Once, when an old woman of the tribe died, he asked to borrow the
Prayer-book, in order “to read” over the dead as he had seen the whites
do. Finally a Prayer-book was presented to him. He read its title, _Book
of Common Prayer_, whereupon he handed it back, saying he did not want
anything that was “common.”

It is a well-known fact that the Australian natives are almost wholly
devoid of religious susceptibilities, and that missionaries seldom
succeed in imparting to them more than the outward appearance of
Christianity. Upon the whole, there are but few missionaries in
Australia, and the natives come but little in contact with Christianity.
Missionary efforts have been made, especially in the southern part of
the continent, but with poor success. The lack of the receptive faculty
on the part of the blacks and the ill-will of a portion of the white
population are great hindrances in the way of missionary work; rough
colonists will not abandon the practice of prostitution, from which the
blacks derive some pecuniary advantage. The fact that the missionaries
see but little fruit from their labours does not therefore allow us to
draw the conclusion that the Australian race is quite unsusceptible to
religious influence.

In my opinion, an Australian native cannot be christianised unless he is
brought up outside his own tribe from infancy. In such circumstances he
has been found to be capable of considerable mental development. Many of
the natives have learned reading, writing, arithmetic, singing, etc. It
is even claimed that they acquire these accomplishments more rapidly
than white children, but that they also more quickly forget them again.
They are also able to play cards, even “euchre,” a game requiring
considerable thought. A squatter in the far west informed me that when
he forgot what day in the week it was he only needed to ask his black
boy, who never failed to know.

The highest degree of civilisation attainable by the blacks is skill in
the work to be done at a station. Women are usually employed in the
house, and at each station two or three find work. They make good
waiters, but poor cooks. As stock-men and shepherds the blacks are
excellent, in this work sometimes even surpassing the whites. They are
superb riders, and have a wonderful talent for mastering an unruly
horse. On the other hand, they are unable to break a horse properly, and
as a rule have very heavy hands.

Among the sheep and cattle the blacks are wellnigh indispensable at
every station. They know every animal, and give it much better care than
it can get from a white man. A black boy whom I knew was able to
distinguish the footprints of the various horses belonging to the
station. Some of them have great skill in making whips and bridles, in
carving whip handles, and in doing other handiwork.

These civilised blacks soon try to acquire the white man’s manners; they
like to wear clothes, and they like to have their clothes fit nicely.
Some even shave and wash themselves, use towels, and are perfect bush
dandies. They soon acquire a very high opinion of themselves, of their
ability, and of their importance. They look upon themselves not only as
equally good, but as better than the white men. No man on earth is more
proud than a black man on horseback, with good clothes on, his clay pipe
lit, and his pocket full of tobacco and matches.



This “civilisation,” which is quickly assumed through intercourse with
the white man, does not, however, strike deep root, and the good nature
which often accompanies their brutal qualities rarely wholly overcomes
the latter. However comfortable they may be with the white man, they
still long to get back to their forests. As a rule they must have an
annual vacation, when they visit their tribe and take part in the
hunting and in other amusements. There is no use in refusing this, for
then they would become sulky and unwilling to work. Their love of change
makes them constantly give up one situation for another, though they may
have no reason to be dissatisfied with the one they abandon. In some few
cases a black man will become very much devoted to his master, and will
occasionally serve the same one a long time if he only gets his annual
vacation. I may mention that a black boy who had been with his master
for many years nursed him during a severe illness, nay, even prevented
him from committing suicide in a moment of desperation.

A black man twenty-three years old, who from childhood had been educated
at a station in Victoria, where he had lived nearly all his life and had
been treated almost as a member of the family, one day suddenly
disappeared. He was found in the camp of the blacks as naked as he was
born, but later on he returned to the station, where he resumed his
former work. Sometimes this kind of civilised native becomes so fond of
savage life that he never returns to the stations.

It frequently happens that a black-fellow makes a journey abroad when
the squatter goes to visit his native country. It would be reasonable to
suppose that the great cities of the old world would make some, if not a
very deep, impression, on this child of nature, but such is not the
case. The Australian native is not surprised, because he lacks the
faculty of appreciating. A locomotive flying past him for the first time
does not astonish him very much. When, after a long journey, he returns
to his tribe he sees the difference, but he has no words with which to
explain himself, although his fellows get the general impression that
their comrade has had wonderful experiences. He is naturally very proud
of his achievements, and wears an air of superiority over both white and
black men. A colonist who was trying to give a black man a grand
impression of Sydney, received the startling answer: “I like London

Though the language used by the colonists in conversation with the
blacks, which the latter gradually learn, is a disconnected jargon,
still some of the natives learn to speak English very well. These more
talented blacks, mostly from Victoria and New South Wales, become
literally angry when addressed in the common jabber-jabber English. A
white man who was out hunting emus asked a black of the above kind: _You
been see ’im tshukki-tshukki big fellow?_ The latter indignantly
replied: “I suppose you mean an emu.”

Though the Australian native is thus able to acquire some of the fruits
of civilisation, it still remains a characteristic fact that he never
gets so far as to occupy an independent position. As a subordinate he
may serve to the complete satisfaction of his master, but he never saves
anything, and does not comprehend the value of money. He never learns
enough to become a tradesman, and all that he gets he at once spends. In
his natural condition he has a decided distaste for agriculture, and
this aversion clings to him when he becomes civilised. Cattle-raising is
an easy way of making money, but not even this can teach him to make
money on his own account.

“A living sheep is an impossibility in the camp of the blacks,” most
truly writes Mr. Finch-Hatton, and the gold of Australia is nothing but
a common stone to him, even when he sees the greedy digger getting rich
by seeking the precious metal. A strong tendency to communism hinders
social development among the tribes. Natives employed on a farm
invariably share their earnings with their relatives and friends, who
live in their camp near the station. When a black man has regular
employment at a station he frequently gets five shillings a week besides
board and tobacco, but all this he divides with his comrades in the
camp. The latter do not care to hunt, but live on what he or their women
earn from the squatter. No sooner has one of them saved a pound than he
and his friends go to town and buy brandy and opium with the money.

As a rule the relation between the whites and the blacks is not at first
a friendly one. It has occasionally happened that the natives have
received the whites kindly the first time they met them; they have even
given assistance to people who have been shipwrecked, but in most
instances a war soon breaks out between the two races. Sheep and cattle
begin to feed on the grounds that have belonged to the blacks, and the
latter are prohibited from going where they please; because the herds
are disturbed by the black men’s hunting, nay even by the smell of the
savages. As a matter of course, the natives therefore try to resist the
strangers who interfere with their inherited rights.



The rough settler, who never sees a woman of his own race, soon begins
to associate with the black women. A friendly relation between the two
races is made impossible; the white men shoot the black men, and the
black men kill the white men when they can, and spear their sheep and

Both parties, however, gradually learn to take advantage of each other.
The colonist avails himself of the cheap labour furnished by the blacks,
and the natives acquire a taste for what the white man has to offer,
though it is of course mainly limited to tobacco, food, and clothes. Of
this change of condition the colonist reaps the whole advantage, for the
invariable result to the black man is both mental and physical
degradation and retrogression. Unfortunately the first white men with
whom the blacks on the frontiers of civilisation come in contact are
frequently rough and brutal, and hence we cannot expect any marked
improvement on the part of the natives from their new acquaintances.
Their keen sense of observation enables them to discover quickly the bad
qualities in the white man’s character, and these they are not slow to
imitate; but they have no eye for the good qualities. There is not much
to be said of the morals of the blacks, for I am sorry to say they have
none. Still, their moral condition has a somewhat better aspect before
they come in contact with the white man. It cannot be denied that the
young black women originally had a certain amount of modesty. In some
parts of the country they assume the position of a Venus of Milo, or
they hide behind the older women to take a peep at the white man, whom
they see for the first time. It has been observed that the savages who
wear an apron are more modest than those who are naked. I have also
heard that the women in some tribes take their baths by themselves. It
should also be remarked that the natives never represent obscene ideas
in their rude drawings, and though it cannot be denied that the husband,
in return for certain advantages, will part with his wife, yet he
jealously protects her as his most valuable and dearest possession. On
the other hand, as soon as the white man comes, immorality knows no
bounds, and the black race hasten on to the inevitable ruin awaiting
them. Sometimes the most brutal settlers even make use of the revolver
to compel the natives to surrender their women; sometimes they actually
kill the black man if he makes resistance. At length threats become
unnecessary, for the blacks do not need to remain long under the
influence of “civilisation” before they offer their wares for a little
tobacco, or when the “civilisation” has struck deeper roots, for a
shilling. The murder of infants increases, syphilitic diseases become
common, and the women having become prostitutes, cease to bear children.

The settlers also reduce the numbers of the natives in a more direct
way, and the latter have often been slaughtered in the most unmerciful
manner. At times there may possibly be some excuse for this. The white
man’s friendship may be rewarded with ingratitude. The blacks frequently
punish the innocent for the guilty, and they spare no white man. I know
of instances where the blacks have persisted in killing cattle, in spite
of the fact that the owner has been extravagant enough in his friendship
to give them cattle for slaughter. In such circumstances the blacks do
not care if some of their comrades are shot; but at last their ranks
become so reduced that they have to yield. They may dog a white man
secretly for days, with no less energy than they exhibit in pursuing
their game for food, and on the first favourable opportunity take his
life. In North Australia no traveller is safe, and many a lonely
wanderer who has disappeared in these remote regions has been slain by
the spear of the black man. They rarely attack a man on horseback.[22]
Still, they watch him and lie in ambush for him, in case he should
dismount to look for water to drink, or to rest for the night. In some
instances the blacks have attacked a station and killed all the
inhabitants. Thus it is necessary for the white man to defend himself,
but there is no doubt that in this respect he has gone further than
necessity demanded. The settling of Australia is stained with more than
one shocking story of this sort. There are instances where the young men
of the station have employed the Sunday in hunting the blacks, not only
for some definite purpose, but also for the sake of the sport; the
blacks have even been killed with poison. A squatter at Long Lagoon, in
the interior of Queensland, achieved notoriety by laying strychnine in
the way of the blacks, and thus taking the life of a large number of
them in a single day.

Footnote 22:

  A white man on foot is always regarded as a “little” white man.

Similar acts of brutality occur even at the present time. A farmer whom
I met at Lower Herbert boasted that he had cremated some blacks whom he
had shot. He looked upon this as a most excellent precautionary measure,
for it made proof against him impossible. The life of a native has but
little value, particularly in the northern part of Australia, and once
or twice colonists offered to shoot blacks for me so that I might get
their skulls. On the borders of civilisation men would think as little
of shooting a black man as a dog. The law imposes death by hanging as
the penalty for murdering a black man, but people live so far apart in
these uncivilised regions that a white man may in fact do what he
pleases with the blacks.

In Northern Queensland I often heard this remark: “The only treatment
proper for the blacks is to shoot them all.” A squatter in that part of
the country acted on this principle. He found it severe, but necessary.
He shot all the men he discovered on his run, because they were cattle
killers; the women, because they gave birth to cattle killers; and the
children, because they would in time become cattle killers. “They are
unwilling to work,” I have heard colonists say, “and hence they are not
fit to live.”

The result of this is that in the frontier districts there is still
being waged a war of extermination between the two races. Any savage
discovered by the white men runs the risk of being shot. Poison was laid
in the way of the blacks once while I was in Queensland. I also take the
liberty of reporting the following shocking event, though without giving
the names of any of the parties concerned.

A cedar-cutter in Northern Queensland had one day left one of his white
workmen in charge of the camp, while he and his other labourers went to
the woods to work. In districts where the blacks are dangerous it is
always necessary to leave a man on guard in the camp. In the course of
the day two blacks came to the guard, and as the latter had no ill-will
to the natives, he treated them in a friendly manner and gave them
tobacco. When the master returned in the evening he became very angry on
account of what had happened, and the next day he set a Kanaka to watch
the camp. The natives of course thought the white man was friendly, as
he had given them tobacco, and so they did not hesitate to visit the
camp again the next day; but they soon found out their mistake. One of
the blacks who tried to make his escape was wounded in the leg, while
the other one was captured and tied to a tree. This done, the wounded
man was seized and killed with a butcher’s knife. When the Kanaka came
back to the camp the master had returned, and the latter at once
ordered, in cold blood, that the prisoner who was tied to the tree
should also be killed. They did not even waste a bullet on the poor
fellow, who was pierced with a knife.

That inhuman institution, the native police, has also been an important
factor in the destruction of the natives. They have not only slain a
large number of this unhappy people, but also contributed largely to
their demoralisation.

In the courts the blacks are defenceless, for their testimony is not
accepted. The jury is not likely to declare a white man guilty of
murdering a black man. On the other hand, if a white man happens to be
killed by the blacks, a cry is heard throughout the whole colony.

There are, however, persons who look upon the blacks as human beings
with a right to live in the land which is in fact their own. “Were I a
black man, I would kill all the whites,” an Australian gentleman once
said to me. One of these protectors of the blacks writes to me—

“If I thought that anything I might say on the treatment of the
aborigines would in any way tend to ameliorate their present wretched
condition, I would not for a moment grudge my lost health, and would
plead their cause to my last breath. But alas! it were vain to hope for
any improvement in their condition; for it is an immutable law of nature
that the strong will prey upon the weak. I always look upon the
condition of the lower order of ‘whites’ as a fearful satire on
Christianity. The English nation is continually casting stones at other
nations for the treatment of conquered races, but nothing could be more
barbarous than their own treatment of the aborigines of Australia.”



  Sketch after a description given to me on the spot.

It must be admitted that the colonists in several places have tried to
protect the blacks by giving them reservations and means of existence.
In Victoria there are six stations, where the natives raise crops and
cattle, and receive instruction.

All this, however, is of no avail. It only gives the doomed race a short
respite. It is supposed that there were 9000 blacks in Victoria when the
colony was founded. There now remain scarcely 800, and many of these are
_half-castes_, who are but little superior to the pure blacks in
intelligence, while they have an even less favourable appearance.

“When civilised nations come into contact with barbarians, the struggle
is but short, excepting where a dangerous climate helps the native
race,” says Darwin, and history corroborates his statement. In 1872 the
last Tasmanian died. His ancestors succumbed, not only because they were
weaker than the invading race, but also because they were abused by the
invaders. The same fate as that which overtook their brothers in
Tasmania is in store for the natives of Australia. They have proved
themselves almost incapable of receiving either culture or Christianity,
and they have not the power to resist the onward march of civilisation.
They are therefore without a future, without a home, without a hope,—a
doomed race. The two races cannot exist together. If the Australian
attacks the whites or their herds, he is shot; if he tries to secure the
friendship of the white men, his ruin is no less certain. He is
unwilling to abandon his habits of life, and for this reason the
settlement of the country robs him of his means of existence, while
European culture at the same time causes his moral and physical

The philanthropist is filled with sadness when he sees the original
inhabitants of this strange land succumbing according to the inexorable
law of degeneration. Invading civilisation has not brought development
and progress to the Australian native; after a few generations his race
will have disappeared from the face of the earth.



The history of Australia illustrates in broad outlines how a continent
inhabited by a most primitive race of men becomes known to the
Europeans, how the latter colonise the country and drive the natives
before them, and how the new community is organised and developed. Thus
the subject may be divided into three chapters—(1) The condition before
the discovery; (2) the story of the discovery; and (3) the story of the


The degree of culture attained by the Australian aborigines when they
first came in contact with the Europeans was not a high one. We find a
race living in small tribes, without any social organisation, always
moving from one place to another, living in huts hurriedly made of
leaves or bark; almost naked; destitute of implements of metal,
destitute of perforated stone implements, destitute of bows and arrows;
having miserable boats, or none at all; having no other domestic animals
than the semi-wild dingo, and having no knowledge of agriculture. The
development which preceded this stage of civilisation must be looked for
in the very infancy of human culture, where we have but little light to
show the way. Nor is any special value to be attached to peculiar
customs which this people may have in common with other races similarly
situated. Circumcision, tattooing, exogamy, and sorcery are found in
every part of the globe, but for none of these have we been able to show
a common origin. Nor has the science of philology hitherto been able to
connect the prehistoric ages of Australia with the culture of the rest
of the world, though efforts have been made to show linguistic
resemblances both with the Dekkan races and more recently with the
negroes of Africa. The archæological investigations are confined to
enormous “middens” or refuse heaps. One science remains, viz.
comparative anthropology; but even this is not able to give a
satisfactory answer, for the Australian aborigines form a group by
themselves without any marked similarity to any other races. A few
anthropological correspondences have led to comparisons with the
Papuans, who geographically are their nearest neighbours.

There are in like manner faint traces pointing to the north and
north-east, when we seek the source of the earliest culture of
Australia. A later current from north-east to south-west has been
suggested, but cannot be made to serve as the basis of any reliable
hypothesis. It has been shown that weapons (the bow), and boats, and
houses, and physical development reveal progress as the York peninsula
is approached, and the influence of Malays and Papuans can be definitely
pointed out. But all this bears the stamp of modern times, and must be
the result of communications in a very recent period. The one thing
certain is that the Australian race must have originated ages ago.

Investigation, which shows how completely Australia has been cut off
from external influence, gives the best answer to the question why the
development of the blacks has made so little progress, for the
development of the world is found to be dependent on the intercourse
between different races, on the conflicts between them, and on the
struggle for existence thus caused.

The very nature of the country has helped to keep the people from making
progress. In the first place there are but few inlets of the sea, and in
the next place there are two other circumstances which only need to be
pointed out to be appreciated. There are no ruminating animals, and
grain is very rare. The transition from the most primitive life to that
of the herdsman was therefore impossible, and this common door to a
higher culture was closed. On the other hand, there was but little
inducement to become agricultural, though the wild rice found in the
northern part of South Australia has been used as food. Besides the
climatic conditions, the long droughts—sometimes lasting for years in
the interior of the country—were a decided obstacle to agriculture, even
if there had been grain that could bear them better than rice. Finally,
it should be added that the natural products are usually so abundant
that it is comparatively easy to subsist without labour.

The fact is, at all events, that the great discovery on which all higher
civilisation is based, viz. agriculture, had not been made in Australia
at the time when it was colonised by Europeans.

There could be no doubt about the result when the aborigines and the
Europeans met. The difference was so great that assimilation was
impossible. The only vocations open to the aborigines in the new
Australian community were those of the herdsman and policeman. The
latter of these was of no advantage to the natives. The first English
colonists were mainly banished criminals, reckless people a fact that
gave the conflict between the two races the character of a war of
extermination from the very outset, and in this warfare the native
police has contributed much toward the destruction of the aborigines.

It is difficult to estimate the number of aborigines in Australia at the
time when the European colonisation began. Natives, or traces of them,
were met everywhere. Sturt relates that he met about 4000 in the course
of a few days. We probably are not wide of the mark when we assume that
fifty years ago there were about 200,000 natives in Australia; their
number is now estimated at about 60,000.

The world is familiar with the systematic cruelty with which the
Tasmanians were exterminated. In 1872 occurred the death of the last
representative of a people which numbered about 5000 souls at the time
of the founding of the colony in 1803. Many were killed in wars, many
were even hunted out of the woods and destroyed. A large number of them
were transported to the islands in Bass Strait, where death and ruin
soon overtook them. The regular hunting and shooting of the natives in
the early days of Queensland suggests the question, whether the coming
of the new settlers deserved the name of the “advent of civilisation.”

                        HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY

Australia was the last continent discovered by the European, a fact
easily explained by its situation. In the age of the great discoveries,
navigators were seeking a way to India, and whether they chose to go by
the way of the Cape of Good Hope or by the Straits of Magellan, in
either case the route was far to the north of Australia. The navigators
also seem to have kept as far to the north as possible. Still, a very
long time cannot have passed ere sailors came in sight of the Australian
coast. Strange to say, it is not known with certainty who was the first
discoverer of this great continent. Some old maps seem to show that the
Portuguese were aware of the existence of a large country south of Java
before the year 1545, viz. “Great Java.” On these maps are found coral
reefs, rivers, promontories, etc., and a number of names. It is,
however, difficult to determine how far these maps may be based on the
old purely theoretical assumption that there was a large _terra
australis incognita_, to give equilibrium to the earth and balance the
northern hemisphere.

Ere long the Spanish, the chief rivals of the Portuguese, also presented
their claims. By the decision of Pope Alexander II, who acted as
arbitrator, the Spanish were permitted to develop their sway only
westward of Europe, while all to the east was left to the Portuguese.
The conflict which then arose in regard to the Moluccas may explain why
both parties were silent in regard to the great country they may have
discovered south of the boundary.



At all events, the first Australian discoveries of which we have
perfectly reliable accounts were not made before the beginning of the
seventeenth century. We first come across the Dutch, who during their
war of independence attempted to conquer the rich colonies of their
enemies—the Spanish and the Portuguese. In connection with this we
obtain the following reliable dates: in 1601 the Portuguese De Eridia
landed on the north-west coast from the west; in 1606 the Spaniard
Torres passed from the east through the straits named after him; and
subsequently a Dutch ship called _Duyfhen_ sailed along the coast toward
Cape York. From this time the Dutch carry on nearly all the
explorations. It would take us beyond our present limits to present the
details of this gradual discovery, from the Dutch headquarters in Java,
or on their route to East India, a route which they had to lay south of
that of the Portuguese. In 1627 Peter Nuyts entered the great Australian
bay from the west. In 1642 Tasman gained the south point of that
country, which he called Van Diemen’s Land. It is not easy now to decide
whether his reasons for regarding the latter as the southern point of a
large continent were based on old theories or on more recent

The English, the nation which was destined to control the development of
Australia, did not make their appearance before 1688, when the
freebooter Dampier explored the west coast. This happened one hundred
years before the first colonies—the centenary of which has been recently
celebrated—were planted, in 1788.

It was a long time before anybody made any decided effort to take
possession of the country, and for this delay there were many reasons.
The power of the Spanish was exhausted, and so was that of Portugal,
while the victorious Dutch were fully occupied with their new rich
provinces. To this must be added that all descriptions of Australia
represented the continent as barren and without water to drink, and its
natives as poor and savage. Nor did the coasts that had been seen
present any very inviting aspect. There are but few harbours on the west
and south coasts, and on the north-east side are dangerous coral reefs.
The wrong side of Australia had been seen, and it was absurd to prefer
this country to the Spice Island or America.

It is interesting to note that it was a scientific expedition which
first led to the colonisation of the country. In 1768 Captain Cook
carried an astronomer and one or two other scientists to Tahiti to
observe the transit of Venus, and to make some other researches on their
home voyage. This was the beginning of the present phase of scientific
expeditions. In 1770 he touched Australia at Botany Bay, and made a
chart of the coast to the north as far as Torres Straits, the importance
of which he was the first to point out.

At this time England was greatly puzzled as to what it should do with
all such criminals as it had heretofore sent to America. The declaration
of independence on the part of the United States had put an end to the
transportation of criminals to that country, and the favourable report
made by Cook in regard to Botany Bay led Sydney to make up his mind to
try Australia. The first transportation was made in 1788, but the colony
was soon moved to the magnificent harbour of Port Jackson, where the
city of Sydney was gradually built up.

The opening up of the continent was continued with this solitary colony
as the base of exploration. Flinders and Bass commenced their
expeditions in the year 1795 in a small open boat to both sides of the
coast. In 1797 Bass called attention to the strait between Tasmania and
the continent, and the next year he circumnavigated the island with
Flinders. At the expense of the Government Flinders made charts of a
large part of the coast of Australia, and this coast survey was
continued from time to time almost to the present day.

During the most recent years attention has been chiefly given to the
exploration of the interior.

How difficult it must have been to penetrate the Blue Mountains
separating Sydney from the plains in the interior is evident from the
fact that men like Bass attempted it in vain. It took twenty-five years
to advance the first fifty miles, and thus to find a way between the
steep rocks to the open country beyond. The first passage was effected
in 1813, and from that time the explorations have progressed rapidly.
Oxley, Cunningham, Mitchell, Sturt, and others explored the whole
country along the rivers toward Victoria. The German naturalist Dr. L.
Leichhardt began his explorations along the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1835,
and made most valuable reports. In 1847 he undertook his last
expedition, a bold attempt to penetrate to the west coast. Not a word
was heard of him after April 3, 1848.

From Adelaide, settled about the same time, a series of attempts were
begun in 1839 to penetrate the country from the south to the north.
Heroic efforts were made in this direction by Eyre, who afterwards
suffered untold hardships in travelling 1200 miles along the coast to
King George’s Sound. O’Hara Burke and Wills were the first to reach the
north coast in 1861, but both perished from hunger on their way back.
The following year M‘Donald Stuart, after having made two abortive
attempts, succeeded in getting through, and from that time onwards the
route was open. In 1872 a telegraph line was laid, amid great
difficulties, across the whole continent. It followed Stuart’s route,
and this enterprise became the basis of a series of explorations all the
way to the west coast, and thus the main features of the geography of
Australia have become established. Prominent names in connection with
this are Giles, Forrest, Warburton, and Gregory.

Most of these expeditions into the interior have been undertaken amid
the greatest privations, such as a constant lack of water and terrible
heat, even up to 127° F., so that it has at times been necessary to bury
one’s self in the ground in order to endure it. Add to this the almost
impassable spinifex-scrubs, the salt lakes, the sand-storms, etc., and
we can form some idea of what the explorer had to suffer. The bright
sunlight destroyed Sturt’s eyes, and many a life has been lost in the
conflict with these similar impediments. But a large territory has been
opened to civilisation by these martyrs.

                        HISTORY OF THE COLONIES

On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney with his
first company of prisoners, and in a solemn manner took possession of a
whole continent in the name of the inhabitants of a small island on the
opposite side of the globe. Had the French expedition under La Perouse
come earlier than it did to this place, the whole development of
Australia might have taken a different direction. As it was, the ruling
power of the British nation got an opportunity of expanding, and a new
world was added to the dominion of the Anglo-Saxon race.

The beginning was made by about 1000 deported criminals, about
one-fourth part of these being women. Now, one hundred years later, the
population of the Australian colonies, leaving New Zealand out of
consideration, is nearly 3,000,000. The first means of subsistence had
to be produced by agriculture, but as few of the new settlers had any
knowledge of this art, there was much suffering in the beginning, and in
order to escape death from starvation, the domestic animals which had
been brought had to be slaughtered. One hundred years later Australia
contains 80,000,000 sheep and almost 8,000,000 head of cattle, and it
sends annually to the mother country beef, mutton, wool, tallow, wheat,
and metals to the value of about £40,000,000 sterling. A most remarkable

The story of the early days of the colonies is chiefly a history of the
deportation of criminals. The first colony received, from 1788 until the
importation was stopped in 1839 by the energetic protest of the “free
immigrants,” in all 60,000 criminals. The next colony of criminals was
Tasmania, or as the island was then called, Van Diemen’s Land (1803).
The deportation of criminals to the latter place ceased in 1853, when
68,000 prisoners had been sent there. What the condition was during the
early days of these colonies, guarded by rough soldiers, we can judge
from the fact that there occurred in 1835 in New South Wales, among
28,000 prisoners, 22,000 disciplinary punishments (3000 floggings) and
100 executions. In Tasmania, with a population of 37,000, about 15,000
were punished in 1834, including one-seventh part of the free citizens
arrested for intemperance.

The last colony to which convicts were regularly deported was West
Australia, founded in 1829. In 1849 this colony sent a petition to the
Government asking for criminals to be sent thither, in order to promote
the development of the colony. Under pressure from the other colonies,
which finally on their own account resisted by force the landing of such
immigrants, West Australia had to abandon this traffic in 1868, having
then received about 10,000.

Thus it will be seen that this transportation introduced great numbers
of people to Australia, and at the same time the voluntary immigration
kept increasing. Two of the present colonies were not started as convict
settlements. There was an attempt to send convicts to Melbourne in 1803,
but the plan was soon abandoned, and the colony of Port Phillip, as
Victoria was then called, was founded in 1834 by free citizens from
Tasmania. South Australia was colonised directly by an English company,
who received the land for nothing on condition that they should
encourage immigration. In 1841 this settlement contained 23,000
inhabitants, chiefly freemen.

The growth of the colonies depended on the development of trade and
industries. In the beginning all labour was confined to agriculture, and
but little progress was made, till during the first decades of this
century MacArthur advocated the raising of sheep with great energy, and
after a passage through the Blue Mountains had been found by Macquarie,
a new impetus was given to the development of Australia. The manner in
which the country became settled may be described as follows—

In the first place, an explorer makes his way into unknown regions.
Close on his heels follows the squatter or shepherd, and slowly in his
track comes the selector, the permanent agricultural settler. The
original huntsman, the shepherd, and the farmer follow each other in
rapid succession—it is the history of civilisation in a nutshell.

The economical politics of Australia have long been wrestling with the
question of the proper _modus vivendi_ between the squatter and the
selector, whose interests are conflicting. Many experiments have been
made in the various colonies, but this troublesome question has not yet
been solved.

In the midst of the development of sheep-raising and agriculture a third
factor, gold, was added, which gave Australia an immense advantage, even
though it at the same time interfered with the above-mentioned

                  *       *       *       *       *

The year 1851 marks an epoch in the history of Australia. It was
literally the beginning of a golden age for the continent, for in that
year the great gold mines of Victoria were discovered.

It had long been believed that gold must be found in Australia; among
the deported criminals there were all sorts of reports about finds said
to have been made in the Blue Mountains; but the Government paid no
attention to these strange rumours and the result was that the matter
was not properly investigated.

But in 1851 the greatest excitement was created when the Government
purchased from a Californian gold digger, for a large sum of money, some
rich gold fields which he had discovered in the Blue Mountains. When the
Government by this step had given its public sanction to the question,
the colony became wild with excitement. The most extravagant reports
concerning the immense wealth of the gold fields were circulated, and
were accepted as gospel truth. From all quarters people assembled to the
new fountains of wealth, where they expected to find the pure gold in
such quantities that it was only necessary to stoop down and fill their
pockets with the precious ore. The disappointment when they arrived in
the promised land and learned from experience that there was need of
months—nay, of years—of hard and persistent labour to attain the wealth
they were seeking, was as great as the expectation which had previously
been formed. The larger part of the army of adventurers who had flocked
together to the gold mines to secure all of a sudden a wealth which they
had neither the strength nor the endurance to acquire under ordinary
circumstances, returned discouraged to Sydney, after having spent a
month in idleness in the gold fields. In their wrath on account of the
deception, as they called it, they nearly took the life of the
Californian who had discovered the fields.

A number of gold diggers, however, gradually congregated in the Blue
Mountains from the various colonies. When the work proved to be very
profitable the rush was so great that one of the earlier colonies, the
little Victoria, which had recently been founded, was on the point of
being entirely deserted. To prevent the colony from perishing
altogether, the leading men in Melbourne offered a large reward to any
person who succeeded in discovering gold in Victoria. Before long,
specimens of gold were found on the Yarra river, a few miles from
Melbourne; in the course of a short time the famous gold mines of
Ballarat and Bendigo were discovered.

At first gold was found in Ballarat in the usual manner—that is, in the
bed of a river; but this was soon exhausted. A thick layer of clay was
struck below the sand, and the work was abandoned in order to search for
new fields. Fortunately one of the gold diggers, who had made up his
mind to stay some time longer, got the idea of working through the clay,
and by so doing he reached enormous quantities of gold in the old bed of
the river. For centuries the streams had carried gold down from the
mountains and deposited it here in “pockets” in the bed of the river. A
single “pocket” of this kind would sometimes contain thousands of
pounds’ worth of gold. Within a month Ballarat became the richest gold
field in the whole world.

The gold fever grew into a perfect rage. Melbourne was almost deserted.
People of every class and from every part of the world left their work,
their situations, and their homes to seek their fortunes. In Melbourne
policemen left their posts of duty, officials threw up their offices,
and sailors deserted their ships.

In spite of the fact that everybody rushed to the gold mines, thus
preventing a normal development of the country, Australia got full
compensation in the new impetus given to immigration. The year after the
discovery of gold more than 100,000 immigrants arrived in Victoria. Thus
the population was doubled in a single year, and during the following
five years it increased fivefold. While in 1830 there were less than
4000 inhabitants, in 1860 their number had increased to 1,300,000. The
quantity of gold found was also sufficiently large to explain this
increase of population. During the next ten years £100,000,000 were
produced in Victoria alone.

As a matter of course, money had but little value in such circumstances.
During he first years after the discovery of the gold fields sovereigns
passed as freely as copper pennies. A barber would get £1 for cutting a
gold digger’s hair; the idea of giving change back was never thought of.

Many characteristic stories are told of this golden age of the
fortune-seekers. A gold digger took a holiday, and went into a
restaurant where he demanded a breakfast for £10. The hostess looked at
him, smiled, and answered that she was not able to furnish so expensive
a breakfast at present. Her highest price was five shillings. “Well,”
said the customer, “give me the best you have.” The hostess did her
best, and served every hot and cold dish she could devise. The gold
digger seated himself at the table, looked at the various dishes with
the air of an epicure, but at length turned up his nose and declared
that there was nothing fit for him to eat. Then he took a large roll of
bank-notes out of his pocket, selected a £10 note, laid it between two
pieces of bread and butter, ate it, and washed it down with champagne.
“That’s what I call a ten-pound breakfast,” he added, and paid his bill
and walked out.

Two Irishmen came into an inn to rest while the coachman was changing
horses. The Irishmen were gold diggers who had reaped an abundant
harvest, and they were now on their way home to the Emerald Isle with
their pockets full of gold.

They learned that the innkeeper also was an Irishman, and this fact
aroused their patriotism; so they resolved to drink a toast to old
Ireland in champagne. Fifty bottles of this choice beverage were
demanded for the honour of Ireland. But no sooner had they paid the £50
and opened the first two bottles than the coachman shouts, “All ready!”
The Irishmen climb into their places in the coach and proceed on their
journey, leaving the host to finish the remaining forty-eight bottles.

The average individual gains were, however, not so large, and the
digging for gold was gradually reduced to systematic methods. The work
by degrees became a link in that mining industry which embraced copper,
coal, and tin. Copper and coal were discovered in Australia long before
gold—as was also tin, which in its importance to the colonies may in
time equal the others. New discoveries of gold have attracted
adventurers to the north of Australia, and opened new avenues for
immigration; but the continent is, upon the whole, pastoral and

The Chinese have forced their way into all the islands of the Indian
Ocean, and this new current of immigration has given the development of
Australia, particularly of tropical Queensland, a peculiar character.

Efforts have been made to check in an effective manner this influx of
Chinese labourers, who supplant the white workmen. Here, as in America,
an “import duty” and similar obstacles have been tried in order to stop
the stream, but still the Chinese kept coming. A treaty with China,
making immigration therefrom almost impossible, last year failed to be
ratified by the Chinese Government. It is still an open question whether
there is any way of stopping this influx, or whether the Chinese stream
of immigration will continue to form an undercurrent to that from
Europe. It does not seem possible that the Chinese will ever become the
predominating element.

The Kanakas being better able to endure the heat than the white
population, it is probable that here, as in America, a class of
Anglo-Saxon plantation-owners dependent on coloured labour may be

The nature of the country has given its industries their peculiar
character. The raising of sheep requires immense pastures, and
agriculture assumes wide dimensions on the new and fertile soil. The
result is that local centres are created with great difficulty in the
midst of this industry spread over so large a domain. The points of
colonisation first chosen thus obtain a great advantage and monopolise
the trade. They become centres of knowledge and of pleasure, and they
absorb all that stream of immigrants who are not suited to agriculture
and do not acquire land but settle wherever they can earn a bare living.
The fact that a population of less than 3,000,000 scattered over an
immense territory has two cities, Melbourne and Sydney, of nearly
400,000 inhabitants each, and that one-third of the population of
Australia lives in five of the largest cities, is unique and is
explained by what has been stated above.

The political separation of the different colonies is intimately
connected with the uneven distribution of the population. The
independent development of the two chief centres, Melbourne and Sydney,
could not fail to break the old New South Wales into two colonies
(1851). Tasmania obtained its own seat of government in 1825 in Hobart
Town. With Brisbane’s development came Queensland’s separation in 1859
as an independent colony, which doubled its population in the subsequent
six years. There is a constantly growing desire for emancipation, and at
the present time strenuous efforts are being made to make the north part
of Queensland into a separate colony.

At the same time as this work of separation is progressing there are
also centralising elements at work, and the latter will no doubt lead to
favourable results in the near future. Efforts are being made to unite
the various colonies into a confederation. There also prevails a strong
common sentiment in regard to the efforts of all other nations to
establish colonies in the neighbouring countries (the Germans in New
Guinea and the French in New Caledonia), and an arrangement for a common
defence of their interests against these rivals has already been begun.
National pride is very marked in Australia.

The bond of union between Australia and the mother country has not been
loosened in the midst of this development toward independence. On the
contrary, the Australians cling to it with increasing tenacity, and with
even more enthusiasm than Englishmen themselves. The best proof of this
is the fact that Australia sent a special contingent to take part in
England’s last war at Suakim. The form of the proposed imperial
federation has, however, not yet been worked out.

A similar effort for political emancipation from British control has
been going on within the separate colonies. In the first convict
settlements of course martial law was administered by their governors,
but in the political conflict—carried on chiefly in the mother colony,
New South Wales—home rule became fully established. At first the
governor chose his own ministers; but in course of time (1824) the
ministry became dependent on the general elections, as in England. At
length in 1851, the critical year in the annals of Australia, the
colonies secured a perfectly independent constitution providing for two
legislative houses. In the various colonies members of the upper house
were chosen either by the Government or by the wealthy classes of the
community. A certain property qualification was also originally
necessary for members of the lower house, though this is now merely

The English system of jurisprudence and of municipal rule prevails
everywhere. The schools are free and unsectarian, and attendance is
compulsory. The colonies which originally consisted of criminals have
developed a remarkable interest in the cause of education. As in the
United States, universities and academics are largely the product of
private munificence.

Relying on their rapid development and on their large natural resources,
the colonies have been induced to incur an enormous public debt,
amounting to about £20,000,000, and we must bear in mind that the
population is only about 3,000,000. The above debt includes, however,
local expenditures, and much of it has been created for building
railroads, which were very much needed in this large country. But the
Government owns 1,400,000,000 acres of unsold land, and though a part of
this is almost worthless, still the revenue which will come in from its
sale may justify the incurring of such a debt.

The history of the colonisation reveals a community which still
possesses the vigour of youth, and whose culture is wholly European, and
these results, wonderful as they are, have been achieved in two
generations. If we could visit Australia two generations hence we would
probably find a country where not only European flora—grain, grass,
etc.—and European fauna—the sheep, horse, cow, rabbit, sparrow,
etc.—will have invaded and conquered the large districts which have been
cut off from the rest of the world since the tertiary period, but where
every trace of the original population will have disappeared. Instead of
a stagnation of thousands of years in the first stages of the stone age,
we shall have a vigorous development parallel with the culture of Europe
and America.

In the whole history of man’s development a more sudden revolution is
not known than that which has happened in Australia during this century.

At the centennial festival celebrated last year in Australia it was
prophesied that one hundred years hence Australia will be a federal
republic with 50,000,000 English-speaking inhabitants, who, sprung from
the same race as that which gave birth to the Americans, will have
developed into a new but easily recognisable type, resembling but yet
differing from their Yankee cousins. The motto of the Australians is
“Advance Australia!” They have proved that they have been able to carry
out this maxim in the past and they will not fail to do so in the


Australia may be compared to a gigantic plate. The interior part is
flat, moderately high (300 to 2150 feet), and the elevation increases
toward the edges. The raised edge of this plate is in the south-east,
where we find the highest summit in Australia, Mount Townsend, in
Kosciuszko Range, which is 7059 feet high. The edge of the plate has a
very marked character on the east coast, where a continuous though not
very high chain of mountains stretches from Victoria through the eastern
part of New South Wales and Queensland to the York peninsula, which
bounds on the east the great Gulf of Carpentaria. This whole mountain
chain is embraced by the Australian geographers (_e.g._ G. Sutherland)
in the term “The Great Dividing Range,” the separate parts of which have
separate names. In the boundary between Victoria and New South Wales it
is called the Australian Alps, and west of Sydney the Blue Mountains.

Round the lower part of the Gulf of Carpentaria and in a part of the
south coast of Australia the “plate” has no edge, and low and flat
country stretches here from the sea far into the interior. On the other
hand an elevation is found in the “bottom of the plate” in Central
Australia, but this elevation nowhere reaches 3000 feet.

Australia has no streams to be compared with the great rivers of other
countries, a fact due to the scarcity of rain. The largest stream is
Murray river, which empties itself into the sea on the south coast. With
its tributaries it drains a country as large as the triangle formed by
North Cape, Christiania, and St. Petersburg. During the rainy season the
lower part of Murray river is navigable.

Australia consists of primitive rock, granite, gneiss, and silurian
rock—that is to say, very old formations, and nearly identical with
those of the Scandinavian peninsula.

There are many coal-bearing strata in Queensland and in the
north-eastern part of New South Wales; thus Australia, in addition to
its other mineral wealth, also possesses “black diamonds.” In many
places strata from the mesozoic period of the earth’s history have been

The shell given below, of which I found a large number lying in
sandstone near Minnie Downs 400 miles west from Rockhampton, is a
gigantic _Inoceramus_ from the cretaceous period. I gave this fossil to
the mineralogical cabinet in Christiania University, and it has been
described by the Swedish Professor Bernh. Lundgren, who is an authority
in this field of science.



  (length 12¾ inches, breadth 7¼ inches).

The remains of animal and vegetable life found in the older strata
agree, as a whole, with those found in other parts of the globe of the
same periods. At some time in the mesozoic age the Australian continent
must have been separated and have become a continent by itself. This
plainly appears in the tertiary period, during which the greater part of
Australia seems to have remained an independent dry country. This was
also the case during the quaternary period.

Australia has had no ice period. At least but uncertain traces of
glacial actions are to be found.

In the tertiary period we must look for the oldest ancestors of the
present fauna, in the quaternary for the immediate progenitors, which
resemble the present animals, and many of them are remarkable for their
size. There has been a kangaroo one-third larger than the present
species, there has also been a gigantic animal related to the kangaroo
and living on vegetables, the _Diprotodon_, which was about as large as
an elephant. The remains of this animal are so widespread and so
numerous as to make it evident that it must have existed wellnigh
throughout Australia.

At the time when the country became inhabited by man there still lived
one of the great animals of the palæozoic times, namely a bird
resembling the ostrich and much larger than the emu. Its bones have been
found in the middens of the savages, and the joints show marks of their
flint knives.

Among the more recent geological formations is the so-called “desert
sandstone,” which is found scattered through a great part of the
interior. It contains no sea-shells, and but few remains of plants and
of fresh-water shells. There are various opinions in regard to its
origin. Some think it was deposited in large lakes, which are supposed
to have been very numerous in a remote age. A more probable theory is,
however, that the substratum has been disintegrated into sand and stone
dust and blown about by the wind.

Australia has no active volcanoes, but extinct ones are numerous. Some
of those found in Victoria are believed to have been active in a late
prehistoric age.

Among the mineral products of Australia gold is the most important. It
had its seat originally in veins of quartz in the oldest rocks. By the
disintegration of the rocks during the long geological ages much
alluvial gold has been deposited among the sand and the gravel. The
running water carries stony substances with it more rapidly than gold,
which lags behind on account of its weight. The result is that the
deposits increase in quantity as we approach the original seat of the
gold, and when circumstances are favourable the gold digger may be
handsomely rewarded for his labours.


Scarcely a flora is to be found with so many peculiarities as the
Australian. Still this does not imply that the things which appear so
remarkable to the traveller are of equal interest to the botanist,
though often they are more so. It is often stated as a curiosity that
the Australian “cherry-trees” have the stone outside of the berry, and
not inside, as with us in Europe. As a matter of fact this is nothing
remarkable, the explanation being simply that what we call the fruit is
merely an enlarged berry-like stalk, while the fruit proper is an
unsavoury nut, hard as stone, growing at the extreme end of this stalk.
Hence the tree is called _Exocarpus_ (“outside fruit”). Similar
phenomena are found in other parts of the world.[23] The Australian
“pear” grows with the large end nearest the stalk; but it is not a pear,
just an inedible fruit, hard as wood, of a Proteacea called _Xylomelum

Footnote 23:

  In the West Indies there is a similar fruit, _Anacardium_, growing at
  the extremity of the enlarged stalk.

This is not uncommon near Port Jackson. Another species of the same
genus inhabits Queensland, and two others Western Australia; all bearing
similar woody fruits or seed-vessels.

The arboreous and shrubby vegetation of Australia is almost exclusively
evergreen, or rather one might say the leaves are persistent, for the
beautiful shades of green characterising the forests and fields of the
northern hemisphere are wanting, and are replaced by a monotony of
olive-green or bluish-green. On the other hand, brilliantly coloured
flowers abound, the natural orders _Leguminosæ_, _Myrtaceæ_, and
_Proteaceæ_ being especially numerous, diversified, and generally
dispersed over the whole country.

Although large areas in the interior have not been botanically explored,
the flora of the country is almost as well known as that of Europe, not
in its minutest details, but in general character and composition.
Robert Brown the eminent English botanist, _facile princeps_ among
botanists of his time, was the first real investigator of the
exceedingly rich Australian flora. He accompanied Flinders on his voyage
of discovery in Australian seas during the first years of the present
century, and made very extensive collections of dried plants, which he
elaborated after his return home. Noteworthy among subsequent botanists
who have turned their attention to the vegetation of that part of the
world are Sir Joseph Hooker, Sir Ferdinand von Mueller, and the late Mr.
George Bentham. Assisted by the extensive collections and notes
accumulated by Mueller, combined with the numerous earlier collections
preserved in England, Bentham wrote a descriptive account of all the
plants known to inhabit Australia. This work is in English, and it is a
monument of industry and learning, consisting of seven octavo volumes
with an aggregate of 4000 pages.


  LEAVES, FLOWERS, AND FRUIT OF _Eucalyptus amygdalina_.

Sir Ferdinand von Mueller has since largely supplemented this work,
besides publishing a number of highly important, fully illustrated
monographs of the more important genera, such as _Eucalyptus_ and
_Acacia_. According to Mueller’s latest census of the flora, the number
of species of flowering plants and ferns known to inhabit the country at
the end of 1888 was 8909, belonging to 1394 genera and 149 natural

These are large numbers, but, what is more remarkable, something like
7700 of these species are endemic, or peculiar to Australia. The endemic
element in a flora is nowhere in the world higher, if even so high, in
so large an area, as in Western Australia, where eighty-five per cent of
the species are peculiar, and of the remaining fifteen per cent few
species extend beyond Australia.

Several genera are very numerous in species, notably _Acacia_, of which
there are upwards of 300, and _Eucalyptus_, of which there are 150; and
_Grevillea_ (_Proteaceæ_) is represented by 150, and _Melaleuca_
(_Myrtaceæ_) by 100 species.

Foremost in utility and most prominent in the scenery all over Australia
are the species of _Eucalyptus_, locally named blue gum, green gum,
iron-bark, stringy-bark, etc. etc. They vary in stature from dwarf
bushes to the tallest tree in the world, one species, _E. amygdalina_
(p. 370), considerably overtopping the “big trees” (_Wellingtonia_) of
California. In some parts of Victoria there are groves of this tree
averaging upwards of 300 feet in height, and several, as recorded in
Mueller’s useful _Eucalyptographia_, have been found to measure more
than 400 feet, and the tallest of all 471 feet.

In addition to being the largest and most durable timber of the country,
the gum-trees yield a variety of useful products. Most of them exude a
valuable gum resin; the bark of others is employed in tanning, and the
oil of _Eucalyptus_ is now extracted to the extent of 2000 gallons
annually in one factory. Several of them periodically shed their barks
in large sheets, after the manner of our planes and birches, but more
thoroughly. The leaves, like those of many other Australian trees, are
vertical instead of horizontal, so that they afford comparatively little
shade. Unlike our forest trees, too, they have more or less conspicuous
flowers—some of the western species especially large and highly coloured
flowers, followed by woody seed-vessels varying in different species
from less than a quarter of an inch to three inches in diameter, and
containing numerous very small seeds.

The genus _Eucalyptus_ belongs to a tribe of the _Myrtaceæ_
characterised by having a dry instead of a fleshy fruit. To the same
group belongs the large genus _Melaleuca_, which is likewise almost
peculiar to Australia and spread all over it. Conspicuous among the
species of _Melaleuca_ is _M. Leucadendron_, which inhabits all except
the south-eastern region. It is called tea-tree, paper-bark tree, and
milkwood in the different colonies. The wood of this tree is very
beautiful and durable, and valuable for shipbuilding and other purposes;
and the papery bark is said to be impervious to water and remains sound
after the wood has decayed. The accompanying woodcut (p. 373) will give
an idea of the aspect of the tree.

Next to the _Eucalypti_, the _Proteaceæ_ and _Acaciæ_ are almost
everywhere prominent features in the landscape. The numerous species of
_Banksia_, honeysuckles of the colonists, are generally dispersed, and
easily recognised by their large dense heads of showy flowers, succeeded
by large, gaping, woody seed-vessels.

With few exceptions, the species of _Acacia_ differ from those of other
parts of the world (except two or three in the Mascarene and Sandwich
Islands) in the feathery pinnate leaves being reduced to vertically
flattened, rounded, and variously shaped organs corresponding to the
leaf-stalk, and termed phyllodes. Occasionally, and especially in young
seedling-plants, the ordinary pinnate blade is born at the end of the
phyllode, thus giving a clue to its true nature.


  AN AUSTRALIAN SPRUCE (_Araucaria Bidwillii_).

True cone-bearing trees are rare in Australia, but the allied
slender-branched weeping species of _Frenela_ (_Callitris_) and the very
similar _Casuarineæ_ (the she-oak, river oak, forest oak, etc.) are
almost inseparable from Australian scenery. In Queensland and northern
New South Wales there are, however, two remarkable true cone-bearing
trees: namely, the bunya-bunya (_Araucaria Bidwillii_) and the Moreton
Bay pine (_A. Cunninghamii_). There are other species of _Araucaria_ in
Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, and South America. The Australian species
both afford a valuable timber, but it is not permitted to fell the
bunya-bunya on the Crown lands, owing to its seeds being a valuable
article of food to the aborigines.


  THE TEA-TREE (_Melaleuca Leucadenron_).

Even so slight a sketch as this of the vegetation of Australia would be
singularly imperfect without some reference to the highly peculiar
grass-trees (_Xanthorrhœa_), which form so striking a feature in the
scenery, especially in West Australia. The larger species have stout
trunks surmounted by a tuft of long narrow recurved leaves, from the
centre of which rise the tall, slender, shaft-like inflorescences.

Few persons knowing anything of botany have not heard of the gigantic
African baobab; yet fewer probably have heard of the Australian baobab,
found on the sandy plains and stony ridges from the Glenelg river to
Arnhem’s Land. It is equally remarkable for the great size of its trunk,
which is sometimes as much as eighty feet in circumference.

Tree-ferns are abundant and exceedingly fine in some parts of the
eastern side of Australia, and there are some handsome palms in
Queensland and New South Wales; but neither of these groups is
represented in West Australia, unless it be quite in the north.

One more prominent feature in Australian vegetation are the large
expanses of the so-called “scrub” of the colonists. This is a dense
covering of low bushes, varying in composition in different districts,
and named according to the predominating element.

The nearest botanical affinities of the Australian flora are with that
of South Africa, though the characteristic genera, as well as the
species, are invariably different in the two countries.

                  *       *       *       *       *

I am indebted to Dr. F. Kïær for the following brief note on the
Australian mosses:—

The moss flora of Queensland has hitherto been comparatively but little
studied. The number of varieties of foliaceous mosses known does not
reach 200, while there doubtless are three or four times as many. Among
those who have collected mosses in Queensland may be mentioned Miss
Hellen Scott and Mrs. Amalie Dietrich, and more recently Mr. F. M.
Bailey. Some of the mosses found belong to genera scattered throughout
the world, _e.g._, _Sphagnum_, _Dicranum_, _Barbula_, _Bryum_,
_Neckera_, _Thuidium_, _Hypnum_, etc. On the other hand genera are found
that are peculiar to Australia, and finally there are forms which are
characteristic of the tropical and subtropical zone.

As peculiar to Australia, we must first mention among the mosses bearing
top-fruit the genus _Dawsonia_, which has not hitherto been found
outside of this continent. This genus, of which there are three known
species in Queensland, is one of the most beautiful and the largest of
all mosses. It resembles a _Polytrichum_ in appearance, and, like the
latter, has a hairy cap, but around the opening its fruit is studded
with a bunch of threadlike hairs, the latter attaining a number of five
hundred and over.

Among other genera hitherto found only in Australia we may mention among
mosses having side-fruit the _Euptychium_, remarkable for its leaves,
which are folded very compactly, and the short-leaved _Bescherellea_,
which abounds in Queensland. The latter genus is known in New Caledonia,
and resembles a _Cyrtopus_, but has only a single row of teeth around
the mouth.

The genus _Spiridens_, found in many species on the Australian islands,
and also on the Sunda Isles, on the Moluccas, and on the Philippine
Islands, is not represented at all in Queensland.

Among Australian forms we should also mention one or two species of
_Endotrichella_, _Orthorrhynchium_, the beautiful _Braithwaitea_, three
species of the handsome _Thamniella_, and a few species of the tree like
branched _Hypnodendron_. The _Ptychomnium aciculare_ (_Brid._), common
in the southern hemisphere, is also found in Queensland.

In addition to _Octoblepharum albidum_ and _Rhizogonium spiniforme_,
found everywhere in the tropics, there are in Queensland several species
of the last-named genus.

The genus _Macromitrium_ has many representatives in Queensland (more
than ten species). Furthermore, we may here mention several species of
the genera _Papillaria_, _Hypopterygium_, and _Rhacopilum_.

The moss flora of Queensland, little as it is known, already presents a
type widely differing from the European, and the future will doubtless
bring forth many interesting discoveries in this extensive colony.

Of liverworts but few (eighteen) have yet been found in Queensland, but
there is a prospect that our knowledge of this interesting group in this
country will be supplemented before many years.



  _Chlamydosaurus kingii._

It is evident that Australia is the country which has been least changed
in the later geological time, being now in the main as it was in the
early part of the tertiary period. It has also been called a land
forgotten in the cretaceous period by the development of the earth. This
“land of the dawning” reveals to us a corresponding primitive and
peculiar animal life, as well as flora with its proteaceæ, leafless
casuarinas, and acacias, which remind us of the vanished vegetation of
the elder tertiary period. The major part of Australia’s mammals
consists of the remarkable marsupials, which belong to the very oldest
and lowest organisation of all known mammals, and which have, without
doubt, survived from an earlier geological period, during which they
were also found in Europe. Among birds the country has some remarkable
species (_Megapodidæ_), the only ones in the world that do not hatch
their eggs themselves but, like reptiles, bury them in earth-mounds,
whose elements of fermentation produce heat and thus hatch the eggs. The
two coursers, the emu and the cassowary, when we except the kiwi-kiwi of
New Zealand, have more rudimentary wings than any now existing ostrich.

In the tertiary period Australia is supposed to have been much larger
than it now is. It is thought to have included New Guinea and Tasmania,
and possibly to have extended eastward to the Fiji Islands. According to
the celebrated naturalist Mr. A. R. Wallace, this hypothesis is
absolutely necessary in order to explain certain facts connected with
the Australian fauna. As already stated, remains of remarkable gigantic
marsupials have been found. They lived chiefly on grass, and are not
supposed to have had a higher organisation than those now existing.
Placental[24] beasts of prey that could disturb the existence of these
giants not having been found among the fossils, Wallace is of opinion
that the latter became extinct on account of physico-geographical, and
particularly climatic, changes taking place at the same time as the ice
period appeared in the rest of the world. As a remarkable fact it may be
mentioned that remains have recently been found of the gigantic moa
(_Dinornis_), a genus hitherto supposed to have been found only in New

Footnote 24:

  Placental mammals are those having a placenta to nourish the fœtus, as
  is the case with all mammals except the marsupials and monotremes.

Among the six zoological regions into which Wallace and Sclater divide
the _terra firma_ of the globe, one of the best marked and certainly the
most peculiar one is the Australian. Australia and New Guinea are the
largest countries in this region, which, in addition to New Zealand and
the islands of the Pacific, includes the Indian Archipelago east of
Borneo, Java, and Bali. The latter islands, all of which belong to the
Indian-Malay region, are separated from the Australian by a belt of very
deep water, where Wallace’s well-known line is found on the map. The
water is shallow between all the islands south-east of this
belt—Celebes, Timor, Amboina, Banda, and New Guinea—which evidently all
lie on a submarine bank, and have at one time been united with
Australia. There are the most striking differences between the fauna on
each side of the belt. Apes, rhinoceroses, tapirs, tigers, leopards, and
similar Indian and Malay animals disappear, and we enter an entirely new
region, the Australian, the chief characteristic of which is that it
lacks nearly all the groups of mammals found elsewhere in the world.
Instead we either find the peculiar marsupials, or the mammals are
entirely wanting, as is the case on most of the South Sea Islands. In
ornithology the honey-eaters are especially remarkable, then we have the
birds of paradise, the cassowary, and finally the kiwi-kiwi of New

The zoological character of the region is most marked in Australia,
which is rich in peculiar animal forms. As an island-continent extending
from 39° to 11° S. lat., and which consequently is several times as
large as the islands of the other regions added together, the country
naturally has very various climates. In the southern part there is a
climate like that of the countries along the Mediterranean; in the
northern there is a regular season of rain; while the centre is more hot
and more arid than any other part of the earth. Still, strange to say,
the climatic differences are not attended by corresponding variations of
the fauna, which is strikingly uniform throughout the country. Many
important species are found everywhere in the continent. Generally
speaking, Australia is a hot and dry country, and its flora and fauna
have been developed in harmony with its physico-geographical conditions.
This explains, for instance, why the tropical North Australia has not so
luxurious and varied vegetations as the adjacent New Guinea, with its
more humid climate. Many of the Australian mammals can subsist without
water for a long time. Gould is even of opinion that the large
kingfishers, whose food consists mainly of lizards and insects, never

The fauna of Australia has many special forms, and occupies a peculiar,
isolated position. This is most apparent among the mammals, which give
to the Australian fauna its most marked feature. Imagine a continent
about the size of Europe with no other mammals than marsupials, a few
bats, rats, and mice. There are no apes, no beasts of prey, no hoofed
animals. None of those groups are found from which our domestic animals
have been developed. The only exception is the dingo, the Australian
dog, but although fossil specimens have been found, it is generally
supposed that the dingo was introduced by man; it does not differ much
from the wild dogs of other lands. The fact that Australia at present
has so many large land animals, which at one time were represented by
kindred forms in Europe, shows that the country in some way or other has
been united with Asia, just as Great Britain must at some time have been
connected with the European continent. But the present remarkable
isolation of the Australian mammals from the land fauna of the rest of
the world is, as Wallace remarks, the best evidence that Australia and
Asia were not united throughout the tertiary period, and it is a most
characteristic fact that the only mammals which Australia has in common
with the rest of the world are the flying-bats and such small mammals as
could most easily be carried on floating logs, roots, and similar
objects to foreign coasts. Marsupials are also found in America; but,
with this exception, they now exist only in Australia and in the
adjacent islands New Guinea and Tasmania, which is evidence that the
latter islands were at one time united with Australia.

The marsupials are so called from their having a pouch (_marsupium_) for
carrying the immature young. The young are born without much
development, and they are at once transferred to the pouch, where they
continue to grow until they are able to take care of themselves. The
pouch is supported by the marsupial bones, which are equally developed
in both sexes. There are also many other peculiarities in the structure
of these animals, distinguishing them from the higher mammals, _e.g._
their teeth being quite different from those of other animals.

The large kangaroo bears a young “no larger than the little finger of a
human baby, and not unlike it in form.” This helpless, naked, blind, and
deaf being the mother puts in an almost inexplicable manner into the
pouch with her mouth, and places it on one of the long, slender,
milk-giving strings found in the pouch. Here the young remains hanging
for weeks, and grows very rapidly. The mother possesses a peculiar
muscle with which it is able to press milk into the mouth of the
helpless little one, and the larynx of the young has a peculiar
structure, so that it can breathe while it sucks, and consequently is
not choked. Gradually it assumes the form of its parents, and when big
enough it begins to make excursions from the pouch, which continues to
enlarge with the growth of the young. These excursions become longer as
the young grows larger, and thus this pouch serves both as a second womb
and as a nest and home. All marsupials are propagated in this manner,
but the number of young may vary from one to fourteen.

The brain of the marsupial is small and has but few convolutions,
indicative of small mental development. They are the most stupid of all
mammals, and indifferent in regard to all things save the wants of their
stomachs. Brehm calls attention to the fact that no marsupial mother
plays with her young or makes any effort to teach them.

The marsupials may differ widely in appearance, structure, and habits;
they may be as large as a stag and as small as a mouse. Some move on the
hind-feet alone, others on all fours; some live on the ground, others in
trees, others again are able to fly. Most of them feed on grass, but
some of them live on fruits, roots, and leaves; others again on meat and
insects; while there are also marsupials that eat honey.

Ever since Captain Cook’s sailors in 1770 came and told him that they
had seen the very devil hopping away on his hind legs in the form of an
animal, the kangaroo has been inseparably associated with our ideas of
Australia, the land of the kangaroo. The kangaroo (_Macropus_) is also
the largest and most remarkable of all marsupials, and is represented by
many species throughout Australia. The largest one is reddish (_Macropus
rufus_) and is found in the interior. Of the smaller kinds we may
mention the wallabies, kangaroo-rats, which are about the size of a
rabbit, and the pademelon, which is easily recognised by the fact that
when it runs it lets one arm drop as if it were broken. During recent
years kangaroos have greatly increased in number, one of the causes
being the systematic extermination of the dingoes and the decrease of
the number of natives. Thus kangaroos, like their smaller relatives the
wallabies and the kangaroo-rats, have become noxious animals that
destroy the pastures, and the colonists are making great efforts to
exterminate them. In Queensland the Government pays a premium for every
such animal killed, and in this way the number of marsupials was reduced
in the years 1880–1885 by six millions.

The tree-kangaroos (_Dendrolagus_), living in the dense scrubs of
Northern Queensland, are very remarkable and very different from the
other members of the family.

The phalangers (_Phalangeridæ_) are a large family found everywhere in
Australia. They inhabit the trees, and like most of the marsupials, seek
their food at night. They are usually called opossums, but are very
different from the genuine opossum of America. Just as the latter are
the most perfect and most intelligent of all marsupials, so the
Australian opossums are the most perfectly organised of all Australian
marsupials. They are, so to speak, the apes of the marsupials, in that
they feed on fruit, but are able to live on insects and birds’ eggs;
have a prehensile tail and a movable thumb, which almost converts their
feet into hands.

Closely related to the latter are the flying-squirrels (_Petaurus_)
which are strikingly like those in India. The smallest one of this
family, the beautiful _Acrobates pygmæus_, is a perfect wonder of
elegance and graceful movement. Though not larger than a little mouse,
still it flies through the air as skilfully as the larger species. It
frequently becomes the prey of domestic cats.

A transition between the kangaroos and the phalangers is found in the
marsupial bear (_Phascolarctus_), while the rodents are represented by
the large, plump wombat (_Phascolomys_).

The family _Dasyuridæ_ are carnivorous. The colonist usually names them
after animals of the old world, “marsupial cat,” “marsupial tiger,”
“marsupial wolf,” etc. All these marsupial beasts of prey are very
rapacious, and one or two of them are quite equal to the martens and
weasels in this respect. The marsupial wolf (_Thylacinus_) and the
marsupial devil (_Sarcophilus_) in Tasmania are the most ferocious and
most powerful of all the Australian animals, and do great damage among
the sheep. The former is, however, wellnigh exterminated. Native cats
(_Dasyurus geoffroyi_) are numerous everywhere, and are hated by the
colonists, because they attack the poultry. Near Mount Elephant, in
Victoria, five hundred of them were killed in one night by two poisoned
sheep carcasses. There had long been a drought, so that the animals had
congregated in the only place where water was to be found.

We now come to the _Monotremata_, the lowest group of all mammals. They
have the marsupial bones, but no pouch, and they are destitute of teeth.
Of this remarkable family there are only two genera, the duck-billed
platypus and the spiny ant-eater.

The duck-billed platypus (_Ornithorhynchus anatinus_) is easily
recognised by its horny jaws, which have a striking resemblance to the
bill of a duck. The animal is about fifteen inches long, and the body,
which is covered with close brown hair, is broad, flat, and somewhat
like that of a reptile. The feet are short and the toes are webbed.
During the daytime the ornithorhynchus sleeps in deep burrows dug in the
banks of rivers. It is common in the southern and eastern part of
Australia, and is also found in Tasmania.

The spiny ant-eater (_Echidna_) resembles our porcupine in appearance
and size, has quills like it, and can roll itself into a ball. The toes
are not webbed, but the animal is a very good swimmer. It feeds on ants
and insects, and, like other ant-eaters, has a long, slender tongue,
which has a secretion of a sticky substance. It is a most powerful
animal, and can disappear so rapidly in loose earth or sand that it
seems to sink into the ground. Its flesh is very fat, and is considered
a great delicacy by the blacks. On Herbert river, where the ant-eater is
called gombian, the natives hunt it with the help of tamed dingoes.

These mammals, the two most remarkable ones on the globe, reveal a
wonderful relationship to the lower vertebrates, reptiles and birds.
Thus we find that the front extremities are fastened to the breast-bone
by a highly developed coracoid and an epicoracoid, as in the case of
lizards. This does not occur in any other mammal. Their skulls, like
those of birds, have no visible sutures whatever.

The most remarkable fact, however, is that these animals do not bear
living young, but lay eggs. The latter contain a large yolk, and when
hatched the young are suckled by the mother.

The stages of development of the eggs are different from those of all
other mammals, and resemble to a great extent those of reptiles and
birds. As the eggs are _meroblastic_,[25] these animals seem to be even
more closely related to birds and reptiles than to the mammals.

Footnote 25:

  Where only a small part of the yolk goes to form the fœtus, while the
  greater part is used to nourish it, as is the case with birds, the egg
  is called _meroblastic_. With mammals, all the yolk is used to form
  the fœtus (_holoblastic eggs_).

The eggs lying in the ovaries are ⅛ of an inch in diameter, possibly
even more, and they certainly are the largest eggs produced by mammals.
In a human being and in the higher mammals the egg averages ¹⁄₁₂₅ of an
inch in diameter.

The young seem to require a long time to arrive at maturity. They are
hatched small, blind, and naked, and their mouths have not at first the
form of a beak, but are thick, round, soft, and well adapted to receive
the milk, which is strained through the lacteal glands, for there are no
nipples. As these animals have no pouch (the ant-eater has a rudimentary
one in the form of a crease in the skin while it nurses its young), the
young remain in the nest, where the mother suckles them.

Though the ornithology of Australia is not so isolated in its character
as the mammals are, still its birds are very remarkable, and have almost
as many points of interest. We here find eagles, hawks, thrushes,
swallows, fly-catchers, sea-gulls, ducks, etc., though of other species
than those to which we are accustomed; but we are astonished that
vultures and woodpeckers, which exist in all other parts of the world,
are wholly wanting.

The honey-eaters (_Meliphagidæ_), so well adapted to the circumstances
of the country, are very remarkable. As the trees and bushes of
Australia have a great wealth of flowers, but are wanting in juicy
fruits, many of its birds find their food in the flowers, inhabiting the
trees and bushes, particularly gum-trees and banksias, and rarely coming
down on the ground to seek food. These characteristic birds, of which
there are no less than 200 species, remind us by their mode of life of
the American humming-birds; still they are very different from the
latter. The largest are of the size of a small dove, but much more
slender. They are strong lively birds, which with their powerful feet
cling fast to the branches, almost like titmice, while they suck the
flowers, and their tongue ends in a brush, so that they can easily lick
up the honey and the honey-eating insects. Even some of the parrots, the
so-called brush-tongued (_Trichoglossidæ_), live on honey and pollen,
and are peculiar to Australia.

The strange habits of many of the Australian birds have already been
described, _e.g._ the play-houses built by the æsthetic bower-birds, and
the three species which do not themselves hatch their eggs, like the
reptiles, but leave the hatching to be done by artificial heat. The
latter belong to the family of _Megapodidæ_, a group which receives its
name from the fact that their feet and claws are very large and
powerful, and consequently well adapted to building the large mounds in
which the eggs are laid.


  WILD GEESE FROM NORTH QUEENSLAND (_Anseranas melanoleuca_). Photograph
    from nature.

It is a strange fact that the kingfishers found everywhere in the world,
and the equally cosmopolitan pigeons, should be so numerous in
Australia. Among the former are the wonderful laughing jackasses
(_Dacelo_) whose voice is unlike that of any other bird. In Australia
the pigeons attain the highest development both as to wealth of species
and brilliancy of plumage. Some of them even have a crest on the top of
the head, a very rare ornament for this family. The extraordinary
development of these defenceless birds indicates that they have but few
enemies in Australia. Wallace gives as the reason for their great
numbers the total absence of apes, cats, weasels, and other animals that
live in trees and that eat the eggs and the young of birds, while the
very green colour of these birds conceals them from birds of prey, their
only foes. On the plains in the interior of Queensland countless numbers
of pigeons are seen, but of modest-coloured plumage, to protect them in
this open country.

Many of the Australian birds are distinguished for their brilliant
plumage, and in this respect they easily rank with the humming-birds of
America and with the trogons and parrots of India. Thus we have the
elegant little wrens whose leading colours are azure blue and
scarlet-red; the yellow and velvety black regent-bird (_Sericulus
melinus_); and the metallic glittering rifle-bird (_Ptilorhis
victoriæ_); and finally, the finches, that have a combination of colours
the like of which is to be found only in butterflies. Among the many
parrots, which include such strange forms as the white and the black
cockatoos, there are some which are unique in the beauty of their
colours. So remarkable a decoration as the tail of the lyre-bird
(_Menura_) is found nowhere else in the world of birds.

The stately emu, which together with the cassowary represents the
ostrich family in Australia, is still numerous in the open country. The
cassowary, on the other hand, which is found only in the north-eastern
tropical part, is rare, and will doubtless soon become extinct as
civilisation gradually advances and clears the scrubs.

Ducks, geese, and other swimming birds are numerous, and afford
excellent sport, but as they are much sought by sportsmen, the colonies
have passed laws to protect them during a certain season of the year.
Among the geese which have only half-webbed toes, the most common is the
“black and white” (_Anseranas melanoleuca_). These beautiful birds
gather in large flocks, but as civilisation advances they are gradually
decreasing in number. At present they are numerous only in Northern
Queensland, where the flocks are so large and dense that the natives can
easily kill them with their spears. They were of great value to
Leichhardt on his overland expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

It is a remarkable fact that some species of Australian birds without
any apparent reason suddenly leave the district where they have had
their habitat for years, and settle somewhere else, to disappear again
after a few years. Gould gives several examples of this. A squatter whom
I knew told me that the pelicans several years ago quite unexpectedly
made their appearance on Darling river in New South Wales, 400 miles
from the coast. Neither the whites nor the blacks had ever seen them
there before. They settled down near a lake called Dry Lagoon and bred
there. Meanwhile the lagoon dried up as usual, and the pelicans were
obliged to bring fish for their young from a lake two miles away. As
soon as the young became large enough they were transferred to the
latter lake, the whole colony requiring three weeks for the journey. As
a rule the pelicans build their nests on islands near the coast.

Australia has no less than 700 species of birds; of these probably 600
are found in Queensland alone, and this must be said to be a great
wealth of species. Europe, which is somewhat larger and has been
incomparably much more thoroughly explored, has only about 500 species.

Reptiles, amphibious animals, and fishes are well represented in
Australia, and among them are some of great interest.

Lizards are found everywhere, but it is a strange fact that, as in the
case of plants, some species are found in West Australia that are
peculiar to this district and have never been observed outside of it.
That characteristic forms are not wanting is shown by the frilled-lizard
(_Chlamydosaurus kingii_) represented at the beginning of this chapter.
Around its neck it has a large, loose skin which it is able to raise
into a Queen Elizabeth ruff. Unlike all other lizards, this animal
assumes in sitting the same posture as a kangaroo, and when startled it
makes, like them, long jumps five to six feet high before it begins to

Although _Viperidæ_ and _Crotalidæ_, which elsewhere are the most
venomous families of snakes, are not found in Australia, still scarcely
any other part of the globe has so many venomous serpents in comparison
with the number of those that are harmless. Here, as elsewhere, the
number of snakes increase with the heat of the climate, so that Tasmania
has only three species, while Queensland can show fifty, and among the
latter several large harmless pythons, which the natives are fond of
eating. Water-snakes abound along the coasts of tropical Australia, and
are all venomous.

Amphibious animals with tails (salamanders) are not found. On the other
hand, frogs are plentiful. They have a remarkable faculty for
accommodating themselves to all the dry climatic conditions of the
country. In South Australia a drought once lasted for twenty-six months.
The country was transformed into a desert, and life was not to be seen.
Sheep and cattle had perished, and so had the marsupials. Suddenly rain
poured down. The long drought was at an end; and six hours after the
storm had begun the rain was welcomed by the powerful voices of the
frogs. Flies afterward came in great numbers, and then bats appeared in
countless swarms. On my travels in Western Queensland I heard the people
on Diamantina river speak of a species of large frog which after rain
buried themselves about six inches down in the ground, and remained
there during the dry season. These frogs contain much water, a fact
known to the natives, who dig them up in the dry season and quench their
thirst by squeezing the water out of them. The white population also
sometimes resort to these frogs for water. They know the little mounds,
which resemble mole-hills, under which the frogs lie hid, and dig them
out. According to report, such a frog contains about a wine-glassful of
“clear, sweet water.”

The colonists of Australia have a fondness for giving familiar names to
Australian animals. Thus they have called a large fish found in some of
the rivers of Central Queensland burnett salmon. This fish, which the
natives call barramunda, is, however, no salmon, for both salmon and
carp are entirely wanting in Australia. But its size and its fat and
delicate-tasting flesh reminded the people of the salmon, and it had
long been eagerly sought as food both by whites and blacks, when in 1870
the scientific world became acquainted with it, and discovered in it a
remarkable survival of the prehistoric past. Fossil teeth of this fish,
now known as _Ceratodus forsteri_, had long ago been found in the Trias
and Jura formations in Europe, India, and America, but the animal was of
course thought to be extinct, like the _Iguanodon_ or _Dinotherium_.
Like the _Protopterus_ from Africa and the _Lepidosiren_ from the Amazon
river, it belongs to the very ancient and remarkable lung-fish
(_Dipnoi_), which, as the name indicates, has both gills and lungs.
_Ceratodus forsteri_ has only one lung, and can breathe with it alone,
or with the gills alone, or with both at the same time, and therefore it
leaves the water in the night and goes ashore, where it eats grass and
leaves, while in the daytime it may be seen sunning itself on logs lying
out of the water. This “living fossil,” which attains a length of six
feet, thus forms a remarkable connecting link between fishes and

While Australia is poor in regard to butterflies, it has many beautiful
beetles, _e.g._ the family _Buprestidæ_. The lower animal life is
peculiar, but still comparatively little known.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Professor G. O. Sars, of Christiania, has made some exceedingly
interesting experiments, whereby he has succeeded in hatching
artificially and domesticating in his aquarium various Australian
fresh-water _Entomostraca_. The materials for these experiments
consisted of small quantities of mud taken from the bottom of lakes and
small fresh-water ponds near Rockhampton. After being thoroughly dried,
I forwarded this mud to Christiania. The specimens sent looked on their
arrival like small masses of rock, and were so hard that they could
scarcely be broken with a hammer. Nevertheless they contained living
germs in the form of eggs, which had been deposited by entomostraca
living in the waters in question. In most cases these eggs proved to be
encased in peculiar capsules, which frequently bore a startling
resemblance to bean-pods, and in some of the specimens they were found
in great numbers. By softening the mud and by a suitable preparation in
aquaria, Professor Sars succeeded not only in producing perfectly
developed individuals, but also in getting them to propagate in the
aquaria, and thus it became possible to make very exhaustive
investigations in regard to a portion of Australia’s fauna hitherto
almost entirely unknown. One of the most striking forms hatched in this
manner is the little _Daphnia_ called _D. lumholtzii_.


  EGG OF _Daphnia lumholtzii_.


  _Daphnia lumholtzii._

In addition to this, nine others have been described by Professor Sars
in two treatises: “On some Australian Cladocera raised from dried mud,”
_Christiania Videnskabs-selskabs Forhandlinger_, 1885; and “Additional
Notes on Australian Cladocera,” _Christiania Videnskabs-selskabs
Forhandlinger_, 1888. On the same subject he has recently published a
treatise: “On _Cyclestheria hislopi_ (Baird), a new generic type of
bivalve Phyllopoda, _Christiania Videnskabs-selskabs Forhandlinger_,
1887,” in which he has described a most interesting animal form, which
the author hatched in the same manner, and observed through several
generations. This animal has been noted heretofore in specimens from
India and Ceylon, but very imperfectly, and hence mistakes have been
made in regard to its systematic position, and no knowledge was obtained
as to its interesting habits and life. It belongs to the so-called
shell-covered phyllopoda, of which only a limited number of species have
hitherto been known. One of its chief characteristics is the fact that
it is enclosed in a transparent double shell, which has a deceptive
likeness to a clam-shell. The anatomical examination of the animal has
demonstrated that it cannot be classified with any of the known genera,
but forms the type for a new one, to which the name cyclestheria has
been affixed. In regard to propagation and development, this form
differs widely from all the phyllopoda heretofore known. Contrary to the
general rule, the eggs are developed within the shell of the mother
animal, and this development is direct, not through any metamorphosis,
as is the case with the other known _Phyllopoda_. In his treatise
Professor Sars has given the whole history of the development of this
animal, which abounds in interesting facts.


  _Cyclestheria hislopi._


  SHELL OF A _Cyclestheria hislopi_.

Finally, I may add that the results obtained by these hatchings are
already so important that they supply materials for many future
treatises, and that many lower fresh-water animals, not only
entomostraca, but also forms belonging to totally different departments
of zoology, _e.g._ _Bryozoæ_, have in this way been thoroughly examined
and studied in a living condition.


  C. Lumholtz’ travels.


  _Charles Scribner’s sons, Broadway, New York._


  to illustrate


 Aborigines, two types of, 129;
   characteristic feature, 130;
   sight of, 143;
   appearance, 181;
   aquiline noses, 130;
   results of civilisation, 182, 348;
   class divisions, 199;
   description, 260, 270;
   estimate of white man, 292;
   doomed, 348.

 _Acacia, fragrans_, 2;
   _bidwillii_ 25;
   _salicina_, 25;
   _harpophylla_, 33;
   _excelsa_, 49;
   _pendula_ (myall), 49, 76.

 _Acrobates pygmæa_, 380.

 _Acrocephalus australis_, 21.

 Adelaide, city of, 5.

 _Ælurædus maculosus_, 96.

 _Æpyornis maximus_, fossil egg of, 6.

 _Alcyone azurea_, 150.

 _Alpinia cærulea_, 296.

 _Amphibia_, 384.

 _Andropogon contortus_ (spear-grass), 23.

 _Anseranas melanoleuca_, 383.

 Ants, white, 19;
   nests, 27;
   black, 118.

 _Araucaria, bidwillii_ (bunya-bunya), 21, 372;
   _cunninghamii_, 372.

 Arrowroot, 74.

 _Artamus sordidus_ (wood-swallow), 28.

 Artesian wells, 40.

 Asters, Queensland, 51.

 A strange household, 81.

 _Astrebla elymoides_, 37.

 _Astur radiatus_, 329.

 Australian whites, 29, 315 _passim_;
   scenery, 209, 315.

 Bailey, F. M. (on mosses), 374.

 Ballarat, 8.

 “Balnglan,” a dingo, 180, 223, 226, 241;
   death of, 267.

 Bandicoot (_Paramelidæ_), 27, 73, 92.

 Baobab, 374.

 Barcoo, river, 39;
   rot, 58.

 Basaltic table-land, Leichhardt’s, 104.

 Basket, 193–195 _passim_.

 _Batatas edulis_, 78.

 Bats, 19.

 _Bauhinia hookerii_, 25.

 Bear, native (_Phascolarctus cinereus_), 9.

 Bee, European, 29;
   Australian, 142.

 Beef, 36.

 Beliander, 58.

 Bellenden Kerr Hills, 102.

 Bendi, weapon, 332–334.

 Bird of paradise, 302.

 Blacks of Herbert river, 72;
   civilised, 76;
   appearance of, 77;
   festival, 84;
   agility, 89, 96;
   keen sight, 95;
   money valueless, 106;
   only cult, 136;
   absence of clothing, 169;
   of medicines, 183;
   depredations, 221;
   cruelty (women), 222;
   greatest delicacy, 271;
   myths unknown, 282;
   cannibalism, 287;
   lazy, 290.

 Blankets, 264.

 Bledensbourne, 53.

 _Bolboceras rhinoceros_, 329.

 Boomerang, 49;
   origin of, 52;
   Indian, S.E., 52;
   Assyrian and Egyptian use of, 51.

 Boongary, 102;
   home of, 152;
   food of, 157;
   taken, 226.

 Bora ceremonies, 136.

 Borboby, a meeting for duels, 119, 127.

 Borrogo, a small marsupial, 207.

 Bottle-tree, 33, 35.

 Boundary-rider, 57.

 Bower-birds, 28, 139.

 Box-tree (_Eucalyptus_), 25.

 Boyma (Bhaiamé), a supreme Being, 283.

 Bread-fruit tree, 79.

 Brigalow-scrub, 33, 37, 52.

 Brisbane, 16.

 Brow-band, 121, 331.

 Brown, Robert, botanist, 369.

 Bunjup, an evil spirit, 202.

 _Buprestidæ_ (beetles), 329, 385.

 Burial customs, 275.

 Burnett salmon (barramunda), 385.

 Bush costume, 19;
   men, 58–60.

 Butcher-bird, 94.

 Butterflies, 151, 385.

 Cabbage, 79.

 _Cacatua roseicapilla_, 35.

 Cajeput oil, 24.

 _Calamus australis_, 89, 103.

 _Calladium_, 21.

 _Callistemon lanceolatum_, 26.

 Calliungal, town, 30.

 _Callornis metallica_, 96.

 Camping out, 32.

 Camps, Herbert river hills, 148;
   cave, 153;
   hills in rain, 168 _seq._;
   with unpleasant bedfellow, 185 _seq._;
   no supper, 209–211.

 Cannibalism, 101, 134, 176, 254, 273;
   in Burma, 274.

 Canning meat, Rockhampton, 16.

 Canoona Diggings, oldest gold mine, 323.

 _Capparis nobilis_, 25.

 Cardamom-tree, 96.

 Cardwell, town, 66, 250, 263.

 Carpentaria, Gulf of, natives of, 273.

 Carrots, 79.

 _Casuarina_, 33 _passim_.

 _Casuarius australis_ (cassowary), 99.

 Cat, native, 27;
   bird, 96.

 Cattle, alarmed, 84;
   farmers, 35.

 Cedar, red (_Cedrela_), 67.

 _Centropus_, 94.

 _Ceratodus forsteri_, 385.

 _Ceyx pusilla_, 97.

 Charters Towers, gold beds, 65.

 Child-birth, 134.

 Children, black, 192.

 Chinaman, a native, 147;
   wife, 163;
   treachery, 167;
   greediness, 173;
   rascality, 185;
   reappearance, 231.

 Chinese hated, 36.

 Chivalry, 170.

 _Chlamydodera maculata_, 28.

 _Chlamydosaurus kingii_, 376, 384.

 Christmas in the bush, 207.

 _Cicada aurora_, 222.

 _Cicada_, evil spirit, 202;
   humming, 217.

 _Cinchona_, 74.

 Clay pipes, 107.

 Cleveland Bay, 65.

 Climate, tropical, 19;
   cold nights, 56;
   Christmas hot, 57.

 Cloncurry, copper, 44.

 Club (_nolla-nolla_), 72 _seq._

 Coal, 74, 366.

 Cockatoo, 27;
   red-breasted, 35;
   numerous, 57.

 Cocoa-nut, 21;
   palm, 79.

 Cod, black-fish, 27.

 Coffee, 73.

 Coleoptera, 153;
   larvæ, 154.

 _Colocasia macrorhiza_, 153.

 Comet river, 33.

 Conquat, loquat, guava, 79.

 Coomooboolaroo, 204, 325.

 Cordilleras, Australian, 102.

 Cormorants, 22.

 Costume, 106, 120, 129, 215.

 _Cracticus nigrogularis_, 94.

 Cranes, gray and blue, 22.

 Crawfish, 151.

 Crime, only, 126.

 Curr, E. M., “_The Australian Race_,” 307 _passim_.

 Customs, aboriginal, ornamental scars, 135;
   making fire, 141;
   breaking sticks, 141;
   pomade and glue, 142;
   honey water, 144;
   rights of property, 147;
   eating eggs, 149;
   marriage, 164;
   burial, 277;
   cremation, 279.

 _Cycas media_, 164.

 _Cyclestheria hislopi_, 387.

 _Cygnus atratus_, 1, 22.

 _Dacelo gigas_, 26.

 _Dactylopsila trivirgata_, 220.

 Dalrymple Creek, 248;
   Gap, 261.

 Damper, 32.

 Dancing, 236 seq.

 _Daphnia lumholtzii_, 386.

 Darling Downs, 21;
   floods, 61.

 _Dasyurus_, 27;
   _maculatus_, 174;
   _Dasyuridæ_, 80.

 Date-palms, Queensland, 21.

 Dawson river, 45.

 Dee river, 30.

 _Dendrolagus lumholtzii_, 102;
   caught, 226, 235;
   mode of hunting, 231.

 Devil, 114;
   description of, 202.

 Dialects. _Vide_ Language.

 Diamantina river, native work, heat on, 44–55.

 _Dicæum hirundinaceum_, 253.

 _Diemenia_, 299.

 _Digitalis purpurea_, 14.

 Dingo, 38;
   use of, 99, 165, 175, 178, 179.

 _Dinornis_, 377.

 _Dipnoi_, 385.

 _Diprotodon_, 368.

 _Dipsas fusca_, 62.

 Dirge, 204.


 Diseases and epidemics, 181.

 Doctor, native, 183.

 Dog and snake, 64.

 Doves, 96.

 Dress, mourning, 204.

 Drought, 37.

 Drugs, 108.

 _Duboisia hopwoodii_, 49.

 Dugong, 315 _seq._;
   meat, 319;
   oil, 320;
   habitat, 321.

 Dungeness, 66.

 Education of children, 193.

 Eels, Queensland, 23.

 _Elanus axillaris_ (kite), 220.

 Elderslie, 44, 53.

 Elephant sugar-cane, 63.

 Elm-tree, 14.

 Emus, inquisitive, 30.

 Erysipelas, 181.

 _Erythrina vespertilio_ (cork), 141.

 _Eucalyptus, amygdalina_, 9;
   _tereticornis_, _brachypoda_, 24;
   _terminalis_, _polyanthemos_, _robusta_. _Vide_ Flora.

 _Eudynamis flindersii_ (cuckoo), 28.

 _Eurynassa australis_, 93, 154.

 Evaporation in bush, 42.

 Expedition Range, 33.

 _Falco subniger_, 57.

 Familiarity breeds contempt, 111.

   Wallace’s line;
   marsupials; monotremata—why most noteworthy, 376–388 _passim_;
   birds, 382–384;
   reptiles, 384;
   amphibia, 384;
   fish, barramunda, 385;
   butterflies, 385;
   beetles, 385.
   _Entomostraca_, Professor Sars on, 385–388.

 Feast, 85.

 Ferns, tree-, 103.

 Fever, 57.

 _Ficus, elastica_, 14;
   _platypoda_, _cunninghamii_, 25.

 Fig, European, 21;
   black, 141;
   rarest, 208.

 Finch-Hatton, Mr., “_Advance Australia_,” 278.

 Fire, producing, 141.

 Fitzroy river, 16;
   mountains, 16.

 Fleas at Elderslie, 45.

 Flora—peculiar, evergreen, flowering;
   census of _Eucalyptus_, _Proteaceæ_, _Acaciæ_, _Banksia_,
      cone-bearers, and allies; grass-trees, baobab, ferns, mosses,
      369–375 _passim_.

 Food, 21;
   eating children, 134;
   beetles and larvæ, 154 _passim_;
   _pediculi_, 117, 223;
   fleas, 179;
   grasshoppers, 187;
   eel (high), 203;
   mode of cooking, 296;
   care of, 297.

 Frogs, 19.

 Gar-fish, 23.

 Geese, Queensland, 22.

 Gentleman, black, 84.

 GEOLOGY—mountain and river systems, primitive rock, coal-bearing
    strata, fossils, “desert sandstone,” volcanoes, gold, 366–368.

 Georgina river, 128;
   romance of, 213.

 Gidya-scrub, 37.

 Gold, _passim_;
   annual production, 9;
   region, 253;
   mount, 324.

 Gould, 23, 171.

 Gracemere, residence in, 17, 20, 21;
   flora and fauna, 24;
   landscape, 26;
   return to, 61;
   snake story, 61.

 _Grallina picata_, 94.

 _Granadilla_, and fruit, 79.

 Grauan, jungle-hen, 149.

 Great Dividing Range, 34, 102 _passim_.

 Greenshank, 56.

 Grogoragally, son of the Supreme, 283.

 Guana, 79.

 Gum-tree. Vide _Eucalyptus_.

 Hair, cutter, 108;
   quality, quantity of, 131.

 Handicraft, 331.

 Harpoon, 317.

 Hawks in Queensland, 62.

 Heaven and hell, 283.

 _Helix cunninghamii_, 27.

 _Hemibelideus_, a new sub-genus, 196.

 Herbert river, _passim_;
   nets, 94.

 Herbert Vale, 65–74;
   quarters, 76;
   abandoned for cattle station, 78;
   keeper and Kanaka at, 80;
   bill of fare, 81;
   cook, 80 _seq._;
   farewell, 302.

 Hinchinbrook Island, 67.

    colonisation, 353–365.

 Holloway’s pills, 280.

 Home life among natives, 191.

 Honey, 194, 195 _passim_.

 _Hoplocephalus_, 62.

 Hornets, 38.

 Horse-racing, 7.

 Houses, North Queensland, 79.

 Humour, native, 239, 291.

 Husband, duties of, 161.

 _Hyla cærulea_, 18.

 _Hypsiprymnodon moschatus_, rare, 114.

 Idolatry non-existent, 129.

 Iguana, 53.

 Imitative faculty, 291.

 Infant colour, 132.

 _Inoceramus maximus_, 367.

 _Irichosurus vulpecula_, 11, 19, 221, 232.

 Irish shepherd, a type, 40.

 Isis Downs station, 57;
   liquor-dealer, 60, 61.

 _Itaka_, ornamental tufts, 238.

 Jabiru (yabiru), 96.

 Jacaranda, Brazil, 21.

 Jackass, laughing, a kingfisher, 26, 382.

 Jacky, native attendant, 77, 92;
   his full dress, 120;
   at contest, 125;
   story-teller, 256;
   inciting to murder, 290.

 Jimmy, a native, a murderer, 245–251, 254;
   portrait of, 255;
   scene of crime, 261.

 Jungle-hens, 96;
   mound-builders, 97.

 Kadjera, poisonous palm, 164.

 Kāmin, climbing instrument, 89.

 Kanaka, 64;
   the, 80, 124, 178, 270, 284, 290, 363.

 Kangaroo Island, 2.

 Kangaroo, larger, 29;
   hunt, 33;
   hard to kill, 180;
   tree-kangaroo, see _Dendrolagus lumholtzii_;
   rat, 11, 27, 29;
   size, 327;
   nature and nutrition of young, 379;
   strength and boldness, 327, 328.

 Kassik, a pack-horse, 74, 138, 289;
   bucking, 291; falls, 301.

 Kélanmi, native girl, story of, 233 _seq._

 Kidneys, eating the human, 272.

 Kingfisher, 97;
   racket-tail, 97;
   blue and red, 150;
   all over the world, 382.

 Kings appointed by squatters, 336 _seq._

 Kissing unknown, 213.

 Kite, 43;
   noticeable, 57.

 Koraddan, a fruit, 165

 Korroboree, 41, 237.

 Kusso and kamala, Abyssinian cure for tape-worm, 153.

 Kvingan, evil spirit, 201, 205.

 Ladies, white, 8;
   in the bush, 322 _seq._

 Lagoons, Valley of, 243;
   origin of name, 253.

 _Lagorchestes conspicillatus_ (rat), 29.

 Landscape, Australian, breathes melancholy, 209.

 Languages, all closely allied, 304;
   comparative words for _eye_, 305;
   numerals, 306, 309;
   personal pronouns, 306;
   common peculiarities, 306;
   grammar, 307;
   origin, 307;
   comparative syntax, 307;
   brevity of expression, 308;
   suffix _go_, 308;
   proper names, 309;
   named from _negatives_, _one_ from affirmative, Langue d’_oc_ et
      _oyl_, 310;
   comparative table, 311;
   words from Herbert river, 312, 313.

 Larvæ, edible, in acacia, 153, 154 _passim_.

 _Lathrodectus scelio_ (spider), 39.

 Lava, 253.

 Leaves as toy-boomerangs, 52.

 Lemons, antidote to tick-bites, 266.

 _Leucopathia acquisita_, 99.

 Liberality of Gongola, 180;
   of hunter, 198.

 _Livistonia_, 103, 150.

 Lizard, 27, 384.

 Loquat, 79.

 Lotus-bird, 22.

 Love among natives, 213.

 Lung-fish (_Ceratodus forsteri_), 385.

 Mackay river, 63.

 M‘Leay’s Museum, Sydney, 14.

 _Macropus, dorsalis_, 29;
   _giganteus_, 29.

 Magpie, Australian, 33.

 Mango, 21.

 Mangola-Maggi, a native, 258, 287.

 Mangoran, a study, 112;
   danger from, 288 _seq._

 Marriage ceremonies, 212, 213.

 _Marsilea_ (nardu), 41.

 Marsupials, destructive to grass, 29;
   smallest, 43.

 Mat as clothing, 169.

 Matrimony in Queensland, 60.

 _Megaloprepia magnifica_, 214.

 _Megapodius tumulus_, 149. _Vide_ Fauna.

 _Melaleuca leucadendron_, 24.

 Melbourne, 5;
   climate, 8;
   Queen of the South, 12.

 Melodies, native, 41, 156–158.

 Message sticks, 303, 304.

 Miasma, 261.

 Migration of souls, 279, 282.

 Mika-operation, 47.

 Miklucho-Maclay, Baron, 47.

 Milk, rarely used in bush, 36, 57;
   a luxury, 88.

 Minnie Downs, 31, 35;
   farewell to, 61.

 Mitchell-grass, 37.

 Mólle-Mólle, a native tragedy, 246.

 Mongan, a mammal, 172, 215.

 Monsoons, 102.

 Moogeegally, half human, half divine, 283.

 Morbora, a native, 286.

 “More pork,” 32.

 _Morelia variegata_, 294.

 Moreton Bay, 16.

 Mosquito-nets, 56.

 Mosses, note on, 374, 375.

 Mound-builder, 97.

 Mount Morgan, gold, 324.

 Mountains, Blue, 15;
   Coast; 101, 102, 116, 140;
   Great Dividing Range, 34, 102;
   Cordilleras, 102;
   Sea-View Range, 121, 180;
   annoyance from leeches, 265.

 Mourning, signs of, 203.

 Mueller, Baron F. von, 9. _Vide_ Flora.

 Mullagan, black giant, 129.

 Mullet, fresh-water, 23.

 Mummy, 278.

 Murder, punishment of, 45.

 Murrumbidgee, 129.

 Mūrŭp (_revenant_), 279.

 Music, vocal and instrumental, 156, 236.

 Musical instruments, 157.

 Myall, savage blacks, or _Acacia pendula_, 49, 76.

 _Mycteria australis_, 96.

 _Mygnimia australasiæ_ (hornet), 38.

 Myths, South Australia, 282.

 Nardu, 41.

 Natives (Diamantina river), 44;
   slaughter of, 53;
   study of, 80;
   mark of distinction, 84;
   traits, 100;
   cannibals, 101;
   instinct for locality, 108;
   terror of firearms, 108;
   insensibility to cold, 111, 114;
   contest, 119;
   idea of number, 129;
   two types of, 129;
   voices of, 135;
   comprehension of pictures, 154;
   disposition of, 158;
   occupations of, 177;
   burial customs, 277;
   keenness of sight, 295;
   snake cooking, 296.

 Natives, in original condition, 104;
   food, 106;
   terror of darkness and devil, 114;
   acute sense of smell, 114;
   agility, 115;
   morning toilet, 116;
   height, 129;
   dread of rain, 140;
   as woodcutters, 148;
   friendliness, 180.

 Nelly, the cook, 80, 178;
   hunting, 222;
   change in, 269;
   bloodthirsty, 290.

 _Nelumbium speciosum_, 25.

 _Nephrurus asper_, 329.

 Ngalloa, rare animal, 220.

 Nilgora, typical savage, 223, 241, 242.

 Nocuous grasses, 23, 43.

 Nogoa river, 34.

 Nolla-nolla, club, 72, 122.

 Norseman cold in Australia, 30.

 Norwegian scheme, 8.

 _Nuphar luteum_, 14.

 Opals, 44.

 Opium, abuse of, 338.

 Opossum, 11, 91;
   caught, 221;
   thread, 332.

 Orange-groves, Parramatta river, 15;
   trees, Queensland, 21;
   moth, 28;
   orchards, 79.

 Ornaments, personal, of natives, 135–137, 238.

 _Ornithorhynchus_, killed, 214;
   swimming, 253.

 _Orthonyx spaldingii_, 155.

 _Orthoptera_, 73, 151.

 _Otĕro_, and other relationships, 199;
   ingratitude of Yanki’s, 209.

 Palm, lawyer, home of, 152, 172;
   fan, 103, 150;
   banana, 103.

 _Pandanus_, 95.

 Pantomime, primitive, 239.

 _Papillæ mammæ_ cut off, 135.

 _Papyrus_, Egyptian, 21.

 Parasites and epiphytes, 25.

 _Parra gallinacea_, 22.

 Parramatta river, 15.

 Parrot, affection of, 34;
   scarce, 94.

 Pasturage, 37.

 Peak Downs, 29, 45.

 Peculiar smell of natives, 135.

 _Pediculi_, 117.

 _Pelargonium_, Queensland, 21.

 Pelicans, Queensland, 22.

 Perch, Queensland, 23.

 _Petauroides, volans_, 91, 181;
   _breviceps_, 208.

 Phalanger, flying, 90.

 _Phascolarctus cinereus_, 9.

 _Phascologale minutissima_, 43, 44, 294.

 _Phragmites communis_, 23.

 _Phrictis crassipes_, 38.

 Pickle-bottle, a native, 112;
   obstinacy of, 138.

 Pigeon, Diamantina river, 43;
   Torres Strait, 96;
   rare, North Queensland, 208;
   king, 214.

 Pike, gar-fish, 23.

 _Pimelea hæmatostachya_, 29.

 Pine-apple, Queensland, 21.

 Pipes, 113;
   holders for, 130.

 _Pitta strepitans_, 27.

 _Pituri_, 49.

 _Platycercus pulcherrimus_, 34;
   nest of, 327.

 _Platypus_, 30.

 Pleuro-pneumonia, 88.

 _Plotus_, 22.

 _Podargus cuvierii_, 32.

 Poisons unknown, 174.

 Police, native mounted, 46, 49;
   cruelty of, 54;
   native sergeant of, 251.

 Pork, aversion to, 225.

 Precarious position of author, 289 _seq._

 Preparation of food, 296.

 Primitive tribe, a, 191.

 Protector of the blacks, 73;
   murdered, 262.

 _Pseudechis_, black snake, 64.

 _Pseudochirus, archeri_, 152, 173, 266;
   _herbertensis_, 173, 213;
   _lemuroides_, 196.

 _Ptiloris victoriæ_, 171.

 _Ptychosperma cunninghamii_, 171.

 Punishment, 126.

 Python, Australian, 294.

 Quandang-tree, 70.

 Queensland, proportion of men to women, 59;
   dialect of white children, 8;
   East, 16;
   precious metals, 44;
   native mounted police, 46;
   climate, 19, 57;
   Central, 21;
   sugar, 64;
   natives, 68, 69;
   Northern, blacks of, 11;
   Western (dew), 33, 35;
   farewell to, 61;
   Queen’s Hotel, Townsville, 65.

 Quinine, 74.

 Rain in bush, 169, 312.

 Rats, plague of, 43;
   method of catching, 73.

 Rape of the Sabines, 184.

 Religion, 339.

 Respect for old women, 200.

 Rice, 74.

 Rifle-bird, 171.

 Ring-barking, 9.

 Rivers, Yarra, 9;
   Parramatta, 15;
   Fitzroy, 16;
   Brisbane, 16;
   Burnett, 21;
   Dee, 30;
   Nogoa, 34;
   Thompson, 40;
   Dawson, 45;
   Diamantina, 55;
   Mackay, 63;
   Boulya, 128;
   Murrumbidgee, 129;
   Murray, tribes on the, 284;
   Herbert River and Vale, 66 _seq._

 Rockhampton, 16;
   botanical gardens, 17;
   flora and fauna, 24;
   drunkards in, 57;
   return to, 61.

 Rock-wallabies, 253.

 Sacrifices unknown, 284.

 Sandy blight, 57.

 Scenery, _passim_; Herbert river, 74, 315.

 _Scenopæus dentirostris_ (bower-bird), 139.

 Screw-palm, 95.

 Scrub, 37, 96, 102, 289;
   stillness, 294;
   clad mountain-tops, 302.

 _Scythrops novæ-hollandiæ_, 97.

 _Sequoia wellingtonia_, 9.

 Serpent adventure, 299.

 Sheep farmers, 35.

 Silver, 44.

 Skulls, 259;
   measurements, 260.

 Slaughter day, 85.

 Smell of land, 2.

 _Sminthopsis virginiæ_, 252, 294.

 Snakes, 61, 62, 64;
   hunting, as food, cooking, sharing, flesh-flavour, 294 _seq._

 Snake-birds, 22.

 Snake bites, treatment of, 183, 298.

 Soap, natives fond of, 291.

 Spear-grass, 23.

 Spearmen, 92.

 Specimens, packing and conveying of, 300.

 Spider paralysed by hornet, 38.

 Springsure, Kangaroo hunt near, 33.

 Spruce, Australian, 21.

 Squatter’s homestead, 59.

 Squirrel, flying, 90.

 Starling, glossy, 96.

 Station, description of a, 36;
   korroboree at Westlands, 41.

 _Stigmodera_ (beetle), 220.

 Stinging-tree, 152.

 Stock, Queensland, 21;
   whip, 53, 59;
   yard, 36.

 Sugar, 64;
   a necessary, 264;
   cane, 75;
   plantation, 301.

 Suttungo, tobacco, 113.

 Swamp-pheasant, 94.

 Sweet-potato, 78.

 Talegalla, 73, 97;
   cootjari, 149;
   rare, 208;
   numerous, 215;
   young, 252.

 _Talgoro_, 188, 271.

 Tallow, 37.

 Tamarind, 21.

 Tambo, town, 61.

 _Tanysiptera_, 97.

 Tattooing unknown, 137.

 Thompson, river, 40;
   town, 56.

 Thor’s hammer and the boomerang, 52.

 Throwing-stick, 93.

 Ticks, 266.

 Tiger, marsupial, 101.

 Tin, 44.

 Torilla, its host and his family, 315, 322.

 Treachery of natives, 44, 167, 289.

 Tree-ferns, Victoria, 11;
   North Queensland, 151.

 Trinity, idea and persons of a, 129, 283.

 _Triodia irritans_, 43.

 _Tristiana suaveolens_, 25.

 Tobacco, 73;
   as currency, 75, 80, 106.

 Tobola, 99;
   unbeaten, 217;
   preparation of, 230.

 Toollah, opossum, 152.

 Topinard, Dr., on the blacks, 129.

 Torrens, Lake, 129.

 _Totanus glottis_, 56.

 Towdala, a bird, 155.

 Townsville, 65 _passim_.

 Turkey, brush, 73.

 _Uromys_, 294.

 Veera, a fig, 208.

 Venereal and other diseases, 182.

 Victoria, working-class influence, 8.

 Vine-scrub, 26.

 Vines, Queensland, 21.

 _Vitiligo_, white spots, 99.

 _Vitis climatidea_, 26.

 Vondo, a root, 207.

 Wader, 96.

 Wallaby, 29;
   hunting, 91–94;
   rock, 209;
   feeding, 209.

 Wardrobe, author’s, 108.

 Water-hen, 27;
   iguana, 155;
   lilies, blue, 22.

 Water, precious in bush, 39;
   bad in the interior, 42.

 Waverley station, Gracemere, 62.

 Weapons, 120, 127, 332 _seq._

 Weaver-bird, 70, 96.

 Western river, 44.

 Westwood, 27;
   rats at, 44.

 Windex station, hospitality at, 43.

 Winter, 293.

 Winton, 56, 59.

 Witchcraft of strangers, 298.

 Wives, native, 163.

 Wizards, 279;
   producing rain, 282.

 Women, seldom seen, 59;
   timidity of, 91;
   condition of, 100;
   old, at contests, 124;
   matrimonial changes, 127;
   beards, 131;
   personal appearance of, 132;
   child-birth, 134;
   ornamental scars improper, 137;
   occupation of, 160;
   greatest crime, 162;
   patience of, 192;
   destined from birth, 221;
   infanticide and cannibalism among, 254, 272;
   rough nurses, 257.

 Wood exported from Queensland, 67.

 Wood-swallow, 28.

 _Xanthorrhæa_, 373.

 _Xylomelum pyriforme_, 369.

 Yabby, a new phalanger, 196.

 Yamina, a monster, 201.

 Yanki, a rare fig, 208;
   a man’s name, 209.

 Yarra river, 5.

 Yarri, tiger, 101, 117, 151, 266.

 Yokkai, a native attendant, 214;
   word-portrait of, 217, 219, 235, 242, 243, 289;
   the only faithful black, 290;
   ascends Kassik the pack-horse, 290, 291;
   washes for cooking, 291;
   rewarded, 300;
   farewell to, 302.

 Yopolo, 114.

 York, Cape, 102.

 ZOOLOGISTS, a family of, 323 _seq._



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. P. 359, changed “West Australia, founded in 1839” to “West
      Australia, founded in 1829”.
 2. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in
 3. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
 5. Enclosed blackletter font in =equals=.
 6. Denoted superscripts by a caret before a single superscript

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Among Cannibals: An Account of Four Years’ Travels in Australia and of Camp Life With the Aborigines of Queensland" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.