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The Bushman by Edward Wilson Landor

Part 4 out of 6

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in her rides. They seem to enjoy themselves more at home than they
used to do, now that we are gone -- always picknicking, boating, or
forming riding parties. "Fairy" continues the favourite -- I always
thought she was a good hack. "Light-foot," whom I lamed hunting, was
obliged to be sold. It seems to be a sore subject with the Governor.
I wonder how Juno has turned out; she was a splendid-looking whelp.
I wish they'd enter more into particulars when they write. It's
ridiculous my asking questions, as it will be more than a year before
answers can arrive. They ought to write about EVERY THING. I cannot
bear to think to-day of anything but home.

3d. -- The Doctor gone back to York -- sulky about the sheep being so
bad. Why does he not send us more tobacco and turpentine? Says we
smoke it all. The Doctor is an ----. Promises to send K. next week
with mercurial ointment; it is therefore useless to waste any more
tobacco on the sheep -- the stock is low enough as it is.

4th. -- Lay all day on my couch, reading "Rose d'Albret." Wish I had
her here. One wants somebody to sympathize with so desperately in
the bush.

5th. -- Ditto, ditto.

6th. -- Reading Punch all morning. In the afternoon made a damper,
baked it, and eat it in company with the others. "Pit a cake, pat a
cake, baker's man!" etc.

16th. -- Dressing sheep all day with mercurial ointment. Wish this
job was over. Dreadful work bending one's back all day, and rooting
amongst the wool for the diseased places.

18th. -- Went out with the dogs, and killed two kangaroos. It rained
tremendously all the time, and I wish the kangaroos at the ----.
The natives happened to be hunting in a large party, driving the game
before them; and as I stood in the midst of a large plain which they
had surrounded on three sides, multitudes of kangaroos -- I believe I
might say thousands -- of all sizes, came rushing past me. The dogs
were quite bewildered, and remained at my side aghast; and it was
several minutes before they recovered themselves enough to give
chase. The natives took no notice of me. In the evening fifty of
them came about the hut. We took care to show our guns, and I shot a
green parrot, sixty yards off, just to show them what we could do.
They were quite peaceable, and danced a corrobery at night.

20th. -- I dressed twenty-five sheep this morning myself. In the
afternoon William came from York with six hundred more sheep (mine
among them), which were found to be scabby. More work! This is
really too bad, thrusting all this cursed business upon me. He had
been four days coming, and had not lost a single sheep.

21st. -- Went out kangarooing, quite disgusted. Wandered a long
distance, and had to carry a large buck several miles. Could
scarcely find my way back, but at length got home (!!) quite knocked
up, and more and more disgusted with human nature and every thing.

22d. -- The Doctor is enjoying himself at York, and E. lives on the
fat of the land at Perth, whilst I have never tasted anything but
salt pork and kangaroo for many months, and have nothing to drink but
tea. I have almost forgotten the taste of a potato. We have nothing
here but kangaroo and pork, and unleavened bread, called damper. I
wish I could exchange our bill of fare occasionally with that French
fellow who complained of having "toujours perdrix." He would be the
loser, I take it. I could eat even perdrix aux choux -- a
villanous dish formerly -- but we have no more cabbages than
partridges to thank God for. I have long been obliged to leave off
saying "grace after meat;" it really became an impious mockery, and
was also impolitic and uneconomical, as my stomach used to turn
against it. I consulted John this morning about killing a sheep, as
none of them seemed inclined to die naturally. John caught at the
idea with great quickness. He really is an intelligent fellow; and
both he and the other poor devils are so patient and unrepining, that
the Doctor is little better than a beast not to order them some
mutton occasionally. I consider it absolutely necessary for their
health. We fixed upon one of E.'s sheep, as it looked the fattest;
and he being the richest, and never coming himself to look at his
flock, will not care about a few sheep more or less. I'd kill one of
my own, but they are such a seedy lot. No one is answerable for the
murder of this sheep but myself, as I hereby confess that I killed it
with my own hand, and afterwards held a coroner's inquest on the
body, directing a verdict of "Visitation of Providence" to be
recorded in the accounts relating to the flock. We had the liver for
supper. Excellent! never tasted anything half so good.

23d. -- Dined on sheep's head and trotters. (Tea to drink, toujours.)

24th. -- Saddle of mutton.

25th. -- Leg.

26th. -- Shoulder.

27th. -- Leg.

28th. -- Shoulder.

29th. -- Finished the sheep, and polished the bones.

[The rest of the Journal runs on much in the same way. This specimen
will probably be enough for the reader.]



The large estuary of the Swan affords ample scope for boating or
sailing in small pleasure-yachts.

Perth water, on the northern bank of which the capital is built,
extends from two to three miles in length, and about the same
distance in its broadest part, its form being that of a half moon.
It is connected with Melville water by an opening of a quarter of a
mile across. Melville water is some six miles long, and from three
to four broad; a splendid bay, called Freshwater Bay, developes
itself at the western extremity of this fine sheet of water; and the
river, or estuary, here makes a turn at right angles, and pursues its
course towards the sea between high precipitous rocks of marine
limestone, which are from six to seven hundred yards apart.

My pleasure-boat has enabled me to pass many agreeable hours upon
this estuary.

At first, especially, it was exceedingly pleasant to make expeditions
for the purpose of exploring the different bays and inlets, which
abounded with ducks, swans, and pelicans.

My youngest brother and myself would frequently rise at a good hour,
and having supplied our little vessel with a stock of provisions, and
a few bottles of ale or other drinkables, hoist the sails, and bear
away upon a cruise. The warm dry air, tempered by the sea-breeze,
made boating exceedingly pleasant; and as we often touched at gardens
situated at the mouth of the Canning, or on the shores of Melville
water, and procured a basket of grapes, or peaches and melons, we
managed to lunch luxuriously, having first cast anchor and bathed.

Many readers must have felt the excitement experienced by young
sportsmen when they have the luck to fall in with some bird or
animal not previously known to them. Every one remembers the
delight with which, when a boy, he shot his first wood-pigeon, or
lay in ambush behind a hedge for an old crow.

When first we beheld a group of huge tall birds, standing lazily in
the sunshine upon a sand-spit which ran far into Melville water, we
could scarcely believe our eyes that these were really live pelicans;
and it was not only with intense interest, but with feelings of
self-reproach, that we drew nigh with hostile intentions to birds
which in the days of our boyhood, when visiting Mr. Wombwell's
menagerie, had filled us with awe and reverence, as creatures that
were wont to evince the depth of parental devotion by feeding their
young with their own blood.

Our first overt act of hostility against the pelicans was
unsuccessful. The sea-breeze was blowing strong, and we had to beat
out against it close-hauled; just as we made the last board, and were
bearing down upon the enemy, the huge, heavy birds, awakening from
the siesta "with a start," raised their heads and looked about them.
Then the foremost began to flap his long wings, and lift himself on
tip-toe, whilst the others followed his example; and soon they were
all heavily skimming along the surface of the water, trying to launch
themselves fairly into the upward air; and having at length
succeeded, they rose higher and higher in wide gyrations. The leader
seemed resolved to hide himself in the distant blue of the cloudless
heavens; and upward -- up, up, up -- they continued to mount, going
round, and round, and round, in lessening circles -- whilst the
spectator gazed in wonder at the slowly diminishing specks, that were
almost lost in ether; and at length, moving slowly towards the east
-- the unknown, mysterious wilderness -- they altogether faded away.
We have heard of eagles soaring into the sun, but I doubt whether
even they could soar much higher, or look much grander, than the
noble pelican of the desert.

The sheets were eased off, the long boom of the graceful
sliding-gunter (a kind of latteen) sail, stretched far over the
gun-wale of the boat, which slipped along easily and rapidly through
the water, the rolling waves heaving up her stern, and sending her
forward with a gentle impulse. We were opening the broad mouth of
the Canning, when Meliboeus pointed out two other pelicans fishing
in-shore on the lee-bow. Gently we edged away towards them;
Meliboeus standing before the mast with his double-barrel ready, and
motioning to me how to steer, as the main-sail hid the birds from my

They perceived us, and began to swim along shore at a rapid rate; the
water was shoaling fast, and we greatly feared they would escape, but
still we held on. The majestic birds rose slowly from the water, one
following the other, and made towards the Canning. "I'll let fly at
them" cried Meliboeus, in an intense whisper, "luff up! --
hard-a-lee!" The helm was jammed down, and the sheet hauled in; the
boat luffed into the wind, and became stationary, only bobbing upon
the waves, whilst her sails shivered and rattled in the breeze.
Meliboeus fired -- and the hindmost bird declined gradually towards
the water; its long wings became fixed and motionless at their widest
stretch, and slowly it sank down upon its heaving death-bed. Loud
shouted the sportsman; and momentary envy filled the heart of him who

Away goes the boat before the freshening breeze, and soon it dashes
past the body of the pelican, which is seized by the ready Meliboeus,
and with great difficulty hauled on board. A shot had penetrated to
its brain and killed it instantaneously. The wind up the Canning was
nearly abeam, and we dashed through the deep and narrow passage
called Hell's Gates, and held on till we came to the foot of a steep
and rounded hill, Mount Henry. The river here turns at right angles,
sweeping round the base of the hill, and leaving a broad and deep bay
called Bull's Creek, to the southward. This is a famous spot for
ducks and swans, and many a pleasant bivouac have I formed near it,
waiting for early morn when the birds are busy feeding. As we
rounded Mount Henry, we observed a large slate-coloured bird lazily
flying across the river ahead of us. The Canning is here about four
hundred yards broad, widening occasionally to a quarter of a mile.
The wind was now right aft, and we soon came upon the line of the
bird, which appeared to be a crested crane. The boom was topped-up
in a moment, the jib-sheet let fly, and the boat's nose ran crashing
through the sedges which in this part fringed the bank. The crane
had alighted on the very summit of a straight and lofty tree, and
there she sat, unconscious of the danger at hand.

Too much excited to care for any obstacles, and with eyes ever fixed
upon the game, I tore my way through brambles, thickets, water and
mud, until with no little difficulty I arrived at ground free from
underwood. The bird was still sitting patiently on her lofty perch,
and my heart beat anxiously with hope that I should be able to creep
within shot. What a moment of interest! It is still vivid in the
memory, with all its doubts and fears and wildly-beating hopes. The
crane seemed preparing to fly. Death! I felt nearly distracted with
apprehension. The interest and excitement became intense. I crept
from tree to tree, and whenever I thought I was observed, stood
motionless. My eye-balls became dry and hard with incessant gazing.
I feared to wink lest she should be gone. She extended her wings! I
bounded forward. She was just off, and barely within reach, as I
fired; a single number two shot struck her pinion, and down she
tumbled to the ground with a glorious wallop.

A loud shout from Meliboeus, who had sat in the boat scarcely daring
to breathe, proclaimed the presence of a witness to my triumph.

Since then I have shot cranes without emotion or much feeling of

Boating, as an amusement, ought only to be followed during the summer
months, from the 1st of October to the 1st of April. In the winter
season there are extremely violent gales of wind from the north-west,
that sometimes last for three days together. Their arrival is
generally foretold by the rapid falling of the barometer; and at
Perth it is almost always preceded by the rising of the estuary. A
singular storm visited the district of Australind in the night of the
17th June, 1842. It crossed the Leschenault estuary, and entered the
forest, making a lane through the trees from three to four hundred
yards wide. In this lane, which extended for many miles, nothing was
left standing but the stumps of trees; whilst the trees on either
wide of the land stood up like a wall and were perfectly uninjured.
The storm in its course, which was in a direct line from N.W. to S.E.
levelled the trees in the valleys as well as those on the hills. Its
effects were not like those of a whirlwind, when trees appear twisted
round, and scattered in every direction; in this lane the young
healthy trees, which were generally broken off about two or three
yards from the ground, all lay in the same direction.

Twice have I nearly paid dearly for my rashness in boating. My boat
was once capsized in a moment in a squall, and Hannibal and myself
were soused in the water before we knew what had happened. I caught
hold of the bilge of the boat, and nearly drowned myself with
laughing at the Son of Amilcar, who was splashing about shrieking
with terror, and swallowing quarts of salt-water, as his open mouth
popped every moment under a wave. In vain I called to him to come to
me, and lay hold of the boat; he could neither see nor hear, and
would have soon joined his illustrious namesake in the Elysian
fields, had I not managed to throw the bight of a rope round his
neck, and towed him within reach, when I held him up by the collar of
his jacket (ducking him under water occasionally to make him cease
from howling) until we were rescued by a fishing-boat.

One day, the 11th April, 1843, feeling disposed to take my book on
the water and enjoy the calm air, I embarked by myself -- a most
unusual occurrence, as I scarcely ever went out alone. What little
wind there was blew down the estuary, but only gently ruffled the
waters; and my boat glided noiselessly before it. A couple of hours
took me to the farther extremity of Melville water, and here it fell
calm. I now began to feel uncomfortable, for the air was close, and
dark clouds appeared rising in the north-west. The wind began to
blow in gusts; a sudden puff, curling the waters, would strike the
boat and make her heel over until her gunwale kissed the wave, as
with a sudden start she rushed forward under the impulse of the
blast. I was now making homeward. The heavens became black with
angry clouds; the wind first sighed and moaned like a reluctant
Spirit driven forth to fulfil its task of evil, feeling something of
remorse at crimes foreshadowed and inevitable; and then working
itself into fury, as though it would stifle thought, and crush out
the germ of pity, the Wind in its might and rage rushed roaring over
the waters, making the foam fly before it, and tearing up the face of
the estuary into rugged lines of wild tumultuous waves. The little
bark vainly strove to keep her head to the storm, which bore her down
until the water poured over the gunwale.

It was about six o'clock in the evening, and darkness, hurried on
prematurely by the tempest, spread suddenly around. The waves, as if
trying to leap beyond the reach of some internal agony, rolled high
above my head, as the "Fair Maid of Perth" sank hopelessly in the
deep channel, with rocking mast and shivering sails. But not yet
submerged, she rose again, and fronted the storm, struggling
desperately to reach the northern shore, which was not far distant.
But the skies grew blacker still; the storm became a hurricane; the
wind roared so loud that no voice of human agony or despair might be
heard above its tremendous fury; the waves grew higher and mightier,
and became rushing hills of water, overwhelming, irresistible. To
me, quailing in my frail bark, in all the consciousness of
helplessness and ruin, it seemed as though the winds and the waves
were really sentient beings combining to overwhelm me, and increasing
their efforts the more I struggled.

This is no fiction that I am relating, but a reality that happened to
myself, and which it would be impossible to exaggerate. Never shall
I forget the last tremendous wave that came down upon me, impelled by
a maddening gust which whirled tearing along through the wild air,
and scooping its deep passage through the waters. In vain was the
jib-sheet let fly; in vain did I luff into the wind. I could not
quit the helm, and therefore was unable to lower the sail which in
that hurricane could not have been got in easily, and in the meantime
the boat, breaking off from the wind, would have been swamped. I was
so near the shore that I hoped still to reach it, the wind being
abeam, in the course of a few minutes. But nothing could withstand
the last wave and blast. The boat lurched, and broke off. Hurled on
her beam-ends, the boom was in the water; the waves rushed over the
side; she struggled bravely, and tried to right herself; but after
staggering forwards a few seconds, the weight of the in-rushing water
bore her down, and she slowly fell over on her side. The sensation
was by no means pleasant. I felt her going, without being able to
prevent it. I glanced around for aid or hope; but there was neither.
I could see nothing but waves, and hear nothing but the roaring
blast. The shore was close to me, but the high waves, and the
darkness of the hurricane, prevented my discerning even the tops of
the trees. As the boat capsized, I kicked off my shoes and threw off
my coat and waistcoat, and seizing the main-sheet, let myself down in
the water, trying to find bottom, but there was none within reach.

I struck out towards the shore, but the ablest swimmer that ever swam
could have made no progress against that sea, and I could scarcely
swim at all.

I scrambled back to the boat, which now lay on her side, level with
the surface. On getting upon her, you may conceive -- but no! you
cannot -- the horror of the moment, as I felt her gradually go down
-- sink, sinking beneath me. All now seemed over. My time had
arrived; my last moment was come. I collected my thoughts, and
prepared for it.

I did not feel so much terror as I should have anticipated in such
a scene. Death seemed inevitable, and I nerved myself, and prayed.
All the past did NOT press upon me at this moment, in this death-
struggle, as some readers may imagine. I thought not of my sins, nor
of my friends, nor of time misspent and work left undone -- my whole
mind was absorbed in the sense of DEATH and FUTURITY. The glances,
rather than the thoughts which shot across my soul, seemed like
revealings of immortality. My sensations were mixed of horror and
hope; the CHANGE from the old to the new Life seemed beginning
within me. It might have been excess of terror, but I did not feel
terrified. I felt that all was over, and there was no room for the
anguish that arises from doubt. All struggling was vain, and though
in tumult and horror, I yet felt resigned. The World of Time was
past, and new being was at hand.

Such is the memory which I must ever bear of the hour when (yet
vigorous and full of Life) I was held in the arms of Death.

The boat went down. The waves rushed over me; the enemy held me by
the throat, and seemed to press me into the opening grave. Even as
the light faded from my eyes, and the Spirit waited for that quick,
sharp touch of the dart which should free it from the bonds of mortal
life, I perceived the stem of the boat rising slowly out of the
waves, whilst the stern was borne down by my weight.

Instinctively I swam forward, and got upon another part of the boat.
Down it went again; and as the water dashed against my face, I saw
the stern now rising up, whilst the stem plunged down into the depths
below. I scrambled amidships; the sea and the wind struck her, and
she rolled heavily over, righting herself for a moment, with her mast
and sail erect; but soon she lay on her larboard side, deep in the
water. I had been washed off her, but clung to the main-sheet, and
so got back again. I now held on to the side with one hand, whilst I
managed to strip off all my clothes except my shirt and flannel
waistcoat, first taking my knife out of my pocket. With this I tried
to cut away the stays which held the mast in its place, hoping that
it would then fall out, and relieve the boat of the sails which
weighed her down so low in the water. Most fortunately I had not
sand-ballast, in tarred bags, as most of our pleasure-boats had, but
water-ballast in breakers, which now proved no additional burthen to
the boat. It was also fortunate that she was built partly of deal,
and had only her lower streaks of jarra wood, which does not float.

The blade of the knife, which was only a pen-knife, soon broke, and I
was obliged to give up the attempt to remove the sails. Still the
hurricane blew on, wild and terrible as ever; the spray washed over
me like rain; the waves dashed me repeatedly from the boat, which was
whirled and tossed about in a strange manner; sometimes rolling
completely over, sometimes going down head, and sometimes stern
foremost, I had to scramble from part to part, and exercise a good
deal of agility in saving myself from being struck by the gunwale, or
by the boom and sail, as they rose from the water and fell back again.

And now I could see but small prospect of being eventually saved.
The only chance was that the boat would drift, in the course of time,
across the estuary, here nearly four miles broad. Then I tried, and
for a long time vainly, to ascertain whether she drifted at all. The
anchor, with about five-and-twenty feet of cable, had doubtless
fallen out, and the boat was probably stationary. Night had set in,
and it was too dark to distinguish even the shore with its forest of
trees. These gales sometimes continue three days, and I knew it
would be impossible to exist many hours immersed in water. I dreaded
lest I should become benumbed and unable to hold on to the boat.

In order to keep up circulation as much as possible, I shouted aloud,
and rubbed my breast and thighs with my disengaged hand.

Some dark object was on the water near me. It moved; it came quickly
towards me. I could just discern that it was a whale-boat containing
several men. It had no sails or oars, yet it flew before the blast.
I shouted and screamed as it went by, not twenty yards from me; and
the men turned their heads and waved their arms, and doubtless
answered, but the gale roared with unabated fury, the waves
intercepted them from my sight, and I could not hear their voices.*

[footnote] *These men were about a mile and a half astern of me, when
the hurricane began, and tried to pull in shore; but just as they
thought to have reached it, one of their oars broke, and being now
helpless, they were obliged to scud before the wind. By good fortune
they were carried up the Canning, where they remained all night.

The moon had now risen, and the clouds were partially dispersed, so
that I could at length distinguish the woods on the weather-shore;
and I could see the weary waste of waters over which I must drift
before I could possibly be saved.

Sometimes the wind blew with lessened violence, and I could sit upon
the submerged bilge of the boat, and consider my state and prospects.
After long observation, I felt assured that the boat did really
drift, but it was very slowly; and I feared that as we approached the
other shore, her anchor must inevitably bring her up in twenty-five
feet water, and that nothing could save me from perishing of cold.
It never occurred to me during this memorable night, that when I set
sail in the afternoon I had shortened the cable to about five feet in
length, in order the more easily to trip the anchor. This was one of
the circumstances, providentially ordered, that tended to save my

Some miles down the estuary I could distinguish a light in the house
at Point Walter, high placed on a steep bank; there two of my friends
were at that moment carousing, whilst I was being buffetted by waves
and tempest, and fearing that the saturated sails and heavy wood at
length would sink the unfortunate boat to the bottom. I yet could
scarcely hope to escape; my mind was still made up to die, and I
tranquilly awaited the event.

The moon had now made half of her journey across the heavens; the
wind had moderated, and I redoubled my exertions to keep off the cold
by shouting and rubbing myself. My flannel-shirt was another
instrument of safety to me. It felt warm to my body though the waves
poured continually over it.

The outline of the forest on the lee side of the estuary was now
distinguishable, and hope would have been rife within me but for the
expectation of finding myself anchored fast at a fatal distance from
the shore.

Every thing appeared so indistinct in the gloom of the night, that I
could not guess how far I was from land; and it was with surprise, as
well as delight and gratitude, that I felt the boat bump against the
sand. Oh that first bump, which told me of safety and deliverance
after five hours of incessant peril! Shall I ever forget the thrill
of delight which it gave me? I could scarcely credit my senses, and
put down my benumbed feet with doubt; but they rested on the sand --
real, hard, blessed terra firma! and without delay I waded through
the water to the beach.

The wind had now fallen, and it began to rain.

I was on the edge of a thick wilderness of forest, without any house
within reach -- the nearest was some miles distant, and to reach it
in the dark, and without shoes, through swamps and thickets was
almost impossible.

The Canning River was about half-a-mile from me, and on the farther
side of it was a settler's house; but though I might reach the bank
of the river, I could not hope to make myself heard half a mile off,
amid the howling of the dying storm, and by people fast asleep.
There was nothing for it, therefore, but to make myself as
comfortable as possible, and remain where I was until morning.
Fortunately, I recollected having seen the ruins of a goat-shed not
far distant, when I had landed on this spot with my gun two or three
months before. With some difficulty, and some pain to my feet from
thorns, I discovered this relic of a hovel. Part of the roof was yet
entire, and sheltered me from the wind.

The door was lying inside, and this I made my bed. Then, having
wrung out my shirt and flannel-waistcoat, and returned thanks to the
Almighty for preserving a life not, perhaps, sufficiently prized by
the owner, I lay down completely exhausted and fell asleep.

Awaking at daylight, I started off through the woods, stiff and
hoarse with cold, but light of heart; and having reached the Canning,
succeeded at last in making myself heard by the farmer opposite, who
took me across in his boat, breakfasted me, and lent me his clothes,
and finally conveyed me to Perth, where I found my friends preparing
to go in search of my body.



I intend in this chapter* to give an explanation of the cause of the
hot-winds of Australia; to throw out a suggestion on the most likely
mode of prosecuting discovery towards the interior; and to conclude
with a slight sketch of the geology of the colony. Before doing this
I shall give a brief account of a journey made by myself and Mr.
Maxwell Lefroy in search of the inland sea so often talked of, and
which a native promised to show to us; so large, he said, that when
he stood on one shore he could not see the other. Although this sea
turned out to be a pure fiction, the journey was not entirely
useless, nor altogether uninteresting. As this sea was probably not
more than 200 miles distant from York, according to the reckoning of
the native, who said it was "ten sleeps off," I judged that one
month's provision would be sufficient.

[footnote] *This chapter I owe to Mr. Henry Landor.

Accordingly, Mr. Lefroy and myself started on the expedition, on
horseback, taking with us a native boy, and a pack-horse loaded with
flour, tea, and sugar, and other necessaries. It will be sufficient
to state that we pursued a south-east course, crossing the Hotham,
the Williams, and the Arthur rivers, and traversing an indifferent
country, but in many places fit for sheep-grazing, before we came to
the lake, or sea, of which we were in search. When we arrived at it,
we were disappointed to find it not more than six miles long,
although the natives, with their usual amount of exaggeration, had
increased it to an illimitable ocean. Before descending from the
high land to the plain in which the lakes are situated, we caught a
distant glimpse of what appeared to be a grand and broad river,
pursuing a winding course through a magnificently wooded valley, with
its clear bright waters dwindling in the distance to a silvery
thread. A nearer examination, however, dispelled the illusion, and
the beautiful river turned out to be nothing more than a chain of
shallow lakes, situated in a woody valley; and only in very wet
seasons flowing from one to another.

We determined to follow the chain of lakes eastward, so long as our
provisions should last, or as long as our horses could find food for
themselves. We proceeded east for six days, passing numberless
lakes, and observing that the chain divided, one branch of lakes
running north-east, and the other due east. We followed the latter
until we came to a lake called Dambeling, by far the largest we had
seen, being about fifteen miles long by seven or eight wide, with a
good sheep country on its northern bank, and a river, which we called
the Lefroy, falling into its eastern end. The river was about thirty
yards wide, with a clayey bed, and large fresh-water pools, and
flowed from the east, through the worst country we had seen, it being
an apparently endless desert, and level to the horizon. We went one
day's journey into this inhospitable country, but the want of food
for our horses, and our own unprepared state, prevented us from
penetrating farther. On our return, we went for two or three days
north, on the outskirts of the desert, before we turned westward on
our way back to York.

The only land we crossed in this expedition was situated on the head
of the Hotham and Williams. The area of this country is undoubtedly
very great, but its average character is below the York district,
although it is well adapted for sheep-grazing.

But the most interesting feature is the barren and desolate country
to the east of Lake Dambeling, doubtless a continuation of the same
sterile country seen by Mr. Roe, the surveyor-General, east of York
many years previously; and probably from Mr. Eyre's observation,
extending quite down to the southern coast. We had no means of
ascertaining the width of this dreary country, but we did not think
it could be impassably wide because the river Lefroy appeared to come
across it. This river, in a geographical point of view, may be
important, as the character of its bed, without trees, more
water-worn than the other rivers of the colony, its size, and the
direction from which it comes, render it exceedingly interesting to
determine how it is supplied. The sandy nature of the country on its
banks, and for many miles east, and the flatness of the country,
preclude the idea that it receives its supply of water from the
immediately surrounding district. It must either be supplied by a
country of a far better character to the eastward, or it is the
outlet of another and larger lake far in the interior. From the
natives we could learn nothing but that there were no kangaroos, no
opossums, and no water to the east; but as their knowledge never
extends 100 miles, and they would tell any lie to avoid going where
they had no inclination to go, their opinions are worthless. It
might be worth the while of the colony to send forth another
expedition to determine the boundaries of this desolate country, as
it is not improbable that a practicable rout might be discovered to
South Australia by means of the river and lakes.

The outlet of the lakes is into the river Beaufort, and possibly also
into the Gordon. There is no doubt that in exceedingly wet seasons
the whole valley is one continuous stream, when all the lakes would
be united and present a truly magnificent appearance; but as the area
of evaporation is so large, and the banks of many of the lakes are
high, the quantity of rain must be enormous before the valley becomes
filled with a running river. Lake Barbering, where the valley
divides, has a steep shore, with three distinct marks of former
water-levels. All the lakes have two or more shores, showing either
a decrease of rain or an elevation of the land itself, probably both.
Between the present and ancient shores there is a belt of swamp-oaks
and tea-trees, which show that some length of time has elapsed since
the water left its old levels.

The water to fill these large reservoirs must come down the river
Lefroy, as the neighbouring country is too sandy to supply it in
sufficient quantities.

No question in geography has presented a wider field for conjecture
than the much-debated one of the nature of the interior of Australia.
Is it desert, or water, or pasture? inhabited, or destitute alike of
animal and vegetable life? The explorations of Captain Sturt, and
the journey of Mr. Eyre, would incline us to believe that the country
is one vast sterile waste; but the journey of the latter is worth
nothing as an attempt to expose the nature of the interior, since he
never left the coast. It certainly shows how much suffering the
human frame can endure; and whilst, as illustrative of Australian
geography, it is valueless, it is highly creditable to the energies
of the traveller.

The expedition of Captain Sturt has shown that to the north of South
Australia the country is chiefly desert, totally incapable of
supporting animal life: while the geological specimens of that
traveller prove that the rich mineral strata of South Australia
extend far beyond the pastoral boundaries of the colony. A reference
to the journey of Mr. Lefroy and myself, from York to the south-east,
will show that there exists a low level country running far beyond
our farthest eastern point, which may afford abundance of water and
pasture for any future expedition proceeding in that direction.

An expedition starting from these lakes in the BEGINNING OF WINTER,
so as to take advantage of the first supplies of water, might advance
far enough into the interior to discover at least the possibility of
proceeding before the succeeding summer would render it impossible to
return; for the lakes alone would not be sufficient to ensure a
supply of good drinkable water during the summer, as they generally
become quite salt long before summer is over. It would be necessary
to find a good deep water-hole for the party to remain at during the
dry season, and from which they could push out small lateral
expeditions as a sort of foundation for the next season's main
advance. Expeditions in Australia require great circumspection. It
is not the most rapid traveller who will get the farthest, but the
most prudent and cautious. I consider it quite possible to get
across the island, either to South Australia or to Port Essington.
Most probably it would be easier to get to the latter than the former.

From observations made on the rains and winds in Western Australia,
and careful inquiries on the same subjects when I was in South
Australia, and on a comparison of the two, I am inclined to believe
that the climates of the two colonies assimilate. A wet winter in
one is a wet winter in the other. Both receive their rains when the
wind blows from the north-west to south-west. Thus the rains from
South Australia pass from the Indian Ocean over Western Australia,
and the whole island, to South Australia. The hot wind of Western
Australia blows from the north-east; and, in fact, the hot wind of
both colonies comes from the same portion of the great island. That
which is the hot wind in summer in Western Australia is the cold wind
in winter; and the same in South Australia. The reason is obvious.
It is evident, from the fact that South Australia receives its rain
from the Indian Ocean, that there are no mountains in the interior of
sufficient elevation to intercept the clouds; that there are no
mountains in the interior, is shown also by the absence of rivers
emptying themselves into the ocean. From the observation of Mr.
Lefroy and myself, we were led to suppose that the interior consisted
for the most part of immense clay plains; the lower portion of these
plains being hollowed into the large shallow lakes we meet with in
our journey. Where the country is a little more elevated the plains
are sand instead of clay. In winter these plains are covered with
water, as the drifted leaves on the bushes testify; and the marks of
water on the surface are very evident. Now, when the winter winds
pass over these immense masses of water, the great evaporation
renders them intensely cold; and they arrive in the colony laden, (if
I may so unphilosophically express it,) with cold, caused by rapid
evaporation. In summer these very plains are equally the cause of
the hot wind; for when the rains cease, and the sun acquires his
summer power, the water is quickly evaporated, the clay becomes
baked, and the heat is reflected from the hard heated surface quite
sufficiently to raise a thermometer to 110 degrees in the shade. The
wind is now driven towards the colony laden with heat from the
cracked, baked, clay-plains in the interior; and thus it is, that at
different seasons the same country produces such opposite effects.
But although the general state of the interior is barren and
unproductive, as I imagine, I do not suppose that it is entirely so.
I believe there are many cases of good pasture land in the midst of
this sterile country; fertile spots, small when compared with the
vast area of indifferent country around them, but large in
themselves. And these pastoral oases are more cultivated than the
worthless land amid which they are placed. In these patches of good
land there are always water-holes to be found, and water-courses well
marked, conducting the surplus waters to the lakes in the clay
plains. That there are such fertile spots in the Australian deserts
is certain, for I have seen many of them myself, and they are
mentioned also by the South Australian travellers. The similarity in
most respects of vegetation in Western Australia and in South
Australia, and the identity of many plants, proves also a country of
good quality lying between the two colonies; by which such plants
were conveyed from one country to the other. Thus, the so called
white-gum is the same tree in both colonies; the mungat, or
raspberry-jam tree, is common to both; and also to the plains of New
England, in New South Wales, where (I understand) it acquires a
larger size than in Western Australia. The manch is another tree
also common to the two colonies; so is the black-wattle. The grasses
are many of them alike. But this similarity is not confined only to
the vegetable kingdom. The birds and animals are many of them also
alike. The white and the black cockatoo are common to the three
colonies, as are many kinds of the smaller parrots, the kangaroo, and
the kangaroo-rat, the numbat, the opossum, the native cat, and many
others. And this is not only true of animals of great locomotion, or
birds of long flight, as the pigeon or cockatoo, but equally so of
the opossum, the quail, and the wild-turkey. The quail and the
turkey are birds chiefly found in grassy lands, and neither fly to
any great distance: at least the quail never does; the turkey will
when much disturbed, but not otherwise. Also the water animals, as
the tortoise, are to be found in both colonies; but not the platypus,
which is confined to the country east of the great river Murrumbidgee
and its tributary the Darling.

The natives are also alike in feature and habits, evidently the same
race, with language similar in character, in both countries, with
similar weapons and methods of procuring food; having also similar
customs and laws.

Now, I infer from these facts, that the population, animal as well as
vegetable, proceeded from one country to the other; and that many
forms of vegetation in the two colonies possess no greater
difference, than the difference of soil and latitude may account for;
and that it may therefore be possible for men to find a route from
one country to the other, by carefully noting and following the lay
of the water-courses, the direction of the oases, and the nature of
the geology of the country; for that no impenetrable desert exists
between the countries, is evident from the passage of vegetables and
animals from the one to the other. What will be the benefit, some
one may ask, when such a route is discovered? Why, independent of
the knowledge gained to geography, there will be the great practical
good of opening the boundless pastures of Western Australia to the
flocks of the already overstocked lands of the other colonies. To
Western Australia the gain would be great; and to South Australia it
would be equally advantageous, as it would maintain the value of
stock there, which will rapidly fall when no more land can be found
fit for occupation. Even with all the rapid increase of population
which the great mineral abundance of that colony will continue to
create, sheep will multiply faster than the population, until they
become of the same low value as in New South Wales, where, if there
be no run sold with them, they are not worth more than the value of
the wool on their backs.

It is therefore most desirable that attempts should be made to find a
stock route from the western to the eastern coasts.

Intra-tropical Australia is more abundantly supplied with rivers, and
of a larger magnitude, than any out of the tropics, the Murray alone
excepted; and doubtless a journey across the island within the tropic
would present fewer difficulties than one direct from Perth to
Sydney, or Adelaide; but, excepting for the advancement of
geographical knowledge, there is no object to be gained by such a
journey. The best way is along the valley of the lakes, guided as
the party proceeds, by the nature of the country.

I earnestly hope that an expedition will be sent to make some effort
to penetrate the great extent of an unknown country, lying east of
Western Australia, as it is an object well worth the attention of the
Government, or of the Geographical Society.

The geology of Western Australia is not very interesting, as the
country is entirely of primary formation to the east of the Darling
range of hills: the granite every where crowning the summit of the
hills, and the immense plains consisting entirely of granitic sand,
or of hard clay containing nodules of primary rocks. This formation,
which does not in Western Australia consist of the stratified
primary series, as in South Australia, cannot be expected to yield
the abundant mineral riches that the strata of South Australia
exhibit. Probably gold may be met with, and copper and lead may be
found in the Koikunenup Range, which is not entirely a granitic
range, but is, I believe, capped with clay slate. The level country
lying between the Darling hills and the sea is of a much more recent
formation; but has not been sufficiently examined to determine its
age precisely, though I imagine it will be found to belong to the
pliocene tertiary formations. Certainly it contains many shells of
species now living in the neighbouring ocean; and the limestone ridge
running parallel with and close to the coast, and which in the colony
is falsely called magnesian limestone, contains a great proportion of
modern shells. The country lying between the hills and the sea
contains many beds of lignite; one of which, at Nornalup, on the
south coast, is more than two feet thick, and shows itself on the
face of the cliff on the north shore of the estuary. Following the
line of coast in any part of Australia, the geologist cannot fail to
be much struck by the evident marks of a gradual elevation of the
land; he will every where see the marks of the sea on the cliffs, at
a considerable height above its present level. At Cape Chatham, on
the south coast, these sea-marks are visible 300 feet above the
present level of the ocean; and can be seen on the face of the rocks,
in the hills at some distance from the coast. On my journey to
Nornalup, I discovered a lake containing shells in abundance, which
appeared to me, and were also considered by the late Dr. Hinds
(Surgeon, Royal Navy) a skilful conchologist, to be a littoral
species, common to the shores of various parts of the globe. These
shells, of no interest in themselves, become excessively interesting
as evidence of a connexion once existing between this lake and the
ocean, from which it is now at least forty miles distant. This lake
is not more than 100 feet above the present level of the ocean, and
entirely separated from any other lake or river. How, therefore,
could these marine shell-fish be living in a salt lake, unless they
had continued to exist there from the period when it was a portion of
the ocean itself? That many generations of them had lived and died
in this spot, was quite certain, from the abundance of dead shells on
the shores of this very interesting lake. Nor is the evidence of
elevation confined to the coast; all the lakes seen by Mr. Lefroy and
myself have ancient shores much higher than the present waters ever
reach. The same evidence of elevation is to be seen in the harbour
of Sydney, and in Spencer's Gulf, in South Australia. At the head of
the latter the shingle and rolled-stones clearly show that the gulf
has formerly run much farther inland: probably to Lake Torrens, the
superfluous waters of which are now discharged into the head of the
gulf. The whole plain of the Murrumbidgee has been, at not a very
distant date, beneath the ocean; as the Madrepores, and other fossils
in the limestone cliffs of the river testify. Earthquakes have been
felt in South Australia since its settlement. A very intelligent
gentleman there told me that he had noted eleven since his arrival;
quite perceptible enough to leave no doubt as to their character.
Probably the country was elevated at each shock, in a slight degree;
and perhaps before the volcano of Mount Gambier became extinct the
elevatory movements were more rapid. Be that as it may, I am quite
convinced that they are going on at this moment; and it would be well
to make marks on the cliffs in various parts of the coast, at the
present sea-level, in order to determine, after the lapse of years,
the rate of elevation.



We have already observed that a vast deal of discontent prevails in
colonies. With all the natural advantages of a fruitful soil and a
heavenly climate, colonists are always dissatisfied with their
position; because, in a pecuniary point of view, they are always
poor. And why are they so? The answer is a startling one. The
excess of their abundance is the first cause of their poverty; the
instability of their government, the second. They possess more than
they can dispose of, and are borne down by the weight of their
possessions. Place the markets of England and the labour of Ireland
within their reach, and they would become millionaires were they to
cease to be colonists; but so long as they continue to be colonists,
governed by a Power altogether distinct from that which rules over
Englishmen in their native land, they will continue to be helpless,
oppressed, and poverty-stricken.

They alone, among British subjects, are living under an absolute
Monarchy; the caprices of which render property insecure and of
uncertain value; neutralizing industry, paralyzing enterprise, and
crushing with fatal authority the energies and the spirits of the

In the absolute recklessness of colonial rule, no sooner does private
enterprise raise its head, and throw out the first feelers on the way
to wealth, than a watchful government steps forward, and careful only
to secure gain to itself, crushes out (in the first feebleness of
existence,) the germ of vitality.

In all new countries in which the sources of wealth are imperfectly
developed, the expense of applying the means necessary to their
development is so enormous, as to leave but small profit to the
speculator. Labour is always dear in new countries, where there is
so large an outlet afforded to the labourer to escape from the toils
of servitude, and become himself an occupant or an owner of the soil.
All that he gains by the exchange is an ideal independence; which is,
unhappily, but too attractive to the uneasy spirit of modern

The prosperity of a colony is the aggregate of individual wealth.
the prosperous advance of the colonist, is, therefore, the first duty
of a superintending Government. But the first aim of that watchful
guardian is ever to wring from the settler as much as may be
extracted by pressure. The lowest demand for land, which would be
dear at half-a-crown an acre, is eight times that amount. No sooner
does the settler, by his science or industry, discover some lucrative
opening, than government steps in with its restrictions, its taxes
and duties, and at once cuts down the budding promise. If the design
be to bring to light the mineral wealth of the country, royalties are
immediately imposed; and no chance of profit is left to the
speculator when the rents are raised according to the probabilities
of success. It is the same with all other speculations; no one will
embark, even in a timber-trade, when he knows that he is placing his
capital at the mercy of a grasping and short-sighted Government.

How much more lucrative, and how much more statesman-like would it
prove, were our rulers to display as much good policy as the peasants
of Norfolk, who do not pluck their geese until they be well
feathered! Colonists, like cabbages, should be allowed to acquire
the necessary strength, and attain the proper dimensions, before they
be seriously operated upon. You might then cut and nick them with
reasonable hope of their sprouting forth anew.

But the worst evil of an absolute Government arises from the
destruction in the minds of the people of all faith and confidence in
its truth and honour.

One Secretary of State countermands the edicts of his predecessor;
and as the Executive Government of a colony is composed of the paid
servants of the Crown, and is merely the machine of the Secretary for
the time being, the ordinances which it promulgates are distinguished
by only one uniform feature -- the announcement of broken promises
and betrayed faith.

The inhabitants of colonies, disappointed and deceived, have no trust
in their rulers, and dare not invest their capital in enterprises
which may be ruined in a moment by an arbitrary edict. At one
period, for instance, they may have been induced, upon the faith of
the Government, to purchase remission tickets, which entitle the
owner to a certain quantity of land wherever he may choose to select
it. A succeeding Government confines this right of selection within
certain narrow limits; whilst another decides that the holder shall
be allowed to purchase with these tickets only land that is entirely
valueless. At one period men are encouraged to attempt the
production of colonial spirits; but no sooner is a large amount of
capital expended, than it is made illegal to distil. Some parties
are permitted to purchase land at a distance from the capital: and
after years of toil and expense are deprived of all protection from
the Government, and allowed no compensation for its withdrawal.

But it were vain to attempt to enumerate the acts of broken faith on
the part of an absolute Government, from whose decree there is no
appeal, and from whose oppression no redress. The moral evil to
colonies is crushing and fatal.

The best informed among English statesmen know nothing of colonies:
but their hardihood in legislating for them is, unhappily, equal to
their ignorance. It was only last year (1846) that the bill for the
government of Western Australia was (according to newspaper report)
opposed in the House of Lords by a noble duke, on the ground, as his
grace alleged in an animated and interesting speech, of the
wretchedly immoral state of the colony, arising from the system of
transportation, which so deluged the country with convicts that it
was now a perfect hell upon earth! A noble lord, then
Under-secretary for the Colonies, apologised, with the best grace he
could assume, for this lamentable state of things, and assured the
noble duke that the Government was quite aware of the evil, and was
turning its attention to a remedy for it. Had any one of the noble
lords present known anything at all about the subject of the debate,
he might in a few words have relieved the anxiety of the Government,
by informing it that Western Australia is not, and never has been, a
penal settlement -- that convicts are not sent thither for
punishment; that even a single bush-ranger has never been known
within the territory; and that, in the words of an Adelaide journal,
"it is as free from stain as any of the rural districts of England."

Another Australian colony (that of Port Phillip) calls for the
attention of Government more imperatively, perhaps, than any other of
these settlements. At present an appendage to Sydney, but situated
at a most inconvenient distance from that capital, it is compelled to
remit thither between fifty and one hundred thousand pounds annually
for rates, taxes, and duties, not a tithe of which ever finds its way
back again. It is deprived of roads, bridges, and all public works
of importance, solely because it is friendless at home, voiceless and
unrepresented. Might Englishmen be made to feel that interest in
colonies which in general they are ever ready to accord to the
unfortunate, they would glow with indignation at the wrongs, the
injustice, and the oppression under which the inhabitants of distant
settlements bend in silence. "If you don't keep your colonies in a
state of dependence," are the memorable words of Lord Stanley, in
May, 1846, "of what use are they?" Such has ever been the
narrow-minded and unstatesman-like policy of the British Government.
And yet even the infant colonies of the empire, though fettered,
cramped, and swathed like the young progeny of the Esquimaux, are
useful still to the Mother Country. They afford the best market for
her produce; and when freed from the pressure of their bonds, like
plants released from the torturing confinement of their earthenware
prison, and allowed to extend their roots abroad in the free soil of
Nature, they will display new strength and viridity, and bring forth
fruit in increased abundance. Her Majesty's present Secretary of
State for the Colonies (Earl Grey) entered upon his office with truly
liberal and right-minded views, which, we trust, will be carried out
into operation wherever found necessary and practicable. "There can
be no doubt," said his Lordship in the House of Lords, shortly before
taking office, "that in our colonial empire we have the advantage of
possessing warm friends and allies in all quarters of the world, who,
commanding great natural resources, are united in heart and soul to
defend our trade and our interests, and to take part with us in all
contests against our enemies. We have garrisons of the cheapest kind
in every quarter of the universe. On the other hand, the colonies
have this inestimable advantage -- they have the glory and security
to be derived from an intimate connexion with the greatest, the most
civilized, and the most powerful nation on the face of the earth.
They have the glory -- and they feel it to be a glory -- of calling
themselves British subjects, and feeling that in defence of their
interests and best rights, the power and might of this country are
ready at any moment to be called forth and exercised in their behalf.
This is a substantial advantage of the most important kind to the
colonies; and they are fully sensible of it. And if with this we
pursue a liberal policy, and extend to them the dearest privilege of
pursue a liberal policy towards them, both commercially and
politically, we shall bind them to us with chains which no power on
earth may break, and the connexion between the parent state and those
great dependencies may continue until they far exceed us in

These are generous sentiments and profound truths, and they have shed
the bright beams of Hope over that vast colonial empire to which they

In legislating for colonies, let it not be forgotten that one of the
chief drawbacks to their prosperity is the want of confidence in the
stability and permanency of existing regulations. There can be no
success, and there can be no safety, whilst those regulations and laws
are liable to the influence of peculiar views or individual caprice.
It is the people themselves, for whose government the laws are
intended, who should be allowed to impose, to modify, or to expunge

The predominating evil in colonies is THE WANT OF CONFIDENCE AND



It has ever been considered one of the first principles of good
government, that a frequent and ready communication and intercourse
should be maintained between the ruling power and the possessions
subject to its authority. The first act of Roman sway was ever to
lay down good lines of road through the conquered country; and
nothing has tended so much to maintain the authority of the United
States over the Red Indians of America, as the formation of roads
through the wilderness. The rulers of Great Britain entertain the
opinion that when they have once seized upon a distant country, and
thrown into it a handful of troops and a few of their importunate
friends, with the title of government officers, they have done all
that is required of them. They wait with resignation for any account
that may be brought of the progress of the new colony, by some
wandering merchant-vessel. Despatches, frequently dated twelve
months previously, during which time they have been making the tour
of all the oceans at present known upon the globe, are brought to
Downing Street; and are then thrown aside, or at least are never
attended to, probably because they are too old to be deemed
interesting. No matter how pressing and immediate the wants of
the colony, chance alone affords the opportunity of making their
necessities known at home. Letters and despatches accumulate in the
Post-office; no vessel arrives bringing intelligence from England, or
offering to take away a mail: the Colonial Secretary, having
exhausted every official resource in the way of mental occupation,
looks out at the window, and meditates upon quail-shooting. His
Excellency the Governor, questions the possibility of adding another
despatch to the hundred and fifty already composed in illustration of
the art of making despatches, as Soyer makes soup, out of nothing;
and oppressed by the subject, becomes dormant in his chair of state;
the clerks in the neighbouring offices no longer exhibit the uplifted
countenance which, as justly observed by Sallust, distinguishes man
from all other creatures; nothing is to be seen of them but masses of
hair in wild profusion, and right hands extended on the table, still
mechanically grasping steel-pens, whilst every face lies flattened
upon a paper-case, and sleep and silence, broken only by sighs and
snores, reign throughout the building. Universal stagnation prevails
among government people; and merchants and store-keepers appear to be
much in the same condition. The only person in office who is kept in
a constant state of fever, is the unhappy Post-Master-General, who is
hourly called upon to state when he is going to make up a mail for
England. In vain he apologises for the non-arrival of ships; there
is something radically wrong in his department, for which he is
expected to answer; and dark denunciations are muttered in his ear,
until worn out with anxiety and nervousness, he loses his appetite,
and gradually withers away, like grass in the oven.

And when at length a vessel arrives accidentally from Van Diemen's
Land, or perhaps from America, the Master at first demurs about
taking a mail, under the idea that it may convey letters giving
information of the state of markets that he desires should be known
only to himself and his employers; but finally consents; and then,
having received the mail on board, carries it about with him from
port to port, until at the conclusion of a long voyage, having
occasion to empty his vessel in order to smoke out the rats, he
discovers the forgotten boxes, and conscientiously sends them ashore.

But if it be vexatious and inconvenient to have only this uncertain
means of despatching our letters to England, how much more annoying
is it to have no regular and stated time for receiving them from
home! What could be more painful than to have to wait twelve months
before you can receive an answer to an inquiry; and what more
destructive to the interests of commerce? How many fluctuations are
there in the state of the markets during those twelve months!

It is one of the greatest of evils to have no regular post-office
communication between the Mother Country and her colonies, and the
interests of trade in both greatly suffer by it.

Much has been said lately of establishing steam communication with
Sydney. A committee of Sydney merchants has been appointed in London
to consider the subject, and the restless and indefatigable Lieut.
Waghorn has written a pamphlet showing how it may be done, provided
the Government will contribute 100,000 pounds per annum towards the
project. He proposes that a branch line of steamers shall be
established, to proceed from Sincapore by the north of New Holland,
touching at Port Essington, and through Torres Straits to Sydney, and
probably on to Van Dieman's Land. But why follow such a route as
this, through the most dangerous channel in the world, where even
steamers would have to lie-to at night (as the Lieutenant admits),
and where light-houses would have to be erected and kept up at an
extravagant cost? Why take such a route, which presents not a single
place to call at, except Port Essington, a miserable spot, intended
only as a kind of refuge for shipwrecked mariners, possessing no
commercial or agricultural inhabitants, and only enjoying the
advantages and the society of a Governor, a handful of soldiers, and
three white women? Why insist upon expending so much public money,
and encountering so many dangers, without conferring a single
additional benefit upon the Australian colonies, when the route by
the south of New Holland is so obvious, so practicable, and so
superior? The projectors talk of making Port Essington a depot for
coal; but why not make this depot in Western Australia? During the
summer months, from 1st October to 1st April, the steamers might
touch at Fremantle; and during the winter months, at Port Gladstone,
fifteen miles to the southward, affording a sheltered harbour where
ships may ride securely within one hundred yards of the shore. Coal
mines will probably soon be at work in the colony, vast beds of that
mineral having been discovered, thus offering every inducement to
steam-vessels to touch here. Nor could anything be more
advantageous, considering the great interests that England now has at
stake in these seas, than to form a general depot in this colony,
where her Majesty's steamers and ships-of-war might refit on
occasion. As there is no other spot in all New Holland, Van Dieman's
Land, or New Zealand, where first-rate ship-timber may be obtained,
and where IRON, COAL, and COPPER, are also procurable in abundance,
this colony offers advantages for the formation of a Government
Dock-yard and depot (at Port Gladstone), that must be acknowledged by
every unprejudiced person.

Objections may be raised to doubling Cape Lewin during the winter
season; but let the steamers stand well out to sea, and there would
be no difficulty. The time lost would not exceed that spent in
lying-to in Torres Straits during the night. Our colonial schooner,
the Champion, goes round Cape Lewin at all seasons.

We would propose that the mail steamers, instead of branching off
from Sincapore, as proposed by Lieut. Waghorn, should depart from
Point de Galle, Ceylon, make direct for Swan River, there take in
coal, and pass on to Adelaide, South Australia, and thence to Van
Dieman's Land, where they might put the Melbourne and Sydney mails on
board of the steamer already plying between Van Dieman's Land and
those places. By this route the Sydney people would receive their
letters quite as soon as though their interests alone had been
consulted, according to the desire of the disinterested committee
before alluded to; whilst Van Dieman's Land would gain a few days,
and South Australia and Western Australia would be allowed to share
in the general advantage, from which they would otherwise be entirely

But the Government and the public would also be gainers by the route
which we suggest. It would be much cheaper to them, because it would
be much more profitable to the company that carried it out. The
colony of South Australia is now a populous country, and becomes more
so every year; but the Steam Company would carry no passengers and no
goods for South Australia (perhaps not even for Van Dieman's Land),
if the route to Sydney were to be by Port Essington and Torres
Straits. The two colonies of South and Western Australia deriving no
benefit from such a course, could give no support to the company.
Government hitherto has resisted the efforts of the Sydney merchants,
and refused to sanction the proposal of Mr. Waghorn, but chiefly upon
the ground of expense. And there is no doubt that Ministers would be
guilty of a gross misdemeanour, were they to consent to apply 100,000
pounds per annum of the public money in furtherance of a scheme
designed for the exclusive benefit of a single colony. It is the
duty of Government to see that any sum which may be granted shall be
so applied as to confer the most extensive benefit upon all the
Australian colonies. That measures ought to be immediately taken to
ensure a regular communication between the home country and every one
of her colonies is a matter of no doubt to us. The want of this has
long appeared to be one of the grand errors of colonial legislation.
Let us hope that the day is not far distant when this crying evil
shall be remedied. Now that steam navigation has come so generally
into use, there is no valid reason why it should not be made the
means of uniting together, as it were, the different outposts of the
empire, drawing them more closely towards their parent country as to
a common centre. It is full time that a greater appearance of
sympathy were exhibited at home for those distant settlements which
have now become the principal markets for British produce, and which,
therefore, deserve something more at the hand of Government than what
they have so long been accustomed to find -- alternate periods of
tyranny and neglect.

By far the greater portion of English merchant-ships are engaged in
trading to the colonies; our manufactures there find their principal
mart; our surplus population is there cheaply provided with
maintenance and a home. These are the grounds on which the colonies
lay claim to the fostering care of the Mother Country, and we trust
the days are at hand that will see it afforded.

The first step must be to ensure a regular and frequent intercourse
between the countries, without which there can be no real protection;
without which there is no sufficient encouragement given to trade;
and the parent state can therefore reap but little advantage,
comparatively, from a colony whose powers are only imperfectly

Since the above remarks were written, accounts have reached England
of the arrival at Fremantle of her Majesty's surveying vessel
Bramble, Commander Lieutenant Yule, after passing some time in
Torres Straits and on the coast of New Guinea.

Mr. Yule having kindly placed the notes of his voyage at the disposal
of a friend in the colony, they were partially published in one of
the local journals in the month of January last. The portion
relating to Torres Straits is instructive. The Bramble sailed from
Port Jackson about the end of December 1845, in company with the
Castlereagh tender, Lieut. Aird, Commander. Touching at Moreton
Bay, Mr. Yule visited his old acquaintance, Captain Wickham, R.N.,
late in command of H.M.S. Beagle, and now a settler on the
Brisbane. In the words of the journal referred to, "the Bramble
proceeded slowly to the northward, being much delayed by the bad
sailing of the tender." The voyage presents nothing worthy of
notice, until the arrival of the ships in Torres Straits, when it is
impossible to help being struck with the commentary which Mr. Yule
unconsciously affords upon the "perfect safety" of that passage, now
so much vaunted by the advocates of the northern route. While the
Bramble and Castlereagh were lying off Sir Charles Hardy's
Islands, the latter being deficient in ballast, Mr. Aird was
despatched with the boats to look for the "wreck" of the Maid of
Athens and the "wreck" of the Martha Ridgway, with the view of
procuring some; and having failed in discovering the former, and
therefore in procuring a sufficient supply, he was again sent to the
"wreck" of the Sir Archibald Campbell for the same purpose. So
much for Torres Straits!

Mr. Yule strongly recommends Cairncross Island as the best station
for obtaining wood and water for vessels navigating the straits,
there being abundance of both easily procurable, and even large
timber, if required. On this island they shot four megapodii, and
observed many of their nests, some of which Mr. Yule describes as
being twelve feet high, and upwards of fifty feet in circumference.

On Friday, the 10th April they made the coast of New Guinea, which
presented a low and thickly-wooded coast-line, backed by mountains of
magnificent height and beauty; the country being apparently very
rich, with many villages, embowered in cocoa-nut trees, scattered
along the shore. While coasting along, in search of a convenient
place to land, they encountered a native vessel of most extraordinary
size and character, which we will allow Mr. Yule to describe in his
own words: --

"At daybreak, as the sun was rising, I was very much struck with the
grandeur of some very distant mountains in a south-eastern direction
-- one in particular, the outline of whose summit was only visible
above the intervening clouds; immense ranges of mountains were also
distinctly visible this side of it, extending in a N.W. and S.E.
direction. It is seldom the rising sun has disclosed to my sight so
splendid a view as then presented itself; but in a few minutes, when
the sun's disk appeared, the beautiful scene vanished, leaving only
inferior cloud-topped mountains visible, together with the rich and
undulating foreground. We shortly afterwards saw the strange sail
seen last night. Although she was much nearer, she proved more
unaccountable than before. As there was not sufficient wind to
enable us to weigh, I resolved to send Mr. Pollard in the second gig
to take a nearer view of this extraordinary vessel. I watched the
boat until Mr. Pollard must have gone nearly five miles from us, when
the boat's sails appeared a mere speck when close to the wonderful
stranger. On this officer's return, he informed me he had approached
within bow-shot of the vessel, which proved to be a gigantic double
canoe, which he conceives must have measured fifty or sixty feet
long, kept apart and together by a platform from fifteen to twenty
feet broad, which extended nearly the whole length of the canoes, the
after-end being square with the sterns of the boats; six or eight
feet of this was left clear for the three steersmen, who guided the
vessel with three long paddles over the stern. With the exception of
this part of the platform, the whole was covered by a strong,
well-built house, made of cane, the roof being flat, and about five
or six feet above the platform. This roof answered the purpose of an
upper deck, affording the crew the means of conveniently walking on
it. This extraordinary craft was propelled by two large mat sails,
each spread between two bamboo masts, the heels of which were fixed
in the same step, the mastheads being spread (athwartships) from
twenty to thirty feet asunder, the sail being triangular between
these bamboo masts, which were supported by diagonal shores fore and
aft on either side; besides these two large sails, the canoe had
numerous smaller (square) ones suspended from the principal masts;
there was also a small square sail forward. The whole of the spars
and rigging was ornamented with a sort of flags and streamers. Mr.
Pollard thinks that he saw about forty or fifty people on the roof,
several of whom were in the act of stringing their bows; except this
precaution on the part of the strangers, there was no demonstration
of hostility. After taking a good view of this most extraordinary
canoe, Mr. Pollard returned; and she ultimately was wafted out of
sight. Whence she came, or where bound, still remains to me a

"At noon I obtained the latitude, which was 8 degrees 3 minutes S.;
longitude, by chronometer, 145 degrees 28 minutes E.

"In the afternoon the Castlereagh was visited by two small canoes,
with eight men, who had come off from a village we discovered abreast
of us. The natives brought off a few cocoa-nuts and some bows and
arrows, which they readily bartered for such trifles as were given in

The lofty mountain which so much excited Mr. Yule's admiration, was
named by him Mount Victoria, and between it and the shore were
several ranges of inferior altitude, which gave him "every reason to
believe that the lower regions were well watered and fertile."

Having fixed upon a favourable spot for commencing his triangulation
behind a promontory which served to conceal them from the view of a
native village which they saw at no great distance, Mr. Yule went
ashore in the first gig with five seamen and one marine, accompanied
by Mr. Sweetman, in the second gig, with three seamen and two
marines, all well armed, and proceeded to hoist the Union Jack and
take possession of the place in the name of her Majesty Queen
Victoria. Having successfully performed this duty, and obtained the
observations he required, Mr. Yule thought it high time to return on
board; but the surf had in the meantime increased so heavily, that in
the attempt the second gig was swamped, and every thing in her,
including the arms, lost, except the quintant and chronometer, the
boat herself being with difficulty saved by being towed outside the
surf by the other gig. The rest of the adventure we shall give in
Mr. Yule's own words: --

"At this time I observed the Castlereagh about two miles beyond
Cape Possession, under sail; I therefore made signs to Mr. Wright, in
the first gig, to tow the second gig towards the Castlereagh, which
I concluded would attract Mr. Aird's attention. In this I was not
mistaken, as the Castlereagh was immediately anchored about a mile
and a half off, and her boats sent to the relief of ours. In the
interim I determined that every thing which was washed on shore
should be collected together, after which we all huddled close under
a bush near the beech, whence we could see our boats and be hid from
the view of the natives as much as possible. The Castlereagh's
boats having at length closed with the Bramble's, the second gig was
soon baled out, when all four boats pulled up abreast of us outside
of the surf, which had continued to increase; the Castlereagh at
the same time weighed, which I confess alarmed me much, as I knew
very few persons could be left on board after she had dispatched two
boats' crews; I therefore concluded we were discovered by the natives
beyond Cape Possession. I was in a few moments confirmed in my fears
by seeing Mr. Andrews prepare to push his boat through the surf. I
waved him back, when he energetically pointed towards Cape
Possession. I fully understood his signs (that natives were coming),
but still waved him off, as I knew his gallant attempt to relieve us
would fail, and that he and his boat's crew would be added to those
already in distress on shore; he, however, pushed through the surf,
when, as I expected, this boat was upset, and all his arms,
ammunition, etc. lost. At the same moment we observed crowds of
natives coming round the point of Cape Possession, armed with spears,
clubs, and stone axes. Our arms and ammunition had been all lost or
destroyed; our situation was therefore most defenceless, and, I may
say, our retreat hopeless; those boats at the back being unable to
afford us the least relief. I then thought it best to show no signs
of fear or mistrust, but to make friends with the natives, and amuse
them, until the next tide should enable a boat to back through the
surf. In the interim, Mr. Andrews, with his four men, and assisted
by some others, made three attempts to launch his boat, which failed,
and she was ultimately dashed in pieces against the rocks. I
advanced alone with playful gestures, waving a branch of green
leaves, in token of peace. One man pointed a spear at me, but the
others stared at me with more wonder depicted on their countenances
than ferocity. I then offered them some bits of tobacco, which they
would not approach near enough to take from my hands. This shyness,
unfortunately, did not continue long; for when the main body came up,
amounting to eighty or ninety men, armed, they became troublesome,
and laid their hands on everything they could get hold of that was
lying on the beach. To these robberies I attempted to put a stop,
and made them some presents instead; but the savages must have known
our helpless condition, and became every moment more daring and
rapacious; and, to add to our tribulation, we observed two large
canoes, each containing thirty or forty men, come round Possession
Point, and heave to between the Castlereagh and the boats, as if
with the intention of cutting off the latter. The Castlereagh
could not unfortunately take advantage of her guns by firing grape or
canister, as we were completely intermixed with the natives. At this
critical stage of our anxiety, the second gig, at all hazards, was
veered through the surf, and, to our great joy, four or five men were
drawn off in safety. A second attempt was made, and succeeded. Then
came the awful moment for us who waited for the last trip; for only a
few moments before, I baulked a native when taking a deliberate aim
at one of our last men who embarked. The natives now, seeing our
numbers decrease, laid hands on us in the most violent manner. My
quintant was first wrested from my coxswain, who in a tone of grief
made me known the circumstance. I immediately turned round and
exclaimed 'Oh! don't part with that'; but it was too late; and when I
endeavoured to recover it, I found a club wielded over my head. In
making my escape from this wretch I was secured by four others, who
first took the government micronometer, which was slung round my
neck. I then endeavoured to struggle out of their clutches, and
escape with the pocket chronometer and note-book, but these, AS WELL
when the second gig was opportunely again backed in, and in this
forlorn state Mr. Pollard, the two marines, and I, waded off, and
were dragged into the boat. We then went on board the Castlereagh,
which was at anchor about a mile from the shore; the canoes slowly
made off to the north-westward, after we had embarked. The boats
having been hoisted up and secured, we got the anchor up and
proceeded out to the Bramble, and anchored close to her at 6h. 30m.
p.m. I immediately afterwards returned to the Bramble, truly
thankful for our having escaped with our lives. The loss of
instruments grieved me exceedingly, particularly as the nature of the
coast rendered it next to impossible to effect a safe landing to
attempt their recovery. From the account I heard of the ferocity of
the natives where the Fly had been surveying last year on this
coast, I confess I fully expected death would be my fate in a few
minutes, and thought of the similar position poor Captain Skying was
in when murdered at Cape Roso. If we had been possessed of six or
eight muskets and plenty of ammunition, I think the natives might
easily have been checked, but being defenceless, my only hope was to
dissemble my fears and amuse them, to give us time until we could
effect our escape. These people varied in complexion from black to a
light copper colour; they appeared well made and active; all of them
were ornamented, but some much more so than others; their ear-rings
were made of rings of tortoiseshell, a number of them being fastened
together, and suspended to the lower parts of the ears, in which are
holes stretched so large as to admit a man's thumb being passed
through them; the cartilage dividing the nostrils is perforated in
like manner."

This adventure of our old friends of the Bramble appears to me
sufficiently interesting to excuse my having wandered through Torres
Straits in order to record it.



There can be no doubt as to the truth of the axiom that "facts are
stubborn things." Right or wrong, they seem to persist in a
resolution to force conviction upon a man however reluctant he may

Sturdy facts are never wanting in support of erroneous views; and
more false conclusions are drawn from them than from the subtlest
arguments of the sophist.

When your theory is once confirmed by a fact, the question is
considered decided, and no further argument is admissible. I had two
theories not long ago, the pursuit and investigation of which gave me
a good deal of pleasure; they were built upon facts, and therefore
they were indisputable.

My first theory was upon the amount of evaporation at Perth during
the summer months.

The excessive dryness of the atmosphere proved that the evaporation
at the end of the rainy, or winter season, must be very great indeed.
My friend, Mr. H., had an hygrometer, which he kept in a small room
adjoining that in which he usually sat; and this hygrometer afforded
the ground-work for our theories. It proved most satisfactorily that
the evaporation exceeded every thing of the kind known in any other
part of the globe. It was clear that our atmosphere was drier than
that of a brick-kiln when burning its best. But the great beauty and
novelty of the theory was, that the evaporation was greater at night
than in the day time.

This certainly puzzled us a good deal at first; but when once you are
sure of your facts, it is astonishing how soon you come to mould your
theory so as to make it perfectly agree with them, and manage to
reconcile yourself to the most startling contradictions. After
satisfying himself of the truth of the fact -- that the evaporation
was really greater by night than by day -- Mr. H. proceeded to prove
philosophically that nothing could be more reasonable than such a
circumstance. From all that I could make out of his arguments, which
were extremely logical and ingenious, it seemed clear that as every
thing in this country is diametrically opposite to every thing in the
old country, it was perfectly consistent with the regulations of
nature in Australia, that evaporation should be greater at night than
during the day time. Moreover, he placed great reliance upon the
attraction of the moon.

For my part, seeing that facts were on his side, I embraced his views
with ardour; and went about as an apostle, proclaiming the new
tidings far and wide. It was one of those astonishing truths in
science that come suddenly and unexpectedly upon mankind -- like
those connected with electricity -- that take the reason captive, and
are beyond the reach of human investigation. Men usually appeared
incredulous when the theory was first broached to them; but when
convinced of the fact, as proved indisputably by the hygrometer, they
were compelled to acknowledge the truth, and forthwith looked upon it
as a matter of course.

As the weather grew warmer -- when the thermometer stood daily at
about 86 degrees in a cool room -- the nocturnal evaporation
increased. At length it grew to such a pitch, that the tube of the
hygrometer containing the water was exhausted in a couple of nights.
Notwithstanding the astonishment of Mr. H., he was enraptured at the
triumphant confirmation of his theory. He devoted every moment he
could spare from public duties, to the compilation of a learned and
voluminous treatise upon the subject. He looked upon himself as
destined to be considered one of the master-philosophers of the age,
the promulgator of a new and wondrous theory, based not only upon
sound argument, but upon long observation and indisputable facts.
When any one ventured to raise a doubt, he would smile with that
ineffable sweetness which distinguishes a man conscious of his
superior knowledge and sources of information. I, his enthusiastic
adherent, picked up the crumbs of instruction that fell from his
table; and dealt forth mysterious hints of the scientific errors
about to be corrected by the observations and treatises of Mr. H.,
who was now generally known to have forwarded an account of his
discoveries to some of the learned Societies of London; and the
English papers were perused with avidity, in the hope of finding
that due honour had been paid to his merits.

As he walked along the streets he was looked upon with additional
reverence. He had raised the renown of Western Australia, and was
now considered to be at once its decus et tutamen. The idlers who
congregated in small knots about luncheon-time at the corners of the
streets, began to talk of a statue in the market-place.

Suddenly, however, the philosopher secluded himself from the vulgar
gaze. The public wondered, and then became alarmed. The philosopher
had taken to his bed. After some days I was admitted to his
presence, and found him greatly enfeebled for want of rest. It was
evident there was something that weighed upon his mind. After many
ineffectual efforts, many sighs and some blushes, he faltered forth a
confession that he feared our theory, (he seemed now, for the first
time, kindly solicitous to share the merit of the discovery,) of
evaporation being greater at night than in the day-time, was not well
founded. An electric shock, shivering the funny-bones of both
elbows, could not have startled me more. What did he mean? He
continued, that one night whilst engaged upon a new hygrometrical
treatise, he had sat up till a very late hour; the door of the room
which contained the instrument was open, and the light from his lamp
fell directly upon it. Absorbed in profound speculations, his eye
occasionally rested upon the little instrument which stood upon a
table. There it was -- the pillar of his fame. It seemed to dilate
in dimensions until it rivalled the column in the Place Vendome, and
on the top of it was a figure, less sturdy than that of Napoleon.
Suddenly his vision was broken, and his thoughts were recalled from
the future to the present, by seeing a living object move along the
table, and quietly approach the foot of his column. Appalled and
paralyzed, he sat immovable whilst he beheld an actual mouse,
unrestrained by any scientific considerations, place its profane
snout in the bowl of the hygrometer, and drink deliberately until its
thirst was satisfied. It then retired, and other mice soon came
trotting along the table and did the same.

Mr. H. is a man of great self-control. He did not tear his remaining
locks, or commit any other rash act, but with all the calmness of
despair he set fire to the unfinished treatise, and saw it consumed;
then he retired to bed, a desolate individual, and rose not again for
several days.

My next theory was entirely my own. I claimed all the merit of it,
and felt the utmost pangs of jealousy when any one ventured to assert
that HE had long ago suspected it. Built upon a solid foundation of
facts, I maintained an opinion entirely at variance with that of
Professor Owen and certain Parisian professors, and satisfied myself,
at least, that the young of the kangaroo, and of other marsupial
animals, is produced, not in the usual way, but from the teat of the
dam. And although this theory is, and must be erroneous, I can even
yet scarcely bring myself to believe it so -- with such fidelity do
we cling to error. There are many men in the colony who have been
for years in the constant, almost daily, habit of killing kangaroos,
and they have consequently had opportunities of observing the young
ones in every stage of development. Females have been killed with
young ones hanging to the nipple, about half an inch long -- the form
not fully developed, a mere foetus, presenting no appearance of
active vitality. The nipple to which it is attached is not merely
placed in the mouth of the foetus, but extends into its stomach,
where it serves the purposes of the umbilical cord in other animals,
whilst the lips grow round it, so that it cannot be removed without
rupturing the skin. A little older, and it becomes evidently
possessed of vitality -- a quickened foetus. The pouch of the doe is
closed up until the birth of the young one; and gradually enlarges to
accommodate the inhabitant.

There are other marsupial animals, of the size of rabbits, that are
found with eight or ten young ones, or rather small foetuses,
similarly attached to the nipples of the parent.

Now I could not conceive how creatures with long sharp claws, though
provided with flexible wrists or joints, should be able to take up
the newly produced little lump of inanimate flesh, and thrust a long,
soft, yielding nipple down into the depths of the stomach. I
collected a number of FACTS to prove the contrary -- but the question
is now considered to be set at rest by the observations of French
naturalists, and therefore I have quietly strangled my theory, but am
still occasionally haunted by its ghost.

I may mention here that male kangaroos are sometimes found provided
with pouches; but these, I conceive, are lusus Naturae.

This allusion to kangaroos (being good for nothing else) may serve as
an introduction to a hunting excursion. A party of us started from
Perth, equipped in the manner already described in the chapter upon
Wild Cattle.

We rode to the Canning to breakfast, at the house of the ----s,
where we found the table ready spread with coffee, grilled fowls,
eggs, ham, etc. The room was a good one, having French windows,
looking out upon park-like scenery, among which the Canning River
pursued its lazy course. There was also a piano belonging to the
sister of our hosts, then absent on a visit. One of her brothers
informed us that he had availed himself of her absence to abstract
sundry of the wires from the piano in order to make bell-wires, which
he thought was turning the piano to good account.

After breakfast we loaded our bullock-cart with our goods, and left
it in charge of a servant whom we appointed to meet us at a certain
spot where we were to bivouac for the night. The only disagreeable
part of travelling in Australia is the scarcity of water, except at
the end of winter, when all the gullies are filled. Unless,
therefore, the ground be well known, it is always advisable to take a
native, who can inform you where the pools or springs are situated.
Four of us set out, well mounted, and attended by a native on foot,
and five kangaroo dogs. These dogs are descended from a cross
between a bloodhound and a greyhound, and combine strength,
fleetness, scent, and sight. As it was the middle of winter (late in
June) the air was cool and pleasant, and the sun bright and joyous,
as he always is here. We were all in high spirits, anticipating
excellent sport, as the country to which we were going abounds with
game of great variety -- kangaroos, emus, quail, and turkeys, or
bustards. A rough coarse scrub, interspersed with small quantities
of grass, overspread the sandy soil. The only animal we saw for some
time was an opossum, which the native discovered in a tree and
climbed up for. I examined its pouch, but there was no young one
within it. At length we caught a glimpse of a kangaroo hopping along
at a distance, and we galloped off in full chase, but he was too far
ahead for the dogs to make anything of it; so we lost him.
Disconcerted and vexed we drew together again after a short run, but
had scarcely done so before we emerged upon an open prairie, where on
our right we beheld three kangaroos hopping away at a gentle pace.
the kangaroo uses only his hind legs in running. The leg presses the
ground from the hock to the toes, and its strong sinews enable the
animal to bound forward with immense leaps; the heavy tail vibrating
behind keeps him steady. Four of the dogs rushed after the game,
followed by all the horsemen, at full gallop, hallooing and shouting
vociferously. A more animated sight could scarcely be conceived;
three graceful kangaroos bounding away in a line, with four large
greyhounds laying well after them, and the hunters chiveying along,
and dashing through brushwood and thickets like whirlwinds. The
kangaroos, however, fairly beat us; they gained a thick wood, dashed
through it and into a swamp beyond, and there we lost sight of them.
We all returned to the side of the wood, and waited for the dogs, who
came back with hanging heads and drooping tail, completely blown.
All returned but one -- the oldest and most sagacious of them. He
had not gone with the four which followed the heels of the kangaroos,
but had made a short cut to the left, so that he was in the wood
almost as soon as the kangaroos, whilst the other dogs were still a
long way behind. We waited patiently for old Tip (of whom honourable
mention has been made before); his master, Tom H., asserting
confidently that he had killed. At length as we were standing
talking together, we suddenly perceived Tip among us. His master
examined his mouth, and declared he had killed; then saying, "Show,
Tip, show!" the dog turned round, and trotted off before us; and
going into the swamp took us to the spot where the kangaroo lay dead.

It is not all kangaroo dogs that can be taught to show game, and
those that do so are therefore highly prized. It is a very pleasing
sight to observe how proud a dog is of this accomplishment. He will
come quietly back to his master, and oftentimes lay himself down as
if he were afraid the other dogs should suspect he had got something
to tell, and would run off in search of it. And when his master
gives the signal, he deliberately proceeds to lead the way, snarling
at the other dogs whenever they run before him, and seem likely to
arrive first at the spot. Sometimes he tries to deceive them by
going in a wrong direction, and when the others have started off,
full of eagerness, as if they themselves (the senseless fools!) were
inviting people to follow, and were anxious to show them the game,
the old dog will rapidly turn aside, evidently laughing in his
sleeve, and dash forward to the spot where he left the carcase.
There you will find him standing over it; and as you ride up he will
give a faint wag of his tail, as though he were glad that you are
pleased with him, and yet he cannot help feeling that he is not
properly rewarded. His gaunt ribs and melancholy eye speak of his
hungry stomach; he seems to remember that he receives from his rough
master more kicks than caresses, but still he does his duty, and will
do so to the last; and denies himself even a mouthful of the prey,
which but for him, would lie undiscovered in the thicket. I used to
know an old show-dog who displayed so much thought and sagacity, that
I never was in his company without feeling for him a certain degree
of respect. Whenever struck by brutes of lower order than himself,
he did not howl or display his teeth, but slunk aside with a look of
deep sorrow and reproach.

In the evening we bivouacked near a small pool of water, where the
cart joined us, according to previous arrangement. The horses were
tethered out and fed; a good fire was kindled, and with kangaroo
steaks, cold fowls and ham, and brandy and water, we managed to make
a tolerable supper. A fence against the wind was constructed of
upright sticks, and leaves of the black-boy (Xanthorea, or
grass-tree) resembling rushes, only brittle; and with a good fire at
our feet we were exceedingly warm and comfortable. The wild dogs
uttered their doleful, wailing cries around our camp during the
night, and caused our own frequently to sally forth and give them

We had kangaroo curry for breakfast next morning; and having fed our
horses, and sounded to saddle, set out again in pursuit of game.

Proceeding across some plains, interspersed with swamps and thickets,
we soon perceived a herd of about a dozen kangaroos feeding and
hopping about. Keeping a covert in line before us, we tried to get
near them, but they soon made off, bounding away like a herd of deer,
which they much resemble at a distance. The dogs started after them
at full speed; and with loud halloos and bounding hearts the horsemen
spurred their steeds, and scoured along the plain. There are,
unfortunately, no fences in this country, but there are a thousand
worse obstructions -- fallen trees, thick clumps of black-boys
extending right across the plain, and therefore not to be avoided;
woods through which the game dashes at speed, and where you must
follow at the risk of striking head or limbs against the trunks or
branches of trees, or else you will be thrown out. Then of course
you don't like to be last, and you don't like to allow the gallant
captain, who is spurring at your side, the opportunity of bragging at
mess that he alone kept near the dogs, which you know he would be
delighted to do. So, determined to ride against the captain at any
rate, you keep your horse and yourself well together, and flinch at
nothing; dashing through thickets, tearing over rough ground,
steering between trees, ducking your head under boughs, and twitching
up first one leg and then the other to save them from being smashed
against black-boys or banksias. You clear the wood, and emerge again
upon a plain; the kangaroos are bounding along, some three hundred
yards in advance, the dogs lying well up to them; and now the latter
have fixed upon one of the herd, whom they pursue with resolute
fierceness. The others escape into friendly thickets, but the doomed
one, an old buck, some six feet in height when resting on his
haunches, still holds out, though his enemies are fast gaining upon

At length, finding escape impossible, he makes for a broad mahogany
tree, where he suddenly comes to bay. The dogs hesitate to rush in
upon him, his eye gleams with such deadly ferocity, whilst he sits
erect upon his haunches, ready to dart the long claw of his hind leg
into the first assailant who comes within reach.

A kangaroo in this position is no despicable enemy. He has great
power in his limbs; and if he happens to strike a dog with his claw,
he inflicts a grievous wound, and sometimes tears out his entrails,
and kills him on the spot. He rushes at men with the same fury, and
tries to clasp them with his fore-paws whilst he strikes at them with
his hind-legs. I rode up to the animal in question, dismounted, and
struck him a rap on the head with a broken bough, as he rushed
towards me with a fierce hissing noise. As he staggered at the blow,
the dogs darted upon him and quickly despatched him.

We had several other good runs before luncheon, and then baited our
horses, and allowed them to rest for two or three hours. Whilst
riding towards our bivouac in the afternoon, a native who was walking
at my side, and who had accompanied us all day, stopped suddenly,
and, pointing with his finger, said, "Emu!" About a mile distant
across the prairie were two of those large birds quietly feeding.
The dogs were immediately called together, fresh vigour seemed to
animate the whole party, and we proceeded to give chase in high
spirits. Emus are sometimes shot with the rifle, but the usual mode
of obtaining them is by hunting them with kangaroo dogs. If you
happen to come near enough to them without raising alarm, they may
frequently be detained, and even attracted almost up to your stirrup
by WHISTLING. I have known this to be repeatedly tried with success.
When you begin to whistle, the emu lifts up its head and listens with
attention; soon, delighted with the sound, he walks leisurely in the
direction from which it comes; then, perceiving a human being, he
pauses, seems irresolute, and finally walks round and round you in
circles gradually lessening, until he approaches within a few yards.
If his confidence be not repaid with a bullet, he will, after
gratifying his curiosity by a good stare, quietly walk away through
his native woods. Emus are frequently speared by the natives, who,
by taking care to stand stock-still the moment the creature lifts up
its head, manage to approach within a few yards of them while
feeding. Though the savage may have his hand raised in the act of
throwing the spear, he remains fixed in that attitude whilst the emu
takes a survey of him. Perceiving only an object without motion, the
bird takes him for a tree, and continues to graze, falling a victim,
like other innocent things, to a misplaced confidence in its own

[illustration opposite p 336 is "Death of the Kangaroo"]
[illustration on p 338 is untitled - dog chasing emu]

The emus ran fast, and gave us a long chase; but at length the
headmost dog caught hold of the extended flapper of one of the birds,
and arrested its progress; the others, coming up, soon pulled him to
the ground, and by the time we reached the spot he was dead. The
feathers from the tail were distributed among the party, and placed
in our caps; and the legs being cut off, the rest of the bird was
abandoned. The legs alone afford any meat, which is by no means a
delicacy, and resembles coarse beef. Whilst the process of cutting
up was going on, my attention was attracted to the movements of old
Tip, who had stolen away from the party, and was now, ventre a
terre, scouring along the edge of a belt of trees about a quarter of
a mile from us. His master in vain tried to recall him, and I set
off to see what he was about. Following him through the wood, I
perceived him at the other side in hot pursuit of half-a-dozen
kangaroos, that were bounding away some hundred yards ahead of him.
It was in vain to attempt to recall him, so I foolishly followed the
chase, though it was leading far away from the direction I wanted to
take. Old Tip held on unflaggingly, as though this were his first
run that day; and for nearly two miles we dashed along through woods
and across prairies, until I began to wish myself back with my
friends. At length we lost the game in a vast swamp, covered with
thick underwood, in which my horse floundered for some time in a
fearful manner. Thinking it worse to return than to push through, we
struggled on, in momentary danger of sinking for ever, and after
great exertions got upon solid ground again. When dismounted, to rest
the horse, who panted and trembled with the efforts he had made, I
called for Tip till the woods rang again, but all in vain. At last I
saw a single kangaroo, a fresh one of immense size, break cover, with
Tip about forty yards in his rear. In the ardour of the chase, all
prudential considerations were given to the winds; and cheering on
the gallant hound, I followed the game more determinedly than ever.
And what a race that villain kangaroo led us! -- through thickets
where my hunting-shirt was torn into strips, my arms and legs covered
with bruises, and my face lacerated with boughs that were not to be
avoided. The villain doubled like a hare, and led us in such various
directions, that I fancied we must have turned upon our steps and
gone past the spot where I had parted from my friends. Unless a man
be very well accustomed to the bush, he is certain to lose himself in
a few minutes. One clump of trees is so like another -- the thick
swamps, the open plains, all bear such a general resemblance to one
another, that you feel quite confounded whilst trying to recollect
whether you have really seen them before, and can form some tolerable
guess as to your position. The kangaroo was now approaching the foot
of the long, even, uninteresting range of the Darling Hills; his pace
was slow, he made his leaps with difficulty, and would soon have been
caught, had not poor Tip been equally dead beat.

It was evident the old dog could scarcely drag himself along, but
still he refused to give in. My horse, exhausted with floundering in
the swamp, was completely knocked up; and for some time I had only
been able to push him along at a jog-trot. Still I was no more
willing to give up the chase than old Tip. It seemed to have become
a point of honour that I should not desert the hound; and moreover,
feeling myself completely lost, I did not like to part from my
companion; and, above all, it would never do to let the kangaroo
escape after all the trouble he had given us. So we all three
continued to work along as best we could.

At last my poor horse happened to set his foot in an empty
water-hole, and too weak to recover himself, came down on his
shoulder and side with great violence. I threw myself off as he
fell, but could not save my foot from being crushed beneath the
saddle, and so both horse and man lay extended on the ground. I
could just see the hound and kangaroo still struggling onward, and
almost close together. The horse made no attempt to rise, and I
tried in vain to extricate my foot; at length I managed to flog him
up, and then raised myself with difficulty. I had not suffered much
damage, though bruised, and in some pain, but my poor horse had
sprained his shoulder, and was completely hors de combat. On
looking about for the chase, I fancied I could perceive the dog lying
on a little rising ground, a few hundred yards distant; and leaving
the horse, I hopped after the game. On arriving at the spot, I found
the kangaroo and the dog lying side by side, both alive, but
completely exhausted; the one unable to do any injury, and the other
to get away. Securing the dog with my handkerchief, I sat down,
waiting till he should be able to walk. In a few minutes the
kangaroo lifted up his head, and looked about him; the dog sat up,
panting as though his heart would burst, and took no notice of the
other. The kangaroo, scrambling to its feet, hopped away a few
yards, and then stood still again. "Go along, old fellow!" said I,
"you have done us abundance of mischief, but it would be criminal to
kill you when I cannot carry home even your tail -- so farewell!"
Off he jumped, and was soon lost to view, leaving us alone -- three
miserable cripples, far from any shelter, and (so far as I was
concerned) not knowing at all how to rejoin our friends. Tip being
now able to limp on three legs, and myself upon one, we returned to
the unhappy steed, who remained where I had left him, hanging down
his head, and looking the image of woe.

In vain I tried to determine the direction I ought to take; trees and
swamps were on all sides of me, and I could not decide whether my
friends were now on my right-hand or my left. I remembered that our
place of rendezvous appeared to be nearly opposite an opening in the
hills, some six or eight miles distant; but there were openings in
the hills on each side of me, and which was the one to be sought I
could not determine. I therefore resolved to retrace the foot-marks
of my horse, if possible; and set out leading the animal, having Tip
limping at my side, and every now and then looking up as though he
felt for the ill plight in which we all appeared. It soon became
evident that the horse must be left behind; and therefore removing
his saddle and bridle, I placed them at the foot of a tree, and gave
him his liberty.*

[footnote] *Six months afterwards he was caught among the horses of a
settler on the Serpentine, perfectly sound and in excellent condition.

After going some distance, I came within view of an extensive swamp,
which I fancied formed part of that I had so much difficulty in
crossing. Turning to the right, I followed its course for some time,
hoping to get round it, but it seemed to extend towards the hills,
cutting off all farther progress. The sun was now about to set, and
getting desperate, I plunged into the thicket, and tried to push
through the swamp. There was no water, but the immense quantities of
bind-weed, and other thickly-growing plants, quite defied every
attempt, and I was obliged to turn back again. Tip and myself had
now to retrace our steps. It was getting dusk, and the state of
affairs looked uncomfortable. Again we tried in vain to cross the
swamp, which soon afterwards receded farther from the hills, and left
a broad plain before us, which we traversed in the course of half an

My foot seemed to get better with exercise, but night had now set in,
and it was useless to attempt making farther progress, when we could
not distinguish an object thirty feet in advance. I now found myself
stumbling up a rising ground covered with trees; and here I lay down,
with Tip at my side, to wait as patiently as possible for morning.
The dog, I imagine, had found some water in the swamp, as he did not
now seem to be suffering from thirst as I was myself. He was soon
asleep, and I envied him, for hours elapsed before I could find
repose. The land-wind, sweeping down from the hill-side, moaned
through the trees; the rising moon shed her sickly and distorting
light upon the bushes around; and bruised and stiff, hungry, thirsty,
and uncomfortable, I felt by no means delighted with my quarters. A
fire would have been agreeable, but there were no means of procuring
one. Sleep at last befriended me, and I did not wake until the sun
began to shed his first rays upon the tops of the trees.

On rising I found myself exceedingly stiff, and by no means in good
condition for walking, but there was no choice; and when Tip had got
upon his legs, and given himself a good stretch and yawn, and licked
my hand, as much as to say he had no intention of leaving me in the
lurch, we started on our doubtful journey. In vain I tried to
encourage the dog to lead the way; he would not stir from my side.
Only once he darted after a kangaroo-rat, and caught it before it had
gone twenty yards. This afforded a breakfast which I envied him. I
now pushed on towards the coast, but was continually intercepted by
thick swamps impossible to penetrate, and turned from the right
direction. I looked about for water, and found some at length in a
muddy hole. It was most refreshing, and revived my spirits, which
had begun to flag considerably.

Mid-day was long past, and I was still rambling over plains of coarse
grass, penetrating into woods, and struggling through swamps; worn
almost to death with fatigue and hunger, and the pain of my ankle,
now greatly swollen, I sat down at last at the foot of a
mahogany-tree in order to gain a little rest.

I knew that the hills were behind me, and the sea must be somewhere
before me, but as to my precise locality, and the distance of the
nearest settler's house, I was quite at a loss. In vain I tried to
satisfy myself as to whether I was much to the south of the bivouac.
I was growing dizzy with hunger and weariness, and no longer felt any
wonder at the confusion of mind which seizes upon those who are lost
in the wilderness. During the day, I had repeatedly cooeyed as
loudly as I could, in the faint hope of attracting the attention of
my friends; but no voice responded.

It was now nearly five o'clock in the evening, and I had the prospect
before me of spending another night in solitude, and felt some
misgivings as to whether it would not be the last of my existence.

I tried to struggle on a little farther, as it was possible that I
might be close to some farm on the Serpentine; but it was difficult
to move along. Tip seemed to be getting tired of this slow progress;
he grew fidgety, and I fancied he had formed the base resolution of
leaving me to myself. Suddenly he started off upon our traces, and I
was alone without a friend.

In a few minutes I heard behind me a distant shout, and immediately
afterwards a loud cooey met my ear. Oh how thankfully I heard it,
and answered it as loudly as I could! And then, having returned
grateful acknowledgments to the Almighty for this seasonable relief,
I began to walk towards the sounds, which were repeated from minute
to minute. Not long afterwards I perceived a party of natives,
followed by men on horseback, emerging from the trees. The latter
galloped towards me, waving their hats, and shouting with friendly
joy. It is due to Tip to state that he reached me first, and gave
his congratulations with warm sincerity.

My friends had started at day-break with the natives, who had tracked
my footsteps without once losing the trail. They had found the horse
grazing near the place where I had left him, but he was too lame to
be removed; the natives had fully accounted for every trace; they
perceived that the dog and kangaroo had lain side by side, and that
the latter had recovered first, and got away. They found and brought
with them the saddle and bridle, and followed my steps to the swamp,
through which they saw I had not been able to penetrate. And so they
tracked me during the whole of the day, whilst I was only going farther
and farther from my friends. I had wandered much more to the south than
I expected; and now, mounting a horse, we all rode to a house on the
Serpentine, where we were hospitably entertained, and where I continued
until able to return to Perth.



One evening in March, 1844, whilst standing at my gate enjoying the
pleasant balmy air and the conversation of a friend, our attention
was attracted to a luminous appearance in the sky immediately above
the horizon. We fancied that a large ship must be on fire not a
great distance from the coast.

The next evening, happening to leave the house at an early hour, my
eye was immediately caught by a grant novelty in the heavens. A
magnificent comet extended itself over an entire fifth of the
firmament. Its tail reached to the belt of Orion, whilst its
nucleus, a ball of fire resembling a star of the fourth magnitude,

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