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Title: The Land of the Kangaroo

Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey through the Great Island Continent

Author: Thomas Wallace Knox

Release Date: December 26, 2007 [eBook #23995]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Roger Frank
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team



The Land of the Kangaroo.


IN WILD AFRICA. The Adventures of Two Youths in the Sahara Desert. By Thomas W. Knox. 325 pages, with six illustrations by H. Burgess. 12mo. Cloth. $1.50.
THE LAND OF THE KANGAROO. The Adventures of Two Youths in the Great Island Continent. By Thomas W. Knox. 350 pages, with five illustrations by H. Burgess. 12mo. Cloth. $1.50.

*** Col. Knox’s sudden death, ten days after completing “The Land of the Kangaroo” leaves unfinished this series of travel stories for boys which he had planned. The publishers announce that the remaining volumes of this series will be issued, although the work will be done by another’s hand.

Announcement concerning the remaining volumes of this series will be made later.



Land of the Kangaroo.






Boston, U. S. A.


25 Bromfield Street.


By W. A. WILDE & CO.

All rights reserved.



The rapidly increasing prominence of the Australian colonies during the past ten or twenty years has led to the preparation of the volume of which this is the preface. Australia has a population numbering close upon five millions and it had prosperous and populous cities, all of them presenting abundant indications of collective and individual wealth. It possesses railways and telegraphs by thousands of miles, and the productions of its farms, mines, and plantations aggregate an enormous amount. It has many millions, of cattle and sheep, and their number is increasing annually at a prodigious rate.

Australia is a land of many wonders, and it is to tell the story of these wonders and of the growth and development of the colonies of the antipodes, that this volume has been written.

T. W. K.


I. West Coast of Africa—Adventure in the South Atlantic Ocean. 11
II. The Cape of Good Hope—the Southern Ocean—Australia. 28
III. A Land of Contradictions—Transportation to Australia. 49
IV. Strange Adventures—Australian Aboriginals. 67
V. Across Australia—Tallest Trees in the World. 83
VI. Australian Blacks—Throwing the Boomerang. 100
VII. Adelaide to Melbourne—the Rabbit Pest—Dangerous Exotics. 115
VIII. Cannibal Blacks—Melbourne and Its Peculiarities. 131
IX. “the Laughing Jackass”—Australian Snakes and Snake Stories. 146
X. The Harbor of Melbourne—Convict Hulks and Bushrangers. 158
XI. Geelong—Australian Gold Mines—Finding a Big Nugget. 173
XII. A Southerly Burster—Western Victoria. 190
XIII. Journey Up Country—Anecdotes of Bush Life. 204
XIV. Lost in the Bush—Australian Horses. 218
XV. Experiences At a Cattle Station—a Kangaroo Hunt. 233
XVI. Hunting the Emu and Other Birds—an Australian Sheep Run. 250
XVII. From Melbourne to Sydney—Crossing the Blue Mountains. 269
XVIII. Sights of Sydney——Botany Bay and Paramatta. 284
XIX. Coal Mines At Newcastle—Sugar Plantation in Queensland—the End. 298


“We Passed a Ship Becalmed in the Doldrums.”      Frontispiece18
“Harry had Obtained a Map of Australia.”56
To the Zoological Garden.146
“There They Go!” Shouted Mr. Syme.242





“We don’t want to stay long in this place.”

“I don’t think we do, sir,” was the reply.

“The sooner we leave it, the better.”

“That is so,” said Harry; “I quite agree with you. I wonder how white men manage to live here at all.”

This conversation occurred at Bonny, a trading station on one of the mouths of the river Niger in Western Africa. In former times Bonny was a famous resort for slave traders, and great numbers of slaves were sent from that place to North and South America. In addition to slave trading, there was considerable dealing in ivory, palm oils, and other African products. Trade is not as prosperous at Bonny nowadays as it was in the slave-dealing times, but there is a fair amount of commerce and the commissions of the factors and agents are very large. Bonny stands in a region of swamps, and the climate exhales at all times of the year pestilential vapors which are not at all suited to the white man. Most of the white residents live on board old hulks which are moored to the bank of the river, and they find these hulks less unhealthy 12than houses off shore, for the reason that they are less exposed to the vapors of the ground.

The parties to the conversation just quoted were Dr. Whitney and his nephews, Ned and Harry; they had just arrived at Bonny, from a visit to Lake Chad and Timbuctoo, and had made a voyage down the Niger, which has been described in a volume entitled “In Wild Africa.”

One of the residents told Dr. Whitney that all the coast of the Bight of Benin, into which the Niger empties by its various mouths, was quite as unhealthy as Bonny. “We don’t expect anybody to live more than three or four years after taking up his residence here,” the gentleman remarked, “and very often one or two years are sufficient to carry him off. The climate is bad enough, but it isn’t the climate that is to blame for all the mortality, by any means. The great curse of the whole region is the habit of drinking. Everybody drinks, and drinks like a fish, too. When you call on anybody, the servants, without waiting for orders, bring a bottle of brandy, or whiskey, or something of the sort, and place it on the table between the host and the visitor. You are expected to drink, and the man who declines to do so is looked upon as a milksop. When one rises in the morning, his first call is for brandy and soda, and it is brandy, and whiskey, and champagne, or some other intoxicant, all the day long. The climate is bad enough without any help, but the drinking habit of the residents along the Bight of Benin is worse than the climate, and everybody knows it; but, somehow or other, everybody is reckless and continues to drink, knowing perfectly well what the result will be.”

13Dr. Whitney had already made observations to the same effect, and remarked that he thought the west coast of Africa would be a good field of labor for an advocate of total abstinence. His new acquaintance replied that it might be under ordinary circumstances, but that the conditions of the region where they were not ordinary. It was necessary to remember that the men who went to West Africa for purposes of trade were of a reckless, adventurous sort, having little regard for the future and determined to make the most of the present. Men of this class take very naturally to habits of dissipation, and would turn a deaf ear to any advocate of temperance who might come among them.

Fortunately for our friends, they were detained at Bonny only a single day. A small steamer which runs between Bonny and Fernando Po took them to the latter place, which is on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, and has a mountain peak ten thousand feet high. This peak is wooded to the summit with fine timber, and altogether the island is a very attractive spot to the eye, in comparison with Bonny and the swampy region of the lower Niger.

Port Clarence, the harbor of Fernando Po, is said to be one of the prettiest places of Western Africa. The town consists of a group of houses somewhat irregularly placed, and guarded by a fort which could be knocked down in a few hours by a fleet of modern warships.

Our friends went on shore immediately after their arrival, and found quarters in what Ned called an apology for a hotel. Fernando Po is the property of Spain, and the island is one of the State prisons of that country. Some 14of the prisoners are kept in hulks in the harbor, while others are confined in the fort. Not infrequently prisoners escape and find shelter among the Adyia, the tribe of natives inhabiting the island. They are a peaceful people, but have a marked hatred for civilization. They rarely come into the town, and none of them will consent to live there. Their huts or villages are scattered over the forests, and when visitors go among them they are kindly treated. The town of Port Clarence is occupied by a few white men and a considerable number of negroes from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other regions along the coast.

“This will be as good a place to get away from as Bonny,” the doctor remarked to his nephews, as they were strolling about Port Clarence.

“I have observed,” said Harry, “that the wind is blowing directly from the coast, and therefore is bringing with it the malarias of the swampy region which we have just left.”

“That is quite true,” the doctor answered, “and the circumstance you mention makes a long stay here undesirable. Have you noticed that many of the natives here seem to be suffering from skin diseases of one kind or another?”

“I observed that,” replied Ned, “and was wondering what was the cause of it.”

“I was told by a gentleman at the hotel,” said the doctor, “that there is an ulcer peculiar to this locality which is well-nigh incurable. The slightest abrasion of the cuticle or even the bite of an insect is sufficient to cause it. I was told that it sometimes happens that the bite of a 15mosquito on the arm or leg will make amputation necessary, and an instance of this kind occurred within the past three months. On a first view of the island it looks like a delightful place, but a nearer acquaintance dispels the illusion.”

“I wonder how long we will be obliged to stay here,” Harry remarked.

“According to the time-table,” replied the doctor, “the mail steamer will be here to-morrow; and if she comes, you may be sure we will take passage on her.”

The steamer came according to schedule, and when she left she carried the three travelers away from Fernando Po. She was an English steamer bound for the Cape of Good Hope. There was hardly any wind blowing when the great ship started out into the Atlantic and headed away to the southward, but the movement of the vessel through the water was sufficient to create a breeze, which our friends greatly enjoyed. They sat beneath the awnings which covered the entire length and width of the steamer, studied their fellow-passengers, and now and then cast their eyes over the wide and desolate sweep of waters to the west and south.

Not a sail was to be seen, a few craft were creeping along the coast, but they were not numerous enough to add animation to the scene.

We will take from Harry’s notebook an incident or two of the voyage.

“We found a mixed lot of passengers on board the steamer. There were a few Englishmen going to South Africa for the first time,—young fellows seeking their fortunes, 16and full of hope and ambition. One of them said he was going up country on a hunting expedition, not for the sport only, but for the money that could be made by the sale of hides, ivory, horns, and other products of the chase. He was quite well informed concerning the business on which he was bent, and told me that it was the custom for two or more men, generally not above four, to buy wagons, oxen, horses, and provisions in one of the towns on the coast or in the interior, and then strike out into the wild country for an absence of anywhere from three to six or seven months. Their provisions consisted of flour, sugar, tea, pepper, salt, and a few other things. For meat they relied upon what they killed; and he added that a great deal of meat was needed, as there were from twenty-five to fifty natives attached to a hunting party and all of them had ferocious appetites.

“They shot anything that came in their way, elephants, buffaloes, elands, gemsbok, and I don’t know what else. It was a hard life and not without risk, but it was healthy and full of good sport. He told us so much about his business that Ned and I heartily wished to go with him and have a share in the experience and fun.

“Another young man was going out as a mining engineer and expected to find employment in some of the newly opened gold mines in the Johannesburg district. Another was to become the manager of a large farm forty or fifty miles from Cape Town, which was owned by his uncle. Another young man was going out with no particular object in view, and said he was ready for anything that turned up.

17“Then there were Afrikanders who had been on a visit to England for business, or pleasure, or both combined. One had been there for the express purpose of finding a bride; he found her, and she was with him as a passenger on the steamer. She and two others were the only lady passengers on the ship; men greatly predominated among the passengers, and we were told that such was always the case on board one of these steamers. One of the passengers was a resident of Durban, the port of Natal, and he gave us a cordial invitation to visit his place. ‘You will find Durban a very interesting spot,’ said he, ‘and the only bad thing about it is getting ashore. There is a nasty sea breaking there most of the time, and it is tedious work getting from a ship into a small boat and then getting safe to land. You must come prepared to be soused with salt water two or three times before you get your feet fairly planted on the shore.’

“Ned and I concluded that we would not make any special effort to get to Durban, although we had received such a cordial invitation to go there.

“We had a good breeze,” continued Harry, “until we got to within four degrees of the Equator; then the wind died out and left the sea as smooth as glass, without the least motion upon it anywhere. We seemed to be running through an enormous plate of glass, polished until it shone like the most perfect mirror ever made. As we looked down from the rail into the depths of the sea our faces were reflected, and there seemed to be a counterfeit presentment of ourselves gazing at us from the depths below, and, oh, wasn’t it hot, blistering, burning hot! The sun 18poured down so that the heat pierced our awnings as though no awnings had been there, and the breeze which the ship created by her motion seemed like the blast from a furnace. The pitch oozed from the seams of the planking on the deck, and the deck itself became blistering hot to one’s feet. There was not the least stir of the sails and only the faintest motion of the ship from side to side. Respiration became difficult, and, as I looked about, I could see the passengers and sailors yawning and gaping in the effort to draw in their breath. All the metal about the ship became hot, especially the brass. If you touched it, it almost seemed to raise a blister, and the spot with which you touched it was painful for hours.

“We passed a ship becalmed in the doldrums, as this region is called, and she looked more like a painted ship upon a painted ocean than any other craft I ever saw. Her sails were all hanging loose, and so were all the ropes, and lines, and halyards from one end of the ship to the other. She was as motionless as if she were tied up to a dock in harbor, and there was very little sign of life about her anywhere. I asked one of our officers how long that ship had probably been there and how long she was liable to stay.

“‘That’s a question, young man,’ he replied, ‘that I can’t answer very surely. She may have been there a day or two only, and may stay only a day or so, and then, again, she may have been there a week or a month; we can’t tell without speaking her, and we are not particularly interested in her, anyhow.’”

Then he went on to explain that ships have been becalmed 19at the Equator for two months and more, lying all the time in a dead calm, just like the one through which we were passing.

“Two weeks,” he said, “is a fair time for a ship to stay in the doldrums, and you can be sure it is quite long enough for passengers and crew.

“Passengers and crew sometimes die of the heat, and existence under such circumstances becomes a burden. There are stories about ships that have been in the doldrums six or eight months at a time, but I am not inclined to believe them; for a man to stay in this terrific heat for that length of time would be enough to drive him crazy.

“The steamer was three days in the calm belt of the Equator before we struck the southeast trades, and had a breeze again. I don’t want to repeat my experiences with the doldrums.

“One day I heard a curious story about an incident on board an American ship not far from the Cape of Good Hope. She was from Calcutta, and bound to New York, and her crew consisted of American sailors, with the exception of two Indian coolies who had been taken on board at Calcutta because the ship was short-handed. One of these coolies had been put, one in the starboard and the other in the port watch, and everything had been quiet and peaceable on board the ship until the incident I am about to describe.

“One night the ship was sailing quietly along, and some of the men noticed, or remembered afterwards, that when the watches were changed, the coolie who had been relieved from duty remained on deck. Shortly after the 20change of watch, the two mates of the ship were standing near the lee rail and talking with each other, when the two coolies came along and one of them made the remark that he was sick. This remark was evidently a signal, for instantly one of the coolies drew a knife and stabbed the first mate to the heart, while simultaneously the other coolie sprang with a knife at the second officer and gave him several stabs in the chest.

“The first mate fell dead at the stroke of the knife, but the second mate had sufficient strength left to crawl to the companionway leading to the captain’s room, where he called out, ‘Captain Clark!’ ‘Captain Clark!’ and then ceased to breathe.

“The captain sprang from his bunk, and rushed on deck in his night-clothes. At the top of the companion-steps he was violently stabbed on the head and seized by the throat; he was quite unarmed and struck out with his fists at the face of his assailant, hoping to blind him. The coolie continued to stab him, and the captain started back down the steps until he slipped in the blood that covered them, and fell into the cabin, with a terrible wound in his side. He then crawled to where his revolver was, and started up the steps; when half way up, a man rolled down the steps against him and knocked him over.

“The captain thought it was the coolie, but it proved to be one of the sailors, who was frightened half to death. All he could say was, to beg of the captain to save him.

“The captain had his wife and child on board, and his wife was roused by the tumult. She came to her husband’s aid and proceeded to bind up his wounds. While 21she was doing this one of the coolies smashed in the skylight, and would have jumped into the cabin had not the captain fired at him with his revolver and drove him away.

“The next thing the coolies did was to murder the man at the wheel and fling his body overboard. Then they murdered the carpenter and a sailor and disposed of them the same way. Including the two mates, five men were slain and four others were wounded. The wounded men and the rest of the crew barricaded themselves in the forecastle for protection, and there they remained the rest of the night and all through the next day. The captain and his wife and child stayed in the cabin.

“The two coolies were in full possession of the ship from a little past midnight until eight o’clock of the following evening. One of them, venturing near the skylight, was shot in the breast by the captain, and then the two coolies rushed forward and threw a spar overboard. One of them jumped into the sea and clung to the spar, while the other dropped down into the between-decks, where he proceeded to set the ship on fire. Seeing this, the sailors who had barricaded themselves in the forecastle broke out, and two of them proceeded to hunt the coolie down with revolvers. They hunted him out and shot him in the shoulder, and then he jumped overboard and joined his companion. Shots were fired at the two men, and soon afterward they sank.

“The fire got such headway that it could not be put out. Finally a boat was provisioned and lowered; the crew entered it, and after waiting about the ship during the night in the hope that the flames might bring assistance, 22they put up a sail and headed for St. Helena. Thus was a ship’s crew of twenty-three people overawed and rendered helpless by two slender coolies, whom any one of the Yankee crew could have crushed out of existence in a very short space of time.

“The steamer passed near Ascension Island, but did not stop there. This island is entered in the British Navy List as a commissioned ship. It is nearly three thousand feet high, very rocky and well supplied with fresh water. Ships often stop there for a supply of water and such fresh provisions as are obtainable. The climate is said to be very healthy, and when the crews of British naval vessels are enfeebled by a long stay on the African coast, they go to Ascension Island to recruit their strength.”

Ned and Harry were very desirous of visiting the island of St. Helena, which became famous as a prison and for many years the grave of Napoleon. They were disappointed on ascertaining that the ship would not stop there, and the officer of whom they made inquiry said there was nothing to stop there for. “The island is not of much account,” he said, “and the natives have a hard time to make a living. In the days of sailing ships it was a favorite stopping place and the inhabitants did a good business. The general introduction of steamships, along with the digging of the Suez Canal, have knocked their business all to pieces.

“Where they used to have a dozen or twenty ships a month, they get about half as many in a year. The buildings where Napoleon used to live are all gone to ruin, and 23the sight of them does not pay for the journey one has to make to get there.”

When it was announced that the vessel was nearing the Cape of Good Hope, our young friends strained their eyes in a friendly competition to be first to make it out. Harry was ahead of Ned in discerning the dim outline of Table Mountain, which is well described by its name. It is a flat-topped mountain fronting on the bay on which Cape Town stands. It is about three thousand five hundred feet in height, and is guarded on the left by the Lion’s Head, and on the right by the Devil’s Berg. The harbor is reached by passing between a small island and the coast, the island forming a very fair shelter for ships that lie inside of it.

Here the voyage of the steamer came to an end, as she belonged to one of the lines plying between England and the Cape. It became necessary for our friends to look around for another ship to carry them to their destination. They were not in any particular hurry about it, as they were quite willing to devote a little time to the Cape and its peculiarities.

A swarm of boats surrounded the ship as soon as her anchor was down, and everybody was in a hurry to get on shore. As soon as our friends could obtain a boat, their baggage was passed over the side and they followed it. The boat was managed by a white man, evidently of Dutch origin, who spoke a mixture of Dutch, English, and Hottentot, and perhaps two or three other native languages, in such a confused way that it was difficult to understand him in any. Four negroes rowed the boat and did the work while the Dutchman superintended it. The boatman 24showed a laudable desire to swindle the travelers, but his intentions were curbed by the stringent regulations established by the city authorities.

As they neared the landing place, Ned called attention to a swarm of cabs that seemed to be far in excess of any possible demand for them. Harry remarked that he didn’t think they would have any lack of vehicles to take them to the hotel, and so it proved. The cab drivers displayed great eagerness in their efforts to secure passengers, and their prices were by no means unreasonable.

We will listen to Ned as he tells the story of what he saw on landing in Cape Town.

“The thing that impressed me most was the varying complexion of the inhabitants. They are not exactly of the colors of the rainbow, but they certainly present all the shades of complexion that can be found in the human face. You see fair-haired Englishmen, and English women, too, and then you see negroes so black that charcoal ‘would make a white mark on their faces,’ as one of my schoolmates used to say. Between these two, so far as color is concerned, you see several shades of negro complexion; and you also see Malays, coolies from India, Chinese, and I don’t know what else. The Malays or coolies have drifted here in search of employment, and the same is the case with the Chinese, who are to be found, so Dr. Whitney says, in every port of Asia and Africa.

“Most of these exotic people cling to their native costume, especially the natives of India, and the Malays, though a good deal depends on the employment in which they engage. Some of the Malays drive cabs, and the 25drivers usually adopt European dress or a modification of it. Among the white inhabitants the Dutch hold a predominating place, and they are said to outnumber the English; they are the descendants of the original settlers at the Cape something more than two hundred years ago. They observe their individuality and have an important voice in the local affairs of the colony; but whenever the English authorities have their mind made up to pursue a certain policy, whether it be for the construction of railways in the interior or the building of docks or breakwaters in the harbor of Cape Town, they generally do pretty much as they please.

“I observed that the people on the streets seem to take things easily and move about with quite a languid air. This was the case with white and colored people alike; probably the Dutch settlers set the example years and years ago, and the others have followed it. Harry thinks that it is the heat of the place which causes everybody to move about slowly. Some one has remarked that only dogs and strangers walk rapidly; in Cape Town the only people whom I saw walking fast were some of our fellow-passengers from the steamer. I actually did see a negro running, but the fact is, that another negro with a big stick was running after him. As for the dogs, they seemed just as quiet as their masters.

“We inquired for the best hotel in Cape Town, and were taken to the one indicated as such. Harry says he thinks the driver made a mistake and took us to the worst; and Dr. Whitney remarks that if this is the best, he doesn’t want to travel through the street where the worst one 26stands. We have made some inquiries since coming to this house, and find that it is really the best, or perhaps I ought to say the least bad, in the place. The table is poor, the beds lumpy and musty, and nearly every window has a broken pane or two, while the drainage is atrocious.

“We are told that the hotels all through South Africa are of the same sort, and the only thing about them that is first class is the price which one pays for accommodation. The hotel is well filled, the greater part of the passengers from our steamer having come here; but I suppose the number will dwindle down considerably in the next two or three days, as the people scatter in the directions whither they are bound. Most people come to Cape Town in order to leave it.

“And this reminds me that there are several railways branching out from Cape Town. There is a line twelve hundred miles long to Johannisburg in the Transvaal Republic, and there are several other lines of lesser length. The colonial government has been very liberal in making grants for railways, and thus developing the business of the colony. Every year sees new lines undertaken, or old ones extended, and it will not be very long before the iron horse goes pretty nearly everywhere over the length and breadth of South Africa.

“We have driven along the principal streets of the city, and admired the public buildings, which are both numerous and handsome. We took a magnificent drive around the mountain to the rear of the city, where there are some very picturesque views. In some places the edge of the road is cut directly into the mountain side, and we looked 27almost perpendicularly down for five or six hundred feet, to where the waters of the Atlantic were washing the base of the rocks. From the mountain back of Cape Town, there is a fine picture of the city harbor and lying almost at one’s feet; the city, with its rows and clusters of buildings glistening in the sunlight, and the bright harbor, with its docks, breakwaters, and forest of masts in full view of the spectator. From this point we could see better than while in the harbor itself, the advantages of the new breakwater. It seems that the harbor is exposed to southeast winds, which are the prevailing ones here. When the wind freshens into a gale, the position of the ships at anchor in the harbor is a dangerous one, and the breakwaters have been constructed so as to obviate this danger. When they are completed, the harbor will be fairly well landlocked, and ships may anchor in Table Bay, and their masters feel a sense of security against being driven on shore.”




“Would you like to visit an ostrich farm?” said Dr. Whitney, while our friends were at breakfast, on the second morning after their arrival at Cape Town.

“I would, for one,” said Harry; to which Ned replied, “and so would I.”

“Very well,” continued the doctor. “I have an invitation to visit an ostrich establishment, and we will start immediately after breakfast. The railway will take us within about three miles of the farm, and the gentleman who has given me the invitation, and included you in it, will accompany us on the train, and his carriage will meet us at the station.”

“That is capital!” exclaimed Harry. “He will be sure to give us a great deal of information on the subject while we are on the train, so that we can see the farm more intelligently than would otherwise be the case.”

“Yes, that is so,” echoed Ned, “and as he is the proprietor of the establishment, he will certainly know all about the business.”

At the appointed time the party assembled at the railway station in Cape Town, and when the train was ready, our friends, accompanied by their host, Mr. Shaffner, took their 29places and were soon whirling away towards their destination. For a part of the way the train wound among hills and low mountains, and for another it stretched away across the level or slightly undulating plain. Mr. Shaffner entered at once upon the subject of ostriches, and as he began his conversation, Harry asked him if he had any objections to their taking notes of what he said.

“Not in the least,” was the reply; “you are welcome to take all the notes you like, and if there is any point that I don’t explain fully to your satisfaction, please tell me, and I will be more explicit.”

The youths thanked him for his courtesy, and immediately brought out their notebooks and pencils.

“According to tradition,” said Mr. Shaffner, “ostriches were formerly very abundant, wild ones, I mean, all over this part of the country. In the early part of this century they were so numerous in the neighborhood of Cape Town, that a man could hardly walk a quarter of an hour without seeing one or more of these birds. As late as 1858, a flock of twenty or thirty were seen among hills about twenty miles from Cape Town, but after that time they seemed to have disappeared almost entirely. Ostrich farming is an enterprise of the past twenty years, and before it began, the only way of procuring ostrich feathers was by hunting down and killing the wild birds. The practise was cruel, and it was also the reverse of economical. Thoughtful hunters realized this, and a rumor went through the colony that ostriches had been domesticated in Algeria, and were successfully raised for the production of feathers. When this rumor or report went about, it 30naturally set some of us thinking, and our thoughts were, ‘Why can’t ostriches be raised here, as well as in Algeria?’ Several enterprising men proceeded to make experiments. They offered to pay a high price for live birds in good health and condition, and the price they offered induced the natives to set about catching them.

“Of course we were all in the dark as to the proper method of taking care of ostriches, as the business was entirely new to all of us. We made many mistakes and lost a good many birds. The eggs became addled and worthless, and for the first two or three years it looked as though the experiments would be a failure. Our greatest difficulty was in finding proper food for the birds. We tried them with various kinds of grasses, and we studied as well as we could the habits of the wild bird at home. We found that they needed a certain quantity of alkalies, and they subsisted largely upon the sweet grasses, wherever they could find them. The grass called lucerne seems the best adapted to them, and you will find it grown on all ostrich farms for the special purpose of feeding the birds.

“We have got the business down so fine now that we understand all the various processes of breeding, rearing, herding, feeding, plucking, and sorting. We buy and sell ostriches just as we do sheep. We fence in our flocks, stable them, grow crops for them, study their habits, and cut their feathers as matters of business. We don’t send the eggs to market along with our butter and cheese, as they are altogether too dear for consumption. It is true that an ostrich egg will make a meal for three or four 31persons; but at five dollars an egg, which is the usual price, the meal would be a dear one.

“In fact, the eggs are so precious,” he continued, “that we don’t allow them to be hatched out by the birds. For fear of accidents, as soon as the eggs have been laid they are taken from the nests and placed in a patent incubator to be hatched out. The incubator makes fewer mistakes than the parent ostriches do. That is to say, if you entrust a given number of eggs to the birds to be hatched out in the natural way, and place the same number in an incubator, you will get a considerably larger proportion of chicks from the latter than from the former.

“The business of ostrich farming,” Mr. Shaffner went on to say, “is spread over the colony from the near neighborhood of Cape Town to the eastern frontier, and from Albany to the Orange River. Ostrich farms were scattered at no great distances apart, and some of the proprietors had a high reputation for their success. He said it must not be understood that ostrich farming was the great industry of the country; on the contrary, the product of wool was far greater in value than that of feathers, and the ostriches were to the sheep as one is to a thousand.”

Harry asked if the birds were allowed to run at large, or were kept constantly in enclosures.

“Both plans are followed,” said Mr. Shaffner, “and some of the farmers allow their flocks to run at large, feeding them once a day on grain, for which they must come to the home stable. The ostriches know the hour of feeding as well as if they carried watches, and are promptly on 32hand when their dinner time arrives. In this way they are kept under domestication and accustomed to the presence of men, but occasionally they stray away and disappear. The safer way is to keep a native boy or man constantly with each herd of ostriches, and the herder is held responsible for the loss of any bird.

“Even then the flock may sometimes be frightened and scattered beyond the ability of the herder to bring the birds together. On my farm, I have the ground fenced off into fifty-acre lots. I divide my birds into flocks of twenty-five or thirty, and put them successively in the different lots of land. I sow the ground with lucerne, and do not turn a flock into a field or paddock until the grass is in good condition for the birds to eat.

“You may put it down as a rule on ostrich farms, that plenty of space and a good fence are essential to success. In every paddock you must have a good shed, where the birds can take shelter when it rains. You must also have a kraal or yard in each paddock, where you can drive the birds whenever you want to select some of them for cutting their feathers. It is proper to say, however, that a kraal in each paddock is not necessary, as all that work can be done at the home station, where you have the buildings for artificial hatching and for gathering the feathers.”

Ned asked what kind of ground was best suited for the ostrich.

“You must have ground where the soil and plants are rich in alkalies,” replied Mr. Shaffner, “and when this is not the case, care must be taken to supply the needful element. Before this matter was understood there was some 33melancholy failures in the business. A friend of mine started an ostrich farm on a sandstone ridge. There was no limestone on the farm, and most of the birds died in a few months, and those that lived laid no eggs and produced very few feathers. Limestone was carted to the farm from a considerable distance, and the birds would not touch it. Bones were then tried and with admirable effect. What the birds required was phosphate of lime, and the bones gave them that. They rushed at them with great eagerness, and as soon as they were well supplied with bones they began to improve in health and to lay eggs. On farms like the one I mentioned, a quarter of a pound of sulphur and some salt is mixed with two buckets of pulverized bones, and the birds are allowed to eat as much of this mixture as they like. Where the rocks, grass, and soil contain alkaline salts in abundance, the birds require very little, if any, artificial food, and they thrive, fatten, pair, and lay eggs in the most satisfactory manner.”

“According to the story books,” said Harry, “the ostrich will eat anything. But from what you say, Mr. Shaffner, it does not seem that that is really the case.”

“The ostrich has a very good appetite, I must say,” was the reply, “and so far as green things are concerned, he will eat almost anything; lucerne, clover, wheat, corn, cabbage leaves, fruit, grain, and garden vegetables are all welcome, and he eats a certain quantity of crushed limestone and bones, and generally keeps a few pebbles in his stomach to assist him in the process of digestion. If he sees a bright sparkling stone on the ground, he is very apt to swallow it, and that reminds me of a little incident about 34two years ago. An English gentleman was visiting my place, and while he was looking around he came close up to the fence of a paddock containing a number of ostriches. An ostrich was on the other side of the fence and close to it. The gentleman had a large diamond in his shirt front, and while he was looking at the bird, the latter, with a quick movement of his head, wrenched the stone from its setting and swallowed it. I see that none of you wear diamonds, and so it is not necessary for me to repeat the caution which I have ever since given to my diamond-wearing visitors.”

“What became of the diamond?” Harry asked.

“Oh! my visitor bought the bird and had it killed, in order to get the diamond back again. He found it safe in the creature’s stomach, along with several small stones. It was a particularly valuable gem, and the gentleman had no idea of allowing the bird to keep it.”

Ned wanted to know if ostriches lived in flocks like barnyard fowls, or divided off into pairs like the majority of forest and field birds.

“That depends a great deal upon the farmer,” Mr. Shaffner answered. “The pairing season is in the month of July, which is equivalent to the English January. Some farmers, when the pairing time approaches, put a male and female bird together in a pen; some put two females with a male, and very often a male bird has five hens in his family. The birds run in pairs or flocks, as the case may be. In August, the hens begin to lay, and continue to deposit eggs for a period of six weeks. They do not lay every day, like domestic fowls, but every second or third day. As I have already told you, the eggs are taken as 35soon as laid and hatched in an incubator. Sixteen birds out of twenty eggs is considered a very fair proportion, while, if the bird is allowed to sit on the eggs, we are not likely to get more than twelve out of twenty. There is another advantage in hatching eggs by the incubator process, and that is, that when the eggs are taken away the hen proceeds a few weeks later to lay another batch of eggs, which she does not do if she has a family to care for.”

“What do you do with the young birds when they are hatched?”

“We put them in a warm room,” was the reply, “and at night they are put in a box lined with wool; they are fed with chopped grass suitable to them, and as soon as they are able to run about they are entrusted to the care of a small boy, a Kaffir or Hottentot, to whom they get strongly attached. They grow quite rapidly and begin to feather at eight months after hatching, but the yield at that time is of very little value. Eight months later there is another and better crop, and then at each season the crop improves until the birds are four or five years old, when it reaches its maximum condition. Exactly how long an ostrich will live, I don’t know. There are some birds here in South Africa that are twenty years old, and they are strong and healthy yet.”

Conversation ran on in various ways until the station was reached where our friends were to leave the train. The carriage was waiting for them, and the party drove at once to the farm, where Mr. Shaffner showed them about the place, and called attention to the flocks of birds straying about the different paddocks. It so happened that a flock 36had been driven up that very morning for the purpose of cutting such of the feathers as were in proper condition to be removed from the birds.

While the men were driving the birds into the kraal, Mr. Shaffner explained that there was a difference of opinion among farmers as to whether the feathers should be plucked or cut. He said that when the feather is plucked or pulled out at the roots it is apt to make a bad sore, and at any rate cause a great deal of pain; while the feather that grows in its place is apt to be twisted or of poor quality, and occasionally the birds die, as a result of the operation. When a feather is nipped off with pincers or cut with a knife the bird is quite insensible to the operation. The stumps that are left in the flesh of the ostrich fall out in the course of a month or six weeks, or can be easily drawn out, and then a new and good feather grows in place of the old one. The reason why plucking still finds advocates is that the feathers with the entire quill bring a higher price in the market than those that have been cut or nipped.

Harry and Ned watched with much interest the process of removing feathers from the birds. Here is the way Harry describes it.

“The men moved around among the ostriches in a perfectly easy way, and seemed to be on the best of terms with their charges. The foreman selected a bird and indicated to one of the men that he wanted it brought forward. Thereupon the man seized the bird by the neck and pressed its head downward until he could draw a sack like a long and very large stocking over it.

37“When blindfolded in this way the ostrich is perfectly helpless, and will stand perfectly still. The man pushed and led the bird up to the fence, and then the foreman, armed with his cutting nippers, selected the feathers that he wanted and cut them off. When the operation was ended the sack was removed, and the ostrich resumed his place among his companions. He did not strike, or kick, or indicate in any way that he was aware of what had happened to him.

“During their breeding time the male ostriches are decidedly vicious, and it is dangerous to go near them. Mr. Shaffner told us that several serious accidents had happened to his men at such times. Occasionally a bird shows more or less ugliness on being driven into a kraal, and when this is the case caution must be used in approaching him. The ostrich’s favorite mode of fighting is to strike or kick with one leg, and he can give a terrible blow in this way.

“I asked Mr. Shaffner,” said Harry, “what was the value of a good ostrich. He replied that the question was one he could not answer in a single phrase. He said that an egg was worth not less than five dollars, and an ostrich chick, fresh from the egg, was worth twenty-five dollars.

“After a few months it was double that value, and by the time it was a year old it was worth two hundred and fifty dollars. Mr. Shaffner said he would be unwilling to sell a pair of hens and a male ostrich for less than two thousand dollars, but he explained that a great deal depended upon the breeding and feather-producing qualities of the birds.

38“Then, I asked,” continued Harry, “about the yield of feathers, and was told that the average yield was about fifty dollars annually to a good bird. The feathers ripen at the time of incubation and are injured by the process, so that the artificial incubator, by releasing the birds from duty on the nest, is of special value.

“I remarked,” said Harry, “that, considering the increase in the flocks and the money obtained from the feathers, ostrich farming ought to be very profitable.”

“Well, it is profitable in a general way,” replied Mr. Shaffner, “but that is not by any means the rule. There are farmers who have never made anything by it, and it has its drawbacks, like everything else. The birds are subject to diseases of various kinds, and there is a parasitic worm on some farms that is very destructive. Wild beasts kill the birds, and I myself have lost three fine ostriches this year in that way. I know one farm on which eighty-five birds were originally placed. In the very first year twenty-seven were lost, thirteen by cold and wet, three by diphtheria, six killed by natives, three by fighting, and two by falling into holes. Out of sixty eggs, nineteen were destroyed by crows. These birds would take stones in their claws, fly to a point directly over the nest, and then let the stones fall on the eggs, thus breaking them, so that they could get at the contents of the shells. The remaining eggs were sent to a neighboring farm to be artificially incubated, but only ten of them hatched out. So, you see,” the gentleman continued, “ostrich farming has its hard times, like everything else.”

After inspecting the ostrich farm our friends were entertained 39at a substantial dinner in the house of their host, and in the afternoon were driven to the railway station, whence they returned to Cape Town, having well enjoyed their first excursion.

That evening Dr. Whitney received an invitation to visit a large sheep farm about thirty miles from Cape Town, accompanied, as before, by his two nephews. He accepted the invitation, and the trio took an early train for their destination. They were met at the station by the owner of the establishment, and were speedily shown through the entire place. Sheep farming was less a novelty to our young friends than ostrich farming, and consequently they had much less interest in seeing the sights of the establishment. Harry wrote a brief account of their visit, and we are permitted to copy from it.

“Evidently the place was prosperous,” said Harry, in his journal, “as we found an abundance of substantial buildings, a luxurious house for the owner, and substantial dwellings for the manager and his assistant. We sat down to an excellent, though somewhat late breakfast. We had a good appetite for it, as we had breakfasted very lightly before leaving Cape Town. On the table we had broiled chickens, broiled ham, and lamb chops, together with eggs, bread, and the usual concomitants of the morning meal.

“After breakfast we visited the sheds where the sheep are sheared, and also the surrounding sheds and yards where the animals are driven up at shearing time. We were sorry that it was not the time of the annual shearing, so that we could witness the process. Our host told us 40that the shearers travel about the country, and take contracts for shearing the flocks at so much a head. In addition to their wages, they were supplied with food, and he added that the shearers were a fastidious lot, and nothing but the best table would suit them.

“After inspecting the buildings, we were supplied with saddle horses and rode over the farm. The sheep are divided into flocks of about three hundred each, and every flock is in charge of two herders or shepherds. Some of them come into the home stations at night, while others have separate out stations of their own. The herders are either Hottentots or Kaffirs; at any rate they are negroes. The two of them start out in the morning with the flock, and go slowly along, allowing the sheep to feed, and calculating time and distance so that they will reach a watering place about noon. There the sheep are watered and then they start back again towards the station, where they arrive an hour or so before sunset, and are shut up in a yard for the night.

“The shepherds do their own cooking, and once a week one of them comes to the head station to be supplied with provisions. Our host explained to us that one shepherd was sufficient for a flock, but the life was so lonely that a man would not stick to it, if left alone, and they had to have two men in order to keep each other company. I can well understand how wearisome it would be to have nobody to speak to for days at a time, and one of the last occupations I would wish to engage in is that of shepherd.

“Wool raising is a very large industry in Cape Colony, and it certainly has been a very profitable one. Our host 41told us that if a man could avoid accidents and misfortunes, he would find the business very remunerative; but, of course, misfortunes are pretty sure to come. He told us further, that nearly all the sheep farmers of South Africa had started into the business as poor men, and, while none of them were millionaires, there were some that were very near being so. He gave some statistics of the wool trade, but I have mislaid the sheet of paper containing them, and so cannot give them to you.”

On their return from the excursion to the sheep farm, our friends learned that a steamer of the Orient line had just arrived, and would leave at noon the next day for Australia. Dr. Whitney decided to take passage on this steamer, and the matter was very quickly arranged.

When the great ship left the harbor of Cape Town, our friends stood on her deck and were deeply interested in the scene about them. As they steamed out around the breakwater, they had a fine view of Table Bay and the mountains that surround it. Then they passed a series of cliff-like mountains, known as the Twelve Apostles, and after them some brightly colored mountains that had a dazzling appearance in the bright sunlight. Thirty miles from Cape Town they passed the famous Cape of Good Hope, which is popularly but erroneously supposed to be the southern end of the continent; the fact is that the point of Africa nearest to the South Pole is Cape Agulhas, sixty or seventy miles away from the Cape of Good Hope.

Down to Cape Agulhas the steamer had followed the coast line. Now it steered away from the coast, and gradually 42the mountains of the southern end of Africa faded and became dim in the distance, and gradually disappeared altogether from sight. Our friends were now upon the great Southern Ocean, which sweeps entirely around this part of the globe.

“We have a long voyage before us now,” said Harry to Ned; “we have sixteen days of steaming, so one of the officers tells me, before we reach the coast of Australia.”

“Well, if that is the case,” Ned answered, “we have plenty of time to become acquainted with the Southern Ocean. I wonder if it will be very different from the Atlantic.”

“As to that,” replied Harry, “I don’t know, but I have no doubt it has peculiarities of its own. We will see about that later.”

Flocks of birds accompanied the ship as it steamed away from the coast. Some were familiar sights to our young friends, and some were new to them, or comparatively so. The next day and the few succeeding days made them acquainted with several birds that they had never seen, and the boys were so interested in them that Harry wrote a description, which we will presently consider. But before doing so, however, we will look at a note which Ned made concerning the waves of the Southern Ocean.

“The waves of this part of the boundless waste of waters that covers three fourths of the globe,” said Ned, in his journal, “are the largest we have ever seen. The prevailing winds are westerly, and the captain tells us that 43they drive a continuous series of waves right around the globe. You have heard of the long swell of the Pacific, but it is not, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, anywhere equal to the immense swells of the Southern Ocean. I have never seen waves that began to be as large. The captain says that the crests are often thirty feet high, and three hundred and ninety feet apart. Sir James Ross, in his Antartic expedition, measured waves thirty-six feet high, and said that when two ships were in the hollows of two adjoining waves, their hulls were completely concealed from each other by the crest of water between them. This great steamer, measuring nearly five thousand tons, is rolled and tossed as if it were nothing more than an egg-shell, and such of the passengers as are liable to seasickness are staying below out of sight. Fancy what it must be to sail on this ocean in a small craft of one hundred or two hundred tons! I think I would prefer to be on shore.”

And now we come to Harry’s account of the birds. He wrote as follows:—

“Dr. Whitney says that I must make a distinction between land birds, coast birds, and ocean birds. Land birds are only at sea by accident; coast birds are seen only in the neighborhood of the land, but ocean birds go far out at sea, and rarely visit the land except during their breeding season. When you see a land bird out of sight of the shore, you can know that he has been driven there by the wind; perhaps in a squall or rain storm. The doctor tells me that we can make a general distinction between the three kinds of birds, by remembering that the 44more the bird lives on the land, the more he flaps his wings, and most land birds flap their wings constantly. A few, like the eagle, condor, and other birds of prey, sail about and flap their wings occasionally, but the true ocean birds, as a rule, flap their wings very little.

“An interesting flyer that we have seen is the frigate bird, also called the man-of-war bird, which appears to me to be a good deal of a pirate, as it makes the most of its living by robbing others. When another bird has caught a fish the frigate bird attacks him, and takes away his prize, catching it in the air as it falls from the victim’s claws. These birds follow the steamer or fly in the air above it, and they seem to go along very easily, although the ship is running at full speed. I am told that, on the previous voyage of this ship, some of the sailors caught two of these birds and marked them by attaching strips of white cloth to their feet. Then the birds were set free, and they followed the steamer four or five days without any apparent fatigue.

“Of course we have seen ‘Mother Carey’s Chickens.’ These tireless little fellows, that never seem to rest, are found in all parts of the world of waters. They have been constantly about us, flying around the ship but never settling upon it, and dipping occasionally into the waters behind us to gather up crumbs or particles of food. The other birds, which are all much larger, would like to deprive them of their sustenance, but they do not have the quickness of the little flyers on the wing. When anything is thrown overboard, they dart as quick as a flash under the noses of the larger and more clumsy birds, 45and pick up a mouthful or two before the latter can reach them. Then there are whale birds, and cape pigeons, and also the cape dove, which is somewhat larger than the pigeon, and is also known as the ‘fulmar petrel.’

“But the most interesting as well as the largest of all the ocean birds is the albatross. There are two or three kinds of this bird; the largest of them has a spread of wing varying from twelve to fifteen feet, and one has been caught measuring seventeen feet from tip to tip. With outspread wings, his body, as he sails about in the air, looks as large as a barrel, but when stripped of its feathers its size diminishes very much. We offered to pay a good price to the sailors if they would catch an albatross for us, but they declined our proposal to catch one, and when a passenger one day wanted to shoot one which was directly over the steamer, the sailors objected. We finally induced them to compromise the matter by catching an albatross and letting it go unharmed.

“They baited a hook with a piece of pork which was attached to a long line, and then allowed to tow behind the steamer. We were doomed to disappointment, as the albatross, that was then flying with the ship, refused to touch the bait, and it was taken up by a frigate bird. It is said that the albatross is very difficult to catch, as he is exceedingly wary, and constantly on the lookout for tricks. I am told that a live albatross standing on the deck of the ship is a very handsome bird. His back is white, his wings are brown, he has a fine head, carries himself with great dignity, and has a grand eye and countenance. The bird has a pink beak and pretty 46streaks of a rose color on the cheeks. After death these colors disappear, and are not to be seen in the stuffed specimens such as are found in museums. A good-sized albatross weighs about twenty pounds, though, as before stated, he looks very much larger.

“The wonderful thing about this bird is the way he sustains himself in the air. He sails along above the ship, though she may be steaming fifteen or sixteen miles an hour, but he does it all with very little motion. Three or four times in an hour he may give one or two flaps of his wings, and that is all; the rest is all steady sailing. The outspread wings sustain the bird, and carry him forward at the same time. If any man ever invents a successful flying machine, I think he will do so by studying the movements of the albatross. It is proper to say that this bird is not at all courageous, and often gives up the fish that he catches to the piratical frigate bird. It lives mostly on fish, and is very fond of the carcass of a dead whale, and they tell me that the longer the whale has been dead, the better does the albatross like it.

“The superstition of the sailors about its being bad luck to kill an albatross is not by any means a new one. It is referred to by old writers, and you will find it mentioned in Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner.’

“We have seen a great many flying fish during our voyage, but as we have seen them before, they are not a great curiosity. The flying motion of this fish is more fanciful than real. He does not soar in the air like a bird, but simply leaps from the crest of one wave to the crest of another. He makes a single dash through the 47air, and that is all. Sometimes, when a ship is in the hollow between two waves and the flying fish is attempting to make his way across, he falls on the deck of the vessel, but he rarely gets more than fifteen or eighteen feet into the air, and therefore does not reach the deck of a big steamer like this.

“Flying fish seem to fly when disturbed by big fishes, or, possibly, by the commotion that a vessel creates in going through the water. There is a good deal of dispute as to how long the flying fish can stay out of water, and the longest time I have heard any one give to it is thirty seconds. Some say that the flying fish can stay in the air only while its wings are wet, but that is a point on which I do not care to give any opinion, for the simple reason that I don’t know.”

Ned and Harry had kept the nautical instruments which they carried over the deserts of Northern Africa, and they amused themselves by taking daily observations and calculating the ship’s position. Sometimes they were wrong, and sometimes they were right, Ned naively remarking that “the wrongs didn’t count.” The first officer of the ship gave them some assistance in their nautical observations, and, altogether, they got along very well.

Our friends made the acquaintance of some of their fellow-passengers and found them very agreeable. The majority were residents of Australia or New Zealand, who had been on visits to England and were now returning home. The youths learned a great deal concerning the country whither they were bound, and the goodly portion of the information they received was of practical value to 48them. They made copious notes of what they heard, and some of the information that they gleaned will appear later in these pages.

In due time they sighted the coast of Australia at its western extremity, known as Cape Leeuwin, but the sight was not especially picturesque, as the mountains around the cape are of no great height. After passing Cape Leeuwin, the steamer held her course steadily to the west, gradually leaving the shore out of sight. She was passing along the front of what is called the Great Australian Bight, an indentation in the land twelve hundred miles long, and bounded on the north by a region of desolation.

“It is a desolate coast,” said one of the passengers to Harry, “and is so destitute of water that no settlements have or can be made upon it. Mr. Eyre, who was afterwards governor of Jamaica, endeavored to explore that coast, and had a terrible time of it. He was an entire year making the journey of twelve hundred miles, and suffered the most terrible hardships.”




“How long is it since Mr. Eyre made this journey?” Harry asked.

“It was a good while ago,” the gentleman answered, “in the years 1839 and 1840. Mr. Eyre had explored a portion of the western shore of Spencer Gulf, and while doing so, determined to make the attempt to travel along the shore of the Great Australian Bight. One of the first difficulties that opposed him was the scarcity of fresh water. There were numerous gullies, showing that in times of rain there was plenty of water, but no rain had fallen for a long time and all these gullies were dry. A few springs were found, but these were generally brackish and the water was hardly drinkable.

“Mr. Eyre tried the experiment of sinking a cask in the ground, near the edge of the sea, in the hope of obtaining fresh water, but his experiments in this direction were not successful. By the time he had advanced two hundred miles, he had lost four of his horses. The reduction in the number of his pack animals made it impossible for him to carry sufficient provisions for his party, and he therefore sent back his only white companion and three of his men. Then he continued his journey with his overseer and three natives, one of the latter being his personal servant.

50“In order to be sure of water, Mr. Eyre explored in advance of the party, and sometimes was gone four or five days before finding any. One by one the horses died of thirst, and the only way the men could keep alive was by gathering the dew, which fell at night, by means of sponges and rags.

“The natives complained at their hardships, and one night the two men took possession of the guns, killed the overseer, and ran away, leaving Mr. Eyre with only his native servant and a very small stock of provisions. They were then about midway on the journey; that is, they had still six hundred miles to travel to reach the settled parts of West Australia. The entire supply of provisions that they had was four gallons of water, forty pounds of flour, and a portion of a dead horse. They had to go nearly two hundred miles before finding any more water, and lived on horse-flesh, with occasional game and fish, and a little flour paste. Just as they were about to lie down and die in the desert they saw a sail in the distance.

“They built a fire on the beach as a signal, and, luckily for them, it was observed. The vessel came in quite near the land and sent a boat to their assistance. The ship proved to be an American whaler that was cruising about the Australian Bight in pursuit of whales, and the captain invited them to stay on board as long as they liked. They remained there two weeks, and were then put ashore at the same spot whence they had gone on board. The captain supplied them with all the provisions and water they could carry. Mr. Eyre was determined to complete his journey, if possible, and his faithful servant consented to 51remain with him. They struggled on for two or three weeks longer, when they reached the first of the settlements on King George’s Sound.”

“Has anybody else ever tried to make the same journey?” Harry asked.

“Not under the same circumstances,” was the reply. “I believe that a well-equipped exploring party was sent out some twelve or fifteen years ago, to travel along the coast and look for gold. Water and provisions were supplied every few days by a small steamer that kept near the shore and went in when signaled by the travelers. In this way, suffering from hunger and thirst was avoided and the animals of the expedition were well supplied with forage. The enterprise was not a successful one so far as the finding of gold was concerned, but I have little doubt that one of these days gold will be discovered there; and if it should be, some way will be found for softening the asperities of this desolate coast.”

“I have heard,” said Harry, “that a great part of Australia is destitute of water. Is that really the case?”

“Yes,” the gentleman answered; “you have been correctly informed. Australia, is a waterless country, or, at any rate, that is the case with a great part of it. The interior has never been fully explored for this reason, and there are thousands, I might say millions, of square miles of Australian country where no human foot has ever trod. Many attempts have been made to penetrate this desolate region, but all have resulted in failure.

“Water, as you know, is an absolute necessity for man and animals, and there is a limit to the amount which an 52expedition can carry, just as there is a limit to the food that one may take on a journey. There are parts of Australia where rain seems never to fall, or, if it does, the intervals are so rare and irregular that no reliance can be placed on them. Explorers cannot stop to dig wells hundreds of feet in depth, and it is certain that no ordinary amount of digging will procure water. The atmosphere is dry, terribly dry, as all who have attempted to penetrate into the interior will tell you.

“Instruments, and cases made of the best seasoned wood—wood that has been dried for years and years—crack and split and go to pieces in the dry atmosphere of the interior of Australia. Leather becomes brittle, and cracks and breaks when the slightest pressure is put upon it. One exploring expedition was obliged to turn back in consequence of the drying up and cracking of the wood contained in its instruments and their cases. The evaporation from one’s skin is very rapid under such circumstances, and produces an agonizing thirst, which is no doubt intensified by the knowledge of the scarcity of water and the necessity of using the supply on hand with great care.”

“I have heard,” said Ned, “that Australia is a land of contradictions as compared with England and the United States. I read in a book somewhere that nearly everything in nature was the reverse of what it was in the countries I mentioned.”

“That is true,” said the gentleman with whom they were conversing, “and I will tell you several things to demonstrate the correctness of what you say. In the first 53place Australia is on the other side of the world from England and the United States, and that circumstance ought to prepare you for the other peculiarities. Most countries are fertile in their interior; but, as I have told you, the interior of Australia is a land of desolation, where neither man nor beast can live. I have been told that birds never fly in the interior of Australia; and certainly if I were a bird, I would not fly there nor anywhere near it.

“We have very few rivers, and none of them come from far in the interior. Most of them are low in summer or altogether dried up. There is only one river, the Murray, that can be relied upon to have any reasonable depth of water in it throughout the entire year. The other rivers dwindle almost to nothing, and, as I have said, entirely disappear. The greater part of the country is absolutely without trees, and the dense forests which you have in America are practically unknown. We have summer when you have winter, and we have night when you have day. When you are in your own country, and I am here, our feet are nearer together than our heads; that is to say, our feet are pressing the ground on opposite sides of the earth, and so we may be said to be standing upon each other.”

“That is so,” remarked Harry; “I was thinking of that this morning. I noticed also that the ship’s compass pointed to the south, and that the sun was traveling along the northern heavens. I observed, too, that the south wind was cold, and the north wind hot.”

“You are quite right,” said the gentleman; “and if 54you have been studying the barometer, you have found that it falls with the northerly wind and rises with the southerly one. When you travel over the country, you will find that the valleys are cool and the mountain tops warm. The bees have no sting, and many of the beautiful flowers have no smell. The leaves of the trees are nearly always perpendicular instead of horizontal, as in your country, and consequently one gets very little shade under an Australian tree.”

“I have heard,” said Ned, “that the trees shed their bark instead of their leaves. Is that really so?”

“It is so with most of the trees,” was the reply; “in fact, with nearly all of them. A few shed their leaves every year, and on many of the trees the leaves remain unchanged, while the bark is thrown off. One tree is called the stringy bark, on account of the ragged appearance of its covering at the time it is shed.

“In your part of the world,” the gentleman continued, “cherries grow with the stones inside; but here in Australia we have cherries with the stones on the outside. We have birds of beautiful plumage and very little song; the owls are quiet at night, and screech and hoot in the daytime, which certainly is not a characteristic of the English or American owl. The geological formation of the country is also peculiar, and the scientific men who have come here from England and America are a good deal puzzled at the state of affairs they find in Australia. Would it not surprise you to learn that we have coal in this country as white as chalk?”

“That is, indeed, a surprise,” one of the youths remarked. 55“I wonder if the conditions are continued so that your chalk is black.”

“The contrasts do not go quite so far as that,” said the gentleman, with a laugh, “as the chalk of Australia is as white as that of England. I don’t mean to say that all our coal is white, but only the coal of certain localities. It generally takes the stranger by surprise to see a grateful of white coal burning brightly, and throwing out smoke at the same time. I must tell you that this coal is bituminous, and not anthracite.”

“I hope,” said Ned, “that men’s heads do not grow out of their sides, or from their breasts, and that they do not walk topsy-turvy, with their feet in the air.”

“No, they are not as bad as that,” was the reply; “but you will see some queer things before you are through with Australia. Bear in mind that the country contains no antiquities of any kind; it is a new land in every sense, as it was first settled in 1788, and all these cities are of modern foundation and growth.”

Our young friends thanked the gentleman for the information he had given them, and said they would specially bear in mind the comparisons and contrasts which he had indicated in their brief conversation.

The first stopping place of the ship was at Adelaide, in South Australia, from which place she proceeded around the coast to Melbourne. Our friends decided to land at Adelaide, and go overland through that city wherever the railway would take them. They thought that by so doing they would be able to see a great deal more on their way to Melbourne than if they continued aboard the ship.

56Harry had obtained a map of Australia on the day before their arrival at Adelaide. He was busily engaged in studying it.

“Just look a moment,” said Harry to Ned, as he spread the map out on one of the tables in the saloon; “here is another contradiction that our friend didn’t include. Look at it.”

“Well, what of it?” said Ned. “It is a map of Australia, is it not?”

“Yes, it is, and just look at the provinces or colonies of Australia. Here is West Australia, as its name indicates, at the western end of the great island or continent. Here are Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, and here is South Australia, where we are going to land. Adelaide is its capital.”

“Well, what of it?” queried Ned, with an expression of curiosity on his face.

“Why, don’t you see,” said Harry, in a tone of impatience, “that South Australia is not South Australia at all. Here is Victoria, which runs further south than this colony, and then you see South Australia runs clear across the continent to the northern side, and almost as far north as the extreme point of Queensland. They ought to change the name of it, or else divide it into two colonies, calling this one by its present name, and the other North Australia.”

Ned admitted the force of the argument, and then joined his cousin in studying the map. Strange to say, the middle section or unexplored region had a singular fascination for both the youths, and each confided to the other that he would like to undertake the exploration of that part of the continent. They wondered whether Dr. Whitney would entertain their proposal to do so, but finally concluded that the hardships would be too great, and they would say nothing about their aspirations.


57In due time the steamer came to anchor at Port Adelaide. The harbor of the capital city is not on the sea, but seven miles away from it, on the banks of the small river Torrens. The railway connects the port with the city, and shortly after getting ashore our friends were seated in a train, which carried them quickly to the capital. One of the passengers told Ned that the port was formerly quite shallow and difficult to enter. The entrance at present is between two large shoals of sand, which are marked by lighthouses. A great deal of money has been expended in deepening and widening the harbor, so that it is now accessible for large ships.

A long pier extends into St. Vincent’s Gulf, the body of water on which the port stands, and this pier is quite popular as a promenade for the people living at the port, and also for those who come down from the city.

Harry observed that the dock and pier accommodations were excellent. There were immense sheds, and warehouses for the storage of grain, wool, and other products of the country while awaiting shipment, and equally extensive shelters for merchandise arriving at the port on its way to the city and to other parts of the colony. There were dry docks and repairing yards, and there were hospitals for sick sailors and others, together with the usual public buildings of a prosperous seaport. Immense quantities of wool and frozen meat are shipped from this port 58to England, and the trade of the colony with the mother country is said to be increasing every year.

It was about the middle of the afternoon when our friends landed, and in less than half an hour after landing they were in the city. One of their steamer acquaintances had directed them to a hotel, and, in fact, accompanied them to it, so that they had the advantage of his personal guidance and introduction. Harry made a memorandum in his notebook that they found the hotel quite a good one, certainly much better than the hotel where they stopped at Cape Town.

After settling themselves in the hotel the party went out for a stroll, but, in consequence of the heat, they were not long in turning their stroll into a drive. Here is what Ned says of their first day in Adelaide:—

“This city recalls Chicago more than any other place I can think of. It is on a level plain, with the exception of the portion to the north where the ground rises a little, and the streets are laid out at right angles, as though a chess-board had been taken as a model for the place. We have wondered why it was called Adelaide instead of Mary Ann, Betsy, or some other feminine name; Dr. Whitney has just told us that the city was laid out in 1837 and named in honor of the queen of King William IV., who was then the ruler of England.

“Having named the place in honor of the queen, the founders of the city felt that the next thing to do was to call the principal street after the king. Thus it happens that the great street, the one most built upon, and where the majority of the shops are concentrated, is King William 59Street. It is a broad avenue running from south to north, and divides the city almost equally. It is certainly a very handsome avenue, and we greatly enjoyed our drive upon it. Most of the public buildings, the town hall, post-office, government offices, and the like, are on King William Street, and they are very handsome structures.

“The people are very proud of these edifices, and well they may be, as they would be ornaments to any city ten times as old and large as Adelaide. The principal banks, newspaper offices, and business structures generally are also on King William Street, and to judge by the crowds of people that throng the sidewalks, one might conclude that the population was a busy one. One thing that attracted our attention was the great number of churches, which certainly gave us the impression that the population of Adelaide is decidedly religious, and also that its zeal in religion had led it to contribute freely to the erection of places of worship. Our driver pointed out the various churches and told us their denomination. Of course the Church of England was ahead of the others, as is expected to be the case in a British colony.”

“I learned afterwards,” said Ned, “that there were nearly one thousand churches and chapels in the colony of South Australia, together with nearly five hundred other buildings that are occasionally used for religious worship. All the churches are supported by voluntary contributions, there being no State aid to any of them. At the last census of the colony there were 76,000 adherents of the Church of England, 43,000 Roman Catholics, and 42,000 Methodists. Then came the Lutherans, with 20,000; Presbyterians, 60with 18,000; Baptists, with 14,000; and about 10,000 each of primitive Methodists, Congregationalists, and Bible Christians. There were several other denominations, but their numbers were insignificant. We looked for pagodas while driving along the street, but none of them were to be found, and we learned on inquiry that the number of Chinese and Moslems in South Australia was hardly worth mentioning. The colony has never been attractive to the Chinese, and few of them have endeavored to find homes there.

“We drove to the resident portion of the city and saw a goodly number of private houses of the better sort. A great deal of taste has been displayed in the construction of these houses, and we derived the impression that Adelaide was a decidedly prosperous city. The wheat-growing industry of South Australia is a very large one. Many of the great farmers have their residences in Adelaide and spend only a small portion of their time on their farms, leaving all details to their managers. A considerable amount of American farming machinery finds its way to South Australia, where it has attained a well-deserved popularity.”

While our friends were at breakfast the next morning, Harry suggested that if the others were willing, he would like to see one of the Australian prisons containing convicts that had been transported from England.

The doctor smiled,—just a faint smile,—while Ned laughed.

“Oh, you are all wrong, Harry,” said Ned. “They gave up that business long ago. I was under the same 61impression that you are, but learned better from one of our fellow-passengers. I meant to tell you about it.”

“Well, I will acknowledge my mistake,” said Harry. “We are all liable to make blunders, and that is one of them.”

“Quite true,” Dr. Whitney remarked. “Every visitor to a country that is strange to him makes a great many mistakes, and the frank thing is to acknowledge it.”

“The gentleman who corrected my blunder,” said Ned, “told me that an American visitor who was very fond of hunting landed once in Sydney, fresh from the United States. The hunting fever was strong in him, and before he was an hour on shore he asked the clerk of the hotel where he could go to shoot Sydney ducks. He had heard of them, and would like to bag a few brace.”

“What is the point of the joke?” said Harry; “I confess I cannot see it.”

“That is exactly what I said to my informant,” replied Ned, “and then he went on and told me that in former times Australian convicts were spoken of as Sydney ducks.”

“Oh! I see,” said Harry, “that is a very good joke when you come to know all about it. What did the clerk of the hotel say to the inquiring stranger?”

“I don’t know,” replied Ned, “but I presume he told him that Sydney ducks had gone out of fashion, and were not being shot any more. Probably he let the man down as gently as possible.”

“How did the convicts come to have the name of Sydney ducks?” Harry asked.

62“I can’t tell you, I am sure,” said Ned, “you will have to ask the doctor about it.”

“The name came, no doubt,” said Dr. Whitney, “from the circumstance that the first convicts who were brought to Australia were landed at Sydney, and for a good many years Sydney was the principal depot of these involuntary emigrants. The adoption of Australia as the place for convict settlement was brought about by events in America, a statement which may surprise you.”

“It certainly is surprising,” Harry remarked. “How did it happen?”

“It came about in this way,” the doctor continued; “when America was subject to England, offenders of various kinds, whether political or criminal, were sent to the American colonies, principally to the Southern States and the West Indies, where they were chiefly employed in the cultivation of tobacco. The consumption of tobacco in England was very large, and the revenue derived from it was considerable. Consequently England was able to kill two birds with one stone; she got rid of her criminals, at the same time, and made a large profit on their work.

“When the American colonies revolted in 1775, and gained their independence eight years later, England found herself deprived of a place to which she could send her convicts, and she looked around for another. She tried the coast of Africa, and found it too unhealthy for her purpose. Captain Cook had recently visited Australia and given a glowing account of it, and the government officials thought that this new country would be an excellent 63one for criminals. Orders were given for sending out a fleet of ships for that purpose; and, accordingly, eleven vessels, carrying more than one thousand people, sailed for Portsmouth in the month of March, 1787, with orders to proceed to Australia.”

“If England had known what was to happen,” said Harry, “she need not have been at the trouble of sending her criminals so far away; she might have kept on with America with only slight interruptions. She is sending us her criminals and paupers at present, though she does not designate them properly when she ships them, and most of the continental nations are doing the same thing. We are trying to prevent it, but I don’t believe we succeed to a very great extent.”

“Did they send a thousand convicts to Australia in this first batch?” queried Ned.

“There were about one thousand people altogether,” said Dr. Whitney, “including 757 convicts, and among the convicts were 190 women and eighteen children. They had 160 soldiers to guard the prisoners, with a sufficient number of officers, and forty of the soldiers were accompanied by their wives. They had on the ships a goodly quantity of cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, and goats, and a large quantity of seeds from various parts of the world was sent out. It was not expected that the colony would be self-supporting for some time, and so it was arranged that supply ships laden with flour and other provisions should be sent from England at regular intervals. A year or two after the colony was founded one of these ships was wrecked on its way to Australia, and the colonists 64suffered greatly for want of food. Among the supplies taken by each ship there was usually a fresh batch of convicts, and quite regularly convict ships were despatched from England to Australia.”

Ned remarked that he thought a convict ship would not be a pleasant craft to travel on. A good many people did not like crossing the Atlantic on cattle ships, but he thought the cattle ship would be far preferable to one laden with convicts.

“And so it is,” replied the doctor. “According to all accounts, the life on board a convict ship from England to Australia was terrible. Remember that in those days prisoners were treated with great harshness; they were not supposed to have any feelings and were never spoken to kindly, and in many instances an order was usually accompanied by a kick or a blow. During the voyage the prisoners were allowed on deck one hour or possibly two hours of each day, care being taken that only a small number would be there at any one time.

“For the rest of the twenty-four hours they were shut up in close, stifling pens or cages, generally with nothing but a little straw to sleep on, and they were fed with the coarsest and poorest food. Coffee and tea with hard bread formed their breakfast; dinner was the same, with sometimes the addition of a piece of heavily salted beef, so hard that it was no easy matter to cut it into mouthfuls. Supper was the same as breakfast, and this was kept up with hardly any variation.

“The slightest infraction of the rules was punished with the lash, but this did not deter the criminals from making 65trouble. Constantly the boatswain and his assistants were kept busy in performing the floggings that were ordered, and sometimes the cat-o’-nine-tails was in steady use from sunrise to sunset. The more severe his discipline, the more highly an officer was regarded by his superiors, and if he occasionally hanged a few men, it rather advanced than retarded his promotion. A good many died on the voyage from England to Australia, partly in consequence of their scanty fare and the great heat of the tropics; but, according to tradition, a very large proportion of the mortality was the result of brutal treatment and privations.

“The passengers on the convict ship,” said Harry, “seem to have been treated pretty much like those on slave ships.”

“You are not far wrong there,” the doctor replied; “the sufferings of convicts on their way to Australia were not altogether unlike those of the unhappy negroes that were formerly taken from the coast of Africa to North and South America. The convicts were not crowded quite as densely into the holds of the ships as the slaves were, and the mortality among them was not as great; still they were packed very thickly together, and were treated quite as cruelly as the slave dealers used to treat their human property. Occasionally it happened that the convicts formed a conspiracy and endeavored to take possession of the ship. In nearly every instance they were betrayed by one of their number, and when the time came for action they were so closely guarded that any resistance was useless. Then the conspirators were seized, and after a brief trial were condemned to be hung or shot, generally the former, 66as it saved ammunition and did not soil the decks of the ship with blood. When there was an actual mutiny the mutineers were shot down without mercy, and those who escaped the bullets were speedily disposed of by hanging at the yard-arms.”

“Terrible times those must have been,” remarked Ned; “the wonder is that anybody survived.”

“Yes, indeed,” said Harry; “but man has a tough constitution and can endure a great deal.”




One of the youths asked how the convicts were employed after they came to Australia.

“At first,” said the doctor, “they were employed almost entirely on government works. A city was laid out, and of course it was necessary to grade the streets, build bridges, and do other things in connection with putting the place into shape. There were prisons, warehouses, wharves, and other buildings necessary to a convict establishment to be erected. Gardens and fields were to be laid out and planted, and altogether there was no lack of work to be performed. The prisoners were required to work under guard, and the worst of them were ornamented with ball and chain, like the occupants of many a prison in different parts of the world. They were treated just as rigorously as they had been on board the ships that brought them out. Their lodgings were somewhat more spacious, but by no stretch of fancy could they be called luxurious. The supply of food in the colony was not large, and the fare of the prisoners was scanty.

“Free emigration to Australia began a few years after the convict emigration, and most of the free emigrants came here with the view to employ the convicts under contracts with the government. They were principally men of capital, and the most of them established farms or 68factories near Sydney and entered into agreements with the government to supply them with labor. Where they were close to the city, the convicts were sent out to their work in the morning and returned to prison at night; but where the distance from the city was considerable, other plans had to be followed. Sometimes soldiers were detailed to guard the convicts at their working places, and in others the employer himself supplied the guard. The convicts were also made to understand very clearly that if they ran away they would be caught and severely punished.

“I should think they would run away in spite of all these threats, especially where their sentences were for long terms,” Harry remarked.

“It was not so easy as it may seem for anybody to escape,” said the doctor. “A man could not stay around the colony more than a day or two, or a few days at the farthest, without being discovered, and when found he was sure to be severely flogged, put on bread and water, and shut up in a dark cell. If he escaped into the bush, he was pretty certain to starve to death unless found by the natives, in which case he was generally murdered. Many a convict ran away to the bush and was never heard of. Others remained there until starvation forced them to come in and give themselves up.”

“Did the free settlers increase as fast as the convicts?”

“Yes, they increased faster as the word went out through the British Islands that Australia offered great possibilities for emigrants. For twenty years the military and convicts were more numerous than the free settlers; 69but by the end of thirty years the latter were in the ascendency. In the year 1830, there were twenty-seven thousand convicts in the colony, and forty-nine thousand others.

“By ‘others’ I don’t mean other settlers, altogether, though I do mean free people. By that time a good many convicts had served out their sentences and become free. They were known as ‘emancipists,’ and consequently there were three kinds of people in the colony,—emancipists, convicts, and free settlers. The free settlers would not associate with the emancipists, and they in turn would not associate with the convicts. The free settlers wanted the emancipists to be deprived of all civil rights and kept practically in the same position as the convicts. The officers of the government used to take the side of the emancipists, and there were many bitter quarrels between them and the free settlers in consequence.”

Here the doctor paused for a moment, and then asked:—

“Did you ever read about the mutiny of the Bounty?”

“Oh, yes,” replied Harry; “I read about it two or three years ago. The crew of the ship Bounty mutinied, and put the captain and others in an open boat to take care of themselves the best way they could. The Bounty then cruised about the Pacific for awhile, and finally went to Pitcairn’s Island, where the mutineers landed and destroyed the ship. Their fate was not known until nearly thirty years afterwards, when an American ship touched at the island, and found it peopled by the descendants of the mutineers, who had taken some women from Tahiti to become their wives. Only one of those concerned in the 70mutiny was then alive. The captain and his companions in the open boat made a voyage of four thousand miles, enduring great hardships, and eventually reached the Dutch settlements in the island of Timor.”

“A very good account for a brief one,” said the doctor. “Do you remember the name of the Bounty’s commander?”

“Yes,” replied Harry. “I believe it was Bligh; in fact, I am sure of it.”

“Well, that same Captain Bligh was one of the early governors of New South Wales, as the colony was then called. He caused the mutiny on the Bounty by want of tact and by undue severity, and the same spirit that he showed on the deck of his ship caused a rebellion in New South Wales. Of course, the convicts had no influence or part in the rebellion, but the free settlers were very active in it, and so were a good many of the officers. Bligh caused himself to be thoroughly disliked by interfering with local trade, and also by his very intemperate talk concerning free settlers and emancipists. He was deposed and sent to England, while a temporary governor was installed in his place. To a certain extent he triumphed over his enemies, as the officers who had taken part in the rebellion were either reprimanded or dismissed. Governor Bligh came back with the authority to assume the position of governor for just one hour.”

“Not a very long term for a man to be governor,” Ned remarked.

“No, not by any means,” was the reply; “but there was a technical advantage in it which was very important. The governor did a great deal in that one hour. He removed 71a good many officers and appointed new ones in their places, and he made several changes in the administration of the colony which were more or less embarrassing to his successor.

“Governor Bligh was succeeded by Governor Macquarie. The quarrel between the free settlers and the emancipists continued during Macquarie’s administration. The governor took the side of the emancipists, and at one time there was a good prospect of another rebellion; but, happily, the new chief of the colony possessed more tact than his predecessor, and no rebellion was ever brought about. Governor Macquarie relaxed some of the severity with which the convicts had been treated, and this, together with his favoring the emancipists, gave him the title of the ‘Prisoners’ Friend.’

“As time went on, the number of free settlers in the colony increased, and so did the number of farms in the vicinity of Sydney. As I have already told you, the convicts were hired out to work on the farms. Of course a good many of them ran away, and then some of them got into the bush, where they remained for various periods, but the majority of them were caught and brought back within a few days. Dogs were used in pursuing them, and several kennels of dogs were kept at the prisons for the purpose of hunting out runaways. Some of the prisoners’ beliefs in regard to the country were very amusing. The idea got into the heads of many that, by traveling overland for a few days, they would reach China, and quite a number of them tried to do so. One man wandered for a month around the bush country, until finally, 72driven by hunger, he ventured to approach a house. There he saw a fellow-prisoner whom he knew, and asked him how long he had been in China. He was very much surprised on learning that he was not in China at all, but on a farm a few miles from Sydney. While he was talking with the friend two soldiers happened along and took him in charge, and then carried him back to the prison, where he received the customary punishment.

“In 1798 a good many Irishmen who had been concerned in the Irish rebellion of that year were transported to Australia. They saw in the mountains back of Sydney a close resemblance to the mountains of Connaught, in their native country, and fancied that if they could cross those mountains they would find themselves at home. Quite a number of them ran away in consequence, but were doomed to disappointment. One man on the voyage out to Australia had given a good deal of time to studying the motions of the ship’s compass, and he imagined that if he could only get something of the kind he would be all right and could safely guide himself through the forests of Australia. He watched his chance and stole a book on navigation. One leaf of the book had a picture of a mariner’s compass. He tore out this leaf, and, thus equipped, took the first opportunity of running away.

“Speaking of these Irish rebels reminds me of something I must tell you. They were convicted of treason, either for taking an active part in the rebellion or sympathizing with it, and for this crime they were sent as convicts to the other side of the world. No distinction was made between political and criminal offenders, and the 73man who had loved his country and tried to set her free treated with the same severity as the house breaker and highwayman.

“A great many men were sent to Australia for the crime of poaching. Many a man was condemned to seven, ten, and fifteen years’ exile at hard labor because he had taken a trout out of a brook, or snared a partridge. Offenses that in these times would only result in a fine were then punished with great severity, and a considerable number of the convicts sent to Australia in the first thirty years of the prevalence of the system were men whose offenses had really been very light. It was for this reason that Governor Macquarie and other high officials took the position that they did in favor of the emancipists. They contended that a man whose offense had been of a trivial sort, and who had shown himself to be honest and industrious, ought to receive a helping hand, instead of being placed under the ban.”

“I quite agree with them,” said Harry; “and I wonder that the free settlers were so severe against them.”

“But you must bear in mind,” the doctor answered, “that the term ‘convict’ is always odious, no matter under what circumstances it may have been obtained. It was not easy at all times for the free settlers to make a distinction among emancipists, and so they came to a quick conclusion by denouncing all. However, that state of society has all passed away; convicts, emancipists, and free settlers of the first quarter of this century are all dead and gone now, with, possibly, a few exceptions. Time has healed the breach, and this subject is very little talked of at the present day.”

74“How about the descendants of the early colonists?” Ned inquired. “Do the sins of the fathers descend upon the children, or are they all forgotten?”

“As to that,” said the doctor, “I must give you a little explanation. It is not considered polite in Australia to ask a man born in the country who his father was, or how he happened to emigrate from England. That is a subject that is ignored in polite society, and, in fact, in society of all kinds. In political life, a man may abuse his opponent as much as he pleases in all ways, except that should he venture in the anger of debate to intimate that his opponent’s father came to Australia as an involuntary emigrant, he renders himself liable to heavy damages. I can tell you of a case in point.

“A prominent official in the government of Victoria is known to be the son of a man who was transported for catching a pheasant. It is an open secret; in fact, one could hardly say that it was a secret at all, as every man who has any knowledge of public life is well aware of it. Once while this man was running for office, his opponent, in a fierce debate before a public meeting, mentioned the circumstance, whereupon the other brought suit, and was awarded damages to the extent of fifty thousand dollars. It is probable that the unlucky defendant of the suit has been more careful in the use of his tongue ever since.

“One of the convicts that escaped,” continued the doctor, “had a most remarkable experience. He wandered off into the bush or forests, and kept traveling until the small amount of provisions he carried was exhausted. Then for 75two or three days he lived upon roots and leaves and on a bird that he killed with a club.

“One day, while he was dragging himself along, he came to a mound of earth, which had been freshly heaped up. Standing in this mound there was a stick, and to help himself along he took possession of the stick, which was like a long walking-cane. He observed, as he took possession of it, that it seemed to have been used before, but he proceeded on his way and thought no more about the matter.

“After dragging himself along for half a mile or more, he suddenly came upon a little encampment of native blacks or aborigines. They raised a shout as they saw him and made a rush in his direction, brandishing their spears and other weapons, and showing signs of hostility.

“The poor fellow thought his last hour had come, as he had heard that the blacks murdered every white man they came across. What was his surprise when they suddenly lowered their weapons and changed their demonstrations of hostility to those of respect! They gathered about him in the most friendly manner imaginable, and tried to talk with him, but he could not understand a word. They threw up a shelter for him larger than any other shelter in the encampment, and installed him there, and they treated him as though he were a princely ambassador. They brought him food, which he ate ravenously, and they continued to place their greatest delicacies before him until his appetite was fully satisfied.

“Well, he remained among them for years, and as he was a man of fair intelligence, he soon learned their language. It did not take him long to comprehend that he 76was treated as the chief of the tribe, and had been regarded as such from the very beginning. And what do you suppose brought it about?”

“I’m sure I can’t tell,” said both of the youths in a breath.

“It came about in this way,” explained the doctor. “The Australian blacks believe, or, at any rate, many of the tribes do, that the white man is nothing more nor less than a resurrected black man. Those of them who speak English express it in these words: ‘Tumble down, black fellow; jump up, white fellow.’

“It so happened that the tribe which he joined had just buried its chief, and when they bury one of their dead they heap a mound of earth above the spot, and upon the top of the mound some implement or weapon belonging to the deceased. In this case they had stuck the old chief’s walking-staff in the top of the mound, and it was this very staff that the white man took from the mound where the chief was buried, to help him along on his way. When the blacks saw the man approaching they proceeded to kill him after their custom, but as he came near and they saw that he carried the staff of their chief, they at once concluded that the chief had come to life again in the shape of the white fellow. That is why they showed him so many honors and made him chief of their tribe. It was in their minds a clear case of ‘tumble down, black fellow; jump up, white fellow.’”

“I suppose he was quite contented to stay with them, and not return to Sydney and its punishments?” remarked one of the youths.

77“Yes, indeed he was. For years rumors came to Sydney from time to time, that there was a white man living in one of the aboriginal tribes as their chief. Word was sent him several times by means of the blacks, giving the governor’s promise that he would not be molested if he would come to Sydney and tell his story, but he was suspicious, and for a long time refused to come. Finally an officer of the government went out, and with a great deal of difficulty succeeded in having an interview with him. He received the most solemn assurance that he would not be interfered with, and finally said that if a full pardon were sent to him, he would come. A full pardon was accordingly forwarded and he ventured to Sydney, where he received a good deal of attention. His story was taken down from his own lips, and afterward published in a book. After a few months he became dissatisfied with civilization and returned to his wanderings.”

“That is a curious idea of the blacks, that they become white after their death,” Ned remarked.

“Yes, it is curious,” said the doctor, “and they carry it out in forming attachments for the white people who employed them. At a station where quite a number of blacks were employed, one of the eldest of the women used to say to the foreman of the place: ‘You are my son, I your moder, and I take care of you. My big boy tumble down, you white boy tumble up. You my piccanniny.’ After a time the man got married and brought his wife to his home. The next day another woman of the tribe adopted and laid claim to her as her child. The two women became very fond of each other, and when, in the course of 78time, the black woman died, the white one mourned exceedingly for her.”

“We will have an opportunity to see some of the aboriginals while we are in the country, and then we will learn more about them,” continued the doctor; “but of one thing let me remind you, do not speak of them as ‘natives.’ In Australia, the term ‘native’ is applied to a white person born in this country, while the real natives, as we ourselves would speak of them, are termed ‘blacks’ or ‘aborigines.’”

The youths promised to bear the advice in mind, and then Harry asked how the discontinuance of convict emigration was brought about.

“It was brought about,” the doctor replied, “through the hostility of the Australians themselves. They protested repeatedly against receiving convicts, and their protests were heeded to the extent that for awhile the emigration ceased; but one day a ship appeared in the harbor of Sydney with a fresh batch of convicts. Thereupon the local authorities took vigorous action, and refused to allow the convicts to be landed. The ship then went to Melbourne, with the same result. The people of Melbourne would not have the undesirable emigrants, and the captain was obliged to go around the southern coast to West Australia, where no opposition was made to the human cargo being put on shore. Convict emigration to New South Wales and Victoria ceased about 1840, and to Tasmania in 1853, but it was continued to West Australia until 1858. Since that time it has been entirely given up by the British government, and the class of people that used to be sent here is now taken care of in British prisons at home.

79“The old idea about transportation of criminals was, that it rendered society at home better by removing the criminal class. In practise this theory was found to be a mistaken one. Thievery and similar crimes were found to be trades, and as fast as criminals were transported others came up to take their places, so that, practically, no matter how many criminals were sent away, their places were soon filled and the business went on as before. France began the practise about the middle of this century of transporting criminals to New Caledonia and other islands of the Pacific; she still keeps it up, but, according to accounts, there is no diminution of crime in France, nor is there likely to be.

“It is proper to say in this connection that there was a considerable party in Australia in favor of the transportation system, on account of the money the government expended here in consequence. This was particularly the case in Van Dieman’s Land, which is now called Tasmania. That island received a great number of convicts, and the government expended a very large amount of money for their support and for the construction of prison establishments. Many of the public works of Tasmania were built by the convicts. For example, they built an excellent road one hundred and twenty miles long, running across the island from Hobart to Launceston. It is said to be the finest wagon and carriage road in all the country, but is now comparatively little used, having been superseded by a railway.

“The ruins of a very extensive prison are still to be seen at Port Arthur, about thirteen miles from Hobart; it 80stands on a peninsula which is connected with the mainland by a very narrow neck. Across this neck of land there were chained a lot of savage dogs, so near each other that nobody could pass without being within reach of at least one of the dogs. The water all around the peninsula abounded in sharks, so that if a man attempted to swim across the bay he was liable to become the prey of one, or perhaps a dozen, of these sea wolves. And yet a good many men, first and last, managed to escape from Port Arthur and get into the bush.

“Generally the runaways were caught before being at large many days, and when brought back many of them were condemned to death. At one time the keeper who had charge of the prisons at Hobart complained to the authorities of the inadequate facilities for putting men to death by hanging. He said it was impossible to hang conveniently more than thirteen men at once, and as the hangman had been very busy of late, he thought that the facilities ought to be increased so that the work could be performed with greater expedition.”

Dr. Whitney reminded his young friends that it was time for them to start if they wished to employ the forenoon advantageously; accordingly, a carriage was called and the party went out for a drive. They proceeded in the direction of the lake, a pretty sheet of water in the northern part of Adelaide—about two miles long and in some places half a mile wide. The lake is an artificial one, and is formed by throwing a dam across the river Torrens and restraining the waters which come down in times of flood. For the greater part of the year the 81river is little more than a dry bed of sand, and one of the inhabitants told Harry that sprinkling-carts were driven through the bed of the river every morning and evening to keep down the dust. The city is supplied with water from this river; it is taken from a stream several miles above Adelaide, and brought through heavy iron pipes.

Harry wished to know the population of the city, and was told that it was not far from sixty thousand. There is a considerable suburban population, and the man from whom Harry obtained his information said he thought there was fully another sixty thousand people living within a radius of ten miles from City Hall. He said the whole population of the colony of South Australia was not far from one hundred and thirty thousand including about five thousand aboriginals.

When the country was first settled it was thought that the aboriginals numbered twelve or fourteen thousand, but contact with civilization had reduced the figures very materially here, as in other parts of the world. Where white men and aboriginals have come in contact, the latter have suffered all over Australia; their relations have not changed in New Zealand and Tasmania, and this is especially the case in the last-named colony. Not a single aboriginal Tasmanian is now alive, the last one having died in 1876. When the island was first occupied by the English, the number of aboriginals was estimated at four or five thousand. The story goes that when the British landed there the natives made signs of peace, but the officer who was in charge of the landing thought the signals were hostile instead of friendly. He ordered 82the soldiers to fire upon the blacks, and thus began a war which lasted for several years, and when it terminated only a few hundreds of the blacks remained alive. In 1854, there were only fifteen of them left, and the number gradually diminished, until the last one died as related.




Our friends were invited to visit a large wheat farm twenty or thirty miles north of Adelaide, and accepted the invitation with great pleasure. Leaving the city early in the morning, the railway train took them to a station a few miles from the farm, and there the owner met them in his carriage. After a substantial breakfast at the owner’s residence, they were driven to the field, or, rather, to one of the fields, where the work of harvesting was going on.

It roused their national pride somewhat to find that American reaping-machines were in use on the farm, and they also learned that the plowing was done with American plows. The field stretched out to an almost limitless extent, and it needed very little play of the imagination for the youths to believe that they were on one of their own western prairies instead of being at the antipodes.

The farm seemed to be managed in a most systematic manner, and before they departed the owner showed them a copy of the rules which the men were required to sign when they were engaged. Before signing, the rules were read to them line by line, and sentence by sentence, and each man acknowledged that he had a full understanding of the documents to which he affixed his signature.

Perhaps it may interest our readers to know something 84about these rules. Sixty men are employed on a farm throughout the whole year, and in the busy season three times that number are engaged. Here is the substance of the rules:—

“The bell rings at five o’clock in the morning, and this is the signal for everybody to get up. Horses are groomed and fed before six o’clock, and at that hour the men are served with breakfast. At seven o’clock the teams are harnessed, and teams and men go to the field. At noon one hour is allowed for rest and dinner, and then work goes on until five o’clock in winter and six o’clock in summer. Then the teams return to the stables, and the men get their suppers at seven o’clock. The horses are fed and watered at eight o’clock, and by ten o’clock everybody must be in bed.”

First-class hands on these farms receive twenty shillings ($5) per week, and employees of other grades are paid in proportion. One clause in the rules says that any man in charge of horses who abuses them or neglects to care for them properly will be discharged at once, and forfeit all wages that may be due him. Penalties are stated for every sort of offense, all of them being in the shape of fines or loss of situation, or both. Every laborer who begins in a low position is promised an advance in pay and place as a reward of his industry and good conduct.

“There are a good many farms of this sort in South Australia,” said Ned in his journal, “and we are sorry that time prevents our visiting all those that we have been invited to see; but our regret is modified by the recollection that one farm is very largely a repetition of another farm, 85and so we accept the situation and say nothing more about it. South Australia is a great wheat-growing country, and ships an immense quantity of wheat to England. In good years it produces fully fifteen millions of bushels for export, in addition to the quantity required for home consumption.

“Next in importance to the wheat crop in South Australia is the crop of wool. There are nearly seven millions of sheep in the colony, and between the wool and bread-stuffs, the income to the country is very considerable. We now understand the uses of the immense sheds, and the grain elevators that we saw when we landed at Port Adelaide. Large as they are, the capacities of these places of storage must be taxed to their utmost in busy times.

“They have given considerable attention to the cultivation of the grape. Grapes, apricots, peaches, and other fruits grow in great abundance, so much so that in the fruit season they are retailed in the market of Adelaide at a penny a pound, and all of them are delicious. Quite an industry is being developed in canning fruits for exportation, and it will probably increase gradually as the years go on.”

Our friends were invited to make a journey on the line of the Great Northern Railway, which is ultimately intended to reach the northern coast of Australia. The distance across Australia, from north to south, is about seventeen hundred miles; about four hundred miles of the line are completed, leaving thirteen hundred miles yet to be built. It will cost a great deal of money to finish the railway, but the people are ambitious, and will probably accomplish it in the course of time.

86They already have a telegraph line, running for the greater part of the way through a very desolate region. For hundreds of miles there are no white people, except the operators and repairers at the stations, and in many places it is unlikely that there will ever be any inhabitants, as the country is a treeless waste, and, at some of the stations, water has to be brought from a considerable distance. Artesian wells have been bored at many of the stations; at some of them successfully, while at others it was impossible to find water.

The railway official who invited our friends to make the journey, told them that he was connected with the telegraph company at the time of its construction, and he gave an interesting account of some of the difficulties they encountered.

“The desert character of the country,” said the gentleman, “caused us a great deal of inconvenience. We were obliged to haul or carry provisions and material for long distances. Where it was practicable to use wagons we used them, but where we could not do so we employed camels. Camels were introduced into Australia forty or fifty years ago, and they have been a great deal of use to us in parts of the country where water is scarce. The conditions of Northern and Central Australia very much resemble those of the regions of Northern Africa, where the camel had its origin, or, at all events, where it abounds to-day in greatest numbers. Had it not been for the ‘Ship of the Desert,’ it is possible that we might not have been able to build the telegraph line across Australia. The camel is so highly appreciated here that the government has established several breeding stations for those 87ungainly creatures, and their number is increasing every year.

“You know already about the scarcity of water in the desert region. Springs are few and far between, and rain is of rare occurrence. It was frequently necessary to carry water thirty or forty miles, and on account of the great heat it was impossible to carry it in skins or in wooden cases, owing to the rapid evaporation. Cases or cans of galvanized iron proved to be the best receptacles for water, so far as evaporation was concerned, but they have the disadvantage of becoming cracked and leaky in the rough treatment to which they are subjected.

“Poles for the telegraph had to be hauled a long distance for a large part of the way. Iron poles are generally used, owing to an insect that destroys wood with great rapidity. I wonder if you have yet seen any of the ravages of this little creature?”

This last remark was made in the form of an interrogation, to which Harry responded that he had not yet observed anything of the kind, nor had his attention been called to it. Ned remarked that he had been told of the destructiveness of this worm, but had not yet seen anything of its work.

“If you had seen it you would remember it,” said the gentleman. “The worm abounds more in the country districts than in the city, and it does not seem to get so much into the city houses as it does into those of the rural districts. Suppose you settle in South Australia, and build yourself a house or buy one already built, and proceed to take your comfort. Some day when you are sitting in 88your parlor you suddenly feel a leg of your chair going through the floor, and down you go with a crash. Somebody runs to your assistance, and the additional strain put upon the floor causes the break to increase, and, together with the person who has come to your aid, you go down in a heap through a yawning chasm in the floor, no matter whether your room is carpeted or not. If it is the former, the ravages of the worm have been quite concealed by the carpet; while in the latter case the surface of the wood presents the same appearance, while the whole interior of the plank or board has been turned to dust. This sort of thing has happened in many an Australian house, and will doubtless continue to happen.”

Harry asked if there was any way of preventing the ravages of this destroyer.

His informant replied that there were two or three kinds of wood which these insects would not touch. Unfortunately, however, they were higher priced than ordinary wood, and consequently the temptation was to use the cheaper article. Houses could also be built of cement, brick, or other substances which defied the wood worm, but these, again, were expensive and could not be afforded by newly arrived emigrants, whose capital was generally very limited.

“Returning to the subject of the telegraph,” the gentleman continued, “we found a great deal of trouble with the insects destructive to wood, and then, too, we had considerable difficulty with the blacks, though less than we had anticipated. We managed to inspire them with a very wholesome fear of the mysterious fluid that passed 89through the wires, and though they have burned stations, and killed or wounded quite a number of our people, they have never meddled with the wires.”

“How did you manage to inspire them with such fear?” queried Harry.

“We did it in this way,” was the reply. “Whenever a native visited us, we managed to give him a shock of electricity, and if we could shock an entire group at once it was so much the better. On several occasions we got two or more of their chiefs at stations hundreds of miles apart, and then let them talk with each other over the wires. Where they were well acquainted, they were able to carry on conversations which none but themselves could understand. Then we would have them meet half way between the stations and compare notes, and the result was something that greatly astonished them. Savage people generally attribute to the devil anything they cannot understand, and they very quickly concluded that ‘His Satanic Majesty’ was at the bottom of the whole business and it would be well for them to let it carefully alone.

“An amusing thing happened one day when we were putting up a portion of the line. There was a crowd of native blacks watching us, and the principal man among them walked for an hour or two along the line, making a critical examination of the posts and wires and pacing the distance between the posts.

“When he had evidently made up his mind as to the situation he walked up to the foreman of the working party and said, with an accent of insolence:—

90“‘My think white fellow one big fool.’

“When the foreman tried to find out his reason for expressing contempt in that way, he pointed to the telegraph line and said:—

“‘That piece of fence never stop cattle.’

“Before the foreman could explain what the supposed thing was intended for, he walked off with his nose very much in the air and never came near the telegraph line again, as far as we know.”

After a short laugh over the incident, one of the youths asked how far apart the stations were.

“The distances vary considerably according to circumstances,” said their informant. “In some places they are within thirty or forty miles of each other, and there are portions of the line where they are one hundred miles apart. There are two operators and two repairers at each station. These are all white men, and some of them have their families with them. In addition to the white residents at the station, there are all the way from two or three to eight or ten blacks. The blacks in our service are generally faithful, and we put a great deal of dependence upon them. Sometimes they are treacherous, but not often, as treachery is not a part of their nature.

“I was making a tour of inspection of the line shortly after it was completed, and happened to be at one of the stations at a time when the blacks were threatening trouble. One of the operators, Mr. Britton, was accompanied by his wife. Her husband wanted her to go to a place of greater safety, but she refused, and said she would stand by his side. She was a good shot with the revolver, and 91promised that in case of trouble she would put her abilities to a practical test.

“The blacks came about the station to beg, and also to ascertain the strength of the company, and one evening word came that they were going to have a corroboree in a little patch of forest near the station. Perhaps you don’t know what a corroboree is.”

Both of the youths shook their heads and acknowledged their ignorance.

“Well, it is a wild sort of dance, something like the dances among your American Indians, with local variations to suit the climate and people. The dancing is done by the men, who get themselves up in the most fantastic manner imaginable with paint of various colors. They daub their faces with pigments in streaks and patches, and trace their ribs with white paint, so that they look more like walking skeletons than like human beings. Generally at one of these dances they wear strips of skin around their waists, and ornament their heads with feathers.

“I said that the dancing was done by the men, though this is not absolutely the rule, as there are certain dances in which the women take part, though not a very conspicuous one. Generally the dances are by the people of one tribe, though there are a few in which several tribes take part. As a usual thing, however, this kind of a dance ends in a fight, as the dancers work themselves up to a condition of frenzy, and if there is any ill feeling among them it is sure to crop out.

“The dances in the neighborhood of the telegraph station to which I referred included men of several tribes, and 92we knew that mischief would be likely to come of it. Two of our black fellows went as near to the scene of the dance as they dared go, and from time to time brought us particulars of the proceedings.

“We got revolvers and rifles ready, Mrs. Britton taking possession of one of the revolvers, and loading it very carefully. All along during the evening we could hear the yelling of the natives at their dance, but an hour or so before midnight the noise diminished, and one of our black fellows came in to tell us that they were preparing to attack the station.

“The principal building of the station was a block house built for defense against the blacks, and strong enough to resist any of their weapons; but, of course, they would be able to overpower us by surrounding the place and starving us out, though we had little fear of that. The great danger was that they would come upon us in great numbers, and as we were not sufficiently numerous to defend all parts of the building at once, they could set it on fire and thus compel us to come out and be slaughtered.

“The warning brought by our black fellow proved to be correct. The men who had been engaged in the dance had left the scene of their jollification and moved in the direction of the station. We could hear their voices as they approached, and it was much to our advantage that the moon was of sufficient size to give a fairly good light. The station was in such a position that no one could approach it without being seen.

“In a little while we saw in the moonlight a mass of dark figures crossing the open space to the south, and, 93judging by the ground they covered, there were at least a hundred of them. They advanced quietly about half way across the clearing and then broke into a run, while they filled the air with yells. In a few moments they were all around the building, and quite a number of them threw their spears at it—a very foolish procedure, as the weapons could do no harm whatever to the thick sides of the structure. It was our policy not to take life or even to shed blood if we could possibly avoid it, as we were anxious to be on friendly terms with the black people along our line. I had been thinking the matter over in the evening, and suddenly hit upon a scheme that I thought would save us from injuring anybody, and at the same time give our assailants a thorough scare.

“There happened to be in the station a package of rockets, which had been brought along for signaling purposes during the work of construction. Just as the crowd of blacks reached the station, I asked Mr. Britton, the chief operator, to bring me one of the rockets.

“He complied with my request, and I fixed the missile so that it would go just above the heads of the crowd of yelling blacks. Then I touched a match to the fuse, and away sailed the rocket through the night air.

“Not one of those aboriginals had ever seen anything of the kind before. They started not upon the order of their going, but went as though pursued by wild tigers or guilty consciences. They could not have been more astonished if the moon had dropped down and exploded among them. They gave just one yell, and it was five times as loud as any yell they had previously given.

94“In less than two minutes from the time the rocket was fired, there was not a hostile black man around the station. Our own black fellows had been trembling with fear, as they knew that, in case of capture, they would share whatever fate was in store for us, the wild blacks being greatly prejudiced against any one of their number who takes service with the whites. The crowd fled in the direction of the scene of their corroboree, but they did not stop there. We learned the next day that they ran three or four miles before coming to a halt.

“We saved the station and ourselves without shedding a drop of blood. The story was told by the blacks far and wide that we ‘shot a star at them.’ This gave us a hint on which we acted, and we took pains to circulate the report that we had power to bring all the heavenly bodies to our aid whenever we needed them. Several times we offered to chief of the tribe to bring down the moon, or any of the stars that he might designate, but for fear that he would take us at our word, we always said that we would not be responsible for the consequences. In view of these circumstances, he invariably asked us to leave the denizens of the heavens alone.

“All the attacks on our stations have not been as bloodless as the one I have just described,” the gentleman continued. “Three or four years after the line was opened the blacks attacked a station about one thousand miles north of Adelaide. One of the operators, Mr. Stapleton, was mortally wounded, and so was one of the line repairers. Both the other white men at the station were slightly wounded, and one of the blacks in our service was killed. 95The attack lasted only a short time, and the assailants were driven away by the well-directed fire of the people at the station.

“The mortally wounded operator, Mr. Stapleton, was placed on a couch, while the other operator was telegraphing the news of the occurrence to Adelaide. A doctor was called to the telegraph office in the city, and on learning the nature of the wound he pronounced it mortal. Mr. Stapleton’s wife was a telegraph operator, and was then employed in the station at Adelaide. A telegraph instrument was placed at the bedside of the dying man, and connected with the instrument on his wife’s desk. The two exchanged loving messages for a few minutes, and then the husband with his last efforts telegraphed an eternal good-by to his wife, dropped the instrument from his hand, and fell back dead. I was in the office at Adelaide at the time of this occurrence, and was one of those in the room where Mrs. Stapleton sat. Nearly all of those present were experienced operators, and could understand the clicking of the instrument. Every eye was filled with tears, and every heart was full of sympathy for the woman who had been so tragically widowed. As she received the final message of farewell she fell from her chair in a dead faint, from which she did not recover for hours.”

As the foregoing story was narrated to our young friends, their eyes, too, were moist, and so were those of Dr. Whitney, who was sitting close by them. Silence prevailed for several minutes, and then the conversation turned to other subjects.

96The gentleman explained that the northern terminus of the telegraph line was at Port Darwin, where connection was made with the telegraph cable to Singapore, and thence to Europe. “I suppose, in time,” said he, “there will be other telegraph connections, but for the present this is the only one that Australia has with the rest of the world. Undoubtedly we shall one day have a cable to the United States, and that will certainly greatly facilitate commerce. At present, telegrams coming from your country to this must come by a very roundabout journey.”

Harry asked what course a telegram would be obliged to take in coming from San Francisco to Adelaide.

“Let me see,” said the gentleman; “in the first place, it would be telegraphed overland from San Francisco to New York, and then it would go under the Atlantic Ocean through one of the transatlantic cables, and then there would be two or three routes by which it could be sent. It could go by submarine cable to the Straits of Gibraltar, thence under the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and the Indian Ocean to Bombay, or it could cross Europe by one of the land lines, and then go through Russia and Persia to the north of India, reaching Bombay by the land route. From Bombay it would be telegraphed across India to Madras, and thence by submarine cable to Singapore, and from Singapore it would be sent by cable to Port Darwin, and thence by the Australian overland line to Adelaide. The message would be repeated six or seven times in the course of its journey, and the fact that so few mistakes are made in the numerous repetitions, many of them by 97people having an imperfect knowledge of English, speaks volumes in praise of the telegraph system.”

Both of our young friends heartily indorsed this remark, and agreed with their informant that the telegraph certainly performed excellent work.

Our friends made the journey along the line of railway to which they had been invited. They found it interesting though not altogether free from monotony, as there was an excessive amount of sameness in the country through which they traveled. They passed through a range of low mountains which were not sufficiently broken to be picturesque. They crossed several dry or slightly moistened beds of rivers, where indications were clearly visible that in times of heavy rains these dry beds or insignificant streams were turned to floods. Here and there the line crossed immense sheep farms and also great wheatfields, but there were wide stretches of land which seemed to have no occupants whatever. Most of the country was open and free from trees. Then there were other parts where the line passed for miles and miles through “scrub,” and at irregular intervals they came upon patches and stretches of Australian forest.

Harry noted that the forests through which they passed had very little undergrowth, so that it was easy to ride in any direction among the trees. Most of the trees that they saw were eucalypti, of which there are many varieties. The eucalyptus is by far the most common tree of Australia, and the best known variety is the one that is called “the blue gum.” It is said that fevers do not prevail where the eucalyptus grows, and this theory seems to be 98developed into a well-established fact. Decoctions and other extracts are made from the leaves, bark, wood, and gum of the eucalyptus and are given to fever patients with more or less success. The eucalyptus has been taken to foreign countries, and where the climatic conditions are suitable it has flourished and established itself. The French government introduced it into Algeria and planted it at military stations, where the soldiers had suffered much from malaria. At all those stations the malaria was long ago driven away by the trees, and places that were once unhealthy are now renowned for their salubrity.

The youths observed that most of the eucalyptus trees were tall and slender. The gentleman who accompanied them said that their trunks were often found with a diameter of ten to twelve feet, and some had been measured that were sixteen feet in diameter at a distance of ten feet from the ground. The trees grow very rapidly, and their timber when green is soft, so that they can be felled, split, and sawed very easily, but when dry it becomes very hard. It is a very useful wood, as it is adapted for many purposes. The bark contains a great deal of tannin, and it has become to some extent an article of commerce.

The leaves of the eucalyptus have a leathery appearance and generally stand in a vertical position, so that one side receives as much light as the other. A valuable aromatic oil is extracted from the leaves, and is used for medicinal and other purposes. It is said to be very objectionable to mosquitoes, and Harry was told that if he scattered a few drops of eucalyptus oil on his pillow at 99night, he would not be troubled with mosquitoes, even though there might be many of them in the room. He promised to try the experiment at the first opportunity.

Ned asked what variety of the eucalyptus was the tallest, and how tall the highest tree of Australia was.

“The giant gum, Eucalyptus amygdalina, is said to be the tallest tree in the world,” the gentleman replied. “I am not sure whether it is really so or not, as you have some very tall trees in the United States, and there are also some of great height in the valley of the Amazon River. I have heard of giant gum trees five hundred feet high, but their location has always been given very vaguely, and nobody knew by whom they had been measured. There is one giant gum tree on Mount Baw-Baw, in Gippsland, that has been officially measured by a surveyor and found to be four hundred and seventy-one feet high. What its diameter is at the base I am unable to say, but probably it is not less than fifteen or sixteen feet. New forests and new groups of trees are being discovered from time to time, and perhaps we will one day find a tree more than five hundred feet high.

“I will add,” said their informant, “that the giant gum is also called the ‘silver stem,’ because when it sheds its bark every year the new surface of the tree, when the old one has come off, is as white as silver. A group of these trees is a very pretty sight, as the trunks are perfectly round, and very often the lowest limbs are fully two hundred feet from the ground.”




“Those giant gums are not easy to climb,” Ned remarked, as the gentleman paused.

“Not by any means,” was the reply; “at least, not for a white man, but the black fellow will climb one of them, or any other tree, with very little trouble.”

“Why, how does he do it?”

“He cuts notches in the trunk of the tree where he can place his feet, and he goes on cutting notch after notch as he ascends, making a broad spiral around the tree until he reaches the limbs. Sometimes he passes a piece of rope, made out of twisted bark, around the body of the tree to steady himself, but he is just as likely to take no rope along, and trust entirely to keeping his balance with his feet in the notches.”

“Those black fellows are very accomplished in their way,” remarked one of the youths.

“They are, indeed,” was the reply; “and they do certain things that no white man can ever do. For example, a black fellow employed on a cattle estate will ride at full gallop and follow the track of a runaway cow or steer without making a single mistake. A white man would be obliged to go at a walk, or a very little better, and quite frequently would find it necessary to dismount and examine the ground carefully. The black fellows are fully equal 101to your American Indians in following a trail; they can track men almost as well as bloodhounds can. In parts of Australia we have a police force of blacks, and they perform splendid service in hunting highwaymen and others who have committed crimes and fled into the bush for concealment and safety.”

Harry asked if the blacks were honest in their dealings with white people.

“I regret to say that their reputation is not by any means the best in the world,” was the reply. “Like savages everywhere when brought into contact with civilization, they seem to adopt its vices and reject its virtues. They are generally faithful to those by whom they are employed, and in this respect their characters are commendable. When it comes to ordinary lying and stealing, they are very skillful. They resemble other savages in their fondness for intoxicating drinks, and when they get a little money their desire to go on a spree is very apt to be uncontrollable. They will leave their work and go to the nearest place where intoxicants can be bought, and they keep on buying and drinking until their money is gone. Generally speaking, you cannot keep them in your employ very long. As soon as one learns his business so that he is really useful, he either quits or behaves in such a manner that he has to be sent away.”

Just as this last remark was made, the train halted at a station, and as our young friends looked through the window they saw a group of blacks. They had seen a few black fellows on the wheat farm that they visited, and some had come under their observation in the streets of 102Adelaide. These, however, were dressed in civilized garments, and the group at the station was the first they had seen in aboriginal dress.

Harry noted the scantiness of their costume, which consisted chiefly of a strip of cloth about the waist, and another strip thrown over the shoulder or disposed of in some fantastic way. Their skins were black, though not of the inky, coal-like color of the pure-blooded African negro. Their hair was curly, but did not have a woolly crispness. The features seemed to be more like those of the Malay than of the Negro race, and Ned observed that the hair of the women hung down in wavy plaits, which is not the case with the hair of the negro of the Congo or the Nile. Every man in the party carried a spear, and Ned wondered why they were not armed with bows and arrows.

“That is for the very simple reason,” said their informant, “that the Australian aborigines have never used the bow and arrow; their only weapons are the spear, club, knife, and boomerang. Their principal weapon for fighting is the waddy or club, and each tribe has a peculiar shape for its waddies. This weapon is made of hard wood, and is somewhat suggestive of the night stick of a New York policeman, with the difference that it has a knob on the end to enable it to be grasped with greater security. There is a rule in fighting with the waddy, that you must hit your antagonist on the head. It is not fair to strike him in any other part of the body with these weapons, and the man who would do so would not be regarded as a gentleman in aboriginal society. The difference 103in the waddies is such that you can very often tell what tribe a party belongs to by examining one of their clubs.

“They are accustomed to spears from their childhood, and can throw them very accurately for a distance of thirty or forty yards. I once saw a considerable number of blacks together, and several white men of us got up a competition in spear throwing. We chalked out the figure of a man on the side of a building, and then paced off forty yards from it. We offered a prize of one shilling to every black who would hit this figure with the spear three times out of five at the distance indicated. We had them take turns in succession, and when the competition was over we found that we were obliged to give a shilling to every one of the competitors, as all had hit it three times. Half of them did so four times, and the other half the entire five times.”

Ned asked what the spears were made of. He learned, in reply, that sometimes they were single shafts of wood tipped with stone, bone, or iron. Others had heads of hard wood, while the shafts consisted of light reeds which grow on the banks of the rivers and lakes. The spears are usually from six to ten feet long, at least the fighting spears are. Some of the tribes living along the rivers have spears fifteen or eighteen feet long, intended for fishing purposes and not for war.

Harry wanted to know what was the religious belief of the blacks, and what were their ideas about the creation.

“As to religion,” the gentleman answered, “they don’t seem to have much, and the little they do have is of a very 104mixed character. Like all savages, they believe in good and bad spirits, and they treat the bad spirits with much more ceremony than they do the good ones; on the ground, I presume, that it is necessary to propitiate the bad spirits to save themselves from injury, while the good ones can be relied upon not to do any harm. Some of the tribes believe in a Great Spirit or Supreme Being, while others have no idea of the kind. They have a good many superstitions, and, though not a people of much imagination, they have quite a variety of mythical stories that originated a long time ago, and have been handed down by tradition. It is a curious circumstance that some of these myths repeat quite closely the story of the creation, the fall, and the deluge, but where they came from nobody can tell.”

“Is there any book where we can find any of these traditions?” Harry asked.

“Oh, certainly; they have been collected and published, but I can give you the principal ones from memory.”

“The story about the creation is, that one of the spirits that ruled the world created two men out of the dust of the earth, and gave these two men a very rich country to live in. Another spirit created two women and gave one of them to each man. Then he gave spears to each of the men, and told them to kill kangaroos with their weapons, and gave sticks to the women, with which to dig roots out of the ground. Thus it came about that men carry spears and clubs as weapons, while the women perform most of the menial work. The men and women were commanded to live together, and in this way the world in time became full 105of people. They grew so numerous in the region where they were, that the great spirits caused storms to arise and high winds to blow in order to scatter the people over the globe.

“The tradition about the first sin is, that the first man and woman were ordered by the spirits not to go near a certain tree, as a bat lived there which must not be disturbed. One of the women went too near the tree, her curiosity having got the better of her, and the bat became alarmed and flew away. After that death came into the world, having before been unknown.

“They have another tradition that at one time all the water in the earth was contained in the body of an immense frog, where nobody could reach it. The spirits held an investigation, and ascertained that if the frog could be made to laugh the water would run out of his mouth when he opened it, and the drought then prevailing would be broken. All the animals of the world gathered together and danced and capered before the frog in order to make him laugh, but all to no purpose. Then they called up the fishes to see if they could accomplish anything, but the frog preserved a solemn face until the eel began to wriggle.

“The wriggling of the eel was too much for the frog and he laughed outright. Immediately the waters flowed from his mouth and the earth was covered with water. Many people were drowned, and all who could do so sought the highest land. The pelican undertook to save the black people; he made a great canoe and went around picking up the people, wherever he could find them, and thus saved a great many.

106“They have a theory about the sun,” the gentleman continued, “that is certainly a very practical one. They say that as it gives out a great deal of light during the daytime, it needs a supply of fuel, and it goes at night to a place where it takes in fuel enough for its next day’s work. They say that it used to take in wood exclusively before white people came to Australia, but since the arrival of the whites, and the opening of coal mines, they think the sun takes in both coal and wood at the place where it renews its supply.

“They believe in dragons, great serpents, and other wonders, and if you are inclined to laugh at them for their beliefs, you must remember that all the rest of the world shared in them two or three hundred years ago. The creature in which they have the greatest faith is the bun-yip, which is supposed to haunt rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, and possesses remarkable powers. According to their description, he is like a dragon; he devours black and white people indiscriminately, and can cause all sorts of misfortune. Many natives, and also quite a number of white men, claim to have seen him, and they certainly give some very graphic accounts of his appearance and actions. Not long ago an account appeared in one of the Australian newspapers, written by a white man and certified to by another white man, who claim to have actually seen the bun-yip in a small lake, and described him very minutely.”

“And was the story really true?” Harry asked.

“Well, yes, I suppose it was. That is to say, I believe, as do many others, that there is an amphibious animal living 107in some of the Australian lakes and rivers of which no specimen has yet been taken. The description of the bun-yip by those who claim to have seen him, and are not carried away by their imaginations, is very much like that of a Newfoundland dog or a seal. The seal exists in Australian waters, and I think that is what the bun-yip will turn out to be if one ever allows himself to be taken.”

At the station at the end of the line of railway there was an encampment of blacks, about half a mile away, and our young friends were quite curious to see it.

Their curiosity was soon satisfied, as there was nothing particularly attractive about the spot. The blacks were civilized enough to live in tents, or, rather, they accepted the bounty of the government which supplied them with tents, though it was evident that they did not intend to give up their old way of living, inasmuch as they had two or three bark shelters of the old-fashioned sort, in addition to the canvas house supplied by the government. And we may remark here that the various colonial governments provide for the support of all the aboriginals living within their territory. Government officials take care of them, supply them with food, clothing, and medical comforts, and assign reservations of land to them, just as the Indian Department of the United States assigns reservations to the red men. But with all the care they receive, their number is steadily diminishing, and the day is not far distant when the last of them will cease to exist.

A man who could speak the language of the aboriginals accompanied our young friends in their visit to the encampment. At Harry’s request, he arranged with the men to 108give an exhibition of their skill in throwing the spear, and after that was over he asked them to throw the boomerang. While they were getting ready for their performance the interpreter explained that the boomerang was a great deal of a mystery. He said that no white man, even after years of practise, had ever been able to throw this weapon with any degree of accuracy, and that no Australian black could explain how the weapon was handled. If you ask one of them to explain about throwing the boomerang, he usually says, “You throw him, that all”; and that seems to be all there is to it.

Ned and Harry watched the performance with the greatest care, and they afterwards said that they knew as much about it before they witnessed it as they did afterwards, with the exception that they had seen with their own eyes what could be done.

“First, you must understand,” said Ned afterwards, “that there are several kinds of boomerangs, the difference being in size, weight, and shape. The variations in shape are so slight that they are not readily perceived by the stranger, though a black would have no difficulty in determining them. The lightest of the boomerangs weigh from four to five ounces, while the heaviest are double that weight. Harry happened to have his spring letter-balance in his pocket, and we weighed one of the boomerangs that we saw used. Its weight was about six ounces and our interpreter said that he considered it rather a light one.”

“The heaviest boomerangs are used for fighting purposes and for killing kangaroos, emus, and other large game.

109“The boomerang is a queerly shaped weapon. It is made of hard wood and curved like a bow, the curve from point to point being about a quarter of a circle. The piece of wood that forms the boomerang is about half an inch thick, and in the middle it is two and one half inches wide, narrowing steadily towards the end. I took it in my hand and made a motion as if to throw it, whereupon the owner laughed, and indicated by signs that I had seized it by the wrong end.

“When he made ready to throw the weapon, the interpreter told us to stand perfectly still, lest we might be injured. I asked how it could happen, and he said that the performer always selected the spot to which the boomerang returned, and by changing our positions, especially after the weapon had been thrown, we might be struck by it when it came back.

“Both before and after taking his position the performer carefully observed the force and direction of the wind, as it has a great deal to do with the flight of the boomerang. When he was quite ready he flung the weapon almost straight into the air, where it circled about a few times, and skimmed along near the ground until it was about three hundred feet distant; then it turned, made a slight upward motion through the air, and finally fell within an arm’s length of where the performer stood. The interpreter explained that this weapon was called the return-boomerang.

“The man repeated several times the performance with the weapon, bringing it close to his feet on every occasion. Then a coin was placed in the end of a split stick forty or 110fifty yards distant, at the suggestion of the performer, who stipulated that he would knock the coin out without disturbing the stick, on condition that he should have the coin, a one-shilling piece, in case he succeeded.

“He balanced the boomerang with great care and then threw it. It made several gyrations in the air, and when it reached its destination it knocked the coin from its place as neatly as one could have removed it with his fingers. All who stood by applauded the performer, and he was given the opportunity to win several more shillings in the same way.

“I ought to mention that each time when he threw the boomerang he varied his manner of throwing it. Sometimes he sent the weapon straight into the air; next he skimmed it along the ground, and next he launched at an angle of from forty to sixty degrees. Every time he threw it, it came back to his feet, but when he threw it at the coins in the stick it did not return.

“The interpreter explained to us that the return-boomerang was more of a toy than a weapon, as the regular boomerang cannot return when it has hit something in its course. Wonderful stories have been told of the use of this weapon in war,—how the black fellow will launch it two or three hundred yards, and have it kill one or more of his enemies, and then come back to his feet. A moment’s thought will convince any one that the two things together are impossible. In order to return to the place whence it started, the boomerang must not encounter or even touch anything in its way. When it is used for killing men, or wild animals, it does not come back to the ground of its thrower.

111“From all accounts that I am able to obtain, the boomerang as a weapon in the hands of a good thrower is very dangerous. It can be made to hit a man concealed behind a tree, rock, or house, where a gun or a spear could not possibly reach him. As a hunting weapon it is of great utility, and many a kangaroo has fallen before it. The skillful thrower, within reaching distance of a kangaroo or an emu, is as sure of his prey as a white man would be with a Winchester rifle.”

Ned and Harry tried to learn from the performer when and by whom the boomerang was invented, and all they could get from him was, “Long time ago; who knows?” He threw a little light upon the subject by picking up a leaf of the gum tree, holding it at arm’s length, and then letting it fall to the ground. It gyrated and changed its course as it descended. Then he picked it up and threw it straight from him, when it gyrated again and returned towards him. It is probable that the idea of the boomerang may have been taken from the motions of a falling leaf, and especially a leaf of the gum tree. As the weapon is known through all the tribes of Australian blacks, it is not likely to have been a recent invention.

“I have read somewhere,” said Harry, “that a weapon similar to the boomerang was known to the ancient Egyptians, and that there is also something of the same sort in use among a tribe of Indians in Arizona. If it is true that the Egyptians of old times had this weapon, we may well repeat the oft-quoted saying, ‘There is nothing new under the sun,’ but it seems, at any rate, that the Australian boomerang is greatly superior to the Arizona one, as it can be 112projected very much further and with far more deadly effect.”

The performer with the boomerang was evidently very well satisfied with his morning’s work, and he was certainly very liberally paid for his performances. He invited our friends to take dinner with him, at least, so the interpreter said, though the youths were suspicious that the invitation was all a joke. Anyhow, they did not accept it, as they thought that the meal, with the surroundings which were visible, would have no temptation either for the eye or the appetite.

Harry heard the following story, which he duly entered in his notebook:—

“Once a lawyer undertook the defense of a black fellow who had been arrested for stealing a gold watch. The evidence was wholly circumstantial, as the stolen property had not been found, and the lawyer handled the case so well that the alleged thief was acquitted. A few hours after the trial, the lawyer was seated on the verandah of the principal hotel in the place, engaged in conversation with the magistrate before whom the case was tried, when along came the black fellow.

“‘Can I wear the watch now?’ said the black, at the same time drawing it forth from an inner pocket.

“The magistrate burst into a loud and hearty laugh. The lawyer laughed, too, but his laughter had a very hollow sound, and then he shouted an emphatic ‘No!’ to the confiding aboriginal.”

Quite a little town had sprung up at the terminus of the railway, and Dr. Whitney said it reminded him of the 113towns along the Pacific railways of the United States during the course of their construction. The comparison, he said, was favorable to the Australian town, as the inhabitants seemed far more orderly than did those of the transitory American settlements. During the time of their stay there was not a single fight, and the coroner was not called upon to perform his usual official duties.

The terminus of the railway was in a valley which was dignified with the name of a creek, but no creek was visible. Water was supplied by an artesian well, driven to a depth of eight hundred feet. The water was slightly brackish but quite drinkable, and when it was made into tea or coffee the brackish flavor disappeared.

Our friends returned to Adelaide by the way they had gone from it, and after a day or two more in the capital of South Australia, they took the train for Melbourne. Ned made note of the fact that had been mentioned to him, that of all the money raised by taxation in South Australia, one fifth of it is used for educational purposes. He further added that the same was the case in all the colonies, and he thought it greatly to their credit. Harry said he did not believe there was a State or city in the whole American Union where such a large proportion of the public money was spent for educational matters.

The youths learned, in addition, that the schools throughout the colonies are, generally speaking, of excellent quality and the opportunities for higher education in academies, colleges, universities, medical and scientific institutions, and similar seats of learning, are of the best class. Ned made 114the following summary from the Education Act of South Australia:—

“Schools will be established where there is a certain number of children of school age, who will pay a moderate fee to the teachers; four pence for children under seven, and six pence for older children, per child, per week. In addition to the fees, the teachers will be paid by the government from seventy-five pounds to two hundred pounds per annum. Schoolhouses will be provided, and all the necessary educational material. Four and one half hours constitute the school day. All children of school age are required to be under instruction until a certain standard is reached.”

Provision is made for the free instruction of children whose parents can show that they are unable to pay for it, but fees can be enforced in all cases where inability to pay them has not been proved. Large grants have been made by the legislature for school buildings, teachers’ salaries, etc., in order to efficiently aid in the development of a thorough and comprehensive system of education for the young.

South Australia has a goodly number of schools for higher education, and it also has a university which is well attended. The majority of those who can afford it send their children to private schools rather than to the government ones, believing, and no doubt correctly, that the educational facilities are greater in the private institutions than in the public ones.




The distance from Adelaide to Melbourne is about six hundred miles. Our friends found that the journey was made very leisurely, the trains averaging not more then eighteen or twenty miles an hour. For quite a distance out of Adelaide the train ascends an incline as far as Mount Lofty station, where the hill or mountain of that name is situated. On the way up the last of the incline our friends watched with a great deal of interest the plains stretching out below them, and the city which they had just left lying at their feet like a section of carpet laid off into ornamental squares. Beyond Mount Lofty station the route descended into the valley of the Murray River, whose waters could be seen winding like a thread through the yellow soil.

“This is the longest river in Australia, is it not?” queried Ned.

“Yes,” replied the doctor, “it is the longest and largest river, and, as you have already learned, it is the only one that remains a real river throughout the year. Its mouth is not many miles from Adelaide, and a considerable part of its course is through South Australia.”

“I wonder they didn’t establish the capital city at the mouth of the Murray,” remarked Harry; “they would 116have had the advantage of a navigable stream, which they have not in the present location.”

“Yes, that is quite true,” Dr. Whitney replied; “and they would have illustrated the saying of a philosopher, that great rivers nearly always run past large cities, but there was a practical difficulty in the way, of which you are not aware.”

“What is it?”

“The Murray at its mouth has a bar that is very difficult and dangerous to cross, and a large area at its entrance consists of shallow water. The mouth of the river, furthermore, is swept by southerly winds, which bring in great waves that have their origin in the neighborhood of the South Pole. Consequently it was concluded that the location of the city at the place with the largest entrance into the sea would not be advantageous, and a location on Spencer’s Gulf was considered preferable.”

“Very good reasons,” said Ned, “and I have no doubt that the founders of Adelaide acted wisely. They certainly have a very prosperous city where they are, although their seaport is several miles away.”

The train increased its speed as it descended the incline, and the youths found plenty of occupation and amusement in studying the scenery on each side of them, and noting the handsome residences of the merchants and other well-to-do inhabitants of Adelaide. The river was crossed by means of an iron bridge, a substantial structure which was evidently built to last. After crossing the Murray, the railway proceeded for awhile along its valley, and gradually left it to enter a region of long-continued monotony.

117“For hours in succession,” said Harry in his journal, “we had little else but scrub. I imagine that when the surveyors laid out the railway line, they took their bearings by observation of the moon and stars, and laid it directly across from one side of the scrub country to the other. Scrub land is land covered with bushes. There are not many varieties of bushes, and this fact helps along the monotony. There is one bush that looks like an umbrella turned bottom upwards, and another that resembles an umbrella standing upright, as one holds it to keep off the rain. Then there are bushes and trees, some of them shaped like bottles, others like sugar loaves, and some like nothing else that I can think of at this moment. They vary from three or four feet in height up to fifteen and twenty feet, and sometimes we found them of a height of thirty feet or more.

“Mile after mile it is the same. I have heard what a terrible thing it is to be lost in the scrub. I can well understand that it is terrible, and can also understand how easily such a calamity could be brought about. One mile of scrub is exactly like another mile, or so very nearly like it that it is next to impossible to tell the difference. I have heard that people who stepped only a few yards from the side of the road have wandered for days before finding their way again, or have been sought for by many people before they were found. Many a man has lost his way in the scrub and never been heard of again, or perhaps years after his bones were discovered bleaching at the foot of a tree, where he had sat or lain down for his last rest when he could go no further.”

A portion of the road from Adelaide to Sydney is 118called “the ninety-mile desert,” in distinction from the rest of the scrub region. It was a great relief to any one to get out of this desert country, and reach the region of farms, and fences, cattle or sheep pastures, and cultivated fields. In some of the districts through which our travelers passed they saw great numbers of rabbits, and on calling attention to them, a gentleman who was in the railway carriage told them something about the rabbit pest from which the Australian colonies are suffering.

“If you want to make a fortune,” said the gentleman, “find some way for destroying the rabbits in Australia. There is a standing reward of twenty-five thousand pounds (one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars of your money) for any method that proves successful. The reward is offered by the colony of New South Wales, and the other colonies will pay as much more.”

“Were there rabbits in this country when it was first discovered?” Harry asked.

“There were no rabbits here,” was the reply; “nor any animals like them. In 1851, a gentleman living near Dunedin, New Zealand, was on a visit to the old country, and it occurred to him that it would be a nice thing to have rabbits in New Zealand, so that they could amuse themselves by chasing the little creatures with dogs. On his return from England he brought seven rabbits, and they were the progenitors of all the rabbits in New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania. For a few years, as fast as rabbits were obtainable they were distributed throughout the colonies, but it was not long before the distributors found out their mistake.

119“The rabbits increased and multiplied at a terrific rate. How many there are now in the colonies, nobody can tell, as it is impossible to take a census of them, but they certainly amount to many millions. They have destroyed millions of acres of sheep pasturage, so that many farms which once supported great numbers of sheep have been deserted in consequence of the rabbits. Let me give you an illustration that I know about, as I was one of the sufferers by these vermin. Fifteen years ago, I owned an interest in a sheep run on the bank of the Murray River in the colony of Victoria. Our holding extended back into the dry and comparatively worthless country.

“The rabbits got in there, and gradually the sheep were starved out. Year by year the number diminished, and five years ago I sold my interest in the run for a very small sum. From two hundred thousand sheep, the number had diminished to twenty-five hundred, and these were dying in the paddock for want of food. The rabbits were the cause of the whole destruction. They had eaten up all the grass and edible bushes, and it was some consolation to know that they were themselves being starved out, and were dying by the hundreds daily. When the rabbits there are all dead the place can be fenced in, so that no new ones can get there, and it is possible that the grass will grow again, and the run once more become a place of value.

“The story I have just told you,” the gentleman continued, “is the story of a great many sheep and cattle runs all over Australia and New Zealand. All sorts of means have been resorted to to get rid of the pest, and while some 120have been partially successful, none have been wholly so. The best plan is the old one, to lock the stable before the horse is stolen; that is, enclose the place with rabbit-proof fences before any rabbits have been introduced. The Australian rabbit is a burrowing animal, and unless the fence is set well into the ground, he is very apt to dig under it. Thus it has happened that many an estate has become infested, even though the owners had gone to the expense of enclosing it.

“Most of the cities of Australia and New Zealand have a rabbit-skin exchange, just as you have a cotton exchange in New York. At these exchanges ten or fifteen millions of rabbit skins are sold every year, or an aggregate perhaps of fifty or sixty millions, and yet the number does not decrease perceptibly. Factories have been established for preserving the meat of the rabbits in tin cans, and sending it to market as an article of food. It was thought that this would certainly reduce the number of rabbits, but it has not yet succeeded in doing so.

“Various kinds of apparatus have been devised for filling the dens of the rabbits with noxious gases that kill them, but the process is too expensive for general introduction; and, besides, it does not work well in rocky ground. Rewards are given both by the government and by the owners of land for the destruction of rabbits, and these rewards have stimulated men, who go about the country with packs of dogs to hunt down the rabbits for the sake of the bounty. Sometimes the whole population turns out in a grand rabbit hunt and thousands of rabbits are killed. Pasteur, the celebrated French chemist, proposed to destroy the rabbit 121population by introducing chicken cholera among them; he thought that by inoculating a few with the disease he could spread it among the others, so that they would all be killed off. He admitted that the chicken population would be killed at the same time, but none of us would object to that if we could get rid of the rabbits, as we could easily reintroduce domestic fowls.”

Ned said that he wondered why the rabbits increased so rapidly in the Australian colonies and not in the United States or England.

“Here is the reason of it,” said the gentleman. “In America there are plenty of wild animals, like wolves, weasels, foxes, ferrets, and the like, to keep down the rabbit population, but here there is not a single animal to interfere with them. They have no natural enemies whatever, and consequently have things entirely their own way. They breed several times a year and begin to breed very young, so that a pair of rabbits let loose in a given locality will in a few years amount to thousands or even to millions. There, look at that piece of ground and see what you think of it.”

The boys looked where the gentleman indicated, and saw what seemed to be a field of tall grass or grain waving in the wind. A nearer inspection showed that the ground was covered with rabbits, and it was the movements of the animals that caused the illusion just described.

“Rabbits are not the only pests from which the colonies have suffered,” the gentleman continued; “I will tell you about more of them.

“You must bear in mind,” said their informant, “that 122when Australia was settled it contained very few of the products, either animal or vegetable, of other parts of the world. Among the animals there were no noxious ones except the dingo, or wild dog, which was found in various parts of the country. His origin has been a matter of conjecture, some believing that he is descended from dogs which were left here by those who discovered the continent, while others think he is indigenous to the soil. All the other animals, and they were not numerous, were harmless in their character. There are eight kinds of kangaroos, all of them herbivorous. They are, as you are doubtless aware, marsupials, that is, they carry their young in a pouch until they are able to run about by themselves. The dingo lived by feeding on the kangaroos, and thus kept down the number of those animals.

“Horned cattle, horses, and sheep were introduced and successfully raised. The wild dogs killed sheep and calves, and therefore the inhabitants set about killing them. As the dogs decreased in number the kangaroos increased, and they threatened to drive the sheep to starvation by eating up all the grass. Many a sheep run was rendered worthless by the kangaroos, and so it became necessary to establish methods of reducing the number of the latter. Battues or hunts were organized, the people gathering from all directions at an appointed time and place, and driving the kangaroos into pens or yards, where they were slaughtered by the thousand. You will probably have an opportunity of seeing a kangaroo hunt before you leave Australia.

“There were very few native fruits, and we introduced 123the fruits of England and other parts of the world very successfully. We introduced garden plants and vegetables in great numbers, and nearly all of them turned out to our satisfaction, though this was not uniformly the case.

“You know that innocent and very acceptable plant called the watercress, which is sold in great quantities for table use in London, New York, and other English and American cities. Well, we brought the watercress to the Australian colonies, and it grew and thrived wonderfully. It grew altogether too well and thrived a great deal more than we could have wished, as it has choked our rivers, and caused freshets and floods which have devastated farms and fields to a large extent, and on several occasions have been destructive to human life.

“We introduced the sweet briar, thinking it would form an ornament and fill the air with its perfume. Instead of being ornamental, it has become an impenetrable bush, which neither man nor cattle can go through. It has become a nuisance, spreading over the ground and destroying pasturage, and we heartily wish that not a twig of it was ever brought here.

“When we began to grow fruits we found ourselves annoyed by insects of various kinds, the same sort of insects that are known to fruit growers everywhere. In order to get rid of them, we brought the English sparrow here. He is of great use to the fruit grower in the old country, as he lives principally on insects, or at any rate has the reputation of doing so, and he does not often attack the fruit.

“Well, we got the sparrow here, and he increased and 124multiplied until he became very numerous, and what do you suppose the little wretch did?

“He did not do anything that we wanted him to do. He abandoned his English practise of eating insects, and lived wholly upon grain and fruit. In the fruit season he is a perfect terror in the devastation he makes among our fruit trees. A flock of sparrows will make its appearance in a cherry garden where there are twenty, fifty, or perhaps a hundred cherry trees bending beneath a burden of fruit just about ripe enough to be picked. They save the owner the trouble and expense of picking his fruit, as they take entire charge of it, and in a few days the whole crop is ruined. Other fruit suffers in the same way, and the testimony is the same from all parts of Australia. One of the colonial governments had an investigation of the subject at one time, and the testimony was something appalling. The sparrows abound here in countless millions, all of them descended from fifty birds that were imported about the year 1860. The owners of vineyards, as well as the fruit farmers, complain of the ravages of the sparrows, and at the official investigation that I mentioned one vine grower testified that his crop of grapes the previous year would have been two tons, but the sparrows destroyed the entire lot.

“Another bird almost as destructive as the sparrow is the mina or mino, a bird which was brought here from India. It is quite a handsome bird, and can learn to talk almost as readily as the parrot, and that is why it was brought here. It lives on fruits and vegetables, and has very nearly the same habits as the sparrow. The colonial government have placed a bounty upon the heads and eggs 125of the sparrow, and also on those of the mina. A great many boys and men, too, make a fairly good revenue in killing the birds or plundering their nests. The birds are trapped, shot, or poisoned, but their number does not seem to diminish.

“Somebody brought a daisy to Australia, as it is a very popular flower in England, and was expected to remind the English settler of his old home. It has spread very rapidly, and on thousands upon thousands of acres it has rooted out the native grasses and taken full possession of the soil. Another plant has a history which would be ludicrous if it were not so serious, and that is the thistle.”

“You mean the regular thistle, such as is known in England and the United States?”

“I refer particularly to the Scotch thistle,” said the gentleman, “which is not particularly unlike the other thistles with which we are familiar. You know that the thistle is the emblem of Scotland, and may be said to be worshipped by all patriotic Scotchmen. Well, it happened that a Scotch resident of Melbourne, while visiting the old country, took it into his head to carry a thistle with him on his return to Australia. So he placed the plant in a pot and watered it carefully every day during the voyage from London to Melbourne. When he arrived his performance was noticed in the newspapers, and a subscription dinner was arranged in honor of the newly arrived plant. About two hundred Scotchmen sat down to the dinner, at which the thistle was the centerpiece and the great object of attraction. Speeches were made, and the festivities continued to a late hour of the night. The next day the thistle 126was planted with a great deal of ceremony, and more speeches in the public garden at Melbourne, and it was carefully watched and tended by the gardener, who happened to be a Scotchman.

“Well, the thistle blossomed and everybody rejoiced. You know how the seeds of that plant are provided with down, that enables them to float on the wind. The seeds of that thistle were borne on the breezes, and all over the colony of Victoria they found a lodging in the soil, grew and prospered, and sent out more seeds. That thistle has been the cause of ruin to many a sheep and cattle run all over Australia. Thousands, yes, millions, of acres of grass have been destroyed by that pernicious weed. Anathemas without number and of the greatest severity have been showered upon the thick-headed Scotchman who brought the plant to Australia, and the other thick-headed Scotchmen who placed it in the public garden.

“While I am on this subject,” the gentleman continued, “I may as well tell you of a very curious circumstance in New Zealand.”

“What is that?”

“When the sheep farmers first established their business in the mountain regions of New Zealand, they observed flocks of parrots occupying the forest, and living entirely upon fruits and vegetables. They were very pretty birds and nobody thought that any harm would come from them, in view of their habits of life. The farmers used to kill some of their sheep for food purposes, and leave the meat hanging out over night in the cool air. It was observed 127that the parrots got in the habit of coming down to the meat frames and picking off the layers of fat, particularly those around the kidneys. Their fondness for this kind of food seemed to increase as time went on, and they finally became such a nuisance as to compel the herders to give up their practise of leaving the meat out of doors in the night-time.

“After a while the farmers occasionally found the fattest and best of their sheep dead or dying of wounds across the smaller part of the back directly in the region of the kidneys. Nobody could tell how the wounds were made, but it was evident that the mischief-makers were numerous, as a good many sheep, always the finest of the flock, were killed. Finally, one of the men employed about a sheep run ventured to suggest that it must be done by the parrots. His suggestion was ridiculed so earnestly that the man was sorry he had made it, but he gave as his reason for it the fact that he had seen a parrot perched on the back of a sheep and the bird flew away when he approached.

“Watchers were set over the sheep, and the suggestion of the man proved to be the correct one. How the birds ever connected the existence of the fat which they tore from the carcases on the meat frames with the location of the same fat in the living animal, no one can tell, but certain it is that they did so. It was found that a parrot bent on securing a meal, would fasten his claws in the wool of the sheep, and then with his powerful beak he would tear away the skin and flesh until he reached the fat of which he was in search around the kidneys of the struggling 128animal. It was impossible for the sheep to shake him off; whether it ran or lay down and writhed in its agony, the bird retained its hold until its object was accomplished.”

“Of course this led to a war of extermination against the parrots, did it not?”

“Certainly it did. As soon as the fact was well established the colonial government offered a reward of one shilling for each parrot’s head, and the business of hunting these birds began at once. Formerly they used to come freely into the presence of man, but now they shun him, and it is very difficult to find them. They live in the forest, concealing themselves in the daytime, and only coming out at night. In fact, their depredations were committed in the night-time, and that is the reason why their offences continued so long without being discovered.”

“Did they cause great destruction among the flocks of sheep?”

“Yes, until they were found out and the war began against them they were terribly destructive. One man lost two hundred sheep out of three hundred, another lost nineteen out of twenty, and several others in the same proportion. Even now, although the number of parrots is diminished enormously, the flocks in the region where they abound lose at least two per cent. every year from that cause.”

“Is there any way of exterminating them by poison?”

“No way has been discovered as yet, as the birds are very cunning and cannot be readily induced to take poisoned food. They are more wary in this respect than rabbits and sparrows, as both of these creatures can be 129poisoned, though the danger is that in attempting to poison them the food is apt to be taken by domestic animals or fowls.”

“Speaking of poisoning reminds me of an instance in Queensland some years ago, where there was a large number of blacks inhabiting the forest near a sheep station.

“The owner of the station had been greatly annoyed by the blacks, who had killed many of his sheep, and in several instances had threatened the shepherds with death, and driven them from their places. He determined to get even with them, and this is the way he did it. He loaded a cart with provisions such as flour, sugar, bacon, tea, and other things, which were distributed to the shepherds once a week. Then the cart started apparently on its round. Near the place where the blacks were congregated one of the wheels of the cart came off, and at the same time the vehicle became stuck in a gully. The driver took his horses from the shafts and rode back to the station for help, leaving the cart and its load unguarded.

“Here was a fine opportunity for the blacks to exercise their thieving propensities, and they did not miss it. In less than an hour the cart was stripped of everything edible, flour, sugar, and everything else being carried away. When the driver returned, he found only the empty vehicle with which to continue his journey.

“That afternoon the blacks had a grand feast over the stolen property. All the members of the tribe came together and took part in the feast, about two hundred in all. It so happened that everything edible had been dosed with strychnine before the cart was loaded, and in a few hours 130all who had partaken of the feast were dead. Much as the white people around there had been annoyed by the blacks, there were few, if any, to approve of this wholesale poisoning which the sheep owner had undertaken entirely on his own responsibility.”

“I suppose it is due in some measure, at least, to performances of this sort that the blacks are diminishing in number,” Dr. Whitney remarked.

“No doubt that has a good deal to do with the matter,” was the reply. “I don’t know of any other instances than this of wholesale poisoning, but I do know that in a good many instances, black men have been shot down by whites for the reason that they had speared cattle or committed other depredations. The blacks have been treated very much the same way as your American Indians, and generally with as little provocation; but, beyond all this, it is well known that the number of births among them every year is considerably less than the number of deaths from natural causes. Some people believe that the blacks are addicted to infanticide, and that many of their children are put to death to save the expense of bringing them up. Understand me, nobody knows positively that this is the case, but only surmises it.”




“I have heard,” said one of the youths, “that Australian blacks are cannibals. I wonder if that is really so?”

“Perhaps all the tribes in the country are not cannibals, but it is pretty certain that some of them are. They know that the white man is prejudiced against eating human flesh, and consequently they conceal very carefully their performances in this line. In former times they were not so particular, and there was the most positive proof that they devoured their enemies killed in battle, and also killed and devoured some of their own people. They were not such epicures in cannibalism as the inhabitants of the Feejee Islands formerly were, and did not make as much ceremony as the Feejeeans over their feasts of human flesh. Some of the tribes that indulged in the practise have given it up, but the belief is that those in the interior still adhere to it.”

“What do they live upon when they do not eat human flesh?” queried Ned.

“As to that,” was the reply, “they live upon pretty nearly everything they can lay their hands on. They hunt the kangaroo and are fond of its flesh, and they are also fond of the flesh of cattle and sheep. In fact, they commit a good many depredations upon the flocks and 132herds. They eat snakes, lizards, toads, and, in fact, anything that lives and moves, and they are not at all particular about the condition of the meat when they eat it. It is all the same to them whether it is fresh or putrid. A man would need have a very strong stomach to accept an invitation to take dinner with a family of uncivilized blacks, or even with one that had become civilized.”

While this conversation was going on the train was speeding on its way, and Harry observed that the houses were becoming more numerous, and the country more densely occupied, as they came nearer to Melbourne. Occasionally they caught sight of a house which looked like a gentleman’s residence rather than like an ordinary farmhouse, and he called attention to the circumstance.

“We are approaching Melbourne,” said their traveling companion, “and from this point on you will find a good many country seats of gentlemen who do business in the city. It is cooler here in summer than in Melbourne, and a great many people have established their summer homes in this region. It is so much the fashion, that it has become obligatory for the well-to-do citizen to have a town residence and a country one, and his establishment is considered incomplete unless he possesses both. A good many people occupy their country homes for the greater part of the year, going back and forth by railway according to the requirements of their business. It is the same in New York, London, and other great cities all over the world. Melbourne considers itself just as important as any other city, and I believe it claims to be the tenth city of the world in point of population.”

133Ned asked what the population of the city was.

To this the gentleman replied that he did not have the exact figures at hand, but he believed the last census gave the number of inhabitants as very nearly half a million. “Including the suburbs,” said he, “I think it is fully that, and if it had not been for the dullness of business for the last two or three years, caused very largely by the labor strikes and other disturbances of trade, I think we would now exceed the half million figure.”

While he was saying this, Ned called attention to a large house on a little eminence about half a mile away, which resembled a palace more than it did a private dwelling. As Ned pointed towards it and told Harry to look in that direction, the gentleman said:—

“That house was built ten or twelve years ago by a millionaire merchant of Melbourne. He spent a great deal of money upon it, being determined to have the finest house in the country. About the time of its completion he met with heavy losses in business, and was unable to carry out his plans concerning the grounds around the building. It was his original intention to have a park, in which he would enclose specimens of all the animals of Australia, and an artificial lake, with specimens of all the fishes of the country. He has never carried out this part of the scheme, but declares that he will do so whenever his wealth returns to him.”

“A very good scheme, indeed,” said one of the youths, “and I hope the gentleman will be able to carry it out.”

“Yes; and I hope so, too,” was the reply. “The place would be made interesting if he should do so, but, after all, 134you can see the same thing in the parks of the principal cities of Australia. Each has, I believe, collections of the animals of the country, together with many animals of other countries, and any one is at full liberty to go and see them.”

Houses became more numerous, and towns and villages made their appearance as the train went along. Harry observed that in some of the towns which they passed through there were imposing buildings, which seemed rather out of proportion to the number of dwelling-houses.

Their impromptu guide explained that this was the outgrowth of Australian politics. “Every town in Australia,” said he, “is desirous of having some of the public money spent within its limits. It wants a courthouse, jail, or some other public edifice, and in order to secure his election to the legislature, a candidate is compelled to promise that he will obtain the desired appropriation. These appropriations are secured by what you call in America ‘logrolling.’ That is, Smith of one town makes an arrangement with Brown, Jones, Robinson, and I don’t know how many others of as many other towns that he will vote for their appropriations, provided they will vote for his. In this way a town of five hundred inhabitants gets a courthouse and jail large enough for a population of five thousand, or perhaps twice that number. A great deal of government money has been wasted in this way, but there is no help for it as long as human nature remains as it is.”

This led to a little talk on Australian politics, in which the youths learned that the people were divided into parties very much as in England and the United States, and their quarrels were just as fierce. The party in power is always 135bitterly denounced by the party out of power, and the outs can always demonstrate how much better they could manage public affairs than the ins are doing it. The great questions usually before the people are the tariff and public improvements, and the fiercest fights are usually those concerning the tariff.

Protectionists and free traders are just as skillful and just as earnest as the same parties in the United States, and each can demonstrate mathematically how much better its own system is than that of the other side. The colonies are themselves divided on the subject of tariff, all of them favoring protection with the exception of New South Wales, where the free traders are in the majority.

There has been a great deal of talk about a federation of the colonies, but the stumbling-block in the way of it is the difference in the colonial tariff. Federation would have been brought about years ago had it not been for New South Wales and its free trade policy.

Ned and Harry started to take some notes on the subject of the tariff, but the doctor reminded them that they had better leave the subject alone, as it was a dangerous one to touch. Consequently they have not given us the benefit of their notes upon it, and we are unable to say what conclusion they reached.

At its appointed time the train reached Melbourne, and our friends found themselves in the spacious station of the railway company.

As soon as they could get their baggage, our friends proceeded to a hotel which had been recommended to them, and which they found quite satisfactory. After 136securing rooms they went out for a stroll, having been advised to take a promenade along Collins Street. Harry said he was sure that the street had been named after somebody who was prominent in the early history of the colony, at least, he felt that such was the case if Melbourne had followed the example of Adelaide.

“Melbourne was founded before Adelaide was,” said Dr. Whitney, “as the first settlement was made here in 1835, a year before the first settlement was made in Adelaide; but, all the same, your theory is correct. Collins Street was named after Colonel Collins, who established a convict settlement in this vicinity as far back as 1803, but for some reason he gave it up a year or two later, and transferred his convicts and their guards to Tasmania.”

“The next street parallel to this,” said Ned, “is Bourke Street. I wonder who Bourke was?”

“Bourke was the governor of the colony in 1836,” the doctor replied, “and that is why he was honored with a street.”

“We know about Captain Flinders,” said Harry, “after whom Flinders Street was named. He was a daring explorer who accompanied Captain Bass when the latter discovered Bass’s Strait, that separates Australia from Tasmania. There is also a range of mountains named after him.”

“Captain Lonsdale, who was in command of some of the troops at the time that the city was laid out,” said the doctor, “was honored with a street, and Swanston Street commemorates one of the early settlers. Then there are King Street, Queen Street, William Street, Elizabeth 137Street, which explain themselves, as they indicate the feelings of the early settlers towards the royal family.”

“This street is certainly as attractive to the eye as Broadway or Fifth Avenue in New York,” Ned remarked, as they strolled slowly along Collins Street. “See these magnificent buildings. You have only to shut your eyes and imagine yourself on Broadway, and when you open them again the illusion does not require a great stretch of the imagination. And all this has grown up since 1835. Just think of it!”

“Yes,” replied the doctor; “it was about the middle of 1835 that one John Batman came here with a small sailing vessel, and made a bargain with the chief of the tribe of blacks then occupying this neighborhood, by which he purchased about twelve hundred square miles of ground for a quantity of goods worth, perhaps, one hundred dollars.”

“That beats the purchase of Manhattan Island for twenty-four dollars,” remarked Harry as the doctor paused.

“Yes, it does,” was the reply; “the government afterwards repudiated Batman’s trade, and took possession of the ground he had purchased.”

“A pretty mean piece of business, wasn’t it?” queried Harry.

“As to that,” said the doctor, “there are arguments on both sides of the question. Batman felt that he had been unfairly dealt with, although the government paid him about thirty-five thousand dollars for his claim. At the time they paid the money to him the land was worth very much more than that amount.”

138“Did he stay here and go to building a city at once?” queried one of the youths.

“No; he went back to Tasmania, whence he had come, in order to get a fresh supply of provisions, and while he was gone John Fawkner came here with a schooner called the Enterprise, and made a settlement. His party consisted, if we may include the quadrupeds, of five men, two pigs, one cat, two horses, and three dogs. When Batman came back he was very angry, and as long as both the men lived there was a bitter quarrel between them which threatened several times to result in a shooting affray. Batman died in 1839; his heirs and partners took up the quarrel, and traces of it are said to exist to the present day. The people of Melbourne have erected a monument to Batman’s memory, but Fawkner is generally regarded as the founder of Melbourne, as he made the first permanent settlement, and the colony may properly be considered to have begun on the date of his arrival.”

When the conversation had reached this point, the party found themselves at the corner of Elizabeth Street, which intersects Collins Street at right angles.

“You observe,” said the doctor, “that this street, Elizabeth, is the dividing line of the city. That is to say, from it the streets are called east and west just as they are so called in New York. At Fifth Avenue, East Forty-second Street and West Forty-second Street begin. In the same way we have here Collins Street, East, and Collins Street, West; Bourke Street, East, and Bourke Street, West; and so on through the whole list. They put the word designating the point of compass after the 139name of the street, while in New York we do just the opposite.”

“Oh, yes, I see,” Harry remarked, with a twinkle in his eye. “Melbourne is on the other side of the world from New York, and so they name the streets in the reverse manner. So, then, there is another proof that Australia is a land of contradictions.”

Ned laughed, and made no reply other than to ask if the great number of deaths that occurred here during the gold excitement had any allusion to the name of the city. Harry looked at him with a puzzled expression, and asked what he meant.

“Why, I was thinking,” said Ned, “that possibly Melbourne might have been ‘the bourne whence no traveler returns,’ mentioned by Shakespeare.”

“Oh, that is old,” said the doctor; “and while you are on this subject, I will inform you that the city obtained its name from Lord Melbourne, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time that the place was laid out.”

“The surveyor who laid out the city,” remarked Harry, “had a ‘level’ head, as well as a leveling one. See what wide streets he gave it.”

“Yes, that is so,” replied Ned. “They must be one hundred feet wide, at least that is what I would guess.”

“You guessed very closely,” said the doctor, “as they are ninety-nine feet (one chain and a half) wide, and the tradition is that Melbourne was laid out by an American surveyor. The city, as originally planned, was one mile square, but it has received numerous additions, so that it now covers a great deal more than a square mile. It 140really occupies, with its suburbs, an area of nearly one hundred square miles, and every year sees a new suburb added. Of course, when population is mentioned, the whole of the suburbs should be included, and the inhabitants claim, with a great deal of reason, that within a radius of ten miles from the city hall, there are fully four hundred thousand people residing.”

“That is certainly a very rapid growth,” said one of the youths. “All that population since 1835! It is the most rapid growth of any city that I know of, is it not?”

“Yes, I think it is,” replied the doctor. “Neither San Francisco nor Chicago can show a growth equal to that of Melbourne in the first fifty years of its existence. Chicago is now a much larger city, but fifty years from its foundation it could not boast of as many inhabitants as could Melbourne when it was half a century old.”

To the eyes of our young friends Melbourne presented a very busy appearance. Cabs and carriages were rushing hither and thither. Crowds of people were on the sidewalks, and other crowds filled the tram-cars and omnibuses. Harry observed that Melbourne was sufficiently up with the times to be provided with electric cars, and that she also had cable lines, as well as the more primitive street cars. It was near the close of the afternoon, when the great majority of the population are seeking their homes, and the scene of busy life reminded the youths of lower Broadway, near the end of the day in New York.

The doctor explained that a very large part of the working population resembled the well-to-do portion, by having their homes in the suburbs, and, consequently, that 141a great many people required transportation. Hence the rush for the tram-cars and other public means of travel on the part of the great mass of the public, while those with better-lined purses patronized the cabs and carriages. Cab fares are high, being about one third more than in London, but not so high as in New York. In the days of the gold rush the most ordinary carriages could not be hired for less than fifteen dollars a day, and five dollars was the price for an hour or two.

There is a story in circulation that a gold miner was once bargaining for a carriage for which the driver demanded twelve pounds (sixty dollars) for a day’s hire. The miner said he would not pay it: he handed a ten-pound note to the driver, and said he must be satisfied with that. The driver assented, and there was no further discussion on the subject.

Prices of all sorts of things throughout Melbourne are somewhat above London figures, but they have been established a long time and nobody complains of them.

Our friends continued their walk to the Yarra River, up whose waters Batman and Fawkner sailed when they came here to found the city. Its native name is Yarra-Yarra, but the double word is rarely used by the inhabitants of Melbourne in speaking of the stream. Of itself, it is not a river of much consequence, as originally all but very small vessels had difficulty in ascending it. It has been dredged and deepened, so that craft drawing not more than sixteen feet of water can ascend it to Prince’s Bridge, the spot where our friends reached the stream. Vessels requiring more water than that must remain at 142Fort Melbourne, about three miles further down. There are several other bridges crossing the river at different points. Near Prince’s Bridge our friends saw several passenger steamers crowded with people, on their way to their homes down the bay.

On their return towards the hotel our friends loitered among the shops, and especially among those in what are called the Arcades, of which there are four, modeled after the Arcades of London and the “Passages” of Paris. They are delightful places to lounge in, whether one is in search of purchases or not, and the three strangers were in no hurry to get through them.

One of the arcades is known as the Book Arcade, and the shops inside of it are almost wholly devoted to the sale of books. Harry remarked that he judged the Melbourne people to be a reading one, otherwise there would not be so much space devoted to the sale of books. The youths had a brief conversation with one of the proprietors, who told them that it was one of the largest book stores in the world, in fact, he did not know of any other as large as that. “We can give you anything you want,” said he; “everything is so arranged that we know just where to lay our hands on any book that a customer wants.”

Melbourne is a great source of supply for all the interior of Victoria. In the wholesale shops there were great quantities of goods intended for up-country use. “There were,” said Harry, “tons and tons of clothing destined for the mines or for sheep and cattle runs, and great quantities of tea, sugar, and other provisions, together with saddlery, harnesses, and ironmongery in great quantity and variety.”

143“We observed,” wrote Ned, “that between every two wide streets there is a narrow street running in the same direction. I believe you will find the same arrangement in many parts of Philadelphia, and also in the new part of Boston. The original intention of the surveyor was that these small streets should be used as back entrances for the buildings on the larger ones, but this intention has not been carried out in the development of the city. Formerly these narrow streets took the name of the wide ones, with the prefix ‘Little’; for example, the one between Collins and Bourke Street being known as Little Collins Street. Most of them are now called lanes, and are spoken of as Collins Lane, Latrobe Lane, and the like, and many of them are devoted to special lines of trade. Flinders Lane, between Flinders and Collins Streets, is the principal locality of the wholesale dealers in clothing, and Bourke Lane is largely occupied by Chinese. We are told that the renting prices of stores along these lanes are very high, probably greater than either Batman or Fawkner ever dreamed they could be in their wildest moments.

“When we returned to the hotel we found an invitation for us to dine at one of the clubs, the gentleman who gave the invitation having called during our absence. We dressed as quickly as possible, and went at once to the club house, where we dined on the best that the city afforded. Melbourne is a great place for clubs, quite as much so as London or New York. Nearly everybody belongs to a club, and many gentleman have two, three, or more clubs on their lists. Nearly all of the clubs have lodging rooms for bachelor members, and the popularity 144of the institution is shown by the fact that most of these rooms are constantly occupied.

“Life at a club is somewhat expensive, though less so than at a first-class hotel. One gentleman probably stated the case very clearly when he said that life in a club house is pretty much as each individual chooses to make it. He could live economically or expensively, according to his preference. He could dine on the choicest or on the plainest food, and could entertain liberally or frugally. ‘There is no necessity,’ he added, ‘for a man to waste his money because he lives at a club, but there is no denying the fact that a club affords temptation and opportunity to do so.’

“During dinner the subject of horse racing came up, and our host said that he did not believe there was any city in the world where so large a proportion of the population was interested in equine sports as Melbourne. ‘On Cup Day,’ said he, ‘that is, on the day of the annual race for the cup which is given by the city of Melbourne, people come here from all parts of Australia.’

“‘Everybody who can afford the time and expense is reasonably sure to visit Melbourne, and a great many come here who can hardly afford to do so. Hotels and lodging houses are crowded to their fullest capacities for several days before the great event. When Cup Day comes, it is like the Derby Day in England. Half the population of Melbourne goes to Flemington, when the race is run, and nearly all the scenes of the great Derby Day in England are repeated. The winner of the Melbourne cup is greeted with the heartiest cheers at the close of the race, and if he 145is put up for sale on the spot, he is sure to bring an enormous price.’

“‘I asked if the horses competing for the cup were limited to those raised in the colony of Victoria?’

“‘Oh, not by any means,’ the gentleman answered; ‘horses from any of the colonies can be entered for the great race. They come from New South Wales, South and West Australia, and also from Queensland, and sometimes we have them from New Zealand or Tasmania. In some years it has happened that not one of the racers was bred in the colony of Victoria. There is never any lack of competitors, their number being usually quite equal to that in the race for the Derby. The race track is a little more than a mile from the center of the city, so that the public has not far to go. Vehicles of every kind command high prices on Cup Day, and many thousands of people go to the race on foot. For weeks before the event little else is talked of, and the great question on every tongue is, “What horse will win the cup?”’

“Melbourne is very fond of athletic sports, and there are numerous clubs devoted to baseball, football, cricket, golf, and the like. There are also rowing clubs, and their favorite rowing place is along the part of the Yarra above Prince’s Bridge. The course is somewhat crooked, but there is a good view of it from the banks, and a rowing match between two of the crack clubs is sure to attract a large crowd.”




Our friends returned to their hotel, but, before leaving them, their host arranged to call for them after breakfast the next morning, for a drive among the parks and around the suburbs of the city.

The drive came off as agreed upon, and a very pleasant one it was. They visited the Botanic Garden, which is on the banks of the Yarra, and seemed to contain specimens of nearly all the trees on the habitable globe. Harry said he wondered how elms and oaks could have attained the size of some that he saw, when he remembered that the city had its beginning in 1835. It was explained that all exotic trees grew with great rapidity in the climate of Melbourne, and not only exotics but natives. The climate seems adapted to almost any kind of vegetable production.

Our friends found cork trees and palms growing almost side by side with the birch, the pine, and the spruce. Among other things, their attention was attracted to some beautiful fern trees, which were fully twenty feet high, and there were climbing plants in great profusion, some of them clinging to the trees, and others fastened to trellis work.


147Almost every kind of tropical fruit tree was represented in the garden, and the gentleman who led the party said that the garden had been of great use in distributing exotic fruit trees through the colony, after first settling the question whether they would exist in the climate of Victoria. Every variety of orange was there, and the orange is among the most abundant of the fruits growing in the colony. Apricots, peaches, pears, mangosteens, the custard apple, mangoes, and other fruits have found a home in Victoria, and demonstrated that they can exist within its limits.

“We were unwilling,” said Harry in his journal, “to leave the Botanic Garden and go elsewhere, as there were so many attractive things to be seen, but time pressed, and whenever our host gave the word we proceeded with him. From the Botanic Garden we went to the Fitzroy Gardens, which are situated in the eastern part of the town, and were to some extent a repetition of the Botanic Garden, though not entirely so. The Fitzroy is more like a park than a garden; it is beautifully laid out with walks and drives, and is rendered picturesque by means of rocky hills, miniature lakes, and occasional fountains.

“We afterwards went to the Carlton Gardens and also to the Zoological Garden, the latter being situated in the Royal Park. The ‘Zoo,’ as it is popularly called, contains a fine collection of animals from all parts of the world, including elephants, lions, tigers, and the like, and also specimens of the animals of Australia. Of course it has a cage full of monkeys,—what Zoo is ever without them?—and they look just exactly like the collections 148of monkeys that we have elsewhere in various parts of the world.

“There is a very fair collection of birds, and we were particularly interested in the specimens of the birds of Australia. And that reminds me of an amusing experience, as we came around to where the aviary stands.

“We heard somebody laughing very loudly, and a queer sort of a laugh it was. Ned remarked that somebody must be feeling very happy, and I agreed with him. Our host smiled, and so did Dr. Whitney, but nothing further was said, as the laugh died away.

“When we got close to the door we again heard the laugh, which came from the inside of the bird house.

“‘The fellow is at it again,’ said Ned. ‘Wonder if we can’t share in the fun?’

“I said that I hoped so, as I had not seen anything to laugh at since we started out from the hotel. When we got inside we looked around for the man who had been making the noise, but there was nobody visible except a very solemn-faced keeper, who did not look as if he had laughed for a month.

“I remarked to Ned that the old fellow had put on a serious face now because company had come in, to which Ned nodded assent. Just as he did so the laughing began again, and it was such a funny laugh that both of us joined in it.

“The old fellow’s face did not move a muscle, and we saw that he was not the humorous one of the place. We looked in the direction of the laughter and saw that it came, not from a man, but from a bird. In spite of our 149astonishment we burst out laughing, and the doctor and our host joined us in doing so.

“Our host then explained that the bird which was amusing us was known as the ‘laughing jackass.’ We had heard of the creature before, but this was our first view of him. We took a good look, and while we were doing so he laughed again, right in our faces. The laugh is almost exactly like that of a human being. It is not musical but is very comical, and, somehow, it has a tendency to set everybody laughing who is within sound of it.

“The bird is about the size of a full-grown pigeon, perhaps a little larger. He is not handsomely proportioned, his head being too large for his body and his tail very small. His feathers are white and black, and he has a comical appearance that harmonizes well with his humorous manner. He is easily domesticated, and will learn to talk quite as readily as the parrot does.

“The laughing jackass is a friend of the bushman, as he foretells wet weather. When the air is dry and clear, he is a very lively bird, and fills the air with the sound of his laughter; but if rain is coming, or especially if it has come, he is the very picture of misery and unhappiness. He mopes on his perch, whether it be in a cage, or on the limb of a tree, or in the open air, with his feathers ruffled, and a very bedraggled appearance, like a hen that has been caught in a shower. In the forest he will imitate the sound of an axe cutting at a tree, and many a man has been deceived into walking a mile or more in the expectation of finding somebody at work.

150“The bird belongs to the kingfisher family, but does not hunt much for fishes, his favorite food being snakes. It makes no difference to him whether the snakes are poisonous or not, as his attacks upon them are limited only by their size. Large snakes he cannot handle, but small ones are his delight. He drops down upon them with the quickness of a flash, seizes them just back of the head, and then flies up in the air a hundred feet to drop them upon the hardest piece of ground he can find.

“The fall breaks their backs, and he keeps up this performance until life is extinct, when he devours his prey. His services as a snake-killer are known all over the country, and consequently he is never shot or trapped. He is intelligent enough to understand his immunity from attack, and comes fearlessly about the houses of the people in the country districts.

“Speaking of snakes reminds me that they have a very good collection in the Zoo. We asked the keeper to indicate to us the snakes peculiar to Australia, and he did so. The largest of them is known as the carpet snake, and the specimen that we saw was about ten feet long. It belongs to the constrictor family, being perfectly harmless so far as its bite is concerned, but it has powers of constriction that might be very serious to the person around whom the creature has wound itself. One traveler in Australia tells how he was visiting a cattle station in Queensland, and when he went to bed the first night of his stay, he found a carpet snake lying on the outside of his couch. He called loudly for some one to come and kill the serpent.

151“His call was heard by the proprietor, who shouted to him not to kill the snake, as it was one of the family pets, and then the man came and seized the creature by the neck and carried it to a barrel where he said the snake belonged. I hope they won’t have any pets of that sort around any house that I visit during my stay in Australia.

“There are eighty-three distinct species of snakes peculiar to Australia, of which sixty are venomous, and fifteen amphibious. The most common of the deadly serpents are the death adder, black snake, brown snake, tiger snake, and diamond snake. The latter is so called on account of the color of his skin, which is laid out in lozenges of a diamond shape, alternately brown and white. The death adder, so the keeper told us, is the most dangerous of all the Australian snakes, as it never tries to escape. It lies perfectly still when approached, but the instant one touches it, it darts its head and delivers, if possible, a fatal bite. The poison speedily accomplishes its purpose, and unless an antidote can be had in a few minutes death is the inevitable result.

“People who go about much in the region where this snake abounds wear high-top boots as a protection against these serpents. The black snake and the brown snake are the most common of the deadly serpents. The brown one is the largest of them, and frequently attains a length of eight or nine feet. The tiger snake seems to be related to the ‘Cobra-di-Capello,’ of India, as it has the same power of flattening and extending its neck when irritated.

“I asked what were the antidotes used for snake bites in Australia?

152“To this our host replied that there were various ways of counteracting the effects of a snake bite. One was to cut out the wound and take away the flesh from each side of it for half an inch or so. Another was to swallow large quantities of brandy and whiskey, and the third and most common way was to use a hypodermic injection of ammonia. The last-named antidote is regarded as almost certain, and a great many people, such as stockmen, wood-cutters, farmers, and the like, carry in their pockets a hypodermic syringe, charged and ready for use.

“‘On that subject I can tell you an interesting story,’ said our host. ‘There was at one time a man named Underwood, who discovered a positive antidote for the bite of the most venomous serpent. He gave several exhibitions in which he permitted himself to be bitten by snakes in full possession of all their venomous powers, a fact which was established by the immediate deaths of dogs, chickens, and other small animals, which were bitten by the snakes after they had tried their fangs on Underwood. He carried a supply of his antidote about him, and used it whenever he was thus bitten.’

“‘Underwood’s remedy was a secret known only to himself. He was trying to sell it to the government, the latter intending to make it public for the sake of saving life. One day Underwood gave an exhibition in which he allowed himself, as usual, to be bitten by a venomous snake. He was intoxicated at the time, and in consequence of his intoxication was unable to find his antidote; the result was that he died within an hour, and carried away the secret of his antidote forever.’

153“Newly arrived emigrants in Australia have a great fear of snakes. For the first few weeks they are startled whenever they hear the least rustling in the bushes, but after a time they get accustomed to it, and think no more about snakes than they do about dragons. It makes a great difference in what part of Australia you are. There are some regions where the snake is rarely seen, while in others great precautions are necessary. Low, swampy districts are said to be the worst, and men who walk around in such localities are very careful of their steps.

“Some of the snakes of Australia have an unpleasant habit of coming around the houses, and this is particularly the case with the tiger snake, which in this respect seems to possess the same characteristics as his relative the ‘cobra,’ of India. Our host told us a story which he said he knew to be a true one, the incident having occurred in a family with which he was acquainted. There was an invalid daughter in the family, and one afternoon, when she was sleeping in a hammock on the veranda, she suddenly waked with the feeling of something cold, and moist, and heavy near her neck. She raised her hand and happened to grasp the neck of a snake just back of the head. In her paroxysm of terror, she clutched it with terrific force to tear it away.

“She gave a piercing cry that summoned her father and other members of the family, and immediately after the cry she fainted. But she still continued to clutch at the snake’s neck, and although she was utterly unconscious of anything surrounding her, she grasped it with such force that the reptile was fairly strangled by her fingers. 154Her father realized that it would be impossible to free her hand until consciousness returned, and the indications were that it would not be speedy in coming. So they released her fingers one by one, with a piece of the hammock cord, and removed the dead body of the snake so that it should be out of sight when she revived. Luckily, the creature had not bitten her before she grasped it.

“It is not at all unusual for a man sleeping on the ground at night to find, on waking, that a serpent has crawled in by his side, or curled itself up on his breast for the sake of the warmth that his body supplies. I have heard a story of a man who thus entertained an unwelcome visitor. He waked during the night while lying flat on his back, and felt something heavy and cold on his chest. He moved a little as he waked, and his movement caused the snake that was lying on him to raise its head. By the light of the camp fire the man saw his predicament. His hair stood on end, and he could feel the blood stiffening in his veins. He knew it would be some time before daylight, and felt that he would lose his mind before morning, or perhaps die of fear. He carried a knife in his belt, and decided, after careful consideration, that his best plan was to reach for the weapon and kill the snake where it lay.

“Slowly, very slowly, he worked his hand to his waist and drew his knife. He could not avoid making some movement in doing so, and at each movement the snake raised its head to ascertain the cause of the disturbance; then the man became perfectly still until the reptile subsided again.

155“After the lapse of what seemed to be many hours, the man got his knife and arm in readiness for action. Then he moved his body a little, causing the serpent to lift its head once more. As it did so, the man made a quick movement of his hand, and he declares that he never made a quicker one in all his life. The snake’s head was severed by the blow; it fell to one side and the writhing body of the creature followed it. At the same instant the man was on his feet, and he says that he danced for a few minutes in a wild paroxysm of joy, and then fell to the ground in a fainting fit, caused by the sudden reaction in his feelings. The snake that he killed was of a poisonous kind,—the tiger snake, which has already been mentioned. When stretched out to its full length, it measured very nearly five feet.

“They have scorpions and centipedes in Australia, and their bite is just as deadly as that of the same creatures elsewhere. They have a black spider about as large as a pea,—black all over except a red spot on its back,—which is found in decaying logs, and, unhappily, has a fondness for living in houses. It is aggressive in its nature, as it does not wait to be disturbed before making an attack, and it has been known to cross a room towards where a person was sitting in order to bite him. Its bite is as bad as that of the scorpion or centipede. Sometimes its victims are permanently paralyzed for the rest of their lives, or become hopeless lunatics, and, not infrequently, death results from this spider’s bite.

“One gentleman told me how he was once bitten by one of these spiders on the calf of the leg. He immediately 156cut out the wound and injected some ammonia close by the side of it, but in spite of these precautions he suffered intense pains in the leg for several days. The limb swelled to twice its natural size, and became as soft as putty. At the spot where the wound was a suppurating sore formed and it discharged for several months. He fully expected that amputation would be necessary, and the doctor whom he called to attend him said the chances were five to one that he would lose the leg altogether. Greatly to his and the doctor’s surprise and delight, he managed to save it, but for fully a year after the wound had healed the limb did not resume its normal size, and he suffered frequent pains like rheumatism.

“‘You will naturally conclude,’ said our friend, ‘that as we have spiders here we ought to have flies, and we have them in sufficient abundance to prevent life from becoming monotonous. They are worse in the interior than on the coast; in the latter region they are only troublesome during the autumn months, while for the rest of the year they are not at all numerous, or may be absent altogether; but in the interior they are always bad, the only difference being that they are worse at some times than at others. In parts of the interior everybody wears a veil when going about the country, and it is often necessary to do so while in the house. On some of the interior plains you can see a man before you see him, as an Irishman might put it. You see in the distance a small black cloud hovering just over the road. It is a cloud of flies around the head of some unfortunate traveler, who is approaching on horseback. They stick to him 157like a troubled conscience and go with him wherever he goes. If another traveler happens to be going in the opposite direction, the clouds about their heads mingle as the individuals meet, and when they separate the flies move on with them, as before.’

“Flies in the houses are very troublesome, as they are fond of loitering about the table, just like flies in America and other countries. They are a nuisance to which nobody ever gets accustomed, and in some localities they almost render the country uninhabitable. Mosquitoes abound in most parts of the country, especially along the rivers and lakes and in swampy regions, and every traveler who expects to be out at night carries a mosquito net with him.”

From the Zoo our friends continued their drive through other parks and along some of the principal streets, passing several public buildings, all of which were spacious and attractive. The town hall, post-office, government house, and other public structures of Melbourne would do honor to any city and evince the taste and good judgment of those who planned and erected them. The numerous parks and gardens are a great ornament to the city and give an abundance of breathing space for the people. Our young friends were loud in their praise of what they saw, and their comments were well received by their host. The people of Melbourne are fond of hearing their city commended, and their pride in it is certainly well justified.




In the afternoon the party visited Port Melbourne, formerly known as Sandridge. Properly speaking, this is the harbor of Melbourne, and it is situated near the mouth of the Yarra, where that stream enters Hobson’s Bay, the latter being an arm of Port Philip Bay. It is a busy place and contains the usual sights of a harbor. Ships were discharging or receiving their cargoes, some at the piers which jut out into the water, while some were anchored away from the shore and were performing the same work by means of lighters. On the other side of Hobson’s Bay is Williamstown, which is a sort of rival of Sandridge. A great deal of shipping business is done there, and Williamstown contains, also, graving docks and building yards where many vessels engaged in local trade along the coast have been constructed. The gentleman who accompanied our friends called their attention to the railways which connect Williamstown and Sandridge with the city, and remarked that times had changed since the gold rush in the early fifties.

“At the present time,” said he, “you can go between Sandridge and Melbourne for threepence or sixpence, according to the class you select, but in the time of the gold rush prices were very much higher. If you wanted 159a carriage from here to the city, you would be lucky to escape for a sovereign, and a dray load of baggage drawn by a single horse would cost fifteen dollars. There used to be an omnibus line that carried passengers for two shillings and sixpence, but it was somewhat irregular in its movements, and could not be relied on. Nowadays the omnibus will carry you for threepence.

“When a ship arrived and anchored in the bay the passengers had to pay three shillings each to be put on shore, and very often the boatman raised the tariff to five shillings whenever he thought he could induce or compel the passengers to pay it. The charge for baggage was a separate one, and sometimes it cost more to take a quantity of baggage from Sandridge to Melbourne than it had cost to bring it all the way from London to Sandridge, a distance of thirteen thousand miles.”

“It was a golden harvest for the boatmen and everybody else engaged in the transportation business,” Harry remarked.

“Indeed, it was,” said the gentleman; “and a great many people had the sense to perceive that they had a better chance for a fortune by remaining right here than by going to the mines, where everything was uncertain.”

“I suppose everything else was in proportion, was it not?” queried Ned.

“That was exactly the case,” was the reply. “When goods were brought on shore they were loaded into carts for transportation to Melbourne, and the cart was not allowed to move out of the yard until three pounds sterling had been paid for taking the load to the city. The 160travelers protested and said they would not pay, but they generally did, as there was no other alternative. When they got to the city they found the same scale of prices.

“The poorest kind of a room without any furniture would bring ten dollars a week, and a stall in the stable of a hotel which would accommodate two men rented readily for ten shillings a night. Hotel-keepers made fortunes, or at least some of them did, and others might have done so if they had taken care of their money. I have heard of one hotel-keeper who had his house crammed full of patrons, none of them paying less than ten shillings a night for their lodging, while he had seventy-five lodgers in his stables, each of them paying five shillings apiece.

“A great many people spread tents on the waste ground outside of the city to save the expense of lodgings. They did not succeed altogether in doing so, as the government required them to pay at the rate of sixty dollars a year for the privilege of putting up a tent. Everybody was anxious to get away from Melbourne as quickly as possible, but they underwent great delays in getting their goods out of the ships.”

“I suppose you had no railways at that time to facilitate travel,” one of the youths remarked.

“No; there were no railways and the only way of travel was by the ordinary route, and very ordinary it was in many places. It was not a graded and macadamized road such as you find in England, but simply a rough pathway, principally of nature’s manufacture. It was full of ruts and gullies, very muddy in the rainy season, and terribly 161dusty in the dry times. Travelers went to the mines in all sorts of ways, some on foot, and some by ox and horse wagons, and if they had plenty of money, and were determined to have luxury and speed at whatever cost, they traveled by stage-coach. An American firm, Cobb & Company, came here in the early days and established lines of stage-coaches, first from Melbourne to the mines, and afterwards all over Australia. Cobb’s coaches are still running on some of the interior routes that are not covered by railway, but wherever the locomotive has put in its appearance it has forced them out of the way.”

“I have read somewhere,” said Harry, “that traveling on the road to the mines was not very safe in those days.”

“That depended somewhat on the way one was going,” was the reply. “Travelers going towards the mines were not very liable to attack, as they were not supposed to have any money, but it was not so with those coming from the mines to the coast. The natural supposition was that an individual moving in the direction of Melbourne had ‘made his pile’ and was on his way home. The country was infested with ex-convicts and men who had escaped from convict service in Australia and Tasmania. They were known as ‘bushrangers,’ and great numbers of them were along the routes to the mines. They lived in caves among the hills, or in the open air, and occasionally took shelter in out stations on sheep runs. They supplied themselves with food by stealing sheep and cattle from the ranches, and by robbing wagons laden with provisions on their way to the mines. Clothing they obtained by the same system of plunder, and whenever the haunt of a gang 162was discovered by the police it was almost invariably found to be well stocked with provisions and clothing.

“These were the fellows that made life miserable to the miners returning to the coast. The bushrangers traveled in gangs of all the way from five to fifteen or twenty, and sometimes more, and each gang was led by the most desperate man among them. They used to ‘stick up’ solitary travelers, or travelers in groups of a dozen or more. They lay in wait at turnings of the road or near the summits of hills, and generally took their victims by surprise. If a man submitted quietly to be robbed, he was generally left unharmed, but if he made any resistance, he was knocked senseless or shot down without the least compunction. Sometimes these gangs were so numerous that hardly a traveler escaped them. Then there would be a lull in the business for a time and the road would be particularly safe.

“Once a week or so, gold was sent down from the mines by the government authorities; and of course it was accompanied by a strong and well-armed escort of police. Many people entrusted their gold to the escort, paying a high premium for the guarantee of safe delivery in Melbourne. A good many people used to accompany the escort for the protection it afforded, but the number became so great and troublesome that the government at length refused to permit travelers to go in that way unless they paid the same premium on the gold that they carried as was paid by those who shipped the precious metal. Not infrequently the bushrangers attacked the government escort, and on several occasions they were successful.

163“It was a piece of good fortune that, as a general thing, the bushrangers were never able to agree with each other very long. After a gang had been organized and selected its leader, dissensions arose very speedily, particularly as to the division of the spoil. The leader always believed that he ought to have a larger share of the plunder than anybody else, while all the subordinate members believed just as earnestly that their stealings should be divided equally. In this way quarrels took place. The captain would be deposed and another one selected, and he in time would share the fate of his predecessors.

“Some of the bushrangers were quite famous for their bravery and daring, and they used to give the police a great deal of hard fighting. On the other hand, the police acquired a high reputation for their skill in fighting and capturing bushrangers. They were instructed to bring in their captives alive, if possible, but it did not injure their reputations at all if they killed the scoundrels on the spot. The government wanted to be rid of the rascals, and frequently offered rewards for their capture, ‘dead or alive.’

“Whenever the bushrangers made a haul of gold dust it was divided as soon as possible, each man taking his share and doing with it what he pleased. They generally hid their booty in spots known only to themselves, and when any of the bushrangers were captured, the police usually proceeded to draw from them the information as to where their gold was concealed. Naturally, the fellows were unwilling to say, and if they refused to tell, various means were resorted to to make them give up the desired information. 164Singeing their hair, pinching their fingers and toes, or submitting them to other physical tortures, were among the means commonly used.

“When ordinary methods failed, a favorite device was to tie the bushranger hand and foot, and then place him on an ant hill. The black ant of Australia has a bite that is very painful, and when hundreds of thousands of ants are biting a man all at once, the feeling is something fearful. The ant-hill torture was generally successful. After submitting to it for a time, the bushranger generally gave up the secret of the whereabouts of his gold. I do not mean to say that all the police officials indulged in this harsh treatment, but it is certain that many of them did.

“It is probable that a great deal of stolen gold is concealed in the country bordering the road from Melbourne to the gold diggings which will never be found. Many of the bushrangers were killed while fighting with the police, died of their wounds, or in prison, or managed to flee the country without giving up the secret which would have enabled the authorities to find where their treasures were concealed. Occasionally one of their deposits is found by accident, but there are doubtless hundreds which nobody will ever come upon.

“There was a great deal of lawlessness in and around Melbourne in those days. One afternoon a band of robbers took possession of the road between Melbourne and Sandridge, and ‘stuck up’ everybody who attempted to pass. People were tied to trees and robbed, and for an hour or two the bandits were in full possession of the road. They had one of their number on watch who gave the signal 165when the police approached, and thus they were enabled to get away in good time, leaving their victims fastened to the trees.

“Once a ship was anchored in the harbor, ready to sail for England, with several thousand ounces of gold on board. She was to leave the next forenoon, and was to receive her crew and passengers early in the morning. There were only some ten or twelve persons on board. Along about midnight a boat came to the side of the ship, and, when hailed by the lookout, the answer was given that two passengers were coming on board. Two men came up the side of the ship dressed like ordinary passengers, and without any suspicious appearance about them.

“While they were in conversation with the lookout and asking about the location of their rooms, they suddenly seized and bound him, and put a gag in his mouth to prevent his making an outcry. Then several other men came up the side of the ship very quickly, and one by one all on board were bound and gagged so quietly and speedily that they could not give the least alarm. The robbers then opened the treasure-room, took possession of the gold, lowered it into their boat and rowed away. They were not on the ship more than half an hour, and as no one came to ascertain the state of affairs and give the alarm until the next morning, the robbers succeeded in getting away with all their plunder. It was a very bold performance, but from that time such a careful watch was kept on board of the ships that it could not be repeated.

“A fair proportion of the successful miners kept their 166money and went home with it, but there was a large number who seemed to believe that the best use to be made of gold was to get rid of it as quickly as possible, and they found plenty of people ready and willing to help them in this work; and it was not infrequently the case that miners were killed for the sake of their gold, and their bodies disposed of in the most convenient way. Most of the men who thus disappeared had no relatives or intimate friends in the country, and consequently their disappearance caused no inquiries to be made concerning them. If the waters of Hobson’s Bay would give up their dead, and the dead could speak, there would be a long series of fearful tales.”

“Those bushranger fellows must have been terrible men,” remarked Harry as the gentleman paused. “What did the authorities do with them whenever they caught any?”

“They disposed of them in various ways,” was the reply. “Those who had been guilty of murder or an attempt at it were hanged, while those against whom murder could not be proved were sent to the hulks for life or for long terms of imprisonment.”

“What were the hulks? I don’t know as I understand the term.”

“Oh, the hulks were ships, old ships that had been pronounced unseaworthy and dismantled. They were anchored in Hobson’s Bay after being fitted up as prisons, and very uncomfortable prisons they were. A most terrible system of discipline prevailed on board of these hulks. The man who established the system, or rather, the one who had administered it, was beaten to death by a 167gang of desperate convicts, who rushed upon him one day on the deck of one of the hulks, with the determination to kill him for the cruelties they had suffered. Before the guards could stop them they had literally pounded the life out of him and flung his body overboard.”

“How long did they keep up that system?” one of the youths asked.

“From 1850 to 1857,” their informant replied. “In the last-named year the practise of imprisonment on board of the hulks was discontinued and the convicts were put into prisons on shore. Four of the hulks were sold and broken up, and the fifth, the Success, was bought by speculators and kept for exhibition purposes. She was shown in all the ports of Australia for many years, and was at last taken to England and put on exhibition there. She was five months making the voyage from Australia to England, and at one time fears were entertained for her safety; but she reached her destination all right, and has probably reaped a harvest of money for her exhibitors. She was built in India in 1790, her hull being made of solid teak-wood. She was an East Indian trader for more than forty years, then she was an emigrant ship, and finally, in 1852, a convict hulk.

“The convicts on board these hulks, or at any rate the worst of them, were always kept in irons, but this did not deter them from jumping overboard and trying to swim to the shore. Very few of these ever succeeded in reaching the land, as they were either carried to the bottom by the weight of the irons, or were captured by the guard boats that constantly surrounded the hulks. Most of the convicts 168were confined in separate cells, and the ‘history’ of each convict was posted on the door of his cell.

“Nearly the whole interior of the ship was thus divided into cells, and when candles and lanterns were removed the places were in pitchy darkness. I went on board the Success one day, while she was on exhibition here, long after she had given up her old occupation, and as a matter of curiosity, I had myself shut up in one of the cells and the light removed. I told them to leave me in for ten minutes only, not longer.

“It was on the lower deck, where not a ray of light could come in, and the place where they locked me in was one of the ‘black holes’ in which prisoners were confined from one to twenty-eight days on bread and water.

“As soon as they had locked me in and went away, I regretted that I had made the suggestion. You have heard of its being so dark that you could feel the darkness; well, that was the case down there. I felt the darkness pressing upon me, and the air was very thick and heavy. I felt an overwhelming desire to light a match, and discovered that I had no matches in my pocket.

“One, two, three, and four minutes passed away, and I had had all I wanted. I kicked and hammered at the thick door, and when it was opened and I went out of the hold and up on deck, I was nearly blinded. How in the world a man could stay in one of those places for a single day, let alone twenty-eight days, without losing his reason is more than I can understand.”

Harry asked if all the prisoners were kept in solitary cells on board of these hulks.

169“Most, but not all, of them were confined in this way. There is a space at the stern, and another in the center of the ship, heavily barred with iron, where those who were considered utterly irreclaimable were huddled together. It would almost seem as though the authorities deliberately put them there in order that they should kill each other, as fights among them were very frequent and not a few were murdered by their companions. They did not work, they were simply in prison, that was all.

“The punishments that the convicts received were various. They had the dark cells and bread and water of which I have told you, and then they had floggings, and plenty of them, too. They were tied up by the thumbs so that their toes just touched the deck, and they were compelled to sustain the weight of the body either on their thumbs or their toes for hours at a time. They were ‘bucked,’ ‘gagged,’ and ‘paddled,’ and ‘cold-showered,’ and treated to other brutalities which have been known in the English army and navy for a long time. In spite of their liability to punishment, many of them paid little attention to the rules, and some were continually yelling in the most horrible manner, and day and night the sound of their voices was heard.

“Over the hatchway was a wheel by which the food of the convicts was lowered into the hold at morning, noon, and night; at other times it was used for raising in an iron cage, from the lower decks, convicts who were allowed exercise, but the weight of whose irons prevented their ascending by the companionways. Many of them wore ‘punishment balls’ attached to their irons. The 170punishment balls and chain together weighed about eighty pounds, and frequently bowed the prisoner double.

“The heaviest leg irons weighed thirty-five pounds, and some of them forty pounds. You will readily understand why it was that men who tried to escape by swimming, with such weights about them, were almost invariably drowned in the attempt.

“A good many famous criminals were confined on board of the Success and her four sister hulks. Among them was the notorious Captain Melville, who for several years haunted the country between Melbourne and Ballarat, and was credited with many murders and countless robberies. When he was finally caught he admitted that his own share of the gold he had stolen amounted to not less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and he claimed that he had hidden it in a place known only to himself. For the last forty years people have been trying in vain to find out where Melville hid his ill-gotten gold. He was in the habit of riding to the top of Mount Boran, whence, by the aid of a powerful field-glass, he was able to see the returning gold miners on the road. Consequently, it is believed that Melville’s treasure must be hidden in the neighborhood of Mount Boran, but all attempts to find it have proved fruitless.

“Melville was tried and convicted and condemned to be imprisoned for thirty-two years on board the Success. He watched his opportunity, and formed a conspiracy with a number of his fellow-convicts to rush upon a boat and the keeper in charge of it and take possession. The plan succeeded and the escaped convicts pulled to the shore in 171safety, although fired upon by all the hulks and war ships in the harbor. Melville was soon recaptured, and at his trial he defended himself brilliantly, relating in burning words the horrors of the penal system on board the hulks.

“The speech was published in the Melbourne papers and caused a great sensation. A great mass meeting of the citizens was held, and resolutions were passed in favor of abolishing the convict hulks. The popular feeling aroused against them was so strong and general that, although the government had sentenced Melville to death for killing the keeper in his attempt to escape, it was compelled to commute the sentence to imprisonment for life. He was not sent back to the Success, but was incarcerated in the jail at Melbourne. According to the official report, he committed suicide there, but the unofficial version of the affair is that he was strangled to death by a keeper during a struggle in which the prisoner was trying to escape.

“Melville at one time had eighty men in his gang, the largest number of bushrangers at any time under a single leader. Another scoundrel who was confined on the Success was Henry Garrett, who, in broad daylight, ‘stuck up’ the Ballarat bank and robbed it of 16,000 pounds. One of his tricks consisted in wearing a suit of clothes of clerical cut, a white necktie, and broad-brimmed hat. On one occasion he walked into the bank dressed in this manner, stepped up to the safe and began to plunder it. He was a man of good education, and varied robbery with the pursuit of literature. He used to write essays and other articles, which he sent to the newspapers, and on one occasion he wrote an essay on crime.

172“One man, William Stevens, helped Melville and his gang in their attempt to escape from the Success. He struck down a warder with a stone-cutter’s axe and jumped overboard. He was never seen again, and the authorities were always in doubt whether he escaped or went to the bottom, the prevailing opinion being in favor of the latter result. Another famous bushranger was Captain Moonlight, who served his time and became a respectable citizen. Another prisoner, after serving for fifteen years, was given the position of ‘guide’ upon the vessel by her owners, and made a comfortable income by showing visitors around.”




When they had finished with Williamstown and Sandridge our friends went to St. Kilda, which may be called the Coney Island of Melbourne, as it is very popular with those who are fond of salt-water bathing. Harry and Ned remarked that there were hotels, restaurants, and other places of resort and amusement such as are usually found at seaside watering places, and Ned thought it would require no great stretch of the imagination to believe that they were at the famous bathing place of New York. Ned observed that there were fences consisting of posts set in the ground, not more than ten or twelve inches apart, extending a considerable distance out into the water and completely enclosing the bathing place.

He asked why the fences were placed there, and was informed that it was because the bay abounded in sharks, and people who came there to bathe had a prejudice against being eaten up by these sea-wolves. “If we should take away the fences,” said one of the attendants at the bathing house, “we would not do any more business here, and you may be sure that we are very careful to keep the fences in order.”

Sharks abound all through the waters of Australia. 174They have caused not a few deaths, and everybody who understands about them is careful not to venture into the water at any place where the creatures are liable to come; but occasionally one hears of an incautious or ignorant person falling a prey to these monsters of the deep. When sailboats and other craft are overturned in storms or sudden squalls and their occupants are thrown into the water, they suffer fearful peril. Not long ago a small sailboat was overturned in Port Philip Bay with two gentlemen and a lady on board, in addition to the boatman and his boy. Before help could reach them the whole five had fallen victims to the sharks.

Port Philip Bay, into which Hobson’s Bay opens, is a grand sheet of water between thirty and forty miles wide, and navigable for ships of all sizes, and the bay affords anchoring space for all the ships in the world, in case they should come there at the same time. The entrance to the bay is about thirty miles from Melbourne, and at Queenscliff near the entrance there is a fine watering place, which is reached both by railway and by steamboat. It has the advantage of St. Kilda in standing on the shore of the ocean, while the former place has only the waters of the bay in front of it. Many Melbourneites go to Queenscliff to enjoy the ocean breezes and watch the surf breaking on the shore. While St. Kilda may be called the Coney Island of Melbourne, Queenscliff is fairly entitled to be considered its Long Branch.

On their return to Melbourne, the youths found at their hotel an invitation to make a trip on the following day to 175Geelong. When Dr. Whitney read the invitation to the youths, Harry asked where Geelong was.

“Oh, I know about that,” said Ned; “I happened to be reading about it this morning.”

“Well, where is it?”

“Geelong is a town forty-five miles from Melbourne,” replied Ned, “and it is a fairly prosperous town, too. It is not quite as old as Melbourne, but at one time the inhabitants thought that their town would outstrip Melbourne completely.”

“How is that?”

“The town stands on Corio Bay, an arm of Port Philip Bay, and has a good harbor; in fact, the harbor at that time was better than that at Melbourne. The people of Geelong went to work and built a railway from their city to Melbourne, with the idea that if they did so, all the wool that was being shipped from Melbourne would be sent to Geelong for shipment, while the cargoes of foreign goods that landed at Melbourne would be landed at Geelong.”

“The plan did not work as they expected, did it?”

“Not by any means. As soon as the railway was built, wool coming into Geelong was sent to Melbourne for shipment, and goods that were intended for Geelong were landed at Melbourne and sent over by railway. In this way the measures they had taken to increase their trade worked exactly the other way and diminished it.”

“Don’t they have any foreign commerce at all at Geelong?” Harry asked.

“Oh, yes, they have some, but nothing in comparison 176with Melbourne. We will learn something about it when we go there.”

As there are three passenger steamers running between Geelong and Melbourne daily, the party went by railway and returned by water. In the railway journey they had a pleasant ride along the shore of Port Philip Bay, and arrived at their destination in a little more than two hours from the time of starting. They found the town pleasantly situated on Corio Bay, being laid out on ground sloping to the bay on the north and to the Barwon River on the south. Along the streets were fine shops, attractive stores, and every indication of an industrious and prosperous population.

In the suburbs, where they were taken in a carriage by the gentleman who accompanied them, they found numerous private residences, many of them of a superior character. The gentleman told them that Geelong was famous for its manufactures of woolens and other goods, and that it built the first woolen mill in Victoria. Iron foundries, wood-working establishments, and other industrial concerns were visited, so that our friends readily understood whence the prosperity of Geelong came. Their host told them that Geelong had long since given up its ideas of rivalry with Melbourne, and had settled down with the determination to develop itself in every feasible way and let things take care of themselves.

Our young friends thought they would like to see something of the gold mines of Victoria, and asked Dr. Whitney about them. He readily assented, and the trip to Ballarat was speedily arranged, and also one to 177Sandhurst, which is the present name of Bendigo of gold-mining days. Ballarat was the most important place of the two, and its placer mines gave a greater yield of gold than did those of Bendigo. At both places the placer mines were exhausted long ago, but gold is still taken from the rocks and reefs which underlie the whole region.

The mining establishments of Ballarat are outside of the city itself, and when the visitors reached the place and rode through the town they could hardly believe they were in a gold-mining region. The streets are wide, and most of them well shaded with trees, while some of them are so broad that they deserve the name of avenues rather than that of streets. There are substantial public buildings and a goodly number of churches, a botanical garden, and all the other features of a quiet and well-established city, and it was quite difficult for them to believe that they were in a place whose chief industry was the extraction of gold from the ground. All the lawless features of the Ballarat of gold-rush days had disappeared, and the town was as peaceful as any one could wish to find it.

Our friends brought a letter of introduction to a gentleman of Ballarat, who kindly consented to show them about the place and answer any questions that they wished to ask.

Harry’s first question was, whether the first discoveries of gold in Australia were made at Ballarat or elsewhere.

“It is very difficult to say exactly,” the gentleman answered, “where the first discoveries were made, but 178certainly they were not made at this spot. According to history and tradition, gold was discovered in the mountains behind Sydney about the year 1814, but the news of the finding of the precious metal was kept a secret by the government. At intervals of a few years from that time small deposits of gold were found at various places in New South Wales and Victoria, but these were also kept a secret, the individuals who found the deposits being in one way or another under the control of the government.

“In the early part of 1851 a miner from California, named Hargreaves, discovered gold at Lewis Pond Creek in New South Wales, and about the middle of the same year another California miner, named Esmond, found a deposit of gold at Clunes, sixteen miles from Ballarat. Before the government could take any steps for suppressing it the news had spread and the excitement began. The stories were greatly exaggerated, and many people came here believing that they had only to shovel the gold from the ground into barrels and boxes, and send it away to be converted into coin. That was the beginning of the gold rush, and a rush it was, you may be sure.

“From all over Australia people flocked to the new El Dorado. Mechanics of all kinds left their employments; shepherds deserted their flocks; merchants and clerks fled from their counting-houses; farmers quit their fields and gardens, doctors and lawyers their offices, and the whole country seemed to have gone mad about gold. Youth and age got the fever alike; boys of sixteen and men of seventy walked side by side on their way to the mines. Melbourne and Sydney were deserted, and the 179prediction was made that before the end of the year grass would be growing in the principal streets of those cities.

“Provisions, clothing, and miners’ tools and equipments rose to an enormous price. Picks or shovels worth four or five shillings apiece in the sea-coast cities were sold for ten pounds apiece at the mines. Nails for building sluices sometimes brought their weight in gold. Bacon and flour were worth a dollar a pound, and not always to be procured at that figure. The most ordinary shelter was worth ten shillings a night, and the rental price of a house for a month was the equivalent of its cost.

“The government refused to permit anybody to work at mining without a license, and the miners were so numerous that the revenue from the licenses issued was a large one. The money thus obtained was expended in organizing a strong police force and preserving order. Whereever mining fields were opened, a gold commissioner with a police escort at his back made his appearance as soon as possible, and insured a certain degree of safety. Miners could leave their gold with the commissioner, either on deposit, to be called for whenever they liked, or for transportation to Melbourne. I presume you already know about the bushrangers and how they used to plunder the homeward-bound miners.”

“Were the early miners successful in finding large deposits of gold?” one of the youths asked.

“The question is a difficult one to answer directly,” was the reply. “A great many were successful, but, on the other hand, a great many had very poor luck in the mines and hardly succeeded in making a bare living. 180We always hear of the rich finds in the mining district, but rarely of the many failures. This has always been the case in gold mining the world over, and Ballarat and the region around it were no exception to the rule. I will tell you of some of the rich discoveries, and leave you to remember that the fortunate miners were in small number compared to the unfortunate ones. It may be safely said that the early yield of the Ballarat mines exceeded that of the best days of California.

“Some claims eight feet square yielded, each of them, from fifty thousand to sixty thousand dollars. One mine, which was owned by several men in common, was worked about four months and yielded eighty thousand dollars to each man. One tubful of earth which was taken from the bottom of a claim where the bed rock was scraped yielded nearly ten thousand dollars, and one claim which was supposed to have been worked out, and was abandoned, was again taken up by two men who obtained forty thousand dollars from it in two weeks. Up to the present time it is estimated that very nearly two billion dollars’ worth of gold have been taken out of Australian mines.”

Ned asked in what shape the gold was found; that is, was it in large pieces or small ones, fine dust or nuggets?

“It embraced everything between the large nugget and fine dust or flakes,” the gentleman replied. “A great deal of the gold was in little lumps like bird shot; a great deal of it was in scales, and then, again, it took the shape of dust so fine that the particles were almost invisible to 181the naked eye. Nuggets the size of hens’ eggs were not very unusual, while those the size of pigeons’ and sparrows’ eggs were much more numerous. The great nuggets were the ones most sought for, and of course they were the rarest found.

“One nugget, resembling in shape and size a leg of mutton, and weighing one hundred and thirty-five pounds, was found a long distance below the surface, where some miners were tunneling to reach the bed rock; and another nugget was found in such a remarkable way that I must tell you the story of it.

“A man who was wandering about the scrub in the neighborhood of Ballarat one day, sat down at the foot of a tree to rest. While sitting there he took out his knife to cut a stick, and finding the knife was dull, he proceeded to sharpen it by rubbing it upon a stone that lay almost completely imbedded in the ground. As he rubbed, he found that the surface of the stone became yellow. He was greatly surprised at this, and then he dug around the stone with his knife, scraping it in several places, and then trying to lift it. He might as well have tried to lift a horse. Do what he could, he could not budge it an inch, and for a good reason, as it was a mass of solid gold.

“He felt his head swimming and his wits leaving him. He pinched his cheeks and pulled his ears to make sure that he was not dreaming. Here he was with a fortune in his possession and he could not move it! Then he sat down again and wondered what was best to do.

“Even if he could move it and started for the camp, he 182might be robbed before he got there, as bushrangers infested the country, and he was just as liable to come upon them as upon honest men. He could not stay and watch it, as he had no provisions; and he was afraid to leave it, for fear that somebody might come upon it during his absence. But there was no help for it, as leave it he must, and after thinking the matter over he acted about as sensibly as he could have done.

“He covered the nugget up very carefully, replacing the earth and sprinkling it with leaves so that there was no indication that the spot had been disturbed. Then he stripped the shirt from his back and tied it to a neighboring tree, wisely concluding that it was not judicious to hang the garment on the tree beneath which he had sat. Then, on his way out of the scrub, he marked the trees here and there so that he could find the place again, and as soon as he was in sight of the diggings he went straight to the tent of the gold commissioner and told the story of his discovery. The commissioner immediately sent the man back again with a strong escort to secure the valuable find. The man received for the nugget, after deducting all charges and commissions, the sum of fifty-one thousand dollars.

“A great many fortunes were taken out of the earth around Ballarat before the placer mines were exhausted. The news of the discovery of gold in Australia spread to other countries, and thousands of people came from all parts of the world to search for it. Nearly every nationality was represented, and they came in great numbers. Just before the gold discovery there were seventy-seven 183thousand inhabitants in the colony of Victoria. The population doubled in a single year, and three years after the discovery the colony had two hundred and thirty-six thousand inhabitants. The gold rush properly ended when the placer mines were exhausted, although in the meantime new mines had been discovered in several localities, principally at Bendigo and Castlemaine. Ballarat was nearly deserted for a time after the placer mining gave out, and the same was the case at the other places mentioned. Then the reefs and ledges were attacked; crushing machinery was erected, and the form of work which you call quartz mining in America had its beginning. It has gone on steadily ever since and gives employment to a great many people. It also employs a great deal of money, as quartz mining requires capital, while placer mining does not. To get a fortune by quartz mining you must have a fortune to begin with, while in placer mining you need nothing more than a pick and shovel.

“Australia will continue to produce gold for a great many years to come,” the gentleman continued. “New discoveries are made almost every year, and in some years half a dozen fields will be opened. The government has changed its tactics in regard to gold discoveries. It rewarded Hargreaves and Esmond for their discoveries in 1851, and it has rewarded the discoveries of other gold fields. Most of the colonial governments have a standing offer of a handsome pecuniary reward to anybody who discovers a gold field, provided there are not fewer than two hundred men working in that field six months 184after its discovery. This, you see, bars out all those finds that are exhausted in a few weeks, which is the case with the majority of them.

“Every little while there is an excitement over a new discovery, companies are formed for working the mines, and their stock is placed on the market. It is safe to say that, in the majority of instances, more money is made by shrewd speculators in Melbourne and Sydney manipulating the stock than is taken from the mines. A few years ago there was a wild speculation in mines in what is called the ‘Broken Hill’ district of Victoria, and at present there is an excitement about gold discoveries in Western Australia. According to the latest accounts from the last-named region, there is a difficulty in working the mines there on account of the scarcity of water. You cannot work a mine any more than you can run a steam-engine without water, and many people have paid very dearly to ascertain this fact.”

From Ballarat our friends went to Sandhurst, which was formerly called Bendigo. They found there a mining region resembling Ballarat in its general features, but not in all of them. At Ballarat the mines are not in the town but in its suburbs, while at Sandhurst they are directly in the town itself. One of the residents remarked that there was a gold mine in every back yard, and our friends found that this was not very far from the truth.

Mining operations were carried on in the rear or by the side of the houses, and it was said that sometimes the dust of the streets was gathered up and washed to obtain the gold in it. An individual who certainly appeared credible, 185said that the first brick house ever built in Bendigo was torn down and the bricks crushed in order to obtain the gold in them; this gold amounted to three ounces per ton, and not only the house but its chimney yielded handsomely of the precious metal.

Bendigo yielded enormously to the placer miners of the early days. When the placer mines were exhausted the place was nearly deserted, and then came the era of quartz mining the same as at Ballarat. Thousands of men are employed at Sandhurst and in its neighborhood, working in the gold mines or in the crushing establishments connected with them. The quartz mines thus give employment to a great number of people. Some of the mines have been pushed to a great depth, one of them being twenty-six hundred feet below the surface. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of gold-bearing rock, and it is a common saying in Victoria that a true ledge has never been exhausted.

Harry made some inquiries as to the amount of gold annually produced in Victoria, and learned that it was not far from five million pounds sterling, or twenty-five million dollars. He was further told that the cost of production amounted to very nearly the same figure; that is, including the cost of the mining machinery, the wages of laborers, and the many other expenses. It was admitted that the best mines showed a fair profit on the investment, but not enough to make a fortune in a short time.

The youths came to the conclusion that gold mining had been most profitable to the people that never engaged in it. In this number he included the brokers, bankers, 186storekeepers, farmers, and others who kept out of the actual business of digging gold but profited by their dealings with those who were engaged in it. Nothing so delights the owner of a large farm in Australia as to learn of a gold discovery a few miles from his place. He knows that it will give him a good market for all he has to sell, though there may be occasional thefts from his horse or cattle paddocks. Traders of all kinds get an enormous profit at the mines, and as for the brokers and bankers, there is no doubt of their ability to take care of themselves.

When Harry made the remark contained in the foregoing paragraph, Ned said that it reminded him of a story.

“Well, please tell it,” said Dr. Whitney; “we are always ready for good stories.”

Thus encouraged, Ned spoke as follows:—

“I was reading a day or two ago about a man who had a large cattle run in a part of Australia where he had been for several years without any near neighbors. Gold was discovered about ten miles from his place, and a good many people flocked there. The gold mines furnished an excellent market for his beef and for all the vegetables he chose to grow on his place; but, on the other hand, he suffered somewhat by the depredations of lawless characters. Horse stealing seemed to be the popular amusement among the people at the mines, and quite often horses disappeared from the estate and were never seen again.

“But they had one horse, called Stepney, that was a perfect treasure. He was kept for carriage purposes and would never let anybody mount on his back. He would 187stand perfectly still while being saddled, and while anything was being attached to the saddle, but the instant anybody got on his back he was thrown, and there was not a rider in Australia who could stay in the saddle more than a few seconds.

“About once in a fortnight Stepney would be missing from the paddock, but he always turned up in a day or two, and almost invariably with a saddle on his back, generally a new one, and a miner’s ‘swag’ attached to it, and on most of the occasions the swag contained a goodly amount of gold. Once he came back with a brand new saddle and six hundred dollars’ worth of gold, which nobody ever came to claim. The owner said that Stepney was the most profitable horse he ever owned. He paid for himself several times over, and whenever they ran short of saddles, all they had to do was to use Stepney as a trap and ‘set’ him in the paddock, with entire confidence that he would catch a saddle within a day or two.”

“That recalls a story about the way the miners used to try to deceive the bushrangers,” said the doctor; “I refer particularly to those who were on their way to the coast with gold in their possession. They used to bore holes in the shafts or frames of their carts and conceal the gold in these holes, and sometimes they managed to hide quantities of gold dust between the inner and outer soles of their boots. One miner took the padding out of his horse’s collar and inserted eighty ounces of gold in the hollow. He jogged along the road to Melbourne, suffering a good deal of trepidation at first, but finally arrived within twenty 188miles of the city with his treasure, and began to feel safe.

“While he was driving slowly along with his cart he was overtaken by a man on horseback, who explained that he was in a hurry, as the police were after him for a fight he had been concerned in with another man. His horse was exhausted and he would give the miner ten pounds to exchange horses.

“As the animals were of about equal value, the miner assented and proceeded to unharness his horse. When he took off the collar the other man seized it, put it on his horse and jumped into the saddle, which he had not removed; then he rode away, to the astonishment of the angry miner, waving his hand and saying by way of farewell:—

“‘The collar is all I wanted, friend. I don’t care to make any horse trade now.’

“You are doubtless aware,” said their Ballarat friend, “of the operations of the bushrangers, and how the police used sometimes to torture those that they captured in order to make them reveal the secret of the hiding place of their gold. They tell a story of a fight between a gang of bushrangers and the police in which the leader of the robbers, known as ‘Kangaroo Jack,’ was mortally wounded. He was lying on the ground dying; there could be no mistake about that. The police captain, I will call him Smith, but that wasn’t his name, sat down by his side and said:—

“‘Come, Jack, you are going to die and there is no help for you. Tell me where your gold is.’

189“‘I won’t do it,’ replied Jack. ‘I won’t tell you or anybody else!’

“Smith pressed him, but Jack was obstinate. Smith continued to urge and Jack to refuse until death sealed the bandit’s lips.

“Smith was afterward telling the story to one of his fellow-officers, and remarked in conclusion:—

“‘I think it was downright mean of Jack that he wouldn’t tell me where his gold was. I know he had at least fifty thousand dollars’ worth stowed away somewhere. He knew he couldn’t take it with him, and it couldn’t do him any good, and it would have been a very tidy sum for me. He couldn’t have any personal ill-will to me, as I didn’t shoot him myself. I think it was downright mean, don’t you?’

“His friend agreed with him, and no doubt he would have been willing to share the plunder if it could have been found.”




The day after their return to Melbourne, our friends were treated to an entertainment which, as Harry said, “was not down on the bills.” It was what the Melbourneites called a “southerly burster,” a storm which is peculiar to Australia, and particularly to the southern portion of it. They had already experienced showers of such force that the gutters of the streets were filled to a depth of a foot and more, and sometimes the whole street was covered. Most of the street crossings are bridged so that the water can run away with comparative ease.

The water at such times flows with terrific force. Men attempting to cross the gutters, who make a misstep, are lifted off their feet and are instantly swept down by the current, and in case they should be carried under one of the crossings they are liable to be drowned.

We will listen to Harry as he described in his journal their experience with a southerly burster.

“When we arose in the morning,” said Harry, “the weather was delightful and we thought it would be a fine day for an excursion. There was not a cloud in the sky and the breeze was blowing from the northeast. A barometer hung in the hallway of the hotel, and Dr. Whitney remarked, as he came out from breakfast, that 191it was falling rapidly. A gentleman who was standing by his side heard the remark and said:—

“‘I think we are going to have a burster; that is the way it usually begins. If you have any engagements to go out to-day and they are not absolutely imperative, you had better postpone them.’

“Ned and I overheard what he said and wondered what a burster was. We said nothing, however, as we expected to find out by practical experience.

“All through the forenoon the barometer continued to fall. The sky remained clear until a little past noon, and the wind blew gently from the northeast as before. Suddenly we saw a white cloud rolling up from the northeast and spreading over the heavens until they were completely covered. Masses of dust came with the wind, which increased in force for a time and then lulled a little.

“Suddenly the wind went around to the south and blew a gale, yes, a hurricane. It started off at about thirty miles an hour, but before it ended its visit it was blowing fully seventy miles an hour, at least that is what the papers said next day. I am told it sometimes reaches a velocity of one hundred miles an hour, and has even been known to exceed one hundred and forty miles. These tremendous winds do a great deal of damage. They drive ships ashore or overwhelm them at sea; they devastate fields and forests and level a great many buildings.

“The barometer fell rapidly in the forenoon, as I have mentioned; it was the thermometer’s turn in the afternoon. The mercury stood at about ninety degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the forenoon, and it remained so until 192the wind chopped around to the south. An hour after the change of wind it stood at seventy degrees, and an hour later at fifty. I am told that it sometimes drops thirty degrees in half an hour, but such occurrences are unusual.

“This is a good place to say that sudden changes in the temperature are very common in Australia, and that the change from midday to midnight is far greater than any to which we are accustomed in the United States. When we have a change of twenty or thirty degrees in a single day we regard it as unusual. What would you say to one hundred and ten degrees at noon and fifty degrees at midnight? This is quite common in the interior of Australia and not at all infrequent on the coast.

“The thermometer runs very high in this country, and it is not at all rare for it to indicate one hundred and twenty-five or one hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit. One traveler has a record of one hundred and thirty-nine degrees in the shade and one hundred and seventy-two in the sun. I am told that in South Melbourne the thermometer once made an official record of one hundred and eleven degrees in the shade and one hundred and seventy-nine degrees in the sun.

“So great is the heat of the sun at midday that travelers generally try to avoid it if they can do so. It is the plan of most people who travel on horseback, in wagons, or on foot, to start before daylight, and keep going until nine or ten o’clock. Then they halt and rest until three or four o’clock in the afternoon, when they move on and continue until late in the evening. Of 193course, the railways are not run on that principle, as the locomotive is not supposed to be affected by the outside temperature.

“But I am getting away from the southerly burster. The wind blew like a hurricane. It kept up this rate for about three hours, filling the air with dust so that we could not see across the street. Though the doors and windows were tightly closed, the dust found its way inside the house and was present everywhere; every article of furniture was covered with it.

“We found it in the food, we found it in our beds, and the next day when I opened my trunk to take out some articles of clothing, I actually found that the dust had worked its way inside in a perceptible quantity. One of the waiters of the hotel said, that always after a burster they found dust inside of bottles of mineral water which had been tightly corked up to the time of opening. I am inclined to doubt the truth of his assertion, particularly as he offered no documentary evidence to confirm it.

“Along towards night it came on to rain, and, oh, how it did rain! It poured as though the flood gates of the skies had all been opened at once. It rained not only cats and dogs, as the old expression has it, but lizards, scorpions, snakes, and I don’t know what else, at least it did figuratively. The gutters of the streets were filled, and then we were able to see how easy it was for a man, and especially for a child, to be drowned in them. I have seen it rain hard in a good many places, but am sure I never saw it rain harder than it did at the end of that southerly burster.

194“I remarked as much to a gentleman whose acquaintance we had made in the hotel, and he answered:—

“‘Oh, nonsense. That is no rain at all.’

“‘No rain at all,’ I answered. ‘Do you have worse rains than this in Australia?’

“‘Why, certainly we do,’ he replied. ‘I have known it to rain so hard that this would be a sprinkle by comparison. I remember the 25th of February, 1873, when nine inches of rain fell here in Melbourne inside of nine hours. An inch of rain in an hour is a good deal, isn’t it?’

“Ned and I admitted that it was, and then our informant continued:—

“‘I happened to be in Newcastle early in 1871, when they had the greatest rainfall that I ever saw or heard of in any country. In less than three hours ten and a half inches of rain fell, and the story was that it was so thick that the fishes in the harbor could not distinguish between the rain cloud and the bay, and actually swam up half a mile or so into the air. One man said that he had a barrel with both ends knocked out, and the rain went in at the bung hole faster than it could run out at the ends.’

“I asked the gentleman how long the storm lasted, and he said that twenty-one hours elapsed between the beginning and the end of it, and during that time twenty inches of water fell, and the streets of Newcastle were like small rivers.

“The gentleman remarked, in conclusion, that it was a great pity the rainfall was not distributed more evenly, both in time and amount, than it is. Some parts of the 195coast get a great deal more rain than they have any use for. The floods destroy a large amount of property, and the superfluous rain flows away in the rivers, inundating large areas of ground and doing more harm than good, but through the greater part of the interior the rainfall is far less than the land requires. The ground becomes parched, the streets dry up, and the grasses wither, and the whole face of nature presents a scene of sterility. Sometimes there is no rain for long periods. There have been times when not a drop of rain fell for two years, and but for the heavy dews at night, a vast extent of land would have been absolutely turned to a desert. Cattle and sheep perished by the million, of starvation and thirst. The production of grain fell off enormously and the whole country was very seriously affected.

“Ned asked if no remedy had ever been found or proposed for this state of affairs.

“A remedy had been suggested, said the gentleman, which would save herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, but it would not save from destruction the crops in the fields.

“‘What is that?’ Ned asked.

“‘It is a system of storing water throughout the interior of the country so as to save the precious fluid when the rainfall is excessive. There are many places, great numbers of them, where nature has so formed the ground that the storage of water would be comparatively easy. I have already begun it on my sheep run, and other sheep owners have done the same thing. It is an expensive work, but I believe it will pay in the end.’

196“‘There are three places on my land where broad valleys terminate at their lower ends between hills forty or fifty feet high. Now, by building a dam from one of these hills to the other, I can flood any one of these valleys to any depth I choose up to the height of the hills. It was only recently that I finished work at one of these places, and I have gangs of men busy with the other two. For the present I shall make my dams thirty feet high, and this will give me at each of the three places a lake of fresh water with about forty acres of surface area. If I can fill these lakes every winter with water, I think I will have enough to keep my sheep through the dry season, after making liberal allowance for loss by evaporation and in other ways. Of course, such a system of storing water is only practicable where the owner of a place has sufficient capital for the purpose. The poor man, with his small flock of sheep, can hardly undertake it.’

“‘Preliminary surveys have been made in places where it is proposed that the colonial governments should build extensive works for saving water on a grand scale. The government would be repaid, in part at least, by selling the water to private landholders in the same way that water is sold in California, New Mexico, and other parts of the United States. I am confident that you will see a grand system of water storage in full operation in Australia before many years.’”

While on the subject of rainfall, Harry asked Ned if he knew where the heaviest annual rainfall in the world was.

Ned said he did not know, but he thought that Dr. Whitney might be able to inform them.

197The question was appealed to the doctor, who paused a moment, and then said that “what might be considered a heavy rain in one place would be a light one in another. In Great Britain, if an inch of rain fell in a day it was considered a heavy rain; but in many parts of the Highlands of Scotland three inches not infrequently fall in one day. Once in the isle of Skye twelve inches of rain fell in thirteen hours, and rainfalls of five and seven inches are not uncommon. Thirty inches of rain fell in twenty-four hours at Geneva, in Switzerland, thirty-three inches at Gibraltar in twenty-six hours, and twenty-four inches in a single night on the hills near Bombay.

“The heaviest annual rainfall on the globe,” continued the doctor, “was on the Khasia Hills, in India, where six hundred inches, or fifty feet, fell in a twelvemonth. Just think of it; a depth of fifty feet of water yearly, and of this amount five hundred inches fell in seven months, during the southwest monsoons.”

“How do they account for such heavy rains?” Ned asked.

“It is accounted for,” the doctor replied, “by the abruptness of the mountains which face the Bay of Bengal, from which they are separated by low swamps and marshes. The winds arrive among the hills heavily charged with the vapor they have absorbed from the wide expanse of the Indian Ocean. When they strike the hills and are forced up to a higher elevation, they give out their moisture with great rapidity, and the rain falls in torrents. As soon as the clouds have crossed the mountains the rain diminishes very much. Twenty miles further inland it 198drops from six hundred to two hundred inches annually, and thirty miles further inland it is only one hundred inches. The same conditions prevail to a certain extent in Australia. The mountain chains are near the coast. On the side next the ocean there is a liberal rainfall, but on the other side, towards the interior, the rainfall is light. As the clouds charged with vapor come from the sea to the mountains they yield their moisture freely, but, after passing the mountains, they have little left to yield.”

The burster died away along in the evening, and, though the streets were wet in many places, our friends went out for a stroll. During their walk their attention was naturally drawn to the sky, which was now bright with stars. Naturally, their conversation turned to the difference between the night skies of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, which had not escaped their observation during their voyage from the east coast of Africa down to the Equator, and thence in the Southern Ocean. On this subject Harry wrote at one time in his journal as follows:—

“We found the famous Southern Cross a good deal of a disappointment. In the first place, it requires a considerable amount of imagination to make a cross out of it; very much more than is needed to make ‘The Great Dipper’ out of the constellation so called in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross consists of three stars of the first magnitude, one of the fourth magnitude, and three of the fifth, and, look at them whichever way you may, you can’t make a real cross out of them, either Greek or Roman. Before I investigated the subject, I 199thought the Southern Cross was over the south pole, but found it is not so. The constellations of the Southern Hemisphere altogether are not as brilliant as those in the northern one. If the principal object of a traveler in this region is to see the heavens, he had better stay at home.

“An interesting feature of the southern heavens is ‘The Magellan Clouds,’ two white spots in the sky like thick nebulæ of stars. They are nearer to the pole than the Southern Cross is, and are much used by mariners in taking observations. Quite near the pole is a star of the fifth magnitude, called ‘Octantis,’ and this also is used for observation purposes. It isn’t so brilliant, by any means, as the pole star of the north, which is of the second magnitude; and, by the way, that reminds me of what Dr. Whitney told me in the desert of Sahara, that what we called the polar star in the north is not directly over the pole, but nearly a degree away. The real polar star is a much smaller one and stands, as we look at it, to the left of the star, which I had always believed to be the proper one.”

Melbourne has a Chinese quarter like San Francisco and New York, and our friends embraced an opportunity to visit it. They found the shops closely crowded together and apparently doing an active business. There were temples, shops, and a good many stores, some of them very small and others of goodly size. The sidewalks were thronged with people, mostly Chinese, and they hardly raised their eyes to look at the strangers who had come among them. Our friends took the precaution to be accompanied by a guide, and found that they had acted 200wisely in doing so. The guide took them into places where they would have been unable to make their way alone, and where, doubtless, they would have found the doors closed against them.

The Chinese are very unpopular in Australia and in all the colonies. The laws against them are decidedly severe, from a Mongolian point of view. Every Chinaman landing in Victoria must pay fifty dollars for the privilege of doing so, and after getting safe on the soil he finds himself restricted in a business way, and subject to vexatious regulations. John is satisfied with very little and he usually manages to get it. He is a keen trader and always an inveterate smuggler. He is very skillful in evading the custom house, and as soon as one trick is discovered he invents another and his ingenuity seems to be boundless.

One of the industries in which the Chinese excel is that of market gardening. In driving in the suburbs of Melbourne, our friends observed numerous market gardens cultivated by Chinese, and in every instance they remarked that the cultivation was of the most careful kind. John can make more out of a garden than anybody else. He pays a high rental for his ground, but unless something very unusual happens he is pretty sure to get it back again, with a large profit in addition.

In some of the colonies the restrictions are more severe than in others. In New South Wales the laboring class of white men are politically in control of the legislature, and have enacted anti-Chinese laws of great severity. The tax upon immigrant Chinese in that colony is one hundred pounds sterling, or five hundred dollars. The naturalization 201of Chinese is absolutely prohibited, and ships can only bring into the ports of New South Wales one Chinese passenger for every three hundred tons of measurement. The restrictions in regard to residence and trading are very severe. The country is laid out into districts, and in each district not more than five trading Chinese are allowed to live and transact business. Steamers and sailing vessels having Chinese stewards or sailors on board are subject to seizure and fines on their arrival at Sydney, and so great have been the annoyances to this class of vessels, that they have been compelled to leave in some other port, before coming to Australia, all their Chinese employees.

The hostility to Chinese labor in Australia is similar to that on the Pacific coast of the United States, and in the States of the Rocky Mountain region. It will doubtless increase as time goes on, as it increased in the United States, until it culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act of a few years ago. Eventually, the Chinese in Australia will be shut out from all occupations, and expelled or excluded from the country. A good many intelligent Australians deprecate the hostility to the Chinese, but when it comes to voting, this class of citizens is in the minority.

During a part of the gold rush, great numbers of Chinese found their way to the mines, where they were perfectly contented to work in abandoned mines and wash the earth, which had already been washed by the white men. Owing to the prejudice against them and the likelihood of interference, they rarely took up fresh claims, but contented 202themselves with what the white man had left. Even this form of work was considered an encroachment by the white miners, who frequently attacked the Mongolians and drove them out at the point of the pistol. Many of these attacks were accompanied by bloodshed, and if the history of Australian mining were written in full, it would contain many a story of oppression, accompanied with violence.

Our friends made a visit to the famous lake district of Victoria, where they found some very pretty scenery, and from the summit of one hill counted no fewer than fifteen lakes, some of them of no great size, while the largest measured ninety miles in circumference. Harry made note of the fact that this largest lake was called the Dead Sea. It is said to be not as salt as the famous Dead Sea near Jerusalem, but it is a great deal salter than the ocean, and no fish of any kind lives in it.

“I asked a resident of the neighborhood,” said Harry, “if they had ever tried the plan of putting fish from the ocean into this Australian Dead Sea. They said they had done so, but the fish thus transported always died in a few hours, and the experiment of stocking the lake had been given up long ago.

“A curious thing that we found regarding the lakes in this part of Victoria,” Harry continued, “is that some of them are salt and some fresh, and sometimes the salt lakes and the fresh ones are quite close to each other, and on the same level. We were puzzled how to account for the peculiarity and tried to learn about it. How the circumstances happened, nobody knows exactly, but the theory is 203that the salt in the salt lakes comes from the drainage of the rocks, and as the lakes have no outlets, the superfluous waters are carried off by evaporation. They told us that in summer these lakes sink a good deal below the level of other times of the year, and when they did so the ground left dry was thickly encrusted with salt, which the people gathered in large quantities. The market of Melbourne is supplied with salt from these lakes, and you can readily understand that it is very cheap.

“Another peculiarity of this part of Victoria is the large quantities of potatoes that are grown there. The land often yields from twenty to thirty tons of potatoes to the acre, and an acre of ground for raising potatoes will frequently sell for four hundred dollars, while it will rent for twenty-five dollars yearly. Most of the coast ports of Australia, including the great ones of Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney, are supplied with potatoes from this region.

“The potatoes are among the finest we ever saw. They are large, rich, and mealy, and when properly cooked they are simply delicious. No other part of Australia can compete with this district in potato cultivation. The excellence of this vegetable is supposed to come from the volcanic nature of the soil. All the country round here was once in a high state of ebullition, and the lakes I have mentioned are the craters of extinct volcanoes.”




Our friends accepted an invitation to go up country to visit a cattle station and also a sheep run, and to spend a week or so in the bush. They went by train as far as the railway could carry them, and were met at the station by a wagon which enabled them to finish their journey. They arrived at the station late in the afternoon, after a delightful drive through the gum-tree forest and across a small plain. It was not strictly a plain, however, as the ground was undulating, and in the hollows between the ridges there was generally a growth of trees from a quarter to a half a mile in width which broke the monotony of the landscape. The road was not the smoothest in the world, and before they had gone half way Harry and Ned both remarked that they would have excellent appetites for supper, and hoped that the meal would not be long delayed after their arrival at the cattle station.

The party received a cordial welcome from their host, Mr. Syme, who had preceded them a day in advance and sent his younger brother to the railway to meet them. About half a mile from the house they saw three or four men lying on the ground by the roadside, evidently taking a rest or waiting for something. They reminded our young friends of the individuals frequently seen in the 205United States, and known as “tramps,” and after getting out of earshot of the party Ned asked their new acquaintance, who was escorting them, what those men were.

“Oh! those are sundowners,” was the reply, and then there was a pause.

“Sundowners!” exclaimed Harry. “What is a sundowner?”

“A sundowner is what you call a tramp in America,” was the reply; “and he gets his name from one of his peculiarities. It is the custom all over Australia—I mean in the country districts—to feed and lodge anybody who comes along, and if he has no money there is no charge for his entertainment. He is expected to move on in the morning the first thing after breakfast, unless we happen to have work for him and can give him employment at regular wages. If he comes along anywhere in the afternoon before sunset, he is expected to do any odd work that may be handy until supper, as a payment in part, at least, for his night’s entertainment.

“Most of these fellows don’t like to work,” he continued, “and so they take good care not to arrive at a place before sunset. If they find they are getting too near it, they sit or lie down on the ground and wait until the sun has disappeared below the horizon. That is why we call them sundowners, as they turn up just after the sun has gone down.”

“It is certainly very liberal on the part of the people in the country to feed and lodge all comers,” remarked Ned.

“Well, we think it’s not illiberal. It is the custom of the country which has grown up from the early days 206when farms were far apart and travelers were few in number. When the custom first began, the number of this sort of travelers would not exceed a dozen in a month. Nowadays we often lodge that number in a single night, and sometimes it is a pretty heavy tax on us. I don’t think it will be many years before we have laws that will restrict these wanderers somewhat, just as you have tramp laws in many of the States of your Union. There is a very large number of idlers going about the country and subsisting in this way. They always pretend to be searching for employment, but whenever employment is offered, it is not the kind that they want. They are like an American tramp I heard of once, who was always looking in winter for a job at hay-making, and in summer he wanted to find employment at cutting ice. When one of these fellows gets to a sheep station, he says he knows nothing about sheep, but understands everything about cattle; at the cattle station he reverses his story, and wants a job at shepherding.”

“Don’t you have trouble with them sometimes?” one of the youths remarked. “Are they willing to accept what you offer them, or do they demand something better?”

“As to that,” was the reply, “there is a good deal of difference among them. We don’t feed them with the best that the place affords, and the majority of them accept the situation and take what we choose to give. Cold meat and bread are their usual fare, and there is always enough of that. Sometimes they make a row, and demand to be fed just in the same way that we feed our own farm hands. For instance, only last evening I was 207called into the men’s dining-room to quell a disturbance caused by a sundowner. The travelers’ table was supplied with cold meat, bread, and tea, while the table of our farm hands had on it bread and hot roast mutton. The sundowner had a knife in his hand and was threatening to kill the kitchen maid unless she gave him hot mutton instead of cold.”

“What did you do about it?”

“I told him that if he could not eat cold meat he was not hungry enough to eat anything, and if he did not put that knife away one of our men would knock his head off. He became quiet at once and sat down to his supper, muttering something about not being treated like a gentleman. We would like to shut our doors altogether against this class of fellows, but there are difficulties in the way. We would be liable at times to turn away honest and deserving men who were really in search of employment, and furthermore, the revengeful scoundrels would set our buildings on fire during the night, or perhaps kill our cattle and horses. They would be less likely to do the latter than the former, as the destruction of our buildings by fire would be much easier and safer than the other proceeding. We certainly need some kind of legal restriction over these sundowners, and we will get it in the course of time.”

The house at which our friends arrived was large and spacious, and its external appearance, as they approached it, betokened hospitality. It covered a considerable area of ground but was only a single story in height, with the exception of one end, where there was an upper story occupied by the female servants. The men employed at 208the place ate and slept in a building in the rear of the principal house, the two being connected by a kitchen and a shed. The house was substantially constructed of wood, the sides being double walled with planking, while the roof sloped gently to the front. There were gutters at the eaves to catch all the water which came down in the form of rain, and convey it to a large cistern just in the rear of the main dwelling. Their host explained that they had a fine spring close to the house, from which they usually obtained their supply of water. “This spring sometimes gives out in seasons of excessive dryness,” said he, “and then we fall back upon the cistern.”

“You have been long enough in Australia,” he continued, “to learn the full value of water, and we are obliged to be careful in the use of it and in selecting a location for our house. In the great drought, when we had no rain for two years, we suffered exceedingly and a great many of my cattle perished for thirst. Since then I have built a reservoir for storing water, and if another drought should come, I don’t think my herds will suffer as much as they did.”

Dr. Whitney and our young friends were shown to the rooms they were expected to occupy during their stay. Dr. Whitney was assigned to a good-sized bedroom, while the youths were placed in another bedroom close to it and equipped with two beds. They made a brief survey of the room and concluded that they would be very comfortable. Harry remarked that it was quite as good as any room they had thus far occupied in Australian hotels. They devoted a short time to removing the dust of travel 209and putting themselves in a condition of cleanliness, and shortly after they appeared on the veranda, where their host was awaiting them, and dinner was announced.

The size of the dining-room indicated that the place was an hospitable one, as the table was capable of accommodating not fewer than twenty people without crowding. Harry took note of the menu which comprised their meal, and according to his memorandum it was as follows:—

“Soup of kangaroo tail, mutton pie, roast beef, potatoes, cauliflower and parsnips, hot and cold bread, plum pudding and tea. There were also some canned apricots of home production. Altogether it was a very substantial meal, excellent in quality, liberal in quantity, and well cooked throughout.”

The evening was passed in front of a big fire in the large sitting-room. As the night was chilly and somewhat damp, the fire was very welcome. The time was passed in conversation concerning the cattle business, interspersed with stories of Australian life. Harry and Ned asked the permission of their host to make use of their notebooks, and their request was readily granted. Accordingly, they kept their pencils in their hands, and placed on paper anything which seemed to them particularly interesting.

Harry made note of a statement of their host concerning the cattle business and its ups and downs. One of his notes reads as follows:—

“To go into the cattle business, one ought to have a capital of not less than fifty thousand dollars, and he could use one hundred thousand to advantage. His first step is to 210secure a tract of land, and this he does by getting a grant from the government allowing him to occupy an area of ground several miles square at a rental of ten or twenty shillings annually for each square mile. His next step is to secure location, and to do this he travels a great deal through the interior, visiting ground that has not been taken up, and exercising his judgment as to the choice of ground. He must take care to find a place where there is good grass and good water; he wants a certain amount of timber on his land, but not too much, and the water holes must be at suitable distances apart. Many a man has come to grief in the cattle business owing to his bad selection of a location.

“A man who takes a large area of ground in this way is called a ‘squatter.’ You can put this down in your notebooks, young men, that a squatter in Australia is just the reverse of the same individual in America. In your country, the squatter is a man who lives upon a small tract of land which he cultivates himself, while here he is a man, as I said before, who takes a large area of ground for pastoral purposes. The equivalent of the American squatter is here called a ‘selector,’ and between the selectors and the squatters there is a perpetual warfare, as the selector is allowed by law to select a location for a farm on any government land, whether occupied by a squatter or not. The selectors give the squatters a great deal of trouble, and many of us think that the colonial governments have treated us very badly.

“Well, after getting our ground we proceed to stock it, and with fifty thousand dollars we can buy about twenty-five 211hundred head of cattle. Then we put up our buildings, employ our stockmen, and set to work. If we have good luck we can pay our expenses, almost from the beginning, by sending fat cattle to market. For the first five years we sell only fat cattle; at the end of that time we have doubled our original stock, and then we begin to sell ordinary cattle as well as fat ones. From that time on, if no mishap befalls us, we can sell twelve or fifteen thousand dollars’ worth of cattle every year, including all kinds. At this rate the profits are satisfactory, and in fifteen or twenty years, a man who has started out with fifty thousand dollars can retire on eight or ten times that amount.”

Harry asked what were the drawbacks to the cattle business; that is, what were the kinds of bad luck that could happen to a man who engaged in it.

“As to that,” replied Mr. Syme, “there are several things which it is not possible to foresee or prevent. In the first place, nobody can foresee a great drought when cattle perish of thirst and starvation; added to this danger is that of diseases to which cattle are subject, especially pleuro-pneumonia. Whole herds may be carried away by this disease, and if it once gets established among the cattle of an estate it is very difficult to eradicate it. Sometimes it is necessary to kill off an entire herd in order to get rid of the disease, and I have heard of cattle runs that were depopulated successively two or three times by pleuro-pneumonia, and their owners ruined. Sometimes the market is very low in consequence of an over-supply, and the price cattle furnish is a very poor remuneration to stock raisers.

212“Sheep farming is more profitable, on the whole, than cattle farming,” he continued; “but the risks are somewhat greater in consequence of the greater liability of sheep to disease. There are several diseases peculiar to sheep which carry them off in great numbers, and they are affected by drought quite as much as cattle are. A sheep run can be started with a small capital, and you might almost say with no capital at all. For instance, a man with very little money, or practically with none at all, can find a location and squat upon it, and then go to one of the cities, and if he is known to be a respectable, honest, and industrious man and free from vicious habits, he can find somebody who will supply the capital for buying a few hundred sheep. With these sheep he can make a start, and if he is industrious and attentive to business, and has no bad luck with his flocks, he will make money rapidly. In ten years he will have a comfortable fortune; but, on the other hand, he is liable at any time to be ruined by two successive bad seasons of drought and disease. Sometimes the price of wool is so low that it leaves very little profit to the sheep farmer after paying for shepherds, shearers, and other employees, and the expense of taking his wool to the sea-coast.”

Their host remarked, in conclusion, that he was afraid the good days of cattle and sheep farming had gone and would never come again. “Land has become dear,” he said, “and labor unions compel us to pay high prices for stockmen and shearers, especially the latter, and the prices of wool are not as good as they used to be. The wool market of the world is low, and so is the cattle market. 213Since the practise of freezing beef and mutton and carrying the frozen meat to England has come into vogue the prices of meat have improved, but the supply is so abundant and the sources of it so numerous that we have not been greatly benefited by the new process. There still remains enough in either business to encourage those who are in it to continue, but the inducements for new enterprises of this kind are not great.”

Some of the stories that were told about experience on cattle and sheep runs were so interesting to our young friends that they made note of them. One of the party told of the dangers surrounding the life of the stock-riders, the men who look after the herds on a cattle estate.

“He has some hard duties to perform,” said the narrator. “He gets his breakfast early in the morning and starts out at once, mounted on horseback, and with a horse that is more or less unruly. Each stock-rider, or stockman, as we call him, has a particular part of the run assigned to him, and every morning he goes along the boundary of it, and if his own cattle have strayed across the line, he drives them back again; likewise, if he finds his neighbor’s cattle have strayed into his territory, he drives them out. He is expected to show himself to his cattle at least once a day, to accustom them to the sight of men, and also to train them to go where they are wanted whenever he cracks his whip and rides in among them.

“The group of cattle belonging to each stockman is called a ‘herd,’ and he is expected to train them so that they will recognize his authority. A bunch of fifty or so is called a ‘mob,’ and it takes several mobs to make up a herd. All 214over the run, at intervals of two or three miles, are places where the cattle assemble when they hear the stockman’s whip. These places are called ‘cattle camps’; they are open spaces of level ground and are always near water; in fact, many of them are used as regular watering places for the mobs and herds of cattle. Occasionally the animals are driven into these camps, either for the purpose of branding the calves or selecting cattle to be sent to market. You will have an opportunity of seeing one of these to-morrow, as a man arrived here to-night who is buying cattle to take to Melbourne.

“Well, the stock-rider is on horseback for the greater part of the day. Sometimes he takes his dinner with him and sometimes he comes back to the station to get it, and in the afternoon goes to a different part of his section. Sometimes he does not come back at all, and the next morning a search is made for him. Of course there is now and then a man who runs away and leaves his employment, but this is rarely the case, as there is no occasion for him doing so unless he has committed some offense.”

The youths listened in breathless silence, waiting for what would come next.

“There really ought to be two men riding together at all times, so that if a mishap occurs to one of them, the other can help him out of his trouble, and, if unable to do so, can go for assistance; and we generally send out a black boy on horseback with each stockman. A few months ago one of our stockmen, who had gone out alone, failed to come home at night, and we were at once apprehensive that something had happened to him. His horse came 215back along about midnight, and the next morning several of us started out to find him. We tried to make use of the intelligence of the horse to guide us to the place where he had left his master, but, unfortunately, it was an animal that he had ridden only a few times and there was no attachment whatever between man and beast. We rode along the boundary where we knew he was accustomed to go, but did not find him. We spread out over all the ground we could cover and shouted continually, in the hope that he would hear us and answer. We made a complete circuit of the portion of the run in his charge, and, finding no traces of him, we struck off haphazard across the middle of it. We kept up our shouting and finally heard a faint answer.

“Then we rode in the direction of the sound, and in fifteen or twenty minutes we reached the man’s side. It seems that his horse had stumbled over a fallen log so violently as to pitch the rider over his head. In falling, the man had the misfortune to break his leg. The horse stood and looked at him a few minutes while he tried to call the animal to his side, but to no purpose. The beast threw his head and then his heels into the air and trotted off. He was soon out of sight in the bush and the stockman was left alone, disabled in the way I tell you.

“There was no water in this vicinity and he had no food with him, and he could not walk or stand on account of his broken leg. He could crawl slowly, but only a short distance at a time. He knew that he was out of the regular track of riders, and it might be days or weeks before he would be discovered. He suffered great pain 216in his injured limb, and very soon the tortures of thirst began, to be followed later in the day by those of hunger.

“All the rest of the day and all through the night he lay there in great suffering and wondering if relief would ever come. Along towards morning he heard a rustling in the grass near him, and then other similar sounds, which he soon concluded were caused by snakes. When daylight came he found that his fears and horrors were realized. Moving around him were several serpents, and they manifested a tendency to approach nearer and nearer. Some of them went away as the sun rose and the full light of day shone upon him, but others remained in his immediate neighborhood. He beat the ground with the butt of his whip in the hope of scaring them away; his effort was partially successful but not wholly so. One large snake came close to his side and actually traversed his body. He dared not make a motion, for fear the serpent would turn upon him and inflict a fatal bite. He lay there as still as a block of marble till the snake, having satisfied his curiosity, glided away into the grass.

“All through the afternoon and until we found him, the reptiles remained there. They seemed to understand that the man was disabled, and evidently they were determined to take their own time in enjoying his sufferings. This was the state of affairs when we found him. He said that when he heard our call he almost feared to reply, lest it should rouse his unpleasant neighbors and cause them to take the aggressive.

“We killed two of the snakes not a dozen yards from where the man was lying, and if we had made a vigorous 217search, it is probable that we could have despatched more of them. We brought the man to the house as quickly as possible, improvising a rude sort of litter, which was carried, with the man upon it, by two of our blacks. Two of us relieved them occasionally, when they were wearied of carrying the burden. In a short time the man was well again, but he said that the horrors of that night were too much for him, and he would seek some other occupation than that of stock-rider. He left us as soon as he recovered, and I don’t know what became of him.”

“That reminds me,” said another of the party, “of the case of a man who met with a similar accident, being thrown from his horse and getting a broken leg. The place where he fell happened to be near a large ant hill, and in a few moments he was covered with the terrible black ants that we have here in Australia. He was horribly bitten by them all over his body, but principally on head and hands, the other parts being somewhat protected by his clothing. After two or three hours of torture he managed to crawl away from his awful position, but for several hours afterwards the ants continued their attacks; and when he was found by one of his fellow-stockmen, his face was so swollen that he could not see, and he was barely able to articulate. Face and hands became a mass of sores, and it was weeks before he recovered. When he got well, his face was pitted like that of the victim of an attack of smallpox, and he suffered for a long time with a partial paralysis of his limbs. I have heard of one or two other instances of the same sort, and can hardly imagine anything more terrible.”




“Another of the gentlemen,” wrote Harry in his notebook, “told us a story about a young woman, with a child in her arms and an older child at her side, being lost in the bush.” She had been on a visit to an acquaintance who lived about four miles away, and was to start for home in the afternoon of a certain Friday, having gone there in the forenoon of the same day. She did not reach home in the evening, and it was thought at first that she had concluded to remain until Saturday. Not until Sunday did her husband go to the house where she had been visiting, and there he ascertained that she had left the place on Friday afternoon, as agreed, and carried no provisions except a pound of butter which she was taking home for her husband.

“It was at once concluded,” said the gentleman, “that she had missed her way and been lost in the bush; and when one is thus lost, it is very hard to find the way out again. The general features of the landscape are so similar that it is very difficult to distinguish one part from another, and the alarm and perplexity natural on finding oneself in such a situation increases the danger which attends it by robbing the wanderer of the presence of mind which is so necessary in such an emergency. When the sun is obscured by clouds the 219most experienced traveler is liable to stray and become lost, and even when the sun is shining it is not every one who can take advantage of its position to guide him out of trouble. The course of the streams in a well-watered country is of great use in guiding an inexperienced traveler, but Australian streams, like most others, wind about a great deal, and make the road along their banks a very long one.

“It was the rainy season of the year when this woman was lost, and the streams were flooded. If she had followed the creek which would have led her to her home, she would have been compelled to keep to the high ground on either side of its valley, as the low, flat land was covered with water. The weather was cold and wet and the winds were keen and piercing. There was not the least supply of nourishment to be obtained in the bush, and when we heard late on Monday what had happened, we all felt that the unhappy wanderers must have perished from hunger and cold. Still, there was a possibility that they might yet survive, and, as it was too late for us to start that day, we determined to set out on Tuesday morning in search of them. We sent off to the nearest police station and obtained the assistance of several blacks who had been trained to the police service. You have probably heard about the wonderful skill of these people in following a track, and as soon as they arrived on the ground we set them at work.

“All day Tuesday these native trackers sought diligently to find traces of the missing ones, but none could be discovered. Then on Wednesday morning we renewed 220the search, covering as much ground as possible and examining it with the greatest care, occasionally discharging a revolver in the hope that its sound might be heard, and frequently shouting the Australian ‘coo-ee,’ which can be heard at a great distance. We returned home completely discouraged and gave up the wanderers for dead, being satisfied that any further search would be useless.

“But on reaching home we heard news that gave us encouragement. A woodchopper returning from his work told us that he found on a hill, some distance away, a rude mia-mia or wind shelter made of the branches of a wild cherry tree. He said it was not like those usually put up by the blacks, nor were there any traces of fire near it, which would certainly have been the case if it had been a native mia-mia. We started at once, under the guidance of the workman, to inspect the place for ourselves, and on examining the shelter carefully we felt sure that it had been put up by the lost woman. A few pieces of a Melbourne newspaper were lying on the ground and a strip of calico had been fastened to the bushes, evidently in the hope of attracting attention.

“We collected these little articles carefully and took them to the husband, who instantly identified the strip of calico as belonging to a gown his wife had worn, and he also remembered that she had taken a Melbourne newspaper with her. He was greatly excited at the sight of the articles, and so were we. It was too late to do anything that day; in fact, it was dark before we reached home, and so we made all preparations for an early start on Thursday morning. We were on the way soon after 221daylight, and the native trackers expressed the fullest confidence in their ability to find the missing wanderers, now that they were able to start on the track.

“We first went to the mia-mia, or wind shelter, and then took a course to the northeast, walking over a succession of low ranges and shallow gullies where the water often reached up to our knees. The trackers were much disappointed, as the amount of water which spread over the country made it impossible for them to follow the trail. We passed through thick scrubs and prickly plants, and over sharp rocks which were rough walking even for men; what must they have been for the woman and her children?

“We continued our search for several hours, and had almost resolved to give it up, when one of our party fired at a kangaroo which he had disturbed, and which fled before us. The animal fell wounded, and as we were advancing towards it, we thought we heard a distant coo-ee. We stood still to listen, and faintly, yet quite distinctly, it was repeated. We walked on with great eagerness in the direction whence the sound appeared to come, and every little while we coo-eed and waited for an answer to assure us that we were on the right track. We did not get an answer every time, and when we did it was not a strong one; but there was no mistaking the sound, and we realized each time that we were getting nearer the spot where it was made.

“We reached the edge of a gully thickly overgrown with tangled scrub about twelve feet high. We pressed forward through this scrub, wading occasionally through 222the water, and pushing aside the last bushes, found ourselves at the edge of a small open plain. There we saw, standing at a little distance, a gaunt, ragged woman with a child in her arms. As she caught sight of us she turned and fled; either she mistook us for black fellows, or the surprise and relief of obtaining help had turned her brain. We shouted loudly to her to stop, and as our voices fell on her ear she stood still and we approached. She looked at us with a half-crazed expression in her eager, gleaming eyes; her cheeks were thin and sunken, and her whole appearance was one of great wretchedness.

“We gave her some tea which she drank greedily, and it revived her somewhat. Seeing that she had only one of her children with her, the youngest, we asked where the other was, and she led us to a large, hollow tree in which she placed the little girl. The poor child’s feet were so cruelly cut and blistered that she could no longer walk, and the mother, hoping to reach home and find help, had thought best to leave her and travel on with the other child. She had built up the opening of the tree with logs and brush-wood in the hope of protecting the child against the attacks of the wild dogs, but when her preparations were complete the little girl wept so piteously that the distracted mother could not consent to leave her alone. So she made up her mind to stay there and die with her children.

“Just as she had reached this conclusion she heard the report of the rifle, and with all her remaining strength she uttered the coo-ee which brought relief to her. She did not faint or lose her self-possession, and she astonished us 223all by her strength. She would not wait to allow us to send for a dray or other conveyance, but insisted that she could walk with us; it was a walk of seven miles, but she went on bravely, carrying her boy, who would not leave her arms. The men by turns carried the little girl, and offered to take the boy, but she would not give him up.

“She solemnly declared that neither she nor the children had found anything to eat during the time they were in the bush. On the first night, she divided the pound of butter between the children, and ate nothing herself. Her only sustenance for the whole time had been water, and it was the only sustenance of the children after the butter was consumed. Every morning they had begun to wander, hoping to reach home before night; and every night, as the darkness closed in, they huddled together, cold, and hungry, and footsore, on the wet ground, and with no shelter except a few scanty bushes.

“The children slept fairly well, but the mother said she listened through the greater part of every night, hearing the howling of the wild dogs around them, and constantly dreading their attacks. She said she heard the report of our rifles on the first day of our search, but unhappily the wind was blowing directly from us towards her, and consequently we were unable to hear her answering calls, though she had strained her voice to the utmost to make herself heard. She had been almost frantic with despair, knowing that help was so near at hand and yet beyond her reach. She thought, and we agreed with her, that another day in the bush would have ended their lives, or at any rate that of the little girl.”

224As the narrator paused, Harry asked if the woman recovered her health and strength completely.

“She recovered her strength very soon,” was the reply, “but her mind was affected by her exposure and sufferings, and she was never quite herself again, mentally. The children recovered completely after a few weeks of nourishment, and the little girl who was so near dying in that hollow tree has since grown up and married.”

“I think it is time for a story of less mournful character,” said one of the party.

“By all means,” said another; “let us have one.”

“Well, here it is,” was the reply.

“At the station of a wealthy squatter a party assembled one evening for a good time and a supper. There were young men and young women, as well as men and women who were not altogether young, who had been invited for miles around, and they had a jolly time, you may well believe me. Some of the young fellows, wishing to have some fun, disguised themselves in rough clothes, blackened their faces, and frowzed up their hair in the roughest kind of way. Then they suddenly appeared at the door of the large room, and the cry of ‘Bushrangers!’ was raised. Some of the ladies fainted in alarm, and all were more or less frightened. The joke was not kept up very long, as the counterfeit bushrangers were not good impersonators, and were speedily detected by their friends. There was a great deal of fun and laughter over the trick that had been played, and then the performers in the scheme resumed their ordinary dress and continued in the games with the others.

225“An hour or so later, rough voices were heard outside of the house, and soon there appeared in the doorway six or eight rough-looking men with begrimed faces, untrimmed hair, and very shabby-looking garments, who entered the hall with a very determined manner. Some of the party burst out laughing, and exclaimed, ‘Bushrangers again!’ declaring that they would not be fooled a second time. Some of the others had an instinctive perception that this time the bushrangers were real ones.”

The narrator paused, and Harry asked if that was the case.

“It was exactly,” was the reply. “The men were notorious bushrangers who had been troubling that part of the country for some time. The robbers drew revolvers and ordered the men to ‘bail up!’ (hold up their hands) which they did in a hurry, and then they were commanded to stand in a row with their faces next to the wall.

“Then the bushrangers ordered the ladies to provide them with refreshments, while one was commanded to sit at the piano and entertain them with music. No one was allowed to leave the room except under the escort of a bushranger, for fear that word would be sent to the police.

“The scoundrels ate and drank freely, and then took possession of all the watches, jewelry, money, and other valuables in the possession of the party. After making their collection they left the place. Word was sent to the police as soon as possible, but as the police station was several miles away, the information was of no practical value.”

“Were the scoundrels ever caught?” inquired Ned.

226“Yes, they were eventually caught and hanged,” was the reply. “They troubled that region for some time. The inhabitants dared not pursue them, for fear of their vengeance, though all wanted to be rid of them. Four men came from Melbourne with authority for taking these robbers, dead or alive, and with the promise of a large reward. It was impossible to keep their errand a secret, and none of the people dared give them any assistance in consequence of their dread of what the bushrangers might do if they heard of it. I know of one instance where these four men applied to a squatter for a night’s lodging and supper. He dared not let his family know about the men being there, but lodged them in an out-building, and with his own hands carried the food to them for their supper.”

“And did these four men capture the bushranger gang?” queried Harry.

“Not by any means,” was the reply. “They were riding one day along the road, when they suddenly found themselves face to face with the bushrangers. A fight followed as a matter of course, and every one of the four was killed. When the corpses were discovered, one of them was found in a kneeling posture, as though he had died in the act of begging for mercy. A ten-pound bank note was found sticking in a wound in his breast, and evidently the bushrangers put it there, to show that in this instance, at least, their object was revenge and not plunder.

“That the bushrangers were a bad lot,” continued the gentleman, “no one will deny, but in many instances they showed chivalry and appreciation of bravery. It was rare, 227indeed, that they ill-treated women or children, and it was also very rarely the case that they committed murder except in self-defense or for revenge. This led a good many sentimental people to regard them rather in the light of dashing heroes than that of downright criminals. You have probably heard of Captain Melville, have you not?” he asked, turning to Harry and Ned.

The youths nodded, and said the name of that famous bushranger was familiar to them.

“Well, it once happened,” said their informant, “that Captain Melville had in his power a man whom, of all others, he had most occasion to dread,—an officer of high standing in the police force, at that time engaged in pursuit of the robber, whom he declared he would take alive or dead. This officer was riding one day alone and slightly armed, when he suddenly met Melville with his entire gang. The police uniform readily told the rank of the officer, and it happened that Melville and several of his men were familiar with the officer’s face.

“He was immediately surrounded and disarmed; his hands were tied behind his back, and his captives took him triumphantly to their camp. When the camp was reached, the prisoner was bound to a wagon wheel while his captors held a counsel to decide what to do with him. The officer was noted for his courage, and when Melville came near him, he was taunted by his captive for his cowardice in taking him at the time when he was defenseless and alone.

“Melville became angry at the taunt, and, walking towards his prisoner, he placed a loaded revolver at his 228head and said, ‘Say another word and I’ll blow your brains out.’

“‘You dare not do it,’ replied the officer, and he looked with an unflinching eye at the robber.

“Melville’s eyes glared, and probably the slightest show of fear on the part of the officer would have provoked a fatal shot.

“Melville held the pistol at the prisoner’s head for a few seconds and then lowered it, saying, as he did so, ‘You are too brave a man to be shot,’ and then he turned and walked away. The officer afterwards managed to escape and reach Melbourne safely. The supposition is that he was assisted in escaping by one of the bushrangers who was tired of life on the road and desirous of leaving it. The officer was able to promise him immunity from punishment in return for his service in aiding the latter’s escape.”

“That reminds me of a story I heard not long ago,” said Harry.

“A lawyer in Australia was once defending a man whose family antecedents and record were anything but good. Ignoring this, he made a most touching plea about the gray-haired parents in England waiting to celebrate Christmas with their returned wanderer. The jury found the man guilty, however, and the judge, after sentencing him, remarked that the learned counsel would have his wish; the convicted client was going to the same prison where father and mother were already serving sentences. Their Christmas would be passed under the same roof.”

Other stories were told during the course of the evening, but we have no room for any more of them. When the 229last story was given, the youths looked at their watches and were surprised to find the hour so late. They immediately retired to their room and slept soundly, or at least Ned did. Harry said he was disturbed somewhat by dreams of snakes, bushrangers, unruly cattle, and horses, and of being lost in the bush. Evidently the disturbance was not serious, as he was out at an early hour with Ned to investigate the place and learn the peculiarities of an up-country station in Australia. Here is what he wrote concerning what he saw and heard before the announcement of breakfast:—

“The sights and sounds were not altogether unlike those of a farm in New England, but there were many more of them, in consequence of the greater size of the station. A farm in New England covering two or three hundred acres of ground would be considered a large one. This station covers an area ten miles square, or one hundred square miles. They have five thousand head of cattle upon it and more than one hundred horses. Most of the cattle, in fact, nearly all of them, are fully half wild. The domesticated ones comprise a few yokes of oxen and a small herd of milch cows, and even the cows are nowhere near as tame as the same animals would be in New England. We went out to the milking yard and witnessed the operation of milking three or four cows which had been driven in from the paddock. Not one of the creatures would stand quietly to be milked, as a well-mannered cow should do, and each one had to be driven, led, or pulled into a frame or cage something like the frame in which oxen are shod. When the cow was thoroughly secured 230in this way, with one fore leg tied up so that she could not lift either of her hind legs, the milkmaid, who was a big, rough-looking man, proceeded to milk the animal. When the operation was concluded, another cow was brought up and put through the same process.

“I asked if they had any cows that would stand peaceably and submit to the milking process. They answered me that they had such cows occasionally, but not often; and the man with whom I talked seemed to be rather proud of the circumstance, that Australian cows were more high-spirited than American ones.

“The stockmen had had their breakfast and were about starting for their daily rounds. Some fifty or sixty horses had been driven in from a paddock and enclosed in a yard large enough for five times their number. A man went into the yard to select his horse for the day’s riding, and having singled out the animal, he made several ineffectual attempts to capture him. When he approached the group, it divided and started off for a different part of the yard. Then the man was joined by another, and the horses at once concluded that it was time for their fun to cease. They submitted quietly to being bridled and saddled, and one after another they were led out of the yard as soon as this operation was complete.

“One of the stockmen remarked that he would like to see one of us youngsters go in there and get a horse.

“I replied that I had heard too many stories of the character of Australian horses to induce me to make the attempt.

“You are very wise not to do so,” he answered. “They 231would have fun with you by the hour, and then you would not be able to lay hands on one of them. Whenever we get a new chum that is a green hand, we have a jolly time seeing him work. He goes inside with one of the black boys, and between them they manage to get a horse off into a corner. Then the new chum takes his bridle over his arm and approaches the horse, talking to him all the time. Australian horses don’t understand that sort of thing, and you might as well talk to the surf on the sea-coast as to one of them. Just as the new chum gets up to within about four feet of the horse’s neck, the beast spins around on his hind legs, and is off like a shot. He kicks and prances, and sometimes he lies down and rolls, and all the time he is saying to himself, ‘What a jolly time I am having.’

“Then the new chum and the black fellow try it on again, and with the same result. All the old hands sit around the fence and have a good laugh, and we let the new chum keep at it until our sides are sore. After awhile we agree that we have had enough of it, and then we turn in and catch the horse and saddle him in about half no time.

“But there is more fun to come,” continued the stockman, “and that is when the new chum tries to ride. He gets into the saddle, and just as he gets fairly seated the horse begins to buck-jump. Perhaps you don’t know what buck-jumping is?”

“I have heard of it,” I said. “In fact, I have seen what was said to be a very good performance of it, and that was in Buffalo Bill’s show.”

232“How high up in the air did the horses throw the fellows in the show?”

“Oh, a little ways,” I answered; “enough to pitch them out of the saddles and bring them to the ground.”

“Oh, nonsense,” said the stockman; “you wait till you see an Australian horse send a new chum up into the air. I’ve seen a fellow tossed up so high that he didn’t look bigger than a dog. He must have gone up fifty feet, at least, and he came down astraddle of the horse again.”

The man said this with all possible gravity, but I thought I could see a twinkle at the corner of his eye. I smiled politely, as I did not want to contradict him, and, at the same time, did not wish him to believe that I swallowed his preposterous story.

“Some of our horses,” he continued, “will stand still and allow themselves to be saddled, and then they will take a long breath, swell themselves up with air, burst the girths, and throw the saddle up at least twenty feet above them, and all this in one motion.”

“Seems to me, I have heard of something of the kind in America,” I remarked. “As I remember the story, they first fed the horse with self-raising flour, and then gave him a pail of water to drink.”

The man stood silent for a moment, and then said, “You’ll do, youngster; you ought to stay in Australia.”




“They breed good horses in Australia,” continued Harry in his journal. “As a general thing, however, the horses of this part of the world are vicious, and it is no wonder, when we consider that they are harshly treated all their lives, and very rarely hear a kind word. The owner of the cattle run gave orders that the gentlest animals should be reserved for the visitors to ride, and I have no doubt that they were so reserved. We found them anything but gentle, from our point of view, but managed to get through the day without being thrown out of the saddles. They danced and pirouetted more than was to our liking when we first mounted, and it was only after we had ridden several miles that their behavior was what might be called quiet.

“The process of breaking horses to the saddle here is interesting, though it is rough and cruel. The horses are kept all together in a large paddock; some of them already broken, and some that have never known saddle, bridle, or halter. Every morning they are driven up by the black boys. Selections are made of the animals required for the day’s riding, and then the remainder are turned loose into the paddock again. The daily visit to the paddock accustoms the younger horses to the presence 234of men, so that they are not altogether wild when they are taken in hand for breaking.

“There is a class of men going about the country whose business it is to break horses at so much a head; usually two pounds, or ten dollars. The whole herd is driven into the yard, and then the horse breaker proceeds to his work. With the aid of two or three black fellows he lassoos a horse and puts a strong halter on him. Then, while the black fellows hold the animal, he is saddled and bridled, and the breaker gets on his back. The halter is gathered up around the horse’s neck, and at the word of command the black fellows jump away from him.

“Then begins a lively performance of bucking and jumping, the rider all the time clinging to the saddle with his knees. Sometimes the horse tries to lie down and roll in order to free himself from his incumbrance; he succeeds occasionally, but as a general thing he does not. Even should he manage to shake off his ride, the latter is on the creature’s back again before he gets fairly on his feet, and then the kicking and jumping are renewed. The rider keeps at the horse until he has subdued him and ridden him several times around the yard; possibly he may take a spin out into the paddock and back again, but he does not always do so. The great point is to conquer at the first riding, and a good horse-breaker never stops until he has done so.

“After this lesson is over the horse is left with the saddle on his back, and it is not taken off until he is turned into the paddock at night. The next day he receives another lesson of the same sort, and after a few days of 235this kind of training he is pronounced properly broken, and fit ‘for a lady to ride.’ I shouldn’t want any lady of my acquaintance to venture on the back of such an animal.

“I mustn’t forget a trick that these horse-breakers have, and that is, of getting on the back of a bucking steed, placing a half-crown piece between each thigh and the saddle, and allowing the animal to go through all the performance she chooses to, without once displacing the coins. Exactly the same thing is done by the rough riders of our western States and Territories, with the difference that they use half dollars instead of half crowns.

“We found the morning air around the station very agreeable. A gentle breeze was blowing, and we caught the odor of the fragrant eucalyptus mingled with that of the numerous flowers which ornamented and brightened the grounds near by. We could hear the notes of several birds, and louder than all the rest of their voices was that of the laughing jackass, which has already been described. One of these birds perched on the fence of the yard where the men were catching horses, and Ned and I approached within twenty feet of him before he flew away. Before doing so he treated us to a very jolly laugh, and both of us laughed, too, in concert with him.

“Breakfast was announced, and we went in to enjoy it. We had oatmeal, mutton chops, and ham and eggs, with plenty of bread and butter, and honey. I looked around the table for coffee, but saw none. There was a large pot of tea, and Ned and I took it without a word of objection, though we would have preferred coffee. We were 236already aware that coffee is but little used in the country districts of Australia, tea being the almost universal beverage, for the reason that it is more stimulating than coffee and better for a steady diet. It is carried about and prepared much more easily than coffee, and this, no doubt, is one cause of its popularity. In the old days of placer mining, every miner carried at his waist a ‘billy,’ or tin cup for drinking purposes, and he regarded a billy of tea as a very important part of any meal. At the present day, a goodly proportion of sundowners and other Australian pedestrians carry billies at their waist belts and treasure them with great care.”

We will listen to Ned as he tells the story of their ride among the cattle.

“While we were at breakfast,” said Ned in his journal, “the horses were saddled and bridled and brought up to the front of the house. There were seven of us altogether. Our host, Mr. Syme, and his two brothers, a black fellow called Jack, Dr. Whitney, Harry, and myself. Our host and the doctor led the way; John, the elder of his brothers, rode with Harry, the younger, William, with me, and the black fellow by himself. That is to say, the black fellow, Jack, brought up the rear, to be ready for use in case of an emergency. We found our companions well informed, and ready to give us any information in their power.

“For a mile or so we rode through an open, undulating region where the grass was fairly abundant, though not densely so. One of our escorts explained that the season had been a little dry, and the grass was not appearing as well as usual. After passing this open stretch we entered 237a forest principally of gum trees, whose white stems extended up a long distance into the air before throwing out any limbs. From the gum forest we passed into a stretch of scrub, and then entered a valley, through which ran a small stream. The banks of the stream were fringed with trees, and the open parts of it were thickly covered with grass. A mob of some fifty or sixty cattle was grazing in this valley, and by the orders of our host, the black fellow rode in among them, cracking his whip loudly, and starting them off with heads and tails in the air.

“‘They’ll go straight to the cattle camp,’ said Mr. Syme, ‘and that’s where we want them.’

“I asked if each herd had its own cattle camp, and whether it was possible to drive the animals to two or more different camps.

“‘We never try to do that,’ said the young man at my side; ‘we think it quite sufficient if they will go to one camp only. You must remember they don’t have much chance for education, and there is a limit to their powers of understanding.’

“We chatted on various topics as we rode along, and in two hours from the time of starting we reached the cattle camp. There was a herd there of several hundred cattle, which pretty well filled the open space forming the camp. Half a dozen stockmen were there with as many black fellows, and there was also the Melbourne cattle dealer with two or three assistants.

“At one side of the camp there was a little hill or mound, and Harry and I went there, as it afforded a better view of the camp than the lower ground. It was a very 238interesting sight that we had from the mound. The mass of cattle was moving about uneasily; the bulls were bellowing, and pawing, and having an occasional fight; the cows were lowing for their calves, from which they had become separated, and the young bullocks were making mild disturbances in the ways peculiar to the bovine race. The stockmen and black fellows were kept busy in preventing the straying of the animals, but even with all their vigilance a refractory animal would occasionally break away and disappear in the scrub. The cattle dealer had already begun to select his purchases, and we watched with a good deal of interest the process of separating them from their companions, and this is the way they did it:—

“They cut out a small mob of cattle, perhaps a dozen or twenty animals, and drove them off to one side. This was called the draft mob, or rather it was the beginning of the draft mob. The cattle that were picked out from the rest of the herd were put with these in order to keep them quiet while the operation was going on, and then the original of the draft mob were allowed to go back to the rest of the herd.

“The cattle selected by the dealer were mostly young and fat bullocks, possessing a good deal of strength and tempers of their own. They were what is called ‘rowdy’ in this country, that is, they were badly behaved, and it was no easy job for the stockmen to handle them.

“The cattle dealer would indicate an animal that he wanted, and then two of the stockmen would bring the creature out. Generally the bullock was disinclined to go, and made things pretty lively for the stockmen. Each 239man was mounted on a horse that knew his business and had done the same kind of work many times before. The horses stuck to their work just as earnestly as did the riders, and whenever a bullock tried to run away they ran after him, and kept up with him, too. I wonder that horse and riders did not break their necks in this performance, and one of the young gentlemen with us said that accidents were by no means infrequent. He said that sometimes the bullocks showed a tendency to use their horns and charge upon the men and their horses just as the bull does in a Spanish bull-fight. No accident happened while we were looking on, and for this I am very thankful.

“One by one, the cattle which the dealer wanted were separated from the herd and placed in the draft mob until their number amounted to eighty. Then the animals originally constituting the draft mob were allowed to rejoin the herd, and the herd was permitted to scatter wherever it liked. The draft animals were then taken in charge by the stockmen and started on the road to Melbourne; perhaps I ought to say that they were started for the nearest railway station and completed their journey with the aid of steam.

“By the time the drafting was completed the sun was past the meridian, and Harry and I were as ‘hungry as hunters,’ to use the old expression. We thought we would have to ride back to the station to get our luncheon, and were agreeably disappointed when we found that a black fellow had just arrived with a hamper, or rather a bag of provisions, tied behind his saddle. Our host led the way to a well-shaded nook where there was a spring of water, 240and we gathered around the spring at the indication of our host, and prepared to do justice to the food that had made such a welcome appearance.

“A fire was kindled near by, and soon a steaming pot of tea was ready. Tin cups made their appearance along with tin plates and knives and forks, and I had a realizing sense of the delicious taste of a cup of tea in the open air when one is hungry. The luncheon was a cold one, but it was abundantly satisfying, and we thanked our host for his thoughtfulness in providing it.

“When we were near the end of our meal, one of the stockmen came in and said something in a low tone to Mr. Syme.

“The latter nodded briefly, and said, ‘All right,’ and then the stockman went away.

“Then Mr. Syme remarked, turning to us:—

“‘On our way back to the station we’ll go by a different road, and I think I can show you something that will be new to you.’

“He said nothing more, and left us to wonder what the new sight would be.

“I forgot to mention that when we started from the station we were accompanied by several dogs. They had a good time ranging around over the plain and through the forest after the manner of dogs when let loose, and seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly. They were large and rather lank animals, and capable of making high speed when necessary. We asked our entertainer what they were specially used for, and were told that the animals were kangaroo dogs.

241“‘We use them for hunting kangaroos,’ said the young man who accompanied me; ‘and a well-trained kangaroo dog is a valuable piece of property to have. The kangaroo is an ungainly looking creature, but he can get over the ground with wonderful rapidity. He goes fourteen or sixteen feet at a jump, and he can jump at a very lively rate. Ordinary fences are nothing to him, as he can clear a six-foot fence at a single bound.’

“While we were at luncheon the dogs were close about us on a keen lookout for any scraps or slices of meat that came in their way.

“The remains of the luncheon were given to them after the black fellow Jack had been duly cared for, but there wasn’t enough of the provisions remaining to give the animals an overdose.

“When all was ready we mounted our horses, and our host led the way, first announcing that he would show us some wild kangaroos. We came out on the plain, and after riding three or four miles, approached a clump of low trees and bushes, which was pointed out by the stockman whom I mentioned.

“‘There are the kangaroos,’ said Mr. Syme; ‘we will go in on one side of the clump, and give them a chance to make a run.’

“Following his directions, we spread out into a somewhat extended line and approached the bunch of timber from the northern side. The dogs began to show uneasiness, but were held in check by their young masters, who spoke to them in very emphatic tones.

“We advanced a short distance into the bushes, keeping 242in line as well as we could. Suddenly there was a great stir and a series of sounds, as though some one was pounding violently on the ground with a club.

“‘There they go!’ shouted Mr. Syme. ‘Let off the dogs!’

“Evidently the dogs understood what he said, as they did not wait for the permission of their young masters. Away they went at full speed after the kangaroos. There must have been twenty or thirty of the latter making off across the plain in a southerly direction, but run as fast as they did, the dogs could not keep up with those high-jumping creatures. The speed was something prodigious. Our whole party started in full gallop behind the dogs, the horses seeming to enter into the spirit of the race quite as much as did their riders.

“There wasn’t much chance for conversation during this run, but the young man who was acting as my escort managed to tell me that we would have a race of about three miles. ‘The kangaroo always runs for water,’ he said; ‘and the nearest water in that direction is about three miles away. They’ll fetch up at a small pond and make a stand there.’


243“I learned afterward that this was a peculiarity of the kangaroo, to seek water whenever he is pursued. The country over which we rode was not the smoothest in the world, being broken in some places by rocks, and encumbered by fallen timber in others. Here is where the jumping powers of the kangaroo came in handily, as he could clear rocks and logs with the utmost facility, and he had the ability to select a comparatively smooth spot to come down upon. His jumping is done with the muscles of his very powerful hind legs. He doesn’t use his fore legs at all in walking or jumping, employing them principally as hands and arms, very much as the American squirrel uses his paws. He can give a tremendous hug with his fore legs, and that is one of his methods of fighting.

“This is a good place to say something about the natural history of the kangaroo.

“Australia is, emphatically, the home of this animal, as he is found in a wild state in no other part of the world. Nearly all of the Australian animals are marsupials; that is, they have pouches in which their young are carried until able to take care of themselves. Of the large kangaroo there are eight species, and the largest of them are fully six feet in height and weigh one hundred and fifty pounds or more. Geologists say that at one time there were, in Australia, marsupial animals closely resembling the kangaroo but equaling the rhinoceros in size. They must have been formidable fellows to attack!

“The largest of all the kangaroos is the red one, and he is the one that we hunted. Of the small kangaroos, weighing, say from ten to fifteen pounds, there are seventeen species. Away in the interior of Australia there are some silky-haired kangaroos about the size of an ordinary rabbit, and there are several varieties still smaller, until you get down to those about as large as an ordinary squirrel. All of them are easily domesticated if taken when young, and they are very gentle pets. They tell me that they had two at this station last year, and the dogs, whose business 244it was to hunt the kangaroo, clearly understood that they must leave these pet ones alone. Not only did they not harm the animals, but got on very good terms with them, so that it was no uncommon sight to see the kangaroos and the dogs lying down together in a very well-mannered group. But one day, while the pets were in the front of the house, a pack of strange dogs happened along and killed them.

“We didn’t overtake the kangaroos until they reached the water; in fact, we heard the loud barking of the dogs before we came in sight of the pond. One of the largest males, commonly denominated here as an ‘old man,’ was on a little mound of earth just even with the surface of the water, while around him was a depth of about four feet. The dogs in front of him were at a respectful distance, as they had a great dread of and respect for his hind feet, which are a part of his fighting equipment. The kangaroo’s hind foot has three very strong toes, the center one especially so. His method is to seize his assailant with his fore paws, and rip him to death with his hinder ones, and sometimes he drowns a dog by holding him under water. Many an incautious or verdant dog has been killed in this way, and occasionally men have fallen victims to the powerful hind feet of these animals.

“The ‘old man’ kangaroo was defending himself bravely, and he had his assailants at an advantage. The water was too deep for them to wade in. Some were swimming about in front of him, carefully keeping out of reach, while others were assailing his back. All of the 245dogs kept up a loud barking, and kept looking around for human help.

“The kangaroo was more than fifty feet from the shore of the pond or pool, and when our party reached it, the animal was despatched by means of a rifle in the hands of one of our party. The carcass was brought to the shore and skinned, and a portion of the meat was fed to the dogs as a reward for their exertions, and they ate it with avidity. In addition to the ‘old man,’ we killed a young kangaroo, and the carcass, after being disemboweled, was placed on the black fellow’s horse and sent to the station.

“We had kangaroo steaks for dinner, and very toothsome they were, reminding us more of mutton than any other meat. These steaks came from the young kangaroo I just mentioned. The flesh of the ‘old man’ is too rank for human food, though it is sometimes eaten when no other food is to be had. The flesh of the young kangaroo is put up at meat-canning establishments for transportation to England, and they also export large quantities of soup made from kangaroo tails. Some people think this soup is preferable to ox tail, or even to turtle. I asked one of our friends about it, and he said, with a smile, that it was better when you couldn’t get either of the others. It is certainly an excellent soup, and it’s a pity that so much of the raw material goes to waste.

“In returning from our hunt we crossed a portion of the ground where we had chased the kangaroos. One of the dogs scented something in the grass, and barked in a manner to attract the attention of his owners. The men 246hastened to the spot and found a ‘joey,’ or baby kangaroo, which its mother had taken out of her pouch and laid upon the soft grass, intending to return and pick it up after the danger was over. It was a pretty little creature, about a foot long, and covered with soft, silky hair. One of the young men took charge of it and carried it carefully to the station, his intention being to raise it and make a pet of it, as he had made pets of the kangaroos that they lost the year before. When taken at this age, the kangaroo becomes perfectly docile, and never shows the least desire for a wild life.

“Our host told us that when the kangaroos are hunted, and there is no water within reach, an ‘old man,’ if cornered, will place his back against a tree and sell his life as dearly as possible. It is very dangerous to go near him when he is thus defending himself, and it is considered a fortunate circumstance in a fight of this kind if none of the dogs are killed or injured.

“When the first settlements were made in Australia the kangaroos were not especially numerous, though they were probably more abundant than any other animals. Their numbers were kept down by the aboriginals, who used to hunt them for food and clothing, for which the kangaroo skin was used, and they were also kept down by the dingoes, or wild dogs. The dingoes were then abundant, and unhappily they were fond of mutton, and when sheep were brought to Australia the flocks were very much reduced by the operations of the wild dogs. Of course, the sheep raisers took vengeance on the dingoes, and poisoned them in great numbers.

247“At the same time, the aboriginals diminished steadily in number, owing to causes previously stated, and those that remained preferred to live upon mutton and beef obtained from the settlers rather than take the trouble of hunting the kangaroo. Thus, the two natural enemies of that animal were removed, and with their immunity from destruction the kangaroos increased at a terrific rate. Their flocks and herds blackened the fields for miles. They were frequently to be seen feeding among the sheep, and as one kangaroo eats as much grass as three sheep, it will readily be understood that the sheep farmer’s flocks were in danger of being starved out.

“Millions of acres of land were thus rendered unfit for sheep or cattle pasturage. The settlers presented their case to the colonial governments, and the latter placed a bounty on kangaroo scalps. Meantime, it was found that the skins were worth something, and then the slaughter of the creatures began.

“Hunting with dogs in the way I have already described was altogether too slow, and a quicker method was devised and found successful. This is the way of it:—

“A clump of trees a few acres in extent is selected as a central point. Among these trees a stout yard is built, with a fence not less than ten feet high and strong enough to resist any attack the kangaroo can make. From the entrance of this yard two diverging fences of a somewhat lighter character are built out upon the plain, the point of the fences where they terminate being not less than a mile apart. When all is ready, a day is appointed for the hunt, 248and notice is sent to everybody within thirty or forty miles. The hunt is in charge of one of the oldest settlers, and everybody is bound to obey his orders.

“The day before the hunt or drive is to take place, the principal men to engage in it meet at the house of the leader and receive their orders. All the squatters and other settlers who can do so come to the hut, and with them all their stockmen and black fellows who can be spared from their daily work. Sometimes as many as a hundred people take part in the drive, and they are spread out in such a way as to include a very large area of ground.

“At the appointed hour, they begin to move in a long line in the direction of the clump of bushes where the yard is located, or rather in the direction of the jaws of the extended fences. Whatever kangaroos there may be in the area of the country enclosed by the hunters are driven in the direction of the yard, and the driving is done very quietly, to avoid alarming the animals before the ends of the line of men reach the ends of the diverging fence. When this takes place the drive is pushed more rapidly, and the thoroughly frightened animals make rapid leaps in the direction of the clump of timber, not suspecting that in doing so they are going to their death. Before they are aware of it they are inside the yard, and as the last of the drove enters, the gate is closed and the animals are hopelessly imprisoned.

“Sometimes thousands of kangaroos are taken in a single drive, and the bounty obtained from the government, added to the value of the hides, is divided among those 249who have participated in the hunt, or it may be applied to some needed public work in the neighborhood.

“The hides are pegged out and dried, and after being packed into bales they are shipped to various parts of the world. There is an increasing demand in the United States for kangaroo leather, as you are doubtless aware. Kangaroo flesh is put into tin cans for the market, but by far the greater part of the meat obtained from a single drive is left on the ground.

“Mr. Syme tells us that when the aboriginals used to hunt the kangaroos, they killed them with the boomerang or the spear. In hunting with the boomerang, they would creep up very slowly until within range, and whenever they threw the weapon, it was generally with fatal effect. In hunting with the spear, a native used to dress up so as to look like a bush, by surrounding himself with twigs and vines. He carried his spear in an upright position, so that it appeared to form an apex of the bush. Then he walked slowly along, standing perfectly still when the kangaroo raised its head to look around, and only moving while the animal grazed. In this way, and by taking plenty of time, he would get up within spear-throwing distance, and the rest of the story tells itself.”




It was pretty well along in the afternoon when the party reached the station on its return. Our friends agreed that they had had an excellent day, and the sights they had witnessed were full of interest.

Mr. Syme asked the doctor and our young friends if they were good shots with the rifle or shot-gun. They modestly and truthfully answered that they had had very little experience in shooting, but were willing to make a trial of their skill.

“Very well,” said the host, “we will go out to-morrow and make an effort to obtain some birds. We will begin with the largest bird of Australia, the emu, and see what luck we can have with him.”

“I’ve read about that bird,” said Harry; “he doesn’t fly, but he can run very fast. I have read that he will outrun a horse; is that really so?”

“Yes,” was the reply; “he can outrun most horses; in fact, it requires an exceedingly fleet steed to overtake him. It is very little use to try to run him down by a dead chase after him. The best way is to station the horses along in a line about half a mile or so apart, and then chase the bird in their direction. Each horseman takes up the chase 251with a fresh animal until the emu is tired out, and then the dogs are sent in to finish the work.”

Our young friends slept well that night, the result of their exercise on horseback in the open air; in fact, they didn’t care to sit up late, and retired much earlier than on the previous evening.

The next morning the party started very soon after breakfast, and the way was taken to an open plain, three or four miles across, and fringed with timber. When they neared the plain they met a black fellow, who had been sent out early in the morning to find the game. He had found it, and informed his master where it was.

Then the horsemen were spread out in the manner already mentioned, and the bird was started out of a little clump of timber where they had taken shelter. Harry and Ned were surprised to see the manner in which he ran. He seemed to be ready to drop with exhaustion, and Harry confidently predicted that he would fall dead from fright before going a mile. But somehow he managed to keep in advance of his pursuers, and whenever they quickened their pace he quickened his, but all the time keeping up the appearance of weariness. The last of the horsemen, however, approached within two hundred yards of the emu, who was by this time really tired. Then the dogs were turned loose, and they speedily overtook the bird and pulled him down. One of the dogs was quite severely injured in the fight with the bird, but his wounds were dressed and bandaged, and his owners said he would soon be well again.

The emu is called the Australian ostrich, and he resembles 252that bird in being unable to fly, running with great rapidity and using his feet for fighting purposes. He strikes a heavy blow with his foot, and a single stroke of it is sufficient to disable a dog or break a man’s leg. The young man who accompanied Harry told him that he knew of an instance where an emu was chased and overtaken by a man on horseback, accompanied by dogs. The bird became desperate at finding he could not escape. As the horse approached, the bird threw itself on its back and kicked savagely, ripping the side of the animal with its claws. The horse was so badly lacerated that it was necessary to shoot him.

If caught when young or hatched out from an egg, the emu can be easily domesticated, but he is a dangerous pet to have about the premises. Like the ostrich, it has a love for bright things, and has been known to swallow silver spoons and other shining articles. One day a stranger, standing close to the fence of a yard where a tame emu was kept, took out his gold watch to ascertain the time. The bird was attracted by the glittering object, and with a quick motion he seized it and dropped it down his throat. Several black fellows were called, who secured the bird with some difficulty, poured a powerful emetic into his stomach, and then hung him up by the feet. This heroic treatment had the desired effect, and restored the watch to its owner.

The eggs of the emu are in demand as great curiosities, and Australian jewelers work them into various ornamented articles and sell them readily at a high price. The perpetual hunt for the eggs, which is kept up by the blacks, is steadily diminishing the number of these birds, 253and, in course of time, there is danger that they will become extinct.

Another bird that was seen by our friends, but not captured, is the one known as the native companion. It is a large bird, belonging to the crane family. Its head stands about three feet from the ground, its legs are long, and its plumage is a lavender gray. It is rarely seen alone, there being generally two of them together, and very often a dozen or more. In this instance there were two birds, which went away rapidly on their wings and were soon lost to sight. When there is a large number of them together, they indulge in a series of evolutions which have a close resemblance to the movements of accomplished dancers. They advance, recede, turn, return, and go through a variety of figures like dancers in the quadrille or the minuet. Sometimes they keep up these performances for an hour or more, and seem to indulge in them entirely for the sake of amusement.

Harry asked if they would have an opportunity to see the famous lyre bird of Australia. “We saw two of them,” said he, “in the Zoo at Melbourne, and therefore, know what their appearance is, but we would like very much to see them in their wild state.”

“The lyre bird is getting very scarce in Australia,” said their young friend, “and I have never seen one in this locality. The bird frequents mountainous regions where the forests are somewhat dense, and very rarely comes out into the open plain. It is about the size of an ordinary barnyard fowl, but looks much larger, owing to its beautiful tail, which is very long, and grows exactly 254in the shape of the instrument after which it is named. It is a very clever mocking bird, and will reproduce the notes of all its forest companions, but it is very shy and difficult to get at, and unless it is got when very young it cannot be domesticated.

“We have wild turkeys here,” continued their informant; “and they are very good eating; perhaps some of our party will be fortunate enough to bring down a turkey or two before we go back. There is one fowl here called the mallee bird, about the size of the pheasant, and resembling him in many ways. He generally lives near the edge of the mallee scrub, and his flesh is very much esteemed by all who have eaten it. The mallee is a gregarious bird, and at the breeding season large numbers of them come together. They collect great heaps of dry leaves, among which a number of hen birds lay their eggs, indiscriminately taking care to cover them up warmly.

“They don’t take any trouble to hatch their eggs, but leave that for the heat of the dry and decaying vegetable matter. When the time approaches for the chicks to break the shell, the male birds hover about on the watch for their appearance, and snakes, also, like to come around, in the hopes of securing a few of the tender birds as they emerge into daylight. When the chick comes out from the egg, his skin is pink and bare, and hardly a sign of a feather is visible; but within twenty-four hours, during which the feathers spread so rapidly that you can almost see their growth, the bird is fully fledged and feathered, and able to take care of itself.”

255An amusing circumstance happened during the day’s excursion. Ned was the victim of it, and he did not consider it at all amusing until after it was all over. This was the way of it:—

While the party was halted at one time, discussing where next they would go, the dogs disturbed something, but neither of our young friends could make out what it was. They were in the open country at the time, though not far from the edge of the bush. The something that the dogs had disturbed came directly towards the party, and Ned happened to be nearer to it than anybody else. The creature looked like a small alligator, and that’s what Ned and Harry thought it was. Ned had dismounted from his horse and was standing by the animal’s head, waiting for the decision about their movements. The animal came directly up to Ned and climbed up his side. It was about five feet long, and a very formidable-looking creature. The youth immediately began fighting the animal, and shouted for his friends to pull him off.

“Lie down on the ground,” said one of the Australians; “lie down on the ground, and he will leave you at once. He is just as much frightened as you are.”

Ned flung his horse’s bridle to one of his friends, and then obeyed instructions. He dropped to the ground, and immediately as he did so the horrid-looking creature left him.

“What in the world is that?” said Ned, as he rose to his feet again and regained his composure.

“That’s an iguana, or lizard,” was the reply. “It is perfectly harmless as long as you know how to deal with 256it. When it is pursued by dogs, it runs to its hole if it can; if its hole is not available, it climbs a tree until it is out of reach of its pursuers, and if no tree is at hand, it will climb on a man or a horse. It selected you as a place of shelter, and I warrant it was more scared than you were.”

“It might be easily mistaken for an alligator,” said Ned, surveying the animal as it was stretched on the ground, having been killed by a blow on the head from the butt of a stockman’s whip.

“Yes, it is often mistaken for a young alligator. I have known of an iguana to appear in a party of pleasure seekers, picnicking in the woods, and make quite a serious disturbance. The ladies screamed and fled and some of them fainted. Some of the men fled, too, but those who knew about the creature quickly despatched him.”

“Is it useful for food?”

“Yes; the blacks use it, and are very fond of it, but white men don’t ‘hanker after it,’ as your American phrase is. However, those who have been bold enough to taste it assert that, when well cooked, the flavor is excellent.”

“Well, it doesn’t look very inviting,” Ned remarked; “and I don’t think I would care for iguana for dinner.”

“You may not care for it,” was the reply, “but the black fellows will. Here, Jack,” he continued, addressing the aboriginal, “you can have this.”

Jack needed no second invitation. With a smile on his face, he quickly took possession of the huge lizard and strapped it to his saddle. No doubt the meat of the 257iguana gave the blacks at the station a supper that they greatly enjoyed.

Another day was spent at the cattle station, Harry and Ned going out with one of the stockmen and accompanying him on his morning round. Dr. Whitney thought he did not care for any more horseback exercise just then, and spent the day around the station. The youths enjoyed their ride very much, and returned to the house in time for luncheon.

It had been arranged that our young friends should visit a sheep run about twenty miles away, and on the morning of the fourth day Mr. Syme took them in his covered wagon to their destination. The road was not a very smooth one, but the wagon, which was well built, suffered no injury, and as for the passengers, they did not mind a little jolting. They reached their destination with very sharp appetites, and evidently their new host, Mr. Johnson, was aware of what their condition would be, as a substantial meal was on the table a few minutes after their arrival; and you may be sure that it received ample attention from the strangers.

After the meal was over, the party went out for a stroll among the buildings connected with the station. The house where the owner lived was a solidly built affair, not unlike the one they had sojourned in for a few days at the cattle station. There was this difference, however, that it was elevated on posts about six feet from the ground, giving free circulation of air beneath it, and furnishing a good place of storage for various things connected with the station.

258In reply to an inquiry by Harry, Mr. Johnson said that this arrangement of the building was a good one to keep out snakes. “It doesn’t keep them out altogether,” said he, “as there are snakes that will climb posts, but ordinarily serpents do not attempt that performance. When I first came to Australia, I lived in a house which stood right on the ground. The region was a snaky one, and every little while we would find a snake in the house, and have a lively time driving him out or killing him. None of the family was ever bitten by a snake, but we certainly had some narrow escapes. When I came here and built this house, I determined to have a dwelling which these unpleasant visitors could not easily enter.”

Harry remarked that a snake-proof house was certainly quite to his liking, and he hoped the building would continue to display its admirable qualities as long as he remained there.

The youths were impressed with the size and extent of the wool shed belonging to the establishment, and Ned remarked that they must have a very active time during the shearing season.

“It is our most active time,” was the reply; “the busiest of all the year. Ordinarily the life on a sheep run is quiet and humdrum, but when shearing time begins everything is lively. We engage the shearers as they come along, in parties or gangs. They are a difficult lot of men to deal with, as they have a very powerful trade union which stands by its members, with little regard to right or wrong. The shearing is done by piece work. We used to pay three pence for shearing a sheep, or 259rather we paid five shillings a score. A good shearer can do fourscore in a day, and consequently he earns twenty shillings or one sovereign. That’s pretty good pay, isn’t it?”

“Seems to me that it is,” replied Harry. “Do you board the shearers, or do they find themselves?”

“Oh, we have to board them, of course, and we have to board their horses, as most of the shearers travel on horseback. But the feed of a horse isn’t of much consequence, as we simply turn him into the paddock and let him graze there. Sometimes we hire a fiddler to play for the men while they are at work in the shearing house, and also in the evening, when they are off duty. Sometimes a gang of shearers brings along its own cook. They pay the cook’s wages themselves, but the employer supplies the material out of which the shearers’ meals are made. These fellows are very particular as to their treatment, and if they feel that they are ill-used in any way, they are liable to quit work and go away.”

“They ought to earn a very nice little sum of money during the shearing season,” observed Harry.

“They certainly do,” was the reply; “especially as, for the last two years, they have demanded four pence and even five pence for each sheep sheared. I expect they’ll get it up in time so as to take most of the profits of the business. It makes little difference to the great majority of them how much they get for their work, as it is generally gone by the end of the shearing season.”

“That reminds me,” said Mr. Johnson, “of the visit of a gentleman from Melbourne to a sheep station up 260country. He went there with a friend, reaching the station about dinner time. He was introduced to the owner of the station, who greeted him cordially enough, and invited the two of them to remain at dinner, which would be ready shortly. He strolled about the buildings for a little while, and when dinner was announced, he went in and joined the others at table.

“The table was well supplied, and he had no occasion to complain of the quality or quantity of the food set before him; but he was somewhat surprised to find that no one spoke to him, except in the briefest manner, and that every one seemed desirous of being rid of him as soon as possible. In fact, there was very little conversation at the table, anyway, and as soon as they were through dinner he suggested to his friend that they had better be moving. Their team was brought out, and they continued their journey, their temporary hosts not even taking the trouble to say good-day to him.

“When they were out of earshot of the place, the Melbourne gentleman remarked to his companion, who, by the way, was a good deal of a practical joker:—

“‘I don’t think much of your friends from a civility point of view. They were as rude to me as a party of savages could be.’

“‘I don’t wonder at it,’ was the reply. ‘Just for the fun of the thing, I told them you were president of the Sheep Shearers’ Union.’

“‘If you told them that outrageous lie,’ said the other, ‘I am not at all surprised that they treated me as they did, but please don’t do it again.’

261“I don’t believe that the president of the Shearers’ Union would receive a hearty welcome at any sheep run in Australia. Sheep farmers have good reason for a serious grudge against the whole concern; but, after all, it is no worse than most of the other trade unions. Nearly all of them are oppressive to a high degree, and are a great injury to business and commercial prosperity.”

Ned and Harry were especially interested in the place where the shearing was done. The building was a large structure of quadrangular shape, with a bulkhead running across the middle of it and dividing it into two portions. There is a platform for the shearers around one of the enclosures formed, and by the bulkhead at shearing time; this is always kept full of sheep; in fact, it is crowded full, so that the shearer can lay hands on a sheep at any time without the necessity of running after it. The shearers stand at their work. They have tried various devices for sitting down or for placing sheep on a bench or table so as to avoid bending their backs, but none of the experiments have succeeded, and the old process remains in use. It is decidedly fatiguing for a beginner, but in course of time one gets used to it, as to everything else.

“What is that little door for, and the little yard outside of it?” queried Ned, as he pointed to one of a series of low, small doors at the outside of the shearers’ platform, opposite the enclosure.

“Oh, that is for the shearer to let out his sheep after he has removed the fleece. He takes the animal to be sheared out of the enclosure, as I told you, and then when he has sheared it, he lets it out through this door into the little 262yard; that is to enable us to count the men’s work in a way to avoid all disputes. In the early days of Australian sheep farming, the men who gathered up the fleece kept the accounts of the shearers, but there were constant disputes on the subject, which led to the adoption of the present system. You see there isn’t any chance for misunderstanding now.”

“Certainly, you have it now beyond question,” remarked Harry; “and I am sure that every shearer is very careful about letting his sheep out through his own door.”

“That he is,” was the reply; “and we never have any complaints about unfair counting. At the end of the day’s work everybody can count up for himself.”

“I suppose,” said Ned, “that the shearers occasionally cut the sheep while shearing them.”

“Occasionally!” was the reply; “you had better say frequently, or very often; and some of them are much worse than others. We have proposed to the Shearers’ Union to establish a system of fines for ‘tomahawking’ sheep, but the union refuses to do anything about it. We always have a boy here, and sometimes two boys, while the shearing is going on. The boy is provided with a tar bucket and brush. Whenever a shearer cuts the skin of a sheep he calls out ‘Tar!’ not stopping a moment in his work. At the sound of that word, the boy runs forward with his bucket and brush and covers the wounded spot with tar, which keeps the flies away from it. Tar is the best thing we can find for this purpose, and is in use on all the sheep runs in the country.

“Many of the shearers,” continued their host, “pride 263themselves on the skill with which they perform their work. The shearer places the sheep between his knees with its head upwards; he begins at the throat and shears downward, so that, when his work is completed, the fleece drops off in a single piece. As fast as the sheep are sheared, the fleeces are gathered by the man whose duty it is to collect them. They are then taken to the baling house, and, when a sufficient quantity has been obtained, the fleeces are made into bales, in much the same way that cotton is baled on an American plantation.”

Mr. Johnson then led the way to the baling house, or rather the baling room, as it was in the same building where the shearing is carried on. The baling apparatus proved to be a simple affair, nothing more than a press, very much like a cotton or hay press, and handled in the same way. The bales of wool usually weigh about four hundred pounds, and are manipulated with hooks, just as cotton bales are handled.

Ned asked if it was necessary to have the wool perfectly dry when packing it.

“Yes, indeed,” was the reply; “and for that reason all work in the wool shed must stop during wet weather. The fleeces, when taken from the sheep, must be absolutely dry, and if the sheep are caught out in a rain, it takes two or three days to dry them thoroughly. It is a serious loss of time when we have occasional rainy days, as we lose not only the rainy day itself, but not less than one or two clear days afterwards in order to have the fleeces in proper condition for baling.”

Other observations were made around the wool shed, 264and about the time that they were concluded a flock of sheep came in from its day’s pasturage. There were about five hundred sheep in the flock, accompanied by the shepherd and his dog. They were not driven to the wool shed, but to a yard a little distance away from it. The sheep were in good condition and evidently well cared for.

Harry remarked as much to the owner, who answered that the man in charge of them was a very faithful shepherd, and he added that he might well be so, as he was constantly under the eye of his employer.

After looking at the flock and visiting several other buildings of the establishment, the party returned to the house, and in due course of time sat down to dinner. The entertainment was very much like that of the cattle station. The cooking was good, the host was attentive, the meal was enlivened by stories of sheep-farming life, and altogether the occasion was a pleasant one.

The next morning Mr. Johnson accompanied his guests in a horseback ride over a portion of his grounds. As the sheep run covered an area of about one hundred square miles, it was too much to expect that they would examine the whole of it. They visited two or three of the out-stations, and saw the shepherds caring for their flocks. Each of the out-stations that they visited consisted of a hut for two men, and two yards where the sheep were kept at night. As already mentioned in our account of the visit of the party to a sheep farm in South Africa, each shepherd started out in the morning with his flock, moving it slowly along so as to reach water about noon, and then 265slowly feeding it back again, reaching the station about nightfall.

Nearly every shepherd has a sheep dog, partly for the sake of companionship and partly for assistance. A good sheep dog is a very useful and valuable animal. He aids the shepherd in keeping the flock together whenever any of them show a disposition to straggle, and the sheep speedily learn to know him and regard him as their friend. He never injures them, though he frequently makes a great pretense of doing so. Sometimes he takes a refractory sheep by the ear, or seizes it by the wool on his neck, but the case is exceedingly rare where he perpetrates an actual bite.

The favorite dog for the shepherd is the collie, but other kinds are employed, and many an ordinary cur has been trained by an intelligent master so that he made an excellent sheep dog, though he can never attain the excellence of the genuine collie. The real shepherd dog will accomplish more than would be possible for a man under the same circumstances. He will drive a flock from place to place, gather them together to be counted, and take them from one field to another much quicker than a man could do it. A story is told of an instance that happened in Scotland, to James Hogg, known in literature as “The Ettrick Shepherd.” Seven hundred sheep broke loose one night from his charge, and scampered off in three divisions across the plain. It was too dark to see anything for any appreciable distance, and the shepherd supposed he would have to wait until morning, and then take his chances of collecting his animals. Shortly afterwards 266he missed his dog. In the morning he went out to look for the sheep, but saw no sign of them until he reached the edge of a ravine and looked over the side. There he saw the dog guarding the entire flock, not one of the seven hundred being missing. How he ever managed to collect them in the dark, his owner could not imagine. A dozen, or even a hundred men, would have failed where he succeeded.

Near the end of the last century there was a sheep stealer in Scotland, who was finally discovered and hanged for his crimes, who used to carry on his trade by the aid of his dog. He traveled about the country under pretense of buying sheep, though he rarely bought any. While looking at a flock, he would pick one of the fattest and give a secret signal to his dog, indicating the animal. That night the dog would come to the flock where the sheep belonged, often traveling several miles to do it; then would pick out the identical animal and drive it to his master. If he happened, at any time, to meet his master on the road while going on one of his stealing expeditions, the dog would give no sign of recognition, and treat his master as a perfect stranger. When the man’s guilt was discovered, and he was tried and condemned for his crime, the dog was also condemned to be hanged; but it was afterwards concluded that the dog was simply an instrument, in the hands of his owner, and not responsible for his actions. He was given to a shepherd, who kept the animal as long as he lived; and, according to the shepherd’s account, the dog was never afterwards guilty of any crime.

267During their ride among the out-stations of the sheep run, our young friends learned several things connected with the industry of raising wool for the market.

One fact which they learned was, that for a portion of the year, a great many sheep farmers are in debt to the bankers at the ports where they send their wool. They have a considerable amount of money to pay out during the course of the year before shearing time, and consequently they require advances from their bankers. It is not at all difficult to obtain money in advance on a crop of wool, and in this respect a sheep run has an advantage over a cattle run. Even when the sheep farmer is growing rich, and has money laid by, he often prefers to obtain advances on his wool crop rather than use his own money for carrying on business. When the crop comes in, all the indebtedness is paid off, and there is usually a good balance left. This may be set aside and invested, or it may remain at the banker’s, to be drawn whenever wanted.

Sheep farmers keep very little money at their stations in the country districts for fear of attracting bushrangers, or other individuals, whose ideas of the rights of property do not harmonize with those of society in general. In many cases laborers are paid off by check, and not in cash, and it is no uncommon sight to see a laboring man, in an Australian town or village, flourishing a check previous to turning it into money, which he proceeds to spend with a liberal hand.

Another point that they learned was, that there are certain portions of Australia between the mountains and the coast, particularly in Queensland, that are not adapted to 268sheep, though they make excellent pasturage for cattle. In these localities there is a grass that has a barb on its edges, and when once it becomes attached to the wool of the sheep, it steadily works its way inward until it pierces the skin of the animal, and eventually causes its death. Cattle are not affected by this grass, as it does not penetrate their skins. They walk in it and feed upon it with impunity, and in any of the regions where this grass is found there is no attempt at rearing sheep, but the land is devoted to cattle raising.




When their visit to the sheep run was concluded, our friends returned to Melbourne, where they spent two or three days, and then proceeded to Sydney. Two ways were open to them, one by sea, and the other by land; they chose the latter, as it would give them an opportunity to see more of the country than if they went by water. The water journey is mostly made by night, and consequently they would be deprived of a sight of the picturesque coast which lies between the two cities.

The railway out of Melbourne runs through a picturesque country, as it ascends the slope of the dividing range of mountains in the neighborhood of the city. There are many country residences of gentlemen concerned in business in Melbourne, and the country has a prosperous appearance. Further away on the slope of the range, our friends passed through large wheat fields, sheep and cattle runs, occasional patches of forest, and not infrequently crossed small rivers flowing on their way to the sea. They also crossed a goodly number of dry beds of rivers, which had every appearance of being full and running over in the season of heavy rains. The side of the range next the coast receives more rain than 270the other side of it, and the reasons therefor have been given in a previous chapter.

After the train had passed the crest of the range, it rolled along through a broken and undulating country, largely devoted to sheep and cattle raising, and having many stretches of blue gum forest. In some places great numbers of rabbits were visible, but this was a sight to which the eyes of our young friends had become accustomed. As they approached the frontier of the colony of Victoria, Dr. Whitney remarked that they would spend the rest of the day and the night at Albury, so as to have another view of the Murray River, and study the peculiarities of the colonial frontier.

“I believe,” said Harry, “that we have our baggage examined at the frontier, just as it is examined at the frontiers of the empires and kingdoms of Europe.”

“Yes,” replied the doctor, “that is the case; and I suppose the examination will be a light one for us, as we are going out of a protection colony into a free trade one. If we were going the other way, the custom house officials would be more particular.”

“How is that?” Ned asked.

“Why, don’t you see?” the doctor answered, “a protection country is on the lookout for goods that may interfere with its manufacturing interests; the free trade one has no such care for its manufacturing industries, but levies its duties on articles of luxury principally. When you come into the United States, your baggage is examined much more carefully than when you go into England. England is a free trade country, while our own is a protection 271one; at least it has been for the greater part of the time since it began its existence.”

“It is rather a strange circumstance,” remarked Ned, “that two colonies of the same country, lying side by side, and one of them an offshoot of the other, should be so radically different in their tariff laws. How do you account for it, sir?”

“We are treading on dangerous ground,” replied the doctor, “as it is not prudent for a traveler in foreign lands to talk politics; but as we are quite by ourselves, we may be permitted to discuss the subject a little. Victoria, as you are aware, is an offshoot from the colony of New South Wales, from which it was separated in August, 1851. I don’t know anything about the matter, but presume that the origin of the differences in tariffs between the two colonies grew out of the opposition of the new to the old. There has always been a great deal of jealousy between them, and as New South Wales had a free trade policy, it was the most natural thing in the world that the jealous young colony of Victoria should adopt a protection one. In each of the colonies there is a strong party opposed to its tariff policy; in Victoria there is a goodly number of free-traders, while in New South Wales there is an equally good number of protectionists. Whatever a man’s views are, in regard to free trade or protection, it is generally useless to attempt to change them by argument; and if he is a skilled debater, he can give you facts and figures to demonstrate, with great clearness, the correctness of his views. On that point I can tell you what was to me an amusing story.”

272“What was that?”

“Several years ago, when the financial authorities of the two colonies had made their annual reports, the two documents were taken by a free trade writer for an English magazine, and out of them, by the use of the figures and facts that they contained, there was constructed an admirable article, demonstrating, with great clearness, the advantages of free trade in New South Wales. Almost simultaneously in an American newspaper appeared a similar article, drawn from the same facts and figures, which demonstrated with equal clearness and with equal conclusiveness the advantages of protection in Victoria. There was not a weak point in either of the articles, and the curious thing was that they were drawn from the same sources. Each writer showed that the colony whose tariff policy he had favored was far more prosperous than the other, and was making progress steadily, while the other was running behind.”

“It’s pretty much the same in our own country, is it not?” queried Harry. “It seems to me that I have read articles in the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post that were flatly contradictory of each other on the subject of the tariff.”

“Yes; that is quite likely the case, as both of the papers you name are ready to debate the subject, and it is evident that the writers upon both sides of the question believe what they say. I don’t think it worth our while to enter into the abstract question here, and so we’ll drop it for something else. You are aware, I presume, that we have to make a change of train at the frontier on account 273of the different gauges of the railways of the two colonies.”

“Yes, sir, I was aware of that,” said Harry; “one track is six inches wider than the other.”

“Yes; that is another indication of the hostility between the two colonies. When the railway between Sydney and Melbourne was projected, it was impossible for the opposing interests to agree upon a uniform track for the whole distance, and consequently each colony did as it chose. The result was, that the Victorian line was of one gauge, and that of New South Wales of another. Neither passenger nor freight cars can run through from one city to the other, but all passengers and freight must be transferred at the frontier.”

“Let me call your attention to another thing while we are on the subject of colonial disagreements,” the doctor remarked. “Each of the colonies has its own postal system and each its own postage stamp. In New South Wales, a Victorian stamp would be of no use, any more than would a British postage stamp in the United States Post-office. You can prepay letters from one colony to the other in the stamps of the colony where you happen to be, but if you post a letter in Sydney with a Victorian stamp upon it, I am afraid it would go to the dead letter office, just as if it had borne no stamp at all.”

“What a pity it is,” said Harry, “that the colonies cannot reconcile their differences and come together.”

“You are not the first one, by any means, who has thought so,” was the reply. “Statesmen have been for a considerable time discussing the question of a federation 274of all the colonies in the same way that the British American colonies are federated. Federation would have been accomplished long ago, at least it is so claimed by the others, had it not been for New South Wales, which stands aloof from the rest principally on account of the tariff question. All the other colonies are in favor of the protection of home industries, while New South Wales, as before stated, favors a free trade policy. I saw, while in Melbourne, a cartoon representing several young women standing in a circle. All were dressed in white and wreathed with roses, and the various members of the circle were marked with the names of Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, New Zealand, and West Australia. A little in the background, and leaning against the wall with one finger in her mouth as though she were angry, was a young woman dressed in black, and labeled ‘New South Wales.’ The others were evidently trying, but without success, to induce her to join the circle.

“I presume,” he continued, “that federation will come in time, and an Australian gentleman told me the other day that he believed it would be a step towards independence. He thought, as do many other Australians, that the long distance from the mother country and their diversity of interests would tend, as the years go on, to weaken the bonds between Great Britain and her Australian colonies, and that separation would be sure to come. The colonies realize their great danger in case Great Britain should become involved in a foreign war, and especially with a power possessing a powerful navy. The colonies have a 275military force on the volunteer system, which could no doubt do efficient service in time of war. The British government maintains a certain number of warships in Australian waters, but neither they nor the volunteer troops provided by the colonies would be of much avail against a powerful force sent here by a first-class power.”

There was further conversation upon various topics of which we have no record, and in due course of time the train reached Wodonga, the frontier terminus of the line. It halted a few minutes in the station, and then moved on to Albury, in New South Wales, crossing the Murray River on an iron bridge; Harry remarking, as they did so, that it was the same Murray, though not the same bridge, that they crossed between Adelaide and Melbourne.

Harry learned, on inquiry, that the railway line from Melbourne reached Wodonga in 1873, but the line from Sydney did not arrive at the northern bank of the Murray until eight years later. There were disagreements between the management of the two concerns, so that for three years the ends of the two railway lines were not brought together. Passengers were transferred by coaches or omnibuses, and baggage and freight by wagons, between Wodonga and Albury, a distance of two miles. At last, however, the quarrels came to an end. A bridge was built, the lines of railway were completed, and since then everything has been harmonious. Passengers from New South Wales cross the river in the train by which they have arrived, and alight in the station at Wodonga. Passengers from Victoria cross the river, and make their 276change of cars on the territory of New South Wales in the Albury station.

After the custom-house examination was concluded, and it was by no means severe, our friends found a fairly good hotel where they put up for the night. Then they took a carriage and drove around the town, which was evidently a prosperous one, and had the usual paraphernalia of public institutions, such as churches, hospitals, jail, town hall, etc. It is said to be the home and the place of business of a considerable number of smugglers, whose occupation is invited by the long frontier line which separates Victoria from New South Wales. A resident of Albury, with whom our friends fell into conversation, admitted that a good deal of smuggling was carried on there, and added that it would take the whole male population of Victoria to guard the frontier efficiently. Of course, smuggling, like the same business everywhere else, relates chiefly to goods where high values can be included in small parcels. No one would think it worth his while to smuggle bulky articles of small value, since it would not pay to carry them long distances on men’s backs, as most of the smuggled articles are carried.

Albury stands on the bank of the Murray River, five hundred and thirty-one feet above the sea; it is about three hundred miles from the source of that stream, and six hundred above its mouth. During the rainy season, when the Murray is at its height, steamers run up to Albury, but ordinarily the river is not navigable to that place. As our friends drove along the edge of the stream, below the two bridges which span it, they saw a small 277steamboat tied up at the bank, and having an appearance of idleness about it. They stopped the carriage for a few moments to inspect the boat, and found that it had been left there by a sudden fall of the river, and was waiting for the next flood to come.

“It is a very light draft steamboat,” said Harry in his notebook; “and makes me think of those they talk about in the western part of the United States, that can run on a heavy dew, or where a man goes ahead of them with a sprinkling pot. It is a side-wheel boat, the wheels being very large, but not dipping far into the water. The engine seems rather small for such a large pair of wheels, but I suppose the boat was not built for speed so much as for general utility. She has a saloon over the engines, with cabins opening out of it, and there are quarters on the main deck for the officers and crew. The rooms in the upper cabin are intended for passengers, and as there are only ten of them on each side, you can readily understand that the accommodations are limited. They told me that the steamer was built at one of the towns lower down the river, her engines having been made in Adelaide, and brought overland to the place where the hull was constructed. They also told me that the first steamer which ever ascended the Murray was named the Albury, and arrived in the year 1855. I infer, from the name of the boat, that it was owned by people living here, but on that point my informant was unable to say anything definite.”

When the party returned to the hotel for dinner, they were regaled with a fish which was new to them. At Melbourne they had fish from the sea almost daily, but when 278visiting the cattle and sheep stations they had none at all, for the reason that no fish were to be obtained in those localities, and it would be an expensive matter to bring them there from the sea with the strong probability of their being unfit for eating at the time of their arrival. As they were not looking for fish in any inland town, they naturally inquired what it was before them.

“That is the Murray cod, sir, or cod-perch, as we call it,” said the waiter, in reply to Ned’s question. “It is a fish caught in the Murray River, and I think you’ll like it, gentlemen.”

They did like it, all three of our friends pronouncing it quite toothsome. It is a fish somewhat resembling the American perch, both in appearance and in taste, and probably belongs to the same family. Australia is poorly supplied with fresh water fishes. Many of the lakes contain no fish whatever, and the few that are found there are poor eating. There are trout in the mountainous districts, but they are not numerous. Attempts have been made to stock the rivers with European salmon, carp, and other food fishes, but thus far the experiments have not been especially successful. Once in a while a fisherman catches a small salmon in one of the streams, and paragraphs concerning his performance are circulated far and wide in the newspapers. The habit of most of the Australian rivers of running dry at certain portions of the year is a serious discouragement to the industry of fish culture.

At Albury our friends found themselves in one of the mountainous districts of Australia. Mount Kosciusco, the highest peak in Australia, was not far away, though not 279visible from the town, but other mountain peaks were in sight of the place. Kosciusco is not a very high mountain, as mountains go, as its summit is only 7,308 feet above the level of the sea. It is quite picturesquely situated, forming one of a group of several mountains, and the journey to its summit is by no means an easy matter.

Athletic young men, with a fondness for adventure, occasionally make up parties for an excursion to the top of the mountain, and if the weather is good they come back with their spirits high, their shoes or boots well worn, and their clothing more or less damaged. Traveling facilities are limited, and anybody who climbs Mount Kosciusco must expect to “rough it.” The town nearest to the mountain is Tumberumba, and the excursion is made partly on horseback and partly on foot. It is forty miles from Tumberumba to the mountain, and in order to reach that town it is necessary to travel by coach a distance of seventy-four miles, from Calcairn, which is the nearest station on the railway.

Travelers who have visited Switzerland before going to Australia say that the region around Mount Kosciusco is quite Alpine in character, as it has deep gorges and ravines, and the streams plunge for long distances over precipitous rocks. The Murray River takes its rise among these mountains, and a great contrast is offered between the country around its head waters and that through which it flows in the latter part of its course. The country is too rough around these mountains for sheep and cattle stations. There is a considerable amount of tillable land 280among them, which is principally devoted to the growing of oats and wheat.

At their appointed time, our friends proceeded by train in the direction of Sydney. They found the railway running for much of the way through a mountainous region, some of it very mountainous indeed. The railway engineering on many parts of the route evoked their admiration, and certainly it deserves a great deal of praise. There are numerous tunnels on the way, gorges and ravines are traversed by bridges high up in the air, and nowhere in the world can be found better examples of engineering skill in mountain work. A gentleman who was in the carriage with them said they would find equally good work on the western line of railway, the one on which they were traveling being the southern.

“The range of mountains that winds around the whole coast of Australia,” said the gentleman, “has made our railways cost us very dearly. To go any distance at all into the interior, we had to traverse the mountains, and for a long time it was believed that it would be absolutely impossible to get through them. The first railway line in New South Wales was surveyed about 1847, and ground for it was broken in July, 1850. The obstacles which the Blue Mountains presented retarded the work very much, but finally, after they were passed, we got along well enough. You will see for yourself how difficult they were.”

“From what we had already seen,” wrote Harry, “we fully agreed with the gentleman in his statement, and were not surprised to learn that the engineers were considerably 281discouraged when they began their work. After a pause, he described to us some of the interesting points of the western line, as it is called, and said he hoped we would be able to make a journey over that part of the railway system of New South Wales. He assured us that we would never regret it, and that we would see some of the most magnificent sights to be obtained anywhere in railway travel.

“When you have crossed the crest of the Blue Mountains,” the gentleman continued, “you will see a piece of railway engineering which has never been undertaken, as far as I know of, anywhere else in the world.”

“What is that?” one of the party asked.

“It is the accomplishment of a feat that has always been disastrous in every other part of the globe, that of two trains passing each other on a single track.”

“It certainly results in disaster as far as I have ever known,” Dr. Whitney answered. “I have never heard of two trains trying to pass each other on a single track without both of them coming to grief.”

“Well, you know that Australia is a land of contradictions,” was the reply; “and why shouldn’t we be contradictory in this as well as many other things? The way we perform this trick is this:—

“The railway climbs the mountain by means of zigzags, running first one way, and then the other, and all the time making an ascending grade. At the end of each zigzag the track is prolonged sufficiently to hold two railway trains. When an ascending train sees a descending one coming, the engine driver runs his train to the end of 282this prolonged track and stops. Then the descending one comes down, runs upon the track, is switched off down the mountain, and the way is then clear for the ascending train to proceed. There is no double track anywhere, and yet the trains have passed each other, and safely too.”

“Very simple when you know what it is,” said Harry, and the others echoed his remark.

When they crossed the Blue Mountains they found the zigzags, readily recognizing them from the description. On seeing the rugged character of the mountains, they were not at all surprised that the engineers were appalled at the difficulties before them. Neither did they wonder that the officers in command of the first convict settlement at Sydney for a long time regarded the Blue Mountains as impassable, and believed that escaped convicts traveling in that direction would be stopped by this formidable barrier. The Blue Mountains were not crossed and the country beyond them explored until 1813, although the settlement at Sydney was founded in 1788.

Mountain regions are always considered healthy places to live in, and this is especially the case with the region of the Blue Mountains. A fellow-passenger in the train told our friends that it was a favorite saying in the country that nobody ever dies in the Blue Mountains; he simply dries up and disappears. Another passenger said that once, when a town was founded in the Blue Mountain district, the people wanted to start a graveyard, and took along an elderly man who was in the last stages of consumption. They had agreed to pay his expenses and give him a 283grand funeral, on the condition that he lived until he reached the site of the town. Not only did he live until he got there, but he continued to live for many years, and finally dried up and blew away. The people felt that they had been defrauded, and if the man had left anything in the way of property, they would have brought suit for the recovery of damages.

Harry recorded the above anecdote in his notebook, adding to it the words, “Interesting, but of doubtful authenticity.”




After leaving the Blue Mountains behind them, our friends were whirled onward through a more fertile country than the one they had traversed on the western slope. As they approached Sydney, they found the country dotted with pleasant residences and diversified with fields and forest in a very picturesque way. At the appointed hour the train rolled into the station at Sydney, and landed the strangers in that ancient city; ancient from an Australian point of view, as it is the oldest settlement on the island continent, but exceedingly modern when compared with London, Paris, and other European capitals.

As our friends drove in the direction of the hotel where they intended to stay, they were struck by the narrowness of the streets, which seemed to them very narrow indeed, after the wide streets of Melbourne.

Harry wondered how the difference of the streets of the two cities could be accounted for.

“Oh, I understand,” said Ned. “Sydney was laid out by an English surveyor, and Melbourne by an American. Being a native of the little island called England, the Britisher felt that he must make the most of the land he had, while the American, coming from his own wide-spreading country, took all the room that he wanted. That’s the way of it, I’m sure.”

285“Well, that will do for an explanation,” said Harry, “until we get at the real facts in the case.”

“The probabilities are,” the doctor remarked, “that as Sydney was originally a convict settlement, the officers that came out in charge of the expedition felt that it should be made as compact as possible for the greater facility of guarding the convicts. In this way the narrowness of the streets may be accounted for.”

“They didn’t foresee the tramways in the streets, and the steam cars running upon them,” said Harry, as a noisy little steam engine drawing two passenger cars passed close to their carriage.

“No, indeed,” responded Ned. “Street cars had not been invented at the time Sydney was founded, and the locomotive was unknown. One would think that steam cars, running through crowded streets like this, would cost a considerable loss of life every year.”

“I have heard that they do so,” said Dr. Whitney. “You observe that they have flagmen at some of the crossings, and that the trains do not stop wherever passengers want to get on, but only at certain designated points. There must be great danger to pedestrians, many of whom, in all cities, are careless, and I wonder the authorities do not abolish this steam traffic in the streets, and adopt the cable or the trolly.”

“We’ll take good care that they don’t run over us while we are in Sydney,” remarked Harry, and there the tramway subject was dropped.

Our friends followed the same plan here as in the other cities they had visited, of going out for a drive or stroll 286immediately after arranging for their accommodations at the hotel, and removing the dust of travel from their clothing. They thought there was less bustle and activity in the streets of Sydney than in those of Melbourne, and accounted for the difference that Sydney was the older and more dignified place of the two, had a smaller population, and was not so much given over to speculations in gold mines and other matters. They found it well equipped with public buildings, most of them fully equal to the corresponding edifices in the rival city. The city hall especially roused their admiration, and they passed several churches which would do honor to any city of Europe. The doctor remarked that the people of Sydney had constructed their public buildings with a liberal hand, and Harry answered that the liberal hand had been directed by excellent taste.

“I am impatient to see the famous harbor of Sydney,” Ned remarked soon after they started on their drive. “You know it is the one thing we have heard about more than any other.”

“We will have an opportunity of seeing it in two or three ways,” the doctor remarked. Then he called to the driver, and told him to stop in front of the city hall.

After giving a hasty glance at the interior of the building, the party climbed to the cupola, which is one hundred and fifty feet above the level of the street below. From their point of observation they had a fine view in every direction. The whole city was in sight, and also a good deal of the surrounding country. The magnificent harbor, too, was at their feet. Fifteen miles to the westward, 287they could see the pretty town of Paramatta, which is a favorite resort for Sydney merry-makers; while to the eastward, the broad line of the Pacific Ocean was spread before their gaze. They remained there for half an hour or so in the cupola, taking in the view in general, and also in many of its details.

As they were about to descend, Ned remarked that the harbor fully met his expectations, and in some points exceeded them. Afterward he wrote as follows in his notebook:—

“The harbor may be said to consist of a series of coves or bays, uniting together in a single body of water, which opens to the sea between two promontories, called The Heads. Whether viewed from an elevation like that of the tower of the city hall, or from points along its shores, or from the deck of a vessel passing over it, Sydney harbor presents a most admirable view.”

After leaving the city hall, our friends drove to Circular Quay, whose character in one respect is described by its name, as it is of semicircular shape, and encloses the most important of the divisions of Sydney harbor. Harry and Ned were unable to say whether the amount of shipping at Sydney was greater than that at Melbourne or not, but in one thing they were agreed, that neither city had a right to be jealous of the other on the score of marine business. There were ships of all nations at Melbourne, and there were also ships of all nations at Sydney. Sydney has the advantage of being the terminus of most of the great steamship lines, and consequently their vessels are in port at Sydney for a longer 288time than at Melbourne. There were great steamers of the Orient line, of the Peninsular and Oriental (familiarly known as the “P. & O.”), the French line, or Messageries Maritimes, the North German Lloyd, and other lines of lesser note. There was a steamer there, from San Francisco, and there were several vessels belonging to the Australian Steam Navigation Company.

As our friends were looking at the forest of masts and funnels, Harry was the first to break the silence.

“You could start from here,” he remarked, “for almost any other part of the world. You could set out for Greenland’s icy mountains or India’s coral strand with very little ease.”

“I don’t know about Greenland’s icy mountains,” said Ned, “as I don’t believe there is any line running to them from Sydney, but the P. & O. boat and several other boats will take you to India’s coral strand; of that I am sure.”

Circular Quay was formerly called Sydney Cove, and it was at the head of this little cove that the first settlement was made. It is the principal one of the coves or harbors where ships can lie, though Darling Cove is nearly as important as the one just mentioned. The sheet of water into which these coves open is called Port Jackson, and extends inland some twenty miles from The Heads. Islands of various sizes are scattered through Port Jackson, some of them occupied, and some remaining in a state of nature. Our friends planned, while strolling about Circular Quay, to make an excursion up the harbor as soon as they could do so conveniently, and then, as it 289was getting pretty late in the afternoon, they returned to their hotel.

On their arrival at the house they met a gentleman to whom they had a letter of introduction. He had heard of their arrival, and came to hunt them up without waiting for the delivery of their letter. This circumstance led Harry to write as follows in his journal:—

“Wherever we go we are received with the most open-handed hospitality. Persons who are entire strangers to us are always civil, ready to answer any question we ask, and every one of them seems quite willing to go out of his way to serve us. We have made the acquaintance of men in railway trains and around the hotels, or elsewhere, who have ended up a brief conversation by inviting us to visit their country places, their sheep or cattle stations, if they have any, or their business establishments in the city, and this, too, without knowing anything about us other than that we are strangers in Australia. Those to whom we have letters throw their houses open to us, and in every instance urge us to a longer stay whenever we intimate that we must depart. Those to whom we are introduced by these people are equally courteous and equally ready to show us any hospitality. The whole country seems open to us, and if we could and would accept half the invitations that have been given to us, we should remain in Australia for years, perhaps for a decade or two.

“Many Australians, some of them born here of English parents, together with natives of England who have lived here many years, complain that when they go back to the old country they are received very coldly. It is no wonder 290they feel that English customs are very frigid, when they contrast them with the general kindness and liberal hospitality that universally prevails throughout this island continent. Men who have received strangers as freely as is the custom here, must have a sensation of having ice water poured down their backs when they go to London or New York, and are greeted with the formality customary to those two cities.

“I have been told that it is not infrequently the case that an old Australian who goes to England with the intention of spending not less than a year there, is back in the antipodes in less than six months. The cold formality is not at all to his liking, and, as one man expressed it, he feels as though a southerly burster had dropped on him all at once; and yet his English friends are no doubt glad to see him, and have no thought whatever of giving the least offense.

“They are only adhering to the customs of centuries, and unless they themselves have been in Australia, which is very rarely the case, they cannot understand why the stranger should feel that he is being unkindly treated. I am told that thirty years ago there was the same contrast between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States, but since railways have traversed the American continent, and communication is made easier, the forms of hospitality of the peoples of the two sections have become pretty much the same.

“Of one thing you may be sure: we shall never forget the courtesies that we have received, and when we leave the shores of Australia we shall treasure long in our memories 291the warm hospitality which we have encountered since the day we first set foot upon Australian soil.”

That evening the party visited one of the clubs where all three were “put up” for the time of their stay in Sydney, their host intimating to Dr. Whitney that, as his nephews were under age, they would not be expected to visit the club, except in his company. Before they had been in town twenty-four hours, our friends had received the offer of the hospitality of no fewer than four clubs, together with several invitations to dinner. The three agreed that Sydney was certainly a very hospitable place, and that a stranger suffering from indigestion, or in poor health, generally would find it too much for him.

The next day our friends were taken on a drive through some of the parks, of which Sydney has a liberal supply. Most of the parks are of considerable extent, one of them, called the Domain, occupying one hundred acres of ground on the shore of one of the coves. Other parks are projected, and it was evident to Harry and Ned that the authorities of Sydney were thorough believers in having plenty of breathing space for the people.

The drive included the Botanical Gardens, which proved to be full of interest. Nearly every plant and tree of the whole of Australia is represented in the Botanical Gardens, and there are many trees and plants there from other parts of the world. Everything planted in these gardens seems to thrive, the products of high latitudes growing side by side to those of very low ones.

The Botanical Gardens are not of recent origin, some of the trees they contain having been planted there 292seventy or eighty years ago. Among these trees are Norfolk pines, which have attained a height of one hundred feet, and a diameter of five feet at the base. Dr. Whitney had visited the pine forests of California, and said that the specimens in the Botanical Gardens at Sydney reminded him of the magnificent trees of the Golden State.

At one place during their visit to the gardens Ned observed the smell of musk, and looked around to ascertain whence it came. The gentleman who accompanied him noted his curiosity and said:—

“I think you are looking for the musk tree. Here it is.”

And there it was, sure enough. The tree is a product of Australia, and has the peculiarity of constantly giving out the odor of musk, which is perceptible at quite a distance. Ned asked if any perfume was manufactured from the tree or its leaves, and was answered in the negative.

All the parks of the city appeared to be tastefully laid out and well kept. Ned recalled the numerous parks that they saw at Melbourne, and remarked that neither city had occasion to be jealous of the other in the matter of pleasant resorts for the people.

Our young friends asked if any of the prisons or other buildings that were erected at the time of the settlement of Sydney were still in existence.

“There is hardly a trace of any of them,” was the reply. “As the city has grown, the old buildings have been destroyed, to make place for new ones of a more substantial 293character. One of the churches occupies the site of the original cemetery which was established soon after the foundation of the city, and a business house covers the ground where the principal prison stood. There is no desire on the part of any of us to preserve the buildings of the original settlement, as they recall unpleasant memories.

“We want to forget as much as we can,” he continued, “all that is disagreeable in the history of Sydney, just as an individual usually wants to forget anything unpleasant about his own origin or history. The subject comes up occasionally, and we have no squeamishness about discussing it, and the history of the colony is well known to every intelligent inhabitant of the place. Transportation to this colony ceased about fifty years ago, and consequently there are few men now living in New South Wales who came here as involuntary emigrants. The old disputes between Emancipists and Free Settlers were ended long ago, and the questions that greatly agitated the population of the first half of the century have now become matters of history.”

As the gentleman paused, Harry thanked him for his information, and then asked if Port Jackson and Botany Bay were the same thing.

“They are quite distinct from each other,” was the reply. “Botany Bay is situated a little to the south of Port Jackson and opens into the Pacific Ocean. It is a singular circumstance that Captain Cook missed the entrance of Port Jackson, which he does not seem to have discovered at all. It is only five miles across the land 294from one body of water to the other, and it is evident that he did not venture very far inland, or he would have found Port Jackson an infinitely better harbor than Botany Bay.

“It was in Botany Bay,” continued the gentleman, “that the first expedition to form a settlement in Australia cast anchor. Captain Phillip, who commanded the expedition, and some of his officers examined the land around Botany Bay, and found it quite unfit for a settlement. While making their examinations they discovered Port Jackson, and immediately perceived its superior advantages. The ships were at once moved around to this harbor, and then the convicts and the soldiers who guarded them were brought on land for the first time. But the name of Botany Bay clung to the settlement for a long while, and became a name of terror to the criminal classes of England.”

“It is a very pretty name when divested of its association,” remarked Harry. “I wonder how Captain Cook happened to hit upon it.”

“He gave it that name,” was the reply, “on account of the great number of flowers and flowering plants which he found all around the bay. Quite likely he would have given the same name to Port Jackson if he had discovered it, as there were just as many flowers here as at the other place.”

On another day our friends took a drive to Botany Bay, which is only five miles from Sydney. They found quite a pretty place, and were not surprised to learn that it is a favorite resort of the residents of Sydney. Their attention was called to the monument which marks the spot where 295Captain Cook landed in 1770, and took possession of Australia in the name of the British government.

Another trip that they made was to Paramatta, going there by rail and returning by water. Of this excursion Harry wrote as follows:—

“The journey is a short one, as Paramatta is only fifteen miles from Sydney. It is on what they call the Paramatta River, which isn’t really a river, but simply an arm of the bay, and is a favorite place for rowing races. Next to Sydney, it is the oldest town in the colony. Governor Phillip, the first governor of New South Wales, laid it out in 1788, his object being to utilize the labors of the convicts in farming. The first grain fields were established here, being cultivated by convict labor, and the governor had a space of ground cleared, and a house erected for his country residence.

“The experiment of cultivating grain was so successful during the first year, that it was continued on a larger scale during the second and subsequent years. Free settlers took up ground at Paramatta, which was then called Rosehill, the name which the governor gave to the little elevation where his house was built. Settlers who came out to Sydney of their own accord received allotments of land, and were supplied with a sufficient number of convicts to do their work.

“These were known as assigned servants, and the practise of having assigned servants spread everywhere and became very popular, as the parties to whom the convicts were assigned got their labor for practically nothing. Sometimes the wives of convicts came out as passengers 296in the same ships with their husbands, or followed them later. When they arrived and set up housekeeping, they would apply for servants to be assigned to them, and would name their husbands as the men they preferred. The plan was found to work very well in nearly all cases, and the government encouraged the practise. Sometimes, though, it happened that the husbands were inclined to abuse and beat their wives, but this did not happen often, as the wives had the power, like other employers of assigned servants, of sending their husbands to be flogged.

“Whenever, in the early days, the sentence of a convict expired, he was given a farm at Paramatta, or in its neighborhood, and in this way quite a farming community grew up. The agricultural features of Paramatta have continued down to the present time, and all about it there are pretty farms and gardens, which make the place look very much like an English town of the same size. It is regularly laid out, the principal street extending about a mile back from the landing place, with a width of two hundred feet. Many business men of Sydney have their residences here, and there is a goodly number of public buildings, including hospitals, asylums, churches, and the like.

“Our attention was called to several manufactories, but we were less interested in them than we were in the orange groves and orchards, which are numerous and extensive. They showed us some orange trees which they claim are the largest in the world, but whether that is the case or not, I am unable to say. They showed us one tree from which ten thousand oranges had been taken in 297a single year, and after we had looked at the orange groves, we were shown through several flower gardens, which seemed to be literally masses of flowers. When we returned to Sydney by the boat, we observed that the banks of the river were lined with flower gardens, and were not surprised to learn that almost the entire flower market of Sydney is supplied from Paramatta.

“We were unfortunate in not being here in the season of fruits, as they told us that the Paramatta oranges are among the finest in the world, and the same could be said of the other fruits grown in the place. I think we have said before that the climate of Australia is very favorable to the cultivation of fruits, those of the tropics as well as those of the temperate zones showing a universal tendency to thrive in the genial atmosphere.”

Dr. Whitney and his young companions spent two or three days at some of the country residences in the neighborhood of Sydney, and were charmed with the warmth of the hospitality and the beauty of the places that they visited. It was impossible for them to accept a tenth part of the invitations they received, as their time was limited, and they were anxious to press on to the northward. So one day they bade farewell to their friends and took the train for Newcastle, the principal point of the coal-mining industry of the colony.




“The region between Sydney and Newcastle,” wrote Ned in his journal, “is a diversified one. Here and there are forests interspersed with open country. Some of the ground is level, and some of it very much broken and mountainous. Most of it is fertile, and we passed through many fields of wheat and other grain. Some of it is devoted to cattle raising and some to the production of wool, though it is not generally regarded as a good country for raising sheep. In places the mountains come quite close to the sea-coast, and there we found the railway winding over a very tortuous course, where the rocks that rose on either hand, and the tunnels through which we were occasionally whirled, convinced us that the building of the railway must have cost a great deal of money. At several places coal mining was in progress, and it was evident that Newcastle didn’t have an entire monopoly of the coal-producing business.

“Newcastle is quite as much devoted to the coal business as the English city from which it was named. More than two million tons of coal are shipped from this port every year, and the engineers who have carefully examined the coal seams say that there is enough coal under Newcastle 299to keep up the supply at the present rate for more than five hundred years.

“We were first taken to the harbor where the shipments are made. There we found admirable facilities for loading vessels with the products of the mines. They claim that they can handle twenty-five thousand tons of coal daily, and that a good-sized coal steamer can leave port with her cargo six hours after entering. I’m not an expert in such matters, and therefore don’t know, but from what I saw it seems to me that there is no difficulty about it.

“The harbor of Newcastle was not a very good one originally, but they have made it so by extending into the sea a breakwater, which shelters it from the gales that formerly swept it. It is not a large harbor, but an excellent one for its purpose.

“We visited some of the coal sheds and coal breakers, and went into one of the mines. They would gladly have taken us through all the mines in the place, but as one mine is very much like another, we declined to make the rounds of all of them. The one that we entered was about four hundred feet underground. We were lowered in a cage to the bottom of the mine, and then walked through a tunnel to where the men were at work, dodging on our way several loaded cars that were going towards the shaft, as well as empty ones coming from it. The cars were pushed along by men, each of them carrying a little lantern on the front of his hat; in fact, every man whom we saw working underground had one of these lights for his guidance. The tunnel itself was lit up with electric lights, extending from the shaft to the front of 300the working; and in addition to these, each of us carried a lantern, which was of material assistance in showing us where to place our feet. We had a few stumbles on the way, but nobody experienced a fall.

“When we reached the front of the working, the sight was a curious one. A dozen men—I think there must have been that number at least—were attacking the coal seam, most of them lying on their sides and digging away with picks at the lower part of it. Some of them had worked their way in two or three feet, and were almost out of sight, and I shuddered to think of the possibility that the mass above might fall upon and crush them. I asked our guide if this did not happen sometimes.

“‘Unfortunately, yes,’ he replied. ‘It does happen now and then, and the men on whom the coal falls are more or less severely injured, and perhaps killed. We have to watch the miners constantly, to see that they do not run too great a risk. If we let them have their own way, accidents would be much more frequent than they are.’

“‘Why do they burrow under the coal in that way?’ I asked. ‘Couldn’t they get it out in some manner less dangerous than that?’

“‘That is the way to which they have been accustomed,’ the guide answered, ‘and it is difficult to get them to change. Most of these people come from the coal-mining districts of England, and they are very conservative. Machines have been invented for doing this kind of work, and they are in use in some of the mines, but the men are opposed to them, and in some instances they have disabled or destroyed the machines.’

301“Then he went on to explain that the miner makes an opening below the mass of coal in the manner that we saw, and then drills a hole some distance above it, in which to explode a charge of powder. This brings down all the coal below the locality of the explosion. Sometimes it is broken up into lumps that a man can handle, and sometimes it comes down in a single block, which requires another blast to break it up, and then the cars are brought up as near as possible. The coal is loaded into them, and pushed away to the shaft. Each man is paid according to the amount of coal he gets out, and some of them receive large wages. There are about five thousand people employed in the coal mines here, and the probabilities are that the business will be extended, and the coal product of Newcastle increased within a year or two from the present time.”

From Newcastle our friends continued their journey northward to Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. They traveled all the way by rail, changing trains at Stanthorpe, on the frontier. During the delay subsequent upon the change of trains, Harry made the following memorandum in his notebook:—

“It seems to me that it is a great misfortune for Australia that each colony insists upon having its own particular gauge of track, thus preventing the running of through trains without change of cars. Some day the people will find out their mistake, and I believe some of them realize it already. Dr. Whitney says that there was at one time in the United States several different gauges of track from four feet, eight inches and one half 302up to six feet, and that the railway managers generally agreed upon four feet, eight inches as the standard gauge. Since that agreement all other tracks have been changed to make the tracks uniform. Now any railway car can be run all over the United States, with the exceptions of a few special lines where the gauge is three feet, six inches.

“Three feet, six inches is the gauge of the railways of Queensland. That of New South Wales is four feet, eight and one half inches, while that of Victoria is five feet, three inches. In South Australia some of the lines are of five feet, three inches gauge, and others have the same gauge as the Queensland railways. The narrow gauge is especially adapted to mountain regions, and also to thinly populated districts. On lines where the business is light and the distances are not long, this gauge answers all requirements, but on many lines, especially those having considerable business, it is not at all advantageous.”

During their railway ride our friends observed the strange combination of aboriginal and English names, and called Dr. Whitney’s attention to it. “Here are Coolongolook and Coonabarabran,” said Harry, “and next come Clarkeville and Smithville. Here are Cootramundra and Illawarra and Murrumbidgee close by Orange and Richmond. Here are Curabubula and Waggawagga, with Warwrick and Union Camp. I could go on indefinitely with those names, and it seems to me that the aboriginal ones are about as numerous as those of British origin. They are picturesque and perhaps interesting, but they are very difficult to pronounce.”

303“Isn’t it possible that you will find the same state of things at home?” queried Dr. Whitney.

“Quite possible; I have never thought of that. Let me see.”

“Why, certainly,” said Ned. “Go to Maine and New Hampshire and run over some of the Indian names of lakes, rivers, mountains, and towns in those States. Think of Kennebec and Penobscot, Winnipesaukee, Pemigewasset, Passaconaway, and a good many others that I could name. I think it is an excellent policy to preserve these old names and not let them die out. Piscataqua is a much prettier name for a river than Johnston or Stiggins, and Monadnock sounds better as the name of a mountain than Pike’s Peak or Terry’s Cliff. The more the native names are preserved, the better I like it.”

“I agree with you,” replied Harry; “but I wish they would make the orthography of those native names a little easier. That’s the only fault I have to find with them.”

The region through which our friends traveled was devoted to agricultural and pastoral pursuits, as the numerous flocks of sheep, herds of cattle, and fields of grain that they saw gave evidence. They were told that it was also rich in minerals,—the few surveys that had been made resulting in discoveries of gold, tin, silver, antimony, and other metals. Some of the passengers whom they met on the train were under the impression that Dr. Whitney was looking for a place in which to invest money, and they were very anxious that he should stop and investigate their promising properties. Several fine specimens of gold-bearing quartz rock were exhibited, and the fortunate 304owners of these specimens said that the ground was covered with them in the locality where they were obtained. Dr. Whitney politely declined to delay his journey, and assured his zealous acquaintances that he was not looking for any new investments.

When our friends were out of earshot of the would-be speculators, Dr. Whitney said that their statement reminded him of an incident which once occurred at a town in California, where a quartz mill was in successful operation. Harry and Ned pressed the doctor to give them the story, whereupon he related as follows:—

“There were many speculative individuals around that town who were constantly endeavoring to discover deposits of ore. One day one of these speculators was standing on a street corner, when a solemn-faced Indian came along, stopped in front of the man, and, after looking around in all directions to make sure that nobody was observing him, he produced from under his blanket a piece of gold-bearing quartz. Without saying a word, he held the bit of rock before the eyes of the speculator.

“The speculator grasped the specimen with great eagerness. Sure enough it was gold-bearing rock, and no mistake. It was generally believed in the town that the Indians knew of valuable deposits, but were very unwilling to divulge their location to the white men.”

“‘Where did you get this?’ the speculator asked.

“The Indian made a sweep of his arm that embraced two thirds of the horizon, but said not a word.

“‘Is there any more where this came from?’ queried the speculator.

305“‘Yes; heaps, heaps more,’ and the red man made a circle with his arm that might mean anything from a mole hill to a mountain.

“‘Will you show me where you got this?’ said the speculator.

“The Indian said nothing except to pronounce the words ‘five dollar.’

“Unlike many of his associates, the speculator happened to have some money about him. He thrust his hand into his pocket, drew out a five-dollar gold piece, and placed it in the extended palm of the red man.

“The latter examined the coin very carefully, even to the extent of biting it between his teeth. Then he placed it in some mysterious receptacle under his blanket and said:—

“‘You with me come. You with me go share.’

“The Indian led his new partner a long walk, going out of the town on the side opposite the quartz mill, making a circuit of a mile or two among hills, and finally fetching up at the dump pile of the mill. The dump pile, it is proper to explain, is the pile of ore as it is brought from the mine to be crushed. Having reached the foot of the pile, the Indian paused and said:—

“‘Me get him here. Heaps more here, too.’

“A more disgusted individual than that speculator was at that moment could rarely be found in the town. He had been completely outwitted, in fact, sold, and by a savage who couldn’t read or write.”

From Stanthorpe on the frontier of Queensland the country was much the same as that through which our 306friends had traveled from Newcastle, except that its character was more tropical the further they went northward. They reached Brisbane in the evening, and were out immediately after breakfast on the following morning to view the sights of the place, which were fewer than those of Sydney and Melbourne, as the city is not as large as either of the others mentioned. The entire population of Brisbane and its suburbs does not exceed one hundred thousand. It is named after Sir Thomas Brisbane, who was Governor of the colony at the time the city was founded. In some respects it may be called an inland city, as it lies on a river twenty-five miles from the entrance of that stream into Moreton Bay, which opens into the Pacific Ocean. It is on a peninsula enclosed by a bend in the river, so that it has an excellent water front.

Harry made note of the fact that Brisbane resembles Sydney in the narrowness of its streets, but he added that the surveyors had some excuse for restricting the amount of land reserved for the streets, inasmuch as the space between the rivers was limited. The youths were reminded of New York City when they noted that the streets of Brisbane ran from the river on one side to the river on the other, just as do the numbered streets on Manhattan Island. They had a further reminder when an island in the river was pointed out to them as the site of a prison during the convict period, just as Blackwell’s Island of New York City is the location of a prison to-day.

Queen Street is to Brisbane as George Street is to Sydney or Collins Street to Melbourne. The principal shops and several of the public buildings are located along Queen 307Street, and our friends observed that wide verandas extended across the sidewalks from one end of the street to the other. These verandas enable pedestrians to walk in the shade at all times, a very wise provision to avoid sunstroke. It must be remembered that Brisbane is considerably nearer the Equator than either Melbourne or Sydney, and consequently has a warmer climate. Dr. Whitney said that he was reminded of New Orleans by the temperature, and on inquiry he ascertained that Brisbane is fully as warm as the great city near the mouth of the Mississippi.

There is a fine bridge of iron which crosses the river between North and South Brisbane. It is more than one thousand feet long, and has a draw in the center to permit the passage of ships. Ned and Harry strolled across this bridge when they reached the end of Queen Street, and on arriving at its farther end they turned around and retraced their steps. When back again in the principal part of the city, they continued to the end of the peninsula, where they had expected to find huge warehouses and places of business fronting the river. Instead of these edifices they found the Botanical Gardens and other parks occupying the point of land where the river makes its bend. It was an agreeable surprise to them, and they remained in and about the gardens for an hour or more.

Whenever they came to any of the public buildings during their stroll, they ascertained the name of each edifice from some by-stander or shop-keeper. They observed that all the buildings were handsome and of good construction, with the exception of the court house, which had a very low and mean appearance. The curiosity 308of the youths was roused by this circumstance, and Harry spoke to a good-natured cab driver to ascertain how it happened.

“That’s easy to tell, when you know,” the driver answered.

“Well,” said Harry, “if you know, won’t you kindly tell us?”

“Certainly, sir,” the driver responded. “You see this is the way of it. That court house there used to be the female prison in the old times, and for years it was crowded with women that the government had sent out here to punish ’em. They were lifers, most of ’em, and I suppose they are pretty near all dead now. If any of ’em is alive, they’re pretty old. Them that was kept in prison had to do hard work, making clothes and that sort of thing, but a good many of ’em went out as assigned servants to do housework, and they had to work in the fields, too; but those days is gone now, and all the prisons we have in Brisbrane in these times is for them that commits crimes right here on the spot.”

“Do you mind that round building up there with the mast on it,” said the cab driver, pointing to a structure that looked like a windmill with the arms of the mill removed.

“Yes, I see it,” said Harry; “what about it?”

“We call it the Observatory,” was the reply, “and that’s what it is. That mast there is for signaling ships when they come into the harbor. In the old times there was a windmill there, where they used to grind grain into flour and meal for the convicts to eat, and I guess other 309folks ate it, too. When the wind blew the arm went round and round, the machinery worked, and the stones revolved and ground out the meal. Sometimes they didn’t have no wind, because it didn’t blow, but they had a treadmill there, and then they used to bring up a string of convicts, and put them on the treadmill to run the machinery and keep up the grinding of the grain. I suppose you know what a treadmill is?”

“I have heard about a treadmill,” said Harry, “but I never saw one.” Ned nodded, and said that he was in the same predicament.

“Well,” said the driver, “I have seen one in the old country; I never saw the one here, because it was gone before I came to Brisbane. What I saw was a wheel in the shape of a long cylinder with twenty-four steps around the circumference of it; in fact, it didn’t look much unlike the paddle-wheel of a steamboat, where the men stood to turn it. Each one of ’em was boarded off from his neighbor so that they couldn’t talk to each other. There was a hand rail for them to hang on to. The weight of the prisoners’ bodies on the steps caused the wheel to turn, and they sent it around about twice a minute. A man on a treadmill has got to work, he can’t get out of it. If he tries to avoid stepping, he’s got to hang his weight on the hand rail with his arms, and after he has tried that for a minute or so he’s glad to go back to stepping again.”

“I should think,” said Ned, “that it would be difficult to adapt it to the weight of different individuals, and also to their height. While it might not be too much for a 310strong man, it might be for a weak one; and if the position of steps and rail were adapted to a tall man, they wouldn’t be for a short one.”

“I believe that’s just the trouble they found with it in the old country,” was the reply; “and it’s mostly been given up there. They’ve got a machine in the place of it which they call ‘the Crank,’ which can be adapted to anybody. It’s a wheel with paddles to it, and turns inside a box. They put gravel in the box, graduated to the strength of the man who is to turn it, and the prisoner’s hard labor consists in turning the crank.”

“It doesn’t serve any useful purpose, as the treadmill does, I presume?” said Harry.

“No; there is no useful purpose about it. A man has to turn that crank because he’s been sentenced to hard labor, and there’s nothing else they can put him to, that’s all. And they don’t by any means use the treadmill all the time for turning machinery and grinding grain, or doing some other work. Most of the treadmills I ever knew anything about in the old country were just treadmills, and that was all.”

Our friends were invited to visit a sugar plantation in Northern Queensland. They accepted the invitation, and one morning embarked on a steamer which took them in the direction which they wished to go. The steamer called at several places on the coast, including Rockhampton, Bowen, Mackay, Keppel Bay, and Somerset; the last-named place was their destination, and it was here that they landed.

“We utilized the time of stoppage at each port by going 311on shore,” said Harry in his journal. “Except for the exercise of the trip, we might about as well have stayed on board, as there was very little to be seen at any of the places. The coast towns of Queensland are pretty much all alike. They have from one to two thousand inhabitants each, and though they’re pretentiously laid out, they consist of little more than a single street. On the streets, other than the principal one, there are scattered houses, where the owners of land have endeavored to increase the value of their property by putting up buildings, but generally with poor success. For pavement the natural earth is obliged to answer, as most of these towns are too poor to afford anything better. The streets are very dusty in dry weather, and very muddy after a rain. At one of the places where we landed there had been a heavy shower the night before, and the main street was a great lane of mud. Ned said the street was a mile long, eighty feet wide, and two feet deep; at least, that was his judgment concerning it.

“One thing that impressed us in these towns was that hardly a man in any of them had a coat on. Everybody was in his shirt sleeves, and if he had a coat with him, he carried it on his arm. For the novelty of the thing, we took dinner at a hotel in Mackay, more with a view of seeing the people that went there, than with an expectation of a good meal. There were squatters from the back country, planters, clerks, merchants, lawyers, and doctors, all with their coats off, and we were told that this habit of going without coats is universal. One man who had lived there a good while said, ‘You may go to a grand 312dinner party, and find the ladies dressed in the height of fashion, and the gentlemen in their shirt sleeves.’ I don’t wonder that they have adopted this plan, as the climate is very warm. The region is decidedly tropical, the air is damp and oppressive, and in the daytime especially the heat is almost insupportable. I wonder, though, that they don’t adopt the white linen jacket for dinner purposes, just as the Europeans living in China and Japan have done.

“Somerset, where we landed, is principally a pearl-fishing station, and the pearl fishers who live there are a very rough-looking lot. The business is very profitable, those engaged in it estimating that the pearls pay all the expenses of their enterprise and a little more, while the nacre, or mother-of-pearl, the smooth lining of the shells, is a clear profit. The exportation of shells from Queensland is worth, annually, about half a million dollars. The pearl shells sell ordinarily for about one thousand dollars a ton. They are gathered by black divers under the superintendence of white men.

“These white men own the sloops and schooners devoted to the pearl fishery, and they go out with these craft, taking along a lot of black men as divers. The diving is done in the same way as in pearl fisheries all over the world, so that there is no necessity of describing it. The shells are like large oyster shells; in fact, they are oyster shells and nothing else. They are about twenty inches long, and from twelve to fifteen inches from one side to the other; so, you see, it doesn’t take many oysters to make a load for a diver. The divers are paid according to the number of shells they gather, and not by fixed 313wages. A man familiar with the business said, that if you paid the men regular wages, you would be lucky if you got one dive out of them daily.

“I tried to ascertain the value of some of the pearls obtained here,” continued Harry, “but my information was not very definite. They told me that several pearls worth five thousand dollars each had been taken, but they were not very common, the value ordinarily running from a few dollars up to one hundred or two hundred dollars each. My informant said that the best pearls were found on the coast of West Australia, but that the fishery in that locality was more dangerous than on the coast of Queensland. He said that the sea in that locality was subject to hurricanes, and sometimes an entire fleet of pearl-fishing boats would be overwhelmed and sunk, hardly a man escaping. ‘These disasters,’ he said, ‘do not deter those who survive from taking the risk over again, and there are always plenty of black men who go out as divers there whenever a boat is ready to start.’”

To go to the sugar plantation to which our friends were invited, they had to make a journey inland, in a wagon over a rough road about forty miles long. The plantation was located on both sides of a small river, and employed, at the time of their visit, about one hundred and fifty men. One of the owners was there, and exerted himself to his fullest ability to make the strangers comfortable and have them see all that was to be seen. They visited the crushing mills and the boiling rooms, and learned a great deal about the process of manufacturing sugar from the sugar cane.

314“We may say briefly,” said Ned, “that the cane-stalks are crushed between rollers, and the juice is caught in vats, whence it flows in troughs or pipes to the evaporating house. Here it is boiled till it is reduced to syrup, and then it is boiled again, until it is ready for granulation. Then it is placed in perforated cylinders which revolve with tremendous rapidity. By means of centrifugal force all the moisture is expelled and the dry sugar remains behind.”

Our friends visited the fields where the luxuriant cane-stalks were growing, but they were quite as much interested in the men they saw at work there as in the fields themselves. Harry remarked that the men seemed to be different from any of the Australian blacks they had yet seen in their travels.

“These are not Australian blacks at all,” said their guide; “they are foreigners.”

“Foreigners! Of what kind?”

“They are South Sea Islanders principally from the Solomon Islands; some of them are from the New Hebrides and some from the Kingsmill group.”

“You import them to work on the plantations, I suppose?”

“Yes; that’s the way of it. You see this country is too hot for white men to work in the field, just as your sugar-growing States in America are too hot for him to work in. The blacks are the only people that can stand it, and as for the Australian blacks, they’re no good. There are not enough of them anyway, and even if there were, we couldn’t rely upon them. An Australian black will never stay in 315one place for any length of time, as you have doubtless learned already. He is liable to quit at any moment, and that sort of thing we can’t stand on a sugar plantation. We must have men to work steadily, and the only way we can get them is by hiring them under contract from some of the Pacific Islands.”

“I think I have read about that somewhere,” remarked Harry. “You send small ships out among the islands to pick up the men, and the business is called ‘black-birding,’ is it not?”

“Yes, that is the name of it, or rather used to be,” was the reply. “Black-birding,” along in the seventies, was an outrageous piece of business no better than slave-stealing on the coast of Africa. In fact, it was slave-stealing and nothing else. A schooner would appear off an island, drop anchor and wait for the natives to come out in their canoes, which they were sure to do. Then forty or fifty of them would be enticed on board, and perhaps invited one by one into the cabin, whence a door had been cut through into the hold. They were shoved along one by one until a sufficient number had been obtained and imprisoned below, and then the schooner set sail and left the island.

“Sometimes one of the officers was dressed up like a clergyman, with a white necktie, broad-brimmed hat, and blue spectacles, and wrapped in a long black cloak. He carried a large book under his arm, and was a very good counterfeit of a missionary. He was rowed to the shore, where he would inform the natives that their old friend, Rev. Dr. Williams, was on board the vessel and would like to see them, and he would very much like some fresh 316fruit. He explained the doctor’s failure to come on shore by saying that he had fallen on deck and broken his leg the day before, and was then confined to his cabin.

“The natives would hasten to gather a large supply of fruit and take it on board the schooner. Their fruit was piled on deck, and one by one they were taken below, ostensibly to see their disabled friend, but really to shove them forward into the hold in the manner I have described. When a sufficient number had been entrapped the schooner sailed away, and there was little probability that the deceived natives would ever see their island again.

“That was the method formerly in vogue for supplying labor to the sugar plantations in Queensland. The matter became so notorious that the government investigated it and put a stop to ‘black-birding.’ At present the business of obtaining men from the Pacific Islands is fairly well conducted. On every ship that goes out for that purpose there is a government officer whose duty it is to see that no deception or trickery is practised, and that the contracts with the natives are fully understood on both sides before they are signed.

“We hire these people for three years, and when that period has expired we are obliged to return them to their homes. Formerly, they had the option of renewing their contracts here without going away, and a good many planters were careful to see that the men were heavily in debt at the expiration of their term of service, so that they would be obliged to engage again in order to get themselves out of debt, which they never did. Now the government regulation forbids the renewal of a contract here, 317and in order to have the agreement a valid one, it must be made in the island whence the man was brought. Of course this is a hardship where a man really does not want to go home, but, on the whole, it is for the best.”

Harry asked how they managed to get along with the natives of the different islands, and if they proved to be good laborers.

“As to that,” was the reply, “there is a great deal of difference among them. The most of them are industrious and do fairly well, but nearly all need a little urging. We don’t flog them, as flogging is forbidden by law, but the overseers generally carry long, supple sticks which they know how to handle. They have to be careful, though, in using these sticks, as some of the Kanakas, as we call the South Sea Islanders, are revengeful, and they’re very handy with knives.

“The men from the Solomon Islands are the worst to deal with, as they have ugly dispositions; they are inclined to resent what they believe to be an insult, and they are a strong, wiry race. They are quarrelsome among themselves, and probably their tendency to quarrel is increased by the fact that many of them are cannibals. Sometimes we miss one of these fellows, and though we hunt everywhere, it is impossible to find him. There are vague rumors that he has been eaten by his friends. The whole business is carefully concealed from us, and it is very rarely the case that we are able to get at the facts. It generally turns out, when we ascertain anything about it, that the man was killed in a fight, and was then cooked and eaten, to prevent his being wasted.”

318Harry remarked that the Solomon Islanders, as he saw them on the plantation, were not a prepossessing lot of people, and he would not care to be among them even for a single day.

The natives of the Kingsmill group were much more attractive in their appearance, but even they were nothing to be fond of. On the whole, neither of the youths took a liking to the laborers on the sugar plantation, and as the place was said to be infested with snakes, they were quite willing to cut their visit short and return to the coast.


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Boston: W. A. Wilde & Co., 25 Bromfield Street.




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