Genesis of Toowoomba
Probable fate of Leichhardt
Short Australiana Stories
GENESIS OF TOOWOOMBA
SPECIALLY WRITTEN FOR THE
[Articles by Mr.
This morning we publish the first of a series of articles
by Mr. A. Meston. As is well known, Mr. Meston has a unique knowledge of the
early days of Queensland and his sympathy with the aborigines and his
understanding of the peculiar difficulties of the pioneers are without rival.
The articles will form part of the permanent history of this city, and should
be carefully preserved. We would advise our readers to clip out the articles
and keep them in their scrap books. If any reader has not yet started a scrap
book, he should start one at once and save these articles for posterity. It
will be noted that today’s instalment is mostly pre-historic. After today the
article will appear each Friday. The next instalment will deal with the
explorers and the pioneer squatters.]
parts of the following articles are missing. The scrapbook in which they were
preserved did not and could not, preserve the integrity of newspaper forever.
The date is around 1922.
tells us that the Age of Romance is not over, has not indeed even so much as
partly declined, and that “no Age is an Age of Romance to itself.”
Achilles and Hector were “raging round the Illzrian field” they had no thought
of being the heroes in the greatest epic poem that has ever been written,
still, ever new in the minds of scholars after a lapse of more than two
thousand years, and we may be sure that Alexander and Caesar never in their
imaginations foreshadowed the great imperishable figures they were to appear
through the long dim centuries of human history.
doubtful if any of the greatest of the Australian explorers ever realized that
he was making immortal fame for himself, and leaving on the sands of Time great
tracks, that would one day become imperishable and indelible on the solid rock
of Australian records.
is everywhere around us, and easily perceptible to those who have the eyes to
see. Our daily lives, even in the world of today, are lived in a realm of
romance more astonishing and incredible than any in recorded human history. In
this article we are concerned only with the romance of Toowoomba and the
Darling Downs. There is no more romantic region in Australia. We look far back
into other years, to that remote prehistoric period, long, long, before the
dawn of human history, to the Post Pliocene Age, not measurable by years, when
giant animals of long extinct species roamed over the Downs region before the
vast volcanic eruption which spread the tremendous mantle of red and black lava
over the Permo Carboniferous rocks, creating the Darling Downs and transforming
the whole region into one enormous cemetery of the buried fauna of an unknown
under the basalt, along the banks of King’s and Gowrie Creeks, are the great
fossil bones of giant animals, herbivorous and carnivorous, that once roamed
the valley of the Condamine, eating the rank vegetation or preying on each
other. Among these animals stalked the gigantic moa, and two species of emu.
There, too, were the New Zealand apteryx and the New Guinea goura pigeon, the
wombat, the musk rat, and a tiger muck like that of Tasmania.
no alligator in Australia today, but in the lakes and lagoons of the ancient
Downs there was a huge alligator 30 feet in length, named by the late C. W. De
Vis, as Palimnarchus, the “ruler of the old pools.”
tremendous kangaroos, 14 feet in height, giant wallabies, and the great
Diprotodon, six feet in height and 10 feet in length, also a marsupial lion,
large as the African lion, with great chisel shaped teeth that have left their
marks on many of the fossil bones. The astounding variety of the fauna of that
far off time indicates a wealth of flora of which we can have no conception.
And all that amazing fauna passed from the face of the earth, into
annihilation, leaving only their fossil bones, lying there, silent in their
clay or rock sarcophagus for tens of
thousands of years, until the Quaternary Period when the most incomprehensible
of all animals, called “Man,” appeared upon the scene to marvel over the mysteries
of those enormous bones, and reconstruct them in forms fantastic as his own
imagination. Those were the days when wild in the woods the naked savage ran,
and roamed over the Downs, to hunt the bounding kangaroo and chase the elusive
emu. How long he was engaged in that pastime before the arrival of the white
man only Heaven alone can tell. His fossils have not been found with those of
the giant fauna in the days when native bears were the size of a cow, and one
kangaroo or Diprotodon would have given a square meal to a whole tribe. But the
mighty problem of the Whence and the Whither of all life must remain for ever
unsolved, and so we shall step carefully over it and come to July 28, 1842,
when an inquisitive white man dug some bones out of Gowrie and King’s Creeks,
and they were sent to Professor Owen, who said they once belonged to a great
unknown animal new to science, and he named it “Diprotodon.”
impossible to know who was the first white man to see the coast of Australia,
or the first to look out over the Darling Downs. French and Dutch and Spaniards
contest the one, and Alan Cunningham the other.
November 1823, Surveyor General Oxley found two white men with the blacks on
Bribie Island, and these men took him into the Brisbane River. On Jun 5,1827,
Cunningham saw and named the Darling Downs, but was he the first white man on
from Moreton Bay and Port Macquarie rambled away in all directions. The
settlement at Moreton Bay began in September, 1824, or three years before
Cunningham found the Darling Downs, but all this in no sense detracts from the
credit due to him or the fame to which he is entitled. He was the first to
announce their discovery to the world. People living today on the Darling Downs
or passing over that region in a train, know nothing of the change since the
days of Cunningham.
me are all the available records (1840 to 1860) since the first squatter
(Patrick Leslie) took up Toolburra station, the first on the Downs (in March
whole of the Darling Downs country was covered originally by a marvelous wealth
of indigenous grasses, one of which, the wild oat, grew so tall that one man
riding behind the other could only see his mate’s head or shoulders. This was
at that time of year when the tall grasses were ripe and dry. For eight months
of the year the Downs were covered by an ideal verdure for stock and thousands
of kangaroos (“gooraman”), emus (“gnoorooin”) and wallabies (“wakoorigh” and
“yeemah”), while the plain turkeys (“chineelwa”) were in flocks in all
burning season came, the blacks fired the grasses on an appointed day along the
whole valley of the Condamine, and one wild sea of flame swept over the Darling
Downs, killing many animals, some of the birds, and hundreds of snakes. The
emus, kangaroos and wallabies fled to the hills or stood in dry watercourses,
or in the shallow waters of the lagoons and creeks. The blacks adopted the same
tactics, but it was usual for them to fire the grass on the banks of creeks and
lagoons, and so the fire went from them instead of towards them.
journal relates a perilously narrow escape he and all his party had from
destruction when the blacks fired the grass around them. Many victims were
claimed by those terrible grass fires in the early days. Those annual fires on
the Downs gave a name to the Downs blacks, who were known to the coast blacks
as the “Gooneeburra,” or “Fire blacks”- “goonee” being a name of fire and
“burra,” a generic word for the whole race, the same as “murri” in the great
tribes of the Downs spoke one dialect, called “Waccah,” and so they were the
“Waccaburra” to all other tribes. The words
GENESIS OF TOOWOOMBA
SPECIALLY WRITTEN FOR THE
NO 2 – ADVENT OF THE WHITE MAN
indeed a memorable and dramatic day for the Darling Downs when, from some-
Wild weird clime, lying sublime,
Out of Space and out of Time.
the first white man, whose advent,
unhappily, heralded the annihilation of the wild aboriginal races who had
roamed that region for thousands or tens of thousands of years, possibly from
the dark beginning of the protoplasm which finally evolved the human race.
white man was Alan Cunningham, who described himself as “an Englishman of
Scottish extraction.” In Scotland among the Clans, Allan was spelt with one
“l”, and pronounced “Ahlan,” and “Aylan,” with a long accent of the first
syllable, the peculiar drawl of the Highlander in Gaelic.
accurate biographical sketch of Allan Cunningham ever written appeared 10 years
after his death in the “Gardeners Chronicle,” written by his friend, George
Bellenden-Ker, whose name, at Cunningham’s request, was given by Captain King,
of the “Mermaid,” to the majestic mountain which rises 5200 feet 30 miles from
Cairns, and on which I had the honor to be the first explorer in 1889.
F. M. Bailey, our great Australian botanist, discovered by chance the
“Chronicle” article, and to him I am indebted for the information given here.
Cunningham, eldest son of his father of the same name, was born at Wimbecton in
Surrey on July 13th, 1791. He came to Sydney as a passenger in the
convict ship “Surrey,” Captain Raine, as a collector for the Royal Gardens at
Kew, and was collecting at Bathurst in 1817, having arrived at Sydney on
December 20th, 1816.
December of that year, he went on board the “Mermaid,” Captain King, and went
with that immortal navigator on all his four voyages in the “Mermaid” and
“Bathurst” on the Australian coast from 1817 to 1821. He started from Parramatta
on January 4th, 1823, with five men and five pack horses, taking
provisions for ten weeks. On that trip he discovered and named “Pandora’s
Pass,” through the Blue Mountains to Liverpool Plains.
January 20th, 1827, he landed in Sydney after a trip to New Zealand,
and on the 20th of April of that year started from the Hunter River
with six men and 11 horses, via Liverpool Plains and the Peel River, his
objective being the country lying west of Moreton Bay, which had then been a
penal settlement for three years. That was surely a proud day for Cunningham
when he stood on the summit of Mt. Sturt, the “Mooganmilly” of the aboriginals,
and looked out over that vast expanse of picturesque, beautiful and fertile
area to which he gave the name of “Darling Downs” in honor of Governor Darling.
He must have felt like Vasco Nunez de Balboa, when he stood “silent upon a peak
in Darien” as the first white man to look out over the great Pacific – how did
the poet Keats make the astonishing mistake of confusing Cortes and Balboa?
him lay that beautiful valley which he called Canning Downs, Peel Plains, and
blacks called Canning Downs “Booloogabbie,” the site of Warwick was
“Doongoroo,” and Emu Vale “Moon-garr-garie.”
tribes who roamed over that Condamine Valley were the “Yang-ga-lanjie,” but by
the coast blacks they were all classed as “Gooneeburra.”
Mt. Sturt in honor of the explorer, and from that commanding height he saw the
great Main Range depression which is now known as “Cunningham’s Gap,” and
shrewdly concluded that was the natural road from the Darling Downs to Moreton
returned on his own tracks, naming the Gwydir River on the way, and reached
Liverpool Plains on the 21st of July.
next year, he went by sea in the “Lucy Ann” from Sydney to Brisbane, ascended
the Logan River with Captain Logan and botanist Fraser, who laid out the
Brisbane Botanic Gardens in 1828, left Logan and Fraser at Peak Mountain (Mt.
Flinders – “Booroompa”) called at Limestone, the site of Ipswich, the
“Doolmoora” of the blacks, and then started for the Gap in the Main Range he
had seen from the top of “Mooganmilly” in the previous year, on the 5th
discovered the Pass, went to the top, and ascended what is now Mt. Mitchell,
where he overlooked the Darling Downs, Mt. Sturt, Canning Downs, Logan Vale,
and Peel’s Plains, also the valley in which Toowoomba proudly stands today.
returned to his camp in the head of the Gap, to be caught in a violent
thunderstorm, and next day they started back, reaching Limestone on 30th
August, after a very fine piece of working those days.
Limestone, he wrote in his journal:- “It is therefore highly probably that upon
the site of these limestone hills a town will be raised.” And that is where
Ipswich stands today.
remarkable man, whose name should ever be sacred to all the people of the
Darling Downs, left for Sydney in the schooner “Isabella,” on October 29th,
1828, returning to Moreton Bay by sea, and spent three months collecting
botanical specimens, leaving for Sydney in September; finally, at 48 years of
age, dying in the cottage in Sydney Botanic Gardens on the 27th of
June, 1839, to be buried in the Scots Church.
one of the most beautiful characters in the history of Australian exploration.
Allan Cunningham’s last look at the Darling Downs, to the 20th of
March, 1840, when Patrick Leslie camped on the hill at Toolburra, there was an
interval, since August 28th, 1828, of 11 years and eight months,
during which presumably no white man wandered into that region, and the
“Gooneeburra” resumed their game hunting, and fights, and corroborees, and the
tribes had four triennial feasts of bunyas before the “Magooi-murri,” the
“ghost men,” returned bringing horses, cattle, sheep, dogs, and all their camp
paraphernalia, all of which were a cause of endless astonishment, although the
Cateebil blacks, who extended from the Main Range to South Brisbane, would tell
the Downs tribes of all the wonders of the penal settlement.
now to the advent of the squatter, a word which came from Jamaica, in 1832,
where it was applied as a term of contempt by the sugar planters to the
emancipated slaves who “squatted” on Crown lands, in preference to working on
the plantations, and was not used to denote the pastoral tenants in Australia
there was actually an “Act to Suppress Squatters” introduced in the Legislative
Council of New South Wales. Patrick Leslie, the first squatter in Queensland,
left Coolaroy station, Cassilis, New South Wales, to look for new country and
followed Cunningham’s track of 1827, accompanied by his brother, Walter Leslie,
and Dr. Dobie, R.N.
At Falconer’s Plains station on New England, Dobie and
An Uncomfortable Meal
squatter on the way out to look for new country called and stayed a couple of
days at a station in the west. At the table there was no one but the owner, and
a cook and shepherd known as “Old Jack.” The visitor noticed that the owner had
a revolver beside his right hand, and Jack had a tomahawk, also that both
seemed to be closely watching each other. The visitor’s curiosity led him to
enquire of the cause, when each of them was alone.
said: “That old scoundrel wants a chance to brain me with that tomahawk, but
I’ll shoot him dead if he lifts it off the table!”
version was: “He means to shoot me with the revolver, but if he misses with the
first shot, I’ll brain him with the tomahawk.”
were two white men at least 200 miles from the nearest other white man, in the
midst of hostile blacks from whom they were daily in deadly peril, sitting down
to their meals, each suspecting each other of a chance to kill him!
really a symptom of madness in both, the madness of solitude, and the nervous
apprehension and anxiety , the daily danger and worry and suspicion, more or
less natural to their environment. This incident was well known to the
squatters of 40 years ago, including R. D. Morehead and John Stevenson. At
least three other cases, quite as extraordinary, have come inside my own
experience, and for the same reason, the cause being one responsible for a
number of unaccountable bush tragedies.
Two Cool Customers
Mt Abundance visitor left the station with a couple of blacks from the head of
the Namoi. To have a look at some of Mitchell’s country on the Maranoa, he came
finally to the top of a ridge from which there was a commanding view in all
directions. He was more than astonished to learn from his blacks that two other
horsemen were ahead of him, and they could see the camp fire not far off. Half
a mile further he came on two Scotsmen, father and son, preparing to camp for
the night. They invited him to stay with them, learning that, like themselves,
he was out looking for new country. In the morning the father took him on to
the highest part of the ridge, and made the following observations. Sweeping
his right hand round to indicate the whole horizon, he said, “All the lan’ ye
can see frae here is mine, and all that ye canna see belongs to my son Jock,
but if there’s onything outside o’ that, ye are welcome to tak it!” So that he
and Jock had practically taken up the whole of Queensland! An American writer
said that the first man to reach the North Pole would find an Aberdeen Scot
there in possession, but offering to trade the Pole for a cask of whisky.
Macpherson at Mount Abundance, came another Scot, an Aberdonian named
Robertson, famous for his hospitality, the quality of his whisky, and the
liberality with which it was dispensed to all visitors.
Ipswich in those days was a well known Hibernian, always familiarly and
affectionately called Paddy O’Sullivan, a “rale ould Irish gintleman, a bhoy of
the oulden times.”
the father of our esteemed present day Mr. Justice O’Sullivan.
best days Paddy was six feet active powerful athletic man, afraid of nothing,
alive or dead. He was a member of Queensland’s first Parliament, and was
returned in after years for Stanley in November, 1878, when I went in for
Rosewood, so he and myself Saturday in the same House for some years.
was a born humorist, a merciless critic, and often wrote some very smart,
severely satiric verse, of which some copies are in my possession. At the time
of the following episode, Paddy was touring the West as a traveling merchant,
with a four horse covered wagon, which was a great convenience to the outback
men. Paddy also carried a special brand of “vinegar,” reputed to be the best in
night he camped on Bunjiewaggara Creek six miles out of Roma in sight of
Robertson’s homestead. An officious stockman came down to say that Robertson was
to tell him he would not be allowed to camp there as the last camper had killed
a couple of his sheep. Paddy quietly but firmly asked the man what sort of
death he would prefer – to be drowned in the creek, hung on a limb of the
adjacent tree, or beheaded by a tomahawk? The very much scared stockman backed
away for some distance to think it over. Then Paddy said, “Here is a spare
trace chain; take it up to the old fella, and tell him to come down and I’ll
chain him to this tree, and he can bark all night to keep me off his sheep1”
stockman reported accordingly, and next day Robertson had a summons served on
Paddy for trespass, and general contumacious and threatening conduct. But Paddy
was an expert tactician and a skilled diplomat. There were only two lawyers in
the town, and both suffered from unquenchable thirst, a peculiarity of that dry
had unwisely left engaging his lawyer until the morning of the court, so the
first spectacle to meet his gaze, when he rode into town, was Paddy walking
down the main street to the court house, supporting a lawyer on each arm,
neither capable of knowing the difference by the Queensland Statutes and a
volume of the Arabian Nights.
Robertson was a canny Scot, “wha kent when the was on the wrang side o’ the
burn,” so he withdrew the summons, was introduced to Paddy by the P.M., and
took them both out for a hilarious day at Mt. Abundance.
well that ends in Glenlivet!”
arrived at a new station forming out on the Dawson. The owner had his hut
completed, and all his first stores had arrived. He had to leave urgently next
morning to go a distance of about 50 miles, but could not go unless Paddy would
stay guard until his return. He left in the morning, and at midday, Paddy was
bailed up by three bushrangers armed with guns. They pointed the guns and
threatened instant death unless he handed over the stores! Paddy, quite coolly,
merely said, “Gintlemin, there are all the stores; take what you want, I nivir
attimpt to argue wid three Minister wid guns!”
invited them to have some dinner, and gave them a bottle of his best “vinegar.”
And those three ruffians were so completely disarmed by the genial hospitality
of Paddy that they only took about a pound of tea, two or three pounds of
sugar, and seven or eight pounds of flour. And they even offered to pay for the
lot, but Paddy gracefully said he “coold not charge friends and visiting
strangers for a little tucker!” That was the last straw in the disarmament
process, and they all parted on the best of terms. Not long afterwards, one of
the three visitors was shot, and the other two were caught and hanged.
A Good Bluff
Ipswich citizen had been deferring the paying of a £10 debt he owed to Paddy,
who forthwith proceeded to compose a rhyming satire on him, went to that
gentleman’s office and read the unusually libelous lines in a loud voice, which
made them appear worse than they were. The man signed that cheque in record
time when Paddy told him of his intention if there was no cheque to publish a
copy of the satire in the “D. D. Gazette” and “Dalby Herald,” and paste a copy
on every gum tree from Ipswich to Roam.
to say, Paddy had no such intention, but the bluff was a great success. Having
read the lines it was clear to me that …would have got at least three million
in damages from any paper that published them
A Trap to Catch a Drink
O. Hodgkinson, the explorer, lived in Ravenswood, he erected the first quartz
crushing mill there, the “Lady Marian.” There was so much celebration of that
event, of birthdays, and christenings, and various other frivolities, that all
the whisky in Ravenswood was consumed. The hotels were destitute, for the drays
with fresh supplies from Townsville were detained by floods, and all Ravenswood
was in deep mourning. But Hodgkinson knew that the manager of the A. J. S.
Bank, who was a bachelor, had a case of whisky in his strong-room, and he and
three other bold men conspired to have that case broached.
At midnight, Hodgkinson, carrying a heavy canvas bag, securely
tied, and sealed with about half a pound of sealing wax, appeared under the
banker’s window, attended by the other conspirators. He gave muffled knocks on
the window, and called the banker in a deep hoarse voice The banker opened the
window, when he heard who was there, to hear that a new reef had been
discovered, going on
QUEENSLAND MINERAL WATERS
THE HELIDON SPRING
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 16, 1916
Nature has bounteously furnished us with numerous healing
springs to help us to remedy the ills we have brought upon ourselves by errors
of diet and living – Dr. Gordon Bennett.
The history of the marvelous Queensland spa water spring at
Helidon is far more romantic than a majority of romances. The white man’s
knowledge of that spring dates back to 1843, when “Cocky Rogers,” in charge of
3,000 sheep belonging to George Mocatta, of Bathurst, came from the Darling
Downs, over the Main Range, and took up Grantham station, on the Lockyer Creek,
named from Major Lockyer, of the 39th Regiment.
Following him came Somerville, with 4000 sheep belonging to
Richard Jones of Sydney, known then to all the pioneers as “Merchant Jones,”
and took up Tent Hill station. Then he annexed the adjoining area, and called
it “Helidon,” after his birthplace in England.
In those days, the blacks were extremely hostile below the
Range, and killed so many of the shepherds on all three stations that there was
serious difficulty in obtaining others to replace them. The warriors of the
Lockyer tribe were men who drank and bathed in the waters of the Helidon
spring, and all the early authorities agreed in describing them as a race of
splendid men of remarkable physique. The late Daniel Donovan, the best
authority on those tribes, frequently told me what a fine athletic race they
were, many of them bigger than himself, and he was a tall, powerful, man, over
One famous Helidon black of those days was known as
“Bungarie,” his native name being “Jirra-bengallie,” (“long spine”), and he was
over 7ft, built in proportion, and more powerful than any of the pioneer
whites, and there were splendid specimens of athletes among the early
squatters, including “Fighting Turner,” who subsequently held Helidon, and
whose sister, Mrs. McDonald, lived for 50 years on Dugandan station, where
Boonah is today.
Vague rumours of some remarkable water, with wonderful
curative properties, reached the early whites on the Lockyer, when a few of the
blacks came in and were friendly, but not until the days when Turner had
Helidon and Dr. Dorsay held Grantham did the famous spring and its properties
become known enough to attract attention.
Dr. Dorsay, the father of the late Lady Bell, and also of Mrs.
Robert Gray, once Railway Commissioner, lived in Ipswich in the years when I
edited the old Ipswich “Observer,” and took down from him, and published, the story
of the day when he and “Fighting Turner” first went to the spa spring with the
giant “Bungarie,” who told them that the great size of himself and the men of
his race was attributable to drinking and bathing in the waters of the spring.
Dorsay tried it on a number of his patients with highly
satisfactory results, and used it in the bark hospital he had near the One Mile
Bridge at Ipswich.
The fame of the water spread until squatters over the Range
sent men for it with pack horses, and they came by way of “Gorman’s Gap,” named
after Commandant Gorman, of the penal settlement, after he had been piloted
over it to the Downs by an ex-convict, Baker, who was out three years with the
blacks, who called him “Boralchu.”
Among the men who first saw the spring was a man named Peter
Murphy, one of the 22 life sentence ex-prisoners, who came to the Downs with
Patrick Leslie, in 1840, when he took up Toolburra and Canning Downs, the first
stations in Queensland. He came out in 1827 from Dublin in the Countess of Harcourt,
and was assigned to Leslie on December 9, 1838. Concerning these 22
ex-prisoners, Leslie wrote in after years: “We had 22 men, all
‘ticket-of-leave,’ as good and game a lot of men as ever existed, who never
gave us a moment’s trouble and were worth any 40 men I have ever otherwise
This Peter Murphy, after whom Murphy’s Creek is named, and who
died at Charters Towers on April 6, 1878, told Leslie about the water which the
sick blacks drank and recovered, and where the old people bathed and felt
temporarily young again, and that they came there from all directions from
Strange enough, the tribe actually living around the spring
were content to bathe only, and refrained from drinking it, being deterred by a
singular superstition, which Donovan described to me, and which an old
Now we pass over an interregnum and come to the first hotels
that ever used Helidon spa water.
Back in those old world, rough, pioneering days, there was a
public house called the “Bush Inn” at Fassifern, kept by a Mr. and Mrs. Dix,
who had been steward and stewardess on the steamer Sovereign, wrecked at Quilty
Point on her voyage to Sydney in 1848.
A Frenchman named W. P. Donvere kept a hotel in the 1850s as
the present Grantham, then known as “Bigges’ Camp,” and a man named McKeown
kept another at Sally Owen’s Flat, the present Western Creek between Rosewood
Donvere was the first publican to use the spa water, and he
had some means of aerating it, as the Hon. T. L. Murray-Prior and Dr. Dorsay
told me that it was used as soda water with the brandy and whisky of those
days. The fame of the drop spread and spa water was used in the “Bush Inn” at
McKeown’s, at Horton’s Hotel in Drayton and finally at Grenier’s once
well-known hotel in South Brisbane.
The late Nehemiah Bartley, author of “Opals and Agates,” and
“The Pioneers,” was an enthusiast on Helidon Spa, and among the old time
doctors who endorsed its medical powers were the Brisbane Doctors, Bell,
Hancock, Bancroft and Doherty and the Ipswich Dorsay, Rowlands and Lossberg.
All these men were positive that Helidon Spa is superior to
any import and that it was held back merely by the ignorant prejudice against
the local in favour of the foreign.
And Dorsay and Lossberg held that the spring would one day
represent one of the great sanatoriums of Australia. The fate of Helidon spa
was much the same as dugong oil, one of the most potent medical agents in the
world, and the least understood.
When Dr. Hobbs started a dugong fishery at St. Helena in 1848,
the oil was highly valued, and more was used than he could produce. This
continued into the 1860s, and then there came a lull in enthusiasm, and export
was killed by a shipment of 400 gallons of shark oil from Maryborough, and it
never recovered from the effect of that unscrupulous fraud.
The pioneers of the 1850s and the `860s knew the valuable
properties of Helidon Spa, and there came an unaccountable period of
comparative oblivion, until the present company drew the public attention to a
mineral water which is not only not surpassed, but in some respects is not even
rivaled by a spa from any of the many springs of England and the Continent.
We import vast quantities of German mineral waters, which the
analyst pronounce to be far inferior than our own inland spring. Mineral waters
equal to the best on the continent are found in many of the English and Welsh
springs, and yet the import trade of this article has been monopolized by
There is no need to import
from any country that which we can produce of better quality and in unlimited
quantity. This country suffers badly from criminal ignorance of its own
capacity for production in quantity and variety. The range of products has no
In American free trade periods, which never lasted long, the
protectionist writers said: “We are selling rabbit skins to Britain for
sixpence and buying back the tails for half a crown.”
Australia has been doing the same disastrous trade, and is
doing much of it still.
Wasting our gold on foreign spa waters, inferior to our own,
is a fool phase of this importing craze.
For unknown ages the wild aboriginal men and women drank and
bathed in that spa water, and knew its medicinal properties. For equally
unknown ages the coast blacks used dugong oil for debility and all pulmonary
ailments and cured themselves. And yet the superciliously conceited civilised
white race has failed over a period of more than half a century to realize the
virtues of one or the other. But the realization is coming.
We may in conclusion reproduce here a long lost picture from
the oblivion of time.
From the railway at Helidon you behold due south a cone shaped
mountain, once covered by dense scrub, now mostly cleared farms. That is the
“Bambeergobah” of the Stone Age. West of that is a flat topped hill known as
“Meewa,” to the blacks. Near them are Mounts Mullin, Joonggoman, and
Nearer to the railway is a small scrub covered hill, called
“Birbiringga,” looking down on the Helidon Spring, “Woonarra-jimigh.” Go back a
hundred years and hover over that spot, as if in an aeroplane. The voice of the
wonga, Coolooin, comes to us from the silence of the scrub.
The turkey, “wahgoon,” is building her mounded nest, or
perched on a branch of a bottle tree.
The wallabies follow each other, and the crested grey fruit
pigeons and the painted whampoo, “boolboonda,” feats on the fig trees, and the
red and white berries of the euphorbias. A lonely dingo, wandi, howls
mournfully to his distant mate.
In the open forest, the great grey kangaroos, “gooraman,” lie
asleep in the shade, or browse on the young grass. Grey, solemn old bears,
“borabee,” slumber in the tree forks, and sardonic goannas, “maroon,” descend
from their tree lairs in search of bird eggs and frogs and lizards.
Around the spring are camped two hundred wild men and women,
children of the Stone Age, such as or own wild white ancestors were far back in
the morning of the world.
There are many tribes gathered around that magic water. Men
from the Kyogle of the Richmond, the Cateebil of the Bremer, the “Gooneeburra”
of the Downs, and even the “Yucumbill” of the Clarence.
And from those wild men and women there rises a weird and
solemn song, such as our ancestors sang in their caves and Bora circles ten
thousand years ago, among the forests of Europe and Asia.
And they sang the “Goong-Maroomba,” the song in praise of the
“good water,” which welled from the earth beside them from some dark
subterranean cavern where:
“Alph, the sunless river,
Through caverns measureless
Down to a sunless sea.”
THE BUNYA MOUNTAINS.
celebrated Bunya Mountains, or the part of the Great Dividing Range specially
known by that name, are situated about thirty miles north of the township of
Dalby, and 100 miles in a straight-line northwest of Brisbane.
These mountains are intensely interestingly in being the sole
habitat of the beautiful and valuable bunya pine, Araucaria Bidwilli. The exact
points at which the Bunya ceases north and south of the range have never been
mentioned. Leichhardt says that he found it only on the heads of the Condamine,
Dawson and Burnett. Walter Hill is credited with reporting it existing between
Townsville and Rockingham Bay, but this is either a mistake or requires
It was named botanically after J. C. Bidwill, who was a
Queensland Crown Lands Commissioner in the early days, stationed for some time
at Maryborough. It was named by Hooker from specimens sent home by Bidwill in
The first man who really found the bunya pine and ascertained
the value of the fruit was Andrew Petrie, foreman of works in the penal days.
He saw the bunya and ate the nuts in 1830. Bidwill, in 1842, said that the
blacks called it “Bunza-tunza” or “banya-tunya,” that it bore once in three
years, and that the blacks had to watch it to ascertain the uncertain period of
He described the tree as 100ft to 160ft high with an obtuse
conical or hemispherical top, and in 1843, he sent home specimens of the
leaves, male flowers, fruit cones, and a young tree. The first cones exported
for sale brought 10 guineas each in Covent garden market.
Bidwill was an enthusiastic botanical collector, and to him also
belongs the credit of introducing the mango to Queensland.
The first interesting account of the bunya appeared in a
letter written by Leichhardt from Archer’s station, “Durundur”
(“Dooroondooroon,” the native companion), on the 9th of January,
1844. He was then only 30 years of age, being born in October, 1813, and
therefore but 35 in 1848 when he vanished onthat pathless journey in the
He went to the Bunya Range in December, 1843, accompanied by
John Archer and a Mr. Waterstone. He measured bunya trees 17ft to 20ft in
girth, with cones 1ft long and 9in in diameter. He says: “The kernel of the
bunya nut has a very fine aroma, and is certainly delicious eating. The blacks
roast them, and we tried even to boil them, but the fruit lost its flavour in
both cases. Besides it did not agree with my stomach. The blacks thrive on
them, but Mr. Archer told me the young people return generally with boils all
over the body, and I saw a few cases.” The fruit was not ripe in December, the
month of his visit. He said that trees bore every year, but there was only a
good crop once in three years. All the cones he collected rapidly decayed, and
he saw no hope of sending them to Europe.
The Darling Downs blacks, and all tribes speaking the
Wacca-wacca dialect, called the bunya “bannya,” and the nut “yengee.” The word
bunya, like hundreds of others, has a different meaning in various dialects. On
the Alice River it means big, and at Tambo bad.
To me the Bunya Mountains are in one sense the most
interesting locality in Australia, and with unutterable thoughts I stood on the
summit of Mobilan on the 17th of last month, at a height of 3,640
feet above sea level, and looked out at all points of the compass across that
vast and wondrous panorama which the crest of Mobilan commands.
Leichhardt spoke of a small open plain called Booroon, where
the blacks assembled in their tribal fights. This word is identical with
“Boorool,” of Moreton Bay, and “Bora” of the Sydney blacks, and the plain was
named from the ceremonial rites by which the young men entered upon manhood and
all the privileges of warriors.
In the year 1842, from the 1st to the 18th
of June, the Rev. Mr. Schmidt, of the German Mission station, near Brisbane,
visited the nearest point of the Bunya Ranges, accompanied by nine blacks. The
intention was to establish a new mission station, and a place was selected, but
all State aid being suddenly withdrawn, the scheme collapsed and never revived.
Schmidt found the blacks in a very excited state on account of the poisoning of
fifty or sixty at Kilcoy, and one of the Archers warned him not to trust the
natives, but he went and came unharmed, for the blacks never killed a friendly
white man whom they trusted and respected and who trusted and respected them.
The blacks ate the bunya nut raw when it was green, and
roasted it when ripe. They also pounded it into a meal they called “Manoo” and
baked it in cakes. They collected large quantities and stored them by burying
them in the ground. These nuts when dug up had the pleasant fragrance of a
decayed fowl. At certain times the bunya nut was “Moonda,” or tabooed to the
Leichhardt described the bunya country as fifty miles long and
ten miles across. Mount Mobilan (“bare head”), stands in the centre of the
southern end of the range. The road from Dalby passes over the beautiful open
plain country of Jimbour and Cumkillenbar stations, and then up a tributary of
Myall Creek to the foot of the range where Grimley’s famous sawmills stand on a
small running stream of pure water bordered on both sides by bright green
watercress for at least a couple of miles. Sadly enough now, it is the solemn
silence of all those deserted buildings standing there in vacant isolation in
the apex of the long valley than ends abruptly among the lofty spurs of the
Bunya Range. A commodious mill and excellent machinery admirably situated, with
many comfortable and substantial cottages for the workmen, picturesquely
perched on the borders of the stream, guarded by the priceless trinity of pure
air, pure water, and lovely scenery. All around are evidences of experienced
management and judicious expenditure. This mill was cutting bunya and hoop pine
and other timbers for a period of nine years, terribly handicapped by the long
dray carriage to Dalby. I can understand now the enthusiastic support of the
advocates of a Bunya railway, and the wild applause of those who have visited
this beautiful country. We shall see how both are justified.
Leaving the sawmill, we started at once up the main timber track
along a steep forest spur leading into thick scrubs. Along this track is a
logged timber “shoot,” like a spoon drain, where the logs were drawn down from
the top of the range. It is on a small scale compared to the old “Slide of
Alpnach,” on Mount Pilatus, in Switzerland; the slide which occupied 160 men
for two years, and took 25,000 large pine trees for construction; a slide 6ft
deep, 6ft wide, and 44,000 feet long terminating in Lake Lucerne.
Some day there will be a more
gigantic shoot for the summit timbers of our Northern Ranges. The hoop pine
begins at the foot of the spurs and continues on to the summit. This stately
tree, named Araucaria Cunninghami by Aiton, from specimens sent home by Allan
Cunningham to the Royal Gardens, grows in great abundance over all the range.
The bunya grows on the summit. From the sawmill to the summit of Mobilan is
about four or five miles. In less than two miles, the track comes suddenly to a
steep shoot descending from the bare point of a spur rising abruptly a couple
of hundred feet. All logs were shot down here from the summit. This is the only
bad part of the track, but the ascent is not more than 200 yards long. On top
there is a bare green space of several acres commanding a clear view to the
south. There are several of these bare spaces on the range, and it is difficult
to find a satisfactory reason. The dense scrub surrounds them with a clean cut
edge, and they are destitute of everything but grass. Possibly some were
cleared by the blacks, like the bora circles one meets suddenly in the dense
tropical jungles of the North. The trees were killed by fire and then died and
fell and were burned off. Such are the bora rings of Choonbine, Teechappa, and
Moolabar on the Russell River.
From this bare spot, the track continues on through thick
scrub on a gradual ascent to the top of Mobilan. Timber tracks radiate in all
directions, blocked by fallen trees and overgrown by vines, bushes, common
nettles, and stinging tree. A smart man with a scrub knife could clear a good
track in a couple of days, and this is badly wanted for visitors who have a
foolish prejudice against nettles and stinging tree, and a silly dislike to
camping out all night with no blankets and nothing to eat, and the thermometer
several degrees below freezing point.
But after various serious and comic vicissitudes, a band of
nine horsemen, including a pack-horse aboriginal, stood on the crest of
Mobilan, by the beacon fixed in the stone cairn, and looked down the lawn slopes
that end in the bordering brush, and far out east, , west, north, and south,
upon a vast and unimaginable picture bounded only by the sky line and the range
We stood 3,640 feet above the sea. Around us was country
easily capable of being transformed into a Paradise. Soil unsurpassed for
richness in South Queensland, a climate pure and perfect as any in this world,
and water plentiful and faultless as that of Eulaeus, which the Persian kings
carried only in silver vessels.
Even on the crest of Mobilan is a perpetual spring, forming an
evergreen oasis on the northern slopes.
There came to me, as to Ossian, a voice from the years that
were gone, for they “rolled before me with all their deeds.”
Beneath us, far away in all directions, were the waveless
oceans of rolling downs, the gray islands of brigalow, the silver lakes of
myall, and the serpentine watercourses bordered by box gums and mournful
casuarinas. Blue and purple mists lay like funeral palls upon the far-off hills
on the horizon, or lifted for a moment as if the mighty scene shifter of Nature
were affording us one last temporary vision of the immortal dead.
In awful silence reposed that measureless panorama where “ten
thousand spheres diffused their luster through the adamantine gates,” and the
dead past was “lost for ever.”
What a field there is for the Paleontologist! He looks across
the boundless graveyard of buried Ages. Below him lie the Darling Downs with
countless fossils of the giant Diprotodon, the colossal Nototherium, the
marsupial lion Thylacoleo, the enormous ancient crocodile, and all the wondrous
Herbivores , Carnivores, and Reptilia whose remains have been proclaimed in the
“Testimony of the Rocks” of Gowrie, King and Clifton Creeks, and the fossil
deposits of Chinchilla, from the first discovery in 1842 to the present time.
Within the circle of vision lies one of the most interesting Post Pliocene
cemetery on the surface of the globe; and what shall be said by the
Ethnologist? Along the paths we travelled were scores of giant bunyas still
wearing the footprints cut by blacks climbing for pine cones in the old days.
Each tribe owned certain trees, and individuals also had their private
ownership. One tribe in the Bunya country occasionally invited a friendly tribe
to spend a month or two in ordinary years on condition that the visitors ate
bunyas only and refrained from all the game.
Once in three years there
gathered the tribes within a distance of at least 200 miles in all directions,
and certainly not fewer than 20,000 blacks assembled at that strange triennial
festival. That “gathering of the clans” accounts for much of the distribution
of words and customs over immense distances. They copied each other and passed
the invitations on to still remoter tribes. Blacks from the Clarence and
Richmond and New England; from the Mary River, Fraser’s Island, and Moreton
Bay; from the Condamine down even to the Maranoa, from the valley of the
Dawson, from the Barwon and the Moonie to the Boyne and the Burnett, marched
the dark warriors, thousands of men perfect in physique, graceful as the pine
tree, lithe and active as the panther.
Among the dialects spoken
were the Cabbee, Kamilaroi, Churrabool, Yoocum, Yacambah, Yuggar, Dippil,
Coobenpil, Wakka, Cogai, Picumbill, Wolleri, and the strange “Gnoogee” of
Moreton Island differing from all the others.
Wild weird scenes which the
world has beheld for the last time. What splendid corrobborees, what desperate
combats, what loves and hates, what feat of arms, what unselfish friendships,
what dark deeds of treachery and cannibalism! And now only the fading tracks in
the old bunya trees, tracks visible even in the centre of some of the logs cut
at the sawmills as if the bunya had engraven in its very heart a footprint
memory of the dead and vanished race.
Beautiful green bare crest
of Mobilan overlooking that magnificent downs country and that glorious range
one day to be among the loveliest agricultural mountain scenes in Australia.
The late Samuel Moffatt, of
Cumkillenbar, succeeded in obtaining a large area of this range, rich land
covered by a wealth of hoop and bunya pines. These selections, in a few years,
if a railway is made from Dalby, will realize fancy prices, and I can see no
reason why the whole range should not be thrown open for selection, reserving a
few of the finest scenery positions and 500 acres of bunya pines. For the bunya
can be grown south to Sydney and north to Cooktown, so there is no fear of
extinction, and it should be planted everywhere by the people and the Government.
There is some splendid scenery on the mountains. About three miles beyond
Mobilan, by a good track, is one of the most fascinating pictures in South
Queensland. In one respect it stands alone. Descending through thick scrub, you
emerge suddenly upon an open, green slope of about 100 acres, ending abruptly
on the edge of a precipice. On the left side a running stream skirts the
jungle, and rushes over the cliff, falling sheer at least 400 feet into the
abyss below. You stand on the green slope and look down the magnificent ravine
far out in an unobstructed view to where earth and sky mingle in white clouds
and soft blue mists, as on “gray margin of some shimmering main.” From the
bottom of the abyss, the mountains rise abruptly on either hand for at least
1500 feet, paved with a floor of dark green pines from base to summit, serene
in their majestic repose, the silence broken only by the rush of the cataract
and the wailing of the winds. You gaze down from the edge of the precipice into
a fairy realm of gorgeous vegetation to which you can descend in twenty
minutes, That scene alone is worth far more than the journey from Brisbane. The
vast forest of dome topped bunyas is a picture in itself. The majestic tree
grows to a height of 200 feet, with a diameter of 8ft or 9ft. The bark is the
thickest in the world, actually expanding in old trees to a thickness of 12
inches. It forms an excellent fuel, and
the timber getters used nothing else. I advise all who require a life giving
change of clime, and love pure air and water and enchanting scenery, to visit
in the earliest opportunity that country, so attractive to the artist,
sportsman, naturalist, botanist, and general tourist; that glorious Bunya
Range, so charming in its beauties, so weirdly fascinating in its memories of
THE PROBABLE FATE OF LEICHHARDT
To the Editor of the Sydney Mail
I have been interested by
reading an article by Ernest Favenc in one of your late issues.
I see no reason why
his theory should not be explained. In the first place I have been a resident of New South Wales for 13
years, and for 23 years in Queensland continuously, and during the whole of
this time, my attention has been drawn to some curious facts that have taken years to explain.
After the late terrible drought (1881 to 1890), I find, on
placing the details together, the fact comes out as a whole, and justifies the
theory he now assumes, that Leichhardt and party succumbed to sever drought,
and that if ever his camp remains are found, they will be found in the vicinity
of some permanent waterhole, from which they were never able to get away.
Now the justification of this theory requires some
explanation, which the writer will attempt to give. Central Queensland was not
inhabited until 1857 or 1858- perhaps in the early portion of the latter year.
Excepting Gladstone, there were not more than 100 white
persons in the whole territory. The writer sees from his observations on the
various local lagoons, that within the past 63 or 70 years, there have been two
very severe droughts – one about 1823 –1830, and the other 1845, 1846 to
1857,slightly breaking in 1858, but not absolutely until 1864; 1877 was a year
of drought and from 1881 to 1890, there was excessive drought.
Now as there was no white people living in this portion of the
country in these early years, we must go for other evidence, and which now is
given. In 1866 the writer came to Queensland, and in rides around the country,
he came on a line of trees a quarter of a mile long around the edge of a
lagoon, 35 to 40 ft deep, all dead, with the bark just hanging on to the stem
and limbs clearly showing that they had not long been dead. The trees were then
standing in some 5 or 6 feet of water. Such an extraordinary sight made on
wonder what caused these trees to die, and the writer made up his mind that it was lightning. This was in 1866, and it
was not until 1885 or 1888 that this idea was dissipated. In this year the curator
of our garden and myself began to think of another cause. Some years ago we
planted a gum tree in a very good spot, and from the growth of this tree, we
gauged the ages of such like timber. From our observation we gauged that the
ages of the trees in the lagoon was about 20 years; as they died in 1864 or
1865, they must have commenced to grow in about 1845, 1846 or 1847, the flood
of 1864 covered the roots and stems to a height of about 4ft or 5ft, and hence
they gradually died. In the same lagoon, and intermixed, were another lot of
trees, but of a less caliber, evidently not reaching more than 9 or 10 years.
These trees were all pointed at the end at about the ordinary level of the
lagoon. This had been caused by the action of the water eating into the sap,
the tree dropping off at a given height.
That this district has been subject to long periodical
droughts there can be no doubt. After the severe portion of the last drought,
we went into the bed of the same lagoon, and, to our astonishment, we found
that the large stumps had all been burnt, and that only a few young stumps
showed no signs of fire. From these remarks it is quite evident that a great
drought prevailed in or about these years, and probably extended far inland.
There is one other matter that is worth recording. A friend of mine, from Mount
Cornish station, says that a story is told by the natives that plenty years
ago, in a native life, say 40 years, there was a terrible drought, and that all
the blacks in that portion of the country assembled at a great water hole on
the Thompson River, the only water for hundreds of miles; that tribes who
hardly had an idea of each other were there assembled, and that they lived
there a long time, and that it is the habit of most of these tribes to allow of
only a certain number of males. This the writer has repeatedly heard. The brush
turkey, which abounds inland, to be seen in droves, is only occasionally found
on the coast in very dry seasons, and the writer in such seasons has shot
dozens about this town and on the coast.
W. G. Caporn,
NOVEMBER 18, 1905
A New Mosquito
A mosquito, new to science,
has been discovered through the instrumentality of Mr. C. French, jun., of the
Entomological Dept of Victoria, while on a recent visit to Coode Island, in the
vicinity of the Sanatorium, where at times, plague patients are located.
Mr. French noticed, in several pools of water, myriads of
mosquitoes, the like of which he had never seen before. A number of the insects
were netted, but no one in Melbourne could be found to “place” them or give
them a name.
In the circumstances, it was decided to send a collection of
the insects to Professor Coquillet, who is associated with the Dept of
Agriculture in Washington, U.S.A., and enjoys a world wide reputation as an
expert, and is looked upon as the greatest living authority on matters
pertaining to the haunts and habits of mosquitoes.
A reply has now been received from Professor Coquillet, to the
effect that the insects forwarded from Melbourne by Mr. French, are quite new
to science and were unknown to the Professor until he received the consignment
He has labeled them as “salt marsh” mosquitoes, and has
retained a number of them as specimens in the Dept of Agriculture in
It is stated that they abound in countless millions at Coode
Island, and it is considered they are likely to prove disseminators of disease,
and steps should be taken to lessen their numbers.
The mosquitoes are somewhat smaller than the insect generally
seen (and felt) in and around Melbourne. Their bite is also said to be of a
more than ordinarily penetrating kind.
W. F. M.
“Will o’ the Wisp” in Australia
It was during the month of
July, in 1862 (or 1863), that I travelled a flock of sheep from the Lower
Murray to Bendigo, via Swan Hill and Kerang.
The season had been
abnormally rainy, and, after days of weary droving, I arrived with the sheep at
Serpentine Creek, the commencement of the open forest country extending to
Shortly before sundown,
there being no signs of the sheep, I set off on foot to seek the drover and
help him back; it was, however, eight o’clock before I discovered him, two
miles away, and quite lost as to his whereabouts.
Some dry splinters, found in
a hollow log, enabled us to get up a fire that would defy the rain, and then I
told the man I would endeavour to find my way to our camp and bring him back
some tea and eatables.
I had barely lost sight of
the fire when, on coming to the edge of one of the swampy plains, I saw the
reflection of another fire, apparently half a mile off, and not far from it,
another one. I concluded that some bullock teams must be there, camped on the
main road, so I made for them.
The fires puzzled me, for
they assumed the form of a flame two or three feet high, and had a dullness as
if the light was shining through the dirty glass of a large lantern; moreover,
to my astonishment, they appeared to move slowly to one side, and then away
I coo’eed loudly, but no one
replied; the plain was getting to be a swamp, and soon the water was knee deep;
I hesitated as to going straight on, for the night was pitch dark, and I might
tumble into deep water, so I coo’eed again towards the lights, and they both
suddenly went out!
The it flashed across my
mind that this must be spectral lights, or “will o’ the wisp” as known in the
outback, spirits of the ether, or the
dim dark primordial past, that thought it had fulfilled its evil mission of
leading a lost wanderer into a swamp and leaving him there.
I turned to make my way to
dry land, and saw other of these lights floating about and suddenly
disappearing and re-appearing.
I Saturday the night out
with my back against the lee side of a tree; about midnight, the rain ceased,
and no more lights appeared.
The landlord of the Serpentine
Hotel assured me that the phenomenon was not uncommon in that district, yet,
during the 40 years that have since elapsed I have, notwithstanding extensive
traveling, never seen the lights again, or come across anyone who had seen
them, or noticed any reference to their being anywhere seen by any writer in
newspaper or magazine, or mentioned by any Australian novelist or poet. Perhaps
some of the contributors to this page could mention other districts where it
Some of the medicinal measures adopted by the blackfellows while
they were still untouched by civilization shows a striking resemblance to
modern “cures.” Massage was extensively practiced, even to the extent of jumping
on the patient. For the treatment of rheumatism the Narringeri tribe of South
Australia employed a vapor bath, which was prepared in the following manner: a
stage of sticks having been erected, the patient was placed upon it, well
covered with rugs; hot stones were then placed beneath the stage, and wet water
weeds laid upon them. As much as possible of the steam thus generated was
prevented from escaping at the sides, so that the body of the patient might
receive the full benefit of the ascending vapor.
A sort of earth bath was in
use among the Kamilaroi tribes of Northern New South Wales for the use of
colds. A hole was dug in moist earth, in which the patient was placed in an
erect position; he was then surrounded by earth up to the waist and allowed to
remain so for several hours.
Nor was the aboriginal
entirely destitute of a pharmacopoeia. Generations of woodland life had taught
him the curative properties of a few at least of the herbs and trees with which
the native bush abounded. The Kaiabara tribe used the gum, or Kino, of the Bloodwood
(Eucalyptus corymbosa), dissolved in water, as medicine. The Kamilaroi drank an
infusion of wild mint for colds, and an infusion of the bark of the wild
lavender tree as an aperient; pains in the stomach they treated with an
application of heated Eucalyptus leaves. The juice of the Excaecaria Agallocha,
or “Milky Mangrove,” an acrid, poisonous fluid, is used by the natives of
Eastern Australia and New Guinea as a remedy for chronic ulcerous diseases,
such as leprosy.
In one direction, at least,
aboriginal practice has received a partial endorsement from European medical
science; this is in regard to the use of wattle bark and gum for bowel
Maiden, in his “Useful
Native Plants of Australia,” says:- “The barks of all wattles are more or less
astringent, and are used in domestic medicine to make decoctions or infusions.”
Dr. S. J. Magarey, in a
communication read before the Royal Society of South Australia, 2nd
December, 1879, speaks with a more certain voice. In reference to the
therapeutic properties of the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) he says: “By
diminishing the relaxation of the stomach and intestines, it promotes
digestion. It ranks high amongst the vegetable astringents…it has been
exceedingly serviceable to me in my practice amongst infants and children…It
makes a fine gargle for a relaxed throat.”
The blacks also used a decoction of wattle bark as a lotion in skin
diseases. Internally they used a decoction of the bark and pills made of a mixture
of wattle bark and gum. What a chance for a patent medicine vendor. “Australian
Wattle Bark Pills, from the original aboriginal recipe!”
A. W. G.
The days when the blacks of Queensland used to catch the wild turkey by
slipping a noose attached to the top of a spear over the bird’s heads, the
stalker’s only cover being the grass in which the birds fed, is long past.
Despite the fact that these birds have been protected all the
year round for a number of years in Victoria, they are now both very shy and
very scarce, even on the big runs far back.
Yet, as an Australian bird, the turkey is almost as typical as the emu.
It is a very handsome bird, too, of commanding appearance, and stately
carriage, the male very often exceeding 16 pounds in weight, and 3½ feet in
The female is smaller and more homely, but at breeding time, which,
taking into account early and late seasons, may extend from June to November,
she is the object of much attention. The male bird then shows off much like a
love smitten youth, ascending any slight eminence on the plain, where, frilling
his feathers, and arching his mottled neck, he dances with great vigour; this
dance, however, is not to be compared with that of the Native Companion.
The Wild Turkey has been found in every part of the Commonwealth,
saving only Tasmania and the far northwest. His food is mostly grass and other
vegetable matter, but he includes in his menu, lizards and locusts, and a few
The birds nest on the grassy slopes of hills, or in gullies, where they
can gather a few sticks or bits of bark.
According to Campbell, the clutch of eggs is one or two usually, rarely
three, and the eggs are of an olive colour, stained with longitudinal dashes of
brown, their measurement averaging about 3¼ inches by 2¼ inches. I have endeavoured
to find a comprehensive aboriginal name for this, the stateliest bird of the
plains; but, after consulting the vocabularies of many tribes, and finding in
each a different appellation, gave it up.
One thing is certain, however; the inland tribes of New South Wales
held the turkey to be an unfailing prophet of drought, for it is said that,
during the winter prior to a dry spell, the birds did not mate. Subsequent
observations have proved, at any rate, that during such times, they certainly
do not lay.
E. S. L.
Discovery of the “Kangaroo”
The Australian kangaroo was
first seen by Europeans when Captain Cook’s barque, Endeavour, was lying off
the Endeavour River, Queensland, on the 23rd June, 1770, and the official
entry in Cook’s journal reads:- “Saturday. I sent three men into the country to
shoot pigeons, as some of these birds had been flying about. One of the men saw
an animal something less than a greyhound. It was a mouse colour, very slender
made, and swift on foot.”
On the next day, the following entry was made: “I saw myself
this morning, a little way from the ship, one of the animals I spoke of before.
It was of a light mouse colour, and the full size of a greyhound, and shaped in
every respect like one, with a long tail, which it carried like a greyhound –
in short, I should have taken it for a wild dog, but for its walking or
running, in which it jumped like a hare or a deer. Another of them was seen
today by some of our people, who saw the first. They described them as having
very small legs, and the point of the foot like that of a goat, but this I
could not see myself, because the
ground the one I saw was upon was too hard, and the length of the grass hindered
me seeing his legs.”
Later on, Captain Cook states:_ “It (the kangaroo) bears no
sort of resemblance to any European animal I ever saw. It is said to bear much
resemblance to the Jerboa, except in size, the Jerboa being no larger than a
Mr. Banks, a member of the ship’s company, ascertained from
the natives that they called the animal the Kangaroo. In his diary, Captain
Cook spells the name “Kangooroo” or “Kanguru.” Dingoes, he describes as wolves,
cockatoos as cockadores, and centipedes as centapees.
Cannibalism in Papua
The Parliamentary report on
New Guinea for 1903-1904 contains the relation of an act of cannibalism which
occurred in the central division during the period under review.
An outlying village of the Doriwaida tribe, on the inland side
of the coast range, was attacked by a war party, numbering 200, from the tribes
inhabiting the country near the Upper Musa tributaries.
“Most of the people escaped, but a woman and her child were
killed, and four men took refuge in the tree house, which was built in a wild
mango tree, overshadowing one end of the village. The assaulting party
attempted to burn out these men by setting fire to a house immediately beneath
it, and it was not easy to understand how the inmates above escaped being half
roasted, for an examination of the tree showed that its leaves were scorched as
dry as tinder from top to bottom. Having been foiled in this ruse, however,
they stood at a safe distance to avoid the spears of the men in the tree house,
and hurled stones at them. One side of the house was partially demolished, and
the surrounding branches were almost entirely denuded of bark by the stones
thrown. The inmates, nevertheless, kept the horde below at bay, economizing
their ammunition of spears and stones for anybody venturing too close to the
foot of the ascending ladder. Meanwhile they had the mortification of watching
their relatives, who had been slain, being eaten before their eyes. Finally,
towards sundown, the attacking party went away, and the men came down from the
tree and fled to the upper villages. There they were found by the Government
party, bruised and cut with stones from scalp to sole. A tragic incident in the
affair was that the guide who had led the Government party to the place was
himself the husband and father of the murdered woman and child.”
The Town of Geelong
Speaking at Ballarat a few
days ago, Mr. James Oddie, who organised the Eureka Stockade demonstration last
December, regretted the lack of history of Geelong on the lines of Wither’s
“History of Ballarat.” Doubtless some enterprising historian will accept the
suggestion, but in the meanwhile a few particulars of the origin and growth of
the town will be interesting.
The foundation of Geelong is almost contemporaneous with that
of Melbourne itself. When the first rush of settlers to Port Phillip took place
from Tasmania, in 1836, stimulated by the expeditions of Batman and Fawkner,
the advantages of Corio Bay and its adjacent country as the site for a
settlement were quickly discovered. Within a few months after the establishment
of the Yarra Settlement, a small band of adventurous pastoralists had selected
stations in the district.
There has been some difference of opinion as to order of
precedence among the pioneers, but Dr. A. Thomson, in a letter written in 1853,
makes the matter clear.
He writes: “In May, 1836, I landed my sheep (from Tasmania) at
Point Henry, and occupied the present township of Geelong as a sheep station
and Indented Head as a cattle station for Captain Swanston. Messrs. Cowie and
Stead and myself had the whole of the Western District to ourselves for
eighteen months, parties being afraid of the blacks. We were afterwards joined
by Road Knight, Darke, Derwent Company, Russell, Anderson, Brown, Read, McLeod,
Steiglitz, Sutherland, Murray, Morris, Lloyd, Ware, Learmonth, Armytage, Raven,
Pettet, Francis, Bates, and others.”
In 1838, according to the same authority, Mr. Strachan built
the first store in Geelong, and it was followed by those of Messrs. Rucker and
Champion. Some months previous to the advent of Dr. Thompson, Gellibrand, with
Buckley and several others, had visited the spot.
For some years, Geelong was regarded as a town quite likely to
eclipse the infant city of Melbourne, and there were ample reasons for such an
anticipation. In the first place, besides its natural advantages being greater,
the soil of the surrounding country was superior to that in the immediate
vicinity of Melbourne, and it was a natural port for a great portion of the
Western District, comprising some of the finest land in the colony. Hence it
was early known by the cognomen of The Pivot, an appellation which is now
sometimes jocularly applied to it. But the inhabitants claim that the ancient
town lost its prestige owing to Government officialdom being located in Melbourne,
and the centralizing of interests in the capital, which even to the present day
are a source of complaint.
It was for some years regarded as the probable capital of the
colony, but Sir Richard Bourke, the Governor-General, after carefully examining
both places – perhaps considering vested interests – chose Melbourne.
Batesford derives its name from one of the pioneer families,
and Cowie’s Creek perpetuates the name of another. Messrs. Cowie and Bates are
said to have brought over a bell and erected it at the spot now known as
Bellpost Hill. There is a legend that the object in erecting this bell was to
rouse the settlers to arms in the event of an attack by the blacks, who were
very troublesome in the early days, and that the bell was effectively used to
disperse a marauding party on one occasion. In its infancy there were two
settlements at Geelong, one on the bay near the present wharves being known as
the township Corio, and the other on the banks of the Barwon River, about a
mile further south, being then known as Geelong.
It was here, in the late 1830s, in primitive houses, the
officers of the Crown were located, including Captain Foster Fyans (Crown ands
Commissioner), a Peninsular veteran; also Lieutenants Addis and Airey, who held
official positions; and Chief Constable P. McKeevor, whose wife was
A file of twelve soldiers, under a sergeant, occupying a
barracks, kept guard over a gang of convicts in a stone quarry and at a lockup.
With the influx of population, Corio grew apace, and assuming
something like the dimensions of a township, the official quarters were shifted
in this direction, and the other settlement decreased in importance. It was
then decided that the Bay should be known by the name of Corio, and the two settlements
should be known as North and South Geelong.
Customs of the Interior
Like their brothers of the
coast country, the aboriginals of the interior of Australia are as zealous in
carrying out the traditions and rules of their respective tribes – and in many
cases with as much secrecy- as a Freemasons’ lodge. The whole of the country
from Port Augusta to Port Darwin is carefully divided into tribal districts,
with the boundaries as well known to the tribes as the electoral plans of the
States would be to a Labor member.
Every tribe has certain ways and means of carrying out the
numerous tribal ceremonies that each member of it is forced to pass through,
and although there is some slight difference in the initiatory ceremonies with each
tribe, yet the difference is so small that it is probable at some early date
the aboriginal customs were identical throughout the island.
For instance, while the natives of the Alberga only knock out
three of the front teeth during the initation of their young men, the tribes of
the Musgrave knock out five, and those of the Tompkinson take out the whole
front row of the upper jaw.
Again, the natives of the Tompkinson eat a portion of their
dead as a mark of respect, so also do those on some portions of the Diamantina,
the only difference being the latter take the inside of the thigh, whilst the
former favour the upper portion of the arm.
In one custom, and that is the use of the white and red ochre
by all the tribes when on corroboree or going to fight, the customs of the
tribes hardly differ in any way, except perhaps in a slight alteration of the
white bands upon the breast or legs. In the obtaining of the ochre I never came
upon but one place from which the natives got it, and that was at Parachilna,
between Mundowdna and Moorooloo, South Australia. Either the Mundowdna or the
Dieryi tribes seemed to have the exclusive right of obtaining the much prized
commodity, and passing it on from tribe to tribe in exchange for spear shafts,
flint, or, from the Queensland tribes, pituri or native tobacco, which they
carry behind the ear, and only remove it when they require a chew.
Old settlers used to say that all the tribes were dangerous in
the ochre season, as directly it fell into their hands it was like fighting rum
to a man o’ warsman.
The system of the tribal wars seemed to be the same in all the
different districts, a life for a life being the predominant rule amongst all
the tribes. For instance, if one of the members of the Monkira tribe was killed
by one of the Daroo, then nothing would suffice until the man who threw the
fatal spear was killed in revenge, and this would go on until one side or the
other was wiped out.
With many of the tribes, especially the Dieryi and some of
those towards the Western Australia border, the men wore their hair long and
the women almost close cropped. This is to be accounted for from the fact that
the men take the women’s hair and use it for barbing their spears or any
purpose where a binding material is necessary.
A native that has been taken from his tribe by the whites will
always endeavour to get back to the camp at some time or other, no matter how
luxuriously he may have been housed and fed. I have known cases where a black
boy has been taken from the tribe and sent to a Sydney school and educated, but
it was all the same. Some day he would go back to his tribe, make away with his
clothes and submit himself to all the painful initiatory formula of his tribe,
that he could have avoided by staying in a comfortable home amongst the whites;
but the freedom of the old hunting walk-about life was too alluring to be