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2 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections

An Exploring Adventure.

Tho Litany of n Bushman on tho Borders might vf ell mn, "From native dogs, from «cadby sheep, from hlaoks, from droughts, from governor's proclamations', good Lord doliver us.'.'

Tho droughts como ia their appointed season, and tho day will bc, when wella and tanks and aqueducts »ill,redeem many-n. .part from tho curso of periodical barrenness : the blacks soon tame or fido bofpro tho white man's faco i un- fortunately tho scat of tho nativo dogs, und home-bred or town-bred governing crotchets aro moro plentiful-in long settled than newfound countries. At any-rate, I havo experienced them all, and now givo tho following passage of my lifo for the -benefit*.pf. tho gentlemen " who live nt horae at ease."-hatohing theories for our

good-Beaven help J.helr {¡Úiness !.¿Í ;.' .

.."..I.bad been'1 two yêara^cSmfortably sottlcd'witb lot.-of cattle and isheop.^part. my own, part on " thirds" when the people south.of mo beean to complain of drought. 1 had enough feed and water ; tho .question was,, whether it

would last.

, ,,I,called;my bullock-driver, Bald-facod Dick, into consultation. He waylaid.up nt the time with a broken leg. Diok .strongly advised look- ing for a now station " to .the nor'ard." .

Tho sheep., would do.-for months,.-but he thought we wore overstocked wi th cattle. I had n.'good.dcal of confidence . in Dick's judgment ; for hp .was a " first fleeter,"-that is, ¿nine over with" Governor Phillip in the first fleet ; had seen everything in the .colony, both good and bad ; had, it; was whispered, in "early years fled from a flogging niastor, and' lived, some said, with tho blacks ; others averred with a party of gullyrrakors (cattlo-stcalcrs) ; ho ' sworo hor- ridly, was dangerous when he had drunk too much rum,'but was a thorough Bushman ; by the s tars, or by sun, and tho fall of thc land,

could find hia way any where by day or night,

understood all kinds of stock, and could make bullocks understand him. Ho knowrevery rov- ing character in tho colony, tho quality of every station, and more about tho far interior, than he choso to tell to every ono. AV i th nil his coarse- ness, he was generous -and-, good-natured, nnd when well paid,. and fairly and strictly created, stood upon " Bush honour," and could be tho- roughly depended on.

Having had an opportunity - of serving: him in a rather . serious matter previous to his-en- tering my service, I was pretty sure of his best


Tho.end of it was, for a promise of five pounds he obtained from a friend of his a description of a country hitherto unsettled, and first-rate for cattle. These men. who can neither read nor

writo, havo often a talent for description, which' is astonishing.. .

Having heard a minuto detail of tho " pack," and. studied a «ort of map drawn on thc lid of n tea-chest with n burned stick, I decided on ex- ploring with my overseer, Jem Carden, and, if, returning for thecnttlo and drags.all loaded for founding n station.

: Wo only took our guns and tomahawks, with toa, sugar, a salt tongue, and small damper ready baked, being determined to make long marches, starting early, camping nt mid-day, and marching again the evening ns long as it was light. -?'

Our first stage was only twenty-fivo miles to young. Marson'S cattle-sUitiou. Mnrson was a ondet, of a noble family, and having boori too fist at homo and in India ns a cavnlty subal- tern, had been sont out with a fail- capital to Auatralia.'utuler tho idea that a fortune was to

bo had Tor asking, and no menus of expenso opon in tho Bush. Vhnt money ho did not leave in the bars and billiard-rooms of Sydney, ho In- fested in a bord of six hundred cn'ttlo ; to look .after thoso, he had four men, whom he engaged, ono beoauBo he could fight, another because hu could sing, and all bocause they flattered him. With these fellows ho lived upon terms of per- fect equality, with a keg of rum continually on the tap. * Then, for want of better society, ho made his hut the rendezvous of a tribe of tame blacks. -

.-We found bim sitting on tho floor in a. pair of trowsers and raggèd shirt, unwashed, uncomhod, palo-facod, and-red eyed, surrounded by hnlf-a dozon black gins (hia sultanas), a lot of dogs, poultry,'a tamo kangaroo, and two of his mon. The floor was littered.with quart pots, lumps of fat, arid damper outsUlo tho hut ; tho relations of tho black ladies had made a fire, and were cooking a piecó of a lino young hoifor,: What

with tho jabbering of tho gins, tho singing and j swearing of tho men', mid tho yelping of tho

dogs, it waa_no_placo for a quiotmeal, so wo ¡ only stayed tong enough to drink a pot of toa, j so as not , to offend, and'passed on to camp

an hour under tho shado of a thicket near tho river. .- : .'.'- ' .'

Marana having, with tho assistanco "of his hlauk friends,)consumed all his stuck, has re- turned homo ; nnd; I hear, asserts every where that Australia is hot a country a gentleman can

livo m. ? " . ? . '«

Our coursa next, aft'or crossing tho dividing rango, lay overa very flat country, n'l burned up as far as the oyo could reach,-a perfect dosort of sand. Tho chain of pools which formed tho river after rain, wero nearly choked np by tho putrifying enrcasos of cattle smothered in fight- ing, for water. Tho air was poisonous ;tho horses sank fetlock-deep at ovory strido ; tho blazing sun was refloctod back fruin tho hot sand with an intensity that almost blinded our half-shut oyes. After three hours of this mis- ery, wo struck into a lintier country, nud soon after carno up to tho camp of a squattor, who had boon forced.forward by tho drought; Ho had marked -out . about twenty miles along the river for his run,-a pretty good slice, I thought, when, beforo turning back, ho said, " That is all I want.'* -It was-no'business of ours, ns we had views further n-field. For three days wo pushed on, making'from thirty to forty miles a day, without seeing any thing exactly to our mind. We rode over arid plains, dotted willi scrubby brushwood, l hen up precipitous hills ; now leap- ing, now damboring down and'up,-and now riding round' to avoid dry gullies and ravines-; passing occasionally breaks of- green -.pasture, but insufficiently watered for my purpose. Soma -times our*wny lay along mountain sides, some- times in tho dry.bed . of a torront..- Sometimos hugo boulders interrupted our course, sometimes tlio gigantic .trunks of fallen trcos. Moro than onoo wo had . to steer through a forost of tho mquotonous, shadeless gum, with Ita lofty, daz- zlingly whlto trunks festooned with tho brown, curly bark of tho.provlous year, and ita parasol Uko but shadeless branches, whoro crimson, grcon"; nnd, snowy parrot tribes .shrieked and -whistled among the overgroeu leaves., It ls im- possible to concolvo any tblag. moro gorgeous than theso bird ' as they fluttered in tho sun ; but I confess that, " on aorlous thoughts in- tense,'* during this , journey, they . wero moro often associated with my ideas' of supper than anything else , ;

; Tho ovonlng of tho third,day, wo found our> solves obliged to camp down with.a sonnty sup ply of. brackish water, .and no signs of any living thing. Tho noxt day was worse ¡ a land of silonco and desolation, whore it seemed ns.if mountains had- boen-cruinbled .up and scattered about ia hjlls and lumps. Tho dry earth cracked and yawnod in nil .directions. .Failing to find water, wo camped down, parched, weary, silent, but not despairing, . morning tho horses were gone.

\ .1 cannot find words to describe what wo, suf-! forod ,Iji. tho subsequent twelvo. hours. I had 'walked until my feet woro ono irma* of blisters, and was ready lo Ile down and diu ton times in the day ; but somehow I found strength tn

walk, always chewing a hüllet. At length, at nightfall, we found our horses ; anil, nearly at thu Kimo time, to crawn our delight-water. At tho sight of thin, \TO both involuntarily sank down on our knees nnd returned thanks for lifo saved.

Tho next morning, after n »canty breakfast, wo sot to work, and by dint of cutting away with axe and jack-knife, at. tho expenso of clothes nnd skin, .through a brigalow scrub for half a mile, found our way into a gap. through which our track lay, and whloli we had missed. It led straight to tho dividing rango.

After crossing flvo miles, from tho foot of tho range, through a barren . tract, our eyes nnd honrts were suddenly rejoiced hy tho sjghs of tho

wishbd-for land.

A plain, covered with fine green barley-grass, as high as our horses' heads, and sprinkled over with the myal shrub, which cattle and sheep will eat and thrive on, even without grass. Such was the delicious prospect before us. A flood had evidently but lately subsided, for lagoons full of water were scattered all about; a river running at the rate of five miles an hour, ser- pentincd as far as the eye could see, from which the water-fowl fluttered up as we passed; the   eagle hawks were sweeping, along after flocks of quail, and mobs of kangaroos hopping about  

like huge rabbits. There was not a sign of horn or hoof any where, but it was evident the abo- rigines were numerous, for there were paths worn down where they had been in thc habit of travelling, from one angle of the river to ano-

ther; we could trace their footmarks and of all sizes, and thereupon we unslung our guns and looked at thc priming. Altogether, I thought I had discovered the finest place for a cattle   station in the colony; I found out afterwards   that the first appearance of a new country, before it has been stocked, is not to be de- pended on.    

Wc formod a camp in an angle of the river, so as to have protection on three sides, ventured .in-spite of tho danger, to light a fire and cook

sonic game. Ob, how delicious wns that meal ! As I lay near tho river's edge, pooping through I tho tall grass, j^saw the horrid emus, that raro

and soon to bo extinct bird, como down the slopes on tho opposite sido to. drink-in numbera; a sure sign .that white men were as yet strangers to these plains.

Wc spent some days in examination, .and I during the exploration met with adventures with j aborigines, I will not now relato. Having I marked a station with'my initials, arid in return-

ing mado'out 'a routo practicable for.drays, by which I afterwards mado my way with a. largo herd of cattle, although not without'enduring moro k than I could tell in a few lincB.

Our horses having picked up their nosh in a fortnight's spell ' on tho green plains, wo got back at a ratting pace, but, before, arriving home, met with mi advonturo I shall not srion forget. . It was at tho first station, wo reached after crossing thc " barrons'.' that divided our newly discovered country. A hut had just hoon built for tho Stockman, a big strong Irishman, moro than six feet high, a regular specimen ol a Tipperary chicken. Ho had boen entertain- ing" us with characteristic hospitality ; and wc wero smoking our pipes round tho fifo, when thc hut-kecper rushed in without his hat, cry- ing- ..-??-'

" Tom ! Tom I^the blacks are coming, dowr on us, all armed, as hard as they cnn run. Shut tho.door ! for Heaven's" aako shut tho door" Tom banged it to, nnd ptii his shoulder ngainsl (t, while" the keeper was pulling lip thomar, am! Cnrden and I woro getting the loek-ensos off om flre-arins. Unfortunately tho door was made roughly of green wood, and had shrunk, leaving gaps between tho slabs.

In tho moan timo about - thirty blacks hurled a volley of sponrs that made tho walls ring again ; and then, advancing boldly np, ono or' them thrust a doublo-jagged spear through thc door »lap into Tom's throat.- My back was turnod towards h im i being busy putting a fresh cap on my carbine I heard his cry, and, turning, san him fall into tho arms of tho hut-kcoper. 1 ; thrust the barrel of my pioce through a hole

against a black devil, and fired at.the «arno mo ! ment that my man. did. Tho two dropped ; thc

rest retreatod,-but turned back, and caught ur their dead friends. Carden flung open the dooi again, and gave them tho contents of his othei barrel. My black put tho lmt-koepcr's mnskol into my hand ; 1 gave them a ohargo of buck- shot. Threo more, foll, mid tho rost, droppinp their friends, disappeared across tho rirer. All this was tho work of n momont. Wo thor turned our attention to tho stock-hooper. Thc spear had entered at tho chin, and como oui on tho.other.side throo or four indies. There was not a groat flow of blood, but ho wa! evidently bleeding inwardly. no waa per- fectly collected, and said ho was quito suro he

should die. ,

Wo out tho end of tho -sponr short ofl, hal did not daro to tako it out. Tho hut-kccpei got ou a horse, leading another, .and rode foi a doctor who lived ono hnndrod and fifty mild off,; ho nev>T stopped bxcopt to glvo tho horses a,food two or threo times in tho whole dis- tancio,, bijt whon ,ho, roached his journoy's end the doctor was mit. . la tho mean timo pool Tom made his will, disposing of a fow hoad ol cattle, mare and foal, and also signed a sort ol dying testament tb tho effect that ho had never wronged any of tho . blaoks in any way.. Thc weather wa» very hot, mortification cariio on, and ho dlod in agony two dnys aftor receiving

his wound.

Tho outrage was, reported to tho Commis- sioner, but no notice was taken of it although we woro paying a tax for n Bordor Polico al thp.timo.,,,... , ; ..

Not many, yearn havo olnpsed si nco wo fought for our, lives-sinc'o I road tho burial service over the. poor Stockman. 1 A handsome veran- dah "d villa now stands in tho plnoo of the slali hut :. yellow . corn: wavos. over, tho. Irishman's gravo, nnd whllo cattle and sheep abound, as well white mon, womon, and chlldron, there in not n wild bindi within two hundred milos.