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Full text of "Australian Aborigines : the languages and customs of several tribes of Aborigines in the western district of Victoria, Australia."

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KAAWIRN KUUNAWARN 

(HISSING SWAN), 

Chip/ of the Kirne Wiavonr/, 

(blood tip tribe). 



Z.D, 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES 



THE LANGUAGES AND CUSTOMS OF SEVERAL TRIBES OF ABORIGINES 
IN THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA 



JAMES DAWSON /< 




GEORGE EOBERTSON 

MELBOURNE, SYDNEY, AND ADELAIDE 



MDCCCLXXXI 



MELBOUENE : 

PRINTED BY WAIKEE, MAY, AND CO., 

9 MACKILLOP STKEEI. 



PREFACE. 



A NUMBER of years ago there appeared in the cohimns of the Australasian 
newspaper a short account of the language of one of the native tribes of the 
Western District of Victoria, written by my daughter, whose long residence 
in the Port Fairy district, and intimate acquaintance from infancy with the 
aboriginal inhabitants of that part of the colony, and with their dialects, induced 
her to publish that sketch. Some time afterwards our attention was directed 
to the formation of a vocabulary of dialects spoken by aboriginal natives of 
Australia, and a request was made that she ' would assist in collecting and 
illustrating all connected with their history, habits, customs, and languages.' 
In undertaking so interesting a work, our intention was to publish the 
additional information in the columns of the Australasian; but, finding it 
to be too voluminous for that journal, it was resolved to present it to the public 
in its present shape. 

Great care has been taken in this work not to state anything on the 
word of a white person ; and, in obtaining information from the aborigines, 
suggestive or leading questions have been avoided as much as possible. The 
natives, in their anxiety to please, are apt to coincide with the questioner, and 
thus assist him in arriving at wrong conclusions ; hence it is of the utmost 
importance to be able to converse freely with them in their own language. 
This inspires them with confidence, and prompts them to state facts, and to 
discard ideas and beliefs obtained from the white people, which in many 
instances have led to misrepresentations. All the information contained in this 
book has been obtained from the united testimony of several very intelligent 
aborigines, and every word was approved of by them before being written down. 
While co-operating in this arduous task, which they thoroughly comprehended, 
our sable friends showed the utmost anxiety to impart information, and the most 
scrupulous honesty in conveying a correct version of their own language, as well 



PREFACE. 



as of the languages of the neighbouring tribes ; and so proud and jealous were 
they of the honour, that, by agreement among themselves, each was allotted a fair 
proportion of questions to answer and of words to translate ; and if levity was 
shown by any individual present who could not always resist a pun on the word 
in question, the sedate old chief, Kaawirn Kuunawarn, at once repi'oved the wag, 
and restored order and attention to the business on hand. 

During this tedious process, occupying several years in its accomplishment, 
I found my jjrevious good opinion of the natives fell far short of their merits. 
Their general information and knowledge of several distinct dialects — in some 
instances four, besides fair English — gratified as well as sui'prised me, and 
naturally suggested a comparison between them and the lower classes of white 
men. Indeed, it is very questionable if even those who belong to what is called 
the middle class, notwithstanding their advantages of education, know as mush 
of their own laws, of natural history, and of the nomenclature of the heavenly 
bodies, as the aborigines do of their laws and of natural objects. 

In recording my admiration of the general character of the aboi'igLnes, no 
attempt is made to palliate what may appear to us to be objectionable customs 
common to savages in nearly every part of the globe ; but it may be truly said 
of them, that, with the exception of the low estimate they naturally place on 
life, their moral character and modesty — all things considered — compare favourably 
with those of the most highly cultivated communities of Europe. People seeing 
only the miserable remnants to be met with about the white man's grog-shop 
may be inclined to doubt this ; but if these doubters were to be brought into 
close communication with the aborigines away from the means of intoxication) 
and were to listen to their guileless conversation, their humour and wit, and 
their expressions of honour and affection for one another, those who are disposed 
to look upon them as scarcely human would be compelled to admit that in 
general intelligence, common sense, integrity, and the absence of anything 
repulsive in their conduct, they are at least equal, if not superior, to the general 
run of white men. It must be borne in mind, also, that many of their present 
vices were introduced by the white man, whose contact with them has increased 
their degradation, and will no doubt ultimately lead to their extinction. 

And even, in censuring customs and practices which we may regard as 
repugnant to our notions and usages, we should bear in mind that these may 
appear right and virtuous from the stand-point of the aborigines, and that they 
have received the sanction of use and wont for many ages. If our habits, 



PREFACE. 



manners, and morals were investigated and commented upon by an intelligent 
black, what would be his verdict on them ? What would he think of the ' sin 
of great cities,' of baby-farming, of our gambling hells, of our ' marriage market,' 
of the imiversal practice of adulteration, of the frightful revelations made by 
Mr. Plimsoll's committee with respect to rotten ships freighted and insured on 
purpose to founder, of the white slavery in all great cities, and of the thousand 
and one evils incidental to our highly artificial civilization ? Living, as we do, 
in a conservatory constructed of such remarkably fragile materials, we should 
hesitate before picking up the smallest pebble wherewith to lapidate the despised 
blackfellow. 

To several friends who have assisted me in various ways in the publication 
of this book my thanks are due : to Professor Strong, of the Melbourne 
University ; to James Smith, Esq., Melbourne ; to Mr. Goodall, Superintendent 
of the Aboriginal Station, Framlingham ; and especially to the Rev. F. R. M. 
Wilson, formerly of Camperdown, now of Kew. 

To my sable friends who have kindly given us their aid I express my 
gratitude for their patience and their anxiety to communicate information ; 
especially to the very intelligent chiefess Yaruun Parpur Tarneen, whose 
knowledge greatly exceeded expectation ; as also to Wombeet Tuulawarn, her 
husband, who assisted her. In return for their friendship and confidence, I trust 
that this little contribution to the history of an ill-used and interesting people, 
fast passing away, may lead to a better estimate of their character, and to a more 
kindly treatment at the hands of their ' Christian brethren ' than the aborigines 
have hitherto received. If so, this volume will attain its chief object, and will 
confer intense gratification on their sincere friend, 



JAMES DAWSON. 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE. 



As it has been found almost impossible to represent the correct sounds of the 
Australasian languages by adhering to the rules of English orthography, these 
rules have been necessarily laid aside, together with the signs of accentuation. 
Double consonants are used to express emphasis, and double vowels to express 
prolongation of the sound. People who are unacquainted with the difficulty of 
communicating in writing the pronunciation and sound of foreign words may 
cavil at the employment of so many double letters, but this mode has been 
adopted, after very careful consideration, as the most suitable for the purpose. 

The following examples will fully illustrate what is meant. The English 
word ' car ' would be ' kaar,' 'can ' would be ' kann,' ' rain ' would be ' rsefen,' 
' rainy ' would be ' vseienee' ' meat ' would be ' meet,' ' met ' would be ' mett,' 
' life ' would be ' liif,' ' live ' would be ' livv,' ' tome ' would be ' toom,' ' torn ' 
would be ' tomm,' ' boot ' would be ' buut,' ' cut ' would be ' kutt,' ' one ' would be 
' wunn,' ' magpie ' would be ' magpii,' ' pussy cat ' would be ' puusEe katt.' The 
k and g which appear before consonants in the syllables of many aboriginal 
words represent sounds barely perceptible, yet indispensible to right pronunciation. 
The nasal sound of ' gn ' or ' ng ' often occurs at the beginning of syllables in 
the aboriginal languages. As it is found at the beginning of, and only occurs in 
words like poignant and poignard, derived from a foreign source, it is somewhat 
difficult for English people to pronounce it. Some sounds which lie beyond the 
scope of the English alphabet are represented by the letters which come nearest 
to them, so as to give an approximately correct idea of what is intended to be 
conveyed. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I.- 

CH AFTER II.- 

CHAPTER III.- 

CHAPTER IV.- 

CHAPTER V.- 

CHAPTER VI.- 

CHAPTER VII.- 

CHAPTER VIII.—; 
CHAPTER IX.- 



CHAPTER X.- 
CHAPTER XI.- 



CHAPTER XII.- 
CHAPTER XIII.- 
CHAPTER XIV.- 



Tribes : their names, boundaries, languages, and dialects ... 

Population. 

Chiefs : their power, dignity, and succession ... 

Property : of the family, laws of, inlieritance ... 

■Clothing : men's, women's, at night, adoption of European 
clothing, rugs — how made ... 

Habitations : permanent, temporary 

Cleanliness : superstition relative to, the muurong pole, 
parasites 

Domestic Furniture : baskets for carrying and for cooking, 
wooden bowl, bark bucket, water bags, water troughs, 
mortars, means of producing fire 

Cooking and Food : ovens, roasting, animals eaten, shell- 
fish, roots and vegetables, grubs, gum, manna, 
drinking water, fi-uits, division of the spoils of 
hunting, story of the Selfish Fellow 

-Tools : stone axe, stone chisel, scrapers, x'asp, mortar and 
pestle, bone chisel and bodkin, knives ... 

-Laws of Marriage : tribal, class, origin of classes, other 
relations, polygamy, rank, re-mamage of widows, 
consent of chiefs, strictness of laws, betrothal, mothers- 
in-law, " turn-tongue," initiation into manhood, 
man-iage-dress and ceremonies, first two months, 
divorce, selection of wives, gifts of wives, dissolution 
of marriage, spells, treatment of wives ... 

-Children : birth, nursing, clothing, kiUing the weak, 
language, strange law relative to language 

-Names of Persons : naming of children, changing names, 
the efiect of death on names, lists of names 

-Superstitions and Diseases : supernatural beings, celestial, 
infernal and terrestrial, ghosts, wraiths, shades, 
haunted cave, witches, dreams, superstitions relative 
to animals, etc. ; fires, spells, sorcerers, " White 
Lady," doctors, common remedies, supernatural reme- 
dies, and artifices, sorcery stones, sunstroke, moon- 
stroke, pulmonary complaints, epidemics, other diseases 



PAGE 

1 
3 

5 

7 



10 



12 



14 



17 



24 



26 



38 



41 



49 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XV. — Death and Burial : putting old people to death, suicide, 
burial, cremation, wakes, death and funeral of a chief, 
relics, spirits appearing, mourning, eating of human 
flesh ... ... ... ... 62 

CHAPTER XVI. — Avenging of Death : finding out the spell-thrower, modes 
of destroying him, pseaet pseEets, executioner's club, 
revenge a sacred duty ... ... ... 68 

CHAPTER XVII. — Great Meetings : summons, preliminaries, message-stick, 
test-message, messengers, how distinguished, Weeratt 
Kuuyuut hears of Buckley, public executioner, 
Pundeet Puulatong, accu.sations, satisfaction for 
private wrongs, public wrongs, wild blacks, quarrels 
between tribes, tournament, trading, necessity to 
attend meetings, drives of game ... ... 72 

CHAPTER XVIII. — Amusements : music, songs, korroborse, gala dress, 
ornamental cicatrices, nose ornaments, dancing, 
clowns, stalking the emu, wrestling, football, spear- 
throwing, toy -boomerang, \vufe whuuitch ... 80 

CHAPTER XIX. — "Weapons : spear, spear-thrower, light .shield, liangle and 

heavy shield, clubs and boomerangs ... ... 87 

CHAPTEPi XX. — Animals : dingo, kangaroo, opossum, wombat, na,tive bear, 
emu, extinct large bii'd, turkey bustard, gigantic 
crane, water fowl, eagles, fish, eel-fishing, crayfish, etc.; 
snakes, stories of boas ... ... ... 89 

CHAPTER XXI. — Meteorology, Astronomy, etc. : signs of weather, rain- 
making, astronomical knowledge, list of heavenly 
bodies, earthquakes, volcanoes ... ... 98 

CHAPTER XXII. — Native Mounds : their origin, sometimes used for burial 103 

CHAPTER XXIII.— Anecdotes ; the first white man, the first ship, the first 
bullock, the first formation of water-holes, the tortoise 
and the snake, the blue heron, the native companion 
and the emu, the bunyip, the ghost, the meteor, 
Buckley's widow ... ... ••• 105 

CONVEYANCE, by Principal Chiefs to John Batman, of 100,000 Acres 

OF Land, between Geelong and Queenscliff ... 112 

VOCABULARIES. — Words ; Animals ; Relationships ; Names op Places ; 
Grammar and Sentences ; Numerals, cardinal and 
ordinal ... ... ... •■• i 

NOTES TO Chapters XL, XII., XIIL, and XIV., by J. D. ... ... ci 

NOTE — Reports of Government Inspectors of Aboriginal Schools ... ciii 




YARRUUN PARPUE, TARNEEN 

(VICTORIOUS), 
Chie/ess of the Morporr Tribe. 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER I. 

TRIBES. 

The country belonging to a tribe is generally distinguished by the name or 
lano-uase of that tribe. The names of tribes are taken from some local object, or 
from some peculiarity in the country where they live, or in their pronunciation ; 
and when an individual is referred to, ' Kuurndit' — meaning ' member of — is 
affixed to the tribal name, in the same way as the syllable ' er' is added to 
London, 'Londoner,' or 'ite' to Melbourne, ' Melbournite.' Thus the Mount 
Rouse tribe is called ' Kolor,' after the aboriginal name of the mountain ; and a 
member of the tribe is called ' Kolor kuurndit.' The language of the Kolor 
tribe is called ' Chaap wuurong,' meaning ' soft' or ' broad lip,' in contra- 
distinction to other dialects of harder pronunciation. The Kolor tribe and its 
language occupy the country commencing near Mount Napier, thence to German- 
town, Dunkeld, Wicklifie, Lake Boloke, down the Salt Creek to Hexham, to 
Caramut, and to starting point. 

The Kuurn kopan noot tribe is known by the name of its language, ' Kuurn 
kopan noot,' meaning ' small lip,' or ' short pronunciation,' with ' Kuurndit' affixed 
for an individual of the tribe, who is called ' Kuurn kopan noot kuurndit.' Its 
territory, commencing in the middle of the Tarrone swamp, ' Yaluuk,' extends to 
Dunmore House dam. Upper Moyne Falls, Buunbatt, Goodwood main cattle camp, 
Marramok swamp, and round by South Green Hills station to starting point. 

The Hopkins tribe is called after its language, ' Pirt kopan noot,' and a 
member of the tribe ' Pirt pirt wuurong kuurndit ;' and its language, which is 
veiy slightly different from the ' Chaap wuurong,' is called ' Pirt kopan noot,' 
meaning 'jump lip.' Its country is bounded by Wickliffe, Lake Boloke, Salt 
Creek, Hopkins Hill, Ai-arat, and Mount William. 

The Spring Creek tribe is called ' Mopor,' and a member of it ' Mopor 
kuurndit.' Its language is called ' Kii wuurong,' meaning ' Oh, dear ! lip.' 
Its country, commencing at the swamp Marramok on Minjah station, extends 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



to Woolsthorpe, to Ballangeich, up Huston's Creek to Buirwidgee, through the 
centre of MirrtewuES swamp to Goodwood House, thence to Buunbatt, and to 
starting point. 

The Port Fairy tribe is called ' Peek whuurong,' and a member of it ' Peek 
whurrong kuurndit.' Its language, ' Peek whurrong,' ' kelp lip,' is taken from 
the broad-leafed seaweed so very abundant on the sea shore. Its territory lies 
along the sea coast, from the mouth of the Hopkins River to nearly half-way 
between Port Fairy and Portland, thence to Dunmore dam, Tarrone swamp, 
Kirkstall, Koroit, Woodford, Allansford, Framlingham, and down the Hopkins 
River to the sea. 

The Mount Shadwell tribe and its language are called ' Kirrte wuurong,' 
'blood lip,' with Kuurndit affixed for a member of the tribe. Its territory 
commences at the Hopkins Hill sheepwash on the Hopkins River, and extends to 
Mount Fyans, Mount Elephant, Cloven Hills, Minninguurt, Mount Noorat, 
Keilambete Lake, Framlingham aboriginal station, and up the east side of the 
Hopkins River to starting point. 

The Camperdown language is called ' Warn talliin,' ' rough language.' The 
Colac language is ' Kolak gnat,' ' belonging to sand,' and is hard in pronunciation. 
The Cape Otway language is ' Katubanuut,' • King Parrot language.' The country 
between Cape Otway and the Hopkins River is called ' Yarro wajtch,' ' Forest 
country,' and the language ' Wirngill gnatt tallinanong,' ' Bear language.' 

At the annual great meetings of the associated tribes, where sometimes 
twenty tribes assembled, there were usually four languages spoken, so distinct 
from one another that the young people speaking one of them could not 
understand a word of the other three; and even the middle-aged people had 
difficulty in ascertaining what was said. These were the Chaap wuurong, Kuurn 
kopan noot, Wiitya whuurong, and Kolac gnat. The other tongues spoken at the 
meeting might be termed dialects of these four languages. 

The aborigines have a very ready way of distinguishing the ten dialects 
enumerated above, by the various terms which are employed by each to denote the 
pronoun ' you,' as Gnuutok, Gnuundook, Winna, Gnee, Gnii, &c. The diffijrences 
of language are also marked by peculiarities of pronunciation, especially by the 
way in which the end of a sentence is intoned. Natives of Great Britain will 
remember similar differences between the various counties or towns of their 
fatherland, which will serve to illustrate the differences of aboriginal 
pronunciation. 



POPULATION. 



CHAPTER II. 

POPULATION. 

In attempting to ascertain the numbere of individuals in tbe different tribes, it 
has been found almost impossible to make the aborigines comprehend or compute 
very large number, or even to obtain, from the very few now alive, an 
approximate estimate of the aggregate strength of the tribes of the Western 
district previous to the occupation of the country by the white man. It has 
been found necessary to ascertain from some of the most intelligent middle-aged 
persons among them, first, the number of friendly tiibes which met annually in 
midsummer for hunting, feasting, and amusements, — occasions of all others the 
most likely to draw together the largest gatherings, — and then the average 
strength of each tribe. 

These great meetings were held at Mirrfewuae, a large marsh celebrated 
for emus and other kinds of game, not many miles to the west of Caramut. 
This place was selected on account of its being a central position for the meetings 
of the tribes occupying the districts now known as the "Wannon, Hamilton, 
Dunkeld, Mount William, Mount Rouse, Mount Napier, Lake Condah, Dimmore, 
TaiTone, Kangatong, Spring Creek, Framlingham, Lake Boloke, Skipton, Flat- 
topped Hill, Mount Shadwell, Darlington, Mount Noorat, Camperdown, Wardy 
Yallock, and Mount Elephant. None of the sea coast tribes attended the 
meetings at Mirrfewuse, as they were afraid of treachei-y and of an attack on the 
part of the others. According to the testimony of the intelligent old chief 
Weeratt Kuyuut, and his equally intelligent daughter Yarruum Pai-puiT 
Tan-neen, and her husband, Wombeet Tuulawaiu, when two of these tribes 
fought a pitched battle, each mustered at least thirty men ; and for every able- 
bodied warrior present (and no one durst absent himself on such an occasion 
under the penalty of death) there would be at least three members absent, as the 
old men, women, children and invalids were kept at home ; thus making an 
average of one hundred and twenty in each tribe ; and, as the twenty-one tribes 
enumerated were generally present, there must occasionally have been the large 
gathering of two thousand five hundred and twenty aborigines. 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



In tlie estimation of some of the earliest settlers, this calculation of the 
average strength of each tribe is too low ; but, as they could not tell how many 
tribes or portions of tribes were seen by them at one time, the statements of the 
natives who attended these great meetings, and of those who remember the 
accounts given of them by their parents, are the most reliable. 

On questioning old Weeratt Kuyuut — who was privileged as a messenger to 
travel among the tribes between the rivers Leigh and Glenelg — about the 
population of the Great Plains, which have Mount Elephant as a centre, he said 
the natives were like flocks of sheep and beyond counting. 

At this date, July, 1880, there are only seven aborigines who speak the 
Chaap wuurong language, three who speak the Kuurn kopan noot language, and 
four who speak the Peek whuurong language. 



CHIEFS. 



CHAPTER III. 

CHIEFS. 

Every tribe has its chief, who is looked upon in the light of a father, and whose 
authority Ls supreme. He consults with the best men of the tribe, but when he 
announces his decision, they dare not contradict or disobey him. 

Great respect is paid to the chiefs and their wives and families. They can 
command the sei-vices of everyone belonging to their tribe. As many as six 
yoimg bachelors are obliged to wait on a chief, and eight young unmarried 
women on his wife ; and, as the children are of superior rank to the common 
people, they also have a number of attendants to wait on them. No one can 
addi-ess a chief or chiefess without being first spoken to, and then only by their 
titles as such, and not by personal names, or disrespectfully. Food and water, 
when brought to the camp, mast be offered to them first, and reeds provided for 
each in the family to drink with ; while the common people diink in the usual 
way. Should they fancy any article of dress, opossum rug, or weapon, it must 
be given without a mm-mur. 

If a chief leaves home for a short time he is always accompanied by a friend, 
and on his return is met by two men, who conduct him to his wuum. At his 
approach every one rises to receive him, and remains silent till he speaks ; they 
then inquire where he has been, and converse with him freely. When a tribe is 
moving from one pai-t of the countiy to another, the chief, accompanied by a 
friend, precedes it, and obtains permission from the next chief to pass, before 
his followers cross the boundary. When approaching a friendly camp, the chief 
walks at the head of his tribe. If he is too old and infirm to take the lead, his 
nearest male relative or best friend does so. On his arrival with his family at 
the friendly camp, a comfortable wuum is immediately erected, and food, 
fii-ewood, and attendance are provided during his visit. When he goes out to 
hunt, he and his friends are accompanied by several men to cany their game and 
protect them from enemies. A strange chief approaching a camp is met at a 
short distance by the chief, and invited to come and sit down ; a fire is made for 
him, and then he is asked where he has come from, and what is his business. 



AVSTEALIAN ABORIGINES. 



The succession to the chiefdom is by inheritance. Wlien a chief dies the 
chiefs of the neighbouring tribes, accompanied by their attendants, assist at the 
funeral obsequies ; and thej' appoint the best male friend of the deceased to 
take charge of the tribe until the first great meeting after the expiry of one year, 
when the succession must be determined by the votes of the assembled chiefs 
alone. The eldest son is appointed, unless there is some good reason for setting 
him aside. If there are no sons, the deceased chief's eldest brother is entitled to 
succeed him, and the inheritance runs in the line of his family. Failing him, 
the inlieritance devolves upon the other brothers and their families in succession. 

If the heir is weakly in body, or mentally unfitted to maintain the position 
of chief, — which requires to be filled by a man of ability and braveiy, — and if he 
has a brother who is more eligible in the opinion of the tribe, or who aspires to 
the dignity, the elder brother must either yield or fight the younger brother in 
single combat, at the first great meeting, for the supremacy. 

There is an impression among the aborigines that the second son of a chief is 
generally superior to his elder brother ; and, if proved to be so in fight, the latter 
gives up his claim as a matter of custom, and the tribe accepts the conqueror as 
its head. 

Should the heir be a boy, his nearest male relative is appointed regent 
till he is initiated into manhood. If there is no heir, the chiefs of the 
neighbouring tribes elect a successor from the deceased chief's tribe ; but if their 
votes are divided between two candidates, the matter must be decided by these in 
single combat, which sometimes leads to the whole tribe quarrelling and fighting. 
As the tribe, however, cannot be divided, the result of the combat is accepted, and 
all are again friends. 



CHAPTER IV. 

PEOPEETY. 

The territoiy belonging to a tribe is divided among its members. Each family 
has the exclusive right by inheritance to a part of the tribal lands, which is named 
after its owner ; and his family and every child born on it must be named after 
something on the property. When the boundaries with neighbours meet at lakes 
or swamps celebrated for game, well-defined portions of these are marked out 
and any poaching or trespassing is severely punished. No individual of any 
neio-hbouring tribe or family can hunt or walk over the property of another 
without permission from the head of the family owning the land. A stranger 
found trespassing can legally be put to death. 

When the father of a family dies, his landed property is divided equally 
amono- his widow and his children of both sexes. Should a child of another 
family have been born on the estate, it is looked upon as one of the family, and 
it has an equal right with them to a share of the land, if it has attained the age 
of six months at the death of the proprietor. This adopted child is called a 
'woork', and calls the owner of the property by the same name. Should a family 
die out without leaving ' flesh relatives' of any degree, the chief divides the land 
amono- the contiguous families after the lapse of one year from the death of the 
last survivor. During that period the name of the property, being the same as 
the name of its last owner, is never mentioned, but is called ' Yaamp yaamp' in 
the Chaap wuurong and the other two languages. If, however, there are 
several claimants, with equal rights to the teiTitory, the chief at once gives 
each an equal share, irrespective of sex or age. To those who are under age 
he appoints guardians to look after their property during their minority. 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER N. 

CLOTHING. 

The aborigines are very fond of anointing tlieir bodies and their hair with the 
fat of animals, and toasting themselves before the fire till their skin absorbs it. 
In order to protect their bodies from the cold, they mix red clay with the oily fat 
of emus,— which is considered the best, — or with that of water fowls, opossums, 
grubs, or toasted eel skins, and rub themselves all over with the mixture. Owing 
to this custom very little clothing is necessary. 

During all seasons of the year both sexes walk about very scantily clothed. 
In warm weather the men wear no covering during the day time except a short 
apron, not unlike the sporran of the Scotch Highlanders, formed of strips of 
opossum skin.s with the fur on, hanging from a skin belt in two bunches, one in 
front and the other behind. In winter they add a large kangaroo skin, fur side 
inwards, which hangs over the shoulders and down the back like a mantle or 
short cloak. This skin is fastened round the neck by the hind legs, and is fixed 
with a pin made of the small bone of the hind leg of a kangaroo, ground to a fine 
point. Sometimes a small rug made of a dozen skins of the opossum or young 
kangaroo is worn in the same way. 

Women use the opossum rug at all times, by day as a covering for the back 
and shoulders, and in cold nights as a blanket. When they are obliged to go out 
of doors in wet weather, a kangaroo skin is substituted for the rug. A girdle or 
short kilt of the neck feathers of the emu, tied in little bunches to a skin cord, 
is fastened round the loins. A band of plaited bark surrounds the head, and 
pointed pins, made of wood or of the small bones of the hind foot of the 
kangaroo, are stuck upright at each side of the brow, to keep up the hair, which 
is divided in front and laid over them. 

Beds are made of dry grass laid on the ground ; and in summer the body is 
covered with a thin grass mat, or a sprinkling of loose dry grass, but in cold 
weather a wallaby or opossum rug is used in addition. In rare instances the rug 
is made of skins of the ring-tailed opossum. 



CLOTHING. 



A departure from this primitive mode of covering, and the adoption of the 
white man's costume, have weakened the constitution of the aborigines, and 
rendered them very liable to colds and pulmonary diseases, more particularly 
as — though they overload themselves with European clothes during the daytime 
— they seldom sleep under their rugs, excepting in the cold season of the year. 

Fur rugs were very scarce and valuable before the white man destroyed the 
wild dogs, the natural enemies of the opossum and kangaroo, as it took a year to 
collect opossum kins sufficient to make one. The ring-tailed opossums were 
more plentiful than the common kind, but the skins were less esteemed. Rugs 
were also made of the skins of the wallaby and of the brush kangaroo, which 
are likewise inferior to the common opossum. A good rug is made of from fifty 
to seventy skins, which are stripped off the opossum, pegged out square or 
oblong on a sheet of bark, and dried before the fire, then trimmed with a reed 
knife, and sewn together with the tail sinews of the kangaroo, which are always 
pulled out of the tail, and carefully dried and saved for thread. Previous to 
sewing the skins together, diagonal lines, about half-an-inch apart, are scratched 
across the tiesh side of each with sharpened mussel shells. This is done to make 
them soft and pliable. The only addition to this kind of ornamentation is 
occasionally the figure of an emu in the centre skin of the rug. It may be stated 
that, although many of the opossum rugs of the aborigines are now ornamented 
with a variety of designs, some of which are coloured, nothing but the simple 
pattern previously described, with the occasional figure of an emu, was used 
before the an-ival of the white man. The figures of human beings, animals, and 
things, now drawn by the natives, and represented in works on the aborigines of 
the colony of Victoria as oi-iginal, were unknown to the tribes treated of, and are 
considered by them as of recent introduction by Europeans. 



10 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER VI. 



HABITATIONS. 

Habitations — fvuui'ns — are of various kinds, and are constructed to suit the 
seasons. The principal one is the permanent family dwelling, which is made of 
strono- limbs of trees stuck up in dome-shape, high enough to allow a tall man to 
stand upright underneath them. Small limbs fill up the intermediate spaces, 
and these are covered with sheets of bark, thatch, sods, and earth till the roof 
and sides are proof against wind and rain. The doorway is low, and generally 
faces the morning sun or a sheltering rock. The family wuurn is sufficiently 
large to accommodate a dozen or more persons ; and when the family is grown up 
the wuurn is partitioned off into apartments, each facing the fire in the centre, 
One of these is appropriated to the parents and children, one to the young 
unmamed women and widows, and one to the bachelors and widowers. While 
travelling or occupying temporary habitations, each of these parties must erect 
separate wnurns. When several families live together, each builds its wuurn 
facing one central fire. This fire is not much used for cooking, which is generally 
done outside. Thus in what appears to be one dwelling, fifty or more persons can 
be accommodated, when, to use the words of the aborigines, they are ' like bees in 
a hive.' 

These comfortable and healthy habitations are occupied by the owners 
of the land in the neighbourhood, and are situated on dry spots on the bank of a 
lake, stream, or healthy swamp, but never near a malarious morass, nor under 
large trees, which might fall or be struck down by lightning. When it is 
necessai-y to abandon them for a season in search of variety of food, or for 
visiting neighbouring families and tribes, the doorway is closed with .sheets of 
bark or bushes, and, for the information of visitors, a crooked stick is placed 
above it pointing in the direction which the family intends to go. They then 
depart, with the remark, ' Muurtee bunna meen,' — ' close the door and pull away.' 

Temporary habitations are also dome-shaped, and are made of limbs, bark of 
gum trees, and grass, scarcely rain-proof, and are smaller, opener, and more carelessly 
erected than the permanent residences. They are only used in summer or for 



shelter while travelling, and have a large open side, with the fire in front. In 
fine warm weather, a few green bushes, placed in a half circle to windward of the 
fire, suffice for a temporary dwelling. 

The men share the labour of making the permanent dwelling, but the 
women are compelled to eiect the smaller ones. Small weapons and personal 
property are taken inside the habitations; but as it would be inconvenient to have 
long spears there, they are stuck on end at each side of the doorway, to be at 
hand and ready for an attack. 

In some parts of the country where it is easier to get stones than wood and 
bark for dwellings, the walls are built of flat stones, and roofed with limbs and 
thatch. A stony point of land on the south side of a lake near Camperdown is 
called ' karm karm,' which mean.s ' building of stones,' but no marks or remains 
are now to be seen indicating the former existence of a building there. 

These permanent residences being proof against all kinds of weather, from 
excessive heat in summer to frost in winter, suit the constitutions of the 
aborigines very much better than the wooden cottages used at the Government 
aboriginal stations. In cold weather a fire is kept burning day and night in the 
centre of the floor ; and, the habitations being easily heated, a very small one 
suffices. To keep up a moderate, steady temperature, the ends only of the 
sticks meet in the centre of the fire, and, as they burn slowly away, are pushed 
inwards. Any other method would be a waste of fuel, and would raise too 
much heat. 

In the event of the habitation being burned down by a bush fire, or 
accidentally — which often occurs in the absence of the inhabitants — the debris 
are levelled, and a new wuurn erected on the same spot, which is always 
preferred ; but, in other circumstances hei'eaf ter described under the head of 
native mounds, the spot is abandoned for ever as a place of residence. 



12 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER VII. 



CLEANLINESS. 

It is worthy of remark that nothing offensive is ever to be seen near the 
habitations of the aborigines, or in the neighbourhood of their camps ; and 
although their sanitai-y laws are apparently attributable to superstition and 
prejudice, the principles of these laws must have been suggested by experience 
of the dangers attendant on uncleanness in a warm climate, and more deeply 
impressed on their minds by faith in supernatural action and sorcery. It is 
believed that if enemies get possession of anything that has belonged to a person, 
they can by its means make him ill; hence every uncleanness belonging to 
adults and haH-gi-own children is buried at a distance from their dwellings. 
For this pui-pose they use the muurong pole (yam stick), about six or seven feet 
long, with which every family is provided. With the sharpened end they 
remove a circular piece of turf, and dig a hole in the gi-ound, which is 
immediately used and filled in with earth, and the sod so carefully replaced that 
no disturbance of the surface can be observed. Children under fom- or five 
years of age, not having strength to comply with this wholesome practice, are not 
required to do so ; and theii- excreta are deposited in one spot, and covered with 
a sheet of bark, and when diy they are burned. It may be as well to say here, 
that, besides this sanitary use of the muurang pole, it is indispensable in 
excavating gi-aves and in digging up roots, and is a powei-ful weapon of 
warfare in the hands of the women, who alone use it for fighting. 

In every respect the aborigines are as cleanly in their persons and habits as 
natural circumstances admit ; and, although the univei-sal custom of anointing their 
bodies with oily fat may be repulsive to highly-civilized communities, it is an 
excellent substitute for cleansing with water, and must have aiisen, not only 
from the comfort it affords to the skin in various ways, but also from the 
difficulty of obtaining water in most parts of the countiy, even to satisfy thirst. 
Neither are they troubled with parasites to such an extent as their habits might 
lead one to suppose. They say they never saw the common flea till it was 
introduced by the white man, and the accuracy of this assertion seems to be 



CLEAXLINESS. 13 



vouched for by the fact that they have no name for it. Nor did they ever see 
the white louse until they came in contact with the white man, previous to 
which the native louse was black ; but, foretokening the destiny of the aborigines, 
the latter insect has disappeared, and the white loiLse is now the only kind 
amongst them. So rare, however, is even this kind, that in no instance has the 
writer seen one on a native. 



14 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

DOMESTIC FUENITUEE. 

EvEEY woman carries on her back, outside her rug, a basket made of a tough 
kind of rush, occasionally ornamented with stitches of various kinds. They also 
carry in the same way a bag formed of the tough inner bark of the acacia tree. 
Failing to procure this bark, which is the best for the purpose, they use the inner 
bark of the messmate or of the stringy-bark tree. This is spun into cord and 
knitted with the fingers into the required shape. The capacity of these articles 
is from two to three gallons each, and in them are carried food, sticks and tinder 
for producing fire, gum for cement, shells, tools, charms, &c. 

The women also make a rougher kind of basket out of the common rush, 
which is ased for cooking food in the ovens. 

Domestic utensils are limited in number ; and, as the art of boiling food is 
not understood, the natives have no pottery or materials capable of resisting fire. 
Their cookery is consequently confined chiefly to roasting on embers or baking in 
holes in the ground ; but as they consume great quantities of gum and manna 
dissolved together in hot water, a wooden vessel for that purpose is formed of the 
excrescence of a tree, which is hollowed out sufiiciently large to contain a gallon 
or two of water. This vessel is placed near enough to the fire to dissolve the 
contents, but not to bum the wood. It is caUed ' yuuruum,' and must be 
valuable, from the difiiculty of procuring a suitable knob of wood, and from the 
great labom- of digging it hollow with a chisel made of the thigh bone of a 
kangaroo. 

Another vessel, named ' popasjer yuu,' is used for carrying water, and is formed 
of a sheet of fresh acacia bark, about twenty inches long by twelve broad, bent 
double and sewed up at each side with kangaroo tail sinews, and the seams made 
water-tight with an excellent cement, composed of wattle gum and wood ashes, 
mixed in hot water. After the bucket is made it is hung up to dry, and the 
contraction of the inner bark causes the vessel to assume a circular shape, which 
it retains ever after. It is carried by means of a b.and of twisted wattle bark 
fi^ed across its mouth. 



DOMESTIC FURNITURE. 



15 



A small water-bag, called ' paanuung,' is formed of the pouch of the 
kangaroo, which, when fresh, is stuffed with withered grass till it is diy. A strip 
of skin is fixed across its mouth for a handle. 

For canying water to a distance a bag called ' kowapp ' is used. It is made 
of the skin of a male brush or wallaby kangaroo, cut ofT at the neck and stripped 
downwards from the body and legs, and made water-tight by ligatures. The neck 
forms the mouth of the bag. This vessel is caiTied on the shoulders by the 
forelegs. 

For keeping a supply of water in dry weather, a vessel called ' torrong ' — 
' boat' — is made of a sheet of bark stripped from the bend of a gum tree, about four 
or five feet long, one foot deep, and one wide, in the shape of a canoe. To prevent 
dogs drinking from it, it is supported several feet from the ground on forked 
posts sunk in the earth. A wooden torrong is often used in the same way, and 
is formed from a bend of a gum tree, hollowed out large enough to hold from five 
to six gallons. As the water which they use is frequently ill-tasted, they put 
some cones of the banksia into the torrong, in order to give a pleasant flavour 
to its contents. 

The millstone or mortar, so indispensable to the aborigines of the interior 
for grinding the nardoo seed, is known, but rarely met with among the natives of 
the sea coast, becau.se they have not the nardoo, and have very little of any other 
kind of seed to grind. They depend for food almost entirely on animals and 
roots, which are more abundant than in the interior, where the seed of the nardoo 
occasionally forms the chief sustenance of the aborigines. 

There are two kinds of millstones, both formed of slabs of grey marble or 
grey slate, of an oval shape, eighteen inches long by twelve inches broad. One 
kind is hollowed out, like a shallow basin, to a depth of two inches ; the seed is put 
into it, and ground with a flat stone of the same material as the mortar. The other 
kind is about the same size, but, instead of being basin-shaped, it is flat, and has 
two parallel hollows, each one foot long, five inches broad, and one inch deep, in 
which the seed is placed and reduced to floiu- by two flat stones, held one in each 
hand, and rubbed backwards and forwards. 

While travelling, the natives always carry burning pieces of the dry thick 
bark of the eucalyptus tree, to light their fires with, and to show the paths at 
night ; but, as these might be extinguished while they are far from any fire, 
implements for producing combustion are indispensable. These consist of the 
thigh bone of a kangaroo, ground to a long fuie point, and a piece of the dry 



16 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



cane of the grass tree, about eighteen inches long. One end of the cane is bored 
out, and is stuffed with tinder, made by teasing out the dry bark of the messmate 
tree. The operator sits down and grasps the bone, point upwards, with his feet ; 
he then places the hollow end of the cane, containing the bark, on the point of 
the bone, and, with both hands, presses downwards, and twirls the upright cane 
with great rapidity till the friction produces fire. Or, in the absence of the 
kangaroo bone, a piece of dry grass tree cane, having in its upper side a hole bored 
to the pith, is held flat on the gi'ound with the feet, and the sharp point of a piece 
of soft wood is pressed into the hole, and twirled vertically between the palms 
of the hands till combustion takes place. Some dry .string3'-bark fibre having 
been placed round the hole, the fire is commiinicated to it by blowing. The 
writer has seen flame produced by this method in two minutes. 



COOKING AND FOOD. 17 



CHAPTER IX. 

COOKING AND FOOD. 

Ovens are made oiitside the dwellings by digging holes in the ground, plastering 
them with mud, and keeping a fire in them till quite hot, then withdrawing the 
embers and lining the holes with wet gra,ss. The flesh, fish, or roots are put into 
baskets, which are placed in the oven and covered with more wet grass, gravel, hot 
stones, and earth, and kept covered till they are cooked. This is done in the evening ; 
and, when cooking is in common — which is generally the case when many families 
live together — each family comes next morning and removes its basket of food 
for breakfast. 

Ovens on a greater scale, for cooking large animals, are formed and heated in 
the same way, with the addition of stones at the bottom of the oven ; and emus, 
wombats, turkeys, or forest kangaroos — sometimes unskinned and entire, and 
sometimes cut into pieces — are placed in them, and covered with leafy branches, 
wet grass, a sheet of bark, and embers on the top. 

Ordinary cooking, such as roasting opossums, small birds, and eels, is 
generally done on the embers of the domestic fire. When opossums are killed 
expressly for food, and not for the skin, the fur is plucked or singed oft" while 
the animal is still warm ; the entrails are pulled out through an opening in the 
skin, stripped of their contents, and eaten raw, and their place stufifed with herbs ; 
the body is then toasted and turned slowly before the fire without breaking the 
skin, and, if not immediately required for food, is set aside to cool. Opossum 
thus prepared will keep and may be carried about much better than if uncooked. 
In this way the natives make provision for travelling through countiy 
where food is scarce. They are very fond of opossum when the animal is in 
ordinary condition, but dislike it when fat. Kangaroo tails are cooked 
unskinned, first singeing and scraping off" the hair, and then toasting them before 
the fire till thoroughly done. By this method none of the juices of the meat 
escape ; and what would otherwise be dry food is made savoury and nutritious. 
As the sinews, however, which are very strong, would render the meat tough, 
they are all pulled out previous to toasting, and are stretched and dried, and are 



18 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGHSTES. 



kept for sewing rugs and lashing the handles of stone hatchets and butt pieces 
of spears. Skulls and bones are split up, and the brains and marrow roasted. 
The brains are considered a great delicacy, and keep for a long time after being 
cooked. Eels are seldom eaten quite fresh ; and, to impart a high flavour to 
them, they are buried in the ground until slightly tainted, and then roasted. 

The aborigines exercise a wise economy in killing animals. It is considered 
illegal and a waste of food to take the life of any edible creature for pleasure 
alone, a snake or an eagle excepted. Ai-ticles of food are abundant, and of great 
variety ; for everything not actually poisonous or connected with superstitious 
beliefs is considered wholesome. The natives never touch putrid flesh, however, 
except that of the whale, which the Peek whuurong natives bury till quite 
rotten. They are aware of the danger of inoculation by dead animal matter, 
and will not eat any animal unless they know how it has lost its life. The 
kangaroo and the emu they will eat if they have reason to believe that they have 
been killed by wild dogs, but they will not touch any food which has been 
partaken of by a stranger. They have no objection to eat tainted flesh or fish. 
If it is too far gone it is thoroughly roasted to dispel the unpleasant flavour. 
Fish that have been exposed to the rays of the moon are rejected as poisonous. 
Maggoty meat is rejected ; and to prevent the flies from blowing the meat, it is 
hung in the smoke of the domestic fire. 

Of quadrupeds, they eat the several kinds of kangaroo, the wombat — which 
is excellent eating — the bear, wild dog, porcupine ant-eater, opossum, flying 
squirrel, bandicoot, dasyure, platypus, water rat, and many smaller animals. 
Before the occupation of the great plains by cattle and sheep, there were 
numerous black and brown quadrupeds, called the yaakar, about the size of 
the rabbit, and with open pouches like the dasyures. They were herbivorous, and 
burrowed in mounds, living in communities in the open plains, where they had 
their nests. They had four or five young ones at a time ; and, from what the 
natives say about the numbers that they dug up, tliey must have furnished a 
plentiful supply of food at all times. As these animals are now extinct in the 
Western District, although the remains of their burrows are still to be seen, it is 
supposed that they were the jerboa or bilboa, which are still very plentiful and 
troublesome in the interior of Australia. 

The aborigines eat eagles and birds of prey, the emu, turkey bustard, 
gigantic crane, herons, and swan ; geese and ducks in great variety, cormorants, 
ibis, curlew, coot, water-hen, lapwings, cockatoos, parrots, pigeons, crows, quails, 



COOKING AND FOOD. 19 



snipes, and a great many kinds of sea fowls. The pelican and its eggs are 
considered too fishy to eat. 

The tortoise and its eggs are much sought after. Snakes are considered 
good food, but are not eaten if they have bitten themselves, as the natives 
believe that the poison, when taken into the stomach, is as deadly as when 
injected into the blood by a bite. Lizards and frogs of all sorts are cooked and 
eaten. 

Of fish, the eel is the favourite ; but, besides it, there are many varieties of 
fish in the lakes and rivers, which are eaten by the natives. One in particular, 
called the tuupuurn, is reckoned a very great delicacy. It is caught plentifully, 
with the aid of long baskets, in the mouths of rivei'S during its passage to and 
from the sea, of which migration the natives are well aware. 

Vast quantities of moUusca must have been consumed from very remote 
periods by the natives occupying the country adjoining the sea coast ; for opposite 
every reef of rocks affording shelter to shell fish, immense beds of shells of 
various sorts are to be seen in the sand-hills, in layers intermixed with pieces of 
charred wood, a.shes, and stones having the marks of fire on them. In some 
places where the action of the wind and spray has caused the hummocks to slip 
down into the sea, the layers of shells are exposed to a great depth ; and, as they 
could not have been placed in their present positions by natural means along with 
pieces of burnt trap-rock, charred wood, and ashes, there is no doubt that they are 
of similar origin with the aboriginal deposits found on the east coast of Scotland 
and sea shores of Denmark and Holland, called ' middens ' by the Scotch and 
' moedens ' by the Dutch. These immense mounds of shells being met with only 
near the sea, and nowhere in the interior, leads to the conclusion that the aborigines 
who fed on the mollusca and fish, never left the shore during the fishing season ; 
and that, if they came from the interior, they never carried away any shell-fish 
with them, otherwise sea shells would be found in abundance at their old camping 
places in the bush, at a distance from the sea. An ancient deposit of marine shells, 
having every appearance of an aboriginal midden, was some years ago exposed on 
the east bank of the YaiTa-Yarra River, near the Falls Bridge. At this spot a reef of 
rocks — which has been since partially removed — -kept back the tide, and preserved 
the water sufficiently fresh for domestic purposes. This, no doubt, enabled the 
natives to camp there for fishing purposes ; and hence the large deposit of shells 
at this spot. 

Of roots and vegetables they have plenty. The mum-ang, which somewhat 



20 AUSTRALIAN ABOBIGINES. 



resembles a small parsnip, with a flower like a buttercup, grows chiefly on the 
open plains. It is much esteemed on account of its sweetness, and is dug up by 
the women with the muurang pole. The roots are washed and put into a 
rush basket made on purpose, and placed in the oven in the evening to be ready 
for next morning's breakfast. When several families live near each other and 
cook their roots together, sometimes the baskets form a pile three feet high. The 
cooking of the muurang entails a considerable amount of labour on the women, 
inasmuch as the baskets ai'e made by them ; anil as these often get burnt, they 
rarely serve more than twice. The muurang root, when cooked, is called 
yuwatch. It is often eaten uncooked. The bulbous root, muuyuup, of the 
common orchis, hinnmhinnitch, and of another named yarrayarupp, are eaten 
either raw or cooked. The weeakk, resembling a small carrot, is cooked in 
hot ashes without a basket. The bulb of the clematis, ' taaruuk,' is dug up in 
winter, cooked in baskets, and kneaded on a small sheet of bark into doutrh, 
and eaten under the name of murpit. The root of the native convolvulus, also 
called taaruuk, is cooked in the same way, and forms the principal vegetable 
food in winter, when the muurang is out of season. A tuber, called puewan, 
about the size of a walnut, and resembling the earthnut of Europe, is ducf up, and 
eaten roasted. It has no stalk or leaf to mark its locality, and is discovered 
from the shallow holes scraped by the bandicoots in search of it, and from a 
scarcity of herbage in the neighbourhood. A variety of the sedge — the flag of 
the cooper — has a root of pleasant flavour, resembling celery, which is eaten 
uncooked as a salad. So also are the salsuginous plant, the mesembryanthemum, 
or pig's face, and the sow thistle. The latter is eaten to produce sleep. A kind 
of bread is made of the root of the common fern, roasted in hot ashes, and beaten 
into paste with a stone. 

Mushrooms, and several kinds of fungi, are eaten raw ; and a large under- 
ground fungus, about the size of an ordinary turnip, called native bread by 
white people, is eaten uncooked, and is very good. 

Large numbers of pupse, found in the groimd at the foot of gum trees, 
are dug up in winter, and baked in hot ashes. They are the transitional forms 
of large green processional caterpillars, which crawl in lines on the stems 
of trees in search of a place to rest during their change into the pupa state. 
Of this transformation, and of their ultimately becoming moths, the aborigines 
are well aware. In addition to these there are many delicacies, chiefly collected 
by the women and children, and cooked in hot ashes, such as grubs, small lish. 



COOKING AND FOOD. 21 



frogs, lizards, birds' eggs, lizard and tortoise eggs. The grubs are about the 
size of the little finger, and are cut out of trees and dead timber, and are eaten 
alive, while the work of chopping is going on, with as much pleasure as a white 
man eats a living oyster ; but with this difference, that caution is necessary to 
avoid their powerful mandibles, ever ready to bite the lips or tongue. Roasted 
on embere, they are delicate and nutty in flavour, varying in quality according 
to the kind of tree into which they bore, and on which they feed. Those 
found in the trunks of the common wattle are considered the finest and sweetest. 
Every hunter caiTies a small hooked wand, to push into the holes of the wood, 
and draw them out. With an axe and an old grub-eaten tree, an excellent 
meal is soon procured ; and when the women and children hear the sound of 
chopping, they hasten to partake of the food, which they enjoy above all others. 
The large fat grubs, to be found in quantities on the banks of marshes, 
drowned out of their holes, in times of floods, are gathered and cooked in hot 
ashes by the women and children. 

The gum of the acacia, or common wattle tree, is largely consumed as 
food, as well as for cement ; and each man has an exclusive right to a certain 
number of trees for the use of himself and family. As soon as the summer heat 
is over, notches are cut in the bark to allow the gum to exude. It is then 
gathered in large lumps, and stored for use. 

A sweet substance, called buumbuul (manna), resembling small pieces of 
loaf sugar, with a fine delicate flavour, which exudes and drops from the leaves 
and small branches of some kinds of gum trees, is gathered and eaten by the 
children, or mixed in a wooden vessel with acacia gum dissolved in hot water, 
as a drink. Another kind of manna, also called buumbuul, is deposited in 
considerable quantities by the large dark-coloured cicadre on the stems of white 
gum trees near the River Hopkins. The natives ascend the trees, and scrape off 
as much as a bucketful of waxen cells filled with a liquid resembling honey, 
which they mix with gum dissolved in cold water, and use as a drink. They 
say that, in consequence of the great increase of opossums, caused by the 
destruction of the wild dog, they never get any buumbuul now, as the opossuras 
eat it all. Another sweet liquid is obtained by mischievous boys from yoimg 
parrakeets after they are fed by the old birds with honey dew, gathered from 
the blossom of the trees. When a nest is discovered in the hole of a gum tree, 
it is constantly visited, and the young birds pulled out, and held by their 
feet till they disgorge their food into the mouth of their unwelcome visitant. 



22 AUSTRALIAN^ ABORIGINES. 



In summer, when the surface of the gi-ound is parched, and the marshes 
dried up, the natives carry a long reed perforated from end to end, which they 
push down the holes made by crabs in swamps, and suck up the water. Wlien 
obliged to drink from muddy pools full of animalcute, they put a full-blown 
cone of the banksia tree into their mouths, and drink through it, which gives a 
fine flavour to the water, and excludes impurities. The name of the cone, when 
used for this purpose, is tatteen mirng neung weeriitch gnat — ' drink eye 
banksia tree belonging to.' 

The southern portions of Australia are remarkably deficient in native fruits, 
and the only kind deserving the name is a berry which the aborigines of the 
locality call ' nurt,' resembling a red-cheeked cherry without the pip, which 
grows abundantly on a creeper amongst the sand on the hummocks near the 
mouth of the River Glenelg. It is very much sought after, and, when ripe, is 
gathered in great quantities by the natives, who come from long distances to 
feast on it, and reside in the locality while it lasts. In collecting the berries 
they pull up the plants, which run along the surface of the sand in great 
lengths, and carry them on their backs to their camps to pick oS" the fruit 
at their leisure. On the first settlement of the district by sheepowners these 
berries were gathered by the white people, and they made excellent jam and 
tarts. 

There are strict rules regulating the distribution of food. When a hunter 
brings game to the camp he gives up all claim to it, and must stand aside 
and allow the best portions to be given away, and content himself with the 
worst. If he has a brother present, the brother is treated iiji the same way, and 
helps the kUler of the game to eat the poor pieces, which are thrown to them, 
such as the forequarters and ribs of the kangaroos, opossums, and small 
quadrupeds, and the backbones of birds. The narrator of this custom mentioned 
that when he was very young he used to grumble because his father gave away 
all the best pieces of birds and quadrupeds, and the finest eels, but he was told 
that it was a rule and must be observed. This custom is called yuurka 
baawhaar, meaniag ' exchange ;' and, to show the strict observance of it, and 
the punishment for its infringement, they tell a story of a mean fellow named 
Wirtpa Mit, signifying ' selfish,' who lived on kangaroos, which were very scarce 
in those days. When he killed one he ate it all himself, and would not give 
away a morsel. This conduct so displeased his friends that they resolved to 
punish him, but as it was difiicult to do so without infringing the laws of the 



COOKING AND FOOD. 23 



tribe, they dug a deep pit and covered it over with branches and grass. When 
the trap was ready, they drove some kangaroos in its direction, and advised 
Wirtpa Mit to follow them. He fell into the trap, and they covered over the top 
of the pit, leaving only a small hole to give him air and sunshine. There they 
kept him without food till he was nearly dead. He begged of them to make 
the opening larger, and when they acceded to his request he made his escape, 
but was so weak from starvation that they afterwards killed him and put him 
into the hole and filled it up. To this day this place is named after him, and 
the story is told to the yoimg people as a warning not to be ' selfish.' 



24 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER X. 

TOOLS. 

The natives have few tools ; the principal one is the stone axe, which resembles 
the stone celts found in Europe. This useful and indispensable implement is of 
various sizes. It is made chiefly of green stone, shaped like a wedge, and ground 
at one end to a shai-p edge. At the other end it is grasped in the bend of a doubled 
piece of split sapling, bound with kangaroo sinews, to form a handle, which is 
cemented to it with a composition of gum and shell lime. This cement is made 
by gathering fresh wattle gum, pulling it into small pieces, masticating it with 
the teeth, and then placing it between two sheets of green bark, which are put 
into a shallow hole in the ground, and covered up with hot ashes till the gum is 
dissolved. It is then taken out, and worked and pulled with the hands till it has 
become quite stringy, when it is mixed with lime made of burnt mussel shells, 
pounded in a hollow stone — which is always kept for the purpose — and kneaded 
into a tough paste. This cement is indispensable to the natives in making their 
tools, spears, and water buckets. The stone axe is so valuable and scarce that it 
is generally the property of the chief of the tribe. He lends it, however, for a 
consideration, to the best climbers, who use it to cut steps in the bark of trees, to 
enable them to climb in search of bears, opossums, birds, and nests, and also to 
cut wood and to strip bark for their dwellings. For the latter purpose the butt 
end of the handle of the axe is made wedge-shaped, to push under the sheets of 
bark and prize them off the trees. 

Another stone tool, like a chisel without a handle, is u,sed in forming weapons 
and wooden vessels. With splinters of flint and volcanic glass the surface of 
wooden articles is scraped and smoothed, and every man carries a piece of hard, 
porous lava, as a rasp, to grind the points of spears and poles. These stone 
implements, although well known to the middle-aged aborigines of the present 
day, are, in consequence of the introduction of iron, not now in use or to be met 
with, excepting about old aboriginal camping places. 

The writer lately found, in a ploughed field, two stones, which he showed to 
one of the oldest and most intelligent men of the Colac tribe. One of them is an 



TOOLS. 25 



oval, silicious stone, very hard, about six inches long, five inches broad, and three 
inches thick, waterworn, and slightly hollowed on one side, as if used for 
pounding some hard substance upon, and rounded on the other side, with a funnel- 
shaped hole in the centre two inches in diameter at the mouth and one inch deep, 
and having a much smaller hole of the same form on each side of the larger one 
and joining it. The other stone, which was found lying alongside, is of the same 
material, of cylindrical shape, six inches long by three inches in diameter, with 
one end pointed so as to fit into the centre hole of the flat stone. The natives to 
whom these were shown said they had never seen anything like them before, 
and did not know their use. It is evident, however, that they were an 
aboriginal mortar and pestle for grinding shells for cement. The writer has them 
still in his possession. 

A tool is made of the large bone of the hind leg of the forest kangaroo, 
sharpened to a chisel point. With this tool is cut the hole for the hand through 
the heavy shield, Malkar. A bodkin, or awl, is formed from the small bone of 
the hind leg of the forest kangaroo, ground to a fine point, and is used for sewing 
rugs. A finely-tapered sharp pin Ls made of the small leg bone of the brush 
kangaroo or opossum, and is essential for extracting thorns and splinters of wood 
from the hands and feet. Ti-tree pins are used for pegging out the skins of the 
forest kangaroo. 

Knives are of various kinds and material, according to the purposes they are 
to serve. For skinning animals, marking rugs, and cutting the human skin to 
produce ornamental wens on the chest, back, and arms, knives are made of 
splinters of flint, or of sharpened mussel shells. The sea mussel shell found on 
the coast at Warrnambool is preferred, but freshwater mussel shells are also 
used. For skinning the ring-tailed opossum, and for dividing meat, the leaf of 
the grass-tree is used, and also the long front teeth of the bandicoot, with the 
jaw attached as a handle. The shells of the freshwater mussel and of the sea 
snail serve for spoons. Every person carries one. In making necklaces of the 
quills of the porcupine ant-eater, the holes at the roots of the quills are burned 
through with a wooden pin made red-hot in the fire. 



26 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER XI. 

LAWS OF MAERIAGE. 

The laws of marriage among the aborigines are remarkably well devised ; 
and exhibit a method and ingenuity which could not have been looked for 
among a people who were so long considered the lowest of the human race. 

The object of these laws is to prevent marriages between those of ' one 
flesh' — 'Tow'wil yerr.' 

As has been shown in the first chapter, the aborigines are divided into 
tribes. Every person is considered to belong to his father's tribe, and cannot 
maiTy into it. Besides this division, there is another which is made solely for 
the purpose of preventing marriages with maternal relatives. The aborigines 
are everywhere divided into classes ; and everyone is considered to belong to his 
mother's class, and cannot marry into it in any tribe, as all of the same class 
are considered brothers and sisters. 

There are five classes in all the tribes of the Western District, and these 
take their names from certain animals — the long-billed cockatoo, kuurokeetch ; 
the pelican, kartpcerapp ; the banksian cockatoo, kappatch ; the boa snake, 
kirtuuk ; and the quail, kuunamit. 

According to their classes the aborigines are distinguished, as — 

Kuurokeetch, male ; kuurokaheear, female. 
Kartpcerapp, male ; kartpcerapp heear, female. 
Kappatch, male ; kappaheear, female. 
Kirtuuk, male ; kirtuuk heear, female. 
Kuunamit, male ; kuunamit heear, female. 

Kuurokeetch and kartpcerapp, however, are so related, that they are looked 
upon as sister classes, and no marriage between them is permitted. It is the 
same between kappatch and kirtuuk ; but as kuunamit is not so related, it can 
marry into any class but its own. Thus a kuurokeetch may marry a kappaheear, 
a kirtuuk heear, or a kuunamit heear, but cannot marry a kuurokaheear or a 
kartpcerapp heear. A kappatch may marry a kuurokaheear, a kartpcerapp heear, 
or a kuunamit heear, but cannot marry a kappaheear or a kirtuuk heear. A 



LAWS OF MARRIAGE. 27 



kuunamit may many a kuurokaheear, a kartpoerapp heeai', a kappaheear, or a 
kirtuuk heear, but cannot marry a kuunamit heear. 

The traditions of the aborigines say that the first progenitor of the tribes 
treated of in this volume, the kuukuur minjer, or first great great grandfather, 
was by descent a kuurokeetch, long-billed cockatoo, but whence he came no one 
knows. He had for a wife a kappaheear, banksian cockatoo. She is called the 
kuurappa moel, meaning first great great grandmother. This original pair had 
sons and daughters, who, of course, belonged to the class of their mother. The 
sons were kappatch, and the daughters kappaheear. As the laws of consanguinity 
forbade marriages between these, it was necessary to introduce wambepan 
tuuram, ' fresh flesh,' which could be obtained only by marriage with strangers. 
The sons got wives from a distance. Their sons, again, had to do the same ; and 
thus the pelican, snake, and quail classes were introduced, which, together with 
those of their first parents, form the five maternal classes which exist all through 
the Western District. 

The laws of the aborigines also forbid a man marrying into his mother's 
tribe or his grandmother's tribe, or into an adjoining tribe, or one that speaks his 
own dialect. A man is allowed to many his brother's widow, or his own 
deceased wife's sister, or a woman of her tribe ; but he is not permitted to do so 
if he has divorced or killed his wife. He may not marry his deceased wife's 
daughter by a former husband. 

A common man may not have more than one wife at a time. Chiefs, 
however, may have as many wives as they think proper. The sons of chiefs may 
marry two wives. 

Chiefs, and their sons and daughters, are married only into the families 
of other chiefs. If a chief persists in marrying a commoner, his children by that 
marriage are not disinherited ; but such marriages are highly disapproved of. 
The natives say that if chiefs were permitted to marry commoners, it would lead 
to endless quarrels and jealousies. 

When a married man dies, his brother is bound to marry the widow if she 
has a family, as it is his duty to protect her and rear his brother's children. 
If there is no brother, the chief sends the widow to her own tribe, with whom 
she must remain till her period of mourning is ended. Those of her children 
who are under age are sent with her, and remain with their mother's tribe till 
they come of age, when they return to their father's tribe, to which they belong. 
After the period of mourning for her deceased husband expires, the relatives of 



the widow, with the sanction of the chief, make arrangements for her re-marriage, 
and she must marry the man chosen for her. If the widow has no near relatives, 
the aiTangements are made by the chief of her tribe. Her own inclinations are 
not consulted in the matter. 

No maiTiage or betrothal is permitted without the approval of the chiefs of 
each party, who first ascertain that no 'flesh' relationship exists, and even then 
their permission must be rewarded by presents. 

So strictly are the laws of marriage carried out, that, should any signs of 
affection and courtship be observed between those of ' one flesh,' the brothers, or 
male relatives of the woman beat her sevei-ely ; the man is brought before the 
chief, and accused of an intention to fall into the same flesh, and is severely 
reprimanded by the tribe. If he persists, and runs away with the object of his 
affections, they beat and ' cut his head all over ;' and if the woman was a 
consenting party she is half killed. If she dies in consequence of her punishment, 
her death is avenged by the man's receiving an additional beating from her 
relatives. No other vengeance is taken, as her punishment is legal. A child 
bom under such conditions is taken from the parents, and handed over to the 
care of its grandmother, who is compelled to rear it, as no one else will 
adopt it. 

It says much for the morality of the aborigines and their laws that 
illegitimacy is rare, and is looked upon with such abhorrence that the mother is 
always severely beaten by her relatives, and sometimes put to death and burned. 
Her child is occasionally killed and burned with her. The father of the child is 
also punished with the greatest severity, and occasionally killed. Should he 
survive the chastisement inflicted upon him, he is always shunned by the 
woman's relatives, and any efforts to conciliate them with gifts are spurned, and 
his presents are put in the fire and bui-ned. 

Since the advent of the Europeans among them, the aborigines have 
occasionally disregarded their admirable marriage laws, and to this disregard 
they attribute the greater weakness and unhealthiness of their children. 

As a preventive of illegal marriages, parents betroth their children when 
just able to walk. The proposal to betroth is made by the father of the girl. 
If the boy's father approves, he gives the girl a present of an opossum rug, 
and shows her attention, and gives her 'nice things to eat' when he sees her 
at great meetings. The father of the girl takes her occasionally to see her 
intended husband, but he is not permitted to return the visit. 



LAWS OF MARRIAGE. 29 



The girl's mother and her aunts may neither look at him nor speak to him 
from the time of their betrothal till his death. Should he come to the camp 
where they are living, he must lodge at a friend's wuurn, as he is not allowed 
to go within fifty yards of their habitation ; and should he meet them on a path 
they immediately leave it, clap their hands, cover up their heads with their 
rugs, walk in a stooping position, and speak in whispers till he has gone past. 
When he meets them away from their camp they do not converse with him, 
and when he and they speak in each other's presence they use a lingo, called 
wiltkill ang iitch in the chaap wuui'ong dialect, and gnee wee banott in the kuurn 
kopan noot and peek whuurong dialects, meaning ' turn tongue.' This is not 
used with the intention of concealment of their meaning, for it is understood by 
all. The intended mother-in-law, though she may not speak to the boy, may 
express her approval of what he says by clapping her hands. He never mentions 
her name at any time, and when he speaks about her to anyone, he calls her 
gnulluun guurk in the chaap wuurong dialect, and gnulluun yerr in the kuurn 
kopan noot and peek whuurong dialects. She, in speaking about him, calls him 
gnalluun josk in the chaap wuurong dialect, and gnalluun in the kuurn kopan 
noot and peek whuurong dialects. 

Examples of turn tongue in chaap wuurong dialect : — 

Where are you going just now ? 

Winjalat kuurna new? 
Turn iong'Me.-— Winja gniinkima ? 

It will be very warm by-and-bye. 

Wulpiya gnuureen. 
Turn tongue. — Gnullewa gnuureen. 

Examples in kuurn kopan noot dialect : — 

Where are you going just now ? 

Wuunda gnin kitneean 1 
Turn tongue. — Wuim gni gnin gninkeewani 

It will be very warm by-and-bye. 
Baawan kulluun. 
Turn tongue. — Gnullewa gnatncen tirambuul. 

A wild blackfellow is coming to kill you. 

Wattatan kuut gno yuul yuul. 
Turn tongiie. — Kulleet burtakuut yung a gnak kuuno nong. 



30 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



In nearly all the aboriginal tribes of Australia young men are not allowed 
to marry imtil they have been formally initiated into manhood. In some tribes 
this initiation requires them to be subjected to oi-deals and ceremonies more or 
less repulsive. In other tribes the trials are so severe that they often not only 
ruin the health, but cause the death of many delicate young men. Indeed, 
it is possible that they are designed to get rid of the weakly, who would be of 
no use either in hunting or in war, and would be only an encumbrance to the 
tribe. The customs, however, of those tribes which are treated of in this volume 
are quite free from this repulsiveness and severity. 

A youth is not considered to be a man imtil he has undergone this probation, 
which is called katneetch in the chaap wuurong dialect, katnitt in the kuurn 
kopan noot dialect, and tapmet in the peek whuurong dialect. During the 
progress of this probation he is called kutneet, which is really ' hobbledehoy.' 
No person related to him by blood can interfere or assist in the proceedings. 
Should the boy have brothers-in-law, they come and take him into a wuurn, 
dress and ornament him, and remove him to their own country, where he remains 
for twelve moons. Should he not have brothers-in-law, strangers from a distant 
tribe come and take him to their country, where he is received with welcome by 
his new friends. After two moons he is allowed to visit his own tribe, but not 
without several men to take care of him and brina- him back. If, during his 
sojourn, he becomes ill, he is sent home to his own tribe, for, were he to die, 
they would avenge his death. During the term of probation his wants are 
liberally supplied, and he is not permitted to do anything for himself. When he 
wishes to go anywhere, he must be carried by the men who brought him from 
his own country. The women also of the tribe must wait upon him with every 
mark of respect, and should any disobey his orders he has a right to spear them. 
He is not allowed to speak the language of the tribe, but he learns to undei-stand 
it when spoken. At the end of twelve moons his relatives call and take him to 
attend the fii-st gi-eat meeting of the tribes. Before leaving, they pull out 
all the hairs of his beard, and make him drink water mixed with mud ; which 
completes his initiation into manhood. The knocking out of the upper front 
teeth, which is practised by some other tribes on such occasions, is unknown in 
the Western District. 

He is then introduced to the young woman who is to be his wife. They 
may look at one another, but are not allowed to converse. When the young 
man's beard has grown again, and the young woman has attained a marriageable 



LAWS OF MARRIAGE. 31 



age, she is sent away from her tribe, and placed under the care of the young 
man's mother, or his nearest female relative, who keeps her until they are 
married, but not in the same wuurn with her intended husband. She is 
constantly attended by one of his female relatives, but is not permitted to speak 
their tribal language. She is e.'cpected, however, to learn it sufficiently to 
understand it. A day is fixed for the marriage, and invitations are sent to the 
relatives and friends of both parties. 

As such ceremonies are always accompanied with feasting and amusements, 
great preparations are made, and all kinds of food collected, such, for example, 
as emus' and swans' eggs, opossums, kangaroos, and wild fowl. An emu which 
is killed while hatching is considered a great treat, as theil both bird and eggs 
can be eaten ; and if the eggs have young ones in them so much the greater will 
be the delicacy. These things are cooked at a considerable distance from the 
camp, and brought to it at mid-day by the friends of the bridegroom. At this 
stage of the proceedings they are partaken of only by the friends of the bride. 
At sunset, the friends and relations of the bridegroom and bride, numbering 
possibly two hundred, sit on opposite sides, within a large circle formed of the 
leafy boughs of trees, with a fire in the centre. The bride is introduced by her 
bridemaid, and seated in front of her friends. The bridal attire is very simple. 
Her hair is braided, and bound with a plaited bark brow band, coloured red. 
In front of the brow band is stuck a bunch of red feathers, from the neck of the 
long-billed cockatoo. White streaks are painted over and under her eyes, with 
red lines below. The usual kilt of emu feathers is worn round the loins, and 
she is covered from the shoulders downwards with an opossum rug. 

The bridegroom also is painted with a white streak over and under the 
eyes, and red lines beneath them. He wears a brow band the same as that of 
the bride, but it is ornamented in front with a white feather from a swan's wing, 
the web of which is torn down, so as to flutter in the wind. He wears the 
usual apron, and a rug of the ring-tail opossum, thrown over the shoulders 
like a mantle. This is fastened in front with a bone pin, and reaches to the 
knees. He is attended by two or three young bachelors, who are painted and 
ornamented for the occasion. They lead him from the wuurn of a friend to his 
bride, who receives him with downcast eyes and in silence. He then declares that 
he accepts the woman for his wife. Feasting then begins. When everyone is 
satisfied, a chief calls out, " Let us have a dance before the children go 
to bed." The karweann is then commenced, and kept up till midnight. 



The bridegroom is conducted by his bridemen to a new wuurn, erected for him 
by his friends ; and his wife is taken to it by her bridemaids. For several days 
afterwards hunting, feasting, and amusements, with dancing and pantomime at 
night, are kept up till all friends depart for their homes with the usual 
'wo, wo' — 'good-bye, good-bye.' 

The newly-married pair are well fed and attended to by their relatives. 
The bridemaid, who must be the nearest adult unmarried relative of the bride- 
groom, is obliged to sleep with the bride on one side of the fire for two moons, 
and attend her day and night. The bridegroom sleeps for the same period on 
the opposite side of the fire with the brideman, who is always a bachelor friend, 
and must attend him day and night. The newly-married couple are not allowed 
to speak to or look at each other. The bride is, during this period, called a 
tiirok meetnya — ' not look round.' She keeps her head and face covered with 
her opossum rug while her husband is present. He also keeps his face turned 
away from her, much to the amusement of the young people, who peep into 
their wuurn and laugh at them. If they need to speak to one another they 
must speak through their friends. 

On the termination of this period, the bridemaid, or some other adult 
female relative of the bridegi'oom, takes the bride to see her own relatives 
for a week or two. The husband remains at home. When she returns, the 
attendance of the brideman and bridemaid is dispensed with. Ever afterwards 
the bridemaid, and other female friends, may sleep under the same roof with the 
married people, but on the opposite side of the fire. 

After they have been married some months, they are visited by the parents 
of the bride. The bride's father can enter their wuurn, and converse with them 
as formerly; but the mother lives with her husband in a separate residence 
specially erected for them, and sees her daughter there. This visit is returned 
by the bridegroom and bride, for whose accommodation a wuurn is erected by 
the bride's friends. The mother-in-law can never speak to her daughter's 
husband, or enter his wuurn. If she meets him, she must cover up her head 
with her rug, walk in a stooping position, and speak in whispers while he is 
near. To such a length is this remarkable law carried, that it Ls not departed 
from even while one of them is dying. After death, however, the living 
looks upon the dead. The aborigines, who show great willingness to 
give explanations of their laws and habits to those persons they respect, 
cannot give any reason for this very extraordinary custom, which is said 



LAWS OF MARRIAGE. 33 



to be observed all over Australia, and in several island groups in the Pacific 
Ocean. 

A chief who has been married under the law of betrothal, is not permitted 
to marry another woman for a long time ; and should he do so without obtaining 
the consent of his wife, there would be constant quarrelling, as the first wife is 
always superior in authority to the others, and is naturally jealous of a rival. 

A man can divorce his wife for serious misconduct, and can even put her to 
death ; but in every case the charge against her must fii-st be laid before the 
chiefs of his own and his wife's tribes, and their consent to her punishment 
obtained. If the wife has children, however, she cannot be divorced. Should a 
betrothed woman be found after marriage to have been unfaithful, her husband 
must divorce her. Her relations then remove her and her child to her own 
tribe, and compel the father of the child to marry her, unless he be a relative. 
In that case she must remain unmarried. If a husband is unfaithful, his wife 
cannot divorce him. She may make a complaint to the chief, who can punish 
the man by sending him away from his tribe for two or three moons ; and the 
guilty woman is very severely punished by her relatives. 

The courtship of those who have not been betrothed to each other when 
young is regulated by very strict laws. Korroborses, and great meetings of the 
tribes, are the chief opportunities for selecting wives ; as there the young people 
of various and distant tribes have an opportunity of seeing one another. A 
married man or a widower can speak to a married woman or to a widow, but 
they are not allowed to go beyond the boundaries of the camp together at 
any time, unless they are accompanied by another married person. Unmarried 
adults of both sexes are kept strictly apart from those of another tribe, and 
are always under the eyes of their parents or guardians. The young women are 
not permitted to leave the neighbourhood of their wuums at any time, unless 
accompanied by a near relative. As there can be thus no personal commimication 
between marriageable persons outside of the limits of consanguinity, a mutual 
friend, called a gnapunda, ' match maker,' is employed to carry messages, but 
this can only be done with the approval of the parents or guardians of both 
parties. 

When a man falls in love with a young woman, he does not always consult 
her wishes, or procure her consent to marriage, but makes his proposal to the 
father through her uncle or cousin. If the father approve, he informs the suitor 
that he may marry his daughter ; and to this decision she must submit, whether 



34 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



she admires the man or not. From the time when the proposal is accepted 
till they are married they are not permitted to speak to each other. Should she 
express reluctance to the match — which is often the case — the friends of the 
suitor accompany him to her father's wuurn, with his hands tied together with 
a rope made of the twisted inner bark of the blackwood tree. He is then 
introduced to her, and the rope is removed by his friends ; and, after sitting 
beside her till sunset, he conducts her to his wuurn, which has been enlarged 
for her accommodation. The woman generally reconciles herself to the match, 
and remains quietly among her new friends. But, if she is dissatisfied, and runs 
away, the husband, failing to entice her to return home, considers he has a 
right to kill her. If he does so, however, her father, brothers, or uncles, in 
retaliation, can kill any of his relatives. The exercise of this right would thus 
lead to a quarrel between the families and their respective tribes. 

If a young orphan woman elopes with a man of another tribe against the 
wishes of her relatives, notice is sent to him that she must be brought back, or 
she will be taken by force. Should the warning be unattended to, his wuurn is 
visited at daybreak by four or five of the woman's male friends, armed with 
spears and marwhangs, but not with boomerangs ; they seize and stupefy her 
with blows, and carry her off. If the man or his friends resist, the contest 
frequently ends in the death of some of them, and, it may be, of the woman 
herself. If no warning has been given of an intention to take her away, the man 
knows that she may be suddenly removed, and given to another. Sometimes 
he will kill her rather than allow her to be given to another man ; but he does 
this with the certainty of retaliation on himself, or on his aunt or female cousin. 
Should the woman escape a second time from her relatives, and return to the 
man, she is then considered his lawful wife, and cannot be taken from him. 

Besides the custom of selecting wives at the great meetings and korroboraes, 
any two young men of different tribes and classes, having each a sister or cousin, 
may agree, with the consent of their chiefs, to exchange the young women and 
marry them. This is done without any previous courtship, or consent on the 
part of the women, even although they may be perfect strangers to the men, and 
they must submit. 

The rule is that a father alone can give away his daughter. If the father 
is dead the son can di.-sijose of the daughter, with the consent of the uncle. 
Should the woman have no male relative, the chief has the power of bestowing 
her on au;yone he thinks proper; but his consent is reluctantly sought, as it 



LAWS OF MARRIAGE. 35 



attracts his attention to his power over her, and frequently results in his taking 
the young woman himself. 

If a chief is a man of ability, exhibiting bravery in battle or skill in 
hunting, he is often presented with wives from other chiefs, who have generally 
some whom they wish to part with. These women are given without their 
consent, and the man must take them as a mark of friendship. It would seem, 
however, that these gifts are not always appreciated, for Puulorn Puul, who 
communicated this information, at the same time moodily muttered aside, in his 
own language, ' Dear knows, there are plenty of them, when a husband has to put 
up with half-a-dozen.' In cases where they are aged and infirm, the transfer is 
made against the inclination of both parties. 

A young man, who belongs to the chief's family, very reluctantly seeks the 
consent of the head of the family to his marriage, for it frequently ends in the 
old chief taking the young woman himself. To such an extent is this tyrannical 
system of polygamy carried on by the old chiefs, that many young men are 
compelled to remain bachelors, the native word for which means ' to look out,' 
while an old warrior may have five or sis of the finest young women of other 
tribes for his wives. 

Exchange of wives is permitted only after the death of their parents, and, of 
course, with the consent of the chiefs ; but is not allowed if either of the women 
has children. When such an exchange is effected, both couples occupy difierent 
compartments in the same wuurn, and assist each other amicably in household 
duties. 

A husband and wife without children can agree to dissolve their marriage. 
In such a case the woman must return to her tribe, and can marry again. 

When a woman is treated with cruelty by her husband, she may put herself 
under the protection of another man, with the intention of becoming his wife. 
If he take upon him the duty of protecting her, he must challenge her husband 
and defeat him in single combat in presence of the chiefs and friends of both 
parties. Having done so, their marriage is recognized as legal ; but ever after- 
wards the first husband calls her a wannagnum heear, ' cast-off wife,' and she 
calls him wannagnum, ' cast-off husband.' If a husband knows that his wife is 
in love with another man, and if he has no objection to part with her, he takes 
her basket to the man's wuurn, and leaves it. But as no marriage, or exchange 
of wives can take place without the consent of the chief, the wife remains with 
her husband till the first great meeting, when the bargain is confirmed. This 



36 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



amicable separation does not create any ill feeling between the parties, as the 
woman is always kind to her first husband without causing any jealousy on the 
part of the second. Such transactions, although lawful, may not be approved of 
by the woman's relatives, and she is liable to be speared by her brother. 

A single woman or widow belonging to a chief's family, can, with his 
consent, many another chief, or his son, by simply sitting down in his wuurn 
beside his wife, who cannot prevent the match. But the first wife is always the 
mistress. 

A young chief who cannot get a wife, and falls in love with one belonging 
to a chief who has more than two, can, with her consent, challenge the husband 
to single combat, and, if he defeats him, he makes her his legal wife; but the 
defeated husband never afterwards speaks to her. 

A man falling in love with a young woman who will not consent to marry 
him, tries to get a lock of her hair, and, should he obtain it, he covers it with fat 
and red clay, and carries it about with him for one year. The knowledge of this 
so depresses the woman that she pines away. Should she die, her relatives and 
friends attribute her death to his having cast a spell over her, and they punish 
the man severely, and keep up enmity against him for a long time. In consequence 
of this superstition, the natives always burn their superfluous hair in a fire 
outside their dwellings ; never in the domestic fire, as the remains of it would 
get among their food. 

When a wife treats her husband with such persistent disrespect or unkind- 
ness as to make him wish to get quit of her, he casts a spell over her in the 
following manner. While she is asleep he cuts off a lock of her hair, and ties it 
to the bone hook of his ' spear thrower,' and covers it with a coating of gum. 
Early next morning he goes to a neighbouring tribe, and stays with them. 
At the first great meeting of the tribes he gives the 'spear thrower' to a friend, 
who sticks it upright before the camp fire every night, and when it falls over he 
considers that a sign that his wife is dead. But until he is assured by a 
messenger that such is the case, he will not return to his tribe. In the 
meantime, as the wife has not been legally separated from her husband, she 
cannot marry ; and as she is constantly subjected to the sneers and taunts of her 
friends, she idtimately visits her husband, apologizes for her conduct, and brings 
him home. As an earnest of reconciliation and mutual confidence the spear 
thrower is broken and thrown into a water-hole. 

After marriage, the women are compelled to do all the hard work of erecting 



LAWS OF MARRIAGE. 37 



habitations, collecting fuel and water, carrying burdens, procuring roots and 
delicacies of various kinds, making baskets for cooking roots and other purposes, 
preparing food, and attending to the children. The only work the men do, in 
time of peace, is to hunt for opossums and large animals of various kinds, and to 
make rugs and weapons. But, notwithstanding this drudgery, and the apparent 
hard usage to which the women are subjected, there is no want of affection 
amongst the members of a family. 



38 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER XII. 

CHILDEEN. 

A WOMAN near her confinement is called a ' moisgorm,' and must stay at home, 
in her husband's wuurn, as much as possible. When she has occasion to quit 
the wuurn, any person who meets her must leave the path, and keep away 
from her. 

During her confinement her husband lives elsewhere ; the neighbouring 
wuurns are temporarily deserted ; and everyone is sent away from the vicinity 
except two married women, who stay with her. Should she not have a mother 
to attend on her, a professional woman, ' gneein ' — two of whom are generally 
attached to each tribe — is sent for, and compelled to nurse her and the baby till 
she is able to attend to it, and to resume the performance of her domestic 
duties. In return for these services the nurse is kindly treated and well fed, 
and generally pi-esented with an opossum rug. The sick woman is not assisted 
in any way, and everything is left to nature. She is allowed very little solid 
food for some time, and only tepid water to drink ; and, if necessary, is kept 
warm with hot stones. The women rarely die in childbirth. 

When newly bom an infant is not black, and the dark colour appears first 
on the brow, and spreads gradually over the body. The child is not bandaged 
in any way, but laid before the fire on soft, dry grass, and afterwards wrapped in 
an opossum rug. It receives no nourishment of any kind for twenty-four hours, 
and no medicine. If the child seem to be still-born, the nurse repeats the 
names of all her acquaintances in her own and neighbouring tribes ; and, if it 
show signs of life on her mentioning one of them, it gets the name of that 
person, who afterwards takes a kindly interest in it, makes it presents, and 
shows it attention at the great meetings. In two or three days the husband 
comes to see his wife and child, and the neighbours again occupy their usual 
residences. If the infant is a boy, the nearest relative is the father ; if it is a 
girl, the nearest relative is the mother. 

Married women voluntarily assist each other in rearing their babies when 
the mothers are unable to do so, or are in bad health. Should this not be done 
voluntarily, the chief can make it compulsory. 



CHILDREN. 39 



Until a child is able to walk its mother seldom carries it in her arms, but 
keeps it on her back under the opossum rug. The rug is worn round the 
shoulders with the fur side inwards, and is fixed with a wooden pin in front. 
As every woman carries on her back, outside her rug, a bag suspended from her 
shoulders by a belt of kangaroo skin, a pouch is thus formed for her baby in a 
fold of the rug above the bag ; and to give the bag solidity, and thus prevent 
the child from slipping down, stones are sometimes carried in it, in addition to 
the articles which it usually contains. When the mother wishes to remove the 
child, she reaches over her shoulder, and pulls it out by the arms. She replaces 
it in the same way. 

To assist the child in cutting its teeth there is fastened to its wrist by a 
strip of skin a kangaroo front tooth, which is used as a ' coral,' to rub its gums 
with. As soon as it has teeth to masticate its food, it is fed on anything 
partaken of by its parents, in addition to the maternal nourishment, which is 
generally continued for two years. 

Children under twelve or fourteen years of age wear no clothing of any 
kind. When the family is travelling, the youngest child under two years old 
is carried on the mother's back beneath her rug, occasionally in company with a 
young dingo. When obliged to leave its comfortable pouch to make room for 
another arrival, it rides on its father's back for a year or two, with a leg over 
each shoulder, and both hands holding on to his front hair. In cold weather, 
the children, while sitting in the wuurn, are covered with a single kangaroo skin 
or a small opossum rug, thrown over their shoulders ; but when they go outside 
they leave the skin or rug behind, as they prefer keeping them dry for inside 

comfort. 

Boys have their food regulated and restricted to certain articles, and they 
are permitted to engage in fights only to the extent of picking up and returning 
spears and boomerangs to their friends. Girls have for their amusement a 
wooden doll covered with opossum skin, and furnished with a little basket on its 
back in imitation of the mother. 

Large families of children are unusual among the aborigines. However 
many may be born, rarely more than four are allowed to grow up. Five is 
considered a large number to rear. Twins are as common among them as among 
Europeans ; but as food is occasionally very scarce, and a large family troublesome 
to move about, it is lawful and customary to destroy the weakest twin child, 
irrespective of sex. It is usual also to destroy those which are malformed. 



40 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



Malformations, however, were so rare before the arrival of the white man that 
no instances could be remembered. When a woman has children too rapidly 
for the convenience and necessities of the parents, she makes up her mind to let 
one be killed, and consults with her husband which it is to be. As the strength 
of a tribe depends more on males than females, the girls are generally sacrificed. 
The child is put to death and buried, or burned without ceremony ; not, however, 
by its father or mother, but by relatives. No one wears mourning for it. Sickly 
children are never killed on account of their bad health, and are allowed to die 
naturally. 

No attention is paid to nfevus marks on infants — which, in the aborigines 
show darker in colour than the surrounding skin — as these marks are attributed 
by them, not to the spells of enemies, but to frights, falls, or blows sustained by 
the mother. 

Mischievous and thievish children are not personally punished by the 
individuals whom they may injure, as that would lead to quarrels, but the 
parents are held responsible ; and, should they refuse redress, they are dealt with 
according to the laws of the tribe. 

Every person speaks the tribal language of the father, and must never mix 
it with any other. The mother of a child is the only exception to this law, for, 
in talking to it, she must use its father's language as far as she can, and not her 
own. At the same time, she speaks to her husband in her own tribal language, 
and he speaks to her in his ; so that all conversation is carried on between 
husband and wife in the same way as between an Englishman and a French- 
woman, each speaking his or her own language. This very remarkable law 
explains the preservation of so many distinct dialects within so limited a space, 
even where there are no physical obstacles to ready and frequent communication 
between the tribes. The only explanation which is given by the aborigines for 
this law is, that the attempt of one tribe to speak or to intone the language of 
another is a caricature of it, and is never made except in derision, with the 
intention of provoking a quarrel. Since the arrival of the Europeans this law has, 
to a certain extent, been disregarded, and individuals are now to be found who 
can speak three distinct languages, besides their own, and also very correct 
English. Yarruum Parpurr Tarneen, the very intelligent chiefess of the Morpor 
tribe, is an instance of this ; and she states that there are only four languages 
between Geelong and the South Australian boundary that she does not 
understand. 



NAMES OF PERSONS. 41 



CHAPTER XIII. 

NAMES OF PERSONS. 

Until a child is able to walk it is not distinguished by any individual name, and 
is called by the general term ' puupuup.' When it learns to walk, the father 
gives it a name. If the father is dead, the grandfather confers the name ; and, 
failin<T him, the mother or nearest relative does so. The first child of either sex 
is called after its father, and the second, if a daughter, after its mother. If 
requested, the father will name his other children after friends, who call them 
' laing,' meaning ' namesake,' and who are ever afterwards kind to them. In 
return, they address their godfathers by the same term. WHien children are not 
thus called after a friend, their names are taken from something in the 
neighbourhood, such as a swamp, rivulet, waterhole, hill, or animal ; or from 
some peculiarity in the child or in its parents. Girls are sometimes named after 
flowers. 

The name does not necessarily adhere to the individual during life. People 
sometimes exchange names as a mark of friendship. But as this would lead to 
confusion if it were done privately, it takes place only at one of the great 
meetings of the tribes, when the parties are full-grown, in order that every 
person may be informed of it, and may know that the chiefs and the parents 
give their consent, without which the exchange would not be permitted. 
The ceremony commences by the friends of each of the persons ranging them- 
selves in opposite lines, with the principals in the centre facing each other, with 
firebrands in their hands. The chiefs inquire into the wishes of the parties, 
proclaim the names, and declare them exchanged for ever ; and the principals 
then hand to each other their fire-sticks, weapons, and all other personal 
property. A man who wishes thus to express his love for a little boy two or 
three years old, or a woman who wishes to signify her affection for a little girl, 
can, with the consent of the parents and the chief, exchange names by tying 
strips of kangaroo skin round each of their own wrists, and the wrists of the 
children. These strips must remain till the transfer of rugs, personal property, 
and fire-sticks takes place at the first great meeting. Women's names are not 



42 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



changed by marriage; and they are always addressed and known by their 
maiden names, unless they are exchanged publicly. 

Personal names are rarely perpetuated, as it is believed that anyone 
adopting that of a deceased person will not live long. This superstition accounts 
for the great number of unmeaning names in a tribe. When a dead man or 
woman is referred to, it is by the genei-al term ' muuruukan ' — 'dead person;' 
but when the time of mourning has expired, they can be spoken of by name, 
though still with very great unwillingness. If they need to be named by 
strangers during the period of mourning, it must be in whispers. As a great 
favour to the writer, references were made by name to deceased relatives ; but 
this was done with so much reluctance, that in several instances the inquiry had 
to be abandoned without obtaining the desired information ; and one man would 
not pronounce his own name because it was the same as that of his deceased 
brother. Not only is the name of a deceased person forbidden to be mentioned, 
but the names of all his near relatives are disused during the period of mourning, 
and they are mentioned only in general terms, as exemplified below. To call 
them by their own names is considered an insult to the deceased, and frequently 
leads to fighting and bloodshed. 



When a man's father dies, the 

man is called 
When a man's mother dies, the 

man is called 
When a woman's father dies, 

the woman is called 
When a woman's mother dies, 

the woman is called 
When a man's brother or sister 

dies, the man is called 
When a woman's brother or 

sister dies, the woman is 

called ... 
When an uncle on father's 

side dies his nephew is 

called ... 



Examples. 

Chaap wuurong dialect. 

Palliin 
Palliin 

Palliin kuurk 
Palliin kuurk 
K»ep gnunnse 

Keep gnunna kuurk 

Palliin 



Kuum kopan noot dialect. 

Parrapeetch 
Kokaetch 
Parrapaeheear 
Kokseheear 
Kiiap mekunna 

Kiiamma kunnaheear 

Parrapeetch 



NAMES OF PERSONS. 43 



When an uncle on mother's 

side dies, his nephew is 

called ... ... ... Kuvm kurm kuurk ... Kun kun yaa 

When an uncle on father's 

side dies, his niece is called Palliin kuurk . . . Parrapaeheear 

When an uncle on mother's 

side dies, his niece is called Pitchse kuurk . . . Tsetuyaar 

When a male cousin dies, a 

male cousin is called . . . Gnullii yuui-peetch . . . Parrap tow'will 
When a female cousin dies, a 

female cousin is called ... Gnullii yuurpee kuurk... Parrap tow'will heear 

A similar law regulates the names of animals and things after which a 
deceased person had been called. Thus, if a man is called after an animal, or 
place, or thing, and he dies, the animal, or place, or thing is not mentioned 
during the time of mourning by any member of the deceased person's tribe, 
except under another name, because it recalls the memory of the dead. 

For Example : — 

The crow, waa, is called narrapart. 

The magpie, or piping crow, kirrsese, is called paalbaluum. 

The common cockatoo, gniiyuuk, is called nan-apart. 

The black cockatoo, wilann, is called waang. 

The grey duck, tuurbarnk, is called kulkuwaeser. 

The gigantic crane, or native companion, kuuront, is called kuuluur 

kuysetch. 
The eagle, kneeangar, is called tiiro msenk. 
The turkey bustard, barrim barrim, is called tillit tilliitsh. 
The ringtail opossum, weeam, is called manuungkuurt. 
The dasyure, or common native cat, kuppung, is called tuUa meealeem. 
The dingo, or wild dog, bumang, is called parrosetch. 
The kangaroo, kuuriin, is called warrakuul. 
The carpet, or tiger snake, kuurang, is called killaweetch. 
The black snake, mowang, is called kundareetch 
Tussock grass, parrset, is called pallingii. 
A swamp, yaang, is called warrumpeetch. 



44 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGIXES. 


NAMES OF MEN. 


The following are the names of men 


with their meanings : — 


Kaawim kuunawam 




... ' Hissing swan ' 


(Chief of the Kirrffi wnurong — 


' blood-lip 


— tribe, named after the noise the swans 


made w 


'hen he robbed their nests.) | 


Wombeet tuulawarn . . . 




... ' Rotten spear ' 


(From the old 


decayed spears his father carried. ) ] 


Gnuurnecheean 




. . . Hunting bag 


Puunmuttal 




. . . Bite meat 


Weerat kuyuut 


... 


. . . Eel spear 


Pundeet puulotong . . . 




. . . Dragger out of fat 


Teel meetch willa neung 




. . . Untied eel spear 


Wittin yuurong 




. . . Strips of skin 


Yambeetch ... 




... Swamp weed 


Laaweet tarnas 




. . . You eat my food 


Wuromkil wum-ong . . . 




. . . Long lip 


Pui-teetch wirrang ween 


• . * 


. . . Fight with fire-stick 


Wol muutang 




. . . Lightwood tree 


Gnunnahiniitch 




... Bat 


Peaalkoee ... 




... Redgum tree 


Wuruum kuurwhin . . . 


. . . 


. . . Long grass burning 


Wuuro killink 


. . . 


... Long waterhole 


Num-tekel wing 




... Deaf 


Muurose wuulok 




. . . Seed of long grass 


Tiyeer bariin 




... Spear knee 


Puimmimg... 


... 


... Swamp — local name 


Puunbat 




... Local name 


MaiTohmuuk 


. . . 


. . . Swamp — local name 


Puulepeetch 


... 


... Bald head 


Tuulirn beem 


. • . 


... Redhead 


Naaweetch... 




... Swamp water 


Tumeetch puuruutch 




. . . Calves with large veins 


WarrowiLl ... 




. . . Swamp — local name 


Wombeetch puyuun . . . 


... 


. . . Decayed kangaroo 


Wullae merrii 


... 


. . . Stony 



N^AMES OF 


PERSONS. 4.5 


Buundaerang 


... Leaf 


Maemamulga 


... Repaired shield 


Beeak 


. . . Name of lake 


Kum kuyang 


. . . Cry of the eel 


Mirrenyarmin 


. . . Not enough 


Kon kon talliin 


... Long tongue or boaster 


Names of men without meanings : — 




Pulompuiil 


Meenkilwang 


Karinn 


Burkamukk 


Puulaheuram 


Tarrupiitch 


Tumbo tumbo 


Wuyuum karkorr 


Peekum peekum 


Tirrawuul 


Tullum tullum 


Bunkaruuk 


Mirrin'gna min 


Yuuruung kuj'ang 


Meheaar yuluum 


Yaaheeteh 


Kaarin 


Tuuruumbar 


Mambupitt muuluung 


Koong 


Mimmalk 


Wat pareet parrawR 


NAMES OF WOMEN. 


Yan-uun pai-pur tameen 


... ' Victorious ' 


(Chiefess of the Morporr tribe, named by 


ler father after defeating his enemies in a 


great battle. ) | 


Muulapuum yurong yaar 


. . . Strips of kangaroo skin 


Wuuriwuuriit 


. . . Banksia tree 


Warruum ... 


. . . Bandicoot 


Peecham ... 


. . . Blossom 


Lffirpeen tumbuur ... 


. . . Singing woman 


Bareetch cbumeen ... 


... Cut 


Poroitcbol ... 


. . . Scrubby place 


Fatuum yinheear 


... Hanging root basket 


Kamdamabeear 


. . . Upstanding 


Wabigeetch winyong 


... Ear 


Tartuu tameen 


... Turn round 


Meendeaar tuukuung 


... Dark body 



46 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 


Parputeen ... ... ... ... Full 


Yeetpuyeetch kamaraung 


. . . Breathless 


Marrokeear tung an . 




... Broken teeth 


Purtkserae ... 




... Knock dirt off tree 


Gnaknii neear 




... Stutter 


Koronn 




. . . Feather 


Kuulem karrank 




. . . Wattle bloom 


Peertob ... 




... Lake 


Piik kuiiruuk 




. . . Water weed 


Tumbuum ... 




... Native daisy 


Moyuup 




. . . Flower (with edible root) 


Nullor 




. . . Drosera 


Peekim 




. . . Flower of the yam 


Mundamin... 




. . . Snap with mouth 


Muinpa apuumeen . 




. . . Kneading 


Kummorntok 




. . . Name of bird 


Weeitcho tseiinyaar . 




. . . Plaj-f ul leaves 


Tuppuun ... 




... Water lily 


Names of women, without theii 


meanings : — 


Meen baabumeen Kuulandarr 


NiiTtemeetch kuuronong Buung'guEe 


Wiitpurneen Yatneetch pilteniung 


Poatpoteen Yillin tuupeheaar 


Puunameen Kuumameen 


Luppirnin nullohneung Kunningjuung 


Yenkombeen Morprsewimgnong 


Luupir pumeen Peeka 


Yaabuur 


The distinction of gender between these proper names, though not recog- 


nizable by the white man, is discerned at once by the aborigines. 


Besides proper names, some men are nicknamed after peculiarities in their 


persons, or habits, such as — 


Kuunjeetch ... ... ... Blind 


Kiiammimg ... ... ... One eye 



NAMES OF PERSONS. 47 


Warn mimg 


. Squint eye 


Pappakupee yanmeetch 




. Hopping 


Gnuttcheep gnuttcheep 




. Cripple leg 


Maemg barriin 




. . Crooked knee 


Muulpfen ... 




. . Leg cut off below knee 


PorrgnomEet 




.. Deformed ankle 


Tinnang wuumpmast 




.. Clubfoot 


Wum-k gnaato 




. Broken arm 


Morrdilwuurk 




. Arm cut off at shoulder 


Morrwhork 




. Arm cut off at elbow 


Tinning tinning turam 




. Stout man 


The nicknames of women ai 


e dLstingi 


lished by the feminine affix, such 


Kuunjee heear 


.. Blind female 


Kiiam minyaar 




.. One-eyed female 


Warn minkgneeai' . . 




. . Squint-eyed female 


Pappakupee yanmeheear 




. . Hopping female 


Gnuttcheep gnuttcheep heear 




. . Cripple leg female 


Mfering barring heear 




. . Crooked knee female 


Porrgnomseheear 




. . Deformed ankle female 


Tinnang wuumpmseheear 




. . Club foot female 


Wuurkna heearong . . . 




. . Broken arm female 


Morrkilwuurk heear 




. Arm cut off at shoulder female 


Morrwhork heear 




. Arm cut off at elbow female 


Tinning tinning turam gneear 




. Stout female 


White people are also named after their peculiarities, or after localities, such 


as kuurn wirndill, ' little bottle,' from the person carrying a flask of spirits while 


travelling. 


Teeri yeetch beem ... ... ... Red head 


Pseteritt ... ... ... ... Lapwing 


(In consequence of the person having a habit of running like that bird.) 


Meheaar kapuimg ... ... ... Big nose 


Wullang ... ... ... ... Wide walker 


Meheaar talliin ... ... ... Loud voice 



48 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



Tachwirring 
Kuurpeen mumkilling 
Konngill 
Narrakebeen 
Luppertan tullineann 



Eat ghost 

Live beside waterhole 

Doctor 

No meaning 

Speaker of native language 



Dogs are generally named after their owners, and when the latter are 
addressed the dogs recognize the names, and wag their tails. Other names 
are — 



Wirng an . . . 
Peechilakk ... 
Puunmirng. . . 
Waameetch cheearmart 
Ksersereetch 
Howteluya 
Karlo 
Puunmsen ... 



' Ear mine ' 

Name of swamp 
Swelled chest 

Hallelujah 

Name of Barrukills dog 

Name of swamp 



SUPERSTITIONS AND DISEASES. 49 



CHAPTEK XIV. 

SUPERSTITIONS AND DISEASES. 

In investigating the superstitions of the aborigines, every care has been taken 
to exclude any superstitious notions which might have been impressed on their 
minds since they came in contact with the white race ; and those from whom 
information was obtained were fully aware of the necessity of adhering strictly 
to the beliefs they entertained before they knew of the existence of Europeans. 

It was ascertained that they believe in supernatural beings — celestial, 
infernal, and terrestrial. 

The good spirit, Pirnmeheeal, is a gigantic man, living above the clouds ; 
and as he is of a kindly disposition, and harms no one, he is seldom mentioned, 
but always with respect. His voice, the thunder, is listened to with pleasure, as 
it does good to man and beast, by bi-inging rain, and making grass and roots 
grow for their benefit. But the aborigines say that the missionaries and 
government protectors have given them a dread of Pirnmeheeal ; and they are 
sorry that the young people, and many of the old, are now afraid of a being who 
never did any harm to their forefathers. 

The bad spirit, Muuruup, sometimes called ' Wambeen neung been-been aa,' 
' maker of bad-smelling smoke,' is always spoken of with fear and bated breath, 
as the author of every misfortune. He visits the earth in the form of lightning, 
knocking trees to pieces, setting fire to wuurns, and killing people by ' striking 
them on the back.' At times he assumes the form of a large ugly man, 
frequenting scrubs and dense thickets ; and, although not provided with wings, 
like the white man's devil, he flits and darts from place to place with the 
rapidity of lightning, is very mischievous, and hungers for the flesh of children. 
The natives are not much afraid of Muuruup in the daylight, but have a great 
dread of him in the dark. They say that he employs the owls to watch and 
give notice when he may pounce upon any unfortunate straggler from the camp. 
Hence their hatred of owls, as birds of evil omen. When one of these birds is 
heard screching or hooting, the children immediately crawl under their grass 
mats. If children are troublesome at any time, they are hushed by their mother 

8 



50 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



calling out ' kaka muuruup,' ' Come here, devil.' None of the Kuurn kopan noot 
tribe ever saw the Muuruup, but believe he was once seen by two natives of the 
Chaap wuurong tribe at Merrang, on the Hopkins River, when that country- 
was first occupied with live stock ; and they described him as a huge black man, 
carrying a great many spears, with a long train of snakes streaming behind him, 
' like smoke from a steamboat.' 

The Muuruup lives deep under the ground in a place called Ummekulleen, 
and has under his command a number of inferior spirits, who are permitted 
to visit the surface of the earth occasionally. No human being has ever returned 
to tell what kind of place Ummekulleen is. There is a belief, however, that 
there is nothing but fire there, and that the souls of bad people get neither meat 
nor drink, and are terribly knocked about by the evil spii-its. 

A spirit lives in the moon, called Muuruup neung kuurn tarrongVnat, 
meaning ' devil in the moon.' Children are sometimes threatened, when they are 
bad, that this Muuruup will be sent for to take them to the moon. 

Of terrestrial spirits there are devils, wraiths, ghosts, and witches, the 
differences between them being somewhat indefinite. 

There are female devils, known by the general term Gnulla gnulla gneear. 
Buurt kuuruuk is the name of one who takes the form of a black woman ' as 
tall as a gum tree.' She has for a companion the dark-coloured bandicoot. If 
this animal be killed and eaten by a native, he is punished by misfortunes and 
by nightly visitations from Buurt kuuruuk. There is a legend that she carried 
off" a woman from near the mouth of the Hopkins River to her wuurn on the top 
of the Cape Otway mountains, and compelled her to eat raw opossums for six 
moons. Various parts of the country are supposed to be haunted by these female 
devils ; but none are so celebrated for their great size as those frequenting the 
Cape Otway ranges. The aborigines do not believe in any devils belonging to 
the sea. 

Every person over four or five years of age has a spirit or ghost, which, 
although dormant through life, assumes a visible but undefined form after death ; 
and, for a time, haunts the spot where a corpse is interred or placed in a tree. 
Although it is considered to be quite harmless, it is regarded with fear. It is said 
to be seen sitting on the grave or near the body, but it sinks into the ground or 
disappears if anyone approaches. As the friends of the deceased are very 
unwilling to go near the place, it is seldom seen and never examined. For its 
comfort a large fire is kept burning all night near the corpse. The recent custom 



SUPERSTITIONS AND DISEASES. 51 



of providing food for it is derided by the intelligent old aborigines, as ' white 
fellow's gammon.' 

It is a remarkable coincidence with the superstition of the lower orders in 
Europe, that the aborigines believe every adult has a wraith, or likeness of 
himself, which is not visible to anyone but himself, and visible to him only before 
his premature death. If he is to die from the bite of a snake, he sees his wraith 
in the sun ; but in this case it appears in the form of an emu. If, in the evening, 
after sunset, a person walking with a friend sees his own likeness — ' muuruup 
man,' and, if a woman, ' muuruup yernan,' — the friend says, ' Something will 
happen to you, as you have seen your wraith.' This so preys on the mind of the 
individual that he falls into low spirits, which he tries to relieve by recklessness 
and carelessness in battle. 

After the disposal of the body of a good person, its shade walks about for 
three days ; and, although it appears to people, it holds no communication with 
them. Should it be seen and named by anyone during these three days, it 
instantly disappears. At the expiry of three days it goes off to a beautiful 
country above the clouds, abounding with kangaroo and other game, where life 
will be enjoyed for ever. Friends will meet and recognize each other there ; but 
there will be no marrying, as the bodies have been left on earth. Children under 
four or five years of age have no souls and no future life. The shades of the 
wicked wander miserably about the earth for one year after death, frightening 
people, and then descend to UmmekuUeen, never to return. There was a belief 
current among the aborigines, that the first white men seen by them were the 
embodied spirits or shades of deceased friends. Whether this belief originated 
with the tribes of Port Phillip, or was transmitted from the Sydney district, it is 
now impossible to ascertain ; but there is no doubt that it did exist among the 
aborigines of Victoria at the time of its first occupation by the white man. 

Some of the ideas described above may possibly have originated with the 
white man, and been transmitted from Sydney by one tribe to another. 

On the sea coast, opposite Deen Maar — now, unfortunately, called Julia 
Percy Island — there is a haunted cave called Tarn vrirring, ' road of the spirits,' 
which, the natives say, forms a passage between the mainland and the island, 
When anyone dies in the neighbourhood, the body is wrapped in grass and buried ; 
and if, afterwards, grass is found at the mouth of the cave, it is proof that a good 
spirit, called Puit puit chepetch, has removed the body and everything belonging 
to it through the cave to the island, and has conveyed its spirit to the clouds ; 



53 AUSTMALIAN ABORIGINES. 



and if a meteor is seen about the same time, it is believed to be fire taken up 
■with it. Should fresh grass be found near the cave, when no recent burial has 
taken place, it indicates that some one has been murdered, and no person will 
venture near it till the grass decays or is removed. 

Witches appear always in the form of an old woman, and are called 
kuin'gnat yambateetch, meaning ' solitary,' or ' wandering by themselves.' No 
one knows where they come from or where they go to ; and they are seldom seen 
unless at great meetings. They are dressed in an old ragged kangaroo skin rug, 
sewn together with rushes, and carry on their backs a worn-out basket containing 
various charms, and bits of the flesh of opo.ssums and bandicoots. They belong 
to no tribe, and have no friends ; and, as everyone runs away on their approach, 
they neither speak to anyone nor are spoken to. They are considered harmless. 

There is a belief in prognostication of dreams. If a man dreams he will find 
a swan's nest in some particular spot, he visits the place with the expectation of 
finding it. If he dreams that .something serious happens to him, as, for example, 
that he is mortally wounded in battle, and if, afterwards, he is wounded, he says, 
'I knew that this would take place, for I dreamt it;' and so deeply is he 
impressed with the idea of approaching death, that he rushes wildly into the 
fight. If a man is told by a friend that he had a bad dream about him, this will 
make him very miserable and ill for a long time. If a dog shows agitation while 
asleep, that is a sign that he dreams of hunting kangaroos, and that he will kill 
one next day ; and so confident is his master in the dog's dream, that he will go 
out with him the next day to help him. 

The aborigines have superstitious ideas connected with certain animals. 
The grey bandicoot belongs to the women, and is killed and eaten by them, but 
not by the men or children. Boys are not allowed to eat any female quadruped. 
When they are caught eating a female opossum, they are punished by their 
parents, as it makes them peevish and discontented. The common bat belongs 
to the men, who protect it against injury, even to the half-killing of their wives 
for its sake. The fern owl, or large goatsucker, belongs to the women, and, 
although a bird of evil omen, creating teiTor at night by its cry, it is jealously 
protected by them. If a man kills one, they are as much enraged as if it was 
one of their children, and will strike him with their long poles. Children are 
severely punished if they kill and eat the magpie lark, for it makes their hair 
prematurely white. The shepherd's companion belongs to both men and women, 
and is never killed, because it attacks snakes, and gives warning of their 



SUPERSTITIONS AND DISEASES. 53 



approach. The pelican and its eggs are never eaten, but only because they are 
too strongly flavoured and fishy. 

Kokok, the powerful owl, is a bird of evil omen, smells death in the camp, 
and visits the neighbourhood of a dying person, calling ' Kokok-kokok.' It is 
therefore hated by men, women, and children. It is of a fierce disposition, 
vigorously attacking anyone who approaches its nest ; and, as it has a strong 
spur on the carpal joint of the wing, a blow from it is not pleasant. It is also 
disliked because it kills opossums, flying squirrels, and small animals, the food of 
the natives. The kokok builds its nest of reeds and sedges in the blackwood 
tree, and lays three eggs, which are sought after and eaten. 

A porcupine ant-eater coming near a dwelling is a sign that someone in it 
will die before long. The cries of the banksian and white cockatoos announce 
the approach of friends. An itchy nose indicates a visit from a friend. 

If a person imagines that he sees the planet Venus set twice in one night, it 
warns him of his death before morning. With this exception the aborigines do 
not predict events from the position of the stars. 

The cause of an echo is not understood, but it is supposed to be something 
mysterious mocking the speaker. 

The mantis belongs to the men, and no one dare kill it. Women are not 
permitted to eat the flesh or eggs of the gigantic crane, or of the emu, till they 
are old and greyheaded. If a baby is taken near the dead body of a gigantic 
crane, it is certain to break out in sores. 

Pork is generally rejected by the natives because they believe it produces 
skin disease ; but, as swine were unknown before the arrival of the white men, 
the idea of their flesh being unclean and unhealthy must have been impressed 
on them by the first settlers, and probably as a means of protecting from 
depredation their pigs, which were always allowed to run at large. 

Strange spears and weapons are reluctantly touched, as it is believed they 
communicate sickness, and might cause death. It was with difficulty that some 
of the aborigines could be prevailed upon to take hold of spears, arrows, and 
clubs from the Society Islands. When the spear or weapon of an enemy has 
killed a friend, it is always burnt by the relatives of the deceased ; but those 
captured in battle are kept, and used by the conquerors. 

Fire caused by lightning is called ' Pillsetuung mumdall gnat' — ' supernatural 
fire belonging to thunder' — and is shunned, because there is a belief that the 
lightning hangs about the spot, and would kill anyone going near it. However 



54 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINMS. 



much the natives may be in want of a firestick in travelling through the bush, 
they will not take a light from a strange fire unless they observe the footprints 
of human beings near it, indicating that it has been kindled by man. Neither 
will they take a light from a funeral pyre. 

There is a tradition that fire, such as could be safely used, belonged 
exclusively to the crows inhabiting the Grampian Mountains ; and, as these 
crows considered it of great value, they would not allow any other animal to get 
a light. However, a little bird called Yuuloin keear — ' fire-tail wien' — observing 
the crows amusing themselves by throwing firesticks about, picked up one, and 
flew away with it. A hawk called Tarrakukk took the firestick from the wren, 
and set the whole country on fire. From that time there have always been fires 
from which lights could be obtained. 

There is a superstition, called Wuurong, connected with the tracking and 
killing of kangaroos. In hot weather a doctor, or other person possessed of 
supernatural powers, looks for the footprints of a large kangaroo. On finding 
them he follows them up, putting hot embers on them, and continues the quest for 
two days, or until he tracks it to a water-hole, where he spears it. He then pre- 
sents portions of the body to his nearest neighbours, and takes the head home to 
his own wuurn. There seems to be no special meaning attached to this custom. 

The aborigines believe that if an enemy get possession of anything that has 
belonged to them — even such things as bones of animals which they have eaten, 
broken weapons, feathers, portions of dress, pieces of skin, or refuse of any kind — 
he can employ it as a charm to produce illness in the person to whom they belonged. 
They are, therefore, very careful to burn up all rubbish or uncleanness before leaving 
a camping-place. Should anything belonging to an unfriendly tribe be found at 
any time, it is given to the chief, who preserves it as a means of injuring the 
enemy. This wuulon, as it is called, is lent to any one of the tribe who wishes 
to vent his spite against any one belonging to the imfriendly tribe. When used 
as a charm, the wuulon is rubbed over with emu fat mixed with red clay, and 
tied to the point of a spear-thrower, which is stuck upright in the ground before 
the camp fire. The company sit round watching it, but at such a distance that 
their shadows cannot fall on it. They keep chanting imprecations on the enemy 
till the spear-thrower, as they say, turns round and falls down in the direction 
of the tribe the wuulon belongs to. Hot ashes are then thrown in the same 
direction, with hissing and curses, and wishes that disease and misfortune may 
overtake their enemy. 



SUPERSTITIONS AND DISEASES. 55 



As a mark of affection, locks of hair are exchanged by friends, and are worn 
round the neck, tied to the necklace. Should one of these be lost, most diligent 
search is made for it, as it is considered very unlucky to lose or give away a 
keepsake. If it be not found, the person who holds possession of the other lock 
of hair is asked to undo the exchange by returning it. If this were not done, 
the loser of the lock would die. So strong is this belief, that people in such 
circumstances often fall into bad health, and sometimes actually die. 

The aborigines had among them sorcerers and doctors, whom they believed 
to possess supernatural powers. In the Kolor tribe there was a sorceress well 
known in the Western district under the name of White Lady, who was the 
widow of the chief, and whose supernatural influence was much dreaded by all. 
As an emblem of her power, she had a long staff resembling a vaulting pole, 
made of very heavy wood, and painted red. This pole, which she said was 
given to her by the spirits, was carried before her by a 'strong man' when she 
visited her friends or attended a meeting. On occasions of ceremony, it was 
dressed up with feathers of various colours, and surmounted by a bunch of the 
webs of the wing feathers of the white cockatoo. The pole-bearer, whose name 
was Weereen Kuuneetch, acted also as her servant. After ushering her to the 
meeting, he hid the pole at a short distance from the camp, while singing and 
amusements were going on, as it was too sacred to be exposed to common 
inspection. At bedtime he brought it into the circle by her direction, and held it 
upright before the fire, as a signal of retirement for the night. At her death the 
pole was carried off by the spirits, and no one has seen it since. 

In order to support her pretensions to supernatural power, she would, on 
some moonlight night, leave the camp with an empty bag made of netted bark 
cord, and return with it full of snakes. These she said were spirits. No one, 
therefore, dare go near them or look at them. She described one as pure white, 
another black ; the rest were young ones. She emptied the bag near the fire and 
made them crawl around it, by pointing with a long stick, and speaking to them. 
On another occasion, having left the camp for awhile on a moonlight night, she 
pretended, on her return, that she had been to the moon ; and, in proof of her 
visit, produced a tail of a lunar kangaroo — an old fur boa which she had got from 
the whites. Besides this boa she had a number of charms round her neck, and, 
in her bag portions of the bones of animals, beads, pieces of crockery, bits of 
brass and iron, and strangely-shaped stones, each having its particular spell, and 
capable of producing good or evil, as suited her interests. This clever old witch 



56 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



was very much annoyed when any white person scrutinized and exposed the 
contents of her bag ; but the natives, though the more sensible of them were not 
soiTy to see her powers and mysterious charms ridiculed, were too much 
afraid of her to smile, or join in any mirth at her expense. 

White Lady was an honorary member of the teetotal society, and carried a 
temperance badge suspended from her neck, which she said told her ' not to drink 
spirits.' When an opportunity occurred, however, to get a drop of rum, she took 
off the badge and hid it in the ground, and, when sober, put it on again. She 
also had a cross suspended in the same way, which she said ' yabbered,' ' do not 
tell lies,' 'do not kill anybody,' 'do not steal potatoes;' but, when hunger 
prompted a raid on a potato field, the cross was temporarily buried in like 
manner. This cunning woman possessed such power over the minds of her tribe 
that anything she fancied was at once given to her. When she died, at 
Kangatong, her death was followed by the usual wailing and scratching of faces 
amongst her friends during the whole night ; but, as she had been such a terror 
to her tribe on account of her reputed powers for evil, there was more form 
than sincerity in their professions of grief. The following day her body and all 
her property, consisting of clothing, opossum rug, ornaments and spells, were 
placed on a bier made of saplings, and silently carried off by the fi-iends and 
relatives, and interred in a grave two feet deep. Her head, however, and portions 
of the legs and arms were buried in a cave near Mount Kolor, where she was 
born. 

Every tribe has its doctor, in whose skill great confidence is reposed ; and 
not without reason, for he generally prescribes sensible remedies. When these 
fail, he has recourse to supernatural means and artifices of various kinds. 

The following remedies are those most commonly used. In cases of pain in one 
spot the skin is scarified, and the blood allowed to flow freely. When the pain 
is general, and arises from severe cold or rheumatism, a vapour bath is produced 
by kindling a fire in a hole in the ground, covering it with green leaves, and 
pouring water on them. The sick person is placed over this, and covered with 
an opossum rug, and steamed till profuse perspiration takes place. He is then 
rubbed dry with hot ashes, and ordered to keep warm. Another cure for 
rheumatism is an infusion of the bark of the blackwood tree, which is first 
roasted, and then infused while hot. The affected part is bathed with the hot 
infusion, and bandaged with a cord spun from the fur of the flying squirrel, or 
ringtail opossum, with a piece of opossum rug as a covering. Severe headaches 



SUPERSTITIONS AND DISEASES. 57 



of long continuance, requiring strong remedies, are cured by burning off the hair 
and blistering the skin of the head. Earaches are treated by pouring water on 
hot stones placed in a hole in the ground, and holding the ear over the steam. 
For pains in the joints, fresh skins of eels are wrapped round the place, flesh 
side inwards. The same cure is very common in Scotland for a sprained wrist. 
Sow thistles are eaten raw to soothe pain and induce sleep. The gum of the 
eucalyptus, or common white gum tree, is a cure for toothache. It is stuffed into 
the hollow of the tooth. Teeth are never extracted unless they are loose enough 
to be removed by the finger and thumb. For indigestion, the small roots of the 
narrow-leafed gum tree, or the bark of the acacia, are infused in hot water, and 
the liquor drunk as a tonic. When a child gorges itself with food, its mother 
gathers yellow leeches from underneath dry logs, and bruises them up along with 
the roasted liver of kangaroo, and sow thistles, and compels it to eat the mess, 
which is called kallup kallup. It acts as a strong emetic. Adults, when ill from 
overfeeding, are sometimes induced to take this dose, in ignorance of its 
composition ; and it affects them strongly, but beneficially. Wood ashes are 
applied to wounds and cuts. Bums are covered with fat. Running sores which 
are difficult to heal, are rubbed with the fat of the powerful owl, which dries 
them up quickly. The fat of large grubs is used for anointing the skin of 
delicate children. Women unable to nourish their newly-born infants have 
their breasts bathed with lime-water, which is made by burning the shells of 
fresh-water mussels and dissolving them in water. Every married woman carries 
several shells in her basket, which are commonly used as spoons. 

If diseases will not yield to these ordinary remedies, the doctor invokes the 
aid of spirits. Visiting his patient in the evening, and finding that the case is 
beyond the reach of the ordinary remedies, the doctor goes up to the clouds after 
dai'k, and brings down the celebrated spirit, ' Wirtin Wirtin Jaawan,' who is said 
to be the mate of the ' good spirit, pringheeal.' When he is expected to arrive, 
the women and children are sent away from the camp, and the men sit in a circle 
of fifty yards in diameter, with a banksia tree in the centre. The doctor and 
spirit alight on the top of the tree, and jump to the ground ' with a thud like a 
kangaroo.' The spirit gives his name ; and, after the doctor has felt all over the 
body of his patient, they both go up to the clouds again. It is supposed that the 
patient must get well. Occasionally the doctor brings down with him the spirit 
of the sick man, in the form of a doll wrapped in an opossum rug. This doll 
produces a moaning noise. The sick person is placed sitting in the middle of a 



58 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



circle of friends, supported behind by one of them, and the doctor presses 
the rug containing the doll to the patient's chest for some minutes, and then 
departs. 

If the sick person is a chief or a chief's wife, or of superior rank, and the 
doctor, on visiting him at sunset, finds it beyond his power to remove the disease 
in the usual way, he goes up to the clouds after dark, and fetches down ten 
spirits. These he places at a distance of fifty yards from the sick person. He 
then has a conversation with his patient, and, after kneading him all over to 
ascertain the seat of the disease, he informs the spirits, and tliey tell him what to 
do. Having received his instructions, he warms his right hand at the fire and 
rubs it over the affected spot. The spirits then depart, with a croaking noise 
' like the cry of the heron.' The doctor repeats the rubbing for three nights, and 
then, telling the patient he will soon be well, he departs for his home, with his 
followers. If, at the first meeting thereafter, his patient is cured, the doctor 
receives presents of food, rugs, and weapons ; but if he dies the doctor gets 
nothing. 

Spirits were very plentiful before the arrival of the white man. A spring 
of fine water near Mount Kolor, called Lurtpii, was their favourite resort, and 
they were to be found there at all times by the doctor, who alone had the power 
to make them appear. He summoned them, however, only in summer time, 
while the tribes were having their meetings and amusements. The men are not 
much afraid of these spirits in the daytime, but the women and children are 
terrified at them, and nobody runs the risk of seeing them after sunset. 

Sometimes, when a korroborse has ended, the doctor of the tribe calls on 
three or four female spirits to come down from the clouds and dance round the 
fire ; and, when accosted, each gives its name as that of a deceased member of the 
tribe. Any person may look at them, but no one except the doctor can speak to 
them, and nobody dares to run away. 

When the white men came to Victoria, there was one doctor of great celebrity 
in the Western District, Tuurap Warneen, chief of the Mount Kolor tribe. So 
celebrated was he for his supernatural powers, and for the cure of diseases, tliat 
people of various tribes came from great distances to consult him. He could 
speak many dialects. At korroboriES and great meetings he was distinguished 
from the common people by having his face painted red, with white streaks 
under the eyes, and his brow-band adorned with a quill feather of the turkey 
bustard, or with the crest of a white cockatoo. Tuurap Warneen was 



SUPERSTITIONS AND DISEASES. 59 



unfortunately shot by the manager of a station near Mount Kolor ; and his 
death caused much grief to all the tribes far and near. 

On one occasion, when the tribe had a great meeting at a lake called ' TaiT£e 
Yarr,' to the north of Mount Kolor, doubts were expressed as to his power to 
summon spirits, and make them appear at mid-day. To show he could do this, 
he went up to the clouds and brought down a gnuUa gnulla gneear, in form of 
an old woman, enveloped in an opossum rug, tied round her waist with a rope of 
rushes. In order to thoroughly frighten the people, he held her tethered with a 
grass rope like a wild beast, as though to prevent her chasing and hurting them. 
He did not allow her to go nearer to the wuurns than about fifty yards. After 
exhibiting her for half an hour, he led her off. Everyone was intensely ten-ified 
at the gnulla gnulla gneear, and the doctor found her a profitable invention, as 
he received numerous presents of weapons, rugs, and food to keep her away. 
When he was in want of a fresh supply, he could always command it by a threat 
of another visit from the gnulla gnulla gneear. 

The doctor pretends to cure pains of every description, and makes his 
patients believe — not unwillingly — that he extracts foreign substances from the 
body by sucking the sore places. He actually spits out bits of bone, which he 
had previously concealed in his mouth. He also, by rubbing, apparently makes 
stones jump out from the affected part. 

To cure toothache, a cape made of the basket rush is worn over the 
shoulders and round the neck, and is laid aside when the pain is gone — its name 
is weearmeetch. Another remedy is the application of a heated spear-thrower to 
the cheek. The spear-thrower is then cast away, and the toothache goes with it 
in the form of a black stone, about the size of a walnut, called karriitch. Stones 
of this kind are found in the old mounds on the banks of the Mount Emu 
Creek, near Darlington. The natives believe that when these stones are thrown 
into the stream at a distance from their residence, they will return to the place 
where they were found ; and as they are considered an infallible remedy for 
toothache, they are carefully preserved. They are also employed to make an 
enemy ill, and are thrown in the direction of the offending tribe, with a request 
to punish it with toothache. If, next day, the stones are found where originally 
picked up, it is believed that they have fulfilled their mission. Not far from the 
spot where these stones are plentiful, there is a clump of trees called karriitch 
— meaning toothache — and the natives of the locality warn their friends never 
to go near it, for if they do they will be sure to get toothache. Stones of a 



60 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



similar description are found in the sand hills on the sea coast, and are put into 
a long bag made of rushes, which is fastened round the cheek. The doctor 
always carries these stones in his wallet, and lends them to sick people without 
fee or reward. 

Sunstroke is not common, although the natives never wear any head-dress ; 
but the effect of the sun's rays are known to be injurious to the bi'ain, and to 
cause death. The rays of the moon are also believed to be hurtful ; and, when 
the moon is looked at too long by any person, ' the devil in it makes them whirl 
round, and tumble helplessly into the fire.' 

The aborigines were not subject, in former times, to pulmonary complaints, 
though they were very much exposed to the weather. At all seasons of the year 
the men, while travelling in a strange country, slept among bushes or long grass, 
often quite destitute of clothing. This was necessary to prevent surprise by 
enemies, who would be attracted by the smoke of a fire. Since the introduction 
of European clothing, however, they are very liable to affections of the lungs. 
The reason for this seems to be that, however much they may clothe and perspire 
during the daytime, they still very generally keep up the custom of throwing off 
their clothing when they go to sleep, with the exception of a kangaroo skin or an 
opossum rug in cold nights, or a little dry grass as a covering in hot weather. 

The aborigines have been visited on several occasions by epidemics, which 
were very fatal. The first occasion which the natives remember was about the 
year 1830, and the last in 1847. The very small remnant of old aborigines now 
alive who escaped the first of these epidemics describe it as an irruptive fever 
resembling small-pox. They called it Meen warann — ' chopped root.' They have 
still a very vivid recollection of its ravages, and of the great numbers cut off by 
it in the Western District. In remembrance of it they still chant a wail called 
Mallpe maltefe, which was composed in New South Wales, where the disease first 
broke out, and is known to all the tribes between Sydney, Melbourne, and 
Adelaide. The malady spread with rapidity from tribe to tribe, in consequence 
of the infection being carried by the messengers who were sent forward to com- 
municate the sad news of its ravages. It was considered to be so infectious and 
deadly, that when anyone sickened and refused food, and when pustules appeared 
on the body, the tribal doctor gave them up at once, and the friends deserted 
them, leaving beside them in the wuurn a vessel of water to drink. When they 
died, the body was allowed to decay where it was ; and, long afterwards, when 
all infection was supposed to be gone, and nothing left but bones, some of the 



SUPERSTITIONS AND DISEASES 61 



relatives returned, and burned the wuurn and the remains. If a mother was 
affected by the disease, her child was immediately removed and given to a 
female relative to rear, while the mother was left to die. The aborigines say 
that the Meen warann came from the west in form of a dense mist ; and that the 
chief places of mortality were round the Moyne Lagoon, and on the sand 
hummocks to the east of Port Fairy. 

At the last of these visitations, also, great numbers died near the sea coast, and 
were buried in the hummocks at Mill's Reef, two miles east of Port Fairy. The 
skeletons were exposed some years ago by the drifting of the sand, and were found 
to be buried in pairs. This proves that the deaths were not then considered to 
be caused by any contagious disease, else the relatives would have abandoned the 
bodies, and only returned to burn the bones. It may be here said that there was 
a considerable slaughter of the natives at the same place by the white men, and 
the natives say that those who had escaped returned after some short time and 
buried their dead ; but they did not bury these in pairs. The writer saw, about 
the year 1844, an aboriginal of the Hopkins River tribe as thoroughly marked 
with the small-pox as ever he saw a white man. 

For scabies the natives have no cure, and they treat an infected person as 
though he had the leprosy. They will not touch him ; and, although -they supply 
him with food and water, they remove their wuurns to a distance, for fear of 
infection. On the death of the person — for the natives say that they do die of 
it — the body and everything near it is burned. 

Scrofula is uncommon, and traces of it are seldom observable on their 
persons. 

Cases of insanity are very rarely met with, but the aborigines believe that 
there is more of it since the use of intoxicating liquors was introduced, and 
especially since they began to disregard their laws of consanguinity in marriage. 
When a case of insanity occurs, a consultation is held among the relatives ; and, 
as they have a very great dread of mad people, the afflicted person is put to death. 

Children born with any deformity or defect attributable to close consan- 
guinity, and likely to render them an encumbrance to their parents in their 
wanderings about the country, are destroyed. In an instance of two dumb 
children, which was attributed to this cause, the tribes would have put them to 
death but for the British law. 



62 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER XV. 

DEATH AND BURIAL. 

Dying persons, especially those dying from old age, generally express an 
earnest desire to be taken to their birthplace, that they may die and be buried 
there. If possible, these wishes are always complied with by the relatives and 
friends. Parents will point out the spot where they were born, so that when 
they become old and infirm their children may know where they wish their 
bodies to be disposed of. 

When old people become infirm, and unable to accompany the tribe in its 
wanderings, it is lawful and customary to kill them. The reasons for this are — 
that they are a burden to the tribe, and, should any sudden attack be made by 
an enemy, they are the most liable to be captured, when they would probably be 
tortured and put to a lingering death. When it has been decided to kill an aged 
member of the tribe, the relatives depute one of their number to caiTy out the 
decision. The victim is strangled with a grass rope, and the body, when cold, is 
burned in a large fire kindled in the neighbourhood. All his property is burned 
with him except rugs, weapons, and implements. In this cremation the sons 
and daughters and near relatives take part ; and two or three friends collect the 
necessary firewood and attend to the fire. This custom is recognized as a 
necessity. There is, therefore, no concealment practised with regard to it. Very 
often the poor creatures intended to be strangled cry and beg for delay when 
they see prepai-ations made for their death, but all in vain. The resolution is 
always carried out. 

Suicide is uncommon ; but if a native wishes to die, and cannot get any one 
to kill him, he will sometimes put himself in the way of a venomous snake, that 
he may be bitten by it. An instance is given of a determination to commit 
suicide. A man having killed his wife while he was intoxicated, was so sorry, on 
discovering what he had done, that he besought the tribe to kill him. As he 
was a general favourite, no one would do it. He resolved, therefore, to starve 
himself to death on the grave of his deceased wife. His friends, seeing his 



DEATH AND BURIAL. 63 



determination, at last sent for the ti-ibal executioner, Pundeet Puulotong, who 
pushed a spear through him, and the body was burned. - 

Natural deaths are generally — but not alwaj's — attributed to the malevolence 
and the spells of an enemy belonging to another tribe. 

When a person of common rank dies under ordinary circumstances, and 
without an enemy being blamed, the body is immediately bound, with the knees 
upon the chest, and tied up with an acacia bark cord in an opossum rug. Next 
day it is put between two sheets of bark, as in a cofRn, and buried in a grave about 
two feet deep, with the head towards the rising sun. All the ornaments, weapons, 
and property of the deceased are buried with him. Stone axes are excepted, as 
being too valuable to be thus disposed of, and are inherited by the next of kin. 
If there is no time to dig a grave — which occasionally happens in hot weather — 
or if the ground is too hard, the body is placed on a bier and removed by two 
men to a distance of a mile or two. There tlie relatives prepare a funeral pyre, 
on which the body is laid, with the head to the east. All the effects belonging to 
the deceased are laid beside the body, with the exception of stone axes. Two 
male relatives set fire to the pyre, and remain to attend to it till the body is 
consumed. Next morning, if any bones remain, they are completely pulverized 
and scattered about. When a married woman dies, and her body is burned, the 
husband puts her pounded calcined bones into a little opossum-skin bag, which 
he carries suspended in front of his chest until he marries again, or till the bag is 
worn out, when it is burned. 

When two persons die in a wuurn at the same time, if they are brothers or 
sisters, they are interred close together in separate graves. If they are not so 
related, one of the bodies is tied with the knees to the face, and buried with the 
head towards the rising sun, in a shallow hole, or in a deserted mound ; the other 
is put up in a tree till nothing remains but skin and bones, when it is taken down 
and burned. 

The bodies of children between the ages of four and seven years are 
wrapped in an opossum rug, and put in a sheet of bark rolled up into a tube. 
This is pushed up into a hollow tree till the remains are quite dry, when they are 
taken down and burned. The bodies of children under four years of age, who 
have died a natural death, are kept a day and a night, and are then interred or 
burned without any ceremony. Infants who have been put to death by their 
parents, in accordance with the customs of the tribe, are burned without 
ceremony. 



64 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



Under ordinary circumstances a corpse is kept in the wuurn one night ; in 
very hot weather it is kept only a few hours ; and, immediately on its removal, 
a large fire is kindled on the spot, and the wuurn and ail the materials connected 
with it are burned. Even the grass and the leaves, if dry enough, are carefully 
gathered and consumed. 

Before the minds of the aborigines were poisoned by the superstitions of the 
white people, they had not the slightest dread of the dead body of a fiiend, nor 
had they any repugnance to remain beside it. Indeed, it often occurred that, while 
awaiting the arrival of friends from a distance, they kept watch constantly for 
six days beside the corpse, and in the same wuurn ; by turns sleeping and wailing, 
and protecting the body from the flies by green boughs of trees. They have 
their own superstition, however, connected with this watching ; for they believe 
that should the corpse open its eyes and stare at any one, that person will not 
live long. 

The approaching death of a chief causes great excitement. Messengers are 
sent to inform the neighbouring tribes, and all his relatives and friends come and 
sit around him till he expires. They then commence their mourning. They 
enumerate the good qualities of the deceased, and wail and lacerate their 
foreheads. Messengers are sent, with their heads and faces covered with white 
clay, to inform the tribes of his death, and to call them to attend his funeral 
obsequies. 

Immediately after his death the bones of the lower part of the leg and of 
the fore-arm are extracted, cleaned with a flint knife, and placed in a basket ; the 
body is tied with a bark cord, with the knees to the face, and wrapped in an 
opossum rug. It is then laid in a wuurn filled with smoke, and constantly 
watched by friends with green boughs to keep the flies away. 

When all the mourners, with their faces and heads covered with white clay, 
have arrived, the body is laid on a bier formed of saplings and branches, and is 
placed on a stage in the fork of a tree, high enough from the ground to be out of 
the reach of wild dogs. Everyone then departs to his own home. The adult 
relatives and friends of the deceased visit the spot every few days, and weep in 
silence. No children accompany them, as 'they are frightened.' 

At the expiry of one moon, the relatives and the members of his own and 
the neighbouring tribes come to burn the remains. The body is removed from 
the tree. Each chief, assisted by two of his men, helps to carry it, and to place 
it on the funeral pyre ; while the relatives of the deceased sit in a semicircle to 



DEATH AND BURIAL. 65 



windward of the pyre, and each tribe by itself behind them. The fire is lighted 
and kept together by several men of the tribe, who remain till the body is 
consumed, and till the ashes are sufficiently cool to allow the fragments of small 
bones to be gathered. These are then pounded up with a piece of wood, and put 
into the small bag prepared for them. The widow of the deceased chief, by first 
marriage, wears the bag of calcined bones suspended from her neck, and she also 
gets the lower bones of the right arm. which she cleans and wraps in an opossum 
skin. This she puts in a long basket made of rushes, and ornamented with 
kangaroo teeth, emu feathers, cockatoos' crest feathers, red paint, and a lock of 
hair of the deceased. These relics she carries for two years, and keeps them 
under cover, with great care. She cannot marry while she carries these. Should 
she resolve to be married before the two years are out, she delivers the basket 
and bones to her deceased husband's next widow, or widows, in succession ; failing 
them, to his mother ; but should she also be dead, she gives them to his mother's 
sister, if she has a family ; or, lastly, to his eldest daughter, if she is married and 
has a family. If the deceased has left no such relatives, the widow ultimately 
buries the bones in a deserted mound and bums the basket. 

The eldest sister of the deceased chief gets the lower bones of the left arm, 
and his aunts get the lower bones of the legs, which are treated in the same way. 
Failing .sisters and aunts, the nearest female relatives, to the degree of first 
cousins, take their place. The only reason one can assign for the observance of 
this custom is to induce the relatives of chiefs to keep them alive as long as 
possible ; for the task of caiTying dead men's bones for two years cannot be an 
agreeable one. 

The body of a chiefess is treated like that of a chief, and the bones are 
carried about in a basket in the same way. When the body is burned, at the 
termination of one moon, if the deceased was greatly beloved by her husband, he 
gathers the calcined bones, pounds and puts them into a small bag made of 
opossum skin, which he wears suspended in front of his chest for twelve moons. 
They are then buried. Until these relics of his wife are buried he cannot marry 
again. The bodies of the adult sons and daughters of chiefs are disposed of in 
like fashion, and their bones carried about for the same period by their mother, 
and other relatives in succession. 

If a chief dies of disease which is attributed to the spell of an enemy, his 
body is put up in a tree and watched all night by a dozen or more of his friends, who 
conceal themselves behind a log near the body. One of them in a low tone of voice 



10 



66 AVSTEALIAN ABORIGINES. 



calls on the spirits to appear. Sparks like " lighted matches " then come out of the 
ground, followed by several spirits. The most conspicuous of these spirits 
represents the person who bewitched the deceased. They then disappear for ever. 
Some time ago an aboriginal man named Buckley was found dead near 
Camperdown: his body was put up in a tree and watched. The aborigines 
declared that the spirits came, but nothing was done to avenge his death. 

A widower mourns for his wife for three moons. Every second night he 
wails and recounts her good qualities, and lacerates his forehead with his nails till 
the blood flows down his cheeks, and he covers his head and face with white clay. 
He must continue to moui-n and wear the white clay for other nine moons, 
unless he shall succeed in taking a human life in revenge for her death. If he 
cease wearing the clay before the expiry of three moons without taking a life, 
his deceased wife's relatives say ' he has told a lie,' and they will attempt to 
kill him. If the woman left a child, it is taken from its father and given to its 
grandmother or grandfather to rear ; but if its father succeeds in taking a life, 
he has a right to take it back. When the husband has had a great affection for 
his wife, and is anxious to give expression to his grief, he burns himself across 
the waist in three lines with a red-hot piece of bark. 

A widow mourns for her husband for twelve moons. She cuts her hair 
quite close, and burns her thighs with hot ashes pressed down on them with a 
piece of bark, till she screams with agony. Every second night she wails and 
recounts his good qualities, and lacerates her forehead till the blood flows down 
her cheeks. At the same time she covers her head and face with white clay. 
This she must do for three moons, on pain of death. The white clay is worn for 
twelve moons. Sometimes, towards the end of the period of mourning, one or 
two stripes of pale brown are painted across the nose and under the eyes, and 
near the end of the time the colour is changed to red. 

For the same period, and in like manner, adults mourn for a father or 
mother, and parents mourn for their children if over three moons old. Children are 
not allowed to paint their heads and faces, but are obliged to show their grief by 
lacerating their brows and crying. While parents are mourning for their children, 
they live in a separate wuurn away from their friends. In their lamentations and 
wailings for the dead, the aborigines always enumerate all the good qualities of 
the deceased ; and they appear to mourn sincerely. 

The relatives — as far as cousins — of a deceased chief must mourn for him 
for twelve moons. The other members of the tribe must also mourn for 



DEATH AND BURIAL. 67 



the same period ; but if an enemy has been blamed for the death, and they 
succeed in killing a man of another — but not a contiguous — tribe, they at once 
remove the clay and paint from their heads and faces, and their mourning is 
ended. It is the same with a deceased chiefess ; but the mourning for her lasts 
only six moons, and the person to be killed for her must be a woman. 

The widow of a chief can return to her own tribe, but she cannot take her 
children with her, as they belong to the tribe of their father. If they are left with it 
by their mother, their nearest relatives are obliged to support and take care of them. 

After the dead are finally disposed of, no amusements are permitted among 
the relatives of the deceased for two or three days ; and if any levity is observed 
among them by the nest of kin, he is entitled to take the life of one of them. 
Even hunting for food is not allowed until the brother or nearest male relative 
grants permission. 

A very strange and revolting custom is practised in connection with the 
disposal of the bodies of those who have lost their lives by violence ; and this 
custom has given rise to the idea that the aborigines are cannibals. 

There is not the slightest doubt that the eating of human flesh is practised 
by the aborigines, but only as a mark of aifectionate respect, in solemn service of 
mourning for the dead. The flesh of enemies is never eaten, nor of members of 
other tribes. The bodies of relatives of either sex, who have lost their lives by 
violence, are alone partaken of ; and even then only if the body is not mangled, 
or unhealthy, or in poor condition, or in a putrid state. The boy is divided 
among the adult relatives — with the exception of nursing or pregnant women — 
and the flesh of every part is roasted and eaten but the vitals and intestines, 
which are burned with the bones. If the body be much contused, or if it have 
been pierced by more than three spears, it is considered too much mangled to be 
eaten. The body of a woman who has had children is not eaten. When a child 
over four or five years of age is killed accidentally, or by one spear wound only, 
all the relatives eat of it except the brothers and sisters. The flesh of a healthy, 
fat, young woman, is considered the best ; and the palms of the hands are 
considered the most delicate portions. 

On remarking to the aborigines that the eating of the whole of the flesh of a 
dead body by the relatives had the appearance of their making a meal of it, they 
said that an ordinary-sized body afibrded to each of numerous adult relatives only 
a mere tasting ; and that it was eaten with no desire to gratify or appease the 
appetite, but only as a symbol of respect and regret for the dead. 



68 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

AVENGING OF DEATH. 

A DYING person, who believes that sorcery and incantations are the cause of his 
illness, intimates to his friends the number of persons in the suspected tribe whom 
they are to kill. Sometimes the individual who is believed to be the cause of his 
illness is named hy the dying person. 

When the offending tribe is not otherwise revealed, the question is decided, 
after the body has been put up into the tree, by watching the course taken by 
the fii-st maggot which drops from the body and crawls over the clean-swept 
ground underneath. If the body has been buried, the surface of the grave is 
swept and smoothed carefully ; then the first ant which crosses it indicates the 
direction of the tribe which caused the death of the deceased. If possible, one of 
the members of that tribe must be killed. 

A consultation takes place, and when an individual is fixed upon as the cause 
of the death, he receives warning that his life will be taken. If he escapes for 
two moons, he is free. Immediately after the warning, a small party of the 
male friends and relatives of the deceased prepare themselves by eating 
sparingly for two or three days, and getting together, each for himself, a supply 
of cooked food. When ready to start, they paint and disguise themselves, that 
they may not be recognized by the friends of the person whom they intend to kill. 
They proceed, well armed, by night to the vicinity of the residence occupied by 
their intended victim. It is difficult to surpi-ise a camp, owing to the watch- 
fulness and ferocity of the dogs belonging to it. The attacking party, therefore, 
form a wide circle, and gradually close round the wuurn, guiding each other by 
uttering cries in imitation of nocturnal animals. At the dawn of day, which is 
the time of the deepest sleep with the aborigines, and when it is sufficiently light 
to distinguish the person they wish to kill, they rush on their victim, drag him 
out of his bed, and spear him without the slightest resistance from himself or his 
friends, who, paralyzed with terror, lie perfectly still. After the departure of 
the attacking party, the friends cut up the body and burn it. No reason is given 
for this custom. 



AVENGING OF DEATH. 69 



When the person who has been named by the deceased, and who has been 
warned of his intended fate, seeks safety by keeping away from his tribe, his 
enemies searcli for him for two moons ; and, as he must hunt for food, he is 
sometimes discovered. When his enemies see him, they all keep out of sight 
except one man, who approaches him in a friendly way, and, in course of 
conversation, directs his attention to something up a tree, or in the distance. 
Being off his guard, he is suddenly knocked down. The others, who have been 
watching, immediately rush on their victim, catch him by the throat, throw him 
on his face, and hold him down, while one cuts open his back with a sharp 
flint knife, and pulls out the kidney fat, afterwards stufiing the hole with a 
tuft of grass. A piece of the fat is rolled up in grass and thrown over the 
shoulder of the operator, who then seats the man against a tree with a 
burning stick in his hand, and, retiring backwards with his eyes fixed on him, 
picks up the fat, which he wraps in opossum skin and carries away. This 
kidney fat is afterwards presented to his chief, who fixes it on his spear- 
thrower, as a charm to ensure hLs spear going straight and fatally. After a while 
the wounded man walks home, with the grass still in the wound, and, as his case 
is hopeless, no effort is made to remove it, and nothing is done for him. He 
walks about for a day or two, and eats his food as if nothing had happened, but 
soon dies. 

Sometimes the enemy is killed by strangling. He is watched by three 
or four men, who are provided with a tough rope, made of the inner bark 
of the stringybark tree. A running noose is made on the rope ; they throw 
the noose over his head, and pull — one man at each end of the rope — till he 
is choked. 

Intending murderers always disguise themselves with coloured clay ; their 
victim cannot, therefore, easily recognize them. But as, if he do not die 
immediately, he is expected to name his murderers, he often fixes on the wrong 
persons. When these are killed in retaliation, a feud is begun ; and thus there is 
kept up a constant destruction of life. If the attack upon the supposed spell- 
thrower should take place near a camp, and he should be killed, his murderer is 
at once chased by every able-bodied man present, and, if caught, is put to death 
on the spot. Every pursuer thrusts four spears into his body, and leaves them 
there. His friends, who have been watching the result at a distance, wait till the 
pursuers go away, and then burn the body and all the spears which were thrust 
into it, and which are sometimes so numerous as to be likened to ' spines in a 



70 A USTRALIA N ABORIGINES. 



porcupine.' The body of the supposed spell-thrower is removed to the camp, to be 
eaten according to the custom described in the previous chapter. 

This ends the feud, as life has been taken for life ; but if the murderer 
should e.scape, and should be known to the friends of the deceased, he gets notice 
to appear and undergo the ordeal of spear-throwing at the first great meeting of 
the tribes. 

If he pay no attention to the summons, two ' strong, active men,' called 
Pseset psesets, accompanied by some friends, are ordered by the chief to visit the 
camp where he is supposed to be concealed, and to arrest him. They approach 
the camp about bedtime, and halt at a short distance from it. One of the Psetet 
pseeets goes to one side of the camp, and howls in imitation of a wild dog. The 
other, at the opposite side, answers him by imitating the cry of the kuurku owl. 
These sounds bring the chief to the door of his wuurn to listen. One of the 
Pseset pajEets then taps twice on a tree with his spear, or strikes two spears 
together, as a signal that a friend wishes to speak to him. He then demands the 
culprit ; but, as the demand is generally met by a denial of his being there, they 
return to their friends, who have been waiting to hear the result. If they stiU 
believe him to be concealed in the camp, they surround it at peep of day, 
stamping, and making a hideous noise, to frighten the people in the camp. In 
the meantime the chief, anticipating the second visit, has very likely aided the 
culprit to escape while it is dark. When the Pseset pfesets and their friends 
discover that the man is not in the camp, they freely express their anger and 
disappointment ; but, without attempting to injure anyone, they start off at once 
on the track of the fugitive. 

The deaths of adults caused by epidemics are not avenged, nor are the 
natural deaths of boys before they have beards, or of girls before entering 
womanhood, or of those who have lost their lives by accident, such as drowning, 
falling off trees, snake bite, &c. 

When the body of an adult is found with the muscles of the back of the 
neck ' slack,' and marks of blows on the breast, it is concluded that death has 
been produced by strokes from a heavy club of quandong wood, called ' yuul 
marrang,' ' wild hand.' A club of this kind is kept among the associated tribes 
for the express purpose of killing criminals, and, as the quandong does not grow 
in the Western District, this club is borrowed by the chiefs around when needed, 
and especially when they visit tribes with the expectation of avenging death. 
When a man has been killed by this club, the body is brought home and examined 



AVENGING OF DEATH. 71 



by his relatives, and disposed of according to the laws regulating mourning and 
the eating of human flesh, which are described in the previous chapter. 

The friends examine the footprints of the murderers, and follow them 
sufficiently far to indicate the direction from which they came. If they are 
unable to follow up the track, they console themselves by expressing the wish 
that some evil may befall the murderer. If they have been able to follow up the 
track, they return home and collect as many men as possible, and make an attack 
on the suspected tribe ; and, should they succeed in killing a member of the 
tribe — even though it be a woman, or only a child — they are satisfied, and the 
two tribes are again friendly. But if one of an innocent tribe should be killed, 
retaliation is sought, and probably another life sacrificed. 

When a number of men have been implicated in a murder or other crime, 
they disguise their track by walking backwards in line over ground likely to 
retain the impressions of their feet ; and they hide their numbers by stepping 
in each other's footprints. This they continue as long as they are in country- 
belonging to another tribe. When lying in wait for an enemy they lay their 
ears near the ground, but not touching it, and listen attentively. They can hear 
the sound of footsteps on the soft sward at a distance of one hundred yards ; 
those of a horse at two or three hundred. 

Friendship is seldom allowed to interfere with the sacred duty of revenge. 
A man would consider it his bounden duty to kill his most intimate friend for 
the purpose of avenging a brother's death, and would do so without the slightest 
hesitation. But if an intimate friend should be killed, he would leave revenge 
to the relatives of the deceased. In all cases, if they fail to secure the guilty 
person, they consider it their duty to kill one of his relatives, however ignorant 
he may have been of the crime. 

This law holding every member of the tribe responsible for the conduct of 
each individual in the tribe is doubtless founded upon the necessities of the 
case, and entails upon each one the duty of controlling the violent passions, not 
only of himself, but also of the others. 



72 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

GREAT MEETINGS. 

Great meetings are held periodically in summer, by agreement among the 
friendly tribes. But any two chiefs have the power of sending messengers and 
commanding the attendance of the tribes at an appointed time and place, in order 
that matters of dispute may be arranged. Sometimes, instead of dispatching 
men to give notice of a meeting, a signal smoke is raised by setting fire to a wide 
circle of long grass in a dry swamp. This causes the smoke to ascend in a 
remarkable spiral form, which is seen from a great distance. The summons thus 
given is strictly attended to. Or, if there is not a suitable swamp, a hollow tree 
is stufied with dry bark and leaves, and set on fire. Or, a fire is made on a hill 
top. 

Each tribe, on its arrival, erects its wuums, and lights its fires in front of 
them, on the side of the camp next their own country. When all are assembled, 
proceedings commence after sunset, or before sunrise next morning. As soon as 
the families of the different tribes are seated in rows on the ground, the chief of 
each tribe, accompanied by the other chiefs, walks along and taps everyone on 
the head with a piece of bark, asking the name of his tribe, his personal name, 
and his class. If anything of importance has to be discussed, a circular open 
space, of one hundred or one hundred and fifty yards in diameter, is reserved in 
the centre of the camp, into which the chiefs advance by turns, and speak in a 
loud voice, that everyone may hear what is said. 

When a chief has a matter of great importance to settle, and desires the 
advice and assistance of friendly tribes, he dispatches two messengers to the 
nearest chief with a message-stick. This message-stick is a piece of wood about 
six inches long and one inch in diameter, with five or six sides, one of these 
indicating by notches the number of tribes to be summoned, and the others the 
number of men required from each. The messengers are not allowed to explain 
the business of the proposed meeting. Immediately on a chief receiving the 
message-stick, he sends for his principal men, who pass their hands down the 
stick and ascertain the number of men required from the tribe. They then 



GREAT MEETINGS. 73 



decide who are to be sent. The stick is next forwarded by messengers from their 
tribe to the nearest chief, who sends it on to the next, and so on mitil all are 
summoned. The most distant tribe starts first, and, joining the others in 
succession, all arrive in a body at the camp of the chief who sent for them. They 
are accompanied by their wives, but not by children or by very old persons. In 
the evening, when the children of the tribe and the women have gone to bed, the 
chief who convened the meeting gives his reason for doing so. After consultation, 
the chiefs decide what is to be done ; each chief tells his people what is required, 
and all retire for the night. 

The spear- thrower is also used as a message-stick ; but, when so employed, 
it is specially marked to indicate its purpose. The writer has in his possession a 
specimen which was made by Kaawirn Kuunawarn, the chief of the Kirrse 
Wuurong tribe, and which is a facsimile of a summons issued by him long aero to 
three tribes, to meet his own tribe at a favourite swamp and camping-place called 
Kuunawarn, on the east side of the River Hopkins, and represents their approach 
to his camp. In the centre of the flat side of the spear-thrower is a carved circle 
of about an inch and a quarter in diameter, which represents the camp of 
Kaawirn Kuunawarn. Near it are three notches on the edge of the stick, and 
two lines and two dots on the flat side, pointing to the camp, which form his 
signature ; and, at the hooked end of the stick, three lines in shape of the letter 
Z indicate his presence. Four rows of notches, extending from each end of the 
stick to the camp, indicate the numbers of individuals of the two tribes 
approaching from opposite directions. On the other side of the spear-thrower, 
in the centre, there are two circles of a smaller size, and pointing to them is a 
small, rudely carved figure of a hand — the word for 'hand,' munya, also means 
a ' meeting.' From each end of the stick six lines of notches represent the 
numbers of individuals of other two tribes approaching from opposite directions. 
As each notch indicates an individual, there must have been a thousand at this 
meeting. Kaawirn Kuunawarn was then a very young chief ; and as he is now 
a man considerably over sixty years of age, the meeting must have been held 
immediately previous to the occupation of the country by the white man. Of 
those who attended it there are only four individuals now alive, viz., Kaawirn 
Kuunawarn, Jamie Ware, Jim Crow, and Helen Crow. 

Occasionally, a distant and distrustful tribe will send two men to test the 
friendship of a meeting. On arrival, they announce the name of their tribe and 
their own names, and then retire to the wuurn of an acquaintance. He ties a 



11 



74 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



feather to the point of one of their spears, and fixes the spear upright at his door. 
When the attention of a chief is called to this, he transfers the spear to the 
middle of the camp. Two or three men come and draw their hands down it, and 
retire to their wuurns ; no objection having been made, the chief takes the spear 
to the two strangers and lays it down beside them, remarking that it belongs to 
them, and is returned as a sign of friendship and welcome. If the friendship of 
their tribe is not desired, a hint is given to them to go away. Three or four 
young women at sunset will pretend to go for water, carrying pieces of 
smouldering bark hidden in their buckets. These pieces of bark they give to 
the strangers to make their fire on their journey home. The men immediately 
set off, carrying the pieces of lighted bark under their rugs till they are out of 
danger of pursuit. 

Messengers are attached to every tribe, and are selected for their intelligence 
and their ability as linguists. They are employed to convey information from 
one tribe to another, such as the time and place of great meetings, korrobones, 
marriages, and burials, and also of proposed battles ; for, if one tribe intends to 
attack another, due notice is always honourably given. Ambuscades are 
proceedings adopted by civilized warriors. A.s the office of messenger is of very 
great importance, the persons filling it are considered sacred while on duty ; very 
much as an ambassador, herald, or bearer of a flag of truce is treated among 
civilized nations. 

To distinguish them from spies or enemies, they generally travel two 
together, and they are painted in accordance with the nature of the information 
which they carry. When the information is about a great meeting, a korroborfe, 
a marriage, or a fight, their faces are painted with red and white stripes across 
the cheeks and nose. When the information relates to a death, their heads, faces, 
and hands, their arms up to the elbows, and their feet and legs up to the knees, 
are painted with white clay. Thus the appearance of the messengers announces 
the natui'e of their news before they come to the camp. If their appearance 
indicates a death, lamentation and disfigurement begin immediately. On arriving 
at the camp they sit down without speaking, apparently unobserved ; and, after 
a little time, one of them delivers the message in a short speech with intoned 
voice. 

There are also teachers attached to each tribe, whose duty is to instruct the 
young in the use of weapons, and in other needful information. Sometimes a 
messenger is also a teacher. 



GREAT MEETINGS. 75 



The fine old chief of the Spring Creek tribe, Weeratt Kuynut — ' Eel spear,' 
occasionally called Morpor, after his tribe and country, and believed to have been 
upwards of eighty years of age — was both a messenger and a teacher. As a 
messenger he generally travelled by himself. In his younger days he was a great 
warrior, and in more mature years was considered such an honourable, impartial 
man, that he was selected on all occasions as a referee in the settlement of disputes. 
When a great battle was to be fought, he was sent for by the contending chiefs, 
who placed him in a safe position to see fair play. In reward for his services he 
retm-ned home laden with presents of opossum rugs, weapons, and ornaments. 

As a teacher he taught the young people the names of the favourite planets 
and constellations, as indications of the seasons. For example, when Canopus is 
a very little above the horizon in the east at daybreak, the season for emu eggs 
has come ; when the Pleiades are visible in the east an hour before sunrise, the 
time for visiting friends and neighbouring tribes is at hand ; if some distant 
locality requires to be visited at night, it can be reached by following a particular 
star. He taught them also the names of localities, mountain ranges, and lakes, 
and the directions of the neighbouring tribes. 

As Weeratt Kuyuut had the reputation of being an expert warrior, besides 
being well known as a messenger, he travelled unmolested all over the country 
between the Grampian ranges and the sea, and between the rivers Leigh and 
Wannon ; and was received and treated everywhere with kindness and hospitality. 

In his travels towards Geelong — which at that time was the name of the bay 
and not of the land — he heard of Buckley as a chief who had ' died and jumped 
up whitefellow,' and who on that account was treated with marked consideration 
and respect. There is little doubt that Buckley owed his life to this idea, which 
was very likely encouraged by him to enable him to retain his influence over the 
tribes with which he mingled. 

Among the associated tribes a public executioner was employed to put 
criminals to death when ordered by the chiefs to do so. The natives have a 
vivid recollection of a bloodthirsty savage named Pundeet Puulotong, ' dragger 
out of kidney fat,' who acted in that capacity, and who was so fond of doing 
cruel deeds that he solicited the oSice himself. He killed his victims with a club 
called yuul marrang, ' wild hand/ made of quandong wood, and kept for the 
purpose. 

Pundeet Puulotong was a great fighting man. On killing one of a neigh- 
bouring tribe, he would show himself to the relatives of his victim, and challenge 



76 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



them to spear him. None, however, dared to meddle with him. On asking 
members of his tribe how many lives he had destroyed, the reply was that he 
took one at almost every meeting. When he was seen approaching a meeting 
the women wept, as they were certain he would put someone to death before he 
left. If he received a scratch, or had blood drawn from him, he would kill 
some person in revenge. The old savage grew quite blind and helpless in his old 
age, and the natives say, that, instead of putting him to death, which they could 
easily have done, they left his blindness to punish him for his innumerable murders 
and cruelties. 

Persons accused of wrong-doing get one month's notice to appear before the 
assembled ti'ibes and be tried, on pain of being outlawed and killed. When a 
man has been charged with an ofl'ence, he goes to the meeting armed with two 
war spears, a flat light shield, and a boomerang. If he is found guilty of a 
private •wrong he is painted white, and — along with his brother or near male 
relative, who stands beside him as his second, with a heavy shield, a liangle, and 
a boomerang — he is placed opposite to the injured person and his friends, who 
sometimes number twenty warriors. These range themselves at a distance of 
fifty yards from him, and each individual throws four or five gneerin spears and 
two boomerangs at him simultaneously, ' like a shower.' If he succeeds in 
warding them off, his second hands him his heavy shield, and he is attacked 
singly by his enemies, who deliver each one blow 'with a liangle. As blood must 
be spilt to satisfy the injured party, the trial ends on his being hit. After the 
wound has been dressed, all shake hands and are good friends. If the accused 
person refuses to appear and be tried, he is outlawed, and may be killed ; and his 
brother or nearest male relative is held responsible, and must submit to be 
attacked with boomerangs. If it turns out that the man was innocent, the 
relatives have a right to retaliate on the family of the accuser on the first 
opportunity. 

Should a person, through bad conduct, become a constant anxiety and 
trouble to the tribe, a consultation is held, and he is put to death. Liars are 
detested ; and should anyone, through lying, get others into trouble, he is 
punished with the boomerang and liangle. Women and young people, for the 
same fault, are beaten with a stick. 

Long ago the Bung'andtetch natives, who inhabited the Mount Gambler 
district, were looked upon as wild blacks and very malevolent, for they sent 
lightning and rain to injure the associated tribes. In retaliation, the latter 



GREAT MEETINGS. 77 



challenged the Bung'andeetch natives to fight at Coleraine ; but, as they never 
could get them to stand and give battle, they chased them to their own country. 
According to the account of a native who accompanied his father on such 
occasions, the fires of the associated tribes at the Wannon falls, ' Tuunda beean,' 
were like the lights of Melbourne at night. 

Quarrels between tribes are sometimes settled by single combat between the 
chiefs, and the result is accepted as final. At other times disputes are decided by 
combat between equal numbers of warriors, painted with red clay and dressed in 
war costume ; but real fighting seldom takes place, unless the women rouse the 
anger of the men and urge them to come to blows. Even tlien it rarely results 
in a general fight, but comes to single combats between warriors of each side ; 
who step into the arena, taunt one another, exchange blows with the liangle, 
and wrestle together. The first wound ends the combat. This is often followed 
by an encounter between the women, who begin by scolding, and rouse each other 
to fury, tearing each other's hair, and striking one another with their yam-sticks 
or muurong poles. There is no interference by the men, however severely their 
wives may punish each other. Both men and women, when quarrelling, pace 
about, tossing up the dust with their toes, stamping, and making a hissing noise 
like ' ishew,' or ' eeshwuur.' Eveiy license is allowed to the tongue. They wish 
each other all kinds of evil in the coarsest and most violent language. The 
mildest imprecations are such as — ' May your teeth project, and your eyes squint 
and be closed with small pox ; ' ' May you lose your hair and be completely bald ; ' 
' May you have a deformed nose ; ' ' May you break j^our neck and become a 
skeleton, for you should have died long ago ; ' and ' May many assist in putting 
you to death.' Words failing to produce the desired effect, they will spit in each 
other's faces. 

Sometimes a fight takes the form of a tournament or friendly trial of skill 
in the use of the boomerang and shield. Ten or twelve warriors, painted with 
white stripes across the cheeks and nose, and armed with shields and boomerangs, 
are met by an equal number at a distance of about twenty paces. Each 
individual has a right to throw his boomerang at anyone on the other side, and 
steps out of the rank into the intervening space to do so. The opposite party 
take their turn, and so on alternately, until someone is hit, or all are satisfied. 
Every warrior has a boy to look after his boomerang, which, on striking a shield, 
flies up and falls at a considerable distance. As the boomerang is thrown with 
great force, it requires very great dexterity and quick sight to ward off such an 



78 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



erratic •weapon, and affords a fine opportunity for displaying the remarkable 
activity of the aborigines. This activity is, no doubt, considerably roused by 
fear of the severe cut which is inflicted by the boomerang. Mournere are not 
allowed to join in these tournaments, as it would be considered disrespectful to 
the dead. Women and children are generally kept at a safe distance. The 
chiefs and aged warriors stand by to see fair play, and to stop the proceedings 
when they think they have gone far enough. 

At the periodical great meetings trading is carried on by the exchange of 
articles peculiar to distant parts of the country. A favourite place of meeting 
for the purpose of barter is a hill called Noorat, near Terang. In that locality 
the forest kangaroos are plentiful, and the skins of the young ones found there 
are considered superior to all others for making rugs. The aborigines from the 
Geelong district bring the best stones for making axes, and a kind of wattle gum 
celebrated for its adhesiveness. This Geelong gum is so useful in fixing the 
handles of stone axes and the splinters of flint in spears, and for cementing the 
joints of bark buckets, that it is carried in large lumps all over the Western 
District. Greenstone for axes is obtained also from a quarry on Spring Creek, 
near Goodwood ; and sandstone for grinding them is got from the salt creek near 
Lake Boloke. Obsidian or volcanic glass, for scraping and polishing weapons, is 
found near Dimkeld. The Wimmera coimtry supplies the maleen saplings, found 
in the mallee scrub, for making spears. The Cape Otway forest supplies the 
wood for the bundit spears, and the grass-tree stalk for forming the butt piece of 
the light spear, and for producing fire ; also a red clay, found on the sea coast, 
which is used as a paint, being first burned and then mixed with water, and laid 
on with a brush formed of the cone of the banksia while in flower by cutting off 
its long stamens and pistils. Marine shells from the mouth of the Hopkins River, 
and freshwater mussel shells, are also articles of exchange. 

Attendance at these gi-eat meetings is compulsory on all. As an instance of 
the obedience paid to the usual summons, a very faithful native, who had 
charge of a flock of .sheep at Kangatong, gave notice that he had received a 
message directing him to attend a meeting at Mount Rouse, whenever he saw the 
signal smoke, or a reflection in the sky of a fire in that direction. As there was 
at that time a very great scarcity of shepherds, in consequence of the rush to the 
goldfields, pennission to go was refused. Some days afterwards the signal was 
seen. Next morning Gnaweeth was away, leaving his flock in the fold. Having 
thus broken his engagement, he considered he had forfeited all claim to payment 



GREAT MEETINGS. 79 



for the work which he had before faithfully performed ; and, therefore, deposited 
at the back door of the house a bundle containing his clothing, blankets, gun, and 
every other article that had been given to him for his long services. He gave up 
all his property rather than disobey the summons. Many months passed over ere 
he was heard of ; and it was only after repeated invitations and assurances of 
welcome that he returned. He then explained, that, had he neglected the 
summons to attend the meeting, his life would have been forfeited. 

When it had been agreed by the chiefs of the associated tribes to have a 
grand battue, messengers were sent all round to invite everybody to join. As 
each tribe left its own country, it spread out in line, and all united to form a 
circle of fifteen or twenty miles in diameter. By this means the kangaroos and 
emus were enclosed, in order to be driven to an appointed place — usually on 
Huston's Creek, a few miles from its junction with the River Hopkins. To this 
place the old people, women, and children of the several tribes had previously 
gone, and were there encamped. At a fixed time the circle was perfected by 
arranging the men so that they stood about two hundred yards apart. The circle 
then began to contract. As they drew near to the central camp both young and 
old joined them, and formed a line too compact to allow the escape of the game ; 
which, frightened and confused with the yells and shouting all around, were 
easily killed with clubs and spears. In the evening a grand feast and korroborie 
ended the day's sport. Next morning the game was fairly divided, and each 
tribe started homewards, with the usual ' wuwuurk, wuwuurk,' farewell, 
farewell. 



80 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

AMUSEMENTS. 

The leading amusement of the Australian aborigines is the karweann, or 
korroborte, which somewhat resembles pantomime, and consists of music, dancing, 
and acting. 

Little can be said in favour of the aboriginal music. The airs are 
monotonous and doleful, and there is no such thing as harmony. Men and 
women join in singing. The women commence, each one accompanying her 
voice with regular beats of the open hand on a rolled-up opossum rug, which 
sometimes contains shells, to produce a jingling sound; the men strike in with 
their voices and with their music sticks. These sticks are made of hard wood, 
and are about nine inches long and an inch and a half in diameter, rounded, and 
tapering at each end to a point. The one is held stationary, and is struck with 
the other. The sound produced is clear and musical, and can be heard at a great 
distance. 

Many songs having appropriate airs are universally known. Very often 
complimentary or descriptive songs are composed on the instant, and are sung to 
well-known airs, the whole company joining in the chorus. A lament called 
' Mallie malifife,' composed in New South Wales in commemoration of the ravages 
of small-pox, is known all over the Australian colonies, and is sung in a doleful 
strain, accompanied with groans and imitations of a dying person. The following 
is a song in the Chaap wuurong language, with its translation. It is said to have 
been composed in the neighbourhood of Sydney by one of the aborigines of that 
country, and to have been translated into the different languag&s as it became 
known. In singing it the last two lines are repeated three times. 

CHUUL'YUTJ WILL'YUU. 

Chuul'yuu Will'yuu 

Wallaa gnorfeae. 

ChillfB binnse aa gna 

Kiuuuaa gnuuraa jeeaa, 

Chifebaa gnuutaa. 

Kirrsegirrae, kirrajgirrije, kirrsegirrse, 

Leeaa gnaa. 



AMUSEMENTS. 81 



THE PORCUPINE. 

Porcupine spikes 
Bum like heat of iire. 
Someone pinching me 
When I am up high, 
With affection like a sister. 
Grinning, grinning, grinning, 
Teeth mine. 

When a korroborse is held, all are dressed in their best attire. The chiefs 
are painted red over and under the eyes and on the cheeks ; a twisted band of 
the tuan squirrel fur surrounds the head ; in this band, over the right temple, is 
stuck a plume made of the webs of a swan's dark quill feather, which are tied 
to the barrel of a long white quill feather from the swan's wing ; in the hair are 
fastened several incisor teeth of the large kangaroo ; and the tail of a wild dog 
hangs from the hair down the back ; the arms are adorned with armlets of 
tuan fur rope. The common men wear round the head a plaited band about two 
inches broad, made of the inner bark of the stringy-bark tree, coloured red ; 
over this band is a thick rope of ring- tailed opossum skin with its fur outside; 
and in the band, above the right temple, is stuck a white quill feather of the 
swan, with its webs torn half way down, so as to flutter in the wind. Both 
chiefs and common men wear necklaces. The usual necklace is formed of from 
eighty to one hundred kangaroo teeth, tied by their roots to a skin cord. This 
necklace hangs loosely round the neck, and displays the teeth diverging towards 
the shoulders and breast. Another kind of necklace is composed of short pieces 
of reeds strung in eight or ten rows on bark cords. A third kind of necklace is 
formed of numerous threads spun from oj^ossum fur. The usual apron is worn, 
with the addition of an upright tuft of emu neck feathers fastened to the belt 
behind, and somewhat resembling the tail of a cock. 

The women wear the usual opossum rug, and have their heads bound with a 
plaited bark band and an opossum skin rope. A few kangaroo teeth are 
fastened among their back hair. Above each ear, and projecting beyond the 
forehead, is a thin piece of wood with various coloured feathers tied to the end 
of it. Over the forehead there is stuck in the brow band a bunch of white 
cockatoo crest feathers. A short piece of reed is worn in the cartilage of the 
nose, and flowers in the slits of the ears. They also wear reed or kangaroo teeth 

12 



82 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



necklaces, and anklets of ffreen leaves. The wives of chiefs are distinguished 
by two red stripes across the cheeks. 

Both men and women are ornamented by cicatrices — which are made when 
they come of age — on the chest, back, and upper parts of the arms, but never on 
the neck or face. These cicatrices are of a darker hue than the skin, and vary 
in length from half an inch to an inch. They are arranged in lines and figures 
according to the taste or the custom of the tribe. The operator cuts through the 
skin with a flint knife, and rubs the wounds with green grass. This irritates 
the flesh and causes it to rise above the skin. By repeated rubbings, the flesh 
rises permanently, and the wounds are allowed to heal. About the same age, 
nearly every person has the cartilage of the nose pierced to admit some 
ornament. The hole is made with the pointed bone of the hind leg of the 
kangaroo, which is pushed through and left for a week. A short tube, made of 
the large wing bone of the swan, is then introduced to keep the hole open, and 
is turned round occasionally while the nose is kept moist by holding the face 
over a vapour bath, produced by pouring water over hot stones. When the 
wound is quite healed, the ring is removed. On occasions of ceremony, a reed 
about eighteen inches long is pushed through the opening and worn as an 
ornament. 

Before the korroborss commences — which is immediately after sunset — large 
quantities of dry bark, branches, and leaves are collected, and the young people 
are ordered to light the fire and attend to it. The men and well-grown boys 
retire to prepare themselves for the dance. They paint their bodies and limbs 
with white stripes, in such a manner as to give them the appeai'ance of human 
skeletons; and they tie round their ancles a number of leafy twigs, which touch 
the ground, and make a rustling noise as they move. Each dancer wears the 
reed ornament in his nose. When they stand in a row these reeds have the 
appearance of a continuous line. 

The women do not join in the dance, but sit in a half-circle behind the fire, 
and sing, accompanj'ing their song with the sound of beating on opossum rugs, as 
described under the head of music. Some of the men stand beside the fire, 
beating time with the music sticks. 

After the music has begun, one of the dancers emerges from the darkness 
into the open ground, so as just to be seen ; and, with a stamp, sets himself with 
arms extended, and legs wide apart and quivering, his feet shufllling in time to 
the music, and the twigs round his ankles rustling at each movement. He 



AMUSEMENTS. 83 



remains thus for a few seconds, and, turning round suddenly, disappears in the 
darkness with a rustling sound. Another dancer takes his place, and goes 
through the same movements, and disappears in the same way. Then two or 
three come forward, and dance in a line, and disappear in the darkness. At 
length all the dancers are seen in a row, quivering and making a great rustling in 
time to the music, and advancing nearer and nearer to the tire until they come 
quite close, when a simultaneous loud groan is suddenly given, and the dance is 
over. The bright light of the fire shining on the white stripes of the dancers 
against a pitch-dark background, produces a very striking effect. The difierent 
tribes dance by tui'ns ; they never mingle. 

The interludes between the dances are filled up by the buffoonery and 
jesting of one or two clowns, called ' chipperuuks,' chosen for their powers of 
humour, ready wit, and repartee. These clowns do not perform altogether 
voluntarily, owing to the manner in which they are treated previous to the 
korroborse. They are caught by the orders of the chiefs, and are compelled to 
live apart in a separate wuurn, without any covering to keep out the cold, but 
are supplied with plenty of food. The hair of the chipperuuk is cropped off both 
sides of his head, which are plastered with white clay, leaving a crest of haii- 
along the ridge like the hog-mane of a horse. A stripe of white paint extends 
from the top of the brow down the nose, mouth, chin, and neck to the waist ; and 
the same behind, from the crown of the head down the spine ; another stripe 
extends down the inside of each leg, terminating in an arrow-point above the 
ankles. The arms are encircled with three white stripes between the .shoulder 
and wrist. He wears the usual apron and the tail of emu feathers. The 
chipperuuk enters the circle between the dances, and amuses the people with 
jokes, and with ludicrous movements in imitation of the gambols of emus, native 
companions, and other animals. Sometimes he puts on a mask formed of a 
kangaroo pouch, painted white, and having holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth. 
These are pulled over the head and face, and are often used to frighten children 
when they misbehave. After the amusements are finished, the chipperuuks visit 
each wuurn, with a bark torch, and a basket to receive presents of food, which 
are liberally bestowed. 

It is now almost impossible to ascertain whether or not the korroborses held 
among the tribes referred to, previous to the advent of the Europeans, were 
attended with indecencies ; but the aborigines now alive — and many of them 
are very truthful and intelligent— declare that there was nothing indecent 



84 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



permitted, and that when anything contrary to strict propriety was attempted, it 
was instantly stopped, and the offenders reprimanded, and threatened with 
punishment if it were repeated. 

Since the aborigines Iiave been gathered together under the immediate care 
of Government officials, and other protectors, the korroborse is discountenanced ; 
and, as little or nothing in the form of amusement is substituted, the weary 
monotony, restraint, and discipline of these tutelary establishments have a very 
depressing effect on the minds and health of the natives, and impel them to seek 
relief in the indulgence of intoxicating drinks. And who can blame them ? 

Another amusement, called ' Tarratt ' in the Kuurn kopan noot language, 
and ' Wittchim ' in the Chaap wuurong and Peek whuurong languages, consists 
in stalking a feather, in imitation of hunting an emu. The feather is tied to the 
end of a long stick, which is held by a man in the centre of a large circle of 
natives. A man, who has dressed himself in korroboree costume, enters the circle 
with shield and boomerang, and moves round the circle for fifteen or twenty 
minutes with his eye upon the feather, now crouching, and then running, in 
imitation of stalking game, and finishes by stooping and touching the feather. 
His place is taken by another, and so on, until four or five competitors have gone 
through the same movements. The ceremony is conducted with so much 
gravity, that if a spectator should laugh, or in any way ridicule the actor, the 
latter would be entitled to throw his boomerang at him with impunity. The 
chiefs then decide who has performed best, and they present him with the 
feather. In the evening, after several korroborse dances have been gone through, 
the winner of the feather, who has kept out of sight, comes into the circle in 
korroborse costume, and by order of the chiefs repeats his movements round the 
feather. He then presents it to the other competitors in the game, out of 
compliment, and with a view to remove any feeling of jealousy. 

Games are held usually after the great meetings and korroborses. "Wrestling 
is a favourite game, but is never practised in anger. Women and children are not 
allowed to be present. The game is commenced by a man who considers himself 
to be a good wrestler challenging any one of his own or another tribe. His 
challenge being accepted, the wrestlers rub their hands, chests, and backs with 
wood ashes, to prevent their hold from slipping ; they then clasp each other and 
struggle, but do not trip with their feet, as that is not considered a fair test of 
strength. After one of them has been thrown three times, he retires. Other two 
men then engage, and so on. When all competitors have had a trial, the 



AMUSEMENTS. 85 



conquerors are matclied ; and the last couple decide the championship. The event 
is followed by a promiscuous wrestling, and the game terminates with shouting, 
just as among white people. 

One of the favourite games is football, in which fifty, or as many as one 
hundred players engage at a time. The ball is about the size of an orange, and 
is made of opossum-skin, with the fur side outwards. It is filled with pounded 
charcoal, which gives solidity without much increase of weight, and is tied hard 
round and round with kangaroo sinews. The players are divided into two sides 
and ranged in opposing lines, which are always of a difierent ' class' — white 
cockatoo against black cockatoo, quail against snake, &c. Each side endeavours 
to keep possession of the ball, which is tossed a short distance by hand, and then 
kicked in any direction. The side which kicks it oftenest and furthest gains the 
game. The person who sends it highest is considered the best player, and has 
the honour of burying it in the ground till required next day. 

The sport is concluded with a shout of applause, and the best player is 
complimented on his skill. This game, which is somewhat similar to the white 
man's game of football, is very rough ; but as the players are barefooted and 
naked, they do not hurt each other so much as the white people do ; nor is the 
fact of an aborigine being a good football player considered to entitle him to assist 
in making laws for the tribe to which he belongs. 

The throwing of spears at a mark is a common amusement. Young people 
engage in the pastime with toy spears. A number of boys will arrange 
themselves in a line : one of the party will trundle swiftly along the ground, 
about ten yards in front of them, a circular piece of thick bark about a foot in 
diameter, and, as it passes them, each tries to hit it with his toy spear. They 
amuse themselves also with throwing wands^ fern stalks, and rushes at objects, 
and at each other. 

The toy boomerang is much lighter and more acute in the angle than the 
war boomerang, and has a peculiar rounding of one of its sides, which has the effect 
of making it rise in the air when thrown along the ground, and return to the 
thrower when its impetus has been expended. It requires much skill, and study 
of the wind, to throw it aright. On dark nights this boomerang will sometimes 
be lighted at one end and thrown into the air, with an effect very like fireworks. 
This boomerang is also thrown into flocks of ducks, parrots, and small birds, 
among which it commits great havoc — occasionally cutting off their heads as with 
a knife. 



The vmee whuuitch is also used as a toy. It is a tapering wand about two 
feet long, with a pear-shaped knob on the thick end. It is held by the small end, 
whirled round the head, and projected with force along the ground, where it skips 
for a considerable distance. It is also used for throwing at birds. This toy is 
used in the games after great meetings. Like football, it is played by opposing 
classes — kuurokeetch against kirrtuuk, kappatch against kartpserup, &c. — and 
the award is given to those who throw it to the greatest distance. 



WEAPONS. 87 



CHAPTER XIX. 

WEAPONS. 

The spear is the chief and most formidable ■weapon amongst the aborigines. 
There are seven kinds of spears, each of which is used for a special purpose. The 
longest and heaviest are the war spears, which are about nine feet long, and made 
of ironbark saplings reduced to a uniform thicliness. They are variously named 
from the way in which they are pointed. The ' tuulowarn ' has a smooth point. 
The ' tungung'gil ' is barbed on one side for six inches from the point. The 
' wurokiigil ' is jagged for six inches on each side of the point, with sharp splintere 
of flint or volcanic glass, fixed in grooves with the same kind of cement which is 
employed to fix the handles of stone axes. The hunting spear, ' narmall,' is about 
seven feet long, and is made of a peeled ti-tree sapling, with a smooth, sharp 
point ; to balance the weapon it has a fixed buttpieee formed of the stalk of the 
grass tree, about two feet long, and with a hole in the pith in its end to receive 
the hook of the spear-thrower ; but, as the hook of the .spear-thrower would soon 
destroy the light gi'ass tree, a piece of hard wood is inserted in the end, and 
secured with a lashing of kangaroo sinew. Although the narmall is chiefly used 
for killing game, it is the first spear thrown in fighting, as it can be sent to a 
greater distance than the heavy war speare, which are only used in close quarters. 

The spear-thrower is a piece of wood about two feet and a half long, and 
three-quarters of an inch thick. It is two or three inches broad in the middle, 
and tapers off" into a handle at one end and a hook at the other. Its object is to 
lengthen the arm, as it were, and at the same time balance the spear by bringing 
the hand nearer its centre. The hook of the spear-thrower is put into the hole 
in the end of the hunting-spear, and the other end is grasped with the hand, 
which also holds the spear above it with the finger and thumb. With this 
instrument a spear is sent to a much greater distance than without it. 

The ' gniiTin ' spear is made of a strong reed, about five feet long, with a 
sharp point of ironbark wood, and is used only for throwing at criminals, as 
mentioned in the chapter on great meetings. The eel spear is formed of a peeled 
ti-tree sapling, of the thickness of a little finger and about seven feet long, pointed 



with the leg bone of the emu, or with the small bone of the hind leg of the 
large kangaroo ground to a long, sharp point, and lashed to the shaft with the 
tail sinews of the kangaroo. The spear called ' bundit ' — which name means 
' bite ' — is made of a very rare, heavy wood from the Cape Otway mountains, 
and is so valuable that it is never used in fighting or hunting, but only as an 
ornament. It is given as a present in token of friendship, or exchanged for 
fancy maleen spears from the interior. 

Spears are warded off with the light shield, which is a thin, oblong, concave 
piece of wood about two and a half feet long, nine inches broad in the centre, 
and tapering towards the ends. It has a handle in the middle of the hollow side, 
which is grasped by the hand when in use, and the convex side is ornamented 
with the usual diagonal cross lines. 

The aborigines never heard of poisoned spears, or the use of poison for the 
destruction of life. 

The liangle is a heavy, formidable weapon, about two and a half feet long, 
with a sharp-pointed bend, nine inches in length, projecting at a right angle. It 
is used in fighting at close quarters ; and the blows are warded off by the heavy 
shield, which is a strong piece of triangular wood, three feet long by five or six 
inches broad, tapering to a point at each end ; with a hole in the centre, lined 
with opossum skin, for the left hand. In grappling, the shields are thrown away, 
and the combatants deliver their blows on each other's backs with the sharp point 
of the liangle, by reaching over their shoulders. The liangle is not ornamented 
in any way, but the front of the shield is covered with the usual diagonal 
lines. 

There are several kinds of clubs, varying in size from a walking-stick, which 
the natives term a ' companion,' up to one of a formidable size, called a wum 
whuitch, which is always made of heavy wood, and is about two feet and a half 
long, with a broad almond-shaped end, about a foot long, terminating in a sharp 
point. The war boomerang is much heavier and more obtuse in the angle than 
the toy boomerang, and on being thrown it does not return. The natives 
generally carry a weapon resembling a war boomei-ang, but longer and heavier, 
and somewhat like a scimitar in shape. It is used as a scimitar. 



ANIMALS. 89 



CHAPTER XX. 

ANIMALS. 

The dingo — the wild dog of Australia — deservedly holds the first place in the 
estimation of the aborigines. Previous to the advent of the white man, though 
every wuurn had its pack of dogs, they were so very rare in their wild 
state — at least in the inhabited parts of the country — that one ' would 
not be seen in many days' travel.' This scarcity is attributed by the 
aborigines to the want of food. They were usually bred in a domesticated 
state, and no puppies were ever destroyed. Wild young ones also were caught 
and domesticated. The dogs were trained to guard the wuurns, which they did 
by growling and snarling. Dingoes never bark. As they would not sleep or 
take shelter under the roof of their master, a separate place was generally erected 
for them. In watching they were vigilant and fierce. They would fly at the 
throats of visitors ; and strangers had often to take refuge from them by climbing 
into a tree. They were also trained to hunt, which was their principal use. 
They were active and skilful in killing kangaroos, and seldom got cut with the 
powerful hind toes of these animals. When they killed one, they 3'elped to let 
their master know where they were. Some well-trained dogs would even 
come home and lead their owners to the dead game. In some of the mountainous 
parts of Victoria, but especially in the Otway ranges, the dingoes were so very 
numerous and fierce, and hunted in such large packs, that the natives were 
afraid to venture among them, and often had to take refuge in trees. Since the 
introduction of the European dog the dingo is not used, notwithstanding its 
superiority in several respects to the former, which is preferred on account of its 
afiectionate and social disposition. 

The forest kangaroo is generally hunted by stalking, and is killed with the 
hunting spear. If the kangaroo is grazing on open ground, where there is no 
cover to conceal the hunter, he makes a circular shield of leafy branches, about 
two or three feet in diameter, with a small hole in the centre to look through ; 
and, with this in front, he crawls towards the kangaroo while its head is down, 
remains motionless if it looks up, and, when he has got within throwing distance, 

_ 



90 AUSTMALIAN ABORIGINES. 



transfixes it with a spear which he has dragged after him between his toes. 
The brush and wallaby kangaroos, unlike the foresters, frequent scrubby valleys 
and patches of brushwood, and are hunted with dogs and spears. 

The common opossum supplies the aborigines with one of their principal 
articles of food, and the skin of this animal is indispensable for clothing. It 
lives in holes in the trunks of trees, and also in the ground and among rocks. 
Before the occupation of the country by the white man, opossums were only to 
be found in the large forest trees ; and they were so scarce that the hunter 
required to go in search of them early in the morning, before the dew was off 
the grass, and track them to the trees, which were then marked and afterwards 
visited during the day. Now, since the common opossums have become 
numerous, in consequence of the destruction of animals of prey by the settlers, 
the hunter does not look for their tracks among the grass, but examines the 
bark of the trees ; and, if recently-made scratches are visible on it, he immediately 
prepares to swarm up the bole. It may be seventy or one hundred feet in 
height without a branch, but he ascends without difficulty, by cutting deep 
notches in the thick bark with his axe. In these notches he inserts his fingers 
and his toes, and climbs with such skill and care that very few instances of 
accident are known. On reaching the hole where the opossum has its nest, he 
introduces a long wand and pokes the opossum till it comes out. He then seizes 
it by the tail, knocks its head against the tree, and throws it down. Occasionally 
several opossums occupy one cavity. When it is too deep for the wand to reach 
them, a hole is cut in the trunk of the tree opposite their nest. 

The ring-tailed opossum — so the aborigines say — formerly made its nest in 
the holes of trees ; but, since the common kind has increased so greatly in 
numbers, they have taken possession of the holes, and compelled the ring-tails to 
build covered nests in low trees and scrub, somewhat similar to those of the 
European magpie and squirrel. In corToboration of the change in the habits of 
the ring-tail opossum, the writer may state that he has observed their nests 
in both situations, in low shrubs and also in hollow stumps of trees. As a 
further proof of this, the aborigines have no name for the nest of the ring-tail 
opossum when it is built in a bush. 

The wombat, being a nocturnal animal, cannot be caught by daylight ; and, 
being a deep burrower, cannot be got by digging, except where the ground is 
soft. The burrow sometimes extends a long distance ; but, as it is large enough 
to admit a man, the hunter crawls into it till he reaches the animal — which is 



ANIMALS. 91 



harmless — and then taps on the roof to let his friend above ground know its 
position ; a hole is then sunk, and the wombat dragged out. Should the burrow 
be under a layer of rock, the hunter lies quietly above its mouth, and, 
when the wombat comes out after sunset to feed, he jumps into the hole and 
intercepts the frightened animal on its retreat to its den. The flesh of a fat 
wombat is considered very good to eat. No use is made of the skin. 

The bear, or ' sloth bear of Australia,' forms a substantial article of food ; 
and it is easily discovered by the hunter, as it does not hide itself in holes, but 
sits all day long in the fork of a tree. On a native ascending the tree, it 
gradually climbs for safety to the top of a branch so slender that it bends with 
its weight. As the climber dare not venture so far, he cuts the limb, and with it 
sends the bear to the ground. But, as nature appears to have given tree-climbing 
animals immunity from injury from falls of even hundreds of feet, the bear 
immediately scrambles up the nearest tree, imless someone is ready to secure it. 
No use is made of the skin of the bear. 

The emu, the turkey bustard, and the gigantic crane are stalked by means 
of a screen made of a bunch of plants held in front of the hunter. The plant 
used is the shepherd's purse, and a bunch of it is indispensable to every hunter 
on the open country, where branches of trees are not easily got. The hunter, 
concealed from view behind this screen, creeps up towards the game, and carries 
exposed to view as a lure a blue-headed wren, which is tied alive to the point of 
a long wand, and made to flutter. When the game approaches to seize the bait, 
it is killed with a waddy ; or it is caught with a noose fixed on the point of the 
wand, which the hunter slips over its head while it is trying to catch the 
wren. 

The turkey bustard is sometimes killed without stalking, as it has a habit, 
when anyone approaches, of Ij'ing down and concealing itself among long grass, 
like the grouse and partridge. In this way the hunter gets near enough to kill 
it with a waddy. In the breeding season no respect is paid to birds hatching. 
When a turkey's nest is discovered, the great object of the hunter is to secure the 
mother as well as the eggs ; and, for that purpose, he suspends a limb of a tree 
across the nest, supported at one end with a short stick, to which a long string is 
attached. This string reaches to a hole in the ground, which the hunter digs, 
and in which he sits, covered with bushes and dry grass. When the turkey 
returns to her nest, and seats hereelf in it, the string is pulled, and she is crushed 
by the log. 



92 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



Emus are frequently run down with dogs. They are sometimes trapped, 
dui-ing the dry weather, by digging a hole in a nearly dried-up swamp, where 
the birds are in the habit of drinking. The hole is about twenty feet in diameter, 
and made very muddy and soft, with a little water in the centre. When the 
birds wade in to drink, they get bogged, and are easily captured. If not actually 
smothered, they are very much exhausted with struggling. This trap, if at a 
distance from the camp, is visited every two or three days to remove the birds. 
The feathers are highly prized for making ornaments, the fat for anointing the 
body and hair, and the flesh for food. Emu is considered the greatest delicacy. 
It is eaten, however, only by the men and grey -haired women ; young women 
and childi-en are not allowed to partake of it. No reason is given for this rule. 
When the time for the emu to lay her eggs has arrived — which is marked, as has 
been elsewhere observed, by the star Canopus appearing a little above the horizon 
in the east at daybreak — every member of a tribe must return home, and no eggs 
must be taken from the grounds of a neighbouring tribe. If any person is caught 
trespassing and stealing the eggs, he or she can be put to death on the spot. The 
aborigines say that the emu is very ready to desert her nest, and if she observes 
yellow leeches crawling over her eggs before she lays the u.sual number, she 
immediately commences a new one, which accounts for many abandoned nests 
with only two or three eggs in them, instead of the usual dozen. The first egg 
of the emu is called ' purtse wuuchuup,' meaning ' youngest,' because it is not only 
the smallest but the last to hatch, and is always at the bottom of the nest, 
covered by the others. The eggs are considered a great treat, and are cooked in 
hot ashes. 

The aborigines have a tradition respecting the existence at one time of some 
very large birds, which were incapable of flight, and resembled emus. They 
lived long ago, when the volcanic hills were in a state of eruption. The 
native name for them is ' meeheeruung parrinmall' — ' big emu,' and they are 
described, hyperbolically, as so large that their ' heads were as high as the hills,' 
and so formidable that a kick from one of them would kill a man. These birds 
were much feared on account of their extraordinary courage, strength, and speed 
of foot. When one was seen, two of the bravest men of the tribe were ordered 
to kill it. As they dared not attack it on foot, they provided themselves with a 
great many spears, and climbed up a tree ; and when the bu'd came to look at 
them, they speared it from above. The last specimen of this extinct bird was 
seen near the site of Hamilton. In all probability, skeletons will be some day 



ANIMALS. 93 



found, corroborating the statements of the aborigines with regard to this bird, 
which seems to have resembled the gigantic moa of New Zealand. 

Swans are killed in marshes, by the hunter wading among the tall reeds and 
sedges, and knocking the birds on the head with a waddy. When the nullore 
blossoms, the swans commence laying. The eggs are generally eaten raw, 
especially by the men while wading in the cold swamps, as they believe an 
uncooked egg keeps them warm. The penalty for robbing a swan's nest in a 
marsh belonging to a neighbouring tribe is a severe beating. Ducks and the 
smaller waterfowl are captured among the reeds and sedges with a noose on the 
point of a long wand. The hunter approaches them under the concealment of a 
bunch of leaves, and slips the noose over their heads, and draws them towards 
him quietly, so as not to disturb the others. 

In summer, when the long grass in the marshes is dry enough to burn, it is 
set on fire in order to attract birds in search of food, which is exposed by the 
destruction of the cover ; and, a.s the smoke makes them stupid, even the wary 
crow is captured when hungry. Sometimes a waterhole is surrounded with a 
brush fence, in which an opening is left. Near this opening a small bower is 
made, in which the hunter sits ; and, when the birds come to drink, he nooses 
them while passing. Pigeons are caught in great numbers in this way ; and, as 
they come regularly to drink at simset, the hunter has not long to wait for them. 
The quail is captured during the breeding season only, for then it is readily 
attracted by imitating the call of its mate ; and the hunter, concealed by a bush 
shield and provided with the long wand and noose, has no diflaculty in catching 
it among the long grass. Small birds are killed with a long, sharp-pointed wand 
by boys, who lie in thickets and attract them by imitating their cries. When a 
bird alights on a bush above their heads, they gently push up the wand and 
suddenly transfix the animal. 

The eagle is hated on account of its readiness to attack yoimg children. 
The natives mention an instance of a baby having been carried off by one, while 
crawling outside a wuurn near the spot where the village of Caramut now stands. 
On the discovery of an eagle's nest— which is always built on the top of a high 
tree— the natives wait the departure of the old birds, and, while one man watches 
for their return, the other climbs up and digs a hole through the bottom of the 
nest, and removes the eggs. If it contains young birds, too strong to be handled, 
he sets fire to the nest with a lighted stick, which he carries between his teeth. 
This so terrifies them that they jump out, and fall to the ground. While the old 



94 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



birds are present no native will venture up to their nest, for a blow from their 
wing would make him lose his hold, and death would be the consequence. 

Fish are caught in various ways, but the idea of a hook and line never 
appears to have occurred to the natives of the Western District. Large fresh- 
water fish are taken by tying a bunch of worms, with cord made of the inner 
bark of the prickly acacia, to the end of a long supple wand like a fishing-rod. 
The bait is dipped into the pool or stream, and, when swallowed by the fish, it is 
pulled up quickly before the fish can disgorge it. Fishing baskets, about eight 
or ten feet long, made of rushes in the form of a drag-net, are drawn through 
the water by two persons. Various kinds of fish are thus captured. The small 
fish, ' tarropatt,' and others of a similar description, are caught in a rivulet which 
runs into Lake Colongulac, near Camperdown, by damming it up with stones, 
and placing a basket in a gap of the dam. The women and children go up the 
stream and drive the fish down ; and, when the basket is full, it is emptied into 
holes dug in the ground to prevent them escaping. The fish thus caught are 
quickly cooked by spreading them on hot embers raked out of the fire, and are 
lifted with slips of bark and eaten hot. 

Eels are pi-ized by the aborigines as an article of food above all other fi.sh. 
They are captured in great numbers by building stone barriers across rapid 
streams, and diverting the current through an opening into a funnel-mouthed 
basket pipe, three or four feet long, two inches in diameter, and closed at the 
lower end. When the streams extend over the marshes in time of flood, clay 
embankments, two to tliree feet high, and sometimes three to four hundred yards 
in length, are built across them, and the current is confined to narrow openings 
in which the pipe baskets are placed. The eels, proceeding down the stream in 
the beginning of the winter floods, go headforemost into the pipes, and do not 
attempt to turn back. Lake Boloke is the most celebrated place in the Western 
District for the fine quality and abundance of its eels ; and, when the autumn 
rains induce these fish to leave the lake and to go down the river to the sea, the 
aborigines gather there from great distances. Each tribe has allotted to it a 
portion of the stream, now known as the Salt Creek ; and the usual stone barrier 
is built by each family, with the eel basket in the opening. Large numbers are 
caught during the fishing season. For a month or two the banks of the Salt 
Creek presented the appearance of a village all the way from Tuureen Tuureen, 
the outlet of the lake, to its junction with the Hopkins. The Boloke tribe 
claims the country round the lake, and both sides of the river, as far down as 



ANIMALS. 95 



Hexham, and consequently has the exclusive right to the fish. No other tribe 
can catch them without permission, which is generally granted, except to 
unfriendly tribes from a distance, whose attempts to take the eels by force have 
often led to quarrels and bloodshed. Spearing eels in marshes and muddy ponds 
is a favourite amusement. Armed with two eel-spears, the fisher wades about, 
sometimes in water up to his waist, probing the weeds and mud, at the same time 
gently feeling with his toes. On discovering an eel under his feet, he transfixes 
it with one spear pushed between his toes, and then with another, and by 
twisting both together he prevents its escape, and raises it to the surface. He 
then crushes its head with his teeth, and strings it on a kangaroo sinew tied to 
his waist. In instances where old men have very few or bad teeth, it is amusing 
to see them worrying the heads, while the tails of the eels are wriggling and 
twisting round their necks. If the marsh is shallow, the eel can be seen 
swimming in the water. It is followed to its hole in the ground. The fisher 
probes the spot with an eel-spear, and, feeling that he has transfixed the eel, he 
treads in with his heel a round portion of the mud and weeds, lifts the sod to the 
surface of the water, and removes the eel. Sometimes two spears are needed 
to secure the fish. In summer, when the swamps are quite dry on the surface, 
but moist underneath, eels are discovered by their air-holes, and are dug up. 

For night fishing in deep waterholes, a stage is formed of limbs of trees, 
grass, and earth, projecting three or four feet from the bank, and close to the 
surface of the water. A fire is lighted on the bank, or a torch of dry bark 
held aloft, both to attract the fish and give light. The fisher, lying on his face, 
spies the fish through a hole in the middle of the stage, and either spears or 
catches them with his hand. In shallow lakes and lagoons fish are caught during 
very dark nights with torch and spear. The torch is made of dried ti-tree twigs, 
tied in a bundle. The fishers wade through the water in line, each with a light 
in one hand and a spear in the other. Fish of various kinds are attracted by the 
light, and are speared in great numbers. 

Crayfish and crabs are caught by wading into the sea, and allowing them to 
lay hold of the big toe, which is moved about as a bait. The fisher then reaches 
down and seizes the animal by the back, pulls ofi" its claws, and puts it into a 
basket, which is slung across his shoulders. Freshwater mussels are found in 
the rivers. When the water beetle is seen swimming on the surface of the water 
in great numbers, it is a sign that there are ' plenty of mussels there.' Hence 
the water beetle is called the 'mother of mussels.' Tortoises abound in the 



96 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



River Hopkins. The aborigines believe that thunder causes them to come out of 
the water and lay their eggs. These they deposit in the sand, and cover with a 
layer of soft mud, about the size of the mouth of a tea cup. This indicates their 
position to the fisher, who digs them up with a stick. They are roasted in hot 
ashes, and are considered very good eating. 

Snakes are very much dreaded by the aborigines, who, from their primitive 
habits, are peculiarly exposed to danger from these reptiles. Only two instances, 
however, of death from snake-bite are known to the present generation of the 
tribes mentioned in this book ; and there is no recollection of any death of a 
child from this cause. There are eight kinds of snake, including boas, most of 
which are venomous ; and their poison is considered to be just as virulent when 
they are in a semi-torpid state as when they are in full activity. There is only 
one variety — the carpet or tiger snake — which will attack a man without 
provocation, and this is the most deadly of all the Victorian snakes. The death- 
adder of the interior of Australia, whose bite is said to kill a large dog in fifteen 
minutes, is unknown in the Western District of Victoria. On the Mount 
Elephant Plains there is a small kind of snake, called ' gnullin gnullin,' which is 
about eighteen inches long, and one-third of an inch in diameter, of uniform 
thickness, and terminating abruptly at the tail. It resembles the English 
blind-worm, and, like it, is harmless. With the exception of this and the boas, 
the bite of any of the snakes will produce temporary indisposition. When, 
therefore, a person is bitten by a snake, and has not been able to discern the 
species to which it belongs, he is made to look at the sun, and, if he see an emu 
in it, the case is considered hopeless : he has seen his spectre, and must shortly 
die. If nothing be seen in the sun, there is hope of recovery. The only remedy 
used is rubbing the wound with fat. They have no idea of sucking the wound, 
or scarifying it. They have a very correct idea of the nature of snake-bite, for 
they believe that the poison is contained in a bag behind the eye, and is 
projected into the wound through a hollow in the fang. They say that one 
poisonous snake can kill another. 

Boa snakes are not so plentiful as the others. There are two kinds, a larger 
and a smaller. Of the larger kind, individuals have been killed ten feet long. 
They are of a dark mottled leaden colour, and have small heads, with large teeth. 
The smaller kind is the more dangerous of the two. It will attack a human 
being readily and unprovoked. When it has laid hold of its victim, it cannot 
easily be removed. It winds itself tightly round the body until it reaches the 



ANIMALS. 97 



crown of the head, and then waves its head to and fro. When irritated, or 
when calling to its mate, it emits a sound like ' kae, kse, ka3.' It is the only 
snake that makes any sound. Pundeet Puulotong said, that, when he was a little 
boy, a boa snake attacked a man at the Salt Creek, and squeezed his neck so 
severely that he died the same day. The boy saw the reptile spring on its victim, 
but was afraid to go near it, and ran home to tell his friends, who came too late to 
assist the man. He was dead, and the snake was gone. Near Mount Rouse two 
men were attacked by a boa, which sprang on one of them and wound itself 
round his body ; the other was too frightened to help his companion, and kept at 
a distance. The snake, on reaching his head, ' whistled' and brought its mate, 
which also wound itself round the man. He, knowing the habits of the boa, 
remained quite still. The other man then ran for assistance. The friends came, 
but only to watch ; knowing that the boas, if disturbed, would probably bite the 
man as well as squeeze him, and, if let alone, might leave their victim alone. 
After a while they did so, but the man had been nearly frightened to death. 

At Kangatong, an aboriginal was attacked by a boa, which got up his le^', 
underneath his blue shirt as far as his belt, and began to squeeze him. He threw 
himself on the ground, and rolled backwards and forwards till it released him. 
When he came to the house at Kangatong and told the story, it was at first 
discredited ; but on examining the dead snake and the marks of the struggle, and 
knowing the thoroughly reliable character of the man — who was blue with fright, 
and scarcely able to walk— there was no longer room to doubt of the truth of his 
statement. Long previous to this occurrence the natives had often pointed to a 
stony rise, and said that there a snake had seized and squeezed a man ; but the 
story had been misbelieved. This later occurrence, coming more under the 
cognizance of the white people, obtained credit for the former statements, and 
showed that the boas of Victoria will attack human beings, and are dangerous. 



14 



98 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES 



CHAPTER XXI. 

METEOROLOGY AND ASTRONOMY. 

Great reliance is placed by the natives on certain signs, as indicating a change 
in the weather; and, even when a white person might not observe symptoms of 
an approaching storm, the natives are made aware of it by signs well known to 
them. They notice the appeai'ance of the sun, moon, stai-s, and clouds, the 
cries and movements of animals, &c. A bright sunrise prognosticates fine 
weather ; a red sunrise, rain ; a red sunset, heat next day ; a halo round 
the sun, fine weather ; a bright moon, fine weather ; the old moon in the 
arms of the new, rain ; the new moon lying on its back, dry weather ; 
a halo round the moon, rain ; a rainbow in the morning, fine weather ; a 
rainbow in the evening, bad weather ; a rainbow during rain, clearing up ; 
when mosquitoes and gnats are very troublesome, rain is expected ; when the 
cicada sings at night, there will be a hot wind next day. The arrival of the 
swift, which is a migratory liird, indicates bad weather. The whistle of the black 
jay, the chirp of the little green frog, the creak of the cricket, and the cry of the 
magpie lark indicate bad weather ; wet weather is more likely to come after full 
moon. It is a sign of heat and fine weather when the eagle amuses itself by 
towering to an immense height, turning its head suddenly down, and descending 
vertically, with great force and with closed wings, till near the earth, then 
opening them and sweeping upwards with half-closed wings to the same height. 
This movement it repeats again and again, for a long time, without exertion and 
with apparent pleasure. The aborigines call this movement ' warroweean,' and 
always expect warm weather to follow it. 

They believe that, in diy weather, if any influential person take water into 
his mouth and blow it towards the setting sun, saying, ' Come down, rain,' the 
wind will blow and the rain will pour for three days. When they wish for rain 
to make the grass grow at any particular place, they dig up the root of the 
convolvulus, called ' taiTuuk,' and throw it in the direction of the place, saying, 
' Go and make the grass grow there !' 

Although the knowledge of the heavenly bodies possessed by the natives 



METEOROLOGY AND ASTRONOMY. 99 



may not entitle it to be dignified by the name of astronomical science, it greatly 
exceeds that of most white people. Of such impoi-tance is a knowledge of the 
stars to the aborigines in their night journeys, and of their positions denoting the 
particular seasons of the year, that astronomy is considered one of the principal 
branches of education. Among the tribes between the rivers Leigh and Glenelg, 
it is taught by men selected for their intelligence and information. The 
following list wa.s obtained from Weerat Kuyuut, the sagacious old chief of the 
Moporr tribe, and from his very intelligent daughter, Yarrum Pai-pur Tameen, 
and her husband, Wombeet Tuulawarn : — 

The sun is called ' timg,' meaning ' light,' and is of the feminine gender. 

The moon, ' meeheaarong kuurtaruung,' meaning ' hip,' is masculine. 

The new moon, ' taaruuk neung,' is masculine. 

The larger stare are called ' kakii timg,' ' sisters of the sun,' and are feminine. 

The smaller stars, ' narweetch muring,' ' star earth.' 

The milky way, ' barnk,' ' big river.' 

The coal sack of the ancient mariners — that dark space in the milky way 
near the constellation of the Southern Cross — is called ' torong,' a fabulous 
animal, said to live in waterholes and lakes, known by the name of bunyip, and 
so like a horse that the natives on first seeing a horse took it for a brniyip, and 
would not venture near it. By some tribes the coal sack is supposed to be a 
waterhole ; and celestial aborigines, represented by the large stars around it, are 
said to have come from the south end of the milky way, and to have chased the 
smaller stars into it, where they are now engaged in spearing them. 

The larger Magellanic cloud, ' kuurn kuuronn,' ' male native companion,' or 
' gigantic crane.' 

The smaller Magellanic cloud, ' gnserang kuuronn,' ' female native companion.' 

Jupiter, ' Burtit tuung timg,' ' strike the sun '■ — as it is often seen near it at 
midday — feminin e. 

Venus, ' Wang'uul,' ' twinkle,' feminine ; also ' Paapee neowee,' ' mother of the 
sun.' 

Canopus, ' Waa,' ' crow ' — masculine. 

Sirius, or the dog star, ' Gneeangar,' ' eagle ' — masculine. 

Antares, ' Butt kuee tuukuung,' ' big stomach ' — masculine. The two stars 
near Antares, one on each side, are his wives, and the thi-ee stars underneath are 
called ' kuukuu naiTanuung,' ' nearly a grandfather.' The glow-worm took its 
light from Butt kuee tuukuung. 



100 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



Stars in tail of Scorpio, ' Kummim bieetch,' ' one sitting on the back of the 
other's neck ' — masculine. 

Pleiades are called ' kuiu'okeheear,' ' flock of cockatoos,' by the Kuurn kopan 
noot tribe, and are feminine. The Pirt kopan noot tribe have no general name 
for the Pleiades ; but there is a tradition that the stars in it were a queen called 
Gneeanggar, and her six attendants ; and, that, a long time ago, the star Canopus — 
' Waa,' ' crow ' — fell in love with the queen, but was so unsuccessful in gaining her 
affections that he determined to get possession of her by stratagem. Shortly 
after her refusal to become his wife, he discovered by some means that the queen 
and her six attendants were going in search of white grubs, of which they were 
very fond. On hearing of this, ' Waa ' at once conceived the idea of transforming 
himself into a grub ; and in this form he bored into the stem of a tree where he 
was certain to be observed by the queen and her servants. He was not long in 
his hiding-place before he was discovered by one of them, who thrust into the 
hole a small wooden hook, which women generally use for extracting grubs. He 
broke the point of the hook. He did the same with those of the other five 
attendants. The queen then approached, and introduced a beautiful bone hook 
into the hole. He knew that this hook was hers ; he therefore allowed himself 
to be drawn out, and immediately assumed the form of a giant, and ran ofi" with 
her from her attendants. Ever since the loss of the queen there have been only 
six stars in the Pleiades, representing her six servants. 

Some doubt having been expressed by friends to whom the manuscript was 
shown with regard to the authenticity of this story, which shows a very 
remarkable coincidence with tales of Grecian mythology, the strictest inquiry has 
been made through Mr. William Goodall, the superintendent of the Framlingham 
Aboriginal Station ; and the result of this inquiry lias been to confirm the story, 
and to show that it is well known in the Western District, and, with some 
variation, in South Aastralia also. 

The three stars in the belt of Orion are called ' Kuppiheear ' and are the 
sisters of Sirius, who always follows them. 

A yellowish star in the constellation of Orion is called ' Kuupartakil ; ' and 
another, of a red colour, is called ' Moroitch,' ' fire ' — ^masculine. 

Southern Cross, ' Kunkun Tuuromballank,' ' knot or tie ' — masculine. 

Centauri, the pointers, ' Tuulirmp,' ' magpie larks ' — masculine. 

Mars, ' Parrupum ' — masculine. 

Fomelhaut, 'Buunjill' — masculine. 



METEOROLOGY AND ASTRONOMY. 101 



Hydra, ' Barrukill,' is a great hunter of kangaroo rats, On his right, and a 
little above him, are two stars — the rat, and his dog ' Karlok ; ' above these 
again are four stars, forming a log ; underneath are four other stars, one of which 
is his light, and three form his arm. The dog chases the rat into the log ; 
Barrukill takes it out, devours it, and disappears below the horizon. Hydra is of 
great service to the aborigines in their night journeys, enabling them to judge the 
time of the night and the course to be taken in travelling. 

A comet, ' Puurt Kuurnuuk,' believed to be a great spirit. 

A meteor, ' Gnumniie waar,' ' deformity.' 

The crepuscular arch in the west in the morning is called ' Kullat,' ' peep- 
of-day.' 

The upper crepuscular arch in the east at sunset is called ' Kuurokeheear' 
puuron,' ' white cockatoo twilight.' 

The under arch, ' Kappiheear puuron,' ' black cockatoo twilight.' The 
natives say this arch comes from the constellation Orion. 

The crepuscular rays in the west after sunset are called ' rushes of the sun.' 

The Aurora Australis, ' Pure bure,' ' ashes.' 

For the names of the cardinal points of the compass, and of the various winds, 
see the vocabulary at the end of the book. 

The aborigines appear to be well acquainted with the effects of earthquakes. 
Besides one which they say rent the ground and formed ' Taap heear ' — a 
waterhole in Spring Creek, near Minjah House — they have a vivid recollection of 
another which occurred about forty years ago. Puulornpuul, who described it, 
was a little boy when it occurred. Three tribes were encamped on the lower 
Hopkins River, and were holding a korroborse after sunset ; they had their fires 
lighted round a waterhole, and were in the midst of their dancing, when a 
strange sound, ' like the galloping of horses,' approached from the north-west, 
accompanied with a violent shaking of the ground, which, according to 
Puulornpuul, ' ran about and pashed up blackfellows,' and wa.s immediately 
followed by a hurricane. This may have been the same earthquake which upset 
one of Major Mitchell's drays while his party was encamped between the Hopkins 
and Geelong. 

Some names of places indicate the existence of heat in the ground at a 
former period ; but no tradition exists of any of the old craters, so numerous in 
the Western District, ever having thrown out smoke or ashes, with the exception 
of 'Bo'ok,' a hill near the town of Mortlake. An intelligent aboriginal 



102 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



distinctly remembers his grandfather speaking of fire coming out of Bo'ok when 
he was a young man. When some of the volcanic bombs found among the 
scoricB at the foot of Mount Leura were shown to an intelligent Colac native, 
he said they were like stones which their forefathers told them had been thrown 
out of the hill by the action of fire. 



NATIVE MOUNDS. 103 



CHAPTER XXII. 

NATIVE MOUNDS. 

Native moumls, so common all over the country, are called ' pok j-uu ' by the 
Chaa wuurong tribe; 'po'ok,' by the Kuurn kopan noot tribe; and 'piuilwuurn ' 
by the Peek whuurong tribe ; and were the sites of large, permanent habitations, 
which formed homes for many generations. The great size of some of them, and 
the vast accumulation of burnt earth, charcoal, and ashes which is found in and 
around them, is accounted for by the long continuance of the domestic hearth, the 
decomposition of the building materials, and the debris arising from their frequent 
destruction by bush fires. They never were ovens, or original places of interment, 
as is generally supposed, and were only used for purposes of burial after 
certain events occurred while they were occupied as sites for residences — such as 
the death of more than one of the occupants of the dwelling at the same time, or 
the family becoming extinct; in which instance they were called 'muuru 
kowuutuung' by the Chaa wuurong tribe, and ' muuruup kaakee ' by the Kuurn 
kopan noot tribe, meaning ' ghostly place,' and were never afterwards used as 
sites for residences, and only as places for burial. There is an idea that when 
two persons die at the same time on anj' particular spot, their deaths, if not 
attributed to the spell of an enemy, are caused by something unhealthy about 
the locality, and it is abandoned for ever. It is never even visited again, except 
to bury the dead ; and the mounds are- used for that purpose only because the 
soil is loose, and a grave is more easily dug in them than in the solid ground. 
The popular notion of their having been ovens is refuted, not only by the 
unanimous testimony of all the old aborigines, but also by a careful examination 
of the structure and stratification of the mounds. On opening a very perfect 
circular mound, sixty-five feet in diameter and five feet high, and intersecting it 
by parallel trenches dug at intervals of three feet, down to the original surface 
soil, and through that and a bed of gravel to the clay, not the slightest sign was 
observed of the ancient alluvial soil having been disturbed. Had an oven ever 
existed there, it would have been distinctly visible in the floor of the wuurn, as 
native ovens are always formed by digging deep holes in the ground. In cutting 



104 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



through these mounds, a complete history of their growth was exhibited. Layers 
of yellow ashes, mixed with small pieces of charred wood, alternated with the 
earthy debris of the old dwellings ; and the numerous saucer-shaped, ashy hollows 
in the strata of the mounds showed where the fires had been. No stones larger 
than a walnut were found ; which is another proof that the fireplaces were never 
used as ovens. Several mounds, not more than a foot high, on being intersected 
in every direction, showed the remains of only one fireplace, and that alwaj's on 
the eastern side of the mound. In every large mound, and in some of the smaller 
ones, human skeletons were found about eighteen inches below the surface, lyinw 
on the side, with the head to the west, and the knees drawn up to the chest — a 
mode of sepulture not uncommon among the aboriginal inhabitants of England. 



ANECDOTES. 105 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

ANECDOTES. 

The first white man who made his appearance at Port Fairy (a locality named 
after a small vessel called the Fairij) was considered by the aborigines to be a 
supernatural being ; and, as he wa.s discovered in the act of smoking a pipe, they 
said that he must be made of fire, for they saw smoke coming out of his mouth. 
Though they were very ready to attack a stranger, they took good care not to go 
near this man of fire, who very probably owed the preservation of his life to his 
tobacco-pipe. Shortly afterwards a tipsy man was seen. He was considered 
mad, and everyone ran away from him. 

The first ship which was descried by the aborigines was believed to be a 
huge bird, or a tree growing in the sea. It created such ten-or that a messenger 
was immediately sent to inform the chief of the tribe, who at once declared the 
man to be insane, and ordered him to be bled by the doctor. 

When the natives first saw a bullock, they were encamped at the waterhole 
Wuurong Ytering in Spring Creek, near the spot where the village of Woolsthorpe 
now stands, and were engaged in fishing. The animal, which was evidently a 
stray working bullock from some exploring party, and which had a sheet of tin 
tied across his face to prevent him from wandering, came down to the waterhole 
to drink. The natives, who had never in their lives heard of such a large beast, 
instantly took to their heels. In the night time the bullock came to the 
encampment and walked about it bellowing, which so terrified the people in the 
camp that they covered themselves up with their rugs and lay trembling till 
sunrise. In the morning they saw what they believed to be a Muuruup, with 
two tomahawks in his head ; but no one dared to move. Immediately after the 
departure of this extraordinary and unwelcome visitor, a council of war was held; 
and the brave men, accompanied by their wives and children— who could not, 
under such alarming circumstances, be left behind— started in pursuit. The 
animal was easily tracked, as such footprints had never been seen before. They 
were followed four or five miles in a north-easterly direction. The bullock was 
at length discovered grazing in an open part of the forest. The bravest of the 

— - 



1 OG A USTRALIA N ABORIGINES. 



warriors went to the front, and, witli the whole tribe at their back, approached 
the animal. They asked if he was a whitefellow, and requested him to give 
them the tomahawks he carried on his head ; whereupon the astonished bullock 
pawed the ground, bellowed, shook his head, and charged. This so terrified the 
' braves ' that they fled headlong, and in their precipitate retreat upset men, 
women, and children, and broke their spears. The natives afterwards told this 
stoiy with great glee. It used to be narrated in a very humorous way by 
Gnaweeth, who was mentioned in a previous chapter, and afforded the women 
many a laugh at the expense of the men. It was also told more recently by 
Weeratt Kuuyuut, when he was considerably over seventy years of age ; and he 
described it as having occurred when he was a newly married man, which makes 
the date of the incident to have been about 1821 or '22. 



THE FIRST FORMATION OF WATERHOLES. 

One very dry season, when there was no water in all the country, and the 
animals were perishing of thirst, a magpie lark and a gigantic crane consulted 
together. They could not understand how it was that a turkey bustard of their 
acquaintance was never thirsty ; and, knowing that he would not tell them 
where his supply of water was obtained from, they resolved to watch and find 
out where he drank. They flew high into the air, and saw him go to a flat 
stone. Before lifting the stone, the turkey, afraid oi his treasure being 
discovered, looked up and saw the two birds, but they were so high, and kept so 
steady, that he took them for small clouds. He lifted the stone, therefore, and 
drank from a spring running out of a cleft in a rock. When he replaced the 
stone and flew away, the two spies came down and removed it, and took a drink 
and a bath, remarking, 'King gnakko gnal' — 'We have done him.' They 
flapped their wings with joy, and the water rose till it formed a lake. They 
then flew all over the parched country, flapping their wings and forming water- 
holes, which have been drinking-places ever since. 



THE TORTOISE AND THE SNAKE. 

Long ago the tortoise was a venomous beast, and bit people while they were 
drinking at waterholes and streams. To avoid being bitten, they adopted the 
plan of scooping up the water with their hands and throwing it into their 



ANECDOTES. 107 



mouths. This precaution so disappointed the tortoise, that he asked the snake 
to allow him to transfer his deadl}' venom to it ; and argued that, since the 
natives had adopted another mode of drinking, he had no opportunity of 
destroying them, but that the snake had many opportunities of biting them in 
their vvuurns and among the long grass. The snake agreed to the proposal, and 
ever afterwards the tortoise has been harmless. This method of drinking, 
however, which was adopted to avoid the bite of the tortoise, still continues. 



THE BLUE HERON. 

Once upon a time, while a large meeting was being held at a place near 
Dunkeld, and the natives were encamped under a wide-spreading red gum-tree, 
and were enjoying a feast of small fish, one of their number was so displeased 
because he did not get the whole of the fish to himself, which had been distributed 
to his tribe, that he took the form of a heron, and, lighting on the tree, knocked 
it down and killed nearly the whole of the tribe. Those who escaped ran ofi' and 
told the other tribes who were encamped in the neighbourhood what had 
happened. When they came to the spot, they found that the heron had eaten all 
the fish. In revenge they laid upon him the curse that his spirit would fly about 
for ever in the form of a blue heron, and then they killed him. 



THE NATIVE COMPANION AND THE EMU. 

A native companion and an emu, each with a brood of young ones, went to 
a swamp to get sedge roots, which are very good to eat. They kindled a fire on 
the bank in which to cook the roots, and then waded into the water to get a 
supply. The native companion pulled up a number of roots, and returned to the 
fire, provided with a long pole, with which she pushed the roots into the fire, 
and had them all covered up, and the pole hidden, before the emu returned with 
her supply. The emu had only a very short stick, which was soon burnt in 
trying to push her roots into the fire. She used first one foot and then the other. 
Both got scorched. She tried her wings next, then her bill, and had them 
.scorched likewise. She ran to the swamp to cool her bums. On her return she 
found the native companion and her young ones digging the roots out of the fii-e 
with the long pole, and eating them. The emu was very ill pleased at the trick. 



108 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



but resolved to be revenged at a future opportunity. Some time afterwards they 
went again to the swamp for roots, kindled a fire on the bank, and left the 
young emus only at it to watch the fire. The young native companions 
accompanied their mother. The emu came home first, fed her young ones with 
roasted roots, and hid all her brood except two. The native companion returned 
with her young ones, and, on inquiring what was being roasted in the fire, was 
told by the emu that, as she could not find any roots, and was very hungry, she 
was cooking all her young ones except the two which were running about. 
Thereupon the native companion killed all her young ones except two, and put 
them into the fire to roast. After they were eaten, the emu called her brood 
from then- hiding-place, and, addressing the native companion, said, ' Now I have 
served you out for deceiving me on a former occasion, and ever after this you 
will have no more than two young ones at a time, instead of a dozen as I have, 
and as you had before playing this trick on me.' 

THE BUNYIP. 

The following stoiy was told by the old chief, Morpor, to his daughter and her 
husband : — Long ago two brothers — one of them so tall that he looked down on 
everybody, and the other of ordinary size — went to a swamp near Mount 
William to get swans' eggs. They found a great many ; and, while roasting 
some of them on the bank of the lagoon, the smaller of the brothers said that he 
must get some more from the swamp. The taller one forbade him to go alone. 
However, he did go. He found a nest in the middle of the lagoon, and took the 
eggs. When returning to the shore, he heard a rush of water behind him, and 
saw the water-fowls in front of him hurrying along the water as if frightened. 
At the same time, the bottom of the marsh became so soft that he stuck in the 
mud, and could not go forward. A great wave overtook him and carried him 
back to the nest, where a large bunyip caught him in its mouth. It held him so 
high that his brother saw him. Some hours afterwards the water became calm. 
The tall brother then took a sheet of bark and put a fire on it, and, approaching 
the nest, saw his brother in the mouth of the bunyip. Speaking to the bunyip, 
he said — 'Be quiet, and let me take my brother.' The bunyip gnashed its 
teeth and gave him up ; but he was dead, and his entrails had been devoured. 
The brother took the body ashore and laid it near the fire, and wept. He then 
went for liis friends, who came and carried the coi-pse to their home. After he 



ANECDOTES. 109 



had watched it for two days, the relatives put it in a tree for one moon, and then 
burned it, with the exception of the leg and arm bones, which were given to the 
friends of the deceased. 

THE GHOST. 

A man, travelling in the country of a friendly tribe, came upon a deserted 
habitation. Above the doorway he saw the usual crooked stick, pointing in the 
direction which the family had taken ; and, all round about the place, pieces of 
bark covered with white clay, indicating a death. He found tracks leading to a 
tree, in which he soon discovered a dead body. Anxious to know who had died, 
he laid down his rug and weapons at the foot of the tree, and ascended it. On 
removing the opossum rug from the face, he found that it was a friend. He wept 
for a long time, then came down and went away ; but he had not gone far before 
he heard some magpies making a great noise, as though they saw something 
strange. He turned round to see what it was, and, to his horror and amazement, 
saw the ghost of the deceased come down and follow him. He became so 
terrified that he could not move ; and, addressing it, said — ' Why do you frighten 
me, when I have come to see you, and never did you any harm ?' It never spoke, 
but followed him for a considerable distance, scratching his back meanwhile with 
its nails, and then returned to the tree. Wlien he reached his friends he told 
them what had happened, and showed them his back, lacerated and bleeding ; and 
said that he had a presentiment that something bad would befall him before 
long. At the next meeting of the tribes he was speared through the heart. 



THE METEOR. 

A friend communicates the following anecdote as illustrative of the clever- 
ness of the aborigines. ' On one occasion, having tried in vain to get an old 
man — known about Camperdown as Doctor George — to understand something 
of the Christian religion, I turned the conversation to the subject of a large 
meteor which had appeared a few months previously, and asked him if he had 
seen it. After a little he caught my meaning, and said — " Yes ! me see him, like 
it fire ; him go 'ff 'ff," pointing with his finger its path along the sky. I asked 
him what he thought it was. He answered, carelessly, " Borak me know." Then 
suddenly brightening up, and putting on a slyly grave countenance, he said : 



110 AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



" Me think, great big one master " — pointing to the sky — " want smoke him pipe. 
Him strike him match," suiting the action to the words, " and puff, puff," 
pretending to smoke. Then he made a movement as though he slowly dropped 
a match through the air. Tlie comical assumption of gravity with which this was 
said, and the quickness with which the impromptu explanation was invented, 
showed that if he did not understand my religious teaching, it was certainly not 
from lack of intelligence.' 

BUCKLEY'S WIDOW. 

The following account has been kindly communicated by Mr. Goodall, the 
Superintendent of the Aboriginal Station at Framlingham, who has in several 
other ways assisted the writer in obtaining information from the aborigines 
under his charge : — 

There is, at the Aboriginal Station at Framlingham, a native woman named 
Purranmurnin Tallarwurnin, who was the wife of the white man Buckley at the 
time he was found by the first settlers in Victoria. She belonged originally to the 
Buninyong tribe, and was about fifteen years old when she became acquainted with 
Buckley. She says that one of the natives discovered immense footprints in the 
sand hummocks near the Eiver Barwon, and concluded that they had been made 
by some unknown gigantic native — a stranger, and therefore an enemy. He set 
off at once on the track and soon discovered a strange-looking being lying down 
on a small hillock, sunning himself after a bath in the sea. A brief survey, 
cautiously made, was sufficient. The native hurried back to the camp and told 
the rest of the tribe what he had seen. They at once collected all the men in the 
neighbourhood, formed a cordon, and warily closed in on him. When they came 
near he took little or no notice of them, and did not even alter his position for 
some time. They were very much alarmed. At length one of the party finding 
courage addressed him as muurnong guurk (meaning that they supposed him to be 
one who had been killed and come to life again), and asked his name, " You 
Kondak Baarwon?" Buckley replied by a prolonged grunt and an inclination 
of the head, signifying yes. They asked him a number of other questions, all of 
which were suggested by the idea that he was one of themselves returned from 
the dead, and to all the questions Buckley gave the same reply. They were 
highly gratified, and he and they soon became friends. They made a wuurn of 
leafy branches for him, and lit a fire in front of it, around which they all 



ANECDOTES. Ill 



assembled. He was then recognized as one of the tribe. The news spread 
rapidly, and he was visited by large numbers of natives from different parts of the 
colony, who always showed great fear of him at first. The children especially 
would hide themselves from him, or call to their mothers to keep them from the 
Muuruup. 

When ships visited the coast to get wood and water, Buckley never sought 
to make himself known to any of them. On several occasions ships were 
wrecked on the coast and all hands perished. From the wrecks Buckley and his 
tribe secured a large quantity of blankets, axes, and other articles, which he 
taught them how to use. 

When Batman arrived at Geelong, Buckley was fishing in the river Barwon— 
in which pursuit he excelled — and the news was conveyed to him by a number of 
natives, who brought him several articles which they had received as presents 
from Batman and his friends, such as biscuits, sugar, bread, &c., which he at once 
recognized and partook of. He was asked by the tribe to take his fish (of which 
he had a large quantity) iind all his war accoutrements, and go down to the " big 
ships." When he arrived he was met by Batman and " all the other big fellows," 
who were well pleased to see a white man among the natives. Buckley could not 
at first understand what they said, having completely forgotten his own language. 
He looked so puzzled while he was endeavouring to recall his mother tongue. 
Several days passed before he could converse with any freedom. Batman and 
his companions were not long in getting Buckley thoroughly washed and shaved, 
and in cutting his hair, which had grown to a prodigious length. When he was 
taken away in the ship the natives were much distressed at losing him, and 
when, some time after, they received a letter informing them of his marriage in 
Hobart Town, they lost all hope of his return to them, and grieved accordingly. 

Buckley arrived at Port Phillip in 1S02 as a convict, and in 1803 made his 
escape into the bush. After wandering about for one year he joined the 
aborigines, and lived with them till 1833. For thirty-two yeai-s he had not 
conversed with a white man. He had no children, and died in Tasmania 
in 185G. 



COX^TITANCE BY PErXCIPAL CHIEFS TO BATMAN OF lOO.f 
ACEES BETWEEN GEELONG AND QUEENSCLIFF. 



The lithograph opposite to this page is a facsimile of a parchment conveyance 
of certain land near Geelong to John Batman from eight chiefs, who affixed their 
marks, or signatures, to the deed, and at the same time symbolized the transfer 
of the land by taking up some of the soil and handing it to Batman. The 
original document is in the custody of Messrs. Taylor, Buckland and Gates, who 
have kindly given their permission to its publication. The heading is not in the 
original document. 

Another conveyance of 500,000 acres between Geelong and the Yarra was 
made to Batman. A copy of this conveyance is to be found in the Record Office, 
in the Van Diemen's Land Correspondence, and has been published by Dr. Lang, 
by Mr. Bonwick, by Mr. Arden, and by Mr. Labelliere, in their several accounts 
of the early settlement of Victoria. 

Both of the transactions represented by these documents were disallowed by 
the Colonial Secretary, in London. 

The marks made by the chiefs on the parchment were their genuine and 
usual signatures, which they were in the habit of carving on the bark of trees 
and on their message sticks. The reader will be interested in these traces of 
civilization among a people who have hitherto been considered the least civilized 
of all nations. 







fOSVEYANOE by PRUICIPAl CniEFS to BATntN of 100.000 ACRES between (Jeelonj and Qneeoscllfl. 



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Gnarkuumboetch 

Onlf/ sjiecific 

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Ko'hiieung 

Talliin ... 

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Polong 

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Gnaikuumbeetch 

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Tuuroug muum kuurk ... 
Kulng glieelung 
Milpeelang ... 
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Tartkuurt kurrok kurrok 
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Korrondok 

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Island 




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Brother-in-law 

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Uncle 

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Grandson 

Grandson 

Grandchild 

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WaawiB ... 
Korweetch 
Korweetch 
Korweetch 
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Metchno... 
Yaanik mam 
If I am married — 
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Nunechee 
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Gnummee 
Aawan ... 
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Other sister 

Other sisU'r 

Sister-in-law 

Sister-in-law 

Brother-in-law 

Son 

Niece 

Daughter 

Nephew... 


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Niece 

Nephew ... 

Wife ... 

Grandfather 

Grandfather 

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Grandmother 

Cirandfather 

Grandmother 

Father-in-law 

Other father-in-law 


Aunt 

Mother-in-law 

Uncle ... 

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Yuuwanik kuutuuk ... 

Mutchuum... 

Kuurwekuurk 

Kuurwee ... 

Watchepee ... 

Mict kuurk 

Men 'gap 

Gnunna nup 


Karrinjek ... 
Chinna pung'se 
Naluunjek ... 
Muttchumee 
Gnum mee ... 
Yuwaa'gnik na'wan ... 
Yaa'gnak mutchuum... 
Mutchuum ... 
Gnum mee ... 
Yaa'gnak mutchuum... 
Niitchang niitch 
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niitch 


Muung go . . . 

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Naluun 

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Chiuna bung'ga 

Yuuwanek wutcheep... 


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„ sister's daughters 

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„ wife ... 

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„ wife's grandfather's brother 

,, wife's grandfather's sister... 

„ wife's grandmother 

„ wife's grandmother's brother 

„ wife's grandmother's sister 

„ wife's father 

„ wife's father's brother 


„ wife's father's sister 

„ wife's mother ... 

,, wife's mother's brother 

,, wife's mother's .sister 

„ wife's brother's son 

„ wife's brother's daughter ... 

„ wfe's sister's son 



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Ixxvii 



NAMES OF PLACES. 



It is deeply to be regretted that the opportunity for securing the native names 
of places has, in many districts, gone for ever. In most localities the aborigines 
are either dead or too young to have learned the names which their fathers 
gave to the various features of the coimtry ; and in those parts where a few old 
men are still to be met with, the white inhabitants, generally speaking, take no 
interest in the matter. With a very few worthy exceptions, they have done 
nothing to ascertain and record even those names which appertain to their own 
properties. How much more interesting would have been the map of the colony 
of Victoria had this been attended to at an earlier period of its history. 

The following are the native names of some conspicuous places in the 
Western District, and, as far as could be ascertained, their meanings. It must be 
noticed that rivers have not the same name from their source to the sea. 
The majority of Australian streams cease to flow in summer, and are then 
reduced to a chain of pools or waterholes, all of which, with their intermediate 
fords, have distinguishing names. The river which connects these waterholes in 
winter has no name. Every river, however, which forms one continuous stream 
during both summer and winter has a name which is applied to its whole 
length. For example, Taylor's River, or Mount Emu Creek, is called " Tampirr," 
" flowing water," from its source in Lake Burrumbeet to its junction with the 
Hopkins. At the same time, every local reach in these rivers has a distinguishing 
name. 



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Ixxxiv 



GRAMMAR AND SENTENCES. 



The Native Grammar is very meagre, and will be best imdei-stood by an 
examination of the accompanying illustrative sentences in the ' Kuurn kopan 
noot ' language. In the following illustrations the first line shows the original 
sentence, the second its translation into the aboriginal language, and the third a 
literal re-translation into English. It will be observed that, from the poverty of 
the language, the re-translation often fails to embody the full meaning of the 
original sentence. Hence, also, it is impossible to account for many discrepancies 
in the application of words in sentences. It is right, however, to say that, 
though much trouble was taken, it was found very difficult to make the 
aborigines understand what was wanted. It is on this account that so many 
illustrative sentences have been given. From these sentences the reader may 
form his own conclusions independently of the writer. 

AETICLES. 

Sometimes the pronoun ' this,' ' deen,' is employed where in English ' the ' 
would be used ; and occasionally the numeral ' one,' ' kiiappa,' is used where in 
English the indefinite article is employed. But there are no articles, properly 
speaking. 

NOUNS. 

Gender is distinguished by ' heear,' ' feminine,' after the specific name, but 
this aflSx is only used where we would use the word female. The possessive 
case is represented by the affix ' gnat,' ' belonging to.' There is no distinction 
of numbers in nouns. When numbers are intended, the numeral adjectives are 
used, e.g., spear one, spear two, spear three, &c. 

SENTENCES ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE CASES OF NOUNS. 

An opossum runs up the tree. , 

Kan beewsetnan -wnurotse kuuramuuk. 

Going up tree opossum. 



Ixxxv 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



nuuiig 
on. 



My dog bit the leg of the opossum. 

Bmindan pirn'guunong kuurarauuka kaal gnan. 
Bit leg opossiim dog mine. 

Give the opossum to the dog. 

Wuukakoe kaal kuuramuuka. 

Give dog opossum. 

Take the opossum from the dog. 

Kumiiin kai-taka^ kaal kuuramuuka. 

Take fo'om dog opossum. 

The opossum sits on a branch of the tree. 

Karma; gneengauna; kuuramuuk wuurkaa 
Up sits opossum branch 

The opossum has a young one in its pouch. 
Kuuramuuk Imat tuukua'yuung 
Opossum of young one 

The young opossum sits on its mother's back, 

Kuurna kum-amuuk gnuuni gnuum 
Yoimg opossum sitting on 

Tlie young opossum sits on the tree with its mother. 

Kannie gnseng gamise kuurna kuuramuuk 
Up sits young opossum 

Tlie young opossum runs away along with its mother. 

Karkuuran kuurna kuuramuuk puulie wretnanda 
Run young opossum two 

Take the young from the opossum. 

Mannakje kuurahneung kuuramuuk 
Take young one opossum 



paansetnuung. 
pouch its. 



giifetnong 
back 



together 



kneerangatong. 
mother of it. 



kneeranga?nong. 
mother its. 



kneeraneung. 
mother its. 



gnat, 
belonguig to. 



ADJECTIVES. 

There is no distinction of cases or genders in adjectives. There is no 
comparative degi-ee, and the superlative is expressed variously. See ILLUSTRATIVE 
Sentences. 

SENTENCES ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE USES OF ADJECTIVES. 

My dog is better than yours. 

Yang'se yang'ee gnuuteung kaal gnan gnuutook gnat. 
Good good dog mine yours. 



Ixxxvi 



GRAMMAR AND SENTENCES. 



This dog Ls the best, 
cleen 
this 



Kiiappa 
One 



gnuuteung 
"ood 



kaal. 
dog. 



Good, very good. 

Gnuuteung 
Good 



yangfe yang« 
very 



gnuuteung. 
good. 



High, very high. 

Kaniiie kannse 
Up up 

That is a very high tree. 



puurse. 
far. 



Wuurarab^t 
Long 

Very old. 

Wuulae wuulie 
Very 

That is an old man. 

Nuunambffi 
That 



kannak 
stick 



kuurn. 
old. 



dean 
this 



w'urrot. 
tree. 



gnarram gnarram. 
old man. 



That is a very old man. 

Nuunambae gnallam. 
That old man. 



An old 


opossum rug. 




Puurnoitch. 






Rotten rug. 


PRONOUNS. 


I ... 




. . Gnatook. 


My 






. . Gnan (affixed to noun). 


Mine 






. . Gnatonghatt. 


Me 






. . Gnan (affixed to verb). 


We 






. . Gnatook. 


Our 






.. Gniiyce (affixed to noun). 


Ours 






. . Gnatook gnat. 


Us 






. . Gniiyseyuung. 


You 


'those) 


. . Gnutook, or gnin. 


Yours (thine) 


. . Gnutook gnat, or gnu (affixed to noun) 


You- 


-plura 


1 


. . Gnutook gnuutsen. 



Ixxxvii 



AVSTUALIAN ABORIGINES. 



Yours — plural 


Gnuutfen. 


He — this one 


Didnte, or deelarje. 


Him — this one 


Didnan. 


His — belonging to him 


Gneung gnatbee, or gneung (afiixed to noun). 


They— these 


Didnanse. 


Them— these 


Didnanse. 


Theirs 


Gnu gnallan gnatbee. 


This 


DfejEn. 


That 


Nuubee. 


That one near you 


Noolambee. 


That over there 


Didnpe. 


They 


Dffilakanaree. 


These here ... 


Dee'gnalla gnannre. 


Tho.se 


Noolakanambee. 


SENTENCES ILLUSTRATIVE OF PRONOUNS. 


They two stole my shield. 


Piiuliiteha 


kattang mananda malkar gnan. 


Two 


of them took they shield mine. 


They all are bad. 




Gnmnnisa 


guUeen deen. 


Not 


good this. 


Their children are 


bad. 


Gnummse kuutnan deednan tukuse tukuse. 


Not good 


these children. 



I will not speak to them. 

Pang'iitch deen kneewakk. 
Will not to them speak. 

That man will kill them. 

Purtiicheen nuulambee. 
Will kill that one. 

This man will take their spears from them. 

KuuroEensechin tiiysera. 
Will be taken spears. 

Is this spear his own ? 

Gnarnatta deen tiiyserong. 
Who owns tliis spear? 



Ixxxviii 



GRAMMAR AND SENTENCES. 



Are these spears their own ? 

Kiiyong geetch tiiytera gnu gnallan gnatbee. 
Many spears their own. 

She is a good mother. 

Gnuuteung kneerang neung. 
Good mother it. 

Her son loves her. 

Muutse wanuung kneerang neung. 
Loves he mother his. 

This is her son. 

Deen kuupri neung. 
This son hers. 

Is this her own son? 

Nuubee tukuse gnu. 
This son yours 1 

That woman killed her own son. 

Partanuung tukuseyuung teelang tunnumbuui-a. 
Killed her son this woman, 

I kill an opossum. 

Burtanno kuuramuuk. 
Kill I opossum. 

My waddy killed the opossum. 

Waarwharang gnan burtanong kuuramuuk. 
Waddy mine kill opossum. 

The opossum bit me. 

Buundang gnan kuuramuuka. 
Bit me opossum. 

We two — you and I — will go away. 
Yannang'all. 
Go will we. 

We two — he and I — will go away. 
Yamaang'along. 
Go will we. 

We will all go away. 

Wakuumba wan. 
Go all of us. 



l^xix fn 



It is gone away. 

Wakuutanong. 
It is gone. 

They will look for us. 

Weetka kuui-tnayje. 
Look for us. 

They will not find us. 

Bang ayjB tambuurtakoot. 



Not 



find. 



They will find our dwelling. 

Tambuuratakoort wuurn 
They find dwelling 



gnatnsen. 
our.s. 



This shield is my own. 
Been mallhnan 
This shield 



gnatoughatt. 



This dwelling-place is our own. 



Been 

This 



wuuru 
dwelling 



gmiyas. 
our own. 



You are good. 

Gnuuteung 
Good 



gnm. 
you. 



Louisa. 
Louisa. 



Thy name is Louisa. 

Nobee gnuuk leegno 
There it is name 

He will kill thee. 
Parta hno. 
Kill you. 

You two are going away to-day. 

Puulameeapuula gninduuk puulang teenbee. 
Two of us you go away to-day. 

You all go away. 

Nu deen 
You these 



■wakumnbaawhaar. 

all so. 



They were looking for you. 

Wueetchkan hnuun gnuutka. 
Looking they for you. 



GRAMMAR AND SENTENCES. 



They will find you. 



Tumbuurtan 
Find you 


kiuinhnuutin. 
they you. 


They will burn down your dwelling. 


Pappakuut 
Burn 


iviiurn gnuutjesen. 
^v-uurn yours. 


Some blackfellows will burn your dwelling. 


Man-a papakuut wuurn gno. 
Blackfellows some bum will wuum yours 


Is this waddy thine 


own ? 


Nuutook linat 
Yours 


deen warwhaar. 
this waddy. 


This dwelling is mine. 


Deen ^vuum guan. 
This dwelling mine. 


This is his dog. 




Deen kaal 
This dog 


ong. 
his. 


The dog bit him. 




Puundan deen 
Bit 


kaal a. 
dog 



Give the spear to him. 

Wuukakee tiiyeera. 
Give spear 

Take the shield from him. 

Karoin kartakse maika. 
Take from him shield. 

VERBS. 

There are three Moods, Indicative, Imperative, and Potential ; and two 
Participles, the Present and the Past. The Passive Voice is formed by the Past 
Participle with the Pronoun. The Indicative Mood has two Tenses, Past and 
Future. The Present Tense is the same as the Past. The only difference between 
an interrogative and an assertive sentence is in the inflexion of the voice. 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



ILLUSTRATIVE VERB ' TO GO,' ' YAN.' 

To go, van. 
Groing, yannak. 
Gone, yannan. 

Iiidicative Mood. 

I am going to Terang to-morrow. 

Yannako mulljebaa Terang o. 
Go will I to-mon'ow Teranjj to. 



Thou art going. 

Yannak 
Going 

He is going. 

Yannak 
Going 



gmn. 
you. 



ditnanse. 
this. 



We two are going. 

Puulai-neea gnatook 
Two we 



hnaayse 
us 



yannak. 
going. 



You two are going. 

Puulameeapuul 
You two 



yannak. 
going. 



yamiak. 
going. 



We all are going. 

Paai-uung kuurneawan 
All of us 

You all are going. 

Wakuumbawar nuunanbewar 
Away them 

They two are going. 

Deen gnulla'gnin puularaeakk 
These two of us 

They all are going. 

Wakuumbakot 
AU 



yaunak. 
going. 



yannak. 
going. 



yannak. 
going. 



I went away yesterday. 

Gnaakat gniitch yiiinan. 
Yesterday self gone. 



GRAMMAR AND SENTMNOES. 



Thou didst go to Geelong. 






Nuu gnuurabee 
You about 


gnok 
there 


Geelong nguura 
Geelong at. 


He went to Geelong. 






Puura Geelong 
Away Geelong 


kutta. 
at. 




She went to Geelong. 






Puura Geelong 
Away Geelong 


kutta. 
at. 




We two went away. 

Puularneea yunaa 
We two went 


gnuluung. 
away. 


We all went away. 

Wakuumbaawanuung. 
AU gone. 






You two went away. 

Gninduuk puulang 
You two 


yimna 
went 


puulang. 
away. 



You all went away. 

Nuunumbeewarr wakuumban. 

They two went away. 
Poreena. 

They all went away. 
Wakuumeeanuut. 

I shall go away to-morrow. 

Mullsebaa mirtakk. 
To-morrow I go. 

Thou wilt go away. 

Yamia'gnin gnuutuuk. 



Go will 

He will go away. 

Yanna'gnin 
GowiU 



you. 



gnuutuuk. 
he. 



We two will go away. 

Gnatook hniyse yuung 



We 



both 



yarma 
go 



gnulluun. 

away. 



A USTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



We all will go away. 

Waakoobawhaan yarmak. 
AJl go. 

It is all gone. 

Wakuumbanoot. 
It all gone. 

You two will go away. 

Puularneearjiuul yamiak. 
You two go. 

You all will go away. 

"Wakuumeea katto. 
Will depart. 

They two will go away. 

Puularneeapuul yannak. 
They two go. 

They all will go away 
Wakuumeea wan. 
They will go. 

You tell me that you go away to-monow. 

Kuetka mahneenann mullsebaa yannahninuung. 
Tell me to-morrow you go. 

Tell me if you are going to-morrow. 

Kuetka raaakin nubee'gna yanna gnin mullsebaa 
Tell me there you going to-morrow. 

I may go next week. 

Yanna kueeya gnaakii mullaenuung. 
Go will I I think day or two. 



ILLUSTRATIVE VERB 'TO KILL,' 'BURTEEN.' 

Indicative Mood. 

I killed the dog. 

Burtano kaal. 
Killed dog. 

You killed the dog. 

Gnuutooka burtang'iu kaal. 
You killed dog. 



He killed the dog. 

Burtanong'ook kaal. 
Killed he dog. 

We killed the dog. 

Bui-tang'along kaal. 
Killed we dog. 

You killed the dog. 

Burtakakae gnuutooka kaal. 

Killed you dog. 



They killed the dog. 






Burtanoot dseifilakanariB 


kaal. 


Killed the 




dog. 


I will kill the dog. 






Burtako nooba; 


kaal. 




Kill I that 


dog. 





You will kill the dog. 

Gnootoka bui-taka3 kaal. 
Yoii kill dog. 



will kill the dog. 






Deelarte gnoom 
He 


burta 
kill 


kaal. 
dog. 



We will kill the dog. 

Gnatoong haayaj burtang'al kaal. 
We -svill kill dog. 

You will kill the dog. 

Gnuutooka gnuutsen burtakato kaal. 
You will kill dog. 

They will kill the dog. 

Noolakanabse burtapuul kaal. 
They themselves kill dog. 



Imperative Mood. 
Kill the dog. 

Burtakse gnuutooka kaal. 
Kill you dog. 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 








Participles. 


Kill 


ing the dog. 








Burtano 


kaal. 






Kill 


dog. 




The 


dog is killed 








Burtatanoot 


kaal 






KUled 


dog. 





I might kill the dog. 

Burtakuuyang 
Kill 



Potential Mood. 



an kaal. 
might dog. 



You might kill the dog. 

Gnuutoka burtaka kaal. 
You kill dog. 



He might kill the dog. 






Burtakaug ong'aan 
Kill might 


deelarse 
he 


kaal 
dog. 



We might kill the dog. 






Burtakueaa watna 


kaal. 




Kill might 


dog. 




You might kill the dog. 






Gnuutoka burtaka 


kaal. 




You kill 


dog. 




They might kill the dog. 






Burtakuuta watna 


didnanse 


kaal. 


Kill might 


this 


dog. 



xcn 



NUMERALS. 



NUMERALS. 



I. — CAKDIXAL XUMBEIiS. 



The aborigines represent cardinal numbers from one to one hundred by a 
combination of words and signs. 

In the Chaap wuurong language the names for units are : — 

One ... ... Kpep yang gnuurak. 

Two ... ... Puuliit whummin. 

Three ... ... Kartorr. 

Four ... ... Puuliit baa puuliit — two and two. 

Five ... ... Krep mun ya — one hand (outspread). 

Six ... ... Ksep tuUiyter mun'ya — one finger, hand. 

Seven ... ... Keep mun'ya baa puuliit — one hand and two. 

Eight ... ... Kffip mun'ya baa kartor — one hand and three. 

Nine ... ... Ksep mun'ya puuliit baa puuliit — one hand, two and two. 

Ten Puuliit mun'ya — two hands (outspread). 

Between ten, twenty, thirty, and on to one hundred, units are not named, 
but are indicated by holding out the fingers and thumbs. 

Eleven commences the combination of words and signs, and as there is no 
name for it, or any number up to and inclusive of nineteen, the word 
for ten is named and one finger is held out ; for twelve, the same word 
and two fingers ; for thirteen, the same word and three fingeis ; and so 
on by words and signs to one hundred. 

Twenty is called kfep mam — one twenty. 

Thirty ... ... Ksp mam, ba puuliit mun'ya — twenty and two hands. 

Forty ... ... Puuliit mam — two twenties. 

Fifty ... ... Puuliit mam, baa puuliit mun'ya — two twenties and two 

hands. 

Sixty ... ... Kartorr mam — three twenties. 

Seventy . . . Kartorr mam, baa puuliit mun'ya — three twenties and two 

hands. 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 


Eighty- 


. Puuliit mam, baa puuliit mam — two twenties and two 




twenties. 


Ninety... 


. Puuliit mam, baa puuliit mam, baa puuliit munya — two 




twenties, two twenties, and two hands. 


One hundred*. 


. Larbargirrar, which concludes expressed numbers ; any- 




thing beyond one hundred is larbargirrar larbargirrar, 




signifying a crowd beyond counting, and is always 




accompanied by repeated opening and shutting the 




hands. 


In the Kuurn kopan noot language the cardinal numbers are : — 


One ... 


. Kiiappa. 


Two ... 


. Puuliitcha. 


Three ... 


. Baaleen meea. 


Four ... 


Puuliitcha baa puuliitcha — two and two. 


Five ... 


. Kiiapp marrang — one hand (outspread). 


Six ... 


. Kiiapp marrang baa kiiappa — one hand and one. 


Seven ... 


. Puuliit tulliyerr marrang — two fingers, hand. 


Eight ... 


. Kiiapp marrang baa baalen meea — one hand and three. 


Nine ... 


. Kiiapp marrang puuliitcha baa puuliitcha — one hand, two 




and two. 


Ten ... 


. Puuliit marrang — two hands (outspread). 


Twenty 


. Kiiapp peep. 


Thirty... 


. Kiiapp peep baa puuliit marrang — twenty, and two 




hands. 


Forty 


. Puuliit peep — two twenties. 


Fifty ... 


. Puuliit peep baa puuliit marrang — two twenties and two 




hands. 


Sixty ... 


. Baaleen meea peep — three twenties. 


* I need scarcely point out that this is wholly at variance with the statement made by 


Mr. E. B. Tyler in his 


Primitive Culture,' that 'Among the lowest living men — the savages 


of the South American 


forests and the deserts of Australia — five is actually found to be a 


number which the languages of some tribes do not know by a special word. Not only have 


travellers failed to get from them names for numbers above two, three, or four, but the opinion 


that these are the real 


limits of their numeral series is strengthened by their use of their 


highest known number 


as an indefinite term for a great many.' — Vol. i., p. 220. 



NUMERALS. 



Seventy ... Baaleen meea peep baa puuliit maiTang — three twenties 

and two hands. 
Eighty... ... Puuliit peep baa puuliit peep — two twenties and two 

twenties. 
Ninety Puuliit peep baa puuliit peep baa puuliit marrang — two 

twenties and two twenties and two hands. 
Intermediate units between the tens are not named, but are indicated as in 

the Chaap wuurong language. 
One hundred . . . Barbaanuung. 

Any farther number is wuurt baa dserang wuurt baa dsrang, which means 
a great many beyond count, and is accompanied by holding out the hands, 
repeatedly closing and opening the fingers, and saying, ' Ka3, kse, kie.' 

II. — ORDINAL NUMBERS. 

Ordinal numbers are used by the aborigines only in numbering the days of 
a month in making appointments ; and, as their months are marked by the 
re-appearance of the moon, their ordinal numbers do not go beyond twenty- 
eight. They are indicated both by signs and words. The signs are made by 
touching with the index finger certain parts of the hand, arm, neck, ear, and 
head ; commencing with the space between the thumb and first finger of the left 
hand, going up the arm, over the head, down the right arm to the right hand, 
and then to the thumb and fingers of both hands. ' First,' is represented by 
touching the space on the back of the left hand between the thumb and fore- 
finger ; ' second,' the left wrist ; ' third,' between the left wrist and the elbow ; 
' fourth,' the elbow ; ' fifth,' space between the left elbow and the shoulder ; 
'sixth,' the left shoulder; 'seventh,' the left side of the neck; 'eighth,' the left 
ear ; ' ninth,' the left side of the head above the ear ; ' tenth,' the right side of the 
head above the ear; ' eleventh,' the right ear; and so on to eighteenth, the .space 
between the right thumb and forefinger ; then, ' nineteenth,' the little finger of 
the left hand ; and so on to ' twenty-eight,' the little finger of the right hand. 
The names of these numbers are the same with those of the different parts which 
are used as signs. Thus, in the Chaap wuurong language, ' first,' is paapee 
munnya, ' father of hand ;' ' second,' tartkuurt, ' wrist ;' ' third,' peepuulre 
gnan-am, ' fat of arm ;' ' fourth,' kukukutt chukk, ' elbow ;' ' fifth,' kallgneeang 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



gnuurakk ; ' sixth,' kariup karrup palk ; ' seventh,' chaarkum ; ' eighth,' wart- 
whirngbuul ; ' ninth,' towillup ; ' tenth,' titit. The remaining numbers down to 
the eighteenth are the same as those representing the opposite side. ' Twenty- 
eighth ' is kiiapp wai'teep tannyuuk, ' one moon.' 

In the Kuum kopan uoot language the numbers are — ' first,' gnterang 
niarrang; 'second,' kaanang kuurt; 'third,' muurtmeetch; 'fourth,' puulkuyeetch ; 
' fifth,' niilliBwuurk ; ' si.xth,' warratpeenyakk ; ' seventh,' tarkuum ; ' eighth,' 
waawing ; ' ninth,' miixigmirnitt ; ' twenty-eighth,' kiiappa kuurn-taruung, ' one 
moon.' 

In making appointments, the day is indicated by both name and sign, by 
touching the part, and mentioning the word which represents both the part and 
the number. When an appointment is made through a messenger, the number is 
sometimes distinguished by affixing some mark to the part representing it on his 
body, in order to obviate any mistake on the part of a stupid or forgetful 
messenger. 



NOTES. 

(Translation by Professor Strong.) 



A.— NOTE TO CHAPTER XI. 

QuUM violata est pudicitia, si in mulierem sit vis illata, pones raaritum est jus 
mortem in violatorem inferendi. Sin autem violata sit innupta, testimonio ejus 
a primoribus tribuum, quibus intersit ipsa cognito, si quidem pro probato teneantur 
quae objecta sint, violator ille prope ad mortem a necessariis mulieris fustigatur 
atque ducere ilam cogitur. Quod si violatorem vel amici vel necessarii ejus 
defenders conantur in eos paii modo animadvertitur. Inde non raro pugna 
universa oritur cujus neque feminre expertes sunt. 

Femina quse levitate quadam morum famosam se praebet, vocatur ' Karkor 
neegh heear ' atque a necessariis ejus culpatur et poena afficitur. Post hoc nisi se 
melius gerit inter se consilium habent necessarii ejus, atque si probata sit culpa, 
avunculus ejus, vel quidam e consanguineis (excepto patre vel fratre), arrepta 
occasione ex improviso plagam illi in posteram colli partem sublato ramo infert. 
Turn corpus uritur, sparguntur cinei-es neque cuiquam illam lugere licet. 

B.— NOTE TO CHAPTER XI. 

In quibusdam tropicas Australise partibus circumciduntur pueri qui in 
pubertatem initiantur : hie autem mos indigenis in hoc libro descriptis ignotus 
est. 

C— NOTE TO CHAPTER XII. 

QuJE nupta est per menstruandi tempus, sola per se e parte adversa foci domesticid 
dormire cogitur, neque vel cibum vel potum aliuscujusque capere permittitur. 
Neque quisquam est qui vel cibum vel potum ab ilia tactum consumers velit, ut 
qui illos invalidos reddat. Innupta autem vsl vidua quae idsm patiatur in sandam 
legem quoad cibum et potum cogitur ; sadsm caput pingers atque corpus usque ad 
medium rubro limo cogitur; neque junioribus innuptis domum menstruantis 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



inire licet. Eadem si cui in semita occurat, exire debet. Ambulare quidem 
atque interesse amicorum colloquiis licet neqne moleste turbari, neque tamen 
saltare aut oymbalum agitare in corroboreis licet. Itaque natura ipsa videtur 
easdem leges indigenis nostris docuisse quae Moses ille divino spiritu afflatus tulit 
ad sanitatem Israelitarum conservandam. 



D.— NOTE TO CHAPTER XII. 

MuLiER qu£E se parturire sentiat dormire cogitur adversa e parte ignis 
domestici a marito separata, neque illi licet tangere ut edere anguillas 
kangarosve vel aves. Gibus ejus ea oposso constare debet, animalibus 
minoribus atque radicibus. Post natum infantem liberata est ab hisce 
legibus. Sed tamen lex ilia de cibo non semper observatur. Atque maritus 
saepe numero inducitur ad satisfaciendam uxoris appetentiam certi cibi> 
imprimis anguillarum qun3 in deliciarum numero habentur. Laqueos ad 
anguillas cai^piendas a vicinis paratos violare banc in rem creditur bonam sortem 
auferre. Si igitur quis suspicionem habeat quod laqueus suus anguillis 
destitutus sit culpam facti ejusin nuptum virum injicit cujus mulier in ea 
conditione sit ut suspicionem illam confirmet. Atque non aliam ob causam saipe 
numero ultio fit. 

E.— NOTE TO CHAPTER XIII. 

QuUM mulier in ipso partu sit, in humo resupina sedet inter nutricis brachia, 
tanquam in sella quadem motoria esset. Si secundae tardius se a corpore 
separaverint, turn corpori in pronum flexo lapides calidi adponuntur, quorum 
calor plerumque separationem eflicere solet. Secundas semper sepelire mos est. 
Funis umbilicarius nervo halmaturi (kangaroo) ligatur, atque concha muricis 
exacuti secatui'. Deinde vulnus unguento quodam ungitur, facto e carbone 
pulverato, cum adipe commixto, in quod deinde limus adustus, in tenuem 
pulverem contritus, conspergitur. Funis in tenues partes secatur, pars quseque 
in fragniento parVo pellis didelphidis contegitur. Hte suspenduntur per collum 
illius a quo infans nomen accepturus est atque per colla fratrum infantis si puer 
sit ; sin autem puella in soronun colla. Post paullum temporis aut incenduntur 
aut sepeliuntur. 



NOTES. 



F. — NOTE TO CHAPTER XIV. 

THE CIRCULATION OF THE BLOOD. 

There is no doubt that the aborigines had a knowledge of the circulation of 
the blood from the heart through the arteries, and of its return by the veins. To 
these blood-vessels they give distinctive names. An artery is called ' gnullman ; ' 
a vein is called ' karkuuran kuureek,' ' running blood.' Very careful inquiries 
have been made into this subject from the most intelligent of the aborigines • 
and it is evident that they recognize the connection between the heart and the 
pulse, and the fact that, while the arteries carry the blood from the heart, the 
veins return it to the heart again. On its being hinted to them that they may 
have got this information from the white man, they said that they knew all 
about it long before the white man came. It need scarcely be said that they 
have no idea of the circulation of the blood through the lungs, or of the functions 
of the ditferent parts of the heart, as brought to light by the researches of 
Servetus, Le Vasseur, and William Harvey. 

G.— NOTE. 

REPORTS OF GOVERNMENT INSPECTORS OF ABORIGINAL SCHOOLS. 

As a fitting conclusion to this work, and in corroboration of the very hiwh 
estimate which the author has formed of the intelligence of the aboricrines, he 
has the greatest pleasure in giving the following summary of a number of 
reports of the Government inspectors of the Victorian State schools, and of 
remarks which have been kindly written by them for his use. 

At each of the aboriginal stations there is a State-school, which is periodically 
examined, along with other schools, and on the same footing with them, by the 
Government inspectors of schools. The experience of these gentlemen is that, 
up to a certain age, the aboriginal children are quite equal to those of European 
parentage in their capacity for learning the ordinary branches of an Eno-lish 
education. Indeed, the former excel the latter in those studies which depend on 
memory and power of imitation ; but, on the other hand, those branches of 
knowledge which require abstraction, and in which a greater demand is made on 
the reasoning faculties, are learned by them with difficulty. In reading, writino-, 
spelling, singing, and geography, they distance white children in rapidity of 



AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES. 



attainment, their penmanship especially being of unusual neatness and excel- 
lence, and the accuracy with ■which verses are repeated being vei-y remarkable ; 
but grammar and the higher branches of arithmetic are very puzzling to them. 
In respect of discipline their conduct is excellent ; good order and steady applica- 
tion to books is secured with ease, and for class or militaiy drill they show great 
liking and aptitude. 

The inspection of the aboriginal school at Ramahyuck, in Gippsland, during 
the last eleven years, gives a percentage of results higher than the other State 
schools in Victoria ; and while, no doubt, this excellence is largely due to the 
regularity with which the children attended school, and to the skill and zeal of 
the gentlemen who taught them, it fairly shows that aboriginal children are at 
least equal to others in power of learning those branches of education which are 
taught in the State schools of Victoria. 

The reader will be interested to learn, that, on several occasions of examina- 
tion by a Government inspector, the percentage of the Ramahyuck school was a 
hundred — a result unparalleled hy any other school in the colony. 



THE END. 







Walker, May, & Co., Printere, 9 Mackillop-street, Melbourne. -7 f)