A RARE PIONEER.
On Saturday died at his homo at Darling- hurst a rare man amongst pioneers; one who not only fought through the dense bush and immense wilderness of Northern Aus- tralia, but was exquisitely, almost poetically,
sensitive of the scrub and the plain, and had
the power to put
to put them as he had felt them out there in black and white, so that other people might really know them too. That
was Ernest Favenc, pioneer, station hand, ex-
plorer, poet, novelist.
The journey that made Ernest Favenc fa- mous was one on which the owners of "The
Queenslander" newspaper, sent him, to see what that stretch of Australia which lay between Blackall, on the Barcoo, and Port Darwin was like. That was 30 years ago, 15 years after his coming, a new chum, to Aus- tralla. There was a proposal to join the Queensland railways to Port Darwin, and there has been a proposal over since Fa- venc was sent, with a man named Briggs to
help him, by "The Queenslander" to report on the track. On July 19, 1878, they struck out from the Barcoo into country that seemed by the look of it, they said, to have had no rain for two years. For the want of water they barely got through the first part of the way. Then the land and the weather changed; and they crossed the Herbert River into good cattle country; hit on a part near the Palmerston that was fit for farms; and, fin- ally, on a land so wet that it was as im- passable as the dry. On a day six months after their start, they sighted the South Aus- tralian telegraph line. The next day they came into Southport and Port Darwin. They said that, so far as engineering went, the
line might well be built.
Four years later Mr. Favenc, with Mr. Crawford, made his way along the whole strip of land just south of the Gulf of Carpen- taria—the McArthur, Limmen Bight, and the Robinson and Nicholson rivers. He found again good cattle country, much better than people had hoped for. Afterwards Mr. Favenc
struck into Australia from the other side up. to where the Gascoyne and the Ashburton
rise in Western Australia.
What dragged Mr. Favenc again and again into the unknown country was the idea that, as he said, there was good reason to believe a habitable country with enormous areas of well watered pasture land lay over the hori- zon, and might yet be found in what was supposed to be, on the authority of the ex- plorers who had crossed it—Giles, Forrest, and Warburton—a desert in the heart of Aus- tralia in which no man could live. "The un-
known country on this continent is still more
than double the well known portion," He
wrote that over 20 years ago, when he settled down first to the life of an author.
It is understood that some of the blackfellows in Australia have shoes of feathers. In which they can walk without the slightest sound, and which they put on when they intend to murder a man. Round this subject Ernest Favenc wrote a novel, "The Moccasins of Silence." But the blackfellow is not a good subject matter. His poem, "Voices of the Desert," published three years ago, was good veerse, without being brilliant. He was a fre- quent contributor to the "Herald," and wrote a number of well told stories for the "Bulle- tin," and the best Australian boys' book ever published, "The Secret of the Australian Desert." Perhaps his big "History of Aus- tralian Exploration" is the best known of his books. Amongst the others were: "The Geo- graphical Development of Australia," "Tales of the Austral Tropics," "Marooned in Aus- tralia." But of all his works the little sketches of the heart of Australia with its burnished days and glorious evenings, and its cruel, treacherous lameness, were the best reading.
Ernest Favenc was born in London 62 years ago. He was educated partly in Germany and partly in Oxfordshire. At 19 years he came out to Sydney, and went almost at once to a Queensland cattle station. For many years he had been in broken health. The figure of a tall thin stooping man, drawn face, and short grey beard, making its way with the help of a stick, and strangely feeble steps down Kellett-street and William-street to the Park and city of a morning will have been noticed by many. But those who come that way to town will miss that figure now.