Part 8 out of 8
horses having been got safely over the Murrumbidgee the same afternoon. I
duly received your several communications numbers one, two, three and
four; your letter by McKane and that by Burnett. Turandurey has grown
enormously fat which should speak well of the care we had taken of her,
and to the best of my belief no improprieties with her as a female have
ever taken place. She was married last night to King Joey and she
proceeds with him to her friends. Having a superfluity of government
blankets I have taken the liberty of giving her one now and one formerly
at the last depot.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of the letter containing your
instructions of the 26th ultimo which was delivered to me by Overseer
Burnett on the 5th of this month, who arrived at the moment the first
boatload from the camp reached the opposite bank of the Murray. By means
of casks we floated the drays over the three rivers and, after two
experiments with a raft, both partial failures, and while a third raft
was in progress, of a more solid and better construction, we discovered
that a canoe, of very large dimensions and paddled by the native boy
Tommy, would prove the most expeditious as well as a safe mode of
shipment for the boxes of value, equipment, etc. I therefore caused a
canoe to be used for this purpose and it answered admirably. I have to
mention the loss of three of the cattle. One by death at the depot in
consequence of previous over-exertion, and two by accidents of a most
provoking and unlucky nature, but which could not have been foreseen or
I have the honour to be, etc.
THE ABORIGINAL NATIVES.
This was one of the best proofs how valuable the services of the
aborigines who accompanied the party were to us on some occasions. They
could strip from a tree in a very short time a sheet of bark large enough
to form a canoe; and they could propel the light bark thus made through
the water with astonishing ease and swiftness. By this means alone most
of our effects were transported across broad rivers without an accident
even to any of my papers or dried plants.
I was now anxious to convince them how much I appreciated that
assistance, but felt in some degree at a loss, especially in the case of
The Widow. It was therefore not the least satisfactory part of the
intelligence subsequently received from Mr. Stapylton that she was
married on her arrival to Joey, the King of the Murrumbidgee.
MY MODE OF COMMUNICATING WITH MR. STAPYLTON.
Mr. Stapylton had also received my several communications Numbers 1, 2,
3, and 4, which he dug from the earth at various camps; thus we had for
once eluded the keen eye of the aborigines in this kind of
correspondence, although on my first journey we had not been so
successful. My original plan on this expedition was to bury the letter
under the ashes of my fire; cutting at the same time a cross in the turf
where my tent had stood, as the mark by which Mr. Stapylton was to know
that something was so deposited. But I subsequently improved on this plan
and buried my letter in the centre of the cross by merely making a hole
with a stick in the soft earth where the turf had been cut and dropping
the letter into it.
SURVEY OF THE MURRUMBIDGEE.
In my instructions to Mr. Stapylton, sent by Burnett, I directed him to
survey the course of the Murrumbidgee upwards from Guy's station until he
connected our interior survey with the map of the colony. This he
accomplished by measuring to the junction of the Doomot, a river he had
himself previously surveyed. The direct distance between that junction
and the point at which we first arrived on the Murrumbidgee was
ascertained by Mr. Stapylton's measurement to be 34 3/4 miles, but
according to my map of the interior country 36 1/2 miles; making an error
of only 1 3/4 miles + or westward in a chain-measurement continued from
the station at Buree, where the journey commenced, to the Darling, thence
to the southern coast, and back to this point on the Murrumbidgee. The
measurement was checked by latitudes determined nightly from observations
of several stars, the difference between several amounting to a few
seconds only. I availed myself of trigonometrical measurements also with
a good theodolite wherever this was possible, in which case such a survey
engaged my whole attention, and my route was often directed according to
the position of good points.
The meteorological journal was kept more carefully during this journey
than on the two preceding; and with the kind assistance of my friends
Captain King and Mr. Dunlop it affords, in some parts at least, materials
for comparing the atmospheric changes in the regions explored with those
occurring simultaneously on the eastern coast.
ARRIVAL OF THE EXPLORING PARTY AT SYDNEY.
It was long before the party arrived in Sydney for, when it reached the
Murrumbidgee and the apprehension of famine no longer existed, rest was
so necessary for the cattle that it was indulged in for their sake
chiefly, to an extent much beyond the wishes of the men. The oxen looked
tolerably well therefore when the party did reach Sydney, although from
so long a journey; and my men enjoyed at length the triumph among their
fellows, to which they had long looked forward, on conducting the boat
and boat-carriage safely once more into the yard of my office.
PIPER AND THE MEN REWARDED.
But Piper seemed to relish his share of triumph most, and certainly he
well deserved the kindness he met with on all sides. I clothed him in my
own red coat and I gave him also a cocked hat and feather which had once
belonged to Governor Darling. His portrait thus arrayed soon appeared in
the print shops; an ingenious artist (Mr. Fernyhough) having drawn his
likeness very accurately. Piper was just the sort of man to enjoy
superlatively all his newly acquired consequence. He carried his head
high for (as he now found) everybody knew him and not a few gave him
money. With these donations he purchased silk handkerchiefs and wore them
in his breast, gowns for his gins, for he at last had TWO, and to his
great credit he abstained from any indulgence in intoxication, looking
down, apparently with contempt, on those wretched specimens of his race
who lead a gipsy life about Sydney.
The men, after having been examined in my presence by the Council
composed of the governor, his secretary, and the bishop, respecting the
events of 27th May, were rewarded according to the standing and condition
of each. The government granted every indulgence I asked in their behalf.
Burnett, Muirhead, Woods, and Palmer obtained absolute pardons. Woods
receiving besides a gratuity of 10 pounds, and several, specially noticed
in my report, 5 pounds each. Those who had tickets of leave were rewarded
with conditional pardons, and tickets of leave were awarded to the rest
with one or two exceptions. Among those excluded was Drysdale, a most
trustworthy man and in whose behalf I was therefore much interested. He
had not been long enough in the colony to be entitled by the regulations
to any indulgence; and all I could do was to obtain for him a very
laborious place in the general hospital by holding which he avoided the
Piper was impatient to return to his own country near Bathurst, and I
fulfilled all the conditions of my contract with him by allowing him an
old firelock, blankets, etc., decorating him also with a brass plate on
which he was styled not as usual "King," for he said there were "too many
kings already," but "Conqueror of the Interior"--surely a sufficient
passport for him among those most likely to read it, the good people of
Bathurst. But when he came to bid me farewell he was accompanied much
against his will by the murderer of Mr. Cunningham, Bureemal, who had
been placed under his protection by Mr. Ferguson to be conducted back to
his tribe. This fellow had grown so stout that I could perceive no
resemblance in him to the youth he appeared when captured by Lieutenant
Zouch, and he had acquired an impudent air very unlike that of other
natives. According to his own confession he had put Mr. Cunningham to
death in cold blood, and Mr. Ferguson had in return clothed and fed him
for one year, and taught him the Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments.
THE TWO TOMMIES.
The two Tommies still remained to be provided for, and they were both
desirous of accompanying me to England. I had seriously intended to take
one with me but, so docile and so much attached to my service were both
of these youths, that I felt much difficulty in choosing between them.
Meanwhile they remained at Sydney while official cares and troubles so
thickened about me that I at length abandoned my intention, however
reluctantly and, when they were about to return at last to their own
country, I gave to each what clothes I could spare and they both shed
tears when they left my house. They were to travel through the colony
under the protection of Charles Hammond, one of my steadiest men who,
having obtained his freedom in reward for his services with me, was
proceeding towards Bathurst in charge of the teams of a Parcel Delivery
The little Ballandella, child of The Widow, was a welcome stranger to my
children among whom she remained and seemed to adopt the habits of
domestic life con amore, evincing a degree of aptness which promised very
favourably. The great expense of the passage home of a large family
obliged me at last to leave her at Sydney under the care of my friend Dr.
Nicholson who kindly undertook the superintendence of her education
during my absence in England.
CHARACTER OF THE NATIVES OF THE INTERIOR.
My experience enables me to speak in the most favourable terms of the
aborigines whose degraded position in the midst of the white population
affords no just criterion of their merits. The quickness of apprehension
of those in the interior was very remarkable, for nothing in all the
complicated adaptations we carried with us either surprised or puzzled
them. They are never awkward, on the contrary in manners and general
intelligence they appear superior to any class of white rustics that I
Their powers of mimicry seem extraordinary, and their shrewdness shines
even through the medium of imperfect language and renders them in general
very agreeable companions.
On comparing a vocabulary of the language spoken by the natives on the
Darling with other vocabularies obtained by various persons on different
parts of the coast I found a striking similarity in eight words, and it
appears singular that all these words should apply to different parts of
the human body. I could discover no term in equally general use for any
other object as common as the parts of the body, such for instance as the
sun, moon, water, earth, etc. By the accompanying list of words used at
different places to express the same meaning,* it is obvious that those
to which I have alluded are common to the natives both in the
south-eastern and south-western portions of Australia; while no such
resemblance can be traced between these words and any in the language
spoken by natives on the northern coast. Now from this greater uniformity
of language prevailing throughout the length of this large island, and
the entire difference at much less distance latitudinally, it may perhaps
be inferred that the causes of change in the dialect of the aborigines
have been more active on the northern portion of Australia than
throughout the whole extent from east to west. The uniformity of dialect
prevailing along the whole southern shore seems a fact worthy of notice
as connected with any question respecting the origin of the language, and
whether other people or dialects have been subsequently introduced from
the northern or terrestrial portion of the globe. These words although
few may be useful to philologists as specimens of the general language
and, as the names of parts of the body can be obtained by travellers from
men the most savage by only pointing to each part, comparisons may be
thus extended to the natives of other shores.
(*Footnote. See Appendix 2.1)
I am not aware that any affinity has been discovered, at least in single
words, between the Australian language and that of the Polynesian
people;* but with very slight means of comparison I may perhaps be
excused for noticing the resemblance of Murroa, the name of the only
volcanic crater as yet found in Australia to Mouna-roa, the volcano of
the Sandwich Islands; and that tao, the name of the small yam or root
eaten by Australians, is similar to taro, the name of thirty-three
varieties of edible root and having the same meaning in the Friendly and
Society Isles and also in the Sandwich Islands. (See Cook's Voyages and
Polynesian Researches by William Ellis.)
(*Footnote. Mr. Threlkeld has detected in it a similarity of idiom to the
languages of the South Sea islanders and the peculiarity of a dual number
common to all. See his Australian Grammar, Sydney 1834.)
HABITS OF THOSE OF VAN DIEMEN'S LAND THE SAME.
The natives of Van Diemen's Land, the only inhabited region south of
Australia, are said to have been as dark as the negro race and to have
had woolly hair like them. Little is known of the language and character
of the unfortunate Tasmanian aborigines, and this is the more to be
regretted considering how useful a better knowledge of either might have
been in tracing the progressive extension of the Australasian people. The
prevailing opinion at present is that the natives of Van Diemen's Land
were also much more ferocious than the natives of Australia. But, brief
as the existence of these islanders has been on the page of history,
these characteristics are very much at variance with the descriptions we
have of the savages seen by the earliest European visitors, and
especially by Captain Cook who thus describes those he saw at Adventure
Bay in 1777: "Their colour is a dull black, and not quite so deep as that
of the African negroes. It should seem also that they sometimes heighten
their black colour by smoking their bodies, as a mark was left behind on
any clean substance, such as white paper, when they handled it." Captain
Cook then proceeds to describe the hair as being woolly, but all the
other particulars of that description are identical with the
peculiarities of Australian natives; and Captain King stated, according
to the editor of the Northern Voyage of Cook, that "Captain Cook was very
unwilling to allow that the hair of the natives seen in Adventure Bay WAS
woolly." The hair of the natives we saw in the interior and especially of
the females had a very frizzled appearance and never grew long; and I
should rather consider the hair of the natives of Tasmania as differing
in degree only from the frizzled hair of those of Australia.
HABITS AND CUSTOMS OF THE ABORIGINES.
Instead of the ferocious character latterly attributed to the natives of
Van Diemen's Land we find on the contrary that Captain Cook describes
them as having "little of that fierce or wild appearance common to people
in their situation;" and a historian* draws a comparison, also in their
favour, between them and the natives of Botany Bay, of whom THREE stood
forward to oppose Captain Cook at his first landing. The ferocity
subsequently displayed by natives of Van Diemen's Land cannot fairly be
attributed to them therefore as characteristic of their race, at least
until extirpation stared them in the face and excited them to acts of
desperate vengeance against all white intruders.
(*Footnote. The History of New Holland by the Right Honourable William
Eden, 1787 page 99.)
The habits and customs of the aboriginal inhabitants are remarkably
similar throughout the wide extent of Australia, and appear to have been
equally characteristic of those of Van Diemen's Land: geological evidence
also leads us to suppose that this island has not always been separated
from the mainland by Bass Strait. The resemblance of the natives of Van
Diemen's Land to those of Northern Australia seemed indeed so perfect
that the first discoverers considered them "as well as the kangaroo, only
stragglers from the more northern parts of the country;" and as they had
no canoes fit to cross the sea, that New Holland, as it was then termed,
"was nowhere divided into islands, as some had supposed."
TEMPORARY HUTS. MODE OF CLIMBING TREES.
Their mode of life, as exhibited in the temporary huts made of boughs,
bark, or grass,* and of climbing trees to procure the opossum by cutting
notches in the bark, alternately with each hand as they ascend, prevails
not only from shore to shore in Australia but is so exactly similar in
Van Diemen's Land and at the same time so uncommon elsewhere that Tasman,
the first discoverer of that island, concluded "that the natives either
were of an extraordinary size, from the steps having been five feet
asunder or THAT THEY HAD SOME METHOD which he could not conceive of
climbing trees by the help of such steps." It is strong presumptive
evidence therefore of the connection of the inhabitants of Van Diemen's
Land with the race in Australia that a method of climbing trees, now so
well known as peculiar to the natives of Australia, should have been
equally characteristic of those of Tasmania. The notches made in climbing
trees are cut by means of a small stone hatchet and, as already observed,
with each hand alternately. By long practice a native can support himself
with his toes on very small notches, not only in climbing but while he
cuts other notches, necessary for his further ascent, with one hand, the
other arm embracing the tree. The elasticity and lightness of the simple
handle of the mogo or stone hatchet employed (see Figure 5 above) are
well adapted to the weight of the head and assist the blow necessary to
cut the thick bark with an edge of stone. As the natives live chiefly on
the opossum, which they find in the hollow trunk or upper branches of
tall trees and, as they never ascend by old notches but always cut new
ones, such marks are very common in the woods; and on my journeys in the
interior I knew, by their being in a recent state, when I was approaching
a tribe; or when they were not quite recent how long it was since the
natives had been in such parts of the woods; whether they had any iron
hatchets or used still those of stone only; etc.
(*Footnote. Many usages of these rude people much resemble those of the
wandering Arabs. Dr. Pococke mentions some open huts made of boughs
raised about three feet above the ground which he found near St. John
D'Acre. He observes: "These materials are of so perishing a nature, and
trees and reeds and bushes are so very scarce in some places that one
would wonder they should not all accommodate themselves with tents but we
find they do not in fact." Volume 2 page 158. "And that they should
publish and proclaim in all their cities and in Jerusalem saying, Go
forth unto the mount and fetch olive branches and pine branches and
myrtle branches and palm branches and branches of thick trees to make
booths as it is written." Nehemiah 8:15.)
The men wear girdles usually made of the wool of the opossum, and a sort
of tail of the same material is appended to this girdle, both before and
behind, and seems to be the only part of their costume suggested by any
ideas of decency. The girdle answers besides the important purpose of
supporting the lower viscera, and seems to have been found necessary for
the human frame by almost all savages.
CHARMED STONES. FEMALES EXCLUDED FROM SUPERSTITIOUS RITES.
In these girdles the men, and especially their coradjes or priests,
frequently carry crystals of quartz or other shining stones, which they
hold in high estimation and very unwillingly show to anyone, taking care
when they do that no woman shall see them.*
(*Footnote. Genesis 28:18. "From this conduct of Jacob and this Hebrew
appellative, the learned Bochart, with great ingenuity and reason,
insists that the name and veneration of the sacred stones called Baetyli,
so celebrated in all Pagan antiquity, were derived. These baetyli were
stones of a round form, they were supposed to be animated, by means of
magical incantations, with a portion of the Deity; they were consulted on
occasions of great and pressing emergency, as a kind of divine oracles,
and were suspended either round the neck or some other part of the body."
Burder's Oriental Customs volume 1 page 40.)
BANDAGE OR FILLET AROUND THE TEMPLES.
The natives wear a neatly wrought bandage or fillet round the head and
whiten it with pipe-clay as a soldier cleans his belts.* They also wear
one of a red colour under it. The custom is so general, without obvious
utility, at least when the hair is short, that we may suppose it is also
connected with some superstition.
(*Footnote. See illustration Cambo Volume 1.)
STRIKING OUT THE TOOTH.
But still more remarkable is the practice of striking out one of the
front teeth at the age of puberty, a custom observed both on the coast
and as far as I penetrated in the interior. On the western coast also
Dampier observed that the two fore-teeth were wanting in all the men and
women he saw. According to Piper certain rites belong to this strange
custom. The young men retire from the tribe to solitary places, there to
mourn and abstain from animal food for many days previous to their being
subjected to this mutilation. The tooth is not drawn but knocked out by
an old man, or coradje, with a wooden chisel, struck forcibly and so as
to break it. It would be very difficult to account for a custom so
general and also so absurd, otherwise than by supposing it a typical
sacrifice, probably derived from early sacrificial rites. The cutting off
of the last joint of the little finger of females seems a custom of the
same kind; also boring the cartilage between the nostrils in both sexes
and wearing therein, when danger is apprehended, a small bone or piece of
(*Footnote. The aborigines of Australia seem to resemble more, although
at so great a distance, those of the Sandwich Islands than the natives of
any other of the numerous isles so much nearer to them. According to Cook
this strange custom of striking out the teeth prevails also there. "The
knocking out their fore teeth," says that navigator, "may be, with
propriety, classed among their religious customs. Most of the common
people and many of the chiefs had lost one or more of them; and this we
understood was considered as a propitiatory sacrifice to the Eatooa to
avert his anger; and not like the cutting off a part of the finger at the
Friendly Islands to express the violence of their grief at the death of a
friend." Cook's Voyage.)
PAINTING WITH RED.
To paint the body red seems also a custom of the natives in all parts
that I have visited: but the most constant use of colours both white and
red appears on the narrow shield or hieleman (see below) which is seldom
to be found without some vestiges of both colours about the carving with
which they are also ornamented.*
(*Footnote. "A German pays no attention to the ornament of his person;
his shield is the object of his care; and this he decorates with the
liveliest colours." Tacitus de Mor. Germ. c.6.)
RAISED SCARS ON ARMS AND BREAST.
The "large punctures or ridges raised on different parts of their bodies,
some in straight and others in curved lines" distinguish the Australian
natives wherever they have been yet seen and, in describing these raised
scars, I have quoted the words of Captain Cook as the most descriptive
although having reference to the natives of Adventure Bay, in one of the
most southern isles of Van Diemen's Land, when first seen in 1777.
CUTTING THEMSELVES IN MOURNING.
It is also customary for both men and women to cut themselves in mourning
for relations. I have seen old women in particular bleeding about the
temples from such self-inflicted wounds.*
(*Footnote. "We often read of people cutting themselves, in Holy Writ,
when in great anguish; but we are not commonly told what part they
wounded. The modern Arabs, it seems, gash their arms which with them are
often bare: it appears from a passage of Jeremiah that the ancients
wounded themselves in the same part, 'Every head shall be bald, and every
beard clipt; upon all hands shall be cuttings and upon the loins
sackcloth.' Chapter 48:37." Harmer volume 4 page 436.)
AUTHORITY OF OLD MEN.
Respect for age is universal among the aborigines. Old men, and even old
women, exercise great authority among assembled tribes and "rule the big
war" with their voices when both spears and boomerangs are ready to be
thrown.* Young men are admitted into the order of the seniors according
to certain rites which their coradjes, or priests, have the sagacity to
keep secret and render mysterious.
(*Footnote. Leviticus 19:32. "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head,
and honour the face of the old man." The Lacedemonians had a law that
aged persons should be reverenced like fathers. See also Homer Iliad
15:204 et 23:788. Odyss. 13:141.)
LAW AGAINST EATING EMU FLESH.
No young men are allowed to eat the flesh or eggs of the emu, a kind of
luxury which is thus reserved exclusively for the old men and the women.
I understood from Piper, who abstained from eating emu when food was very
scarce, that the ceremony necessary in this case consisted chiefly in
being rubbed all over with emu fat by an old man. Richardson, one of our
party, was an old man and Piper reluctantly allowed himself to be rubbed
with emu fat by Richardson; but from that time he had no objection to eat
the flesh of that bird. The threatened penalty was that young men, after
eating it, would be afflicted with sores all over the body.
The native dog, so common in Australia, is not found in Tasmania; while
on the other hand two animals, the Dasyurus ursinus and Thylacynus, exist
in Tasmania but have not been found hitherto in Australia. Have these
been extirpated in Australia by the dog on his introduction subsequently
to the opening of the straits? It may be observed that this is the more
likely as the above-mentioned species found in Van Diemen's Land only,
consist of those two unable to climb and avoid such an enemy. The
Australian natives evince great humanity in their behaviour to these
dogs. In the interior we saw few natives who were not followed by some of
these animals, although they did not appear of much use to them. The
women not unfrequently suckle the young pups and so bring them up, but
these are always miserably thin so that we knew a native's dog from a
wild one by the starved appearance of the former. The howl of a native
dog in the desert wilds is the most melancholy sound imaginable, much
resembling that of a tame dog when he has lost his master. We find no
remains of this genus among the fossils and it seems therefore probable
that the dog accompanied the native, wherever he came from.
FEMALES CARRYING CHILDREN.
We trace a further resemblance between this rude people and the orientals
in their common method of carrying children on their shoulders; and the
sketch of Turandurey with Ballandella so mounted (Plate 24) affords the
best illustration of a passage in Scripture which has very much puzzled
commentators.* But the savage tribes of mankind as they approach nearer
to the condition of animals seem to preserve a stronger resemblance to
themselves and to each other. The uniform stability of their manners
seems a natural consequence of the uncultivated state of their faculties;
and it is satisfactory to discover such direct illustrations of ancient
history among these rude and primitive specimens of our race.
(*Footnote. "Was the custom anciently the reverse of this? So it might be
imagined from Isaiah 49:22. 'They shall bring thy sons in their arms and
thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders'"! Harmer's Oriental
WEAPONS. THE SPEAR. WOOMERA.
The weapons used by the natives are not more remarkable and peculiar in
their construction than general in their use on every shore of New
Holland. The spear is thrown by means of a woomera which is a slight rod
about three feet long having at one end a niche to receive the end of the
spear. The missile is shot forward by this means with great force and
accuracy of direction; for by the peculiar method of throwing the spear
the woomera affords a great additional impetus from this most ingenious
lengthening of the arm to that extent.*
(*Footnote. For the shape of the woomera see Moyengully Plate 49 above;
and the manner of throwing the spear may be seen in Plate 8 Volume 1.)
THE BOOMERANG. ITS PROBABLE ORIGIN.
The boomerang, a thin curved missile, can be thrown by a skilful hand so
as to rise upon the air and thus to deviate from the ordinary path of
projectiles, its crooked course being nevertheless equally under control.
It is of the form here represented, being about two feet four inches
long. These weapons are cut according to the grain from the curved parts
of acacia or other standing trees of compact hard wood. They usually
weigh about 9 1/2 ounces. One side, which is the uppermost in throwing,
is slightly convex, and is sometimes elaborately carved. The lower side
is flat and plain. The boomerang is held, not as a sabre, but
sickle-wise, or concave towards the thrower and, as a rotatory motion is
imparted to it when sent off, the air presents so much resistance to the
flat side and so little to the sharp edge as it cuts forward, that the
long-sustained flight of the whirling missile seems independent of the
common effect of gravitation.
The native, from long practice, can do astonishing things with this
weapon. He seems to determine with great certainty what its crooked and
distant flight shall be, and how and where it is to end. Thus he
frequently amuses himself in hurling the formidable weapon to astonishing
heights and distances from one spot to which the missile returns to fall
beside him. Sometimes the earth is made a fulcrum to which the boomerang
descends only to resume a longer and more sustained flight, or to leap,
perhaps, over a tree and strike an object behind it.
The contrivance probably originated in the utility of such a missile for
the purpose of killing ducks where they are very numerous, as on the
interior rivers and lagoons and where, accordingly, we find it much more
in use than on the seacoast and better made, being often covered with
good carving.* (See Cambo, Volume 1, also small figures in Plate 28
(*Footnote. That Dampier saw this weapon also on the western coast in
latitude 16 degrees 50 minutes is evident from the following observation.
"These swords were afterwards found to be made of wood and rudely shaped
something like a cutlass.")
SHIELD OR HIELEMAN.
There is also much originality in the shield or hieleman of these people.
It is merely a piece of wood of little thickness and 2 feet 8 inches
long, tapering to each end, cut to an edge outwards and having a handle
or hole in the middle behind the thickest part. This is made of light
wood and affords protection from missiles, chiefly by the facility with
which it is turned round the centre or handle.
SKILL IN APPROACHING THE KANGAROO.
Great ingenuity is necessary and is as cleverly practised by the natives
in approaching the kangaroo. This they display in creeping, stalking with
bushes, advancing behind trees, etc. and to such a degree are their wits
sharpened by their appetites that they can even distinguish when the
kangaroo kills a fly; and they consider in their proceedings, from the
habit of the kangaroo to kill flies and smell the blood, whether the
animal may discover from the blood the fly contains that men are near.
FOOD OF THE NATIVES. MODES OF COOKING.
The natives are accustomed to cook such animals by digging a hole in the
ground, making a fire in it, and heating the stones found about. The
kangaroo is placed in this hole with the skin on, and is covered with
heated embers or warm stones.
The opossum which constitutes the more ordinary food of the native is not
cooked so much, but only singed, so as to have a flavour of the singed
wool; but it is nevertheless palatable enough even to a white man.
VEGETABLE FOOD. THE SHOVEL.
The young natives of the interior usually carry a small wooden shovel
(see foreground figure, Plate 12 Volume 1) with one end of which they dig
up different roots, and with the other break into the large anthills for
the larvae, which they eat: the labour necessary to obtain a mouthful
even, of such indifferent food, being thus really more than would be
sufficient for the cultivation of the earth according to the more
provident arrangements of civilised men. Yet in a land affording such
meagre support the Australian savage is not a cannibal: while the New
Zealander, who inhabits a much more productive region, notoriously feasts
on human flesh.
Were it expedient to enter here into further details, or upon a longer
description of the natives of Australia, I might quote largely from
Captain Cook's account of those he saw at Adventure Bay, Van Diemen's
Land, as being more detailed and descriptive, both of the natives in the
interior, and of those also around the whole circumference of Australia,
than any I could give. In the descriptions by Dampier and other
navigators who have touched on any part of these shores we recognise the
same natives with all their characteristics, and are led to conclude that
they are derived from the same stock and, as the judicious compiler of
the first History of New Holland considered it most probable from this
and other circumstances "that the number is small, and that the interior
parts of the country are inhabited,"* I may observe that I have had no
reason to entertain a contrary opinion from what I saw of the interior
country beyond the Darling. The native population is very thinly spread
over the regions I have explored, amounting to nearly a seventh part of
Australia. I cannot estimate the number at more than 6000; but on the
contrary I believe it to be considerably less. They may increase rapidly
if wild cattle become numerous; and as an instance I may refer to the
number and good appearance of the Cudjallagong tribe near Macquarie range
where they occasionally fell in with a herd of wild cattle.
(*Footnote. History of New Holland pages 31 and 232.)
DESTRUCTION OF THE KANGAROO.
The kangaroo disappears from cattle runs, and is also killed by stockmen
merely for the sake of the skin; but no mercy is shown to the natives who
may help themselves to a bullock or a sheep. Such a state of things must
infallibly lead to the extirpation of the aboriginal natives, as in Van
Diemen's Land, unless timely measures are taken for their civilisation
and protection. I have heard some affecting allusions made by natives to
the white men's killing the kangaroo. At present almost every stockman
has several strong kangaroo dogs; now it would be only an act of justice
towards the aborigines to prohibit white men by law from killing these
creatures which are as essential to the natives as cattle are to the
Europeans. The prohibition would be at least a proof of the disposition
of the strangers to act as humanely as they possibly could towards the
natives. If wild cattle on the contrary become numerous the natives also
might increase in number and, if not civilised and instructed now, might
become formidable and implacable enemies then, as no absolute right to
kill even wild cattle would be conceded to them. The evils likely to
result from such circumstances were apparent both in the commencement and
termination of my first journey; but although the desert character of the
interior renders such a state of things less likely to happen, at least
on a larger scale, the unfortunate race whom we have found on the shores
of Australia are not the less entitled to our protection.
CIVILISATION OF THE ABORIGINES.
Some adequate provision for their civilisation and maintenance is due on
our part to this race of men, were it only in return for the means of
existence of which we are depriving them. The bad example of the class of
persons sent to Australia should be counteracted by some serious efforts
to civilise and instruct these aboriginal inhabitants. That they are
capable of civilisation and instruction has been proved recently in the
case of a number who were sentenced for some offence to be confined with
a chaingang on Goat Island in Sydney harbour. By the exertions of Mr.
Ferguson, who was I believe a missionary gentleman, these men were taught
in five months to read tolerably well, and also to explain in English the
meaning of the Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments. During that time they
had been initiated in the craft of stone-cutting and building so as to
completely erect a small house. They grew fat and muscular and appeared
really stronger men, when well fed, than the white convicts.
The natives have also proved very good shepherds when any of them have
been induced, by proper encouragement and protection, to take charge of a
flock. Tommy Came-first, one of the lads who travelled with me, had
previously tended sheep for a year and had given great satisfaction.
My experiment with the little native girl, Ballandella, will be useful I
trust in developing hereafter the mental energies of the Australian
aborigines for, by the last accounts from Sydney, I am informed that she
reads as well as any white child of the same age.
Geological specimens collected.
Connection between soil and rocks.
Geological structure and physical outline.
Valleys of excavation.
Extent of that of the Cox.
Quantity of rock removed.
Valley of the Grose.
Description and view of the largest.
Of that containing osseous breccia.
First discovery of bones.
Small cavity and stalagmitic crust.
Teeth found in the floor.
A third cavern.
Breccia on the surface.
Similar caverns in other parts of the country.
Shattered state of the bones.
Important discoveries by Professor Owen.
Gigantic fossil kangaroos.
Genus Hypsiprymnus, new species, indeterminate.
Ph. mitchellii, a new species.
New Genus Diprotodon.
Dasyurus laniarius, a new species.
General results of Professor Owen's researches.
Age of the breccia considered.
State of the caverns.
Traces of inundation.
State of the bones.
Putrefaction had only commenced when first deposited.
Accompanying marks of disruption.
These phenomena compared with other evidence of inundation.
Salt lakes in the interior.
Changes on the seacoast.
Proofs that the coast was once higher above the sea than it is at
Proofs that it was once lower.
And of violent action of the sea.
GEOLOGICAL SPECIMENS COLLECTED.
As any geological information respecting a country so little known as the
eastern coast of Australia may be acceptable to the public, I venture to
subjoin a few observations on some of the more prominent subjects of my
researches, and I do so with the more confidence because it will appear
how largely I am indebted for the interest they possess to the kindness
of my scientific friends in England.
CONNECTION BETWEEN SOIL AND ROCKS.
During the surveys and expeditions I carefully collected specimens at
every important locality, and I have thus been enabled since my return to
England to mark upon my maps the geological structure of the country. By
this means also I have been able to determine the relative value of the
land in the districts recently explored and to compare it with that of
the country previously known.
By a little attention to the geological structure of Australia we learn
how much the superficial qualities of soil and productions depend upon
it, and where to look for arable spots amid the general barrenness. The
most intelligent surveyors of my department have on several occasions
contributed considerably to my collection.
Curiosity led me to investigate some of the fossil remains of those
lately discovered regions while my public duties obliged me to study also
the external features of the country; and I have thus been enabled to
draw some inferences respecting various changes which have taken place in
the surface and in the relative level of sea and land.
The following are the principal rocks which I noticed in the country.
Limestone occurs of different ages and quality presenting a considerable
1. A light-coloured compact calcareous rock resembling mountain
limestone; at Buree and Wellington, rising, at the former place, to the
height of about 1500 feet above the sea.
2. A dark grey limestone appears at perhaps a still greater height on the
Shoalhaven river; in immediate contact with granite.
3. A crystalline variegated marble is found in blocks a few miles
westward of the above, near the Wollondilly.
4. Another variety of this rock is very abundant in the neighbourhood of
Limestone plains on the interior side of the Coast ranges and near the
principal sources of the Murrumbidgee. This contains corals belonging to
the genus favosites; crinoideae are also found abundantly in the plains
and distinguish this limestone from the others above-mentioned.
These rocks present little or no appearance of stratification.
A remarkably projecting ridge on the banks of Peel's river contained
limestone of so peculiar an aspect as to resemble porphyry, and it was
associated with a rock having a base of chocolate-coloured granular
felspar. (See Volume 1.)
A yellow highly calcareous sandstone, apparently stratified, occurs near
the banks of the Gwydir. Large rounded boulders of argillaceous limestone
have been denuded in the bed of Glendon brook; and an impure limestone is
found in the neighbourhood of William's river, both belonging to the
basin of the Hunter and not much elevated above the sea. Calcareous tuff
or grit may be observed in various localities, and calcareous concretions
abound in the blue clay of almost all the extensive plains on both sides
of the mountains.
A soft shelly limestone, most probably of recent origin though slightly
resembling some of the oolites of England, occurs extensively on the
southern coast between Cape Northumberland and Portland bay where it
forms the only rock with the exception of amygdaloidal trap.
Granite or granitic compounds are more or less apparent at or near the
sources of the principal rivers; but with the exception of the Southern
Alps and some patches in the counties of Bathurst and Murray this
fundamental rock is visible in Australia only where it appears to have
cracked a thick overlying stratum of ferruginous sandstone. Thus near the
head of the river Cox where the latter attains its greatest elevation,
and from the character of the valley has evidently been violently
disturbed, we find granite in the valley near the bed of the stream.
Observation 1. Such is the character of the country where the waters
separate, or in the line of greatest elevation which we are accustomed to
term the Coast Range. The general direction of this range is
north-north-east and accords perfectly with the hypothesis of Dr. Fitton,
founded on the general parallelism observed in the range of the strata,
even on the north-western coast, as noticed in his interesting little
volume, the first ever devoted to Australian Geology.* The parallelism so
remarkable in the range of strata in that portion, the general tendency
of the coastlines to a course from the west of south to the east of north
on the mainland, and even in the islands west of the Gulf of Carpentaria,
and a general elevation of the strata towards the south-east, as deduced
from Flinders' remarks, are all facts which should be studied in
connection with the direction of the granite along this part of the
(*Footnote. An account of some Geological specimens from the coasts of
Australia by William Henry Fitton, M.D., F.R.S., V.P.G.S., etc. 1826.)
Observation 2. It may be also observed that the sandstone reposing on the
rock eastward of this division or watershed is slightly inclined towards
the sea, whereas all the sandstone on the interior side, or westward of
it, dips to the north-west.
Trap-rocks are displayed in a great variety of situations. They often
occur connected with limestone in valleys, sometimes constitute lofty
ranges as on the north or left bank of the Hunter, and along the seashore
at the Illawarra; they likewise cap the summit of isolated hills, but no
particular place can be assigned to them with reference to the position
of any other rocks. Trap forms a good soil on decomposition as is shown
in the rich districts of the Illawarra, Cowpastures, Valley of the
Hunter, Liverpool Plains, Wellington Valley, and Buree.
Vesicular lava and amygdaloid are the chief ingredients of some of the
best parts of Australia Felix. In that region volcanic phenomena are more
apparent than in other parts of Eastern Australia, especially where the
Grampians, consisting of a mass of sandstone 4000 feet thick, seem a
portion of the great formation covering the districts of the north. The
strata in these mountains are inclined to the north-west, as if in
obedience to the upheavings of Murroa or Mount Napier, an extinct volcano
in the very line of their outcrop.
Observation. We found in the interior, hills of sandstone only, but at
this extremity of the great Coast range granite is extensively exposed in
ridges, between which, in one extensive district, are round heights of
mammeloid form, consisting of pure lava, and in another, tabular masses
of trap reposing on granite occupy one side of a valley.
Beds of gravel are not common in these parts of Australia; but occur
partially in the basins of the larger streams on the interior side of the
Coast range where the pebbles in general consist of quartz.
The prevailing geological feature in all Eastern Australia is the great
abundance of a ferruginous sandstone in proportion to any other rocks.
The sterility of the country where it occurs has been frequently noticed
in these volumes. It is found on the coast at Port Jackson and it was the
furthest rock seen by me in the interior beyond the Darling.
A deposit upwards of 1200 feet thick forms the Blue Mountains west of
Sydney, ranging thence, with the intersection of no other rock of
importance, to the Hawkesbury; and although declining towards the sea at
the rate of only 100 feet per mile, or 1 in 52, or at an angle of about 1
degree with the horizon; yet it is traversed by ravines which increase in
depth in proportion as the sandstone attains a greater elevation, and
present perpendicular crags and cliffs of a very remarkable character.
A region consisting of a sandstone deposit of so great thickness and so
slightly inclined necessarily presents a monotonous aspect in all
directions; and when it is compared with European countries composed of
many formations and presenting great diversity of scenery it proves how
much geological structure influences pictorial and physical outlines.
(See Plate 10 Volume 1, also Plate 38 above.)
In the eastern part of Australia the geologist will certainly find
sections in abundance but they are nearly all of sandstone for, with few
exceptions no other rocks have been denuded in situations similarly
GEOLOGICAL STRUCTURE AND PHYSICAL OUTLINE. VALLEYS OF EXCAVATION. EXTENT
OF THAT OF THE COX.
The ravines which discharge their waters into the little river Cox occupy
an area of 1,212 square miles, or one-half of the county of Westmoreland
on the right or south side of that river, and one-fourth of the county of
Cook on the other. Of this area 796 square miles, equal to one-half of
the county of Westmoreland, are on the right or south side of that river,
and 416, or one-fourth of the county of Cook, on the left. The whole
extent comprises the basin of this mountain stream, and is bounded by
heights rising very gradually from about 1000 feet at the gorge or outlet
of the Cox, to 3,400 feet on the north side at Blackheath, and on the
south to Murruin and Werong, summits of still greater elevation; the
lowest part of the ridge bounding this basin on the west or interior side
being nearly 3000 feet above the level of the sea. Cox's river flows over
a bed of water-worn rocks which, in the upper part of the valley, is
2,150 feet above the sea, and on the road to Bathurst this bed consists
of trap and granite. The river falls rapidly on leaving the granite of
the vale of Clwyd to a level not much above that of the sea, and it
escapes near its junction with the Warragamba from this spacious basin
through a gorge about 2,200 yards wide and flanked on each side by points
about 800 feet high.
QUANTITY OF ROCK REMOVED.
Supposing but two-thirds of the enclosed area of sandstone to have been
excavated to the depth of 880 feet only, which I allow as the mean
thickness of the stratum thus broken into, and considering the
inclination of the Cox and other valleys, then 134 CUBIC MILES of stone
must have been removed from this basin of the Cox alone.
VALLEY OF THE GROSE.
The valley of the Grose, whose basin is contiguous to that of the Cox on
the north, is of less extent but enclosed by cliffs of greater
perpendicular height. That river has been already described in the
journal, and the general character of the valley through which it flows
is represented in Plate 10 Volume 1.* We now perceive but slight
indications of the action by which the great area of stone in the valley
of the Cox, the Grose etc. has been removed. There are no accumulations
of sand but huge blocks of rock, scarcely worn by attrition, occur in
great abundance in the bed of the stream; neither do we find in the
larger channels of the rivers below any sand deposits, but on the
contrary the very rich alluvium which distinguishes the banks of the
(*Footnote. This book is already almost too full of plates and I beg to
refer the geological reader to my three-sheet map of the Colony for the
superficial forms and extent of these valleys.)
In the year 1830, after I had traced out the new line of descent from the
Blue Mountains to the interior country by the pass which I then named
Mount Victoria, I extended my survey to the heights beyond Wellington
Valley. This includes a rich alluvial tract watered by the river Bell,
one of the principal tributaries of the Macquarie, and is about 170 miles
to the westward of Newcastle. It is bounded on each side by a compact
calcareous rock resembling the mountain limestone of England and rising
on the east side to about 100 feet above the Bell.
On the west side of this valley hills of greater elevation, consisting of
a red sandstone and conglomerate, extend parallel to the limestone; and
on the east side of it is another range composed of trap-rocks. The basis
of a tract still further eastward, dividing the watershed of the interior
from that which sends its streams to the sea is, as has been already
observed, of granite.
The limestone presents a naked and rugged surface composed of pointed,
weather-worn blocks between which are small crevices leading to caves and
fissures. From these crevices a warm air ascends, accompanied by a smell
peculiar to the caves. The worn aspect of the external rock, resembling
half-dissolved ice, is very remarkable, particularly near the largest
An account of the survey of these caves was communicated to the
Geological Society in a paper read on the 13th of April 1831, of which an
abstract was published in its Proceedings, but the particulars respecting
the animal remains found by me have derived great additional importance
from the discoveries made by Professor Owen since my return to England. I
may be excused therefore for again calling attention to the situation of
those curious caves respecting which the following details are now
published with the consent of the Council of the Society.
The entrance to the caves of Wellington Valley is in the side of a low
hill and 65 feet above the adjacent alluvial flat. It consists of two
crevices between large blocks of limestone in one side of a hollow about
12 feet deep; and which has evidently been widened by water. (Plate 41.)
DESCRIPTION AND VIEW OF THE LARGEST.
We first descended the fissure at the mouth of the large cave, and then
clambered over great rocks until, at 125 feet from the entrance, we found
these inequalities to be covered by a deep bed of dry, reddish dust,
forming an even floor. This red earth lay also in heaps under lateral
crevices, through which it seemed to have been washed down from above. On
digging to a considerable depth at this point, we found a few fragments
of bone, apparently of the kangaroo. At 180 feet from the mouth is the
largest part of the cavern, the breadth being 25 feet and the height
about 50 feet. The floor consisted of the same reddish earth, but a thick
stalagmitic crust extended for a short distance from a gigantic
stalactite at the further end of the cavern. On again digging several
feet deep into the red earth here we met with no lower layer of
stalagmite nor any animal remains.
On a corner of the floor behind the stalactite and nearly under a
vertical fissure we found a heap of dry white dust into which one of the
party sunk to the waist.* (G. Plate 44.)
(*Footnote. The dust when chemically examined by Dr. Turner was found to
consist principally of carbonate of lime with some phosphate of lime and
animal matter. Proceedings of the Geological Society for 1831.)
Passing through an opening to the left of the stalactite we came upon an
abrupt descent into a lower cavern. Having reached the latter with some
difficulty, we found that its floor was about 20 feet below that of the
cavern above. It was equally level and covered to a great but
unascertained depth with the same dry red earth which had been worn down
about five feet in a hollow or rut.
A considerable portion of the farthest part of the floor (at H) was
occupied with white dust or ashes similar to that found in the corner of
the upper floor (at G).
This lower cavern terminated in a nearly vertical fissure which not only
ascended towards the external surface but descended to an unascertained
depth beneath the floor. At about 30 feet below the lowest part of the
cavern it was found to contain water, the surface of which I ascertained
was nearly on a level with that of the river Bell. Having descended by a
rope I found that the water was very transparent but unfit to drink,
having a disagreeable, brackish flavour.
This lower cavern is much contracted by stalactites and stalagmites.
After having broken through some hollow-sounding portions (at O and N) we
entered two small lateral caverns and in one of these, after cutting
through (at I) about eight inches of stalagmitic floor, we discovered the
same reddish earth. We dug into this deposit also, but discovered no
pebbles or organic fragments; but at the depth of two and a half feet met
with another stalagmitic layer which was not penetrated. This fine red
earth or dust seems to be a sediment that was deposited from water which
stood in the caves about 40 feet below the exterior surface; for the
earth is found exactly at that height both towards the entrance of the
first cavern and in the lateral caverns. (See Plate 44.)
That this cave had been enlarged by a partial sinking of the floor is not
improbable, as broken stalagmitic columns, and pillars like broken
shafts, once probably in contact with the roof, are still apparent. (See
the view of the largest cavern Plate 43.)
OF THAT CONTAINING OSSEOUS BRECCIA.
Eighty feet to the westward of this cave is the mouth of another of a
different description. Here the surface consists of a breccia full of
fragments of bones; and a similar compound, confusedly mixed with large
blocks of limestone, forms the sides of the cavity. This cave presents in
all its features a striking contrast to that already described. Its
entrance is a sort of pit, having a wide orifice nearly vertical, and its
recesses are accessible only by means of ladders and ropes. Instead of
walls and a roof of solid limestone rock we found shattered masses
apparently held together by breccia, also of a reddish colour and full of
fragments of bones. (Plate 45.) The opening in the surface appears to
have been formed by the subsidence of these rocks at the time when they
were hurled down, mixed with breccia, into the position which they still
retain. Bones were but slightly attached to the surface of this cement,
as if it had never been in a very soft state, and this we have reason to
infer also from its being the only substance supporting several large
rocks and at the same time keeping them asunder. On the other hand we
find portions of even very small bones, and also small fragments of the
limestone, dispersed through this cementing substance or breccia.
FIRST DISCOVERY OF BONES.
The pit had been first entered only a short time before I examined it by
Mr. Rankin, to whose assistance in these researches I am much indebted.
He went down by means of a rope to one landing-place and then, fixing the
rope to what seemed a projecting portion of rock, he let himself down to
another stage where he discovered, on the fragment giving way, that the
rope had been fastened to a very large bone, and thus these fossils were
discovered. The large bone projected from the upper part of the breccia,
the only substance which supported as well as separated several large
blocks, as shown in the accompanying view of the cave (Plate 45) and it
was covered with a rough tuffaceous encrustation resembling mortar. No
other bone of so great dimensions has since been discovered within the
breccia. (See Figures 12 and 13, Plate 51.)
From the second landing-place we descended through a narrow passage
between the solid rock on one side and huge fragments chiefly supported
by breccia on the other, the roof being also formed of the latter and the
floor of loose earth and stones.
SMALL CAVITY AND STALAGMITIC CRUST.
We then reached a small cavern ending in several fissures choked up with
the breccia. One of these crevices (K. Plate 44) terminated in an
oven-shaped opening in the solid rock (Plate 50) and was completely
filled in the lower part with soft red earth which formed also the floor
in front of it and resembled that in the large cavern already described.
Osseous breccia filled the upper part of this small recess and portions
of it adhered to the sides and roof adjoining, as if this substance had
formerly filled the whole cavity. At about three feet from the floor of
this cavity (Plate 50) the breccia was separated from the loose earth
below by three layers of stalagmitic concretion, each about two inches
thick and three apart; and they appeared to be only the remains of layers
once of greater extension, as fragments of stalagmite adhered to the
sides of the cavity as shown in Plate 50. The spaces between what
remained of these layers were filled with red ochreous matter and bones
embedded partially in the stalagmite. Those in the lower sides of the
layers were most thickly encrusted with tuffaceous matter; those in the
upper surfaces on the contrary were very white and free from the red
ferruginous ochre which filled the cavities of those in the breccia,
although they contained minute transparent crystals of carbonate of lime.
TEETH FOUND IN THE FLOOR.
On digging (at K) into the soft red earth forming the floor of this
recess, some fragments of bone, apparently heavier than those in the
breccia, were found, and one portion seemed to have been gnawed by a
small animal. We obtained also in this earth the last phalange of the
greatest toe of a kangaroo, and a small water-worn pebble of quartz. By
creeping about 15 feet under a mass of solid rock which left an opening
less than a foot and a half above the floor, we reached a recess about 15
feet high and 12 feet wide (L). The floor consisted of dry red earth and,
on digging some feet down, we found fragments of bones, a very large
kangaroo tooth (Figure 6 Plate 47) a large tooth of an unknown animal
(Figures 4 and 5 Plate 51) and one resembling some fragments of teeth
found in the breccia. (See Figures 6, 7, 8, and 9, Plate 51.)
A THIRD CAVERN.
We next examined a third cave about 100 yards to the westward of the last
described. The entrance, like that of the first, was tolerably easy, but
the descent over the limestone rocks was steeper and very moist and
slimy. Our progress downwards was terminated by water which probably
communicated with the river Bell, as its level was much lower when the
cave was first visited during a dry season. I found very pure iron ochre
in some of the fissures of this cavern but not a fragment of bone.
BRECCIA ON THE SURFACE.
Perceiving that the breccia, where it occurred below, extended to the
surface, I directed a pit to be dug on the exterior about 20 feet from
the mouth of the cave and at a part where no rocks projected. (N, Plate
44.) we found that the hill there consisted of breccia only; which was
harder and more compact than that in the cave and abounded likewise in
Finally I found on the summit of the same hill some weathered blocks of
breccia from which bones protruded, as shown in the accompanying drawing
of a large and remarkable specimen. (Plate 46.)
SIMILAR CAVERNS IN OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY.
Other caverns containing breccia of the same description occur in various
parts within a circuit of 50 miles, and they may probably be found
throughout the limestone country not yet examined.
On the north bank of the Macquarie, 8 miles east from the Wellington
caves, and at Buree, about 50 miles to the south-east of them, I found
this breccia at considerable depths, having been guided to it by certain
peculiar appearances of subsidence and disruption, and by yawning holes
in the surface, which previous experience had taught me to consider as
indications of its existence.
On entering one of these fissures from the bed of the little stream near
Buree and following, to a considerable distance, the subterraneous
channel of the rivulet, we found a red breccia containing bones as
abundantly as that of Wellington Valley. It occurred also amidst masses
of broken rocks, between which we climbed until we saw daylight above
and, being finally drawn out with ropes, we emerged near the top of a
hill from a hole very similar in appearance to the mouth of the cave at
Wellington, which it also resembled in having breccia both in the sides
of the orifice and in the surface around it.
At Molong, 36 miles east of Wellington Valley, I found some concreted
matter within a small cavity of limestone rock on the surface and, when
broken, this proved to be also breccia containing fragments of bone.
SHATTERED STATE OF THE BONES.
It was very difficult to obtain any perfect specimens of the remains
contained in the breccia--the smallest of the various portions brought to
England have nevertheless been carefully examined by Professor Owen at
the Hunterian Museum, and I have received from that distinguished
anatomist the accompanying letter containing the result of those
researches and highly important determinations by which he has
established several points of the greatest interest as connected with the
Natural History of the Australian continent.
IMPORTANT DISCOVERIES BY PROFESSOR OWEN.
Royal College of Surgeons, May 8th, 1838.
I have examined, according to your request, the fossil remains which you
discovered in Wellington Valley, Australia, and which are now deposited
in the Museum of the Geological Society; they belong to the following
GIGANTIC FOSSIL KANGAROOS.
Sp. 1. Macropus atlas. O. This must have been at least one-third larger
than Macropus major, the largest known existing species: it is chiefly
remarkable for the great size of its permanent spurious molar; in which
respect it approaches the subdivision of Shaw's genus, called
Hypsiprymnus by Illiger. The remains of this species consist of a
fragment of the right ramus of the lower jaw. (I*) Figure 1 Plate 47.
(*Footnote. The numbers and letters within a parenthesis in this letter
refer to labels on the specimens.)
Sp. 2. Macropus titan. O. I gave this name to an extinct species, as
large as the preceding, but differing chiefly in the smaller size of the
permanent spurious molar; which in this respect more nearly corresponds
with the existing Macropus major. The remains of this species consist of
a fragment of the right ramus of the lower jaw. (II) Figure 3 Plate 47.
In both the above specimens the permanent false molar is concealed in its
alveolus, and was discovered by removing part of the substance of the
jaw, indicating the nonage of the individuals.
A portion of cranium with the molar series of teeth of both sides. (II)
Figures 4 and 5 Plate 47. This specimen I believe to belong to Macropus
The permanent false molar, which is also concealed in this upper jaw, is
larger than that of the lower jaw of Macropus titan, but I have observed
a similar discrepancy in size in the same teeth of an existing species of
To one or other of the two preceding gigantic species of kangaroo must be
II.a. Crown of right inferior incisor, Figure 6 Plate 47.
II.b. Lower extremity of right femur.
II.c. Lower extremity of right femur, with the epiphysis separated,
showing its correspondence in age with the animals to which the fossil
II.d. 5th Lumbar vertebra, Figure 8 Plate 47.
II.e. 10th or 11th Caudal vertebra. The proportion of this bone indicates
that these great kangaroos had a relatively stouter and perhaps shorter
tail than the existing species.
Macropus sp. indeterminate. Agrees in size with Macropus major, but there
is a difference in the form of the sacrum: the second vertebra of which
is more compressed--to this species which cannot be determined till the
teeth be found, I refer the specimens marked:
III.a. Proximal end of left femur.
III.b. Proximal end of left tibia, in which the anterior spine sinks more
gradually into the shaft than in Macropus major. As this is the only
species with the skeleton of which I have been enabled to compare the
preceding fragments, I am not able to pronounce as to their specific
distinctness from other existing species of equal size with the Macropus
Macropus sp. indeterminate. From want of skeletons of existing species of
kangaroo, I must also leave doubtful the specific determination of a
species smaller than Macropus major, represented by the left ramus of the
lower jaw (IV) in which the permanent false molar is in place together
with four true molars, and which would therefore be a species of
Halmaturus of Fred. Cuvier.
(V.) Part of the left ramus of the lower jaw, with two grinders in place,
and a third which has not quite cut through the jaw.
(V.a.) Sixth and seventh grinders according to the order of their
development, right side, upper jaw, of a kangaroo not quite so large as
Several other bones and portions of bone are referable to the genus
Macropus, but they do not afford information of sufficient interest or
importance to be specially noticed.
Hypsiprymnus, sp. indeterminate.
(VI.) Figures 1 and 2 Plate 48. A portion of the upper jaw and palate
with the deciduous false molar and four true molars in place on each
side; the fifth or posterior molar is concealed in the alveolus, as also
the crown of the permanent false molar.
(VI.a.) Figure 3 Plate 48. Part of the right ramus of the lower jaw,
exhibiting a corresponding stage of dentition.
Observation. This species is rather larger than any of the three species
with the crania of which I have had the opportunity of comparing them:
there is no evidence that it agrees with any existing species.
(VII.) Cranium, coated with stalactite.
(VII.a.) Part of right ramus, with spurious and 2nd molar.
(VII.b.) Right ramus, lower jaw.
Observation. The two latter specimens disagree with Phalangista vulpina
in having the spurious molar of relatively smaller size, and the 2nd
molar narrower: the symphysis of the lower jaw is also one line deeper in
the fossil. As the two latter specimens agree in size with the cranium,
they probably are all parts of the same species, of which there is no
proof that it corresponds with any existing species. But a comparison of
the fossils with the bones of these species (which are much wanted in our
osteological collections) is obviously necessary to establish the
important fact of the specific difference or otherwise of the extinct
Sp. Phascolomys mitchellii, a new species.
(VIII.) Figure 4 Plate 48. Mutilated cranium.
(VIII.a.) Figure 5 Plate 48. Part of lower jaw belonging to the above.
(VIII.b.) Figure 6 Plate 48. Right series of molar teeth in situ.
(VIII.c.) Right ramus of the lower jaw.
Observation. These remains come nearer to the existing species than do
those of any of the preceding genera; but after a minute comparison I
find that there is a slight difference in the form of the grinders which,
in the fossil, have the antero-posterior diameter greater in proportion
than the transverse; the first grinder also is relatively larger, and of
a more prismatic form; the upper incisors are less compressed and more
prismatic; this difference is so well marked that, once appreciated,
anyone might recognise the fossil by an incisor alone. There is a similar
difference in the shape of the lower incisor. The fossil is also a little
larger than the largest wombat's cranium in the Hunterian Collection.
From these differences I feel no hesitation in considering the species to
which these fossils belong as distinct; and propose to call it
NEW GENUS DIPROTODON.
I apply this name to the genus of Mammalia represented by the anterior
extremity of the right ramus, lower jaw, with a single large procumbent
(IX.) Figure 1 Plate 49. This is the specimen conjectured to have
belonged to the Dugong, but the incisor resembles the corresponding tooth
of the wombat in its enamelled structure and position. See Figure 2 Plate
49 and a section of the wombat's teeth in Figure 7 Plate 48. But it
differs in the quadrilateral figure of its transverse section, in which
it corresponds with the inferior incisors of the hippopotamus.
To this, or to some distinct species, of equal size, have belonged the
fragments of bones of extremities marked X., X.a., X.b.
Dasyurus laniarius, O. A new species. I apply this name to the species to
which the following remains belong.
(XI.) Figures 3 and 4 Plate 49. Portions of the left side of the upper
(XI.a.) Figure 5 Plate 49. Portions of the left side of the upper jaw.
(XI.b.) Figure 6. Left ramus lower jaw, with last grinders.
(XI.c.) Figure 7. Anterior part of the right ramus of lower jaw.
This species closely resembles Dasyurus ursinus, but differs in being
one-third larger, and in having the canines, or laniaries, of
proportionately larger size.
The position of the teeth in the specimen marked XI.c. Figure 7, which
are wider apart; leads me to doubt whether it is the lower jaw of
Dasyurus laniarius, or of some extinct marsupial carnivore of an allied
but distinct species.
GENERAL RESULTS OF PROFESSOR OWEN'S RESEARCHES.
The general results of the above examination are:
1. That the fossils are not referable to any known extra-Australian genus
2. That the fossils are not referable, from the present evidence, to any
existing species of Australian mammal.
3. That the greater number certainly belong to species either extinct or
not yet discovered living in Australia.
4. That the extinct species of Macropus, Dasyurus, Phascolomys,
especially Macropus atlas and Macropus titan are larger than the largest
known existing species.
5. That the remains of the saltatory animals, as the Macropi, Halmaturi,
and Hypsiprymni, are all of young individuals; while those of the
burrowing Wombat, the climbing Phalanger, and the ambulatory Dasyure, are
I remain, dear Sir, etc.
(Signed) Richard Owen.
AGE OF THE BRECCIA CONSIDERED.
Nothing could be discovered in the present state of these caverns at all
likely to throw any light on the history or age of the breccia, but the
phenomena they present seem to indicate more than one change in the
physical outline of the adjacent regions, and probably of more distant
portions of Australia; at a period antecedent to the existing state of
STATE OF THE CAVERNS.
Dry earth occurred in the floor of both the caverns at Wellington Valley
and in the small chamber (Plate 28) of the breccia cave it was found, as
before stated, beneath the three lines of stalagmite and the osseous
breccia. It seems probable therefore that this earth once filled the cave
also to the same line, and that the stalagmite then extended over the
floor of red earth. Moreover I am of opinion that the interval between
the stalagmite and the roof was partly occupied by the bone breccia of
which portions remain attached to the roof and sides above the line of
stalagmite. It is difficult to conceive how the mass of red earth and
stalagmitic floors could be displaced, except by a subsidence in the
original floor of the cave. But the present floor contains no vestiges of
breccia fallen from the roof, nor any remains of the stalagmitic crust
once adhering to the sides, which are both therefore probably deposited
below the present floor.
In the external or upper part of the same cave, as shown in Plate 45, the
floor consisted of the red dust, and was covered with loose fragments of
rock, apparently fallen from conglomerated masses of limestone and
breccia which also however extended under the red earth there. Thus it
would appear that traces remain in these caverns: First, of an aqueous
deposit in the red earth found below the stalagmite in one cavern, and
beneath breccia in the other. Secondly, of a long dry period, as appears
in the thick crust of stalagmite covering the lowest deposit in the
largest cavern, and during which some cavities were filled with breccia,
even with the external surface. Thirdly, of a subsidence in the breccia
and associated rocks and, lastly, of a deposit of red earth similar to
TRACES OF INUNDATION.
The present floor in both caves bears all the evidence of a deposition
from water which probably filled the interior of the cavern to an unknown
height. It is clear that sediment deposited in this manner would, when
the waters were drawn off, be left in the state of fine mud, and would
become, on drying, a more or less friable earth.
Any water charged with carbonate of lime which might have been
subsequently introduced would have deposited the calcareous matter in
stalactites or stalagmites; but the general absence of these is accounted
for in the dryness of the caves. This sedimentary floor contained few or
no bones except such as had previously belonged to the breccia, as was
evident from the minuter cavities having been still filled with that
I do not pretend to account for the phenomena presented by the caverns,
yet it is evident, from the sediments of mud forming the extensive
margins of the Darling, that at one period the waters of that spacious
basin were of much greater volume than at present, and it is more than
probable that the caves of Wellington Valley were twice immersed under
temporary inundations. I may therefore be permitted to suggest, from the
evidence I am about to detail of changes of level on the coast, that the
plains of the interior were formerly arms of the sea; and that
inundations of greater height have twice penetrated into, or filled with
water, the subterraneous cavities, and probably on their recession from
higher parts of the land, parts of the surface have been altered and some
additional channels of fluviatile drainage hollowed out. The accumulation
of animal remains very much broken and filling up hollow parts of the
surface show at least that this surface has been modified since it was
first inhabited; and these operations appear to have taken place
subsequently to the extinction, in that part of Australia, of the species
whose remains are found in the breccia; and previously to the existence,
in at least the same districts, of the present species.
STATE OF THE BONES.
No entire skeleton has been discovered, and very rarely were any two
bones of the same animal found together. On the contrary even the
corresponding fragments of a bone were frequently detected some yards
apart (as for instance those in Figures 2 and 1 Plate 49).
PUTREFACTION HAD ONLY COMMENCED WHEN FIRST DEPOSITED.
On the other hand it would appear from the position of the teeth in one
skull (Figure 4 Plate 48) that they were only falling out from
putrefaction at the time the skull was finally deposited in the breccia,
and from the nearly natural position of the smaller bones in the foot of
a dasyurus (Figure 2 Plate 51) it can scarcely be doubted that this part
of the skeleton was imbedded in the cement when the ligaments still bound
the bones together. The united radius and ulna of a kangaroo (Figure 1
Plate 51) are additional evidence of the same kind; and yet if the bones
have been so separated and dispersed and broken into minute fragments, as
they now appear in this breccia, while they were still bound together by
ligaments, it is difficult to imagine how that could take place under any
natural process with which we are acquainted.
ACCOMPANYING MARKS OF DISRUPTION. EARTHY DEPOSITS.
It may however be observed that the breccia is never found below ground
without unequivocal proofs in the rocks accompanying it of disruption and
subsidence, and that the best specimens of single bones have been found
wedged between huge rocks, where the breccia occurs like mortar between
them, in situations eight or ten fathoms underground.
THESE PHENOMENA COMPARED WITH OTHER EVIDENCE OF INUNDATION.
That changes have taken place in the relative level of land and sea is
evident from the channel of the Glenelg which is worn in the rock to a
depth of five fathoms below the sea level. The sea must have either
risen, or the earth must have subsided, since that channel was worn by
any current of water for it is now as still as a canal, the tide making a
difference of only a few inches.
The features on the shores of Port Jackson extend underwater, preserving
the same forms as they have above it; while the bays and coves now
subject only to the ebb and flow of a tide present extensive
ramifications, and can only be considered the submerged valleys of a
surface originally scooped out by erosion at a period when the land stood
higher above the sea.
SALT LAKES IN THE INTERIOR.
The hills on the margins of the Australian salt lakes are always on the
north-east side, or opposite that of the prevailing south-west winds. The
formation of these hills is probably due to the action of the wind, the
growth and decomposition of small shells, the carbonate of lime
disengaged by evaporation, and the concretion of calcareous matter and
friable tuff so common in these ridges.
In two of the most remarkable, Mitre Lake and Greenhill Lake, a portion
of the basin of each, between the hilly curves and the water, was filled
by a dark-coloured perfectly level deposit, apparently of vegetable
mould. This being of a quality different from that of the hills, it would
appear that any process by which these heights may have originated
through the agency of the water adjacent and the wind could not continue
after this different formation had accumulated between them. Accordingly
where this dark-coloured deposit is most extensive the curved hill
concentric with the outer margin seems less perfect; but whether worn by
time or sweeping inundations I cannot pretend to say.
That some affinity exists between such accumulations and the salt water
in the lakes is the more probable from the present state of those of
Cockajemmy, which occur in the bed of a former current, and between the
rocky sides of a kind of ravine. Even in such a situation a mound of very
firm ground has been formed on the eastern bank of each, and was found
very convenient for the passage of the ravine by the carts of the party.
In those hills beside salt lakes on the plains a tendency to regular
curvature was the chief feature: the relative situation with respect to
the water and the wind was always the same; while in some cases, where
grassy flats had once been lakes, crescent-shaped green mounds were still
apparent on the north-eastern sides of each. If these remains of salt
water are of less volume than they have been formerly, as may be presumed
from these circumstances; and if the waters according to Professor
Faraday's analysis "are solutions of common salt and, except in strength,
very much resemble those of the ocean,"* we cannot have much difficulty
in believing that the sea deposited the water in these situations at no
very remote period.
As a dark-coloured soil is also found in the ridges about some of these
lakes we must look deeper for the original cause of such depressions in
those extensive plains; and may attribute them either to cavities or
protuberances in the lower rocks, which may not have been sufficiently
filled or covered by the superincumbent deposits: or they may be due to
partial subsidences in a thin stratum of limestone.
CHANGES ON THE SEACOAST. PROOFS THAT THE COAST WAS ONCE HIGHER ABOVE THE
SEA THAN IT IS AT PRESENT. PROOFS THAT IT WAS ONCE LOWER. AND OF VIOLENT
ACTION OF THE SEA.
The sea, probably when higher relatively to the land than it is at
present, appears to have acted with some violence in isolating various
points along the eastern coast; most of which we now find curiously
analogous, in their situation on the southern sides of inlets, and in
being now united to the mainland by mounds of sand.
The point of Wollongong was formerly an island and is now only connected
by drifted sandhills with the site of the township.
Cape Solander, the south head of Botany Bay, on which Captain Cook first
landed, was evidently once an island though at present connected with the
mainland by the neck of sand which separates Botany Bay from Port
The south head of Port Jackson has also been isolated but is again
connected with the shore of Bellevue between Bondi Bay and Rose Bay, by
drifted hills of sand. The north head appears to have been likewise
Barrenjoey, the south head of Broken Bay, is connected only by a low
beach of sand.
The Beacon head of Newcastle was once an island; and the drifted sand
forming the hills on which the town is built has since been thrown up by
Brisbane Water, Tuggerah beach, and Lake Macquarie are also striking
proofs of change of the same character as those at Port Jackson,
especially as they occur in a country possessing no inland lakes, and
along a coastline which is very even and straight in other respects.
The line of rocky islets extending across Bass Strait seems to be the
remains of land once continuous between the two shores, probably when the
current was still active in the channel of the Glenelg, and before the
sea had penetrated far within the heads of Port Jackson.
Thus it would appear that the Australian continent bears marks of various
changes in the relative height of the sea; on its shores and in the
interior; and that the waters have been at some periods much higher and
at another period lower with respect to the land than they are at
VOCABULARY OF WORDS HAVING THE SAME MEANING IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF
METEOROLOGICAL JOURNAL KEPT DURING THE JOURNEY INTO THE INTERIOR OF NEW
SOUTH WALES IN 1836.)
EXTRACT FROM THE SYDNEY HERALD OF MAY 21, 1838.
The murder of Mr. Faithful's servants by the blacks having created a more
than ordinary sensation among the settlers in the interior, we have
obtained the following authentic particulars of that desperate outrage.
It appears that on the morning of the 11th ultimo, a party of men in
charge of Mr. Faithful's sheep on the route to Port Phillip were
preparing to proceed from the Winding Swamp, about 30 miles beyond the
Ovens River, on their way to the Goulburn, where it was understood that
good sheep stations might be had; and while the bullocks were being yoked
the men with the drays heard the shouts of the shepherds crying out for
help. These men, who were at a short distance from the encampment
collecting the sheep, were presently seen running with great speed
towards the dray, pursued by a body of blacks throwing spears after them.
Their companions near the encampment, three of whom were armed with guns,
immediately ran to their assistance, and if possible to drive off the
blacks, who by that time were within 300 or 400 yards of the camp. One of
these men, named Bentley, fired his gun in the air, thinking that such a
display would intimidate them, but it had no effect. The blacks still
came forward, cautiously sheltering themselves behind the trees in their
path until, when within near approach of the adverse party, one came
forward and was in the act of deliberately poising his spear when Bentley
shot him dead and was himself immediately after pierced with three
spears. This unfortunate man was last seen desperately fighting with the
butt-end of his musket. The combat now became general--spears flew in all
directions and several shots were fired without effect, owing to the
caution exercised by the blacks of interposing the trees between
themselves and the defensive party, but still gradually closing upon the
latter. It was now seen that further resistance would be of no avail, and
that in flight lay the only chance of safety, as the blacks continued to
increase in numbers as they advanced. There was fifteen in all of Mr.
Faithful's servants, out of which seven in number were killed by the
blacks, and one other so severely wounded that his recovery is considered
hopeless. When attempting to make their escape a line was opened by the
blacks, consisting of about 150 in number, who thus appeared at the
fugitives' right and left as they passed. At about 100 yards distance
from the scene of this outrage, another strong party of armed blacks was
drawn up, doubtless as a reserve, but they took no part in the contest.
There could not, we are assured, have been fewer than 300 fighting men
present--not an old man was seen among them. The party in charge of the
sheep and cattle had remained at this particular place from the Saturday
previous, waiting the arrival of Mr. George Faithful, who was only a
day's stage behind, and was then momentarily expected. During their stay
every precaution was taken by the overseer and the rest to keep on
friendly terms with the natives, who constantly hovered about the
encampment in groups of 10 or 20 at a time. So friendly did they appear,
that neither the overseer nor any of the men, save Bentley, anticipated
any hostile intention; but his suspicion was excited by the fact of no
women appearing at any time among the blacks, and by finding, while going
his rounds as guard, the night preceding the attack, a large number of
spears, at a short distance from the camp, which he concealed. All the
sheep, except 130, we understand, have been recovered, and some of the
cattle; the remainder, it is expected, may also be recovered when a party
sufficiently strong to protect themselves from the blacks can be formed
to go in search of them.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE NUMBER OF POUNDS OF WOOL IMPORTED FROM NEW SOUTH WALES
AND FROM VAN DIEMEN'S LAND FROM 1820 TO 1837, DISTINGUISHING EACH YEAR.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE NUMBER OF SHIPS, AND THEIR TONNAGE, CLEARED OUT TO NEW
SOUTH WALES AND VAN DIEMEN'S LAND FROM 1820 TO 1837, DISTINGUISHING EACH
AN ACCOUNT OF THE NUMBER OF SHIPS, AND THEIR TONNAGE, REPORTED INWARDS
FROM NEW SOUTH WALES AND VAN DIEMEN'S LAND FROM 1820 TO 1837,
DISTINGUISHING EACH YEAR.)