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the Mackenzie. Giving our position every consideration, I determined upon returning to the mountains at which we had turned, and took a northwest course. The country was again most wretched, and at night we almost dropped from our saddles with fatigue. Another pigeon was divided between us, but our tea was gone. Oppressed by hunger, I swallowed the bones and the feet of the pigeon, to allay the cravings of my stomach. A sleeping lizard with a blunt tail and knobby scales, fell into our hands, and was of course roasted and greedily eaten.
Brown now complained of increased pain in his feet, and lost all cour. age. • We are lost, we are lost,' was all he could say. All my words and assurances, all my telling him that we might be starved for a day or two, but that we should most certainly find our party again, could not do more than appease his anxiety for a few moments. The next morning, the 21st, we proceeded, but kept a little more to the westward, and crossed a fine openly timbered country; but all the creeks went either to the east or to the north. At last, after a ride of about four miles, Brown recognized the place where we had breakfasted on the 19th, when all his gloom and anxiety disappeared at once.
I then returned on my southeast course, and arrived at the camp about one o'clock in the afternoon; my long absence having caused the greatest anxiety amongst my companions. I shall have to mention several other instances of the wonderful quickness and accuracy with which Brown as well as Charley were able to recognize localities which they had previously seen. The impressions on their retina seem to be naturally more intense than on that of the European; and their recollections are remarkably exact, even to the most minute details. Trees peculiarly formed or grouped, broken branches, slight elevations of the ground – in fact, a hundred things, which we should remark only when paying great attention to a place - seem to form a kind of daguerreotype impression on their minds, every part of which is readily recollected.” — pp. 115 - 118.
Not long after the departure of the travellers, a report became current in the colony that they had been cut off by the natives, or swept away by a hurricane. Mr. Hodgson, one of the two who had been sent back, was despatched in quest of them, but found no trace of their supposed fate. Meanwhile, Dr. Leichhardt's friend, Mr. Lynd, had written several stanzas on the mournful occasion, which were set to music by a resident of the colony, and must have highly edified the adventurers when they returned. Unaware of the premature doom to which they had been devoted, the party
pushed on from point to point, crossing or following the watercourses which they struck upon, discovering several important streams, and ascertaining the direction of the elevated ranges. But their advance was slow and painful. In latitude twenty-five degrees south they entered a knot of mountains, through which, only after long and tedious reconnoitring, they found a passage by threading a creek to its head. Brown, the black-fellow, having discovered a chain of fine lagoons, which received his name, the Christmas camp was pitched beside them, and the day commemorated by a dinner of suet pudding and stewed cockatoos. The first days of the new year (1845) were signalized by the discovery of a large river, named by Dr. Leichhardt the Mackenzie, the heads of which, he supposes, will lead to a watershed between eastern and western waters. Before the middle of January they crossed the southern tropic, and near the end of the month entered upon the plains and downs of a fine table-land, out of which rose a noble range of peaks, and which offered a delightful contrast to the monotony of the forest land they had so long wandered through. Although the events of an isolated life like this seem insignificant by the side of those of a busy world, yet, in their Crusoe existence, a kangaroo hunt, the bringing down of an emu, or the straying of a bullock, were as memorable as the queen's last reception, or an airing of the Prince of Wales. We quote Dr. Leichhardt's simple but interesting description of their daily life.
“I usually rise when I hear the merry laugh of the laughing. jackass (Dacelo gigantea), which, from its regularity, has not been unaptly named the settlers' clock; a loud cooee then roused my companions, Brown to make tea, Mr. Calvert to season the stew with salt and marjoram, and myself and the others to wash, and to prepare our breakfast, which, for the party, consists of two pounds and a half of meat, stewed over night; and to each a quart pot of tea. Mr. Calvert then gives to each his portion, and, by the time this important duty is performed, Charley generally arrives with the horses, which are then prepared for their day's duty. After breakfast, Charley goes with John Murphy to fetch the bullocks, which are generally brought in a little after seven o'clock, A. M. The work of loading follows, but this requires very little time now, our stock being much reduced ; and, at about a quarter to eight o'clock, we move on, and continue travelling four hours, and, if possible, select a spot for our
As soon as the camp is pitched, and the horses and bullocks unloaded, we have all our allotted duties; to make the fire falls to my share ; Brown's duty is to fetch water for tea; and Mr. Calvert weighs out a pound and a half of flour for a fat cake, which is enjoyed more than any other meal; the large teapot being empty, Mr. Calvert weighs out two and a half pounds of dry meat to be stewed for our late dinner; and during the afternoon, every one follows his own pursuits, such as washing and mending clothes, repairing saddles, pack-saddles, and packs; my occupation is to write my log, and lay down my route, or make an excursion in the vicinity of the camp to botanize, &c., or ride out reconnoitring. My companions also write down their remarks, and wander about gathering seeds, or looking for curious pebbles. Mr. Gilbert takes his gun to shoot birds. A loud cooee again unites us towards sunset round our table-cloth; and, whilst enjoying our meals, the subject of the day's journey, the past, the present, and the future, by turns engage our attention, or furnish matter for conversation and remark, according to the respective humor of the parties. As night approaches, we retire to our beds. The two blackfellows and myself spread out each our own under the canopy
of heaven, whilst Messrs. Roper, Calvert, Gilbert, Murphy, and Phillips, have their tents. Mr. Calvert entertains Roper with his conversation ; John amuses Gilbert; Brown tunes up his corroborri songs, in which Charley, until their late quarrel, generally joined. Brown sings well, and his melodious plaintive voice lulls me to sleep, when otherwise I am not disposed. Mr. Phillips is rather singular in his habits; he erects his tent generally at a distance from the rest, under a shady tree, or in a green bower of shrubs, where he makes himself as comfortable as the place will allow, by spreading branches and grass under his couch, and covering his tent with them, to keep it shady and cool, and even planting lilies in blossom (Crinum) before his tent, to enjoy their sight during the short time of our stay. As the night advances, the black-fellows' songs die away ; the chatting tongue of Murphy ceases, after having lulled Mr. Gilbert to sleep; and at last even Mr. Calvert is silent, as Roper's short answers become few and far between. The neighing of the tethered horse, the distant tinkling of the bell, or the occasional cry of night birds, alone interrupt the silence of our camp. The fire, which was bright as long as the corroborri songster kept it stirred, gradually gets dull, and smoulders slowly under the large pot in which our meat is simmering; and the bright constellations of heaven pass unheeded over the heads of the dreaming wanderers of the wilderness, until the summons of the laughing-jackass recalls them to the business of the coming day.” — pp. 234 – 238.
we were accus
The entry in the journal under date of May 24, the queen's birth-day, affords a striking picture of what the author calls the “psychological effects of life in the desert.
“ May 24. — It was the queen's birth-day, and we celebrated it with what - as our only remaining luxury tomed to call a fat cake, made of four pounds of flour and some suet, which we had saved for the express purpose, and with a pot of sugared tea. We had for several months been without sugar, with the exception of about ten pounds, which was reserved for cases of illness and for festivals. So necessary does it appear to human nature to interrupt the monotony of life by marked days, on which we indulge in recollections of the past, or in meditations on the future, that we all enjoyed those days as much, and even more, than when surrounded with all the blessings of civilized society; although I am free to admit that fat cake and sugared tea in prospectu might induce us to watch with more eagerness for the approach of these days of feasting. There were, besides, several other facts interesting to the psychologist, which exhibited the influence of our solitary life, and the unity of our purpose, on our minds. During the early part of our journey, I had been carried back in my dreams to scenes of recent date, and into the society of men with whom I had lived shortly before starting on my expedition. As I proceeded on my journey, events of earlier date returned into my mind, with all the fantastic associations of a dream; and scenes of England, France, and Italy passed successively. Then came the recollections of my University life, of my parents and the members of my family; and, at last, the days of boyhood and of school at one time as a boy afraid of the look of the master, and now with the independent feelings of the man, communicating to and discussing with him the progress of my journey, the courses of the rivers I had found, and the possible advantages of my discoveries. At the latter part of the journey, I had, as it were, retraced the whole course of my life, and I was now, in my dreams, almost invariably in Sydney, canvassing for support, and imagining that, although I had left my camp, yet that I should return with new resources to carry us through the remainder of our journey. It was very remarkable, that all my companions were almost invariably anticipating the end of our journey, dreaming that they reached the sea-coast, and met with ships, or that they were in Port Essington and enjoying the pleasures of civilized life ; whilst I, on awaking, found my party and my interests on the place where I had left them in my dreams...... Evening approaches; the sun has sunk below the horizon for some time, but still he strains his eye through the gloom
for the dark verdure of a creek, or strives to follow the arrow-like flight of a pigeon, the flapping of whose wings has filled him with a sudden hope, from which he relapses again into a still greater sadness; with a sickened heart he drops his head to a broken and interrupted rest, whilst his horse is standing hobbled at his side, unwilling from excessive thirst to feed on the dry grass. How often have I found myself, in these different states of the brightest hope and the deepest misery, riding along, thirsty, almost lifeless and ready to drop from my saddle with fatigue; the poor horse tired like his rider, footsore, stumbling over every stone, running heedlessly against the trees, and wounding my knees! But suddenly, the note of Grallina Australis, the call of cockatoos, or the croaking of frogs, is heard, and hopes are bright again ; water is certainly at hand; the spur is applied to the flank of the tired beast, which already partakes in his rider's anticipations, and quickens his pace and a lagoon, a creek, or a river, is before him. The horse is soon unsaddled, hobbled, and well washed; a fire is made, the teapot is put to the fire, the meat is dressed, the enjoyment of the poor reconnoiterer is perfect, and a prayer of thankfulness to the Almighty God whó protects the wanderer on his journey bursts from his grateful lips.” — pp. 265 - 268.
As they advanced, they fell in with other before unknown streams, of considerable importance. On the morning of the 4th of June, Dr. Leichhardt, with a feeling of pleasure which he says he shall never forget, waked his comrades from their bivouac in the open air, to take their first view of the constellation of Ursa Major.
“ The starry heaven is one of those great features of nature which enter unconsciously into the composition of our souls. The absence of the stars gives us painful longings, the nature of which we frequently do not understand, but which we call homesickness; and their sudden reappearance touches us like magic, and fills us with delight. Every new moon also was hailed with an almost superstitious devotion, and my black-fellows vied with each other to discover its thin crescent, and would be almost angry with me when I strained my duller eyes in vain to catch a glimpse of its faint light in the brilliant sky which succeeds the setting of the sun. The questions — Where were we at the last new moon? how far have we travelled since ? and where shall we be at the next? were invariably discussed amongst us; calculations were made as to the time that would be required to bring us to the end of our journey, and there was no lack of advice offered as to what should and ought to be done."
pp. 280, 281.