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18 corrections, most recently by djbcjk - Show corrections

NEW HOLLAND.

Extract of a journal kept by Mr. Charles Fraser, Colonial Botanist, on an expedition to the southward of, Brisbane Town, Moreton Bay.

July 26,1828.—Morning clear and piercing cold ; found two blankets and a counterpane too little ; at a quarter past 8 pursued our course, over a tract of open gently undulating forest country ; travelling excellent at four and a half miles ; intercepted the river Logan, at its junction with a considerable creek ; here it is a fine running stream of considerable mag- nitude, and in ordinary seasons must contain a large body of water ; its immediate banks are bold and and almost precipitous, covered with thick viney, brushes, containing a vast quantity of Castanocarpus Australis (or native chesnut) ; having unloaded the bullocks, we crossed them over with some difficulty and carried their loads to the opposite beach.

The country for some distance from the bank is very rich, and covered with fine gums. At twelve observed the latitude which gave 27° 48' South.  

At one o'clock resumed our journey over a tract of fine forest land ; at one and a half miles from our crossing place we again intercepted the Logan, and and having in vain endeavoured to cross, we were obliged to observe an easterly course, until its me- andering permitted us to proceed more Southerly, a distance of about two miles ; here the country im- proves much. Having crossed a creek which falls into the Logan we halted for the day having made good by adometer 8 and a half miles and reduced course S. 6 miles.  

On the banks of the Logan I observed in the vici- nity of a natives' encampment, three sticks fixed in the ground, forming a triangle, and attached at the top by a cord, over which was placed a sheet of bark, and seeing something suspended under cover of the bark, Captain Logan pointed it out to me as being the place where they deposit their kangaroo nets, dillys (bags), and superfluous elemans, chisels, &c &c. until they return to that district again, it being considered as the greatest breach of faith amongst the tribes in this district to touch any of them, a mark of honesty which I fear but few of their white neighbours would scrupulously observe. On examining the contents of this depot, I found it to consist of a kangaroo net 50 feet long and 5 and a half in width, made of as good twine as any European net, but much stronger and put together in a manner which would do credit to any professed netmaker. A fishing net of the finest material stained black, forming, when in the water, an inverted cone about   7 feet long ; a dilly (a luggage bag which the females   carry), this is formed of the leaves of a species of   Xanthorhea, strong enough to hold any thing ; two ellemans or shields, made of the wood of Urtica Gigas or Gigantic Nettle, as light as cork ; two chisels edged with flint, and an iron wedge, evidently stolen from Brisbane Town.  

July 27.—Morning clear and pleasant ; thermo- meter at 47° ; at 8 o'clock proceeded on our course,   which led us over a tract of very good level country, some parts of which are in very wet weather swampy, and which is succeeded by gently undulating hills of tolerable good forest land, covered with Casuarina, Jacksonia or Dogwood, and tolerable gums ; at 2 and a half miles from our encampment intercepted a large creek, the banks of which were rather swampy   where we crossed it, but abounding in kangaroo. From this point we were obliged to alter our course Westerly, and at 1 mile intercepted a second creek running into the Logan, the banks of which are re-   markably fertile ; one half mile further intercepted another creek, the banks of which are covered with dense forests of Araucaria or Pine Oxleys, Zanthoxy- lon, or yellow wood of considerable breadth, and so dense that we found it impossible to pass the bul- locks through, in consequece of which we found it

necessary to ascend the range in which the creek has

its source.

At noon observed the latitude, which gave 27° 52'     S, here we observed one of those remarkable battle circles, which seem to be peculiar to the natives of this part of New Holland ; they consist of a circle of

33 yards in circumference, edged by a path of 3 feet in breadth and 10 inches in depth, having a path of the same breadth and depth leading from them in a  

direct line, frequently half a mile in length. The history of the cause which leads to the foundation of those circles (as follows), was given me by an eye   witness, who lived amongst those tribes for 19   months, and whose testimony is strongly supported  

by many recent facts which have been elucidated

since the foundation of the Establishment at Brisbane

Town.  

It was discovered by one of the tribes inhabiting the banks of Pumice-Stone River, that a neighbour- ing tribe bad trespassed on the fishing and hunting ground of the former, upon which a warrior was dispatched to the aggressing chief, who inhabited a district three days march north of the Pumice-Stone

River to demand satisfaction.

The aggressors accepted the challenge and march- ed immediately towards their enemies, their num- bers amounting to about 250 souls, men women, and children. Having approached the territory of the aggressed chief, they sent a warrior to him, to re-     quest permission to cross his boundary line.  

The chief being absent kangarooing the warrior     was obliged to wait his return, when permission was   of course granted. The opposite party on crossing     the boundary on the beach, made each a mark   across it with their great toes, the cause of which  

is not yet known, they then approached the scene   of action, and encamped for the night. In the morn-   ing all the warriors were in readiness, and proceed-   ed accompanied by the women and children, to meet   the enemy, who were at no great distance, giving   particular orders to the European (Finnegan,) to remain in charge of the women at no great dis-   tance, nevertheless, curiosity urged him to follow   them, when he stated that the picked warriors on  

both sides being armed, entered the path way, and proceeded to the circle, when two men from each party were picked out to fight with spears, and ellemans, the contest lasted for some time, then the two belonging to the aggressors fell covered with wounds, upon which a number of their friends rushed   into the circle, and carried their bodies away ; im- mediately after a dreadful yell was set up, and the injured party set upon their enemy, with all their

might, keeping up a running fight, until night put

an end to the scene.

The conquered party immediately forsook their previous encampment, carrying the dead bodies with them, and encamped two miles farther North, keeping up horrible lamentations during the journey, having encamped, they immediately commenced flaying the bodies, and having buried them, carried their skins with them for a considerable distance, when they formed a triangle of spears, around which they twisted the skins, leaving the face, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet suspended, they then made a fire under them, and having dried them to the consistance of leather, one of the war- riors took them down and after some ceremony over them, he carried them away, the whole party set- ing up a dreadful yell, and nothing further was seen or heard of them. Mr. Cunningham has the skin of an aboriginal male in his possession obtained of private Platt of the 57th Regiment, from the hut of a native on the banks of the Brisbane, above its con- fluence with the Bremer. It was placed in the dilly or luggage bag of a female, and carefully placed in one of their huts. At 1 o'Clock continued to as- cend the range, in doing of which we were enabled to keep our course for some distance, the ascent is easy, the bullocks got up without any difficulty, the defiles on each side are covered with pine forests to the summit, which is the only acessible part of it, and along which we found travelling very good, on the western extreme of the range we encamped our bullocks being much fatigued having made good by adometer 8 miles and three quarters, and reduced

true S. C. five and a half.

On the summit of the range we observed a rock of remarkable compact granular silex, which on ex- amining we found to have been lately split by the natives, for the purpose of making tomahawks, and chisels, by what means they managed to break the rock, remains as yet a secret. From the summit of the range, there is an extensive view to the North East, and South East, the whole of the vale of the Brisbane, is seen to advantage, and the shores of Moreton Bay. To the eastward, may be seen the valley through which the first branch of the Logan passes, extending in the direction of Mount Warn-

ing.

On this range was found a beautiful, unpublished species of Acacia, with glacous tomentose leaves

and Hovea acutifolia.

July 28-Morning clear, thermometer at 50 ° ; at 8 o'clock descended the range, which was named Birnam, and passed round its base, over a tract of     very fine forest land, covered with iron bark and  

apple tree, (Angophora) ; here the country changes its character, the hills and valleys are covered with

the richest verdure, the soil a dark brown loam.  

Still descending we passed over extensive flats of amazing fertility, which seem to extend to the Logan, which now observes a southerly course. Here a magnificent valley opens to the view, extending south, as far nearly as the eye can carry, (named

the Vale of Erris), terminated by lofty peaked mountains, supposed to be Mount Warning. From this point Fiinder's Peak bore W. by North half West, distant about 15 miles; the country between us and the Peak seemed low, fertile, and easy of

access.

Descending into the valley, we passed over a beau- tiful open plain of the richest description imagina- ble, its estimated length is about 2 miles, and breadth 1 mile and a half. It is bounded on the North and East by beautiful open forest hills, on the West by the Logan, and on the North by an extensive tract of low rich forest land, (Letitia Plains.) Fiinder's Peak appears from the plain to great advantage ; one mile south of the plain intercepted a beautiful lagoon, on which was found a new species of Villarsia, which from its orbicular leaves was named Nym- phefolia; observed the latitude, which gave 27°   56" 5' S. Here the river trends to the eastward, passing through beautiful flats; 2 miles and a half from the Logan intercepted a creek, passing from Birnam Range to the river, covered with brushes of Araucaria, through which we could not pass the bullocks, we were consequently obliged to cross the lagoon, which was accomplished with some difficulty, not from the quantity of water, though here a fine stream, but from the density of the brush on the banks, and the almost perpendicular nature thereof ; the west bank seems to rival the east in the richness and extent of its flats, the east being more hilly ; Grevillia venusta appears here to great advantage. At half past 3 encamped, having made good a distance by the odometer, of only 9 miles ; true course, South 12 West 5 miles.

July 29. - Weather exceedingly wet, with heavy squalls from the West ; at noon cleared up ; observed   our latitude, which gave 27 ° 58" 3' S.

July 30 - Morning fine and clear, with wind from S. W. started at our usual hour ; our course led us over one of the richest tracts of land I ever beheld, extending as far as we could perceive on both sides of the river, and towards Fiinder's Peak.

Three miles from our encampment passed a small plain, from which Fiinder's Peak bore W. N. W.

distant about 15 miles.

On' mile farther South, a low ridge approaches the river, from which we had a magnificent view of the middle ward of the vale as it may be termed ;

this range and one immediately opposite dividing   it distinctly ; at the extremity of the valley appears   a magnificent range of mountains, with cloud capped

summits, supposed to be Mount Warning ; on des-   cending the above ridge (named Dunsinan), we   crossed a creek of considerable size, passing through an extensive valley from the North West ; after which we continued our course along the vale, the

flats extending as we ascended, and if possible im-   proving in soil. The hills that border these flats   are of gentle ascent, firm and covered with the . richest verdure, they are admirably adapted for sheep grazing.

At 3 o'clock halted for the day, on the immediate bank of the river, having made good by adometer,

10 miles direct South.

Close to our encampment discovered a number of native fires, with quantities of chesnuts, and native Tarra (Calladium gymnorrhison) roasting, and

quantities not yet prepared. They form a semi   circle of stones, over which they allow about two thirds of their the wood to project, evidently for the purpose of roasting their chesnuts; on seeing us approach they fled. I observed a great variety in the construction of their huts, they were all covered with grass. On a small conical. detached hill, close to our encampment were seen several of the natives, evidently watching us. At 4 o'clock ascended the above hill, which we found to be of basaltic forma- tion, many of the columns were found to measure 7 feet in length, the prisms perfect ; Hexahedral and tetrahedral in confused masses; amongst these I found Polypodium diversifolium of Brown ; on de- scending we discovered a native concealed under a log of wood, evidently watching an opportunity to secure the provisions and implements left at their encampment ; he was dreadfully alarmed, and when clear of us precipitated himself into the river. Lati- tude observed 28 ° 6" 19' S., it being exactly in the parallel of Point Danger and of Mount Dumaresq, on the borders of the Darling Downs of Mr. Cunning- ham. Evening exceedingly cold, with strong breezes

and showers from South West.

(To be continued)

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