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RESIDENCE AND RAMBLES
THE AUSTRALASIAN COLONIES,
Second Excursion into the Interior. From Sydney, by sea, to Port Macquarie, 200 miles north of Sydney; --and from thence a ride of 150 miles to the Squatting District of New England.
SEA-SICKNESS A SEDATIVE--PUNCH--PORT MACQUARIE--LAKE INNES COTTAGE--BAGPIPES--PRETTY GIRLS AND THE POLKA--THE BUNYIP-- MILITARY COLONISTS--HOSPITALITY--RIDE ACROSS THE MACQUARIE MOUNTAINS--SQUATTING STATIONS--THE YARROWS--TIMBER--CEDAR--GLOOMY FOREST--THE BELL-BIRD--THE TREE-FERN--FLIGHT OF PARROTS.
March 1st. --The Governor, being desirous of visiting some of the more northern parts of his government, fixed upon this day--the first of the Australian autumn --for the commencement of his tour.
The thermometer has not as yet been very autumnal in its indications, ranging pretty steadily during the last week between 80 deg. and 86 deg. in the shade.
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At 8 P. M. accordingly, his Excellency, with a party consisting of two ladies and four gentlemen, embarked in the Maitland steamer, and put to sea.
Lady Mary Fitz Roy and myself were travelling in search of health--she hoping to regain that first of all earthly blessings, never fully valued until lost, by change of air and quiet at the residence of a family near Port Macquarie; myself in the excitement and exertion of an extended excursion by sea and in the saddle, and in the bracing climate of New England's high tableland.
Major Innes of Lake Innes Cottage, who attended the Governor on the voyage, was to receive the whole party for a visit of some days; and Mr. Marsh, an extensive squatter of New England, had invited the gentlemen to share the hospitality of Salisbury Court--the name of his homestead; so as to see something of pastoral life in that distant province.
Our vessel was a slow one, but safe and clean, the commander an excellent seaman, and besides ourselves there were few passengers. The night was dark and calm; but towards morning the wind and sea, getting up together, imparted to our little craft a degree of motion which spared neither sex nor age in those unfortunates whose interior economy sympathised with its billowy and bilious undulations. Its effects however were highly beneficial in the case of the only troubled and troublesome spirit on board--a noisy and drunken woman, a "for'ard"--I may say a very forward passenger--who had absorbed during the night the contents of a great bottle of strong waters, and was by sea-
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SEA-SICKNESS A SEDATIVE.
sickness so quickly and completely sobered and silenced as could have been done by no other agency--marital and constabulary authority inclusive.
Human vanity is always tickled by a feeling of superiority over one's neighbour. I do not know that it is ever more satisfactorily indulged than by the exempt from sea-sickness, as he lounges at his ease on the heaving taffrail, and occasionally casts a pitying glance on the "poor ghosts" who, one after another, sink pale and silent through the stage-trap of the cabin-stairs, or on the more actively wretched creatures on deck, flinging their flaccid corpses over the bulwarks, as if they were hanging them up to dry, or as Ponchinello does those of his various enemies--from his wife to the devil--after he has sufficiently pounded them and poked them with his murderous baton.
Let me pause a moment to inquire how it is that the high official, in whom resides the duty and the power to quash all public exhibitions or dramatic representations of an immoral or irreligious tendency, has permitted Punch to escape the rigour of his censorship! How is it that the "virtuousest, discreetest, best" of parents expose without apprehension their children to the bad example and evil lessons inculcated by the entire life and character of this popular hero, but unmitigated reprobate? Is not the career of Punch, domestic and public, one of successful and unpunished villainy from beginning to end? Does he not break the laws, thrash his wife and dog, murder his infant offspring, belabour the magistrate, cheat his tradesmen and the gallows, hang the hangman, and defy the--devil himself?
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And yet--humiliating reflection! no sooner does his rascally penny trumpet sound at the corner of a London street or square, than every soul within sight or hearing, between the ages of seventy years and seven weeks-- even the professional mute who is hired and paid to look grave, gets a grin upon his face in mere anticipation of the enjoyment he is about to receive, or has before experienced, in the exhibition of the infamous adventures of this diabolical-----. But I have no patience with the inconsistencies of human nature! and no temper to continue so irritating a subject!
March 2d. --During this day our course kept us pretty generally within sight of land, and sometimes very near it. The character of the coast is scarcely highland, yet neither is it flat. It presents a wavy line of hills and hollows covered with bush, occasionally jutting into bold rocky bluffs, or green turfy knolls sloping abruptly to the surf-vexed beach. The verdure of the grass lands in the vicinity of the sea is very remarkable in this country, as compared with the pastures of the interior. The same feature is observable on the banks of the inland salt-water creeks, and doubtless arises from an evaporation which of course falls on the earth in the shape of fresh water.
Towards 3 P. M. our obliging skipper, judging perhaps by our complexions that in so unsteady a banquetting hall few would share his cabin dinner, attempted to put into a snug looking cove, called Seal Rock Bay. The little Maitland, however, appeared to resent this stoppage to bait, and became so restive in a cross swell as to compel him to get out to sea again.
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March 3d. --At 5 A. M. after a roughish passage of two nights and one day, we made Port Macquarie, and ran up to take a look at the Bar--a natural and ugly obstacle that, with the exception of Port Jackson, disfigures, I believe, every harbour on this coast, if not those on all the coasts of New Holland. With the "Sow and Pigs" shoal just within its jaws, even the splendid harbour of Sydney can hardly be said to be exempt from this serious blemish. The water was leaping and chafing on the sandspit in a manner highly unpleasing to a seaman's eye; but, no pilot appearing, our captain put his head out to sea again, as if to verify the adage "Reculer, pour mieux sauter," and then, wheeling about and plying both "persuaders," he took the three successive surfs in capital style; and in a few minutes the steamer was alongside the little wooden pier of Port Macquarie. Would he have acted so boldly in the absence of the sleepy pilot, had he been able to look only a few days into the inscrutable future?
On the 11th of this month occurred the fearful wreck of the Sovereign steamer on the Bar of Brisbane--a port situated about 270 miles north of Port Macquarie. From the 3d (this day) until the 10th, the shoal was considered impassable on account of the weather. On the following day, however, the commander of the steamer attempted to come out on his passage to Sydney. After safely crossing two of the lines of surf, the beam of the engine was fractured by a violent jerk, The third surf curling over the paddle-box fell on board, and sent the vessel to the bottom with fifty-four persons, of whom forty-four perished.
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On the 27th of the same month a widow lady, residing in Sydney, received the awful intelligence that at one blow she had been bereft of a daughter, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren. In the experience of a life I remember no object more pathetic than the one little surviving girl, of three or four years old, who had not accompanied her parents on the fatal voyage, and whom I frequently saw on my return to Sydney. Dressed in the deepest black, and her childish mind vaguely conscious that her father and mother and brothers were gone to heaven, her sunny face and bounding step were above the reach of grief--for she could not comprehend the immensity of her loss, and had never learned its terrible details. Poor little Leonie!
At eight A. M. our party landed, the Governor being received with great warmth of welcome by all the inhabitants of the town who happened to be out of bed, and by a guard of honour, consisting of the whole garrison, namely, an ensign and twenty men.
The town contains about 500 inhabitants. It has contained that number for some years; and although a dozen or two of children were playing on the village green--brown rather--there was something about the place which denoted decay rather than growth. It looks like a little man dressed in the clothes of a large one. The streets are very wide, and cut out to be very long, --like a certain street of Toronto, in Canada, whose name I forget, and which maintains its title for upwards of twenty miles into the unpeopled bush, --but the houses are so few and far between, that, in the oppidan sense of the word, there can be no such thing as a next door
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neighbour among the citizens. There is a good-sized church, capable of holding the whole population, of which, however, Romanism and Dissent claim one-half; a gaol capacious enough for an English county; a hospital for invalid and insane convicts; and a small, but well posted barrack for the military detachment. The Hastings River, rather a fine stream, runs into the bay, and forms a kind of lagoon which constitutes the harbour; but in high winds the bar sometimes for days together closes the port, a serious detriment to the success of the settlement.
Port Macquarie was originally a penal settlement, but all the prisoners, excepting the invalids, have been withdrawn. It is the sudden cessation of the convict expenditure, which here, as in other towns of New South Wales, gives an appearance of waning prosperity not common in young countries inhabited by the Anglo-Saxon, and which I do not believe to be a type of the general condition of this colony. I may add, that in 1848 the hospital was also broken up, at least for convict purposes.
Two carriages belonging to Major Innes awaited our party, and conveyed us through seven or eight miles of forest land, some part of which is remarkable for large and handsome timber and carpeted with luxuriant fern, to Lake Innes Cottage. Here Lady Mary Fitz Roy was courteously received by a numerous circle of ladies; and we were all quickly installed in our respective apartments, as commodious and well appointed as in any English country house. There were drawing-room, dining-room, and library; a separate range for the young
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ladies; spacious offices on the opposite side of a courtyard; hot and cold baths; and, what is rare in this country, a large stable-yard and out-houses, kept well out of sight.
The house is placed on the slope of a green hill, descending to Lake Innes, --a wide sheet of water, perhaps three or four miles long by two miles wide, whose banks, framed in a margin of flags and rushes, give evidence of the gradual absorption of this splendid piece of fresh water, --rare feature in a country, which perhaps, beyond all others, is obnoxious to the stigma of the Royal Psalmist--"an arid and dry land, where no water is." Beyond the lake and the bush bounding it, rises a distant background of mountains, and its head is only divided from the ocean by a wooded isthmus about half a mile in width.
The view from a hill behind the dwelling house, embracing a panorama of sea, lake, wood, and mountain, is strikingly beautiful. The roar of the surf on the rocky coast, and the silvery ripple of the placid lake, so near yet so different, present a singular and agreeable contrast. A luxuriant and tasteful garden, profuse in fruits and flowers, and with arcades of creeping plants bordering the walks, surrounds the house on three sides. From the knoll above mentioned, (the signal-hill, as it is called,) wide as is the prospect, no other human habitation is visible; --the retired soldier is monarch of all he surveys.
The Major possesses sheep and cattle-stations, dotted over the country both on this and on the further side of the mountains we are about to cross. He has inns,
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built by himself and tenanted by his overseers or other dependants, on the unpeopled roads of the bush to a distance of 150 miles. His stock numbers, I believe, about 50,000 sheep, with herds of horses and cattle commensurate. The very soul of hospitality and kindliness, 1 should say that all this, and more, is requisite to keep pace with the suggestions of an open heart and a profuse hand. On the present occasion, this most elastic of cottages accommodated seventeen or eighteen persons, besides servants. There were dinner parties and dancing every evening, the chief music being furnished by a Highland bagpiper in full costume. In short, at this secluded bush-residence there was every luxury that could be found in the distant capital, except the polka! and that one of our party imported and imparted, to the immeasurable delight of a numerous bevy of pretty girls, the daughters and friends of the house.
On the second day of our stay at Lake Innes, a riding party being proposed, in half an hour a dozen horses, half of them side-saddled, were brought to the door, and in half an hour more we were galloping along the finest sea-beach I ever saw, (perfectly level and hard sand,) for twelve miles, between two headlands. Close down to the sea-shore grows the most luxuriant forest and brush, the trees thickly enlaced by parasites and creepers, among which a handsome kind of passiflora throws its broad shining leaves, flowers and tendrils, so as to form a canopy of verdure across the cattle-paths, into which we struck to avoid the heat and glare of the sun. It was quite a scene of Boccaccio performed on horseback!
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March 6th. --Early this morning I walked down to the boathouse on the lake, with a view to a row and a swim; but, on my way down, I was entertained by a legend which somehow diverted me from my intention. Did my reader ever hear of the Bunyip? (fearful name to the Aboriginal native!)--a sort of "half-horse, half-alligator," haunting the wide rushy swamps and lagoons of the interior--at long intervals heard of through doubtful sources as having been seen rolling his voluminous length above the surface of the silent waters, or rearing his monstrous head over the tall rushes on their banks!
A good deal of excitement was created among the scientific and curious in Sydney, not long after my arrival, by the announcement, in the public prints, that part of the skeleton of a bunyip had been found; and further, that the head of a young one, with the skin perfect, had been picked up on the banks of the Murrumbidgee and forwarded to Sydney for examination. I fully anticipated the fatal result. I was sure that myself and other gullibles would be disabused of a pleasant superstition. Accordingly, the light of science dispelled in an instant the dubious and delightful dusk of tradition; for the unsympathising savant, to whose inspection the specimen was submitted, unhesitatingly pronounced the head, (which somewhat resembled that of a camel, but with a more conical cranium,) to be that of the foal of a horse--no more; but to a foal the entire form of whose skull had been changed by a severe hydrocephalous affection!
One advantage arose from this long-deferred dis-
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covery, -- a discovery preceded by as many learned doubts and theories as were occasioned in the Pickwick Club by the recondite inscription on Bill Stump's post; --a new and strong word was adopted into the Australian vocabulary: Bunyip became, and remains, a Sydney synonyme for impostor, pretender, humbug, and the like. The black fellows, however, unaware of the extinction, by superior authority, of their favourite loup-garou, still continue to cherish the fabulous bunyip in their shuddering imaginations.
Am I writing myself down an ass, in confessing that, after I had heard it asserted that several persons had seen this Australian chimera disporting itself among the waves and sedges of Lake Innes, and after I had looked over the gunwale of my boat into the deep mysterious gloom of its waters, despite of science I could not bring myself to take my intended plunge?
In the afternoon we repaired to the town of Port Macquarie to attend a public dinner, given by the inhabitants of the district, (the northernmost of the "nineteen counties,") to the Queen's representative. We sat down about forty-five in number. The "Hotel Royal" was the scene of the banquet, an establishment by no means ill-situated for a marine hotel, having a fine airy site close to the sea.
The loyalty of Port Macquarie, --and in this colony I found loyalty everywhere rife, except among the lowest rabble of Sydney after it had been well stirred up by professional demagogues--the loyalty of Port Macquarie on this occasion vented itself in toasts, sentiments, and speeches full of good feeling, and of fealty towards her
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Majesty, and her representative. The army was drank with so much enthusiasm as to convince me that there were a good many old soldiers present, which was indeed the case. I am sorry to add, that I did not hear of a single individual of the many military officers settled in the district who admitted that the money he had laid out had been profitably invested. Knowing this fact, why, in returning thanks, did I assure our entertainers that if ever I was tempted to turn my sword into a sheepshears, I knew of no spot so attractive for location as that on which we stood, &c.? It must be that there is truth in the cynical saying, that the "use of words is to conceal our thoughts;" for I had seen and heard enough, here and elsewhere, of military colonists, to have arrived at the conclusion, that freedom from direct taxation, and plenty of beef and mutton, accompanied by burial above ground in the bush, however tolerable to persons accustomed from early youth or reconciled by previous habit to the predicament, must be but poor recompense, and must bring sad retrospection to those who have passed the prime of their days among the changeful and exciting scenes of military life, and who, perhaps ill-advised or prompted by some temporary disgust, have thrown the price of their commissions, their prize-money, and their patrimony, one or all, into an experiment on sheep, cattle, and colonial acres. Yet, after all, what is a married captain of foot, with a couple of hundreds a-year, a barrack-room, and half a score of wide-mouthed craving callows to do? He cannot be at one and the same time a gentleman, a soldier, and a half-starved beggar!
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The rough plenty of a colony like New South Wales naturally enough suggests an agreeable alternative to the troubled mind of one so situated. The route arrives for the removal of his regiment from the country where mutton is 1d. a pound, to another where it costs six or eight times as much. At his age, and with his family, it would be madness to expend his little capital on further promotion, so he "settles"--awful word! not a few know how much it imports.
In making a just appraisement of the worldly success of military colonists, taken from their own accounts, I always make due allowance for the nature of the animal. Prom the goose-step to the grave grumbling is the privilege and resource of the old soldier, the safety-valve to blow off his discontent. We all growl-- so do old sailors. From this sage reflection I deduce the belief, that retired veterans are not always so ill off as may appear before a glass or two has enabled them to see things through a more cheerful medium, and thereby to colour their descriptions less gloomily.
March 8th. --Having passed several days very pleasantly at Lake Innes, the Governor, with his son, Major Innes, and myself, took the road to New England this morning, at break of day. The journey of 150 miles was to be performed in three days, and on horseback, there being no road across the mountains for any wheel-carriage of less rough construction than a bullock-dray. Our host provided the horses, roadsters as well as sumpter-nags on which our baggage was bestowed in saddle-bags. The latter animals were driven loose by my servant and a border policeman, both also
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well mounted. Many of the pastoral nabobs of Australia possess the horse-power of a 2,000 ton steamship, and could mount a dragoon regiment at two days' notice.
The country through which we rode this day presented for nearly the whole distance alternate, low, undulating ranges and rich levels on the banks of the Hastings. A good and welcome breakfast awaited us after a trot of two or three hours, or rather canter--for Australian journeys are usually made at what is called a bush canter, the sort of pace that a man goes to cover in England, and one that comes natural to a "screw;" and the best bush-horses are always screws. Our breakfast awaited us at a lone inn, the "Prince of Wales," one of the major's creations, situated near the Big Creek, on a little clearing in the thick of the bush, like a bald patch on a shock head of hair. Just beyond it we passed the property of a retired officer, Colonel Grey, the dwelling-house prettily posted on a plateau overlooking the stream, and, beyond it, a comparative handful of cleared land, terminating in the eternal gum-tree wilderness. The soil hereabouts seemed exceedingly rich, and the herbage and foliage wonderfully luxuriant; but although the grass was in some places as high as our saddles, the live stock which we fell in with through the greater part of this district looked less sleek than in the Bathurst and Wellington plains.
Our halt for the night took place at an inn and stock station belonging to the Major--called the Yarrows-- where we found excellent fare and beds. Around this station our worthy host and guide depastures a large
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THE YARROWS--TOBIN's HOLE.
quantity of sheep and 3,000 head of cattle. His overseer, the piper Bruce--of whom I have made honourable mention as incorporating within his own person and pipes the dancing orchestra of Lake Innes Cottage-- resides at the inn, and makes what custom he can from the rare travellers on the road; --for the more frequented route from New England, Beardy Plains, and other of the northern squatting districts to the great emporium, Sydney, avoids these mountains and (unluckily for that township) Port Macquarie, striking the sea at the mouth of the Hunter River. It is with great difficulty that the mountain road is passable by a heavy dray, and the traject is very tedious.
March 9th. --At six A. M. we mounted our steeds for an arduous day's work--the passage of the hill range dividing the settled districts from the squatting districts. Our ride was about fifty miles, thirty-five at least of which were through a most rugged and wild region. It occupied eleven hours--after the two first of which the rain never ceased falling in torrents. Prom the house at the Yarrows to the sheep farm of the Messrs. Todd and Fenwick, on the north-western slope of the Macquarie range--our intended hosts for the night-- there is no human habitation. Major Innes, however, in the prospect of Sir Charles's visit, had caused to be erected about half way a slab hut, at a spot called Tobin's Hole; --but whether said Tobin was a Government surveyor, a land-seeking squatter, a bullock driver, or simply a bush-ranger, there exists, I think, no legend to prove. Indeed in this country, as in America, the traveller is saved all trouble as to antiquities, whether historical or
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architectural. The chances are that, in a whole month's journey, with the exception of a few patriarchal trees that have survived storm and fire and axe, he finds no object around him half so venerable as himself. Where the owls, and bats, and satyrs dwell in Australia, I cannot imagine!
Our progress this day consisted, without exception, of crawling up and sliding down hill after hill, mountain after mountain of deep wet soil--very like the peristaltic advance of a travelling caterpillar. The road leads for the most part right over the crest of successive ridges-- as is generally the case with respect to bush roads; and this is done to avoid the "sidlings," which are sure to occur on roads formed along the flanks of hills. The ranges here are invariably wooded up to their summits; there are no rocky crests or jagged peaks; all is eternal bush--a sea of foliage as far as the eye can reach. There is no water in the shape of lakes or even pools, yet we crossed several fine streams fringed with the graceful casuarina, which in Australia is as constant a companion of running water as the willow or alder in England.
Here and there, as we dropped into some deep cool dell, the monotonous but silvery note of the bell bird-- the campanella of Waterton, I suppose--afforded the well-known, and to the thirsty traveller and tired steed, the welcome indication of some rippling but hidden streamlet. The single "ting" of this little harbinger of water in the desert is curiously loud and metallic, yet, the bird itself is so small as rarely to be visible, even when a score of them may be ringing a peal among the
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high trees. I once shot one for a specimen, and found it to be about the size of a sparrow, and of a dull olive-green colour.
The vegetable world of these mountains is wholly unlike anything I had hitherto seen in Australia. The gum-tree is of course not wanting; but that tiresome shadeless never-green does not here exclusively usurp the Sylva, as in the Blue Mountains. It grows side by side with a singularly handsome tree of a Myrtaceous character, covered with small, dark green, shining leaves, and often of gigantic magnitude. Many of this species must have measured from 160 to 200 feet in height, by 25 and 30 feet in girth. Here I saw for the first time the cedar--the most valuable timber in the country for upholstery--the mahogany, in short, of New Holland, a wood which it much resembles in colour and grain, although inferior in solidity. It has no affinity whatever with the cedar of other climes--the foliage nearly resembling the European ash; it is not even a coniferous tree. Most of the trees, or rather of the timber, of this colony owe their names to the sawyers who first tested their qualities. They were guided by the colour and character of the wood, knowing and caring nothing about botanical relations. Thus the swamp oak and she-oak have rather the exterior of the larch than any quercine aspect. Pomona would indignantly disown the apple-tree, for there is not the semblance of a pippin on its tufted branches. A shingle of the beef-wood looks precisely like a raw beefsteak. The cherry-tree resembles a cypress, but is of a tenderer green, bearing a worthless little berry, having its stone or seed outside; --whence its scientific name of
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exocarpus. The pear-tree is, I believe, an eucalyptus, and bears a pear of solid wood, hard as heart of oak. Nothing short of a mallet will break it; yet, in the procreation of its kind, its inedible body spontaneously and gently opens to drop the seed. These two last trees are among the well-known natural paradoxes of Australia. Those very useful trees, the iron bark and the stringy bark, describe themselves very precisely.
In many points along the roadside appeared great thickets of the pretty lentana, with its delicate pink cluster flower and its rough leaf, looking and smelling like that of our black-currant. This plant seems to spring up wherever the forest has been felled, like the wild-raspberry in North America. We found, indeed, the last shrub very plentiful in this day's ride; but the fruit, though specious in form and hue, mocks the taste by a pulpy substance like cotton. A variety of enormous creepers --vines, as they call them here--threw their grotesque coils from tree to tree, not seldom clothing some old dead stump with a close network of large and lustrous leaves, giving it the guise of a dandified skeleton. Here and there pliant leafless ropes, twenty and thirty yards long, and perfectly uniform in size from end to end, swung entirely across the road; while others, dropping from the topmost branches, descended in an ominous loop straight down to a level with the rider's neck, inviting him to hang himself in such plain terms, as to be positively dangerous in weather so nearly resembling that of an English November. But, to me, by far the greatest curiosities in vegetation were the zanthorea, or grass-tree, and the tree-fern. The former
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THE GRASS-TREE AND FERN-TREE.
might with more propriety be styled the rush-tree; for on a date-like stem grows a huge bunch of spikes, some three feet long, from whose centre shoots a single tall stamen, like a bulrush, ten or twelve feet in height. In the flowering season it is full of honey. There are whole acres of this plant near Sydney, but there the trunks are rarely more than a foot or two high. The fern-tree here attains a maximum of about twenty feet. Its wide and graceful plume seems to rise at once perfect from the earth, --as Venus from the sea, --the growth of the trunk gradually lifting it into mid air. One might almost imagine that the tall and dense forest around it bad drawn up the well-known shrub, or rather weed, of our English deer-parks into a higher order of the vegetable family. When I left England, some of my friends were fern-mad, and were nursing little microscopic varieties with vast anxiety and expense. Would that I could place them for a moment beneath the patulous umbrella of this magnificent species of Cryptogamia! On the forks of some of the older timber-trees grew, also, the stag-horn fern, as large as the biggest cabbage, the fronds exactly resembling the palmated antlers of the moose and rein-deer.
In no part of the world did I ever see such absolute midday darkness as occurred in many spots of this forest. Not a ray pierced, nor apparently had ever pierced, the dense shade. The eye ranged through the melancholy colonnades of tall black stems and along the roof of gloomy foliage, until it was lost in the night of the woods, --literally the nemorumque noctem of the poet. We were, perhaps, the more struck with this peculiarity
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because the reverse is the usual character of the Australian bush; for the foliage of the gum is so thin and so pendulous, that, when the sun is overhead, one rides through the bush almost as utterly unsheltered as if there had been no trees. If there be such a thing as a sinumbral-tree, --a Peter Schlemil of the woods, --it is the gum-tree.
It was a singular and pretty sight to see, as we did this day, during one or two momentary bursts of sunshine, large flocks of beautiful parrots dart across our path, like a shower of rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, glittering for an instant in the watery beam, and vanishing as quickly in the gloom of the wilderness. The scrub of these mountains, as the beautiful forest is vulgarly called, is by no means rife in animal life. With the exception of a flight or two of parrots, we saw no wild animals except one solitary dingo, whom a ringing "tally-ho" sent scouring into covert as promptly as though he knew the import of the English view-halloo.