« PreviousContinue »
ling the branches, saw this, with the navigation, from our uncertainty as to sagacity of foxes, and instantly got the situation of the river, on which our out of the way. Eight men were then finding water depended, and the cerordered to advance towards them, and tainty that, wherever it was, there were hold up their fire-arms, but not to fire our foes before us." This was a suffi. unless they were attacked, and to re- ciently painful situation. They had turn at the sound of the bugle. The sa- travelled from morning till dusk-a vages took to their heels, and the party, storm was gathering overhead. “On all thus relieved from their presence, re sides the flat and barren waste blended turned to the business of the day, and imperceptibly with a sky as dismal and moved forward on their journey. But ominous as ever closed in darkness. they were not so easily to get rid of One bleak and sterile spot hardly afthese troublesome guests. On ap- forded room for our camp, but the proaching the bank of the Murray, cattle had neither water nor grass that after a march of three miles, they saw night." At length the storm came the savages in their rear, still keeping on, and there was no waut of water at a considerable distance, but with thus poured upon them. On the next evident hostility-their leader carry- day they again found themselves on ing a heavy bundle of spears.
the bank of the river. At five miles " It was most painful and alarming from their resting place, the broad to me," says the Major, “now to dis. expanse of the river Murray, with the cover that the knowledge which they luxuriant verdure of its margins, came had acquired of the nature of our arms, suddenly in view, without any signs by the loss of lives last year, did not of its proximity appearing in the bar deter them from following us with the ren track over which they had travelmost hostile intentions, for this was led twenty-three miles. On the next now past all doubt. We had endea day, as they recommenced their jourvoured to prevent them by the demon ney, they heard the voices of a vast stration of the men advancing with body of blacks following, with prodifire-arms, yet they still persisted; gious shouting and war-cries. "I was and Piper had gathered from them at length convinced," says Major Mitthat a portion of their tribe was still chell, “that unless I could check their before us. Our route lay along the progress in our rear by some attack, bank of a river peopled by other which might prevent them from folpowerful tribes, and at the end of two lowing us so closely, the party would hundred miles we would only hope to be in danger of being compelled to reach the spot where the tribe already fight its way back against the whole following in our rear had commenced population who would assemble in our the most unprovoked hostilities last rear, for in that season of drought season. To attempt to conciliate those people could live only on the these people had, last year, proved banks of these large rivers." He sent hopeless. Our gifts had only excited half the party to post themselves along their cupidity, and our forbearance the bank, while, with the other half, had only inspired them with a poor he proceeded. The multitude, seeing opinion of our courage, while their the party thus posted, began to poise meeting is in this place was a proof their spears ; this being considered as that the effect of our arms had not been the signal of attack, the firing began, sufficient to convince them of our su- which, being perceived by the party perior strength. A drawn battle was in advance, the general fire, though out of the question, but I was assured without orders, commenced, and the by Piper and the other young natives, blacks, suddenly dispersing, rushed that we should soon lose some of the into the river, some crossing it, and men in charge of the cattle."
some swimming down the stream. The river had here taken a wide From the information afterwards obbend to the south, by which means the tained by Piper, it was said that seven route was perplexed for a time, and were shot, among whom was the chief. the day's journey was again through Much as the Major regretted this coldesolation. “ No signs of the river lision, it seems to have been upavoidwere visible, unless it might be a few able, and it certainly had the advantrees which there resembled the masts tage of dispersing the tribe. of ships in a dark and troubled sea, In a work of this order, the topoand equally hazardous was this land graphical details must be comparatively dry, but the writer has the it with them whenever they can, sit happy art of giving them a new inte- round it wherever they settle for the rest by interspersing them with strik- night, and clearly regard it as a necesing descriptions of scenery and native sary of life. Yet those people, in a manners. He is evidently disposed to state of complete nakedness, endure, think the best that he can of the wild through the winter, cold and wet that men, but be is justly awake to their would kill a robust European in twentydangerous qualities. On the banks of four hours. the Murray, as he was reconnoitering I n another instance Major Mitchell the ground for a camp, “ I observed," says, “ At this camp, where we lay says he, “a native on the opposite shivering for want of fire,” (it was in bank, and without being seen by him, June, about the middle of the AustraI stood awhile to watch the habits of Jian winter), “ the different habits of a savage man at home. His hands the aborigines and us strangers from were ready to seize, his teeth to eat the north were strongly contrasted. any living thing ; his step, light and On that freezing night the natives soundless as that of a shadow, gave no stript off their clothes, their usual cusintimation of his approach ; his walk tom, previously to lying down to sleep suggested the idea of the prowling of in the open air, their bodies being a beast of prey ; every little track or doubled round a few burning reeds. impression left on the earth by the We could not understand how they lower animals, caught his keen eye, bore the cold thus naked, when the but the trees overhead chiefly engaged earth was white with frost; and they his attention. Deep in the hollow were equally at a loss to know how heart of some of the upper branches we could sleep in our tents without a was still hidden, as it seemed, the bit of fire beside us to keep our bodies opossum on which he was to dine. warm. For the support of animal The wind blew cold and keenly heat, fire and smoke are almost as ne. through the lofty trees on the river cessary as clothes are to us, and the margin, yet that brawny savage naked savage is not without some reawas entirely naked. Had I been son on his side ; for, with fire to warm unarmed, I had much rather have met his body, he has all the comfort that a lion than that sinewy biped ; but I he ever knows, whereas we require was on horseback, with pistols in my both fire and clothing, and can there. holsters, and the broad river was flow. fore have no conception of the intening between us. I overlooked him from sity of enjoyment imparted to the naa high bank, and I ventured to disturb ked body of a savage by the glowing his meditations with a halloo. He embrace of a cloud of smoke in winter, then stood still, looked at me for about or, in summer, the luxury of a bath a minute, and then retired, with that which he may enjoy in any pool, easy bounding kind of step which may when not content with the refreshing be termed a running walk, exhibiting breeze which fans him during the inan unrestrained facility of movement, tense heat. In the midst of all this exapparently incompatible with dress of posure the skin of the Australian naany kind. It is in bounding lightly at tive remains as soft and as smooth as such a pace, that, with the additional velvet, and it is not improbable that aid of the wammerah, (a short notch- the obstructions of drapery would coned stick), the native can throw his stitute the greatest of his objections to spear with sufficient force and velocity the permanent adoption of civilized to kill the emu or kangaroo, even when life." at their speed.”
The expedition now wound its In some instances, however, they weary way towards the south ; and, wore short cloaks of kangaroo skins, after toiling through a succession of but their being able to endure the cli- swamps, approached a country which mate in such a state of nudity is alto put them all in good spirits. One of the gether surprising. It was frequently most pleasing features of the whole raining-the winter is stormy-a large narrative is the almost youthful buoy. portion of at least the eastern terri- ancy with which this man of science tory is swampy - and the winter, in and travel evidently enjoys the beaugeneral, seems to be damp and cold. ties of nature. The difficulty of drag
The natives, too, are fully sensible of ging their waggons through the sinkthe gratification of fire, for they carrying soil had exhausted every one,
(August 9)—and it was not until sun. some points picturesque limestone set that they were enabled to rest from cliffs overhung the rivers, and cas. their severe labour. Next morning, cades were flowing out of caverns however, they were on their route, and hung with stalactities; at others the they had their recompense. “At a shores were festooned with green mile and a half from the camp which creeping shrubs and creepers, or terthey had left behind, a scene opened minated in a smooth grassy bank, which gladdened every heart. An sloping to the water's edge. The open grassy country, extending as far river soon opened to an uniform width as we could see, the hills round and of sixty yards, its waters being everysmooth as a carpet, the meadows where smooth and unruffled, the cur. broad, and either green as an emerald, rent having at length become scarceor of a rich golden colour, froin the ly perceptible. After rowing about abundance, as we found, of a little ra- sixteen miles they landed and encampnunculus-like flower. Down into ed for the night. The sun set in a that delightful vale our vehicles cloudless sky, but from the highest trundled, over a gentle slope, the earth cliffs nothing was visible but an undu. being covered with a thick matted lating woody country. Their position turf. That extensive valley was wa. and prospects were now so interesting tered by a winding stream, which glit. that through the night they longed for tered through trees fringing each the day. The next day was equally bank. As we went on our way re- fine, still they continued to descend joicing, I perceived, at length, two the stream, the breadth of which was figures in the distance. They proved 101 yards, and the mean depth five to be a woman with a little boy ; and, fathoms. On the whole, considering as soon as she saw us, she began to its permanent fulness, the character run. I presently overtook her; and, of its banks, and the uniformity of with the few words I knew, prevailed its width and depth, it was the finest on her to stop, until the two women of body of fresh water which they had our party should come up, for I had seen in Australia, and the party were long been at a loss for the names of in strong hope that they should find it localities. She was not so much making its way to the ocean by some alarmed as might have been expected, noble outlet. and I was glad to find that she and the It was long since remarked, that women perfectly understood each every thing in Australia seemed formother. Such was the solitary inhabitant ed on a plan the reverse of every thing of this splendid valley, resembling a in other parts of the world ; that the nobleman's park on a gigantic scale. swans were black, the rivers flowed They had at length come in sight of from the sea-shore into the interior ; the river which they were to add to that the mountains were the most ferBritish discoveries, and which is hence- tile, while the plains were the most forth to remain the only trophy of the sterile parts of the soil ; that even the somnolent Secretary for the Colonies. animals were as singular as the counWe presume that with all his official try; and the Ornithorynchus paradoxconsiderations, the remarkable placidi. us, and the kangaroo, were adduced ty, combined with the remarkable shal. in proof of the sport of nature. The lowness ofthis new discovery, may have Glenelg certainly in some degree corinvoluntarily influenced the gallant roborated this system of contraries; Major in his giving it the name of the its breadth and beauty were all in the Glenelg. On the 18th of August the interior. As it approached the sea, boats were launched on the bosom of with a bend to the south-east, the the stream, and provisions laid in for height of the banks diminished rapidly, ten days. Leaving Mr Stapleton, with and, soon after passing a small bushy the remainder of the party, to occupy island, the stream became shallow; the point of a hill, which he named a few low sand-bills appearing before Fort Hare, in memory of his com- them, they rounded a low rocky point, manding officer, who fell at Badajos, and through an opening straight in in leading the forlorn hope of the light front, saw the “green rolling breakers division to the storm, he embarked of the sea." In the two basins at this with sixteen men in two boats. The entrance there was scarcely water sufriver soon widened, the scenery on the ficient to float the boats, and thus banks was pleasant and various; at “their hopes of finding a port at the mouth of this fine river were at an business of the Bay seemed to be of end." The latitude was 32° 2' 58" S. importance in other points. “ I was On re-entering the river to encamp informed, that only a few days before for the night, the Major, by the help my arrival, five vessels lay at anchor of a bottle of whisky given to the together there, and that the commumen, named the river after the colo. nication was regularly kept up with nial Secretary ; thus the name of that Van Diemen's Land by vessels from functionary has at least one chance of Launceston. Messrs Henty were imsurviving himself in Australia
porting sheep and cattle as fast as vesOur readers now may easily follow sels could bring them over, and the the route of the expedition along the numerous whalers touching or fishing shore. Proceeding round the Bay of there were found to be good customPortland, they were struck with “the ers for farm produce and whatever else resemblance to houses afforded by what could be spared from the establishthey conceived to be cliffs. The re- ment." This is curious; but not the semblance was certainly to be consi. least curious of it is, that the whole dered strong, for they were houses. affair seems to have been quite unWhile the Major was investigating known to the government of the co. them with his telescope, one of the men lony ; it was evidently so to the sursaid that he had seen a brig at anchor; veyor-general, the chief officer of all soon after a shot was heard as they settlements in the territory. A flour. were ascending the cliffs. The nature ishing trade, a large establishment, a of the neighbourheod seems to have constant intercourse with the neighnow been a consideration of some im- bouring island, itself a British colony, portance, and, becoming apprehensive and a great fishing station for whalers, that the parties might either be, or all seem to have come upon his knowsuppose the Major and his men to be, ledge as matters of absolute novelty. bush-rangers (fugitive convicts), he Yet these are not things that could be ordered them to tire a gun and sound easily concealed, nor was there the the bugle. But, on reaching the least attempt to conceal them. It is higher ground, he discovered not true that they may have been out of only a beaten path but the tracks of the immediate jurisdiction of Sydney, carts." The mystery, however, was but there seems no very adequate reato be soon developed. A man made son why they should have been so his appearance, who informed them totally out of its knowledge. that the vessel at anchor was the Eli Wild as the natives were, and zabech of Launceston (in Van Die- treacherous as the perils of savage life man's Land), and that just round the make them, the feelings of human napoint they would come upon the large ture were there, and the feelings, too, farming establishment of the Messrs of a sense of bettering their condition. Henty. The Major accordingly made This was given in a simple but strikhis way to the house, where he was ing example by one of the women. hospitably received, and where he When Major Mitchell was about to learned that the Messrs Henty had move homewards with a part of the been established two years. They seem expedition, he observed that “the wito have made good use of their time. dow Turandusey, who was to remain It was obvious from the magnitude with Mr Stapleton's party and the and extent of the buildings, and the carts, was marked with white round substantial fencing, that both time and the eyes (the native fashion of mournlabour had been expended in their con- ing), and that the face of her child, struction. « A good garden, stocked Ballandella, was whitened also. This with abundance of vegetables, already poor woman, who had cheerfully car. smiled on Portland Bay; the soil was ried the child on her back when we very rich on the overhanging cliffs, had offered to carry both in the carts, and the potatoes and turnips produced and who was as careful and affectionate here surpassed in magnitude and qua- as any mother could be, had at length lity any I had ever seen elsewhere. determined to entrust to me the care I learned that the Bay was much re- of her infant. I was gratified with sorted to by vessels engaged in the such a proof of the mother's confidence whale fishery, and that upwards of in us; but I should have been less will. seven hundred tons of oil had been ing to take charge of her child had I shipped there that season." But the not been aware of the wretched state of slavery to which the native females was relieved by the darker hues of the are doomed. The widow had been wood with which they were interlong enough with us to be sensible how laced. ... The hills seemed entirely much more her sex was respected by of lava, and I named the whole formacivilized men than savages, and, as I tion, which seemed so peculiar, the conceived, it was with such sentiments Mameloid Hills, and the station Mount that she committed her child to my Greenock. In travelling through this charge, under the immediate care, Eden no road was necessary, nor any however, of Piper's gin (wife).” ingenuity in conducting wheel-car
It is impossible to read these inte- riages wherever we chose. When resting volumes without a glowing an- we had completed fourteen miles, we ticipation of the future greatness of encamped on the edge of an open this more than imperial colony. Its plain near a small rivulet, the oppo. wastes and mountain ranges undoubt- site bank consisting of grassy forest edly at present appear desolate, but land." their condition is not to be decided The same country continues. until it shall have been fairly tried by “ Sept. 27. We this day crossed seve. the energies of a population with Bric ral fine running streams, and forests of tish blood in their veins. They may box and blue-gum growing on ridges be intended, too, for barriers and de- of trapean conglomerate. At length fences of future nations. But the land we entered on a very level and extencontains vast districts full of the pro- sive flat, exceedingly green, and remise of boundless fertility, full of pic- sembling an English park." This turesque beauty, and already, by the language may occasionally seem too bounty of nature, prepared for the much resembling the usual enthusiasm best prosperity of man. The latter of discoverers, an enthusiasm which, portions of the Journal are crowded in the instance of our naval officers, with brief but expressive sketches of manly and intelligent a class as they this fine diversity of soil and land are, has often produced disappointscape.
ment. But, in the present instance, - Sept. 25.-One bold range of fo. the circumstances are different. A rest land appeared before us, and, after sailor's raptures at seeing any thing crossing it, we passed over several that looks like verdure, after having rivulets falling northward, then over been long wearied by sky and sea, a ridge, and then descended into a ought to be largely allowed for. But valley of the finest description. Grassy Major Mitchell was fully accustomed hills, clear of timber, appeared beyond to the sight, and he has no hesitation a stream also flowing northward." in describing the wilderness in the lanThis noble country continues, yet guage of desolation. His sketches with new aspects of luxuriance, and vary with the change of scene; and even of grandeur.
after this description, glowing as it is, " Sept. 26. By diverging a little we have details of the country which to the right, we entered upon an open he subsequently passed through in his tract of country of the finest descrip. way north-east, by no means too cap. tion, stretching away to the south-west tivating. That he has a strong sense among similar hills, until they were of natural loveliness is clear, but we lost in the extreme distance. The altogether doubt that he has coloured whole surface was green as an eme- a single feature of his first impressions. rald." They now meet with some Our only fault with him, and that a streams watering this tract, and an- trivial one, is his selection of names proach two lofty smooth round 1:11, for his kills and valleys. A discoverer "green to the sky," the united streams may certainly be granted some allowflowing through an open dell, through ance in distributing his new-found which the carts passed without meeting realm among his friends ; but we wish any impediment. The Major ascended that the custom were altogether laid one of those hills, and “ enjoyed such aside of giving the names of insigni. a charming view eastward from this ficant officials, however high their sta. summit, as can but seldom fall to the lot tion, and in some instances, of officials of the explorers of new countries. The equally insignificant in station and surface presented the forms of virgin person. We do not make the remark beauty clothed in the hues of spring, especially with reference to this able and the shining verdure of the earth man, but to all; and the future mas