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Full text of "Bush wanderings of a naturalist : or, notes on the field sports and fauna of Australia Felix"

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UNIVERSITY OF 




PITTSBURGH 

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Darlington M.emorial LiLi 



BUSH WANDERINGS 

OF A NATURALIST ; 

OB, 

NOTES ON THE PIELD SPORTS AND EAUNA 
OE AUSTRALIA FELIX. 

BY AN OLD BUSHMAN. 



' All hail to the lordlings of high degree, 
Who live not more happy, though richer than ^e; 
Our pastimes to see, under every green tree, 
In all the gay woodlands right welcome ye be." 



LONDON: 
ROUTLEDGE, WARNE, & ROUTLEDGE, 

FAREIXGDON STREET ; 
NEW YOKE: 56, WALKEK STREET. 

1861. 



TO 

ANTHONY GEEEN, ESQ. 

EWIERALD HILL, MELBOURNE, 

AS A MAKK OF KESPECT EOR HIS SKILL AND TALENTS 

IN HIS PROFESSION, 

AND IN EVEUYTHING RELATING TO THE SPOETS OF THE FIELD; 

AS A TRIFLING ACKNOWLEDGMENT FOR MANY AN ACT 
OF KINDNESS RECEIVED; 

AlfD AS 

A SUGHT TOKEN OF FRIENDSHIP AND ESTEEM ; 

^u Me maxk 

IS DEDICATED BY HIS OLD FEIEND, 

THE AUTHOE. 



CONTENTS. 



iNrnoDUCTiON Page ix 

CHAPTER I. 
The Kangaroo and Kangaroo shooting 1 

CHAPTER II. 
The Wild Dog— The Native Bear— The Wombat 31 

CHAPTER III. 

The Opossum — The Ring-tail — Flying Squirrels — The Native 
Cat— The Tiger Cat— The Kangaroo Eat — The Bandicote 
— Small Bush animals — The Platypus — The Spiny Ant- 
eater, and Domestic Cattle 36 

CHAPTER IV. 
The Wild Turks}'— The Emu— The Lowan, and the Native 

Pheasant 61 

CHAPTER V. ^ 
Duck-shooting— The Black Swan— The Wild Geese— The 

different Ducks peculiar to this Country Qd 

CHAPTER VI, 

The Coot— Moor-hen— Dabchick—Tlie Greebs— The Bittern 
—Herons — White Cranes— The Egret — Spoonbill -Ibis 
— Nankeen Crane — The Native Companion — Coast Shoot- 
ing, aud Sea Birds 86 

CHAPTER VII. 

The Bronze-wing and Scrub Pigeons — The Ground Dove — The 

Snipe and the Rail 92 



VI CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER VIIT. 

Quail Shooting— The different Quails peculiar to Port Phillip, 

and a Hint to Bird-catchers 103 

CHAPTER IX. 

A Chapter on the Ornithology and General Fauna of Victoria 115 

CHAPTER X. 

Notices on Shooting — Suggestions for the preservation of the 

Game — The Dogs of the Natives, and Bush Dogs 155 

CHAPTER XL 

The Snakes and Reptiles peculiar to the country, and small 

Bush annoyances 197 

CHAPTER XII. 
Bush Life 210 

CHAPTER XIII. 

General Remai-ks on the Scenery — The Forests — The Climate, 

and the Seasons of Port Philip 217 

CHAPTER XIV. 
General Sporting of the Colony— The Turf— The Chase — 

Steeple Chasing — The Ring and Cricket 235 

t CHAPTER XV. 
River Fish and Angling ; . . . . 243 

CHAPTER XVI. 
Sea Fish and Sea Fishing 248 

CHAPTER XVII. 
The Aborigines of the Country — Parting Advice to old Bush 

Friends, and Conclusion 268 

Index 269 



INTRODUCTION. 



Amidst all the wonderful revolutions tliat have 
marked the present century, no country beneath the 
sun has experienced such a rapid change, in so short 
a period, as the Australian colony of Port Phillip. 
Tracing the gradual development of this colony, we find 
that, in the year 1788, the first British convict ships 
landed their melancholy freight on these shores, and 
until the year 1803 this country remained a penal 
settlement. In that year the convicts were transferred 
to the Derwent. The first French discovery ships, 
under Capt. Baudin, entered Western Port bay and 
christened one of the large islands there, French Island, 
which name it now bears. Capt. Sturt appears to have 
been the first European visitor to the banks of the 
Murray in 1829. Major Mitchell, however, was the 
discoverer of " Australia Felix " in 1836 ; but Batman 
was the founder of the colony of Port Philip, and one of 
the earliest settlers in the Melbourne district. When 
he first camped upon the hill overlooking the now 
flourishing town of Melbourne, and which to this day is 



Till INTEODUCTIOIf. 

called Eatman's Hill, the couutiy was in the Lands of 
the savage, aud the kangaroo and wild dog roamed 
through the surrounding bush, then as lonely as any 
part of Australia. Field sports were, of course, at that 
day little heeded by the white settlers, whose sole occu- 
pation was to establish themselves in their new home ; 
and the wild man, truly the monarch of all he surveyed, 
held unmolested sway over hunting-grounds, then 
swarming with every species of Australian game. Tardy, 
however, was the progress of advancement, and this 
country might have remained in its state of primitive 
wildness, had not tidings of the wonderfid discovery of 
the Yictorian goldfields reached the Old World, and 
thousands of adventurers from every clime flocked to 
these shores, resolved " to do or die " in the struggle 
after wealth. Then, indeed, " a change came o'er the 
spirit of the dream ;" a large and populous citj- sprang 
up as by magic in the desert, and some little idea of the 
rapid rise in value of property here may be gathered 
from the fact, that, in 1853, land in the town of Mel- 
bourne sold for £210 per foot frontage, which, a few 
years previous, might have been bought for £5 per acre. 
The whole fiice of this district quickly changed. The 
woodman's axe was heard in forests which had till then 
only echoed back the howl of the wild dog, or the sliout 
of the savage. The country became gradually peopled. 
The cockatoo settler built his log-hut on his small clear- 
ing, the wild solitude of the bush vanished before the 
presence of civilized man, aud the game was of course 



INTRODUCTION. IX 

driven back into wilder and more secluded regions by 
the foot of the stranger. 

At the first rush to these shores, every one was far 
too much occupied in the search for gold, to turn his 
attention to the sports of the field. In fact, so all- 
absorbent was the thirst after instant wealth, that all 
regular work was for a time at a standstill. Fortunes 
were made and spent with a rapidity almost incredible, 
and it was not until hundreds usurped the place of one, 
that the goldfields began to lose their attractions, and 
men were obliged to seek a living in less exciting but 
steadier pursuits. Out of the thousands who yearly 
landed in Victoria, it was not likely that all should 
prosper. Many were totally unfitted for the life they 
had chosen ; others, good men and true, but whom ill 
luck seemed to mark peculiarly as her own. Among these 
latter were men in the prime of life, brought up at home 
to the sports of the field from their earliest youth ; and 
it is a matter of little surprise that when " the lecture 
came from the last shilling," they should turn to the 
gun as a means of support, and, in the freedom of the 
bush, unshackled by the trammels of the British Game 
Laws, seek an independent livelihood in pursuits which 
had hitherto been only an amusement : and rough and 
hard as is the shooter's life out here, when properly fol- 
lowed up, few care to leave it when they have once 
fairly entered upon it. 

Such was my case. Six years' rambling over the 
forests and fells of Northern Europe had totally unfitted 



X INTEODUCTIOK. 

me for any settled life. I liad no luck in the diggings. 
The town was out of the question, and to keep the wolf 
from the door there were but two alternatives, to seek 
work on a station, or face the bush on my own account. 
I chose the latter, and never regretted that choice. I 
luckily fell in with a mate in the same circumstances as 
myself. The gun had often brought both of us " to 
grief" in the Old World, so we agreed that for once it 
should help us out in the New. Our tastes were similar. 
The sphere of life in which we had both moved at home 
had been the same, and therefore all those little disa- 
greements and collisions which are the inevitable conse- 
quences when men of different education, training, and 
tastes, are shut up together in the close companionship 
of a bush tent, were avoided. Por nearly four years did 
we " rough it " under the same canvas, with scarcely a 
single dispute, and very rarely even " a growl." We 
had, it is true, at times, hardships to contend with, but 
we never met troubles halfwa3^ We took the rough 
with the smooth, and whether game was plentiful or 
scarce, generally had a fair share of it. Many a happy 
day did we pass together in the forest. Many a good 
bag of game have we brought home ; and often, although 
thousands of miles now separate us, do my thoughts fly 
back to the old bush tent and the old comrades left 
behind me ; and the chequered scenes of a wild forest 
life crowd upon my mind like the " visions of yester- 
day." 

With the exception, perhaps, of New Zealand, where 



INTHODTJCTIOIS'^, XI 

tbere is scarcely a bush animal, save the half-wild pig, 
and no game-birds except ducks and pigeons, Australia 
offers less attractions to the Grordon-Cumming school of 
sportsmen than any foreign country ; and to all who 
have read his diary of African slaughter, or Capt. 
M. Eeid's Hunter's Feast, where American forest 
life is so graphically portrayed, I fear the perusal 
of the following pages will appear dull and devoid of 
interest. 

I can tell of no hair-breadth escapes, no moving inci- 
dents by flood or field ; and, in regard to adventure, it 
has been my lot, during the whole of my sporting career, 
to fall in with fewer than is the usual luck of travellers. 
But this is not my fault, and the man who writes for the 
amusement or instruction of his brother sportsmen, can 
do no more than give a true account of the sporting life 
of that country in which he chances to be thrown. Yie- 
toria, at the present day, occupies no mean position 
among the British colonies, and doubtless tliere are 
many sportsmen at home who will like to know what are 
the chief pursuits of the field out here, for scarcely a 
family in England now but has some member or friend 
knocking about in Australia. These are the men for 
whose amusement this little treatise is particularly 
written, and, however imperfect it may be, it has at 
least the truth to recommend it. I must, therefore, beg 
of them to take it for what it is worth. 

There is no large game out here to tempt a man to 
wander so far for the sake of the chase alone, let his 



Xll INTEODTJCTION. 

sporting propensities be ever so keen. One can imagine 
the real sportsman, who finds his sphere too cramped and 
limited at home, wishing to pay a visit to the wilds of 
Africa, or the prairies of the far West. In both these 
countries the game is well worth following, and the value 
of the quarry amply compensates for the risk and trouble 
attendant upon its pursuit. But in Australia the kan- 
garoo and the wild dog are tlie only large animals of 
chase, and the only game-birds of any size are the emu 
and wild turkey. The kangaroo, as a wild animal, stands 
about on a par with the park deer at home. The wild 
turkey is now rare in the Melbourne district, and an 
emu, at the present day, killed within forty miles of the 
town, would be a matter of history. But for small 
game, I don't think this country can be surpassed ; and 
ducks, pigeon, quail, and snipe, may be killed in almost 
any quantities, at the proper seasons, in those districts 
where they have not been shot out. After all, a man 
can always make sure of a better day's sport here than 
at home (unless he happens to be the lucky possessor of 
covers and preserves of his own, and then he will most 
likely stay where he is well off), without the expense of 
a certificate, and with no fear of a bullying gamekeeper 
before his eyes. If he leaves the neighbourhood of the 
town he can wander pretty nearly where he pleases, and 
he has the satisfaction of knowing that, sliould all other 
trades fail, he can at least get his living by his gun if he 
knows how to use it, and this is more than he could do 
at home. The very absence of all those wild animals to 



INTEODUCTION. XUl 

be found in other countries, wliile it renders the chase 
here less exciting, at least adds a greater security to 
bush life in Australia ; and as there is now little or 
nothing to fear from the natives in the settled districts, 
the sportsman can roam the plains and forests day and 
night in perfect safety with no other companions but his 
dogs, and no requirements, in case of being benighted, 
except a few matches and a little salt. 

There is, perhaps, no other country where a man who 
depends upon his gun for a living, has to work harder 
than he does in this. He must of necessity be camped 
within reach of a market for his game, which, on account 
of the increase of population, becomes every year more 
scarce and wild in the settled districts. Moreover, the 
shooting grounds here lie so wide apart, and so much in 
patches, that the shooter has to travel miles from one 
place to another before he reaches a likely spot, and I have 
many a time had to walk home six or eight miles to my 
tent, after sunset, with a heavy bag of game, when I was 
already pretty well tired out with my day's shooting. 
In the winter all the swamps are full, and many of the 
plains covered with water, and most of the best ground 
inaccessible except by wading. In the summer the heat 
is dreadful, and I can hardly say which is the most 
laborious, fagging on the dry plains under a burning 
summer's sun, or plashing through the swamps in winter 
up to the knees in mud and water for miles. "What 
with the heat and the blowflies, which infest this country 
during the summer months, one third at least of the 



XIV INTEODUCTION. 

game is lost, and a man cannot depend at all upon the 
natives in the Melbourne district for assistance. There 
are indeed but few left, for disease and intemperance are 
sadly thinning their ranks, and these have become so 
lazy and fond of grog, since their intercourse vsith the 
white man, that they care little for work ; and if they do 
bring you in a couple of ducks, or a bag of eels, they 
know their full value. The shooter here must trust en- 
tirely to his own exertions, and if he does chance to " drop 
on " a little lot of game, keep it to himself, for there is 
now as much competition in this respect as any other. 

When I first commenced shooting, our great drawback 
was the difficulty of finding a market for the game. 
Melbourne was our only mart, and as we had then no 
horse, and no means of getting the game up without car- 
rying it ourselves, a journey into town on foot at night, 
with a heavy swag of game (for the small game in tiie 
summer must be sold early in the day after it is killed), 
after a hard day's shooting, was no joke ; now, however, 
there are hawkers at every fishing-station along the coast, 
who will buy the game at a fair price, and, as the country 
opens out, there will be many other places, where the 
shooter can make a far better living than in the vicinity 
of Melbourne. But let him be camped where he may, 
he should by all means endeavour to keep a horse, for 
many a weary mile's walk will this save him. xln old 
" crawler," good enough for his work, will cost him 
but a trifle, and a season's keep in tlie bush stand him 
in little more than a pair of hobbles or a tcther-rope. 



INTRODUCTION. XV 

After these few preliminary remarks I shall proceed 
to notice those animals and birds which form the chief 
pursuit of the sportsman out here. But let the reader 
bear in mind that I never camped more than forty miles 
from Melbourne in any one direction. Still, in one place 
or another within that district, I fell in with nearly 
every species of game peculiar to Victoria, and my Notes 
will give a pretty fair idea of the field-sports of Australia 
in general. 



«-Sl-5^ 



BUSH WAls'DEEINGS 
A NATTJEALIST. 

CHAPTEE I. 

THE EANGAEOO AND THE WALLABY. 

The Kangaroo (the koorah of tlie natives) may be called 
the Australian deer, and being the only large wild animal 
of chase in the country, deserves something more than 
a casual notice. Of the large kangaroo I fancy we had 
two distinct species in our forests, and a smaller variety 
called the wallaby ; of which animal, I believe, there are 
several species ; although the common wallaby is the only 
one met with in tlie "Western-port district. Altogether, 
between twenty and thirty species of kangaroos exist ia 
Australasia. 

The singular form of the kangaroo is doubtless familiar 
to all who are likely to look into these pages ; it is one 
of the few animals whose habits are strictly terrestrial, 
which, although by nature furnished with four legs, use 
only the two hind ones as organs of progression. These 
hind legs at first may appear disproportioned to the size 
of the animal, but, upon examination, will be found beau- 

B 



2 BirSII •\VANDEEIKGS. 

tifully adapted to their purpose. They are tliree-jointed, 
the thigh-bone similar in shape to the shoulder-bhide of 
other animals ; being broad, and deeply gi-ooved for the 
insertion of the powerful muscles which give such force 
to the spring of the kangaroo. The second joint is very 
long, being nothing more than bone and sinew, and the 
tendon, which runs down it, behind the hock, into the 
foot of the animal, is immensely powerful. The foot, 
which forms the third joint, is from 12 to 18 inclies 
long, according to age, and is tipped or armed with a 
thick sharp-pointed nail, two to three inches long. It is 
also furnished with a smaller nail on the outside, higher 
up, and two small claws joined together inside the joint 
opposite ; and a thick, leathery, rough kind of skin runs 
down behind the hock to the toe, and this is spongy on 
the ball of the foot. What would be the hock in another 
animal, appears to be the heel of the kangaroo ; for you 
often see the print of the whole lower joint of the leg in 
soft ground : I fancy this is when the kangaroo is run- 
ning slowly. I am no comparative anatomist, but I should 
say that both the outer and inner formation of the 
animal would form a beautiful study. The fore-arms are 
short, and the paws broad and large, resembling those of 
a beast of prey, being armed with five long sharp claws. 
These marsupial animals form a class to themselves, 
otherwise it would be diflBcult to assign a place to the 
kangaroo, were we to take the feet or teeth as a guide. 
In form, the hind leg is similar to that of a hare, and 
when in an upright position, the kangaroo rests upon its 



THE KAKGAllOO. 3 

hind feet and haunches, aftei' the manner of a squirrel ; 
the tail stretched out at full length along the ground, not, 
as I have seen it represented in a picture, curled up like 
that of a rat, for the kangaroo cannot bend its tail. 
"When running, it springs from the ground in an erect 
position, propelled by its powerful hind legs and balanced 
bj its tail, holding its short fore-arms well into the chest, 
after the manner of a professional runner. Thus it bounds 
lightly and easily along, clearing any obstacles, such as 
trees, and even low fences, in its stride. I never fairly 
measured one of these strides or springs, but I am certain, 
w^hen hard pressed, an " old man," or " flying doe," will 
clear nearly ten yards at a spring. The long tail mate- 
rially assists them in running, and its measured thump 
may be heard on the ground long before the kangaroo 
itself appears in sight in the thick forest. It is a curious 
fact, that a wounded kangaroo very often breaks the 
hind leg in struggling; and I once knew an "old man" 
snap the bone just above the hock, as short as a carrot, 
in taking a spring. The general height of a full-grown 
kangaroo, when sitting upright, is, perhaps, about 5 feet. 
The largest, I think, that I ever killed, measured 9 feet 
6 inches from the tip of the nose to the end of the 
tail when stretched out on the ground. The tail is very 
thick at the root, gradually tapering to the end ; and in 
an old kangaroo will be 3 or 4 feet long, and weigh 10 
to 15 lbs. I have, however, seen them over 20 lbs. In 
shape the head much resembles that of the fallow- 
deer; but the "lachrymal sinus," peculiar to that clasii 
B 2 



4 BUSH WANDEraNGS. 

of animals, is wanting. The countenance is mild and 
placid, but, like the sheep, we rarely see two exactly 
alike. The eye is bright ; the nostrils not very wide ; 
the ears large and pricked ; and many of the males have 
a marked Eomau nose, like that of an old ram. In busli 
parlance, the old male kangaroo is called an "old man;" 
the young female a "flying doe;" and the young one, 
till eight or ten months old, " a joey." The weight of a 
full-grown doe, or young buck, just killed, will vary up 
to about 120 lbs. Some of the " old men " reach to an 
immense size, and I have often killed them over 2 cwt. 
A hind-quarter and tail, the only part sent to market, of 
a young buck, or flying doe, will average about 50 lbs. 
when skinned and dressed. There is a good deal of 
flesh on the hams and back, but a great proportion of 
bone. The tail makes a very rich soup. The fore- 
quarter is very liglit, the chest deep, and there is some- 
thing peculiar in the shape of the ribs. The kangaroo 
is a good swimmer, and when hard pressed will take 
to the water as readily as a deer. Mr. Gould men- 
tions a kangaroo which swam for two miles through the 
sea, one mile being against a sharp wind and heavy 
waves. 

The kangaroos vary much in colour, according to age 
and sex. The general colour, however, is dark mouse- 
brown on the back, lighter on the belly and flanks. The 
wool or hair is very fine, soft, and close ; and I have seen 
a strand on the back of a winter skin nearly 2 inches 
long. Not that I fancy the wool itself could be ever used 



THE KA:N'OAnOO. 



for any domestic purpose ; but I think that the skins, 
•n-hen properly dressed, would make famous linings for a 
winter cloak, or pells in northern climes. They make an 
excellent apron for a gig or dog-cart ; and when lined, 
are very showy. In the rutting season they have a very 
red tinge underneath, and we occasionally see one with 
the whole body-colour approaching to light chestnut. As 
they advance in age, tlie colour appears to fade ; and I 
recollect a pure white " old man " in one of the mobs at 
AVestern-port. He suddenly disappeared, but I don't 
think any one shot bira, or we should have heard of it, 
I do not, however, mean to infer that all the old kan- 
garoos would become white if they lived long enough. 
I consider a pure white kangaroo nothing more than a 
very rare Albino variety. "We occasionally meet with 
such anomalies among birds ; and I recollect a milk-white 
teal, which flew with a mob of black-duck on Langhome 
Swamp out here. The skins are, of course, best for fur 
in the winter. When the skins are well picked, and 
properly dressed and sewed, a kangaroo rug beats any 
other for bush-work (but for out-door use they should 
be tanned) ; and a pair of kangaroo-leather boots are a 
real luxury to any old gentleman whose feet are tender, 
and who wishes to preserve a favourite corn. 

In stretching the skins, the shooter should try to get 
them as square as possible ; and this is best done by 
stretching them on sticks, something after the fashion 
of a boy's paper kite. But they will dry just as well if 
stretched and nailed out against a tree, and the tanners 



G BUSn TVAKDEKINGS. 

think as much of them if they are merely thrown over a 
pole to dry. In skinning a kangaroo, get the neck-skin 
as full as possible; and this depends much upon how you 
open down the fore leg. If the skin is to he dressed with 
the hair on, and the head and feet perfect, as a curiosity, 
be careful in skinning out the toes, and cut as much flesh 
from the lips and ears as possible, and soak the skin in a 
strong solution of alum and saltpetre, or the feet and ears 
will go. Be careful that no blood clots on the skin, or the 
hair will very likely come off and leave a bare place when 
dressed. If skinned and dried properly, it may be sent 
to the tanners or curriers at any time ; and although tlie 
shooter can prepare the skins himself, the process is long 
and tedious, and if he wants to make a rug, he had best 
have the skins dressed by a currier. 

"We had, I fancy, two distinct species of kangaroo iu 
our forests. The large one, which we used comuionly to 
kill, and this we found in large mobs both in the timber 
and on the plains, and a rather smaller variety, dai'ker in 
colour and redder under the belly. These were generally 
in more secluded situations, among the honeysuckle scrub 
in deep gullies, in smaller droves, rarely exceeding a 
dozen. 

The flesh of the kangaroo is very inferior to venison in 
flavour, and in juice and nourishment not to be com- 
pared to mutton. It tastes dry and insipid when dressed 
bush fashion, but the tails make famous soup when 
served up by Mr. AVilliams, iu Melbourne, as " kangaroo 
steamer." There is rarely any fat inside the carcass, 



THE KANaAEOO. 7 

and ifc is a curious fact that dogs never appear to thrivo 
on kangaroo, especially if they eat it raw, although 
they soon get fat on opossum. "We used to make a good 
soup ■ of the heads whenever we could get vegetables, 
which are not always at hand in the bush. My general 
mode of bush cooking was simple and expeditious. Just 
cut off a steak from any fleshy part, and throw it on the 
ashes to grill ; and I always fancied a kangaroo-steak or 
even a bird, used to taste better and more juicy when 
dressed this '• lazy bed " fashion, than in any other way. 
Some persons seem to think that there is no nourish- 
ment at all in the meat, and there is a great prejudice in 
the bush against it. This is a " vulgar error." My old 
mate and myself lived upon it when in the forest, and I 
know we did our. work as well as any two shooters. 
Perhaps at times we might have preferred a beef-steak ; 
but as we got the kangaroo for nothing, we just used it 
and made no invidious comparisons. " Spare the damper 
but pitch into the kangaroo, lads ! " used to be our bush 
motto when flour was scarce. The young bucks and 
flying does are the best eating ; the old men are tough 
and stringy. There is an immense deal of blood inside 
the kangaroo, and the flesh, unlike that of any domestic 
animal, does not appear to be worse from being hard- 
driven just before death. The meat is dark in colour, 
soon dries, and in appearance and taste is similar to poor 
doe venison. 

In habits the kangaroo much resembles both the sheep 
and the fallow-deer. Timid and shy, their senses of 



8 EUSH TVAITDEniNGS. 

sight, hearing, and smell are most acute. Like the hare, 
they appear unable to see an object directly in front of 
them when running, at least I have often stood still and 
shot one down as it came running straight up to me in 
the open forest. It is not a ruminating animal, and the 
four long front teeth, two in each jaw, are sharp, flat, 
and double-edged, peculiarly adapted for cutting or 
browsing ; and the thick blunt crushing molars betoken 
a purely herbivorous animal. They are very gregarious, 
aud are always to be met with in smaller or larger 
droves. I have often seen as many as a hundred and 
fifty in a drove, and our general mobs used to average 
fifty or sixty. After the rutting season, the old men will 
often draw away from the mobs and retire by themselves 
to the thickest scrub. Each drove frequents a certain 
district, has its particular camping and feeding grounds. 
The mobs do not appear to mix, aud when the shooter 
once obtains a knowledge of the country, he has no diffi- 
culty in planting himself for a shot. Their camping- 
grounds are generally on some open timbered rise, aiid 
they have well-trodden runs from one ground to another. 
They feed early in the morning and at twilight, and I 
think also much by night. I fancy we might have sl)ot them 
at night by a fire of dry wood lighted in a loug-handled 
frying-pan, after the manner of torch-shooting in Ame- 
rica; and this plan would also succeed with opossums 
on a dark night. But the difGculty would be to find 
the right kind of wood out here, for I know of no resi- 
nous trees in these forests. A good bull's-eye lantern 



THE KANGAROO. 



miglit perhaps answer. The kangaroo lies up by day 
during the hot summer weather, in damp thickly-scrubbed 
gullies, in the winter on dry sandy rises. Here, un- 
less disturbed, they will remain quiet for hours ; and 
it is a pretty sight to watch a mob camped up, some oi 
them playing with each other, some quietly nibbling the 
young shrubs and grass, or basking in the sun half asleep 
on their sides. About Christmas the young ones appear 
to leave their mothers' sides, and congregate in mobs by 
themselves. I have seen as many as fifty running toge- 
ther, and very pretty they looked. The kangaroo is a 
very clean animal. Both sexes seem to keep together, 
and, except in the rutting season, when desperate battles 
take place between the old males, they appear to live at 
all times in a state of domestic felicity. As far as I 
could see, the sides run pretty equal. Like sheep, they 
can be driven in almost any direction that suits the 
driver, and a good driver is half the battle in kangaroo- 
ing. It is next to impossible to turn a mob of kangaroo 
when fairly off; they may divide ; but they will keep on 
the way they are heading. Like slieep, they always 
follow a leader. Their principal food appears to be the 
tender sprouts of small shrubs and heather, quite as 
much as grass ; but there is a small kind of spike-grass, 
brown on the underside, called the kangaroo-grass, to 
which they are very partial. They will also come at 
night into the small bush inclosures, and nibble off 
the young blades of wheat, oats, &c. I often foncied 
they might be kept out of such places by encircling the 



10 BUSH WA1^^DEEI^■GS. 

fence witli " sewells," wbicli we used wLeu deer-sliooting 
in tlie forests at home. These " sewells " are long lines 
of packthread, with two white feathers tied crosswise on 
the line, about a yard apart, strung up a yard or four feet 
from the ground on sticks. I never knew a fallow-deer 
face them. I think we might have used them with 
good success in driving kangaroo; but until the game 
becomes scarce and more valuable, the hunter will rarely 
go out of the old-fashioned routine to procure it. Al- 
though the kangaroos feed off the ground, they do not 
always appear to use the fore paws as a support, but 
crouch down. I have only now and then observed 
them browsing off the trees in a standing position, and 
I wonder we do not oftener see them feeding in this 
manner, for which their upright posture and fore-arms 
seem peculiarly adapted. When in confinement, they 
will eat bread, of which they seem very fond, holding it 
in their fore paws, and nibbling it like a squirrel. They 
are very subject, in the bush, to tape-worms, and I 
have taken dozens out of the stomach of one which I 
have been cutting open. Like the sheep, they can go a 
long time without water, and I never could detect them 
frequenting any particular water-holes at night for the 
purpose of drinking. I have known their camping-places 
en some of the plains miles away from any water-hole. 
They appear to keep much in the neighbourhood of cattle. 
The kangaroo is altogether a very domestic, iuterestmg, 
inoffensive animal, and I often regretted that wo had no 
better or wilder substitute for the red deer in this country. 



THE KANGABOO. 11 

As most of my readers probably are aware, the kan- 
garoo, like nearly every other animal indigenous to 
Australia, is " marsupial," i. e., the female is provided 
with a pouch outside the bottom of the stomach, in 
which are the teats, to one of which the yoimg foetus 
is attached during the period of gestation, I believe 
about sixty days ; and when fully formed, — as soon in fact 
as the young one begins to live, it becomes detached 
from the teat, which now supplies it with milk. "When 
the young one leaves the teat, it is in an equal state of 
development to the new-born offspring of any other 
animal ; in fact, this pouch appears to be the womb of 
all these marsupial animals, and not, as many suppose, 
merely a place of refuge in which the old mother carries 
her young. Here the young one at first principally lives, 
till able to run at the foot of the mother ; but even then, 
when danger is near, it tumbles head over heels into the 
pouch for protection ; and it is wonderful how quickly the 
old doe can pick up the joey when running at full speed, 
and shove it into the pouch, its pretty little face always 
outside. There she carries it till hard pressed, when the 
love of life overcomes the love of the mother, and she 
then casts it away to save herself. This, in bush phra-- 
seology, is termed " dinging the joey." I once saw an 
eagle-hawk chasing a doe kangaroo with a heavy joey in 
the pouch through the forest. The cunning bird kept 
stroke for stroke with the kangaroo, which it hardly dare 
attack; but it well knew, as soon as the old mother 
became exhausted, she would cast away the young one. 



12 BUSH -WAIS'DEETKGS. 

Two ounces of kangaroo-shot from iny gun, however, 
stopped the eagle's gallop : I might have killed the old 
kangaroo as well, but had not the heart, after seeing the 
struggle she was making to save the life of her offspring. 

It is a curious fact that these marsupial animals 
should be exclusively confined to Australia, a country 
which, as regards zoology and botany, stands lower in 
the scale of creation, according to geologists, than any 
other. It is true that the racoon and opossum of 
America belong to this class ; but they are only mar- 
supial in a mean degree. The breeding habits of these 
animals were long a matter of doubt, and for a while it 
was hard to determine in what class they should be 
included. The peculiar formation of the generative 
organs was in itself enough to puzzle the best ana- 
tomists, nor was it likely that much light could be 
thrown ou the subject by those men who, till lately, 
had the only opportunities of studying their habits in a 
state of nature. Much has been cleared up, but much 
still remains hidden in mystery. What always puzzled me 
the most was (knowing as I did their breeding habits) how 
close the young foetus become attached to, or, more pro- 
perly speaking, grow on a teat, in a pouch outside the sto- 
mach. I have killed old doe kangaroos at all seasons, and 
always during the period of gestation havefound the young 
one tightly glued on to the teat by the mouth, even when 
scarcely so long as my 6uger. But I never by any chanco 
found the rudiments of a young one iviside the stomach. 

By some naturaliats these marsupial animals are placed 



THE KAKQAEOO. 13 

very low in the scale of tlie mammalia ; and, judging from 
their anatomical structure alone, tliis classification 13 
probably correct. But some go so far as to contend 
that it is warranted by the deficiency of intelligence 
exhibited both in their habits and physiognomy. To this 
reasoning I decidedly object. The brain is not so fully 
developed as in the true mammal, and their anatomical 
structure and inward functions show an affinity to the 
" oviparous vertebrata;" in fact, they appear to form a 
sort of link in the chain of creation between a higher 
and lower class of animal. But, however peculiar and 
imperfect their formation may be, when compared to the 
higher mammalia, in every other respect they stand fully 
on a par. There is nothing monstrous or ill-shaped in 
their outward appearance, and I am sure that the coun- 
tenances of all, especially of the opossum and little native 
cat, are peculiarly intelligent. The habits of all are well 
adapted to their mode of life ; and any one who has had 
opportunities of watching them in a state of nature, will 
agree with me that no deficiency of instinct or intelli- 
gence is exhibited in any of their actions. 

The kangaroo I consider particularly gifted with all 
the attributes of a wild anima], fully equal to the deer in 
the senses of sight, hearing, and smell; and although 
the mode of progression may be different, in a mile race 
I should certainly " stand on " the kangaroo. It is my 
humble opinion that, as far as regards intelligence and 
instinct, the kangaroo, opossum, and native cat ot 
Australia, stand quite as high in the scale of creation 



14 rusH ■wa:xiieeiis'gs. 

as the deer, hare, or ferret, of the old world ; and with 
regard to those most singular animals, the duck-billed 
platypus and spiny ant-eater, although their incongrui- 
ties of form are much more apparent, we shall find the 
formation of both well adapted to the habits of the two 
animals, the one of which passes the greater portion 
of its life under ground, the other under water ; and 
I cannot see that they are in any degree inferior to the 
mole or hedgehog of Europe. 

Geologists contend that theso marsupial animals 
existed, in all probability, in the earlier periods, while 
the great work of creation was in progress, and before 
the true mammalia appeared on the stage; that they 
are, in fact, but an imperfect type of that class. Be this 
as it may, one thing is clear, that they alone have 
preserved their true character through ages, during 
which tlie earlier inhabitants of our earth have been 
swept away ; and, unlike them, they appear to have 
been but little aifected by the revolutions and changes 
which time has wrought in the aspect of our globe. 
And this very fact would, in my opinion, warrant us in 
assigning them a higher place thau they now occupy. 

"Wlien the joeys are strong runners, tliere is always a 
ready sale for them in town, as pets, at £1 each. They 
come into good season early in October, and may be 
caught up to Christmas, The best way to get them is 
to pick the old does out of the mob as they come lum- 
bering up with the joey in the pouch. As soon as tlio 
mother is shot down, run up, secure the young one, tie 



THE KAls^GAEOO. 15 

its bind legs, and put it into a bag, \rith a hole for the 
head to come out ; give it a little milk and flour mixed, 
at intervals of every four hours, out of a bottle, like a 
cade lamb, for the first few days. Warmth is their prin- 
cipal requirement at first, and it is a good plan to put a 
weak joey into a bag lined with opossum-skins. Lay 
them out on the grass for a few hours in the middle of 
each day, and when they begin to nibble grass, they are 
fit for sale, or they may then be tethered out by day, 
near the tent, with a chain and collar. It is wonderful 
how fearless they are, and how soon they become tame. 
They make sweet little pets till they become too large ; 
they are very fond of warmth at all times, and when 
allowed to run loose, soon take charge of the whole 
place. They have a shrill chatter like a monkey when 
angry or frightened, and at times are very spiteful. 

The old doe kangaroo has but one young one at a 
birth, although there are three teats in the pouch, and 
they only breed once in the year ; but they certainly are 
very irregular in their seasons, for I have killed a strong 
runniug joey in July, and once shot an old doe in De- 
cember with a small joey on the teat. The general 
pairing season, however, appears to be about January or 
Eebruary, and the joeys, strong runners, in September. 
If ever the kangaroo is deemed worth preserving here, 
none should be killed from October until the following 
March, and even then the heavy does should be spared 
as much as possible. It would seem better, in the eyes of 
a sportsman at home, not to begin killing them till the 



16 BUSn VrA^'DEUIl^GS. 

joeys could ruu, and to leave off just before the pairing 
season ; and in the old world this would be the proper 
arrangement. But here the autumn, instead of the 
spring, is the breeding season, and the winter the only 
time when any profit is attached to the chase of the 
kangaroo. The regular shooter will of course give them 
a rest af"ter October ; for he has then the small game to 
occupy him. The carcasses are worth nothing for the 
market in the hot weather, and one winter's skin is 
better than two summer ones. 

Although, during the two seasons that I was Ivan- 
garooing, we spared neither age nor sex, but killed them 
at all times, I should have felt far better pleased, and 
iihofc with much more satisfaction, if I could have known 
that I was killing my game at fair and proper seasons. 
At present, the kangaroos appear to be regarded as 
nuisances in the bush, and every means are used to 
exterminate the race : they are snared, shot, and run 
down with hounds, just for tlie sake of killing them, and 
the carcasses left to rot in the forest. This docs, indeed, 
seem a shameful waste of one of the bounties of nature. 
We scarcely ever now see a kangaroo within thirty 
miles of JMelbourne, and they will soon become scarce 
even in the wilder country. I am hardly competent 
to judge how much damage they do to the grass in 
the wild districts. Of course, among cultivation, they 
must be far worse tlian the hare or rabbit at home, and 
no one can blame the farmer for trying all he can to get 
hd of them ; but in the large plains and forests, where 



THE KANGAEOO. _ 17 

there are no more signs of the plough than in the deserts 
of Siberia, and where the pastures are not half stocked 
with cattle, one w^ould imagine there was plenty of room 
for a few kangaroos. I cannot but think that the value 
of this animal is not yet properly appreciated : the leather 
is acknowledged to be finer than calf-skin, and the hides 
run nearly as large ; yet the dealers grumble to give 
more than Is. 6d. per skin ; and as for the meat, it is 
valued little more than carrion, and this in places where 
it can be got for nothing, while beef and mutton cost 
5d. per lb. If, however, the preservation of the kangaroo 
becomes a question between the occupier of the land and 
the shooter, and it can be proved that they are injurious 
to the settler in the pastoral districts, I have nothing 
further to say on the subject ; but I do not think this is 
the case ; and it will, perhaps, be a matter of regret, at 
no very distant day, that the kangaroo, w^hich, although 
not to be compared to the deer, is still a valuable animal, 
affording good meat, and, to say the least of it, forming a 
very pretty and interesting feature in the Australian 
forests, shall have become, like many animals and birds 
in the Old AVorld, a theme of bygone days and a mere 
matter of history. 

Although harmless and inoffensive when unmolested, 
nature has furnished the kangaroo with a dreadful weapon 
cf defence in the powerful hind claw, with which it can 
rip up a dog, like the tusk of a boar ; and I have seen a 
large kangaroo take up a powerful dog in its fore claws, 
bear-fashion, and try to bite it. I never but once had 
c 



18 BUSn WAKDEEIKGS. 

one turn on me, and this was an old male which I had 
knocked down, and when I went up to it on the ground, 
it sprung up and came at me: he luckily fell from 
exhaustion as I stepped back. Like deer, when wounded, 
they will often take to water, and, if they get a dog in 
their claws at such a time, always try to drown it. But 
I do not believe in the fiction that they will carry a dog 
to a water-hole for that purpose. Tliey are exceedingly 
tenacious of life, and, when wounded mortally, will run 
for a long way, till they drop from internal hemorrhage. 
As soon as they are down, the best plan is to cut the 
throat ; and be very cautious, in going up to a kangaroo 
apparently dead, to keep out of reach of the hind foot, 
for, in the death-struggle, the kicks are often very 
dangerous. I have been twice knocked off my legs as 
clean as if bowled down by a cricket-ball ; but I was 
luckily, in both instances, close to the kangaroo, and 
was struck with the flat of the foot instead of the 
sharp claw. I never heard them utter any sound, 
except when wounded : their cry of pain is a loud hoarse 
groan. 

The best kangaroo-ground in Port Phillip is theWestern- 
port district, and begins about thirty-five miles south of 
Melbourne. Fi'om hence down to the Heads is a wide 
promontory, covered with deep forests intei'sected with 
plains, about forty miles long, bounded by Port-Phillip 
Bay on the one side, and Western-port Bay on the 
oth^r. Here, such is the wild nature of the country, 
and so wcU is it adapted to the habits of the kangaroo. 



THE KANaAEOO. 1'^ 

that it seems as if they could never be shot out ; although, 
of course, as the country becomes more peopled, their 
numbers must decrease. During the two seasons I shot 
here, I am certain considerably more than 2,000 kangaroos 
were killed by our party and another within a very limited 
distance, and we were camped on the very edge of the 
good ground nearest to Melbourne. I fancy the great 
breeding-grounds lie back in the wild undisturbed forests 
and plains between this and the Heads, and perhaps 
they draw down, in a kind of migration, into the more 
open country. I know no kangaroo-ground at all on the 
other side of Melbourne within the same distance. The 
country there is principally plains, with little or no 
timber. A few small flocks are met with under the 
Dandenong ranges, and there is a good kangaroo-ground 
up by the Tarra ; but, according to all accounts, no 
country near Melbourne is equal to the "Western-port 
district for kangaroo. 

There are several methods of killing the kangaroo. 
Coursing them with kangaroo-hounds; snaring them; 
stalking them in the timber with rifles; and our old 
method, which is by far the best of any, — planting three 
or four shooters in a line through the forest, and sending 
a man on horseback with dogs round the kangaroos, to 
drive them up to the guns. 

Coursing them with good hounds, in an open country, 

on horseback, is fair work and good sport for men who 

have not to get their living by the chase. It is, in fact, 

the aristocratic mode of kangarooing. The breed of 

c 2 



20 BUSH WA^•DEEI^"GS. 

kangaroo-dogs in use out here, is a large broken-liaired 
Scotch deer-hound ; the general colour red, or badger- 
pied. A good dog of this kind is valuable ; but we meet 
with so many cross-bred mongrels, that half the dogs 
which are called kangaroo-hounds are hardly worth their 
keep ; and I do think a laz}', half-starved, good-for-nothing 
kangaroo-dog is the biggest loafer one can see about a 
tent. A brace of good dogs will soon " stick up " a 
kangaroo in the open, if they start on fair terms, 
and in wet weather, when the ground is greasy, it is 
long odds against the kangaroo. In the beginning of 
winter, a three-parts grown kangaroo is easily ridden 
down. It requires a little judgment in a dog to pull 
down a kangaroo at full speed, and save itself from the 
hind claw. An old dog, up to this work, will run stride 
for stride with the kangaroo, and watcliing its chance, 
will spring at the neck, and throw it down on its side. 
A young dog generally manages to get in the way of the 
claw, but a deep cut or two soon teach it caution. 
The very best kangaroo-dog I ever knew, was an old im- 
ported snipe-nosed white Scotch deer-hound, such a one as 
Landseer loved to draw. He was worn out ; but althougli 
he had scarcely a tooth left, could manage a kangaroo 
single-handed, and his scars showed him an old warrior. 
We never used kangaroo-hounds for our work ; any bush- 
dog is soon taught to drive, a sheep-dog as well as any 
other ; and a kaugaroo-hound would have been little use 
to us unless he would " show," i. c. lead us up to the 
dead kan^^aroo after he had killed it : and such a doc: is 



THE KANGAEOO. 21 

scarce and valuable. For driving, a slow hound is better 
than a fast one. 

Snaring kangaroo with a thick wire snare tied to a 
post or log, and set in their runs in the bush, or a pad- 
dock fence, answers well when a man is camped in a 
good country, and in regard to the skins, is better than 
shooting them. Snaring properly, however, requires no 
little skill and care, and an immense deal of attention. 
Snares set in the bush-runs are dangerous, on account of 
the cattle, and the kangaroo soon drops down to snares 
set in a fence. The snai'es should be visited night and 
morning, and a man cannot be sufficiently blamed, who 
sets his snares in the forest and neglects to see to them 
regularly ; for, independent of the chance there is of a 
cow or dog being hung up (and I have taken more than 
one valuable dog out of a snare), it is an act of the 
greatest cruelty to let a miserable kangaroo remain for 
hours in a snare, struggling to free itself. I have often 
shot a kangaroo which must have been snared for a day 
or two. In the summer time here, when the water-holes 
are drying up, the bullocks and cows often get stuck in 
the mud, where they remain to die in a state of the 
greatest misery, unless pulled out. Sometimes when fast 
in, the station-master will not give himself the trouble 
to pull them out ; and I once remember a miserable 
cow in a water-hole, on the plains, for ten days, which at 
length died there, although I told the owner of it. Had 
I shot it, I should probably have been blamed. I have 
also seen bullocks standing in a pen against a slaughter- 



TZ BUSn WANDEEINGS. 

house, without a drop of water, or any food, for days, 
under a burning sun. Surely this should be prevented. 

Stalking kangaroo in the forest, with a rifle, is, per- 
haps, the most sporting way of killing them. It has a 
good deal of excitement in it, and the skill of the shooter 
is fairly tested. "We never used rifles when driving, on 
account of the danger of a stray ball in a mixed company. 
But I often used to "lurch" one on the feeding-grounds 
at night ; in fact, I could generally reckon on a couple of 
shots any evening, if I went the right way to work. It 
requires an ounce ball, at least, for this kind of shooting ; 
for often does the ball, especially a small one, pass right 
through the kangaroo without stopping it, unless it 
chances to hit a vital part. But stalking, except in the 
wildest bush, is dangerous work, if a man is not very 
careful ; and I had one or two narrow escapes myself in 
our forests from rifle-balls. 

I could any day kill a brace of kangaroo by walking 
through the thick forest, with the dogs driving them in 
all directions around me ; and this and stalking are the 
only methods which a man can adopt, unless his party is 
strong enough for driving. The great objection to this 
sport, however, is that the hind-quarter must be carried 
home at once to the tent, perhaps two or three miles 
through the forest, unless near some bush road or well- 
known spot, where it can be left "tiU called for." 

The approved method of preparing and carrying home 
a hind-quarter when killed, is to skin all the fore-quarlcr, 
and cut it away at the rib next below the kidneys, leaving 



f 



THE EA^'GA.^iOO. 23 

tliem on the hmd-quarter, to wliicli tlie whole skin is 
left attached. Cut a hole through the skin at the neck, 
shove the tail through it, and drawing the skin up to the 
root of the tail, it will cover the belly of the hind-quarter. 
Hoist it up on your back, having a leg over each shoulder, 
the tail hanging down your back, with a leg in either 
hand in front ; and to any one following, you have the 
exact appearance of an Italian boy carrying a large 
monkey. It is wonderful how light a heavy hind-quarter 
rides when properly balanced this way. The insides and 
fore-quarters are of no use, and are left in the forest, a 
prey to the wild dogs and eagle-hawks. 

When a party has adopted the pursuit of kangaroos as 
a regular trade, there is no plan like driving. But for 
this work there must, at least, be two guns, a driver, and 
a brace of dogs. If a couple of partiesjoin, it is best, for 
they need not interfere with one another. Each one has 
his separate tent, and the game can be divided as agreed 
upon. With us the driver had one share, and then every 
man took what he killed. The more guns there are the 
better is each man's chance of a shot. The dogs should 
not be too fast, and if they have a little music in them, all 
the better. In fact, if the driver has a horn and a deep- 
toned hound with him, it will much enliven the sport. 
Of course, there is one head man upon whom devolves 
the whole plan of the day's proceedings. The shooters 
start first, so that they may station themselves before 
the driver comes round the kangaroo. And one of the 
greatest secrets in driving is to give the shooters time 



24 BirSII WANDEEIlfGS. 

enough to get well planted before the kangaroos come 
up. Of course the driver must know where the guns will 
he stationed, and a good knowledge of the country is 
indispensable to him. The shooters are planted across a 
certain portion of the wood, in a line, about 150 yards 
apart, each one choosing a good run, with the shelter of 
a tree or bush. The best plan for the shooter is to sit at 
the foot of a large tree, not to stand behind it, as I 
have seen many do ; and when the kangaroo are in sight, 
be very careful not to stir a limb, or even to move the 
gun, till they are well within shot. The driver goes 
round on horseback with the dogs, and when well round 
the kangaroo, he gallops on to them, and sends the mob 
right up to the shooters. On they come, crashing 
through the timber like a troop of cavalry, and " bang, 
bang," puts every one on the q^ui vive. Sometimes the 
mob breaks the line at one point, and only one man gets 
a shot ; but, after the first shot, they often divide, and 
run right down the line, when every gun pours in 
its broadside. Kangaroo-driving certainly beats deer- 
shooting in one respect ; for a man, who at all under- 
stands it, is sure to have three or four shots in the day. 
I always, if possible, like to be planted about the middle 
of the line, or else sneak right away down below all the 
other shooters, and never choose the first stand. It is a 
good plan, if a shooter sees the whole mob breaking 
the line together, to give them a shot, even if out of dis- 
tance ; for this will sometimes turn them down tlie line. 
I always had two guns ready, and have sometimes brought 



THE KAIS-GAEOO. 25 

down four at a drive. Never, on any account, run out 
from your stand after a wounded kangaroo until the 
whole mob is past (a very common trick with a green 
hand) ; for by so doing you will, perhaps, turn all the 
kangaroo out of shot, and in return will, most probably, 
call down many a left-handed blessing from your nest 
neighbour, who was probably just picking out a fair 
shot, and only waiting till it came near enough. As soon 
as the drive is over, the shooters meet, and each man's 
shot is canvassed. " What's hit is history — what's 
missed is mystery." I like to see the old hunter walk 
quietly up with one kangaroo over his shoulder, which 
he throws down without a remark, and turns back for a 
second, which he has left in the forest. Two or three 
may be seen struggling through the bush, pulling ai 
heavy old man after them, while another is shouting for 
tho driver to bring the dogs to track a wounded kan- 
garoo, which he is certain has not gone far ; to which 
request the driver, in general, pays very little attention, 
unless he knows his man. It not unfrequently happens 
that when the kangaroo come up in a line, the shooter 
gets two at a shot, and I have seen three brought down 
with one barrel. But the best "family shot" I ever 
saw, was made by my old mate. He shot right and 
left into a mob coming up to him, and got four old does, 
three of them with heavy "joeys " in the pouch ; so that 
be bagged seven kangaroos at the two shots. It is a good 
plan, if the kangaroos are coming up gently, to whistle? 
and they will often stop in a line, and hold up their 



26 BUSH -WANDEEIIfGS. 

heads like seals. The dead kangaroos are now collected, 
drawn to some bush-road or well-marked place, laid in a 
heap, a piece of white paper stuck over them, to keep off 
the vermin, and after just one pipe, the bushman's vade- 
mecum on all occasions, the party proceed to another 
plant. So the day goes on, drive after drive, till evening, 
when the dead kangaroo, after the fore-quarters are cut 
away, are brought home to the tent ; some on horseback, 
some on the hunters' shoulders. They are then skinned 
and dressed, the hind-quarters hung upon a gibbet, and 
the skins nailed out to dry. A hind-quarter will keep 
twice as long if skinned before it is hung up, than 
if hung up in the skin; and if dressed in a work- 
manlike fashion, of course looks all the better for the 
market. 

Occasionally we w^ere joined by some sporting friends 
from town, to whom the novelty of a few days' bush life 
adds double zest to the sport, and a grand battue then 
took place. These kangaroo battues always reminded me 
of the rabbit battues at home, when the keepers invito 
their friends for a day's rabbit-shooting in the forest. 
On such occasions all restraint is laid aside, every man is 
determined to be pleased, and the freedom of the sport is 
enjoyed alike by all, when all are on an equality. I can 
now recall to my mind's eye our head forest-ranger on 
the morning of such a day, in his rusty old bit of 
velveteen and white hat, coupling up dogs, bustling 
about, giving orders to the driver, laying down the 
plan of the day's proceedings, and greeting us with his 



THE KANGAEOO. 27 

cheery welcome, '•' Come, gentlemen, we must ahow you 
some sport to-day." 

The evening of such a day is passed in all the free 
jollity of the bush. The chorus of many an old sporting 
song startles the magpies from their roost on the old 
gum-tree above the tent ; anecdotes of days long past, 
and till now, perhaps, forgotten, while away the time, 
and it is not until the chairman passes the word, " Come, 
my lads, there's just a * nobbier ' each, we'd better finish 
it, and turn in ready for the morning," that we cared to 
leave the camp fire. That sky must indeed be cloudy 
which never has one gleam of sunshine ; and these little 
re-unions on occasions like the present, of old sporting 
friends, form some of the pleasantest breaks in the 
monotony of the shooter's forest life. 

The great secret in kangaroo-shooting is never to be 
in a hurry ; load with as much powder as your gun will 
stand, and never fire till the kangaroo is well within 
distance (I used to kill more within twenty yards than 
over it), and aim well at the neck. ISTo. 2 was my 
favourite-sized shot. Slugs fly too wide ; but for random 
shooting, a practice I never adopted, a few slugs mixed 
with the shot will bring down a kangaroo at a very long 
distance. The gun should be strong and heavy, and able 
to carry G drams of powder and 2 oz. of shot comfortably 
to the shoulder. I like Eley's green cartridge better 
than a bullet for kangarooing ; for I have seen so many 
carry the ball away and drop dead in the bush, where 
they often lie, of no good to any one ; and many a skin 



28 BUSH TVAS-DEEIJTGS. 

have I got by seeing tlie old crows rise off a fresli-killed 
carcass in the forest. In stalking kangaroo single-handed, 
no douht the man who can use a rifle well, and always 
hit the kangaroo in the head or heart, will kill more than 
with a smooth bore and shot ; but I am here alluding to 
driving, where there is no fear but that the kangaroo 
will come well within range. Nothing stops a kangaroo so 
surely as a charge of jSTo. 2 thrown well into the neck, at 
about twenty yards ; and I certainly did like to see a 
brace of kangaroo at full speed rolled over by a clean 
double shot. I may mention, not with the slightest 
desire of boasting, that no one on the kangaroo-ground 
killed their shots cleaner or got more kangaroo in so few 
shots as myself My motive in adverting to the fact is 
merely to prove that my theory of kangaroo-shooting is 
correct. Let them come near enough, and aim well at 
the neck. Moreover, the longer the distance the more 
the shots spread ; and it is easy to guess which skin is of 
the most value, one which the shots have entered in the 
neck like a ball, or one spotted all over with shot-holes 
like a colander. A kangaroo at full speed is hy no 
means an easy shot, especially to a " new chum :" their 
peculiar jumping motion is very puzzling, and I always 
fancied it like shooting at a man hopping by steam. 
" Confound the looping beggars, I can't touch 'em at 
all," once observed an old deer-stalker to me (who had 
brouglit down many a red deer on his native hills), after 
missing three fair double shots at kangaroo in suc- 
cession. 



THE KANGAEOO. 29 

Eut I cannot say tliat I ever really fancied kangaroo- 
shooting mucli as a sport. There is a sameness in it 
when carried on month after montb, which is very 
wearying, even if followed as an amusement; and at 
the present prices a man is not sufficiently remunerated 
for his trouble if he follows it as a trade. Moreover, 
there was too much of the carcass-butcher about it to 
please me, and driving kangaroo is certainly one of the 
tamest of all field-sports. When a man is hunting for 
his daily bread, he is justified in adopting the surest 
means of procuring it ; the sport of the chase now 
becomes a business, and what would be deemed pot- 
hunting by the amateur, is looked upon as all fair by 
the professional shooter, who is perhaps guilty of many 
a poaching trick to obtain his game, which would be 
condemned in fair sporting. This, however, I thought 
nothing of, for I was shooting for my living and not 
for pleasure; but I never could reconcile to my mind 
the wholesale and wanton destruction of this animal 
which is now carried on all over the bush. Whenever I 
wanted a kangaroo for the body or the skin, I felt no 
compunction in killing it in whatever manner I best 
could ; but I never shot one wantonly, and it certainly 
used to go much against the grain when I saw a 
kangaroo pulled down by dogs and left to rot in the 
bush, and old does shot with a heavy joey in the pouch, 
which is mercilessly torn out and its brains dashed out 
against a tree : with the exception of clubbing seals, this 
certainly did appear to be about the most barbarous 



30 irsH ^VA^*DEEI^"GS. 

work I ever joined in. There is, it is true, some excite- 
ment in a day's kangarooing to the man who only now 
and then joins in it, and the old hand often feels " bis 
heart in his moutli " as the mob come up to him, thump- 
ing and crashing througli the forest ; and there is at 
times a good deal of boisterous merriment in the day's 
sport with a party of the right sort. But to me it always 
appeared like coursing at home, slow for an hour and 
dead for a minute ; and although, when getting m}' 
living by shooting, I had to take everything in its turn, 
still I must say that I think I found less real sport in 
kangarooing than in any other kind of shooting. 

But men situated like myself must look to the profit 
of the chase, not to the sport alone ; and I think, on this 
head, kangaroo-shooting, if rightly followed, beats any 
other kind of winter shooting within the same distance 
of Melbourne. Duck-shooting certainly was tlie most 
profitable a few years ago, before the bnds were shot 
out round jMelbourne ; but now a man can hardly get his 
living by ducks, unless he shoots with a punt and big 
gun ; and even then he must go up the bay ; and for this 
purpose will require a sailing-boat. "When we were kan- 
garooing, we used to sell our carcasses on the ground for 
2*. 6d. each to a man who carried them up to Melbourne, 
and we had the skins, which were worth about 18^. per 
dozen : the hind-quarters in Melbourne are worth from 
85. to 10s. each, according to quality. Twenty-five we 
considered a fair two-liorso load in the winter, and theso 
we could easily get in four days : but we had the help of 



THE EAIS'GAEOO. 31 

the man ■who bought the kangaroo of us, and the use of 
his horses for driving; without this assistance we must 
have kept a horse ourselves, and had a third mate. 
A good many may always be sold on the ground, and a 
couple of men, if they were worth anything, ought to 
kill two dozen weekly, and they can live well in the bush 
for £1 per week. There are two great advantages attached 
to kangarooing : the shooters get their meat for nothing, 
and they " have their nights in," which the duck-shooters 
do not. But if ever I were going into kangarooing again, 
I would adopt a different system, and salt the hams 
instead of selling the carcasses ; I would try and get two 
good mates, buy an old horse, tent, and rations for six 
months, go up into a good country, shoot for the skins, 
and cure the hams. There would be, besides, a few joeys 
at £1 each, and opossum-skins always worth 55. per 
dozen ; and if one of the party could skin and preserve 
any rare pretty birds they fell in with, a good many 
might always be sold. 

The receipt for curing kangaroo hams, which I had 
from a very old hand, was as follows ; and what few we 
made for home consumption were first rate, and ate as 
much like reindeer hams as anything I ever tasted: — 
15 lbs. of salt, 2 lbs. of treacle, 3 lbs. of coarse sugar, 
3 oz. of saltpetre, i lb, of carbonate of soda, mixed 
cold in a tub, the brine strong enough to float a potato : 
don't boil the brine. The above quantity is sufficient for 
fifty hams. Cut the hams nicely into shape ; if the bone 
is taken out, the better for soaking, but the shape of the- 



32 BUSH -^TAIfDEr.IXGS. 

ham is not so well. Soak the hams in the brine for five 
days, occasionally turning them : when properly soaked, 
hang them out to dry. If they are smoked, which adds 
much to their flavour, a proper smokiug-house should 
be knocked up : a tent chimney will do. But you must 
only use green wood, and keep damping it, so that it 
does not blaze. I am sure I do not know what is the 
best wood to use here in smoking, for the juniper-bush 
does not grow in these forests: we used honeysuckle 
ibr what few we smoked. A hole dug in tlie ground, in 
which a fire of honeysuckle-cones and other rubbish 
is lighted, built over with a cone-shaped hut of tea-tree 
scrub, in which the hams should smoke for three or four 
days, will answer the purpose. It is always as well to 
have a tub of brine in every bush tent on the kangaroo- 
ground ; for the meat is much improved by lying in it 
for only a night, and in the summer, when meat will not 
keep, a slice of kangaroo ham and a little bit of bacon 
is no bad relish. 

To dry the meat without salt, cut it into long thin 
slices, light a large fire, and near this erect a frame of 
tea-tree poles. Place the flesh upon this frame, at such 
a distance from the fire that it will only dry up the 
juice : in about twenty-four hours the strips become hard 
and stift', and will keep for mouths. This is the American 
mode of drying venison or buftalo. 

AVe could, I dare say, have sold a good many bams at 
a much better profit than selling the carcasses whole as 
we did. Curing hams and drying skins requires a great 



THE WALLABY. 33 

deal of attention ; and the dogs about a busli tent are 
generally the greatest thieves in the world, and take 
some looking after. The hams of the old-men kangaroo 
rarely turn out well. 

The Wallaby is a species of small brush kangaroo, 
about the size of a yearling kangaroo. The general 
colour is very dark brown, and the hair considerably 
coarser and longer than in the common kangaroo, which 
animal, however, it resembles exactly in shape and habits, 
and is, in fact, a miniature kangaroo. I never met with 
the wallaby on the mainland in these parts, but I believe 
they are common in certain places further inland : they 
abound, however, in the scrub on Phillip Island, in 
"Western-port Bay. They generally keep in the thick 
scrub, or on its edges, are easily shot in the runs, and 
this sport much resembles roe-deer shooting at home. 
The flesh is very good eating, and the skins worth 12s. 
to 14s. per dozen. The wallaby is very common in Van 
Diemen's Land, and on certain islands in the strait. 
This is the common wallaby, the only one which ever I 
saw wild ; but there is another species peculiar to some 
of the high ranges inland, called the rock wallaby. This 
is described as being a shy, solitary animal, generally 
seen in pairs ; is rather larger than the common species, 
and has a slightly brush tail. In habits it resembles 
the chamois, frequenting the most inaccessible ranges, 
and living among the rocks. It is very difficult to 
shoot ; and this sport must be something like chamois- 
hunting. 



S4 BUSH WANDEEIXG3. 

There are several varieties of kangaroo in colour, those 
from the north being much lighter than our kangaroo; 
but I cannot say how many different species are met with 
throughout the country. 



THE WILD DOG. §5 



CHAPTBE II. 

THE WILD DOG — THE NATIVE BEAE — THE WOMBAT. 

The Wild Bog, warrigal, or diugo, is met witli in all 
the thick forests, deeply-scrubbed gullies, in belts of 
timber bordering on the large plains, and in patches of 
tea-tree on the plains themselves, throughout the whole 
country, of course commonest in the most unfrequented 
districts, and is the only large wild animal of prey at 
present known in Australia. Shy and retired in its 
habits, the wild dog is rarely seen by day, unless dis- 
turbed, lying up generally in thick patches of tea-tree 
scrub till evening sets in, when, like the wolf and fox of 
the old world, they roam abroad in search of prey. In 
habits the wild dog appears to resemble the European 
fox much more than the wolf. Its shape, colour, and 
general appearance, is that of a fox, although much thicker 
and larger, and the colour is generally brighter red; but 
the pricked ears, sharp nose, bright eye, and thick brush, 
all strongly remind us of " old reynard." It is, howeveiv 
taller and heavier, and altogether a much bolder and 
finer-looking animal. The colour is usually light red, 
but there is a beautiful variety nearly black, which is, 
however, rare, and, like the black fox of northern Europe, 
only occasionally found in a litter of red cubs. The cry 
» 2 



36 BUSH WANDEEIXOS. 

of the wild dog at night is a long dismal howl, very much 
resembling the horrid cry of the Swedish wolf, echoing 
through the forests, making" night hideous ;" and some- 
times a small pack would come sweeping by our camp- 
fire at night after kangaroo, and the chorus was then 
very fine, when all else was still. The wild bitch brings 
forth from four to six cubs, like the domestic bitch, 
generally in a large hollow log or old tree-root. Unlike 
the wolf, they rarely hunt in large packs, and if, by 
chance, four or five are seen together, I fancy it is an old 
bitch and her cubs : I have, however, heard stock-riders 
say that they have sometimes seen a large drove congre- 
gated over a dead carcass on the plains up country. They 
appeared to be much more common in our forests during 
the winter than in the summer, and this is also the case 
with the northern wolf: we had no lack of them on the 
kangaroo-ground, attracted, doubtless, by the carcasses 
that strewed the forests; and if ever we left a dead 
kangaroo out at night, it was pretty sure to be half 
eaten by morning. I believe the wild dog was never 
known to attack man, nor will they molest horned cattle, 
imless it be a cow in the act of parturition, when they 
will sometimes eat away the calf. Their chief food appears 
to be kangaroo, sheep, all bush animals, and offal, and 
birds ; and when kept on the chain, they are " death 
upon " any fowls which come within their reach. They 
are a fearful scourge to the settlers on the large sheep- 
runs up the country ; for, strictly as tiio fold may be 
guarded at night, a wild dog or two will occasionally 



THE "WILD DOG. 37 

creep in, and kill and maim many of the sheep ; for, like 
the common dog which takes to "worrying sheep, they 
■will bite and tear perhaps a dozen to every one that they 
kill ; and this is not the worst ; for the sheep will often 
break fold, and, frightened to death, scattering themselves 
over the bush, may not be recovered again for days. 
There is a kind of venom attached to the bite of the wild 
dog ; for the wound always festers, and sometimes morti- 
fication takes place : the bush remedy is to rub a little 
salt into the bitten part. Like the Ishmaelite of old, 
every man's hand is against them ; they are shot, snared, 
and run down by kangaroo-dogs, "whenever they can be 
met with ; but the most certain way of getting rid of 
them is by poison. Take a small piece of meat, cut a 
slit in it, and insert as much strychnine as will cover the 
end of the blade of a penknife ; hang it up by a string to 
a twig about a foot or eighteen inches from the ground. 
The dog never goes far to die after taking this bait ; but 
they will carry arsenic a long way. They are difiScult to 
shoot, being very wary ; and there is no regular method 
of hunting them carried on here : what are killed, are 
shot, worried by bush-dogs, or poisoned. 

The wild dog will often breed with the tame bush-dog, 
and the cross is generally larger and savager than the 
original breed. I recollect one morning about daylight 
going out of my tent and seeing a wild bitch with all 
our dogs playing round her. She made oif into the 
forest when she saw me. One of our dogs followed her, 
and came back after three days, bitten all to pieces. The 



38 BUSn ^VAKDEUIIS-OS. 

wild dogs are cowardly by nature, but wben brought 
to bay, they make a hard fight of ifc, and it will give 
a good bush-dog all his work to do to kill one single- 
handed: tbey snap like a wolf. When the distemper 
raged so fearfully a few years ago among the domestic 
dogs out here, it extended also to the wild dogs, and 
scores were found dead in the bush. 

Although called the untamable dog of New South 
Wales, I have seen them to all appearance as tame as 
the domestic dog, and I knew a shepherd who had one 
which followed him about like a sheep-dog. Eut 
they are never to be trusted, nor do I fancy that they 
can ever be made of any use to man, either for guarding 
or any other purpose. The only bark I ever heard one 
utter, was a kind of "yap yap," after a long howl. 

The Koala or Native Bear of Australia is also a pouched 
animal, and from its sluggish habits is sometimes called 
the Australian sloth, about the size of a large poodle dog, 
of a light gray colour, with white throat and rump, and 
no tail ; and a very comical-looking fellow he is, with his 
round bald face, small black eyes, and square fringed ears. 
The skin is very thick, and tans to an excellent leather ; 
the fur short and close. The legs are very powerful, and 
the claws long and sharp. It is lazy and sluggish, but an 
inoffensive animal, subsisting principally upon green 
leaves, and is purely herbivorous. It lives in hollow trees, 
and is not strictly nocturnal in its habits, for we often 
killed them by day. I generally found them most com- 
mon about the end of autumn, and used chiefly to see 



THE WOMBAT. 39 

tliem in the eveniug crawling about the top brandies 
of the large gum-trees, often with a young one perched 
upon the rump. The habits of very few of the animals 
here are diurnal, and we meet none in the Australian 
forests by day (except it has been disturbed from its lair), 
with the exception of the kangaroo or an old bear. The 
bear must be considered as representing the monkey, 
of which animal we have none here ; a circumstance I 
rather wondered at, considering the wooded nature of 
the country and the fine climate. The bear makes a 
poor figure on the ground, but will soon get up to the 
top of the highest tree. They are extremely difficult to 
shoot, on account of the thick hide ; and it is cruelty to 
shoot at them with shot, if they are any height up a 
tree ; but a bullet brings them down " by the run." The 
flesh is eatable — not unlike that of the northern bear 
in taste. It is considered a delicacy by the blacks. I 
always found the bear singly. They have a loud hoarse 
groan or cry, which they utter when frightened or 
wounded. 

The Wombat is analogous to the badger, and common 
in most of the sandstone ranges in the country, where 
they live in deep burrows, like the badger at home. It 
is a thick, chubby animal, much larger than the native 
bear, of a uniform brown colour, wdth short strong legs. 
The skin is of little use as a fur, for the hair is short and 
bristly. The habits of the wombat are strictly terrestrial, 
and it is rarely seen by day. The flesh is eatable. It is 
an inoffensive animal, living cliiefly on herbs and roots. 



40 BUSH TTANDEBIKGS. 



CHAPTEE III. 

THE OPOSSUM — THE EING-TAIL — THE FLYING SQUIKKEL — THE TIGE3- 
CAT — THE NATIVE CAT — THE KANGAROO EAT — THE BANDICOTE— 
SMALL BUSH ASIMxXXS — THE FLYING MOUSE — THE PLATYPUS — 
THE SPINY ANT-EATER — DOMESTIC CATTLE. 

Two species of so-called opossum were common in our 
forests : the large Silver Opossum and the little Ring-tail. 
"Wherever the gum or peppermint trees grow to any age or 
size, there you will always find the large opossum ; of 
course,much more numerous in some localities than others, 
and generally in the vicinity of water. The silver opossum 
is something in the size and shape of a large cat, but the 
tail is long, black, and brushy, the underside being 
covered with black skin instead of hair. The teeth are 
not carnivorous, but the front teeth are long. The toes 
have long sharp claws, and it has a blunt thumb on each 
hind foot. The nose is pointed, the face round, the 
countenance mild, the ears large and pricked. A full- 
grown opossum will weigh about 10 lbs. Unlike the 
kangaroo, the opossum can curl its tail, and if in falling, 
a dying opossum catches it round a branch, it dies in 
that position, and there hangs. The skins vary much in 
colour, from a dark black-brown, which species is pe- 
culiar to Van Dicmen's Land, where the opossums are 
larger and handsomer than in Port Phillip, to a light 



THE OPOSSUM. 41 

silvery gray, ■with a reddish tinge oa the belly, the 
common colour of our opossums ; the shades, however, 
varying much ; and we also had a variety dark reddish- 
brown throughout. "When in full fur, the skin is very 
handsome, and has many rich tints. The opossum lives 
by day in the holes of the large gum-trees, and comes 
down at night to feed. Their principal food consists of 
green leaves, grass, vegetables, bread ; and I believe they 
can also eat cooked meat. They are very partial to the 
leaves of the peppermint gum, which gives their flesh a 
rank taste. Their flesh, however, is eatable, for the blacks 
principally live upon it ; and their method of cooking and 
eating opossum is primitive and disgusting. They throw- 
it on to the coals, with the skin on and the entrails in, 
and when warmed through, tear it to pieces with their 
hands and teeth. There were few bush-animals and 
birds which we could not digest, but a tough old opossum 
beat us. The flesh of the little ring-tail is much more 
white and palatable, and if served up with rabbit-sauce, 
would be no bad substitute for rabbit. An opossum 
just warmed through on the coals is, however, the finest 
food for dogs. They come down to feed a little after 
sundown, and remain out till the laughing jackass sounds 
his morning call. As may be imagined, they are very 
destructive to bush gardens. The opossum is very 
nimble in its motions, and when the trees are high, is 
soon out of gun-shot, especially if the first shot does not 
bring it down. The only purpose for which we used 
to shoot them was for the skins, and as food for the 



42 BUSH WANDEBINGS. 

dogs. The skins are worth about 5^. per dozen : they 
are in best fur during the winter ; in the summer the 
hair is all scratched off the rump, — I could never account 
for the cause rightly. It is a curious fact, that the hair 
easily comes off a fresh-killed opossum ; and when shoot- 
ing for the skins, one must be very careful not to pull the 
opossum about till cold. I have seen the fur stripped off 
the whole body, just like a scalded pig. I fancy that 
the opossums come down from the ranges much in the 
autumn in a kind of migration to the low country, at 
least I often used to find them about the end of autumn 
thick in some places a few miles from the ranges, where, 
in the summer, they were very rare. They have a loud 
call, something between a scream and a chatter, which 
we used to hear much in the forests, especially during 
the pairing season. The opossum has usually but one 
young one at a birth ; I have, however, more than once 
taken two from the pouch. The young one, at first, is 
red-coloured. The females breed but once in the year. 

Every bush-dog has, to use a colonial phrase, " a 
rank down" on the opossum, and will hunt them up or 
find them in the trees at night, and stand barking under 
them till the shooter comes up. The opossum then acts 
very foolishly, for it will often only just run up out of 
reach of the dog, at which it will sit swearing, after the 
manner of a cat, without at all noticing the shooter 
below. A still night, after rain, with a moon just over 
the tree-tops, is the right night for 'possum-shooting. 
They are, however, very irregular in coming out, for in 



THE OPOSSUM. 43 

Bome nights you may beat the wood through and scarcely 
find any, while on another night you will perhaps find 
dozens in the same trees ; but on damp nights they are 
sure to be out. "When the moon only gives a doubtful 
light, they are not easy to see, especially in the thick 
trees ; the only plan then is to get the tree well between 
you and the moon, and run your eye along each limb in 
the moon's rays. The ears of the opossum sticking up 
will often betray it, for they sit very still, doubled up on 
the branch, often ia a cleft. "When the night was clear 
and tlie trees bare, I never cared to have a dog with me ; 
for let it be ever so well broken, a dog will have an 
occasional snap at the opossum on the ground, unless 
it falls stone dead; and the least blemish on the back 
spoils the skin. The shooter must be careful how he 
handles a wounded opossum. Hawker says, in his 
Instructions to Sportsmen : " Beware of a wounded 
coot, it will scratch you like a cat." I can say the same 
of a wounded opossum ; and I have seen one fasten on a 
dog so tightly with its teeth as to be w^ith difficulty 
shaken off. A pea-rifle is better than a gun to shoot 
opossums with, but be sure to take them in the head, or 
the bullet-hole will spoil the skiu. The most I ever 
shot ia one night was at a place called the " Banging 
"Water-holes," near Dandenong: the trees were old and 
bare ; the night still and clear. I killed ninety-three. This 
•was an unusual occurrence ; but a man may always with 
little trouble kill a dozen on any night in the forests where 
the oDossums are at all thick. 



44. BUSH WAXDEEIKGS. 

The best rugs are those Avhicli come from Tan Die- 
men's Land, made by the shepherds of snared skins ; 
and as these can bo bought in Melbourne, properly 
dressed and tanned, for about 50^. each, it is hardly worth 
making them here for sale : still, every bushman should 
make one for his own use ; for of all the coverings in dry 
cold weather, an opossum-skin rug is the best, as I can 
well testify; for, the winter after leaving Australia I 
spent in Sweden, and many a nigbt, when the cold north 
Avind came howling through the pine forests, dashing the 
snow and sleet against my window, the temperatui'e of 
the air many degrees below zero, I used to wrap myself 
in my old opossum-rug and contrast the wild inclemency 
of the northern winter with the sunny and cloudless 
skies under which I secured these skins. If any blacks 
are handy, it is best to get them to sew the skins, for a 
black's rug beats any other. It takes about eighty skins 
to make a good rug, and I have seen a hundred and 
twenty used : of course, if the belly is used, much fewer 
will do ; but although the red colour gives the rug a rich 
appearance, the skins are always thinner in this part. It 
is best to tan the skins by throwing them, xvlien (jreen, 
for three days, into a tub with a strong decoction of cold 
boiled wattle-bark before stretching them. A good rug 
should be at least eight feet by six, and when lined and 
bound, it has a very rich appearance. To dry the skins, 
nail them out against a tree with the fleshy side to the 
sun, and they will dry in a day. As the back is the best 
part, stretch the skins long but not broadwise : the more 



THE OPOSSUM. 45 

tliey are stretched of course the thinner they are. In 
cutting them out for a rug, try and get them as much of 
a size as possible ; mark out the square, and cut the shin 
with a sharp knife inside, not laid on a board, or you 
will cut the hair. "When sewing them, use the carpet- 
stitch, i. e. turn down the edges of the skins and sew 
through them double. The blacks score the inside of 
their skins with a kind of hieroglyphic, and I have seen 
one marked representing a chart or map. This much 
softens the skins. The proper way to prepare any skins, 
such as opossum, native cat, flying squirrels, &c., for the 
furrier, is to adopt the plan that we used in Sweden with 
the foxes' skins. When skinning the animal, don't open 
it down the belly, but make an incision across the vent 
up each hind leg as far as the second joint ; cut through 
the legs and root of tlie tail, and draw the body out of 
the skin, like skinning an eel ; skin the head out right 
down to the nose ; slit down the feet to the toes, taking 
out the leg-bones, and draw out the tail-bone. The skin 
is now turned inside out. Cut a flat piece of wood as 
broad as the body, but longer; point the nose end a 
little, and thrust it into the skin down to the nose, draw- 
ing the skin smoothly and tightly over it. Nail the ends 
of the skin at the tail to the board, put two cross-sticks 
into the legs to stretch them, and hang it up to dry. As 
soon as it is partially dry, draw out the board, turn the 
skin the hair side out, and put the board in again ; don't 
let the skin get too dry before you turn it, or you will 
have a difficulty in doing so. The reason you should 



5!b EUSII -SVAXDEEINGS. 

put tlie board in on the fur side first, is that the skin may 
not fasten hard on to the board, -n-liich it would do if the 
board was put in to the fleshy side first ; but I fancy, if 
the board was well greased, it would not stick. A little 
wood-ashes rubbed on the fleshy part of the skin, assists 
much in drying it ; and I have often found wood-ashes, 
sifted fine, an excellent preservative both for animals and 
bird skins, when no poison was at hand. 

The Ming-tail Opossum is much smaller, scarcely half 
the size of the common opossum. The general colour is 
a plain dark brown, often with a very red tinge ; the 
breast and belly pure white, the fur short and close, more 
bristly, and the skins are worth little or nothing for 
rugs. The tail is long and bare, like a rat's, with a white 
tip on the end. It is a pretty little animal, and soon 
becomes tame. They principally frequent thick tea-tree 
scrub, where they live in small colonies, building a drey 
like the squirrel at home. Tou do, however, occasionally 
at night find them in the gum-trees with the others, but 
they are nowhere so common as the large opossum. I 
have occasionally taken three young ones from the pouch 
of a ring-tail. Besides these, there are many Australian 
opossums, or Phalangists, as they are more rightly called. 

"We had two species of flying squirrel in our forests, — 
the large hlacTc and white, or Magpie Squirrel, or Plying 
Fox, and the little Sugar Squirrel, or " Tooan " of the 
natives. The magpie squirrel was rare in our district. 
It is principally found, I think, in the high Stringy-bark 
ranges, and they abound in the ranges on the Ciipps- 
land road. Strange to say, no opossums are found tliere. 



THE LITTLE BTJGAE SQUIKEEL. 47 

I fancy the opossum is more partial to the peppermint 
and gums, and perhaps the same localities do not suit 
both. The large squirrel is of a dirty brown and white 
colour, the fur much coarser than that of the little sugar 
squirrel ; the body itself is not very large, but I have seen 
them two feet long from the nose to the tip of the tail, 
and about a foot broad when the wings are spread out. 
These wings are nothing more than a fine flap of skin, 
which extends the whole length of the body on each side, 
and expands when stretched out to the toes of each foot. 
They certainly cannot fly, but they can float through the 
air for a long distance, always in a downward direction ; 
and this is how they puzzle the dogs ; for while they are 
barking under the tree, the squirrel floats out on the 
other side to the bottom of the next tree, which it soon 
runs up, and thus gives its enemy the slip. The cry of 
the big squirrel is a loud piercing scream. 

The little Sugar Sqturrel is not at all uncommon 
among the honeysuckle and small gums in all the forests, 
but is very difficult to shoot, on account of its small size 
and the thickness of the trees it generally frequents. It 
is a pretty little animal, about six inches long in the 
body, and the tail, which is flat and brushy, nearly the 
length of the body. The colour is light gray, white un- 
derneath, and the fur is beautifully soft and valuable, 
being a real chinchilla. They live by day in the holes of 
trees, and, like the opossum, come out at night to feed. 
The wing is about an inch and a half broad on each 
side. The little squirrel has foiu' young ones at a birth. 



48 BUSH WANBEEIirOS. 

and I think breeds but once in the year. I don't know 
liow it is with the wild dog, but I fancy none of the bush 
animals here have more than one litter in the year. The 
little squirrel is not gregarious, but generally dispersed 
in pairs throughout the forests. These animals are not 
true squirrels but belong to the Petaurists. 

The Cusciis or Tiger-Cat is rather a rare animal, very 
like the British polecat in shape and size ; and I fancy, 
like that animal, it lives much by the side of the creeks and 
swamps. It is sparingly dispersed over the thick bush, 
and I generally found them singly. The colour is deep 
chocolate-brown, irregularly spotted with white, and the 
tail, which is long and thin, is also spotted. It is strictly 
carnivorous ; but the hind foot has a thumb, like the opos- 
sum. It is a shy, solitary animal, and rarely seen, although 
I have oftener killed them by day than night. They 
must be very destructive to the small game in the bush. 

One of the commonest of all the bush animals is the 
little Native Cat or Dasyiire, a pretty little animal, about 
the shape and size of a ferret ; but the nose is sharper, 
the ears are large and pricked, and the tail is long and 
brushy, nearly the length of the body. The general 
colour is light sandy brown, with white spots ; but there 
is a beautiful variety, jet black spotted with white. This, 
however, is rare and very local, and, unlike the black 
variety of the wild dog, is a distinct species ; and a black- 
a'nd-wliite spotted cat is never found among a litter of 
sandy ones. The native cat is a small beast of prey, 
very destructive to birds, especially poultry, and eggs. 



THE DOMESTIC CAT. 49 

They are common throughout tlie whole bush, living by- 
day in hollow logs, old dead log fences, and holes in the 
ground, and at night they come out to feed on the 
ground ; and the dogs, when hunting, generally run them 
up the small shey oaks and honeysuckles. You rarely 
see a wild cat up a gum-tree. They much frequent the 
belts of timber on the edges of the swamps ; and I have 
often killed them on the beach by moonlight, coming 
down, no doubt, to look after the dead fish washed 
ashore. The little native cat is one of the most prolific 
animals in the bush, and I have often killed six young 
ones in a nest. It is marsupial ; but, unlike the rest of 
these animals,, does not appear to carry the young much 
in the pouch after they have left the teat. They are not 
at all shy ; are very easily caught in any kind of trap 
baited with meat. A common figure of 4 trap is the one 
generally used in the bush. 

The Domestic Cat sometimes wanders away from a 
station and turns bushranger ; and certainly the largest 
cat that I ever saw in my life was a large black and white 
one which I killed in a honeysuckle scrub here. He 
must have been the very Nestor of colonial cats. I re- 
collect when a common cat would fetch a £5 note here. 
Now, however, they are at a discount. You rarely see a 
cat about a bush tent. I fancy a tent is hardly comfort- 
able enough for "pussey." Among the Laplanders, as 
long as they dwell in houses, the cat lives with them, but 
it rarely follows the wandering tribes that lead a busli 
life with their reindeer upon the northern fells. 



50 BFSn "WAKDEEINGS. 

I do not believe that there is any land rat indigenous 
to tliis country, except the bush rat ; but of course the 
common gray Norwegian rat has found its way to Mel- 
bourne, and swarms in all the back-alleys and by-streets 
of that town. The little mouse has also been implanted : 
both are to be met with about the towns as common as 
in England, but we rarely see either in the bush. 

The Flying Mouse is certainly the most beautiful little 
animal in the colony ; not so large as the smallest 
British shrew-mouse, of a rich light brown colour above, 
white underneath. It is a perfect flying squirrel in 
miniature, but the tail is flat and feathered. It is rare, 
and very local, and, on account of its size, is seldom 
seen. They sometimes come into the bush tents, and I 
have seen a family of. young ones taken out of a hollow 
tree. 

Two other small bush animals, the Kangaroo Rat 
(putchook) and the JBandicote (boo), in these woods sup- 
plied the place of the hare and rabbit at home. They 
were both excellent eating, and common throughout the 
■whole bush. The kangaroo rat is about the size of a 
three-parts-grown rabbit, but more slender, in shape like 
a rat ; the colour light brown, with sometimes a very red 
tinge ; the tail long, thick, blunt, and bare, tipped with 
white. The hind legs are very long, like those of the 
kangaroo, and the feet are the same ; but they run on 
all fours. Tlicy are pretty generally dispersed over all 
the forests, live in tussocks of grass on dry rises, and 
when the dogs bolt them, are very pretty snap-shooting 



THE BANDICOTE. 51 

up the country. They call our kangaroo rat the Paddy 
Mellan, and describe the real kangaroo rat as being 
nearly the size of a wallaby, and running on all fours. 
If such an animal does exist, I never saw it. "VVe used 
to call a species of wallaby, or small yellow-bellied kan- 
garoo, which is, I believe, found on Phillip Island, the 
Paddy Mellan. 

The bandicote is a large species of bush rat, in shape 
and appearance resembling a very large shrew-mouse, 
but nearly double the size of a common English rat. 
We had, I fancy, two species ; at least, we used to kill a 
large bush-rat of a dark brown colour, with very bristly 
hair, much resembling the animal which we called the 
common bandicote. This latter was, however, much the 
commonest, of a light brown colour, the rump striped 
with white crosswise ; the under parts white, and the 
hind foot in shape like that of the kangaroo. They are 
generally found in hollow logs, and a bush-dog here has 
plenty of work in examining every dead log or fallen tree 
that it comes to, in the hopes of finding a bandicote or 
native cat. Both the bandicote and kangaroo rat have 
more than one young one at a birth ; but, like the other 
bush animals, only breed once in the year. There are 
various smaller bush animals, such as field-mice and rats, 
to which I paid very little attention. 

"We used to kill a large species of water-rat in the creeks, 

and occasionally on the coast, with a dark brown body, 

yellow belly, and blunt tail, tipped with white, which we 

called the leaver Sat. It is a little larger than the 

E 2 



52 BUSH WAKDEEINGS. 

common water-rat, and tlie feet are large and flat. The 
skin is beautifully soft, and, I believe, valuable. 

The duck-billed platypus, or water-mole, as it is called 
here, is found in the Yarra, the Exe, and many of tho 
streams to the north and east of ]\Ielbourne, but I never 
met with it in the "Western-port district. It is also com- 
mon in many of the inland streams, and not rare in the 
Saw-mill Creek, on the Dandenong ranges. They are 
remarkably shy animals, and rarely seen, except at 
evening, when they come up to the top of the water, 
and look like so niauy black bottles floating on the 
surface, and sink down directly, if alarmed. 

They only are found in fresh water, and I never saw 
them in any still detached water-holes. They may be 
shot by quietly watching the stream in the evening, and 
will take a bait, as a small piece of potato on a hook. 

The singular form of the platypus must be well known 
to all ; for the Ornithorhynchus paradoxus of New Hol- 
land has long ranked among the wonders of the world. 
I have generally seen them 1 foot to 18 inches long, and 
the shovel-bill 2 inches ; the colour dark brown, the 
fur stiff and bristly, and I never saw the skins used 
for any other purpose than making tobacco-pouches. 
The tail is short, the body broad aud flat, and the whole 
appearance of the animal betokens its mode of life. 
Although gregarious, I do not thiulc they live in colonies, 
but each pair occupy a hole in the bank, often a long 
way under ground. I think they are amphibious, but I 
never saw them basking on the bank, and the position of 



THE DUCK-BILLED PLATYPUS. 53 

their feet is not formed for walking on land. The foot 
is broad and webbed, the hind one turned outwards, and 
the male has a sharp spur on it, which is said to be 
poisonous : I fancy not. The eyes are scarcely percep- 
tible, and the absence of teeth is compensated for by 
two horny projections at the root of the tongue, which 
are doubtless used by the animal in crushing the mol- 
lusca, on which it feeds. 

It is certainly a singular-looking animal, and when 
first discovered, as its name denotes, was, I have no 
doubt, considered a paradox ; but as science more clearly 
develops the hidden mysteries of nature, many a paradox, 
when viewed in the right light, is cleared up ; and when 
we consider the habits of the platypus, we shall see 
nothing so very wonderful in its formation. The shape 
of the body is well adapted to the habits of an animal 
the greater portion of whose life is spent under water. 
The powerful webbed foot is scarcely more singular 
than that of the mole, and is used by the platypus 
as a propeller, in the same manner as the flat shovel- 
foot is used by the mole for a spade. The beak, 
or shovel-nose, is no more singular than the trunk of 
the elephant or the snout of the tapir, and peculiarly 
adapted for shovelling up shells, &c. from the bottom of 
the stream. 

The beak, the web-foot, and the peculiar conformation 
of the collar-bone, and its habits of breeding, certainly 
show some affinity to the bird; but here all resemblance 
ends. As to the idea of its laying eggs, that has long 



54 BUSn WANDEEING3. 

been exploded : they are clearly maminalg, for the female 
has teats. 

Strange as the forms of all tliese animals appear to us, 
we may depend upon it that they still exist for some 
good reason, and we are hardly justified in regarding as 
monstrosities any peculiarities in the works of nature 
which we cannot understand. 

TVe had a cui-ious species of hedgehog, or ant-eater, 
common on all the dry sandy rises in the Western-port 
district, — the Ecliidna or Spiny Ant-eater of naturalists, 
about three times as large as the common European 
hedgehog, with sharp quills, about two inches long, a 
long tapering snout, similar to the beak of the platypus, 
but round and thin. And here, again, we see how well 
nature has adapted the outward form to the habits of every 
animal. It had the tongue of the true ant-eater, very 
similar to that of the woodpecker, and large burrowing 
feet like the mole. They live under-ground, very near 
the surface, and the dogs find, and quickly grub them out, 
I never saw one above ground except when caught. It is 
surprising how soon they can work their way into the 
ground out of sight ; and when once down, it requires all 
the force of one man, with a spade, to prize them up. 

This animal belongs to the same class as the platypus, 
by naturalists called monotremata, peculiar only to Aus- 
tralia. They stand the very lowest of all the mammalia. 

I could never identify more than three species of Bat 
in our parts, and this little animal was by no means so 
common as I should have imagined, in a country abound- 



THE DEVIL-DETIL. 55 

ing, as this does, with hollow decayed trees. Our com- 
mon bat -was a little larger than the large variety of 
British bat, and we had two smaller species. The great 
vampyre-bat is, I believe, met with in the Straits ; but I 
never saw one, although I have heard of its being killed 
near Melbourne. The most extraordinary shot I ever 
made in my life was here, when I shot a bat and a large 
moth at a right-and-left shot. 

Two other animals — the Devil-Devil, and the mys- 
terious Bimyip — are met with at the present day in the 
wild swamps of Gipps' Land, according to the blacks. I 
need scarcely say that I never saw either. Erom what I 
can learn, there is a small species of panther, or wild cat, 
in Yan Diemen's Land, which the blacks call the devil- 
devil, but it is not met with here ; and as to the bunyip, 
I suspect it exists only in the imagination of the abori- 
gines. Still I have heard old hands affirm, with the most 
extravagant oaths, such as an old hand only can invent, 
that they have stood face to face with the bunyip in tea- 
tree scrub ; and they describe it as a large animal, like a 
polled cow, with carnivorous teeth. 

On some of the islands in Western-port Bay, and along 
the coast, the common wild English rabbit has been 
turned out, and thriven well; and I believe, in many 
places out here, a rabbit-warren, properly looked after, 
would pay better than any cultivation. There is much 
poor hungry soil in Port Phillip, which is of little use for 
the plough, and less for pasture, mostly scrub and sand, 
but where many English esculents would grow, if planted 



56 Brsn "SVAyDEKINGS. 

wild, for the rabbits to feed on. The rabbits could always 
be sold in Melbourne for good prices. The native cats 
and hawks would be their worst enemies ; but a small 
warren could be well looked after, and would, I am sure, 

The deer has been introduced into Van Diemen's Land, 
and has done well in confinement ; and I fancy, if turned 
loose, would thrive here. I recollect one fallow-deer, 
which had somehow or other become loose, used to run 
Avild at the foot of the Dandenong ranges, and has more 
than once been seen heading a mob of kangaroo. There 
was a talk of importing some fallow-deer to turn out 
before the hounds here, and great was the cry against 
it. I should much like to know the difference between 
hunting a wild dog or a deer as " bagmen." It is true 
that the wild dog is generally torn to pieces, whereas the 
deer, in all probability, would be saved ; and that it does 
not break their hearts running them, is proved by the 
deer which are turned out, season after season, before 
the Queen's hounds in England. 

It has been suggested that the alpaca might be intro- 
duced into this country from South America, and turned 
out wild to usurp the place of the kangaroo. That they 
would thrive here I have no doubt, and I believe they 
have been already kept in confinement. Eut if the 
experiment is to be tried on a large scale, I do not think 
it would answer at first to turn such a valuable animal 
loose Si&fercB naiurco. As long as they were kept in pad- 
docks, and looked after like sheep, they would be private 



DOMESTIC CATTLE. 57 

property ; but if once they were turned loose, they would 
be anybody's game ; and I do not see how they could be 
preserved sufficiently to allow them to gain head in the 
country. Nor do I fancy, wild as Port Phillip may be in 
some parts, it is, anywhere in the settled districts, so 
inaccessible as the native home of the alpaca. 

There is no particular wild breed of cattle, horses, or 
sheep, indigenous to Australia. In fact, it would appear 
that this immense island had been left a barren waste 
upon the face of the globe, until its hidden resources 
should be developed by the skill and perseverance of 
civilized man ; for so genial is its climate, and so peculiar 
its soil, that almost any animal or plant will thrive here, 
no matter from what part of the world it is imported. 
And this very fact, now clearly proved, goes far to refute 
the argument that Australia is a country fitted by nature 
only as a residence for the lowest class of animals, the 
marsupial. "Whether or not, as has been hinted by a 
modern author, this land is as yet only in a primitive 
era, and may still be subjected to those changes which 
the study of geology proves to have taken place in the 
old world, must, of course, remain a vague hypothesis. 
In some parts of the country, up the Bass Eiver for 
instance, large mobs of cattle breed in the bush, roam 
the forests, without a brand, as wild as any on the plains 
of the Brazils, or the South-American Andes. I never 
cared to meet what they call the tame cattle here in the 
bush, notwithstanding even the stockman's guarantee, 
" Oh, they won't hurt you." And this reminds me of a 



58 Busn "WAifDEra>'Gs. 

very unpleasant situation in wliicli I was once placed 
when going over Sir M. AY. Eidley's kennels at Blagdon, 
Nortliumberland. Of course I was accompanied by old 
JFenwick Hunnum, the feeder. While we were looking at 
the bitch pack, a quarrel broke out in the dog-kennel, and 
the old boy slipped out to quell the riot, quietly observing, 
as he shut the door behind him, leaving me alone with 
the bitches — " They won't hurt you, I expect." They 
certainly did not hurt me ; but the way in which they 
came sniffing round me with their bristles up, one 
every now and then uttering a low growl, was anything 
but pleasant; and I was glad enough when the old 
man came back and exultingly remarked, with a grin 
on his old foxy face, " I told you they would not hurt 
you." 

Many of these so-called tame cattle are dangerous, 
especially the cows, which calve in the forest, plant their 
calves, and go a little distance off to feed, and old working 
bullocks : I believe here the bulls are the most harmless. 
I did not so much mind them in the timber, for a man 
has a chance of getting behind or up a tree (I was once 
stuck up a whole night in a honeysuckle). But I always 
looked out on the plains, and whenever I saw a bullock 
stand sulking by itself, I always gave it a wide berth ; 
such a one is generally " a Eoosiau." Of course, with a 
gun a man has not so much to fear, but a charge of shot 
will often not stop a rushing ^ullock. One would not 
like to shoot a bullock on a run ; but better kill him than 



DOMESTIC CATTLE. 59 

he kill you, and I always had a bullet in my pocket ready 
to slip in in case of need. I always found a good large 
dog the best protection. 

It appears that the first convict-ships which came to 
these shores, in 1788, brought out with them one bull, 
one bull calf, four cows, one stallion, three mares, and 
three foals ; and from these have sprung the immense 
mobs of cattle and horses which now wander over the 
forests and plains of Victoria. According to the " British 
Parmer's Magazine," it seems that in 1851 there were 
390,000 horned cattle, and 16,500 horses in Victoria; 
and the sheep in this colony, which, in 1838 numbered 
three millions, had increased to five millions. It is most 
probable that the sheep were introduced into Victoria 
from the older colonies. In 1788 the first sheep were 
imported into Sydney from India ; the number originally 
brought in was twenty-nine. These, in 1803, had in- 
creased to 10,000, and in 1846 to nearly seven millions. 
In 1807, the export of wool from Australia to England 
was but 2i5 lbs., and in 1855 it had reached forty 
millions of pounds ; which, coupled with its annual ten 
tons of gold, ought to render this country one of the richest 
in the world. 

I have, I believe, above noticed all the common bush 
animals of Victoria. In the wilder parts, some other 
species are, no doubt, met with ; but these are all I know. 
It will be seen that there is very poor encouragement for 
the fur-hunter out here ; but at the same time there is 



60 BUSn WAKDEEi:>fGS. 

not a single wild animal in the forests which the bushman 
need fear. "We will now turn to the feathered game 
list, which we shall find richer both in species and 
individuals. 



61 



CHAPTEE IV. 

THE ElIU— THE WILD TCEKET — THE LOWAN— THE K'ATIVE 
PHEASANT. 

TnE Emu, or as the natives call it, " Ourer," is also 
called the Australian cassowary and is the largest bird in 
the colony, but is now rarely met witli in the settled dis- 
tricts, and I can say nothing of its habits from my own 
personal observation. It is by no means rare in many 
parts of the country ; but we must now look for the emu 
far back in the wild plains and extensive sheep-runs up 
country, which are rarely intruded upon by the presence 
of man, except it be a solitary shepherd or stock-rider. 
A small flock used to frequent the wild country round 
the kangaroo-ground, and during my stay there two were 
killed. They were not so very shy, and often came within 
range of the wood-splitters' tents. In habits and appear- 
ance the emu much resembles the ostrich ; but it is not 
nearly so large, and wants the fine tail and wing feathers 
peculiar to that bird. The general colour is brownish- 
black, the feathers long, and clothed with fibres like hair ; 
they can't fly, and are generally ridden down with kangaroo 
dogs. It is a very fat bird, and when boiled down, emu 
oil, like the shark's oil among fishermen, is the bushman's 
universal remedy for rheumatism and other bush com- 



62 BUSH TVANDEEUSTGS. 

plaints. "When properly dressed, the skin makes a fine 
rug, wliicb is very warm, and moreover, a bit of a " curio." 
A full-grown emu will stand above sis feet, and I know 
that it takes two men to lift one on to a horse. The 
breeding habits of the emu differ from the ostrich ; at 
least, I once found two eggs, and they were not fresh, 
near Arthur's Seat, on the coast here. They lay open in 
a little hole in the ground, scraped among a heap of moss 
and rubbish in the forest. They were rather larger than 
a swan's egg, of a greenish-black colour. 

The Wild Turheij (gollopachin) is certainl}' entitled to 
the first place in the list of Australian game birds. It is 
a species of bustard, smaller, however, than the European 
bustard, and the male wants the moustache peculiar 
to that bird. The legs are not so long in proportion, it 
flies much better, and when in the air, rather resembles 
the common turkey. It is of a light gray colour, 
mottled and pencilled with black. An old male will 
weigh about 20 lbs., a female 9 to 12. They generally 
frequent the plains and open moors, are partial to old 
sheep-folding grounds, and I have seen as many as 
twenty-seven feeding together on the wide open country 
towards Gelong. It is a very shy bird, and few are met 
with now in the neighbourhood of Melbourne, but they 
abound on the large sheep-stations up country ; they ge- 
nerally came into our district as stragglers, but an odd 
couple or so bred in the heather ; for I have often raised a 
single bird in the summer on an open moor ; and there 
were certain places where we could generally see three 



THE LOWAK, ij'd 

or four feeding, about the autumn ; probably birds bred 
in the neighbourhood. What few I have seen killed 
were chance birds. It is next to impossible to get up 
to them on foot in the bare plains ; but like all other 
bush-game, they take little notice of a bullock-dray or 
horse, and are easily stalked under shelter of these. 
They generally fly low, and as they rarely alter their 
course, the best plan, if the shooter sees one flying 
lip to him on the plains, is to stand still, and he will 
probably get a shot. The wild turkey is a fine-eating 
bird, and worth about £1 in Melbourne, but you rarely 
see one in the market; for where they do abound, nobody 
cares to shoot for profit, and what are killed find their 
way to the head station. They were very rare in the 
"Western-port district : the country is too deeply tim- 
bered. The large open plains on the sheep-stations in 
the interior are the peculiar home of the wild turkey. 

The Loican, or native hen, is peculiar to the country 
in the vicinity of the " Mallee Scrub," in the interior, 
a species of dwarf gum, about 12 feet high, and 
smaller scrub, so tightly interlaced with the tendrils 
of the native vine, as to render it impenetrable. 
The lowan is a plain dull-coloured bird, brownish 
black, a little larger than the common fowl, and lays 
an immense egg for its size, in tlie sand. The birds 
lay a number of eggs together, heaped up in the 
form of a pyramid ; whence their name of the mound- 
building bird of Australia. They are covered and 
hatched in the sand, and, strange to say, the young. 



64 BFSH WANDEEINGS, 

birds are not seen till they are pretty well feathered ; I 
never raet with this bird in a wild state. 

The Native Fheasant is the Lyre-bird of naturalists, 
and the " bulla-bulla " bird of the natives, from its call- 
note, and is by no means rare in the peculiar localities 
which they frequent, — the most secluded gullies in certain 
high ranges. They were common in some of the gullies 
on the Dandenong ranges, up the Plenty ranges, at the 
head of theTarra, and up the Bass Eiver, on the eastern 
coast of "Western-port Bay; but I never heard of one 
being killed on the west side of that bay. There is 
nothiug handsome in the general plumage of the native 
pheasant ; — it is about as large as the pheasant at home, 
the body dull-coloured brown ; but the beauty of the 
bird consists in the tail of the male, which is very long, 
the feathers clothed with fibres like those of the birds 
of paradise, in the form of a lyre, the two outer feathers 
curved outwards, like those of the black-cock at home. 
It is one of the shiest birds in the world, rarely seen on 
the wiug, but keeps on the ground among the thickest 
scrub and fallen timber. It is a perfect mocking-bird, 
and the only way to shoot them is to lie still and call 
thera. It is little use in a white man going after them 
without the assistance of a black. The blacks make 
periodical excursions up into the ranges, about Sep- 
tember, when the birds are full-feathered, and come 
back laden with tails. Just as I left Melbourne, I saw 
the nest and egg of this bird brought down from the 
Plenty ranges. The nest was large and domed, the cgQ 



THE LOWAIf. 65 

uniform dark chocolate-brown coloured. I never killed 
the pheasant, although I have often heard them on the 
ranges, and I should not have noticed either this or the 
lowan-bird, but that I fancy they make up the full list of 
Australian game-birds, with those which I am about to 
mention. 



66 BUSn WANDEEINGS. 



CHAPTEE Y. 

DDCK-SHOOTING— THE BLACK SWAN — THE WILD GOOSE— THE DIF- 
FEEENT SPECIES OF DUCKS PECULIAE TO POET PHILLIP. 

I DO not believe that any country in the world is 
better adapted by nature as a home for the water-fowl 
than Australia. Dreary swamps miles in extent, lagoons 
of immense size, where the bulrush and reed vegetate 
in rank luxuriance ; creeks and water-holes, completely 
hidden from the view by dense masses of tea-tree scrub, 
afford unmolested shelter and breeding-places for the 
birds ; and a few years ago, when the sound of a gun was 
rarely heard in the solitude of these morasses and fens, 
the country around Melbourne must have literarily 
swarmed with wild fowl. "When I first came into this 
country, the palmy days of the duck-shooter were in their 
zenith ; the fowls and buyers plentiful, the sliooters 
scarce. The year previous there was not a float or big 
gun in this part of the colony, and the first punt that ever 
floated on Melbourne Swamp, was built in Melbourne 
Street, where the market now stands, in the morning, 
launched in the afternoon, fitted up with an old musket, 
and the birds shot and sold in Melbourne before night. In 
this -winter, £1,000 Avas cleared off Melbourne Swamp' 
and its neighbourhood by the two men who launched 



THE BLACK SWAK. G7 

tlais punt. The diggings were tlien in full swing, money 
was like dirt, and the birds sold at any price. The 
buyers were not particular. Many a brace of sea-gull 
have been sold for 55. and I once knew a pair of old 
shags with their beaks trimmed up, sold for 15s. as " rock 
duck." But this did not last long. The duck-shooters 
of that day, like the diggers, never heeded the morrow, 
and not one laid up for a rainy day. As the birds be- 
came scarcer, the shooters increased, and prices fell, till 
at the present day duck-shooting is not worth following 
within fifteen miles of Melbourne. "What a change has 
six years made in the appearance of this country. The 
swamps and lagoons near Sandridgeare all drained or built 
on, and a railroad now passes over ground on which, at 
that day, four or five couple of ducks might be killed with 
ease in a night's flight-shooting. 

Eight species of wild duck are more or less common 
in this district, and I believe these are nearly all the 
ducks indigenous to Victoria: the Mountain Duck, 
the Black Duck, the "Wood Duck, the Pochard or 
China-eye, the "Whistle-wing or Pink-eye, the Shovel- 
bill, the Teal, and the Musk Duck. I have seen one 
other species in Melbourne, said to have been shot in 
the neighbourhood, as large as the black duck, but more 
resembling the British gadwall in plumage. This I 
believe to be only a rare and occasional visitant to these 
parts ; although I have heard that it is common in some 
parts further inland. 

The Blaclc Swan is common throughout the winter 
■s 2 



68 BUSH WA1S'DEEI^'G3. 

after the young birds can fly, on all the large swamps 
and lagoons ; sometimes in good-sized flocks, but generally 
in small companies, wliich I took to be the old birds and 
birds of tbe year. Early in summer they retire to their 
breeding-haunts, and we saw very little of them again 
until the swamps and water-holes filled. They appear 
to breed in August and September. The nest is a large 
heap of rushes, and the female lays five to seven dirty- 
white eggs, not so large as those of the swan at home. 
They breed a good deal on some of the large islands 
in "Western-port Bay, and I attribute the decrease of 
swans in this neighbourhood to the quantity of eggs 
that are yearly taken by the fishermen in this bay. 
Swan-ponds near the Heads, is also a great place for them ; 
in fact, they are by no means rare in this district, and an 
odd pair or so breed on most of the large swamps. The 
black swan is not nearly so shy as the European hooper, 
and they are by no means difficult to come up to with a 
punt-gun. They are a heavy-flying bird, and don't care 
to rise on the wing, if they can save themselves by 
swimming. 

The black swan is a graceful, elegant bird, not so large 
as the hooper at home; the shape of the beak is the same, 
but the cere is red, and the windpipe is not folded within 
the breastbone. The colour is deep black, the pinion- 
feathers white, which contrast prettily with the black 
plumage of the body when the bird is in the air ; the 
bastard wing-feathers are prettily curled. They have 
a very musical call-note when passing overhead ou a 



THE MAGPIE. 69 

still night ; and I have listened with pleasure to the soft 
low notes of a pair of swans answering each other, while 
floating on the lagoon, by the side of which I lay at 
flight-time. At night they always fly low. The black 
swan does not attain its full plumage till after tlie first or 
second moult : the young birds are light mottled-gray. 

The swan is hardly worth shooting here for the 
market, as they only fetch 5*. each, and they are a heavy 
bird to carry about. The flesh of the young swan is ex- 
cellent, and one roasted in a camp oven generally with 
us formed the duck-shooter's Sunday dinner, when- 
ever we could get one during the season. I wonder the 
skins are not more highly prized for the down, which is 
very thick. This is the only species of swan indigenous 
to Australia ; but I once saw the real rara avis out here, 
or white swan, flying up the bay about a quarter of a 
mile out to sea. Nobody believed me when I mentioned 
it, but I pointed it out to a friend who was with me. 
I can't pretend to say where it came from. One would 
naturally think it had escaped from some aviary ; but 
nobody at that time kept tame swans in this neighbour- 
hood that I know of, although a pair may now be seen in 
the Cremorne Gardens, Melbourne. 

Two species of wild geese are met with here, — the 
Magpie, or Tree-goose, and the Cape Barron goose. 

The Magpie, or Tree-goose {onQ:x\€),\^ the common wild 
goose in this district, and, as far as I could learn, is the 
only common wild goose peculiar to Port Phillip. Al- 
though met with here only in small flocks, generally I 



70 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

think families, there are lakes in the interior where they 
swarm. I think they remained in our district throughout 
the year, although we used only to see them at uncertain 
periods, and never for long together. As the name 
denotes, the colour of the magpie-goose is pied, dull 
black and white: it is about as large as the British 
brent goose, and the tail is very square. It is a singular 
bird : the beak is higher in shape, and not so broad, as in 
the common goose, has a palish red rough cere, and the 
upper mandible is long, and has a powerful curve or hook. 
It has a large warty cere, extending over the front of the 
head, which is in shape like that of a game-cock, cut out 
helmet-combed. The feet are semi-palmated, and formed 
for perching ; the claws long and sharp. I rarely saw 
them either on the ground or on the water, never, cer- 
tainly, in open water, although I have raised them out of 
the thick reeds and grass that choke up many of the 
creeks and lagoons here. They are generally perched 
high up in the tea-tree scrub, where they will sit for 
bours; and a curious sight it is to see them sitting 
uprigbt, with their long necks stretched out on the 
watch. They have a very loud, hoarse call-note when 
alarmed, nothing like that of the common wild goose. 
The greatest cui-iosity of this singular bird, however, is 
the windpipe, which has three foldb<, like that of the 
European hooper ; but, instead of being folded within the 
breastbone, it lies on tlie lefc hand, outside, bedded in the 
flesh. Thoy bred sparingly witb us, for I have found 
the nest in a thick tea-tree scrub ; and I fancy the small 



THE MOUNTAIN DTJCK. 71 

flocks that we see in the autumn are families, which had 
been bred in the neighbourhood, and that they do not 
pack and make distant migrations like the wild geese at 
home. Although a shy bird in the open, they are by no 
means difficult to creep up to in the thick tea-tree scrub, 
and many a pair have I killed right and left. They are 
capital eating, and will fetch from 125. to 15s, per couple 
in the market. 

The Cape JBarron Goose, the New Holland cereopsis 
of naturalists, looks like a cross between a goose and 
a turkey, and is only a rare and occasional visitant to 
our parts. It is rather larger and heavier than the mag- 
pie-goose, of a light gray colour, spotted and chequered 
all over with black ; and the beak and feet in shape 
resemble those of that bird. I never saw them here but 
twice, — once in a small flock, and once when two pitched 
with the tame geese at Mordialloc (this, I believe, they 
are fond of doing), and whicb were caught alive. They 
soon became tame, and used to stalk about the paddock ; 
but they were very pugnacious with the other geese: 
their call-note was a deep trumpet-like sound. They 
very little resemble a goose when walking, but put me 
more in mind of the Canada goose in shape than any I 
know. These are the only two species met with here, 
and neither of them appear to be true geese. 

The Ilountain Duck is the largest and handsomest of 
all the ducks out here, nearly as large as the bernicle 
goose of Europe, and in colour resembling the male 
sheldrake. They are generally seen feeding on the plains, 



72 BFSn WAKDEEINGS. 

in small companies, in the vicinity of water, and as they 
are very wary, and the old drake always on the look-out, 
a brace of mountain duck is no mean prize. I very rarely 
saw them on the water, but they pack in some favourite 
lagoons, and are not difficult to come up to with a punt. 
I never saw them in the creeks, but always in the open. 
The old male bird utters a peculiar hoarse guttural 
warning when danger is near. They breed in our neigh- 
bourhood, I have heard, in trees ; and I have taken the 
young birds, but a few days old, in the damp grass on 
the swamps. They rarely associate with the other species, 
and fetch no more in the market than the black duck, 
although nearly half as large again, for the flesh is con- 
sidered coarser. 

None of the Australian ducks, except the black duck 
and the teal, appeared to fly in large flocks ; and all the 
male birds had that peculiar excrescence in the windpipe 
peculiar to the British wild ducks. I fancy most of the 
ducks out here breed in trees. 

The common wild duck of this country is the black 
duck, and, whether for its flavour at table, its wild, gamy 
appearance, or the sport it affords the shooter, is certainly 
equal to any duck in the world. 

The Black Buck is of a deep black -brown colour ; the 
feathers edged with lighter brown, a very brilliant deep 
purple speculum on each wing, the cheeks and throat 
rich chestnut-red. It has a peculiar snake-like appear- 
ance about the head and neck, and, with the exception 
of the spinetailed swift, is, I think, the sharpest-flying 



THE BLACK DUCK. 7r3 

bird in. the colony. A pair of good black duck will 
weigh about 5 lbs., and average now 7^. in the market. 

The duck season here commences in the end of January, 
when the old birds bring their young down to the creeks 
(I have shot flappers, in some seasons, early in January), 
and should end with September, when the swamps be- 
gin to dry up, and the birds pair off and retire to their 
breeding liauuts. After they have bred, they keep about 
the creeks and water-holes in small flocks or families, 
till the rain fills the large swamps, when they seem to 
congregate and frequent the open places on the swamps 
and plains, where there is shallow water and good feeding- 
ground. There is little good to be done with a shoulder- 
gun out here, in the large swamps by day during the 
winter. The black duck lays from six to eight eggs on 
the ground, appears to breed much in heather, and I 
liave taken the nest in an open moor far away from any 
water. 

There is no better sport than flapper-shooting here, 
and there is no country in the world by nature bette? 
adapted for it. The creeks in the summer (and in the 
winter the ducks are all out on the open swamps and 
large lagoons) are a succession of water-holes, walled in 
by a thick hedge of tea-tree or reeds ten to fifteen 
feet high. This screen appears impenetrable, and little 
use would it be for any one to attempt to force his way 
tlu'ough it ; but the old hand soon finds a cattle-track, 
which he well knows leads to water, and, creeping cau- 
tiously down it, with his retriever at his heels, he suddenly 



74 BUSn "WAKDEEIXGS. 

comes upon a large, clear, open water-hole, on the margin 
of which a score or so of ducks are floating lazily about, 
or sleeping in the hot sun. One barrel on the water, one 
as they rise, and in dashes the retriever, and first chasing 
the wnnged birds, brings to land the killed and wounded ; 
and perhaps two couple or more of ducks lie dead upon 
the bank. The reeds are generally so thick round the 
water-hole, that many a wounded bird, and others that 
fall dead at a little distance, are lost. The ducks which 
go away rarely fly far, but drop in another hole a little 
lower down the stream ; and two or three good shots 
fill the bag. Ton will rarely find ducks in the brackish 
water-holes at the mouths of the creeks. I have re- 
marked two things in duck-shooting out here : whenever, 
by day, I saw the swallows flying over the tops of the 
bulrushes, and dipping down into the hole, I was almost 
certain I should find no ducks ; and at night, whenever the 
frogs were silent on the lagoon, ducks were on the water. 
A good retriever is indispensable to the Australian 
duck-shooter, for the scrub and reeds around the creeks 
and water-holes are so thick, and the grass on the swamps 
and plains is so long, that a wounded bird is lost in a 
few seconds. A winged black duck often dives and 
comes up again in thick rushes, where it sits so close 
that even a good dog will often pass over it. It is a safe 
plan, after a shot, to try round the edges of the scrub 
outside the hole, for a wounded duck often creeps out on 
land. A duck-shooter here may reckon on losing half 
bis birds without a retriever. 



DirFEKEKT SPECIES OF DFCKS, 75 

Of all the field sports in tliis colony, I think I did 
like a good night's flight-shooting the best. There is a 
charm in this silent solitary sport which I could never 
find in any other. "When seated -vrell in the shade, by 
the side of some favourite feeeding-ground, with the 
moon just on the wane, all is still, save the occasional cry 
of some night-bird as it rises from the neighbouring 
swainp, or the whistle of the wings of a pair of ducks, as 
they pass overhead, and the croaking of hundreds of small 
frogs in concert, the deep clock of the bull-frog joining as 
it were in bass accompaniment. The slight ripple of the 
clear water dances in the moon's silvery rays, when all at 
once " whish," a splash in the water, and a sharp " quack 
quack, quack," warns the shooter that a black duck has 
pitched, and the concert of frogs is hushed in an instant. 
This is soon joined by others, and having risen on the 
water three or four times to shake their feathers, and 
chased each other about for a few minutes, they settle 
down to feed. J^ow is a moment of breathless suspense 
to the shooter ; the gun is quietly raised, but the birds 
at first are too far, or not well packed ; however, at 
length, he gets three or four in a line, and the heavy 
boom of the gun breaks the stillness of night, re- 
verberating over the swamp with a hundred echoes. It 
may be that some scores of birds were feeding on the 
lagoon out of sight, which now rise like a clap of 
thunder, and the air is disturbed by the wings and the 
cries of the birds as they fly round the shooter's head. 
His quick ear can well distinguish the difi'erent birds by 



76 BUSH WANDEEINOS. 

their varied call-notes ; — tlie soft musical hoop of the 
black swan, the sharp loud quack of the black duck, the 
hoarse croak of the mountain-duck, the snort of the 
shoveller, and the shrill call of the teal, are all familiar 
to him ; and as he gathers up his dead birds, he hears the 
ducks pitching again in various parts of the lagoon, 
giving him promise of a goodly harvest by morning. 
When the dead birds are collected, the pipe is lit, the 
gun chai'ged, and he quietly settles himself down in his 
rushy screen for another shot. The early part of the 
evening is best for this sport ; the birds leave the feeding- 
grounds about midnight, often go out to sea, if the lagoon 
is on the coast, and return again a little before daybreak, 
when they often pack on the bank of the lagoon. So in 
punt-shooting, the evening and the morning shots are 
those upon which the shooter principally depends. 
Where the birds are feeding well upon ground which has 
been but little disturbed, flight-shooting is the best and 
surest game of any with a shoulder-gun, and there is 
some little difference between flight-shooting out here 
and at home, where the shooter has to sit for hours, 
often in sleet and drizzly rain, his teeth chattering and 
his fingers so cold that he can scarcely pull the trigger. 
Here a good pea-jacket will keep the shooter warm on 
the coldest night, and though I have occasionally used 
gloves, I never really wanted them. The best seasons 
for flight-shooting are the autumn and early winter. In 
the months of March and April, 1858, my old mate 
killed upwards of a hundred couple of birds, princi- 



DIFFEEENT SPECIES OF DUCKS. 77 

pally black duck, at niglit, with his own gun, in one small 
water-hole close to the coast. This is the only kind of 
shooting in the colony for which a man really requires 
water-boots. As the birds generally feed in shallow 
water, he fetches the dead ones out himself, and he may 
often have to sit for hours on a tussock of rushes, up to 
his knees in water. Cording's Indian-rubber water- 
proofs are the best I ever used for this work ; they are 
warm, perfectly water-tight, never want dressing, and, 
what is best of all, never get hard, and are always easy 
to pull on and off. They are certainly too heavy for 
walking much in, but for flight-shooting, boat-fishing, or 
any other work where the wearer is not constantly in 
motion, I will back them against any boots in the world. 
The American gutta-percha overalls are not worth any- 
thing for work. At all other times except flight-shooting, 
the best dress for the Australian duck-shooter is canvas 
or flannel trowsers and low half-boots. The climate is 
so fine here, that a man may wade in the swamps with 
impunity at all seasons of the year, and the best clothes 
the shooter can wear are those which dry the quickest. 

The flight-shooter usually ties a black ribbon round, 
or sticks a small lump of mud on, the end of the barrel 
of his gun, to guide his eye well on the object. My 
plan was better, both for flight and opossum shooting. 
Cut a forked piece of tea-tree, the forks about sis inches 
long, and tie it round the end of your barrel, the muzzle 
protruding between the two forks, which stick up one on 
each side, like a pair of horns. I learnt this trick of an 



78 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

old poacher, ■who had often used it with success when 
nailing pheasants on the perch at home. 

One season I killed a good many birds to stuffed decoy- 
ducks floated on a piece of board, and kept in their 
place with a string and a stone. "We used them on the 
Swedish coast for eider-duck, and called them " boul- 
van." They answered very well in the daytime in any 
clear open water which the ducks used, where there was 
good shelter for the gun. Any ducks passing over would 
pitch to them ; but it is wonderful how soon they discover 
the deception, and you must fire as soon as ever they 
settle on the water. A fresh-killed duck set up in a 
natural position, with forked sticks, in some respects 
answers better, as it retains the natural smell. I always 
made it a rule to fire directly I got three in a line, no 
matter how many birds were scattered upon the water ; 
for in this sport delays are dangerous. I have often 
killed six or eight couple of ducks in a day to stuffed 
decoy-birds. 

The swamp-hawks were my greatest annoyance ; for 
many a time when I have been just getting ready for a 
good shot, an old swamp-hawk has come sailing over and 
sprung the ducks ; and if ever I left my decoy-birds on 
the water to go to another hole to see if there were any 
ducks, I was sure to find one, if not more, of my stuffed 
birds torn to pieces by the hawks. 

Eley's cartridges are dear out here, — three shillings 
and sixpence per dozen ; but I am not sure that a duck- 
shooter would not gain by always using a green one in 



DECOY-DUCKS. 79 

bis second barrel. In duck-sbooting, in all cases except 
at fligbt, wben I liked a loose cbarge best, I used tbe 
caudle cartridge, and I found tbem quite equal to Eley's, 
except that they occasionally ball tbe sbot. As every 
one may not know bow to make tbem, I will give my 
receipt. Procure a tin cylinder tbat will exactly fit into 
tbe muzzle of your gun, about three inches long, some- 
thing like a candle-mould ; stick a cork in tbe bottom end 
and set it on a table ; put the sbot in it, melt some can- 
dle-grease in a ladle, which pour on to the shot till they 
are covered. Let it stand to cool ; take out the cork 
wben the tallow is bard, and shove out tbe cartridge ; 
wrap a piece of thin paper round, and it is ready for use. 
I once killed a pair of black duck stone-dead at eighty 
yards witb a candle cartridge : this was perhaps a chance 
sbot, but I could always reckon on my birds at fifty 
yards; and I know this is about fifteen yards further than 
I could do with a loose charge. I sbot with a single pigeon- 
gun, No. G gauge, 6 drams of powdei', and a two-ounce 
cartridge. One needs a strong gun for such a charge, 
and I fancy cartridges shake a gun much. I am no 
friend to an out-of-the-way-sized gun for shoulder-shoot- 
ing. Tbe one I used I found big enough for any purpose, 
and quite heavy enougb to carry about and bring up to 
the shoulder quickly. Depend upon it, tbe man who sticks 
to one gun for every kind of shooting, will bag more 
game than be who is continually changing; and I believe 
I should have done better if I bad always used a strong 
double. Tbe best gun for this country is a strong dou- 



80 BTJSn WANDEEIKGS. 

ble, twelve or thirteen gauge, heavy enough to carry two 
ounces of shot if wanted. The shooter out here requires 
a stronger and heavier gun than at home, and a 
season's wear and tear, with the charges we often put in 
for kangaroo or ducks, will give the best gun a pretty 
good shaking. I am quite sure that I fired more shots 
in one year out here than I should have done in four 
seasons at home. 

In flight-shooting it is a good plan to crack off a cap 
before loading, to clear the nipple, for you can't always 
see well. Never keep your caps loose in the pocket, 
always use a small tin box. The bottom of a bushman's 
pocket is generally full of fine broken tobacco, and many a 
miss-fire have I had through putting on a cap in a hurry, 
without seeing first if it was clear. Another hint and I 
have done. Always have your powder-flask slung round 
you in duck-shooting, and don't trust to the pocket. I 
have lost many a powder-flask by neglecting this caution, 
in struggling through thick tea-tree scrub. 

Of course, punt-shooting is the most profitable kind of 
duck-shooting ; but it is not every one who can use a 
punt and big gun ; and in this country they will cost some 
money. Besides, there are not many places now within 
reach of Melbourne where a punt-gun will pay. There 
are now as many pop-shooters as ducks about Melbourne 
Swamp, and the birds are so much disturbed in all 
places, that they don't pitch anywhere in such mobs as 
formerly. Above Gelong, and on some lagoons near 
Ballarat, I believe two or three punts are worked, and 



THE WOOD DrCK, 81 

the sliooters get a fair living. Connor, who was cer- 
tainly the best punt-shooter out here, stuck to it longest 
of any in our bay. He had a sailing boat, and cruised 
in the bay with his float and big gun on board, and shot 
on the coast and the large lagoons at the Heads ; but he 
iaiocked off at last, as I suppose it hardly paid, about 
three years ago. I recollect he used to make one 
trip a week, and brought back about fifty couple of fowl. 
If a man is camped for any certain time near a good 
lagoon, he can easily manage to knock up a float himself 
with a few boards, and fit up a moderate-sized gun with 
a rope-breeching (I never saw any other used here), and 
the whole affair need not cost him £10. 

The IVoocl Duclc, take it altogether is, I think, the 
handsomest little duck in the colony, hardly so large as 
the pochard at home, with a head and beak exactly re- 
sembling the bernicle goose of Europe. The plumage is 
silvery gray, mottled with black, with beautiful long 
scapulars striped black and white ; the wing-speculum 
very brilliant, the breast black, the head and neck chest- 
nut, and the male has a small crest or mane. It was by 
no means a common duck, at least with us, and was 
generally seen in pairs or small families in some secluded 
water-hole ; sometimes on the water, but more often 
standing on the bank. They were by no means shy, and 
easily crept up to. Bred in holes of trees, and often 
perched on the gum-trees by the side of the creeks. It 
appeared to be rather a local bird, and rarely associated 
with the other species. 

G 



82 BUSH WAKDEEINGS. 

The Pochard (a better name would have been " the 
Widgeon"), gray-back or China-eye, as we used to 
call it, is a dull heavy duck, very much in plumage re- 
sembling the British widgeon, but plumper and larger, 
being very little less than a black duck. The eye is 
Prencb white. It was not very common with us. Eather 
local, and sometimes seen in small flocks, but oftener in 
pairs. It was a shy bird, and very rarely associated with 
the black duck, certainly never in quantities. 

The Whistle-wing, or Pink-eye, is the smallest and 
tamest, but with us the rarest, of all the Australian 
ducks, not larger than the water-hen at home. It is a 
pretty little duck, of a light silvery mottle, with a faint 
pink mark over each eye, and a remarliably large, broad 
shovel bill for the size of the bird : we usually found 
them in odd pairs, but I have shot on some lagoons 
where they came in good-sized flocks. 

The Slioveller, or " Spoony " of the duck-shooters, is 
something like the shoveller at home in size, shape, and 
general appearance, but the plumage is not so handsome. 
They are chiefly found in creeks by themselves, but oc- 
casionally join a mob of black duck on the plains. It is 
rather a pretty duck, next in size to the black duck, and, 
except the teal and black duck, was the commonest of all 
the ducks in this district. The plumage of the male is 
bright chestnut mottled with black, the breast dark, the 
scapulars long, the speculum on the wing pale blue, and 
the bill broad. They seemed to be partial to particular 
localities, and I knew one creek, called the Skeleton 



THE ATJSTEALIAN TEAL. 83 

Creek, above "Williamstown, in wliich I could always find 
a flock. The best shot I ever made at ducks in my life 
was in tbis creek. I was beating for a snipe on the banks, 
with a small single gun and one ounce of No. 7 shot. I 
fired into a mob of spoonies which were going up the 
creek about fifteen yards from me. I bagged eight. I 
never at any other time got more than five birds with one 
barrel, even when properly loaded for ducks. 

The Australian Teal is a handsome little duck, not 
quite so large as the teal at home, and, next to the 
black duck, the commonest of all the species. They 
generally flew in fair-sized flocks, often mixed with the 
black duck, were tolerably tame, and we rarely brought 
home a bag of ducks without a couple or so of teal. It 
appeared to be more common on the coast than any of 
the other ducks. The male bird is a splendid mottled 
chestnut and black, with a very brilliant green neck, 
while the female resembles tlie European teal. "We saw 
so few of these handsome birds in proportion to the others, 
that I always considered it a distinct variety, which 
some of the old duck-shooters also did, and used to call 
it the " merganser." But a young friend of mine took 
the nest, with seven eggs, out of a hole in a gum-tree, 
and shot both the old birds, a handsome male and a 
dull female. Still I felt certain we had two varieties, 
and that all the dull-coloured birds we killed were not 
females, and in April, 1857, I shot a dull-coloured bird 
with a red eye, which, on dissection, proved to be a 
male. Teal fetch about three shillings per couple in 
G 2 



S4! BUSH WANDEEII^GS. 

the market, are considered the fiuest-eatiug birds of the 
whole lot, and a teal supper at ten shillings per head 
used to be the general evening's finish for the " men 
about town " in Melbourne. 

The MtisJc DticJc, so called from the strong musky 
scent peculiar to the male, especially in the breeding 
season, is a singularly ugly bird. Clumsy and chubby 
in shape, as large as a small goose, of one uniform dull 
grayish-black colour, thick head and beak, and the male 
has a large Avarty flap, or excrescence, hanging down 
from the chin. It has a curious appearance when swim- 
zning, the body almost entirely under water, the head 
and neck alone visible. It was, I believe, not uncommon 
in some of the inland lagoons, but rare with us. In fact, 
it is a shy solitary bird, frequenting creeks and water- 
holes grown up with very thick rushes, and not often 
seen. The wings are mere rudiments, like those of the 
divers, to which class of birds I fancy it belongs, and it 
trusts much more to its powers of diving than flight for 
its safety. I never saw one on the wing. I have killed 
it out at sea, in the bay, but I generally used to come 
upon an odd one in some out-of-the-way creek or water- 
hole, and never saw more than two together, although 
they bred with us. It is rank and fishy to the taste, 
and, except as a curiosity, hardly worth shooting. Some 
call it the Moss duck. 

This completes the list of Victorian ducks, and it will 
be found very meagre in varieties, when compared with 
ihat of Britain, which numbers about twenty-six varieties, 



THE MUSK DUCK. 85 

exclusive of tlie swans and geese. There are no true sea- 
ducks in this part, but nearly all the species which I 
know appear to frequent the salt as well as the fresh 
water. 



86 BUSH WANDEEIKUS. 



CHAPTEE VI. 

THE COOT— THE WATER-HEN— DABCHICK — BITTERN — HERON — WHITE 
CRANES — EGRET — SPOONBILL — IBIS — NATIVE COMPANION — NAN- 
KEEN CEANE— COAST-SHOOTING— SEA BIRDS. 

The Australian Coot is the porpliyry-bird or sultan-lien 
of Soutli Africa, and much resembles the British coot ia 
size, shape, and habits ; but the body-colour is a beautiful 
blue and white under the tail ; the cere, beak, helmet, 
and legs are bright red. One of the peculiarities of this 
bird is, that it can bring its food to its mouth with its 
feet, which are not lobed like those of coot at home, but 
the toes are long and thin, like those of the water-hen. 
They were very common in most of the sheltered creeks 
and water-holes. They bred with us, and in the autumn 
appeared to flock, and then we principally found them in 
rushes or tea-tree scrub, in which they perch. They are 
very hard to rise, run like lamplighters, are easy to shoot 
when on the wing ; and though I liked them mucli when 
roasted, were hardly worth shooting for the market. 

The Water-hen was much rarer with us than the coot. 
I generally found them in thick rushes, and never saw 
more than two together. It very much resembles its 
British namesake in size, habits, and general appearance. 

The Dabchick here very much resembles the little dab- 



THE heuok. 87 

chick at home in all respects, but was prettier about the 
head. It was a summer migrant to our parts, and a pair 
or two might then be seen on any water-hole ; and it is 
a wonder how they become so generally dispersed, when 
we consider their weak powers of flight. "We had one 
or two other species of grebe, very rare, however, in our 
district. 

It is no wonder that a country like this should abound 
in swamp birds of every description, and the Bittern, which 
more than perhaps any other shuns the haunts of man, is 
one of the commonest of the wild tenants of the Australian 
waste. I have killed eight or ten in the day, rising from 
the rushes and grass in one large swamp, and any day 
in the autumn I could bring home a couple of bitterns. 
They appear much to resemble the European bird, but 
are a little duller in colour. The call-note is exactly the 
same, and often have I been startled, when quietly seated 
at night watching a duck-hole, by the heavy bump of the 
bittern from the reeds close to me ; and as the weary 
shooter is plodding his homeward way^ after evening has 
closed in over the dreary swamp, the dull measured boom 
of this solitary bird appears to add to the desolation 
which reigns over all, I have heard of a little bittern 
being killed out here, but never saw one. 

The Heron is very common on the low marshy grounds, 
and by the sides of the creeks ; and I have seen large flocks 
of thirty or forty together. In size and plumage it re- 
sembles the European heron, but is not nearly so fine or 
handsome a bird ; and many of the feathers, especially 



88 BUSn WANDERINGS. 

the scapulars, have a much redder tinge. It is gregarious 
in its habits, except in breeding ; for, unhke the herons 
at home, the Australian heron builds a very small soli- 
tary nest on some old tall gum-tree, often far away from 
water. I always fancied we had tvro species of heron, 
the one much smaller than the other. 

The Piorple-and-wMte Heron occasionally came down 
into our parts, generally in small ilocks ; but I considered 
it a rare bird. In appearance it resembled its European 
namesake ; but I fancy it was rather larger and hand- 
somer. It is, I believe, common in Van Diemen's Land ; 
at least, we used to call it the Van Diemen's Land heron. 

We never shot any of these birds for the market, but 
we always ate them ourselves, and, to my fancy, they 
were fully equal to any of the so-called game-birds. 

"We had two species of White Heron, or, as they were 
called by the shooters, the White Crane, — the one much 
resembling the great white heron of Britain in size and 
appearance, with a black beak, and another variety, which 
was much smaller. I think the large white heron was 
the commonest with us. Now and then an odd one came 
on to the large swamps in the winter ; but their princi- 
pal resort was Western-port Bay, and I have seen as 
many as a dozen feeding together at the mud flats there 
at low water. It is a shy, wary bird. They breed on 
the large rocks out at the Heads, and seemed to come 
down to our district in the autumn. I have, however, 
seen them in Western - port Bay a very little after 
Christmas. 



THE XA1S-£:£E^- CRAKE. 89 

The Little White Egret was a very rare and casual 
visitant to our parts. I only saw two specimens killed 
with us. It seemed exactly to resemble the egret at 
home, and is, I think, one of the chastest and most elegant 
birds in the colony. 

The SpoorMU was rare with us, and I only knew of 
about three specimens being killed. It is an elegant 
bird, pure white, with a fine pink tinge under each wing. 
In some places it is very common. 

Occasionally, an odd Ihis is killed here ; and the spe- 
cimens that I saw resembled the sacred ibis of Egypt in 
plumage, and had not the purple tinge peculiar to the 
ibis of Britain. It is an ugly dull-coloured bird, and 
has a tuft of curious feathers, like a bunch of coarse hay, 
hanging from the breast. We used to call it the straw- 
necked ibis. The real home of the ibis is, however, far 
inland ; and it is only when the up-country is heavily 
flooded that they visit the districts near the coast. 

The Nanlceen Crane, or night heron, is another chaste- 
looking bird, and a summer migrant to our parts, 
coming down in October to breed, and leaving in the 
autumn. The whole body-colour is pure nankeen, black 
cheek and head, white belly, yellow eye, cere, and legs, and 
three long white feathers, so closely joined together as to 
appear but one hanging down from the back of the head. 
They were far more common with us in some seasons 
than others. The nankeen crane is strictly nocturnal in 
its habits, sitting by day moped up in the high gum-trees 
or tea-tree scrub, half asleep ; as soon as evening sets in, 



90 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

they wake up to feed, and the hoarse croak of this bird 
may be heard about all the swamps and creeks through- 
out the whole summer night. They are very easily shot 
by day; for, when disturbed, they rise with a heavy 
wing, and seem, like the owl, scarcely to know where to 
fly, and soon pitch again. 

We had another species of bittern, or heron, in shape 
and size much resembling the nankeen crane ; but it was 
of a light chestnut-brown colour, variegated with black, 
and had not the long pendent feathers peculiar to that 
bird. It was not so common, seemed to be much more 
diurnal in its habits, and I oftener used to see them by 
the sides of the creeks than on trees. I called it the 
" spotted bittern," for want of a better name. 

The last on our list of the swamp birds, although cer- 
tainly not the least, is the Native Covipanion, or Austra- 
lian crane. This bird is larger than the European crane, 
which it resembles in shape and habits ; but the colour 
is uniform light slate-blue, with a red cere and bare head, 
and it wants the handsome tail-feathers peculiar to our 
crane. They are about the most wideawake birds in the 
colony ; and, as they generally frequent the open swamps 
and wet plains in small companies, and the old male bird 
is always marching about on the look-out, every now and 
then uttering his loud trumpet-like note of alarm when 
danger is near, it is next to impossible to stalk them in 
the open ; but, in the end of summer, they draw down 
to the edges of the creeks, and are then easily approached 
under cover of the tea-tree. I once dropped on a little 



SEA BIRDS, 91 

mob of five in such a place, and I nailed three at a double 
shot; and well I recollect bringing them home on my 
back at night, about six miles, with five couple of black 
ducks and thirteen pigeons. An old bird will stand over 
five feet high, and weigh upwards of twenty pounds. I 
once found the nest in a swamp near us : it was built 
high, of dry rushes, like that of the swan, and in it 
were two large eggs, mottled with red, especially at the 
large end. I once caught a half-grown young one, which 
I kept at my tent a long time. It was a voracious 
feeder, and lived principally on boiled rice. 

There are very few sea birds on these coasts. Erom 
Mordialloc down to Frankstone, on Port-Phillip Bay, the 
beach is low and sandy for eleven miles, and beyond this 
to the Heads it is high and rocky. The shores of Western- 
port Bay are principally mud-flats, fringed with mangrove 
scrub ; and on the Williamstown side, as far as Gelong, 
the coast is low, edged with banks of seaweed, washed in 
by the tide, and also fringed with the mangrove. On these 
flats the ducks, waders, and pelicans feed at low water, 
and two or three species of gull and tern, curlews, 
avocet, and large flocks of stints, are met with up and 
down the whole beach. But to the coast-shooter neither 
of these bays offers much attraction. Further out 
towards the Heads, the coast is less disturbed, and bluii 
headlands of ironstone rock afibrd a wilder and safer 
home for the sea-fowl ; and facing the wide ocean many 
other and rarer species are probably met with than in our 
land-locked bays. 



92 EUSH TVANDBEINGS. 



CHAPTEE VII. 

THE PIGEON— THE SNIPE— THE EAIL. 

The bronze-wing pigeon, for size and beauty of plumage, 
certainly stands No. 1 on the list of Australian bush 
game ; and of this bird we had two varieties,— the com- 
mon bronze-wing and the scrub pigeon. 

The Sronze-Wing is a beautiful bird, plumper and 
larger than the dove-house pigeon, but not so large as 
the British wood-pigeon ; the upper plumage dark 
brocoli-brown, the breast and neck glossy and shining, 
the under parts light, the forehead white, and on the 
wing is a beautiful speculum of bright bronze-coloured 
feathers, from which the bird derives its name. We had 
no blue pigeon in Victoria. The male bird is finer and 
handsomer in plumage than the female, the white on the 
forehead much larger, tinged with chestnut-red, and I 
fancy that this tint becomes deeper with age ; the cheeks 
and throat are deep chestnut, the wing-speculum larger 
and brighter ; and a glorious bird does an old cock 
bronze-wing look, when seated on the bare limb of a 
large gum-tree, his burnished wings, chestnut head, 
and glossy breast reflected in the rays of the evening 
sun. 

Like most of the game birds, the bronze-wing pigeon 



THE BEONZE-WING PIOEOI^-. 93 

was a summer migrant to our parts, coming down about 
the end of September for the purpose of breeding, and 
what few escaped the gun, left about the end of March. 
An odd straggler or two would certainly remain in the 
forests throughout the winter. At different seasons they 
frequent different localities. "When they first arrive, 
they are to be found among the shey oaks and largo 
honeysuckles, generally on dry rises, and as often on the 
ground under the trees as up in the branches. As the 
season advances, they get much into the heather, espe- 
cially at night and morning; and both the pigeon and the 
quail are very partial to heather that has been previously 
burnt. They are very fond of the wild cherry. When 
the thistle-down is floating, every patch of thistles holds 
a pigeon ; and as soon as the wattle-trees drop their seed, 
you will surely find the pigeon at the foot of them ; in 
fact, you may look for pigeons in the wattles at all times. 
They breed principally among the honeysuckle and shey 
oaks ; the nest flat, similar to that of the wood-pigeou 
at home, in which the female lays two white eggs, and 
the old cock-bird takes his turn at sitting. I once found 
a nest with eggs as late as February 4th ; but I fancy 
this was a second clutch : not that I think the pigeon 
breeds more than once in the year, but, like the partridge 
at home, when the first clutch of eggs is destroyed, the 
old female lays a second. By the end of January, tho 
young birds are strong fliers, and large flocks of pigeons 
then congregate in some favourite localities, previous to 
leaving ; but where they go, or from whence they come to 



94 BrSH WANDERINGS. 

US, nobody seemed rightly to know. Por about a month 
from this time, a man who knows just where to look for 
them can have some rattling sport. The most I ever killed 
in one day was eleven couple and a half; and this was not 
an individual day's luck, for pigeons were so thick in the 
month of February in that year, in the honeysuckle and 
shey-oak scrub on the beach, when I was camped at 
Mordialloc, that I averaged with my own gun twenty-five 
couple per week for above a month. Although the 
pigeons flock here, they generally rise singly ; or, if two 
or three fly up together, they are so wide apart that you 
rarely kill more than one with each barrel, and you never 
get a "family shot," as you can into a flock of wood-pigeons 
at home. I have occasionally killed two at a shot, young 
birds, sitting together on the same branch. The coo of 
the pigeon is deep and loud, principally heard at night 
and morning, and often leads the shooter up to them in 
the forest. The surest but most pot-hunting method of 
killing pigeons is to creep up to them as they sit on the 
bare limb of a tree ; and a dull, warm, rainy day is the 
best for this kind of shooting. The blacks are the boys 
for this work. A certain way of killing pigeons is to 
watch by a water-hole on a summer's night, just as the 
sun goes down, when they come to drink ; and I have 
killed eight or ten in an evening at a fxvourite hole, and 
this in not a very good pigeon country ; but they Avill 
come a long way to water. When " reading" woodcocks 
in the north, the first appearance of the evening star 
was the signal for the shooter to take his stand in the 



THE SCETJB PIGEON. 95 

forest glade ; and here, in pigeon-shooting by a water- 
hole, as soon as ever the evening star shows, you may 
go home. The most sporting way of killing them is as 
they rise from the heather, or the ground among honey- 
suckle scrub, when they go away as straight and as sharp 
as any of " Barber's best blue rocks." A great country 
for pigeons is about the Surney, on the coast, forty miles 
from Melbourne; and another famous place is on the 
G-ipp's-land road, below Dandenong. But they are to 
be met with in larger or smaller quantities all over the 
bush. As the small settlers begin to take up the forest 
land, the pigeons disappear ; for, although I have heard 
of them in the corn-fields, their principal food is certainly 
seeds and berries ; and, although not a very shy bird 
the wild bush, the pigeon likes quiet and secluded places 
to breed in. Pigeons will fetch 2s. 6d. per couple 
throughout the year, and they are well worth it. 

The Scrub Figeon is a smaller, and, I think, a hand- 
somer bird than even a common bronze-wing. It is 
much rarer, generally found singly or in pairs, very 
seldoui in small flocks, except late in the season ; the 
colour is a uniform dark cinnamon-brown, the forehead 
reddish, and the wing-speculum, although not so large 
as in the common bird, is far deeper and more brilliant. 
It is very partial to particular localities, and, like the 
woodcock at home, there are certain places where you 
will always find a scrub pigeon. It is a shy, solitary 
bird, frequenting the thickest scrub, and seems partial to 
tea-tree by the side of water. They almost always rise 



86 BUSn WA^'BEr.INGS. 

from the ground. Yv'e used to kill an odd scrub pigeon 
at times allthrougli the winter ; but about April and May, 
when they congregate, is the best time for shooting them. 
In fact the best season for them appears to be after 
the other pigeons have left. 

"We had a little bird on the ranges which we called 
the Ground Dove, about the size of a fieldfare at home, 
and much more like a thrush than a pigeon. It was a 
summer migrant to our parts, came and left with the 
painted quail, and was generally to be found on the 
ground on dry rises in the forest among fallen timber. 
It rises with a loud flutter, and flies with a dipping 
kind of flight. It is a pretty bird, variegated red, brown, 
and black, with chestnut markings, and five or six white 
diamond spots on each wing-shoulder. It lays on the 
ground three largish, mottled, reddish eggs, in a careless 
nest. Although not strictly game, we used to sell them 
with the quail. 

There is a large species of pigeon on the Sydney side, 
called the crown pigeon, but it is not met with here. 

The Australian Snipe is much larger than the common 
English snipe, shorter in the leg, plumper, and thicker ; 
and the general plumage and appearance, its manner of 
rising and flight, remind us more of the double or solitary 
snipe of Europe, than our common bird. There is no 
real woodcock in Australia, and I fancied that the snipe 
here appeared in some slight respects to partake of the 
nature and habits of that bird. I never saw a jack-snipe 
cut here, nor do I believe there is one, although some 



THE AUSTRALIAN SNIPE. 97 

shooters say that they have killed them ; but I think 
this was nothing more than a kind of little stint, which is 
often found on the plains. Where the snipes spend the 
winter and breed, no one seems to know. I have heard 
that they breed on the high ranges at the head of the 
Yarra, and a friend of mine has flushed them in June 
in the Stringy-bark ranges, 200 miles up the country. 
One thing is certain, they must breed very early ; for 
when they came down to us in September, there was no 
difference in the size of the birds that we killed ; and I 
believe there can be no doubt that they did not visit our 
parts till after the breeding season, for I never heard 
of the nest being taken, and the habits of the snipe that 
came to us were not those of breeding birds. They 
appear in the districts round the coast in September, 
remain throughout the suaimer, and leave in February 
or the beginning of March. They come down by stages, 
for we generally heard of the first snipe being killed 
up country a fortnight at least before they reached us. 
The first place that they visit in our district was the 
Clyde, a low flat of wet pasture-ground, about fifteen 
miles below Dandenong, towards "Western-port Bay. 
This is the best and earliest snipe-ground that I know ; 
but the water very soon goes ofl", and a man, to have any 
good shooting, should be there when they first come. 
They then take another flight, and, like the snipe at 
home, following the flood, come into the Dardenong 
country, and thence disperse themselves over the 
swamps and low grounds, frequenting of course peculiar 

H 



98 BTJSH -VfANDEIlINGS. 

localities where there is good feeding-ground, till they 
reach the coast, \^-here all that are spared remain, 
until they leave; and I could always- make sure of 
a couple or two in the honeysuckle or tea-tree scrub 
along the beach, when I could find them nowhere else. 
The habits of the Australian snipe are very puzzling, 
and a man who is not used to snipe-shooting here may 
beat acre after acre of what we should consider in 
the fen capital snipe-ground, without springing a bird, 
and perhaps pass over the very places where the snipe 
do lie. Eancy an old fenmau trying for a snipe am.ong 
ferns and heather on a dry sandy rise, or in thick honey- 
suckle scrub ; yet these are the very places to look for 
the Australian snipe : in the summer and in tlie heat of 
the day you will find them here in large wisps, and no- 
where else. In the early part of the season a man may, 
however, beat for them in much the same places as he 
would at home; and as the season advances, they lie much 
under the shelter of any large timber near the swamps, 
and in patches of tea-tree which skirt the creeks and 
wet ground. They never lie far in, and an old dog who 
knows his business will potter steadily along a yard or 
so in the tea-tree, and tumble out the snipe as fast as 
ever you can load and fire. In the very heat of summer 
they get much into the honeysuckle scrub, but always 
somewhere near their feeding-grounds ; and here it is 
snap-shooting with a vengeance ; for when they rise they 
are only seen for au instant. The Australian snipe in 
the open is not nearly so difficult to kill as the snipe at 



THE AirSTEALIAN SKIPE. 99 

home. They are a larger object, fly much steadier, and 
generally go away straight ; yet, owing to the places they 
frequent, are often missed. They are very fond of lying 
in the shade by day. If by chance any large gum-trees 
stand in an open wet plain, they wiU generally get under 
them, and I have often planted myself under a favourite 
tree, and stood still while others were beating the ground 
roimd me, and killed as many as all the other guns. They 
usually rise quietly, but I have heard them " scape " 
like the English bird, especially when coming down to 
the feeding-grounds at night. I fimcy one wisp follows 
another as they are travelling down, for in some days you 
will find snipe in places where a week before there was 
not one. Of course, this is much owing to the state of 
the feeding-grounds and the season ; before the water 
dries up, they are dispersed over the whole face of the 
country ; but as it goes down, and many of the feeding- 
grounds become parched up, they pack more. There are 
then certain places where you are always sure to find 
some, and a man must know the country well who can 
make sure of a bag of snipe late in the season ; for I never 
knew a bird that sticks to favourite localities more than 
the Australian snipe. They shift their quarters in the 
early part of the season very suddenly, and if a man 
hears of a wisp of snipe in any particular place, he must 
be of£ at once, or, upon reaching the ground, he will 
probably have the mortification of seeing the feeding- 
marks of hundreds of snipe, and find perhaps only a few 
outlying birds. The Australian snipe is a terrible bird 
H 2 



100 BUSH WANDEEING3. 

to run, and you will rarely rise one just at the spot where 
you saw it pitch. They often perch in the tea-tree scrub, 
and I Lave twice killed them sitting on the bare limb of 
a large gum-tree. AYhether for sport or profit, I consider 
the snipe the finest small-game bird in A'ictoria. They 
remained in our district longer than any other summer 
game. There is no pot-hunting in snipe-shooting, they 
must be killed in a sportsmanlike manner, or not at all. 
It is fair to shoot them whenever they are found. Every 
one knows the pleasure he experiences in a good day's 
snipe-shooting, and what was of the most consequence 
to us, we had always a ready sale for them in Melbourne, 
at 2s. Qd. per couple; and occasionally some free-liver 
will give 5s. in the first of the season : in 1853, I sold 
the first snipe that I killed for 5^. Although this is 
certainly a great country for snipe, yet I have never 
seen such wisps here as in Sweden, when the old and 
young birds were on their way down from their north- 
ern breeding-haunts in September. The most I ever 
bagged here myself in the day was thirteen couple and 
a half; and although I have heard of some extraordi- 
nary days' snipe-shooting, I never myself saw twenty 
couple of Australian snipe fall to one gun in the day. 
No bird has been driven from this district more than the 
snipe, and to get a good day's shooting a man must now 
go a long way afield. 

As a specimen of a day's sport out here, I will give an 
extract from my game-book of December 22ud, 185^, on 
which day "the old boy " and myself shot on the island 



THE austiialta;s' iandkail. 101 

near Mordialloc. We both sliot well and pretty even, 
and all ^Yas game on that day. At night we brought 
home to my tent — 

IGt conple quail, 3 t couple scrub quail, 1 rail, 3 couple 
pigeons, 11 couple snipe, 3 nankeen cranes, 1 red lowry, 
5 black-ducks, 3 shovellers, 3 coots, 2 black cockatoos, 
2 moorhens, 7 shell parroquets. 

I do not quote this as anything extraordinary, and I 
have no doubt it has often been beaten ; but I fancy it 
would puzzle two men to do it again on the same ground. 
It will, however, give the reader an idea of the varied 
contents of an Australian game-bag. 

The painted snipe is the common snipe on the Adelaide 
side, but is not met with here. It is a pretty variety, 
and something resembles the painted quail in plumage. 

The Australian Landrail is a species of crake, as large 
as the corn-crake at home, but handsomer in plumage, 
and principally frequents rushes and sedge in moist 
situations ; but you often find them in fern on dry rises, 
a long way from water. They are very common during 
the summer, very hard to rise, run a great deal, fly 
exactly like the corn-crake at home, and their cry 
when disturbed is a sharp " chip, chip, chip." They are 
excellent eating. Bred with us, and left early in the 
autumn. 

"We had two smaller varieties, which I have described 
hereafter, in my notes on the ornithology of this 
country, as they scarcely come within the list of game 
birds. 



102 BUSn "WANDEEINGS. 

I can't say tliafc ever I shot a true Water-rail out 
here. I have killed a small dark-coloured bird in the 
swamps rather resembling that bird, but I do not re- 
member Avhether it was a rail or a crake. One thing is 
certain, if there is any real water-rail in this country, it 
must be very rare. 



THE QUAIL. 103 



CHAPTER VIII. 

QUAIL-SHOOTING— THE COMMON QUAIL— THE SCKUB QUAIL— THE 
P^UNTED QUAIL — THE NUTHATCH QUAIL — THE KING QUAIL — THE 
SPUR-AVING AND OTHER PLOVERS — A HINT TO BIRDCATCHERS. 

The Qimil is the Australian partridge, and qnail-sliooting 
is certainly tlie least laborious and pleasantest of all 
field sports out here. It reminds the sportsman of Sep- 
tember at home, for it is fair open sport, and a man can 
have the pleasure of seeing his dogs work in the old 
style. Moreover, they are generally pretty thickly dis- 
persed over the whole country, and in a few hours' 
shooting a tolerable shot can always make a nice little 
bag. 

"We had sis varieties of quail in our district, — three 
common and three rare : the common quail, the scrub 
or partridge quail, the painted quail, all common in their 
peculiar localities ; and the nuthatch, the king, and the 
silver quail, all rare and only occasional visitors. 

The common quail comes down about the middle of 
September, remains to breed, and early in February they 
all appeared to leave the breeding-grounds, but not the 
district, for they then packed, and in certain localities 
large flocks might be seen late in March ; but after 
March we rarely saw a common quail in our parts. I 
have observed that the quail leave the heather sooner 



104 EUSn WANDEEIXGS. 

than the grass. "Where they winter nobody seemed to 
know, but I fancy they go back into the large plains in 
the interior, from whence they appeared to come to us ; 
for if tliey had come over the sea, we should have always 
found them on the coast first, and many would have been 
picked up on the beach in a state of exhaustion, like 
woodcocks at home. I observed when they first came, a 
few birds would arrive, as the pioneers, perhaps a weelc 
before the great flock ; and one thing which surprised 
me was, that you might beat the same ground day after 
day, and, however many you shot, the number of the 
birds did not appear to diminish. AVhen they first arrive, 
they are generally to be found in the long grass on the 
edges of the swamps, on the grassy plains, and in heather ; 
and these are the general places to beat for the common 
quail throughout the season ; but as the corn springs up, 
they draw much into the cultivation paddocks, where 
they breed in security ; and the quail is the only game 
bird here that is likely to increase with population. In 
the hot summer they are always to be found on moist 
ground and in the neighbourhood of water-holes, espe- 
cially at mid-day. Tliey feed at morning and night, and 
the best time of the day for quail-shooting is from three 
in the afternoon till sunset. In the early morning, when 
the dew is on the grass, they won't lie, and in the middle 
of the day they lie too close ; and as there is then no 
scent, the dogs are almost sure to pass over them ; more- 
over, the dogs can't hunt here in the heat of the da v. 
It is next to impossible to rise quail without a dog ; 



THE COMMON QUAIL. 105 

three men in a line, beating the ground slowly, may get 
up some, but they will walk over far more than they 
spring. Quails squat very close and run very quick. 
A close-hunting, heavy retrieving spaniel would be tlie 
best dog in quail-shooting here, for they require a good 
deal of bustling to get them up, and this is not a country 
for a fine-broken pointer ; for, owing to the running of all 
the game birds, and the quantities of field-mice that 
infest the plains and heather, I'll defy any dog, no matter 
how well broken, to be stanch to his game out here. 

The great drawback to shooting small game in this 
country is the quantity that is spoiled by the heat. A 
large fishing-creel is the best thing to carry small game 
in, packing them carefully in on layers of grass or tea- 
tree, as we serve the grouse on the moors at home. As 
soon as you come home, wipe away all the blood and 
loose feathers, and hang the birds in small wisps up in a 
draught : the higher they are the more they will be out 
of the way of the flies. An old friend of mine used to 
adopt a capital plan with his snipe and quail. As soon as 
he came home, he tied up each bird separately in a 
cabbage-leaf, and laid them carefully in an iron camp- 
oven, keeping on the top. No English sportsman can 
form any idea how soon the game goes here. The flies 
blow so quickly, that I have often taken a bird out of my 
bag, killed but a few hours, a living mass of maggots. It 
is a good plan, if your day's sport keeps you in one 
spot, to hang the birds in small wasps as you kill them, 
high up in tea-tree and other scrub, in the shade : they 



106 Brsn wanderings. 

soon spoil if mashed about iu a pocket or game-bag. A 
little pepper in their mouths and vents freshens them. 
It is not the man that shoots the most game out here 
who makes the most by it, but he that takes the best 
care of it. 

The Common Quail is a pretty gamy little bird, very 
much like the Euroj^ean quail in size, habits, and ap- 
pearance ; but I fancied it was prettier. The call-note, 
when on the ground, much resembles the native name 
of the bird, " too-weep," often and loudly repeated, 
especially when feeding: the cry when they rise is a 
sliarp chirp. Although a small object, the quail is 
not a difficult bird to kill, on account of its straight 
flight. 

"We used to kill a large variety of the common quail, 
which we called the Stubble Quail. It was rarer than 
the common bird, larger and thicker; the breast of the 
male, instead of being black, was plain-coloured, and 
there was also a slight difference in the beaks. 

Quail-shooting is not a bad game where a man has 
regular customers. I used to consider from fifteen to 
twenty couple a good day's work (I once killed thirty- 
seven couple), and I rarely bagged more than fifteen out 
of twenty, taking in misses and lost birds. A man soon 
empties his flask in quail-shooting, and ammunition is no 
slight item in the expenditure of the small-game shooter 
■out here : I reckoned every couple of birds cost me Sd. 
to kill, and they averaged Is. per couple throughout the 
year. Although always found in " bevies," quail gene- 



THE SCRUB QFAIL. 107 

rally rise singly, or quickly one after the other, and never, 
like partridges at home, in coveys. 

The best season's quail-shooting I ever knew was when 
my old mate Eendall, or " the old boy,"- as we called him, 
shot on the heather at Picnic Point, about twelve miles 
south of Melbourne. He bagged 1,500 couple of quail 
on one ground in the season ; but he had miles to shoot 
over. Twenty-five couple per day was his general bag ; 
he averaged eighteen birds out of twenty shots, and he 
used to work at it day after day, like any other kind of 
labour. But he certainly was the best shot I ever saw 
take a gun in hand (and I have sliot by the side of " the 
Squire " and other good men), and there was scarcely 
his equal in the colony in beating for* game. He shot 
to a couple of little mongrels, the smallest a bobtailed 
terrier, about 5 lbs. weight, and" Johnny " rarely passed 
over a quail. I never used setters or pointers in quail- 
shooting ; our dogs were up to every kind of bush-work, 
from driving a kangaroo to hunting for quail. Of course 
there are plenty of well-bred setters and pointers out 
here, and we generally see the best dogs in the hands of 
men who use them least; but the Melbourne sportsmen 
can now, as the advertisement runs, have " their dogs 
broke as they ought to be, by a Leicestershire sportsman," 
at £5. 5s. per head. 

The common quail is found on one of the New Zealand 
islands, but I believe there is no snipe in that country. 

The Scrub Quail, or, as we called it in the bush, the 
partridge quail, is the largest of all the species^ with a 



108 BUSH WANDEEIXGS. 

fine brown mottled and barred plumage, like the gray- 
hen at home. "We had two varieties, the one much larger 
and darker in colour than the other. The scrub quail 
rises like the partridge, flies strong and quick, and is de- 
cidedly the most sporting bird of the lot. It is nowhere 
very common, always in cover or small scrub, in pairs or 
families, and in hot weather they lie mucli on the edges 
of the tea-tree by the creeks ; and here it is quick work 
shooting them, for they invariably rise towards the scrub, 
and are out of sight in an instant : three or four couple 
of scrub quail in the day was good work in these parts. 
Unlike the common quail, they appeared to remain with 
us throughout the winter. The common quail lays from 
six to eight largish eggs on the ground, very deeply 
blotched with reddish brown at the large end : both the 
scrub and painted quail lay fewer, the eggs of the former 
being white, those of the painted quail light speckled. 

The Painted Quail, or Wanderer, is the handsomest 
of the three, and, as its name imports, the plumage is 
prettily variegated or painted with red, white, and black; 
the legs are yellow, and it has but three toes. It is 
intermediate in size between the two last, and the flesh 
is whiter. Although you may occasionally kill an odd 
one during the winter, the majority of them come in 
September, and leave in March. The painted quail is 
rarely found in the open, but generally in timber on 
ferny or heathery rises. They run very much, have a pe- 
culiar wavering fliglit ; and I consider the painted quail, 
in timber, as difficult a bird to kill as any in the colony. 



TUE SILYEE QUAIL. 109 

They do not pack, like the common bird, but, like the 
scrub quail, are always found in pairs or families. The 
note of the male bird much resembles the cooing of a 
pigeon, but is not so loud, and always repeated twice 
quickly ; and this monotonous call may be heard in the 
forest throughout the whole summer's night. It is more 
common than the scrub quail, and when the young birds 
are fliers, a man has no trouble to kill five or six couple ; 
for when flushed, they soon drop again. The wings are 
long and pointed, unlike the full round wing of the two 
last species. 

The Little Nuthatch Quail was a rare and uncertain 
visitant to our district, but is, I believe, the common 
quail on the Adelaide side. I always found them in the 
heather with us, singly or in pairs, and I scarcely ever 
killed more than a couple in the day. Like all other 
paitial migrants, they were much commoner with us in 
some years than others ; but it certainly was a rare bird 
in our district. It is not so large as the common quail, 
of a uniform yellowish stone-colour, mottled with black 
and white ; the beak large, and unlike any of the others 
in shape ; the legs yellow, and the toes three in number ; 
and, from the pointed wing, I consider it closely allied 
to the painted quail. What few came into our parts 
appeared to breed with us ; and if so, they left the earliest 
of any. 

The Silver Quail was very rare with us, and I only saw 
two examples, both skins, and both killed on the plains 
near Melbourne. It appears to be much like the painted 



110 BUSH WANDESI^'GS. 

quail in size and form, — a long loose-feathered bird, witli 
pointed wings ; but it is much lighter in colour, and has 
a kind of dark collar round the neck. Eespectiug this 
bird, all I can say is, if it is a distinct species (which I 
doubt), it must be very rare ; for, during five years' 
shooting, I never met with a single specimen. 

Last and least on our list is the little Chinese or King^ 
Quail, which, although small in size, for beauty of plumage 
stands unrivalled among the game birds of Australia. 
Scarcely so large as the common sparrow, a perfect 
partridge in miniature, I think we may reckon it as the 
smallest game bird in the world. The male is of a deep 
velvet-black colour, with rich red chestnut and white 
markings, and a dark crescent on the breast ; the female 
and young birds are deep brown mottled, like the Euro- 
pean grouse. It was not common in our districts, and I 
generally found them in pairs or families (for they bred 
with us, and, if they did not remain all the winter, they 
left for a very short time), in the long grass on the edges 
of the swamps, often in the wet swamps themselves, and 
I have occasionally raised them in the heather. In some 
seasons they appeared to be more common than in others. 
It is a very local bird ; and one thing always puzzled me 
in beating for game out here : there are certain localities 
where you are almost certain to find birds ; while in other 
places, precisely similar to all appearance, and apparently 
just as well adapted to their habits, you never see a 
bird. All the game in Australia appeal's to pack very 
much. 



THE PLOVEK OF THE PLAINS. Ill 

We had two species of plover common with us through- 
out the year, — the Spur-toing Plover, which is analogous 
to the Jacana of South America, on the low swampy 
grounds, and the Plover of the Plains, on the open stony 
plains and high dry rises. The spur- wing is a fine bold- 
looking bird, considerably larger than the British lapwing, 
congregates in flocks, and is always to be found on wet 
ground. It is a curious and handsome bird in appear- 
ance ; the body quaker-brown, the breast white, the head 
and points deep black. It has a large bright-yellow cere 
or flap over the eye (which is also bright-yellow), cheeks, 
and forehead, and a large sharp spur, like a cock's spur, 
on the elbow-joint of each wing, which I fancy must be 
used by the birds for some other purpose than that of 
mere defence. The spur lengthens with the age of the 
bird : I have seen them, in an old male, nearly an inch 
long. They are a very shy, wary bird, diiEcult to get up 
to, have a loud shrill call ; and many a shot at ducks have 
I lost when, creeping up to a mole on the swamp, I have 
chanced to disturb a spur-wing plover. 

The Plover of the Plains is about one-third less than 
the spur-wing, congregates in large flocks, and is, I 
think, altogether a commoner bird in its peculiar locali- 
ties. It is something like the spur-wing in general 
appearance, but the colours are not so well marked ; the 
colour of the body being shiny brown, the belly white, 
and it has no spur on the wing. Moreover, it has no 
flap over the cheek, but merely a red wart, or lobe over 
each eye. The plover of the plains frequents the most 



112 BUSn "WANDERINGS. 

desolate open stonj rises and plains so common to this 
country ; is a noisy, restless bird, in habits much resem- 
bling the British lapwing ; and as they fly round the 
shooter, they wake the echoes with unvarying cries ; and 
their wild desultory call-note is peculiarly adapted to the 
barren regions which they frequent. Neither of these 
birds are strictly game, but we could often sell them at 
Is. and Is. Qd. per couple. 

I have not the least doubt that the English pai'tridge 
would thrive well in the cultivated districts here ; in 
fact, I should think this was the very country for them, 
and on account of the vast quantities of ants, they could 
at all times obtain a good supply of food. I do not think 
the quail eats the ant's eggs. The pheasant has been 
imported from its native home ; but, 1 believe, has as yet 
only been confined to aviaries. I do not consider this 
country nearly so well adapted to the habits of this bird, 
or any of the grouse tribe, as to those of the partridge. 
The absence of the pine and larch in tliese forests would 
be much against the habits of the pheasant in a wild 
state, and I' do not know what seeds or berries in these 
forests would supply them with food ; for we have no 
acorn or beech mast here. That they can obtain ibod in 
a wild state is, however, proved by the fact of a cock- 
pheasant being shot within a few miles of Melbourne, 
out of a patch of tea-tree, a few years ago. It has been 
turned out loose in New Zealand, and, in one estate 
I believe, they are fast increasing. As to the grouse, 
although there are miles of barren moorlands in most 



THE KOKFOLK PLOVER. 113 

parts of this country, the Australian heath does not 
appear to be at all the same as the bonny brown heather 
of Scotland. There is a kind of disease peculiar to the 
poultry out here, which sometimes sweeps off thou- 
sands ; and I recollect one summer finding great quanti- 
ties of the little green paroquets lying dead in the forests, 
Vvhich had died from some epidemic. 

The Golden Plover here is precisely the golden plover 
of Europe, but much smaller. It was rare in our dis- 
trict, and I never saw them in ilocks, but generally in 
small wisps of five or six. They did not breed with us, 
but came only at uncertain periods. 

The large Norfolk Plover, or Stone Curlew, was not at 
all rare with us at certain seasons, in small flocks, but 
they did not breed with us. They frequented the small 
belts of timber on the edges of the plains, and I never 
saw them in the open. They appeared exactly to resemble 
the British bird. They seemed to be very nocturnal in 
their habits, and the long melancholy whistle of the stone 
curlew in the Australian forest at night, often strikes a 
chill in the heart of the benighted traveller; for an imita- 
tion of the call of this bird is a signal-whistle from the 
bushranger here to his mates at night. 

1 know no country where a good birdcatchcr could do 
better than in this, and if I had a friend iu the line, I 
would advise him to pack up his traps and be off" to Mel- 
bourne at once. Quail, plover, and snipe might always 
be caught for the market, duriug the season, by any one 
who understood the business. All the ground paroquets 
I 



114 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

and others could be easily taken in clap-nets, and ^vould 
have a ready sale for match-shooting. At the pigeon- 
matches here, five shillings per couple is the usual price 
for pigeons, and many more matches Avould be shot but 
for the dearness and scarcity of the birds. On the Ade- 
laide side the little shell or zebra paroquet is bought up 
at sixpence each, and much used for trap-shooting. All 
the handsome parrots, and every species of pretty small 
bird could be sold in town for cage-birds. I scarcely ever 
went up to Melbourne from the bush without being 
asked for live birds or animals ; and if I had only under- 
stood the trade as well as one of our " "Whitechapel bird- 
catchers," I would have cut the gun and stuck to the 
net, and nothing else. 

The wattle-bird, although not strictly game, will often 
fetch five shillings per dozen in Melbourne. They come 
in thickest just as the quail have left, and a man may 
shoot two or three dozen in the day with ease, for they 
fly in large flocks, like the fieldfare at home, about the 
large honeysuckle and gum trees. Parrots can also at 
times be sold, when game is scarce ; and let me say that 
a parrot pie is no bad dish. 



POET PHILLIP. 115 



CHAPTEE IX. 

A CHAPTEE ON THE OKNITHOLOGT OF POET PHILLIP. 

Haying described those birds whicb more particularly 
beloDg to the sportsman, a slight glance at the other 
species most commonly met Avith in the Melbourne dis- 
trict will perhaps not be without interest to the general 
reader. But I may as well at once state that I have 
neither the intention nor ability of entering upon the 
subject scientifically. The few remarks that I am about 
to make are solely the result of my own observation, for 
I had little or no assistance in my zoological researches 
out here. I had no work on the ornithology of the 
country to guide me, and no one who knew the birds to 
help me. I know nothing of the Latin names of the 
birds, nor to what class even many of them belong ; and 
the English names which I use are those by which they 
were known to us in the bush, and perhaps many of them 
altogether wrong. My notices must necessarily be short 
and very imperfect ; and, as I had not the slightest in- 
tention of publishing when in the bush, I kept but few 
notes, and nearly all that I have written is from memory. 
I have, however, as far as I could, endeavoured to give 
a description of such birds as I know ; and, short as they 
are, I trust my notes will answer the purpose for which 
I 2 



116 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

they are intended. To enable the stranger to form some 
slight idea of the ornithology of this country, and the 
bushmau, if he cares at all about it, to distinguish one 
bird from another, I have noticed above 180 different 
species which have passed through my hands, and, with 
the exception of less than a dozen, I have shot specimens 
of every one myself. 

No one has better opportunities of studying nature 
than the sportsman, whose life is spent in out-door pur- 
suits ; and if such men would only pay a little attention 
to the subject, and note down anything that struck them 
as worthy of notice in the habits of the animals and 
birds which are constantly before their eyes, what a fund 
of useful information might be collected. But, unfor- 
tunately, it rarely happens that either the sportsman or 
gamekeeper cares anything except about those very birds 
or animals which are the immediate objects of their pur- 
suit, and scarcely even know tlie names, much more the 
habits, of the commoner species, which are of no value 
for the chase. 

The study of ornithology has always been a favourite one 
with me, and is perhaps the only one of the innocent plea- 
sures of youth which follows a man into maturer years, and 
upon which he can look back, in the decline of life, with feel- 
ings of pure and unalloyed joy. The greatest charm at- 
tendant upon this study is, that there is no monotony in its 
pursuit, — no void or blank in the ornithologist's year. His 
time is constantly occupied ; as soon as one class of birds 
leaves, another arrives ; and these migrations are, without 



POET PHILLIP. 117 

doubt, the most wonderful of the many wonderful phe- 
nomena in nature. Instinct here stands forth clear and 
unguided, and the actions of the birds tliemselves arise 
from causes over which they can have no control. So 
beautifully and with such precision are they arranged, 
that we can time the arrival and departure of our regular 
summer and winter migrants almost to a day ; and each 
particular class is the harbinger of a particular season. 
All this is far more apparent in northern countries, 
where the vicissitudes of climate are more sensibly felt 
than in the warmer latitudes of the south. Let us turn 
for awhile to England, and here we shall find that the 
opening of the first violet in the sheltered bank of the 
village lane welcomes the first spring migrant to our 
shores ; and no sooner do the rude blasts of autumn 
sweep through the forest glade, whirling the dead leaves 
on high, and shaking the last tottering acorn from the 
oak, than the chattering of the fieldfares high in air, and 
the keeper's report that he has flushed the first woodcock 
in some favourite spenny, warn us that winter is again 
at hand. The very operations of the husbandman and 
sportsman are in a great measure regulated by these 
migrations. They form a useful and instructive guide to 
the farmer, who will take the trouble to observe them, 
and the appearance of the swallows on some favourite 
stream, whither in early spring they dash backwards and 
forwards over its margin after the "glad May-fly," just 
awakening to its ephemeral life, or when, in the haze of 
an autumn evening, they congregate in flocks on the 



118 BUSH WAKDEEINGS. 

osiers that fringe its banks, is hailed with equal delight 
both by the contemplative angler and more boisterous 
huntsman ; for each hails it as a joyful omen that his 
season has again come round. 

All this is much more marked at home than in. a 
foreign land, where the birds are strangers to us, with 
whose habits we have hardly had time to become ac- 
quainted ; but the same remarks will apply with equal 
accuracy both to England and Australia. It is true that 
in this latter country, these migrations being more par- 
tial, are far less observed, and are perhaps instigated in 
some respects by different causes ; but the two principal 
causes are doubtless the same here as elsewhere : search 
after food, and suitable localities for the purposes of 
breeding. The advent and departure of the quail, the 
pigeon, the snipe, and the other regular summer migrants, 
are conducted with the greatest regularity, and the partial 
migrations of the large flocks of parrots, wattle-birds, 
and others, which are constantly taking place, are no 
doubt regulated by the state of the blossoms and seeds 
upon which they feed. The more attention that we pay 
to this subject, the more regular shall we find these 
migrations, and many a useful lesson, both in the botany 
as well as the rural economy of this land, might be 
learned by observing the habits and noting the migra- 
tions of the birds to and from each particular district. 

Man's constant companions in every out-door occupa- 
tion, cheering him with their plumage or their songs, 
affording him often a principal means of subsistence, it 



THE EAGLE-HAWK. 110 

is little wonder that the study of the habits and natural 
instincts of birds should be a favourite one with all ; and 
to that man whose time is happilj and quietly spent in 
the forests and the fields, it gives one of the truest zests 
to riu-al life. 

Victoria is very rich both in species and individuals 
of the hawk ; and this is not to be wondered at, when 
we consider the wild nature of the country, abounding 
as it does in every kind of food peculiar to the birds of 
prey. 

The king of birds here is certainly the Eagle-Jiawh, or 
Wedge-iailed Eagle, which, although inferior in size and 
attributes to the golden eagle of Europe, is nevertheless 
a fine powerful bird, and the largest bird of prey in the 
colony. Tlie eagle-hawk varies much in size and colour. 
Whether this is owing to a difference in age or sex I am 
unable to say, but I fancied we had two distinct species ; 
the one very dark brown, nearly black at a distance, the 
other much lighter in plumage (I have seen one as light 
as the European kite) ; and the two birds, in diff"erence 
of colour, resembled the golden and white-tailed eagles 
of Europe, but the eyes of both were dark. The dark 
variety of our eagle-hawk was the rarest with us, and 
was a thicker and shorter bird than the other: the tail 
of this bird is long, and in the form of a wedge, which is 
very apparent when it is in the air. They were by no 
means uncommon in our district at all seasons, often in 
pairs, both in the deep forests and on the plains, over 
which they would soar almost out of sight, round and 



120 BUSH WA^'DEUIXGS. 

round in steady circles, \Yithout apparently moving tlieir 
wings. We had plenty of them on the kangaroo-ground, 
and I procured above a dozen fine specimens in one 
winter. They were often on the ground, and I fancy 
were principally carrion-feeders ; they bred in our 
forests ; the nest very large, invariably placed in the 
fork of a large gum-tree; not always very high, but 
generally inaccessible to any but a black. Several old 
deserted nests stood in the forests, mementoes of by- 
gone days, before the foot of the white man trod these 
wilds; and I recollect the eagle-hawk's nest on an old 
blasted gum was one of our favourite " try sting places " 
when driving kangaroo ; this bird is not neai^y so shy as 
the European eagle, and when goi'ged with carrion by no 
means difiicult to approach. 

The Large White FlsJiing Saiclc was by no means 
rare on our coasts ; they were generally flying up and 
down the beach, and I rarely saw them far inland. It is 
hardly so large as the wedge-tailed eagle, but thicker and 
more robust in appearance, and rounder in the wing 
when flying ; the tail is not so long, but also wedge- 
shaped and rounded ; the body-colour, and wings, are 
slate-blue ; the neck, breast, and belly, white ; the shaft 
of each feather dark. It was not a true osprey, but in 
the shape of the head resembled that bird ; the feathers 
on the neck were shorter : it was by no means so common 
as the eagle-hawk. I once found the nest of this bird on 
an old dead gum-tree, in a wood about half a mile from 
the coast. "We went several times by day to shoot the 



THE SPAKROW-HAWK. 121 

old birds without success ; at length, one moonlight 
night I found the tree, and sat under it till morning : 
just before daybreak the old bird came to the nest, and 
I shot it. This is the plan I would always adopt if I 
wanted to shoot an eagle at nest ; for it is almost impos- 
sible to approach the nest by day without being seen bj 
the old birds. The cry of this bird is a loud hoarse 
scream. 

The JPeregrine Falcon was common on our plains iu 
autumn, but I do not fancy they bred in our district ; it 
exactly resembled the British peregrine in size, habits, 
and appearance, and seemed to be precisely the same 
bird : the eye was dark. 

The Hobby was also common in the autumn ; I gene- 
rally found it in thicker timber than the other hawks, 
and I think its principal prey was pigeons ; it very much 
resembled its British namesake in appearance, but seemed 
to be a little larger : the eye was light hazel. 

"We had a smaller variety, which we called the Merlin, 
but it was not much like the merlin of Europe ; it was 
common on the plains and in the low scrub during the 
small-game season. 

The Australian Sjjarroiv-hawJc is about as large as its 
European namesake, which it much resembles : it was 
common with us throughout the autumn: the eye was 
light yellow. 

"We had an elegant little falcon, not unlike the sparrow- 
hawk in appearance, but nearly double the size, and much 
prettier ; we called it the Blue Falcon : the head and 



122 BFSH WA>'DEEIKGS, 

upper plumage liglit blue ; the under parts barred and 
striped with a reddish tinge ; the eye bright yellow. It 
was not very common ; was swifter on the wing than any 
of the other hawks ; and I generally used to find them in 
the end of summer, dashing down the creeks, I suppose 
after the ducks. 

The Australian Kestrel something resembled the female 
kestrel at home, and the sexes did not difier in plumage ; 
it was, however, rather smaller ; it was common with us 
during the quail season, and generally to be seen in 
pairs, beating or hovering over the plains, after the 
manner of the British bird, or perched on a dead tree, 
apparently watching the shooter. 

"We had a very pretty variety of kestrel, which we 
called the Little White HaivJc, rather larger and thicker 
than the common kestrel, which it much resembled in 
habits ; it was, however, more common with us, and I 
used always to find them beating over the swamps and 
low marshy ground, and I fancy their principal food was 
reptiles and snipe. The wings and back of this bird were 
deep slate-blue ; the under parts pure white ; the eye 
red ; cere and legs yellow. It was an elegant-looking 
bird, and we generally saw two or three together. They 
bred in our neighbourhood, the young birds of the year 
prettily mottled, chestnut, red, and white. They left us 
late in the autumn for a short period. 

The White GoshawJc is by far the chastest in appeai'- 
ance of all the Australian hawks ; about the size of the 
European goshawk, but more slender in shape; the 



MAESn HAEEIEE. 123 

wHole plumage pure white, witli a bright yellow eye, 
cere, and legs. I only killed one specimen in our district, 
and this was by a water-hole ; but I have heard they are 
common in many of the gullies where the native phea- 
sant abounds. 

"We used now and then to kill a beautiful little hawk, — 
the Musqtiito Hawk, a perfect sparrow-hawk in minia- 
ture, but little more than half its size. It was the 
smallest hawk I ever saw. It was by no means common, 
and, like all the smaller hawks, appeared to come into 
our district with the small game, and leave in the winter. 
I fancy the hawks here must breed early. Very few 
bred with us, and many which we killed in October were 
young birds of the year. 

I twice saw a splendid hawk beating the heather for 
quail late in the season, but I could not shoot it. It 
seemed a species of harrier, as large as the common 
buzzard, and was of a rich variegated colour, chestnut- 
brown, black, and white. 

One of the commonest of all the hawks with us was 
the large Harsh Harrier, or, as we used to call it, the 
Swamp HawTc. Throughout the whole time that the 
ducks were on the swamps, this bird was beating over 
the grass and reeds ; and we often saw as many as half 
a dozen together flying over the same swamp. I used to 
kill two species of large hawk on the swamps, the one 
resembling the British rough-legged buzzard, the other 
the marsh harrier : this latter bird was much lighter in 
plumage, and altogether a larger, thicker bird than the 



124 BUSH -WAIfDERINGS. 

other, ■which was very dark-coloured, and iu the head 
and face resembled a harrier. The lighter bird ^Yas the 
commonest with us. Both used to beat the swamps in 
company, and we always shot them when we had a 
chance, on account of their killing so many ducks ; and 
we called both the swamp hawk. I am not, however, 
certain that they did not do us often as much good as 
harm, on account of driving the ducks up out of the 
thick tea-tree and other places in the swamps which we 
could not get at. The eye of the darker bird, unlike 
that of the marsh harrier, was deep brown. 

The bird which we called the Australian Kite rather 
resembled the British kite in shape and colour, but the 
tail was quite square and the rump white. It princi- 
pally frequented the swamps and low ground ; but we 
sometimes found it in timber, where I never saw the 
swamp hawk. It did not soar so high as the kite at 
home ; nor do I believe that it was a true kite, although 
we called it so. None of the hawks in this country ap- 
pear to soar very high, except the eagle-hawk. 

The Carrion Hawlc, as we called it, was perhaps the 
commonest of all, about half the size of the marsh har- 
rier, of a dull brown colour, relieved with yellow, and a 
dark eye. I generally found them in small timber all 
over the bush, often in the small belts near the pUains. 
It appeared to be the most sluggish of all the species, 
always gorged with carrion, and altogether the ugliest 
hawk I know. 

I once shot a hawk as it rose from the heather, when 



THE WHITE OWL. 125 

I -was beating for quail, very much to my eye resembling 
Montagu's barrier. I never killed more than one of 
this species with us ; but I believe it is a common bawk 
on tbe Sydney side. It was a true barrier. 

Most of the hawks came into our district when tbe 
quail set in, and left late in the season ; but we saw com- 
paratively few in the winter. 

We had at least six species of owl more or less common 
in our forests. 

Tbe largest, which was very rare (tbe only two ex- 
amples I ever saw were both killed in tbe tea-tree scrub 
by the Dandenong Creek, on two separate winters), was 
nearly tbe size of the European eagle-owl, but without 
horns. It was of a light gray colour, mottled black, 
with a hawk-like beak and very sharp claws. I know 
nothing of its habits, except that I have occasionally 
seen a large owl (which I took to be this) flit by me at 
night when flight-shooting. I do not think the large 
owls in this country have any peculiar boot or cry at 
night ; certainly nothing like tbe eagle-owl or wood-owls 
of Europe. 

I have killed two species of White Owl here, both out 
of boneysuckle-ti-ees on tbe plains in tbe quail season. 
Neither were common, and they appeared to be irregular 
summer migrants to our parts. Tbe largest variety was 
pure white in colour, irregularly ticked and spotted with 
brownish black ; the other was smaller, had a very yel- 
low tinge, and much resembled the barn-owl of England. 
Both had dark eyes. I never saw either in the winter. 



126 BUSH "WANDEETNGS. 

The Large Grey Owl was by no means rare, and 
seemed to remain in our forests throughout the year. 
It was larger than the wood-owl at home, of a light gray 
ash-colour, with bright-yellow eye. I generally found it 
in thick tea-tree scrub in the gullies. The two brown 
owls were both much smaller, neither of them so large 
as the common short-eared owl at home ; and one was 
considerably larger than the other. They were both 
deep cinnamon-brown, the smallest rather the darkest 
in colour. Neither were rare iu our forests, and both 
remained with us throughout the year. 

I never killed an eared owl out here, and the other 
owls were not nearly so common as I should have 
imagined, considering the wild wooded nature of the 
country. 

As soon as the shades of evening close in over the 
Australian forest, the ear is startled by the cry of 
"morepoke," clearly and loudly repeated, and a bird as 
large as an owl flits by on noiseless wing, like the 
goat-sucker at home. This is the Morepoke, a species of 
large night-jar, all head and mouth, about the size of an 
owl. It is a singular-looking but rather handsome bird, 
of a deep slate-gray colour, ticked all over with black ; 
the feathers long and pointed, an eye of the most bril- 
liant yellow, and a long pointed tail. The beak and feet 
resemble those of the European night-jar on a large scale, 
and the gape is tremendous. It was by no means uncom- 
mon in all the deep forests, generally single, and rarely 
seen by day. They bred with us in the hole of a tree. Their 



THE NIGHT- JAB. 127 

principal food appeared to be large niglit- moths, and in 
habits they very much resembled the night-jar at home. 

We had a smaller species, which we called the Little 
Morepohe, a rare and pretty little bird ; the body not 
much larger than a lark ; the plumage light gray, ticked 
and barred with black ; the feathers soft, the head much 
rounder than that of the large morepoke, and the tail 
long and square. I don't believe it was so very rare 
with us ; but on account of its size and habits, not often 
seen ; and it appeared to be very little known among the 
naturalists here. It was nocturnal in its habits, although 
the few specimens I killed were by day, as they flew out 
of a hole in a tree or log. They bred with us, and both 
species were met with in our forests throughout the 
year. 

We had also a real Night-jar, precisely similar to the 
home bird, which I always used to kill as it rose from 
the heather, or thick low scrub, in the quail season : it 
was by no means common, and appeared to be a summer 
migrant. 

About an hour before sunrise the bushman is awakened 
by the most discordant sounds, as if a troop of fiends 
were shouting, hooping, and laughing round him in one 
wild chorus ; this is the morning song of the Laugldng 
Jaclcass, warning his feathered mates that daybreak is at 
hand. At noon the same wild laugh is heard, and as the 
sun sinks into the west, it again rings through the forest. 
I shall never forget the first night I slept in the open 
bush in this country : it was in the Black Forest. I 



128 EUSn WAKDEEIXGS. 

woke about daybreak, after a confused sleep, and for 
some minutes I could not fancy where I was, such 
•were the extraordinary sounds that greeted my ears : 
the fiendish laugh of the jackass ; the clear, flute-like note 
of the magpie ; the hoarse cackle of the wattle-birds ; 
the jargon of flocks of leatherheads ; and the screaming 
of thousands of parrots, as they dashed through the 
forest, all joining in chorus, formed one of the most 
extraordinary concerts I ever heard, and seemed at the 
moment to have been got up for the purpose of wel- 
coming the stranger to this land of wonders on that 
eventful morning. I have heard it himdreds of times 
since, but never with the same feelings that I listened 
to it then. 

The laughing jackass is the bushman's clock, and 
being by no means shy, of a companionable nature, a 
constant attendant about the bush-tent, and a destroyer 
of snakes, is regarded, like the robin at home, as a sacred 
bird in the Australian forests. It is an uncouth-looking 
bird, a huge species of land kingfisher, nearly the size of 
a crow, of a rich chestnut-brown and dirty white colour, 
the wings slightly chequered with light blue, after the 
manner of the British jay ; the tail-feathers long, rather 
pointed, and barred with brown. It has the foot of the 
kingfisher, a very formidable, long, pointed beak, and a 
large mouth ; it has also a kind of crest, which it erects 
when angry or frightened ; and this gives it a very fero- 
cious appearance. It is a common bird in all the forests 
tliroughout the year ; bred in a hole in a tree, and the 



THE SACKED KINGFISHER. 129 

eggs were white ; generally seen in pairs, and by no 
means shy : their principal food appeared to be small 
reptiles, grubs, and caterpillars. As I said before, it 
destroys snakes. I never but once saw them at this 
game : a pair of jackasses had disabled a carpet-snake 
j under an old gum-tree, and they sat on a dead branch 
I above it, every now and then darting down and peck- 
I ing it, and by their antics and chattering seemed to 
I consider it a capital joke. I can't say whether they ate 
the snake, — I fancy not; at least, the only reptiles I 
ever found in their stomachs have been small lizards. 
The first sight that struck me on landing in London 
was a poor old laughing jackass moped up in a cage, in 
Eatclifie Highway : I never saw a more miserable, woe- 
begone object ; I quite pitied my poor old friend, as he 
I sat dejected on his perch ; and the thought struck me at 
the time that we were probably neither of us benefited 
in changing the quiet freedom of the bush for the noise 
and bustle of the modern Babylon. 

There is a smaller species, the Sacred Kingfisher, 
which we used to call the Van Diemen's Land jackass : 
this is a real land kingfisher, nearly the size of a starling 
at home ; bright blue above, light chestnut breast, which 
is much deeper in the male than the female, and white 
belly. This bird was sparingly dispersed over the bush, 
always seen in pairs ; generally about the old gum-trees, 
in moist situations, by creeks or swamps. It bred in the 
hole of a gum-tree, and the old birds were always close 
to the nest. It has a shrill call-note, not unlike that 



130 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

of the European, "wryneck, and was a summer migrant 
to our parts. 

The real Australian Kingfisher is smaller than its 
European namesake, which it resembles much in habits 
and appearance ; it was, however, of a uniform purple- 
blue colour, and the breast was deep orange ; it was a 
summer migrant to us, and a pair or two might be tlien 
seen on every creek : they bred in the hole of a bank, 
and the eggs exactly resembled those of the British bird. 

No bush-bird to my fancy had a clearer or richer note 
than the Magpie : one of the earliest birds of morning, 
it was also one of the latest at night ; and the deep, flute- 
like evening song of the magpie was heard in the forest 
long after all the other birds of day had retired to roost. 
The Australian magpie is more like a rook in shape than 
its British namesake, but not so large and clumsy, and 
it wants the long bronze-tinted tail of the European 
bird; it is, however, a graceful, elegant bird, and the 
rich black plumage of the breast and wings contrasts 
finely with the pure white of the back. The females and 
young birds are mottled grayish blue and white ; but I 
always fancied we had two species, the one mottled, the 
other black and white. The magpie is a very common 
bird throughout the bush during the whole year, often 
in small companies ; and in the autumn the old and young 
birds congregate in flocks. It is by no means shy, and 
one of the best cage-birds in the colony ; for they are 
easily tamed, and soon learn to imitate any call or noise. 
"Unlike the magpie at home, it builds a careless shallow 



THE BLUE JAT. 131 

nest, and the female lays three greenish mottled eggs : 
the young magpies are excellent eating: the eye is 
brown-red. 

I killed one single specimen of the Black-lacked 
Magpie here, which is, I believe, common on the 
Sydney side, but had not been noticed before in this 
district : it might, however, have been overlooked ; for it 
exactly resembled the common magpie in every respect, 
except that the back is black between the wings, instead 
of white. 

"We had another bird, which we called the Black 
\ Magpie, but which was a species of chough ; about the 
[i size of the common magpie, but more slender ; higher in 
the leg and longer in the tail ; the whole colour sooty- 
black, with white wing-feathers, a long tail, and' long, 
thin, dark, curved beak, like the British chough; the 
wing, when spread out, was very round, and the white 
pinions gave the bird a pretty appearance when flying. 
It was very common in our forests throughout the year, 
principally frequenting the large gums ; was generally 
seen in small flocks, chasing one another from branch to 
branch : its call-note was a clear, soft, loud whistle. 

The bird that we called the Blue Jay resembled its 
British namesake in no one particular. As large as a 
crow, very loose-feathered, the whole plumage one uni- 
form dun-blue, with a yellow eye and large beak. It was 
common in our forests throughout the year, and the call- 
note was a loud whistle. 

We had a smaller species of this bird about one third 



132 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

less, exactly the same in liabits as the other, but darker 
in plumage and much rarer. 

The Swamp Magpie, or mourning-bird, so called from 
its black and -white plumage, is an elegant little bird, 
rather larger than the double thrush at home. It was a 
winter migrant to us, and I generally found them in 
small flocks in the belts of timber bordering the plains, 
or on the edges of the swamps themselves, but scarcely 
ever in the open, and almost always on the ground. 
They were always shy and difficult to approach. The 
plumage is rich glossy black and white, very strongly 
marked, the beak and eye white. Their call-note was a 
deep loud whistle, which I often used to hear long after 
sundown. 

The large Carrion Crow was common in our forests 
throughout the year, but we saw most of them during 
the autumn and winter. I think a few pairs bred with 
us. It is larger than the British crow, being interme- 
diate in size between that bird and the raven, which it 
much resembled in appearance and habits. The whole 
plumage glossy purple-black, the tail rather cuneiform. I 
always fancied we had two varieties, the one smaller than 
the other ; and this in habits more resembled the British 
rook, seemed to go in larger flocks than the other, and 
in autumn congregated much on the wet plains. I never 
saw a real rook out here. Unlike its British namesake, 
which leads a solitary and persecuted life, the Australian 
crow is rather a companionable bird than otherwise ; 
generally seen in small flocks, and often close to the 



THE MOCKIKG-BIBD. 133 

habitations of man. Its croak is loud but soft, and at 
times prettily modulated. They were our constant com- 
panions out kangarooing, and would follow us through 
the forests like sutlers on the skirts of a pursuing army, 
and at night, when skinning the dead kangaroo previous 
to bringing them home, the old carrion crows would 
perch themselves on a gum-tree above our heads and sit 
watching us till their turn came. Like 

" Eaven on the blasted oak, 
Who waiting while the deer is broke, 
His morsel claims with sullen croak. " 

"We had another species, rather smaller than the carrion 
crow, which it otherwise much resembled in shape, plu- 
mage, and habits, but the eye was clear bluish-white. 
"We called it the White-eijed Crow. It was rather a local 
bird, generally seen in pairs, occasionally joined the 
other, but was nowhere very common with us. 

One of the noisiest and most restless of all the bush- 
birds is the 'Mocking-bird, as we called it, for what 
reason I know not, as I never heard it utter any other 
than one note, — a long continuous hoarse cackle ; and this 
was never still. It was about the size of a thrush ; the 
upper plumage chestnut-brown, the under parts dirty- 
white, a bluish-white eye, and a long curved beak. They 
I were not very common ; generally in small flocks, in se- 
cluded places among the honeysuckles and shey oaks ; 
continually in motion, chasing one another from tree to 
tree with a very sharp flight, all the while keeping up 
their peculiar hoarse call-note. They bred with us, but 



134i BUSH WANDERINGS. 

appeared far more common in the winter than at any 
other time. 

The Cuckoo was another summer migrant to us, and 
of this we had three varieties, — the large gray cuckoo, the 
common cuckoo, and the little bronze or zebra cuckoo ; 
and of this last I fancy we had also two distinct varieties, 
the one rather larger and much brighter in plumage 
than the other. Neither of the three had the call-note 
peculiar to the home bird. The large cuckoo was the 
rarest with us, but seemed to come the earliest. An 
odd pair or so (for all the species flew in pairs) were 
generally to be seen in the forest on any summer's day, 
flying about the tops of the high stringy-bark gums. All 
the three species had the peculiarities of the British bird 
in shape, beak, feet, and flight ; and any one at a glance 
could tell to what class they belonged. The Large Cuckoo 
is half as large again as the common cuckoo, of a dull 
ash-gray colour, with a long pointed barred tail. It had 
a loud single call-note or whistle, often repeated when 
flying from tree to tree. The Common Cuckoo rather 
resembles its British namesake in colour, habits, and 
appearance; but the sexes do not appear to differ in 
plumage. The note was a simple call. It was more com- 
mon than the last, and frequented smaller trees, such as 
shey oak and honeysuckles, whereas the lai'ge bird was 
always to be found among the high gums. The Bronze 
Cuckoo was a beautiful little bird, scarcely so large as tiie 
wryneck at home, the whole upper plumage and wings 
green-bronze, breast dull white, striped or striated with 



THE MIIiEE. 135 

black ; the under tail-coverts orange, and the tail- and 
wing-feathers barred with black. It has a very loud call- 
note for the size of the bird, rather resembling that of 
the wryneck ; was, I think, the commonest of the whole 
species, and frequented small scrub, particularly small 
honeysuckles. Early in the season I used to find them much 
in the heather and low scrub ; and I fancy they breed in 
the nests of the small brown wren ; at least I once shot a 
female bronze cuckoo flying from such a nest, in Avhich 
was a large spotted egg ; and on dissecting the cuckoo, I 
found a similar egg inside it, but unfortunately broken. 
I can say nothing with certainty respecting the breeding- 
habits of the other two, except that you rarely see either 
in small bushes, and during the breeding season I ob- 
served that the large cuckoo used to keep always about 
the same gum-trees. 

Another summer migrant to our district was the 
Summer-hird, about the size of the jay at home, but more 
slender, of a slate-colour above, white under, with a 
black moustache, large black bill and legs, and full black 
eye. It was not a rare bird, always seen in pairs among 
the large timber, continually on the wing ; and the call- 
note was one long soft whistle, often repeated while in 
the air. They flew with a slow dipping kind of flight, 
and soared over the tree-tops. 

By far the commonest and boldest bird in the Austra- 
lian forests is the Miner, or Soldler-hird, which, like too 
many of the human race, appeared to mind everybody's 
business but its own. Like the common sparrow at 



136 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

liome, tbe miner was seen in all places and at all seasons, 
and, like that bird, was a "household word" with us. 
Always bustling about, on the broad look-out, let a 
strange bird but show itself, and a dozen miners, like so 
many policemen, were round it in an instant to drive it 
off. If the shooter is creeping quietly through the wood 
for a safe shot, it is ten chances to one that a miner spies 
him, and warns the prey of his approach ; and if by 
chance a snake or stump-lizard shows a head, a congre- 
gation of miners will soon gather round it, and spread 
the news through the whole neighbourhood. They cer- 
tainly are the most pugnacious birds I ever saw ; and if 
they can't find any stranger to have a turn-up with, 
generally manage to get up an Irish row among them- 
selves. The very snake-like head and well-guarded eye 
of this bird, and sharp beak, have quite a pugilistic cut. 
They are never still, — here, there, and everywhere, chat- 
tering, whistling, and chasing each other about from tree 
to tree. There was, however, something to my fancy 
very jolly in the habits of this bold bustling bird, and I 
used to fancy that those which frequented our tent knew 
me, and welcomed me as an old friend whenever I came 
home. The miner is about the size of the English black- 
bird, of a uniform light ashen-gray colour, many of tlie 
feathers edged with yellow, sharp beak and claws, bright 
piercing eye, and a yellow cere between the eye and the 
beak. They are common in all parts of the bush 
throughout the year. The note is composed of whistling 
and chattering, like a flock of starlings at home before 



THE THEUSn. 137 

going to roost. The flesh is bitter to the taste, like that 
of the starling. 

We had three species of Thrush, two of them summer 
migrants, — the Green Thrush and the Mountain Thrush, 
and the common Gray Thrush, which remained with us 
throughout the year. 

One of the sweetest sounds in the Victorian forest, to 
my ear, was the loud monotonous note of the green 
thrush, from the topmost branch of a high gum-tree, on 
one of those clear delicious mornings so peculiar to the 
Australian spring. Although not to be compared to the 
rich and varied song of the British thrush, there is a 
gush of melody in the few notes of the Australian bird 
equal to any of our finest songsters ; and as I have often 
and often stood at my tent about sunrise and listened to 
its wild desultory carol, borne upon the early breeze, 
laden with the fragrance of many a thousand blossoms, 
I have thought how dull and senseless must that block- 
head have been who described Australia as a land where 
the flowers have no scent and the birds no song. The 
green thrush is a fine bold-looking bird, about the size 
of the double-thrush at home, of a pale yellowish-green 
colour above, the under parts white, spotted with black, 
and a reddish eye. It builds a very pretty pendent nest, 
between two small twigs, and lays three large handsome 
mottled eggs ; in fact, I think the nest and egg of the 
green thrush prettier than any I ever took in this coun- 
try. It was sparingly dispersed in pairs over the whole 
bush, but nowhere very common. 



138 BUSH "WATiTDEEIKGS. 

The common Gray TTirusIi is a dull-looking bird, of a 
uniform ash-gray colour, and in size and habits much 
resembling the blackbird at home. It was shy, kept 
as much out of sight as possible, and was generally 
seen feeding on the ground. It appeared to be the com- 
monest of the three, and remained with us throughout 
the winter. 

The Moimtain Thrush of Australia is identical with 
*' White's thrush " of Britain; and this thrush must have 
as wide a geographical range as any bird in the world, 
for specimens have been killed as far north as Sweden. 
It was by no means rai'e with us in the breeding season, 
being partially scattered in pairs over the tea-tree and 
other thick scrub. It is one of the shiest birds I know, 
and not often seen, for they frequent the thickest scrub, 
are almost always running on the ground, and rarely 
rise on the wing. I never heard it utter a single note. 
"We saw them very rarely, and late in the season. I have 
killed them in the beginning of April, and taken their 
nest the first week in August, and I am not certain that 
some of them did not stop in our thick scrub throughout 
the year. The colour is uniform rich brown, the breast 
and belly light, eacli feather tipped or spotted with 
black in the shape of a crescent. It is about the size of 
the redwing at home. The nest and eggs very much 
resemble those of the British blackbird. The nest is 
very large, lined with coarse grass and fibres, placed at 
different heights in the tea-tree scrub, or on the large 
limb of an old honeysuckle. The eggs are three in num- 



THE AUSTKALIAN EEDWINa. 139 

ber ; in fact, all the thrushes, and many of the common 
busb-birds of Australia, lay but three eggs. 

The Wattle-bird is a fine-looking bird, about the size 
of the British fieldfare, but longer; the general colour 
ash-brown, marked with black, a long thin pointed tail, a 
bright yellow tinge on the belly, and a red fleshy wart 
or excrescence hanging down from each ear ; a powerful 
long pointed beak, and long sharp claws. This is one of 
the honey-eaters, which class of birds is characterized by 
a long horny tongue, feathered and fringed towards the 
end with fibres, for the purpose of gathering the honey 
and pollen from the blossoms of the trees. The wattle- 
bird remained in our forests throughout the year ; bred 
in the small honeysuckles and shey oaks ; the nest like 
that of the blackbird ; eggs large, three in number, 
deeply spotted with red. It was found among the honey- 
suckles and gum-trees, in those particular seasons when 
the blossoms yielded the honey. In flight it much re- 
sembled the fieldfare at home. It has a very loud 
hoarse note or cackle, which we used to compare to the 
words " up with the rag," often and quickly repeated. 
In the end of autumn the old and young birds congregate 
in large flocks. They are excellent eating. 

The Australian Bedwing, as we call it, is another of 
the honey-eaters ; not so large as the wattle-bird, one 
uniform greenish-brown colour marked with black, the 
under parts of the wing chestnut-red, the eye bluish- 
white. It was rather a shy bird, not so common as the 
■ wattle-birds ; frequented the same localities, and bred in 



140 BUSH "WANDERINGS. 

company with them on the small shey oaks and honey- 
suckles. The eggs were three, lightly spotted with red. 
One of the bush wonders is the Leatlierhead, or bald- 
headed friar, a curious-looking bird ; not so large as the 
wattle-bird, of one uniform dun-blue colour, with black 
pencillings, a dirty-white breast and belly, white under 
the tail, which was long and square. The greatest pecu- 
liarities in this bird, however, are the head and neck, 
which, instead of being feathered, are covered with a thin 
black skin. The beak is large, with a sharp curve ; and 
a high ridge or comb runs along the top of the head. It 
has a ruff or fringe of long pointed feathers, like a cock's 
hackles, at the bottom of the neck ; the eye is reddish, 
bright, and deeply shielded, and the head and neck give 
the bird rather the appearance of a small vulture ; and 
had it been larger, one might have supposed that it was 
a snake-killer; but for what purpose the head of so 
small a bird is so securely guarded I never could imagine. 
It is not a carrion-feeder, for the long feathery tongue 
proves it a honey-eater. They were very gregarious, 
building in small colonies. Large flocks used to visit our 
parts at irregular periods, and they then frequented the 
high gum-trees. I generally saw them in the middle of 
summer. They did not breed with us, but I remember 
seeing their nests in the small shrubs in a paddock under 
the Dandenong ranges. The leatlierhead has the most 
curious and varied call-notes, — they can hardly be called 
a song, which it would be impossible to describe with 
the pen ; a jargon of whistling, chattering, and cackling, 



THE nONEY-BIED. 141 

which can be heard nowhere but in an AustraUan 
forest. 

The Wood Swalloio was another summer migrant to 
us ; and of this bird we had two, if not three, distinct 
species common in peculiar localities. Both varieties 
used to associate, were gregarious in breeding, generally 
frequented the small open honeysuckle and shey-oak 
scrub on the edges of the swamps and plains, and I never 
met with them in the deep forests. The wood swallow 
is nearly as large as the British starling. The general 
colour of the common variety is dun-blue, light under- 
neath, with a white eyebrow ; the tail is fan-shaped, the 
middle feathers pointed, longer than the others, which 
is very apparent when the bird is on the wing. We used 
sometimes to kill this bird without the white eyebrow, 
and I fancied there were two species. The other variety 
was finer-shaped, and the breast and belly were brick- 
dust red. They were constantly on the wing, hovering 
over and dipping down on to the old honeysuckles where 
they bred. The nest and eggs resembled those of the 
European shrike. In autumn they congregated like the 
starlings at home, in great flocks on the low meadow- 
land, previous to leaving. The note was a twittering 
kind of call. I consider the wood swallow is very appro- 
priately named. 

One of the commonest of the small bush-birds through- 
out the year was the Honey-bird, or Honey-eater, and 
was met with all over the bush, among the honeysuckle- 
trees and flowering scrub. "We had two species: the 



142 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

largest, wliicli was by far tlie commonest, was about the 
size of the British yellowhammer, but longer, and not so 
thick; it was a bold-looking bird, the ground-plumage 
black, brown, and white ; a white moustache on each 
cheek, a white eye, long curved beak, and feathery 
tongue ; the wing-feathers edged with bright yellow. 
This was a noisy, restless bird, had a shrill, loud call-note, 
used to congregate in small flocks, and they often had a 
battle-royal among themselves, which much reminded me 
of many a similar scene with the old sparrows in the 
hedge-rows of the stackyards at home. The other variety 
was smaller, much duller in plumage, wanted the mous- 
tache, and had a kind of dark brown crescent on the 
breast : it was rarer, and frequented more secluded 
localities, such as deep gullies and thick tea-tree scrub. 

I have seen a species of Bee-eater, which was killed up 
the Plenty, exactly resembling the British bee-eater in 
shape, but not so large or pretty ; I never met with one 
in our parts. 

The Warty-faced Honey-eater is a very pretty bird, 
nearly as large as the English starling, of a deep black 
colour, spotted with bright yellow ; a pale red naked cere 
round the eye, and beak covered with small warts : it was 
a rare and uncertain visitant to our district ; generally 
came in large flocks ; flew high over the tree-tops, into 
which they would drop, after the manner of the waxwing 
on the rowan trees of northern Europe : they were wild 
and shy, and the call-note was a low soft whistle. 

The thirsty traveller, when wandering over these 



THE BELL-BIED. 143 

parched and arid plains in the summer, gladly hears 
the " ching-chiug " of the Bell-Urd from the tea-tree 
scrub ; for this is a sure and welcome omen that water 
is at hand. One of the greatest drawbacks from the 
pleasure of travelling through this country in the hot 
weather is the want of water. I have often walked for 
hours under a burning summer's sun without coming to 
a creek or water-hole ; and of all the pangs to endure, 
those of thirst are the most intolerable. A man need 
never starve in the bush, but I have no doubt many have 
died for want of water here. Most of the creeks and 
water-holes lie so hidden in scrub and timber, that they 
are often passed by unnoticed ; and often when we do 
come upon water, it is thick and muddy, and lukewarm 
from the rays of the sun. " But those who are parched 
with thirst do not stop ta analyze the water. In tropical 
countries there is always tropical zest as well as tropical 
flavour." I always carried one of Hall's empty pound 
powder-canisters in my pocket, which I filled when I 
came to clear water; and from their shape and size 
these make the best water-flasks I know. 

The bell-bird is about the size of the honey-eater, but 
much stouter made ; the beak is very thick and power- 
ful, and there is a red cere between it and the eye, which 
is red : the whole plumage is uniform greenish yellow. 
It is nowhere a very common bird, and is always met 
with in small colonies, in secluded places, by the side of 
creeks or water-holes, where large gum-trees are growing, 
from which they are continually flying up and down into 



144 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

the tea-tree, all the while uttering their loud, monotonous 
call-note. They breed in the tea-tree scrub, in company; 
the nest shallow, the eggs three, reddish white. 

"VYe had two species of Swift, which visited us at 
irregular periods during the summer ; the one the large 
spine-tailed swift, and the other a smaller variety, which 
rather resembles the swift at home. 

About Christmas, especially on a clear hot morning, 
a large flock of the spine-tailed swift would pay us a 
visit, stop for a day or two, disappear, and we, perhaps, 
should not see them again for ten days. Always in motion, 
hawking high in the air, screaming in wild joy, or dash- 
ing by us on the plains with the speed of an arrow, this 
is certainly one of the swiftest-flying birds in the world ; 
about the size of a starling in the body, but in the shape 
of a pear ; the wings very long and pointed, and the tail- 
feathers have each a sharp spine or prickle protruding 
from the end : the body-colour is sooty-black, the back 
and rump brocoli-brown, white towards the tail. The 
other species is much smaller, more resembling its British 
namesake; but the tail is square (without spikes), and 
the rump is white. The two species did not appear to 
associate much, and generally came to us in flocks by 
themselves on different days. We rarely saw either 
before the middle of December or after the end of March. 
I have heard that the spine-tailed swift breeds on the 
Heads and on some of the islands in Western-port Bay. 

No two birds in Australia remind the emigrant of his 
village home in the old country so much as the Swallow 



THE SWALLOW. 145 

and the Martin. Tliere is a marked resemblance between 
many of the Britisb species, and their namesakes in 
this country ; but here we have the very birds themselves, 
hawking over the creeks and plains, and forming their 
clay nests under the shingles of the bush hut, just as we 
were wont to see them skimming over the meadows and 
rivers at home, " from morn till dewy eve," or building 
under the eaves of the straw-thatched cottage in the vil- 
lage streets. We miss, however, the pretty artless twitter 
peculiar to the British bird, for the Australian swallow 
has no song. Although the severity of the winter in 
these climes is so little felt that we scarcely notice the 
advent of the summer migrants with the same joyous 
feelings that we did at home, still the first sight of this 
elegant and cheerful little bird cannot fail to bring back 
pleasing recollections to the minds of all, for of all 
birds in every clime, the swallow is, perhaps, one of man's 
most constant and faithful companions. In colour aud 
habits both birds in all respects resemble their namesakes 
at home, but they appear to be a little smallei', and I 
liave often observed both building in large decayed trees 
by the side of the swamps. The nest is formed of clay, 
lined with feathers, often of the most gorgeous colours. 
I never observed a Sand-marten out here. 

Strange to say, I never met with a single Woodpecker 
in this country, which would appear so peculiarly adapted 
to the habits of that class of birds, abounding as it does 
with such extensive forests, the old dead trees of which 
must afford shelter to millions of insects. We had two 

L 



146 EUSH WANDEEIlv'GS. 

species of Creeper, the one mucli larger than the other. 
The large variety was rather a pretty bird, with a spot of 
chestnut-red upon each cheek. In habits they much re- 
sembled the British creeper ; but the absence of the long 
thin bill peculiar to that bird, led me to consider them 
as more closely allied to the Nuthatch than the real Tree 
Creeper. 

There is no true Skylark indigenous to Australia, but 
larks have been imported from England, and turned out 
wild. It will be a cheering sound in the ear of that man 
who has but lately left his English home, the clear shrill 
note of the Skylark in this land, where no single bird has 
any one long-continued song. And as cultivation in- 
creases, the couutry will gradually become more adapted 
to the habits of the lark. Nowhere are British cage- 
birds more highly prized than in Australia, and the 
simple carol of one of our commonest home songsters, 
when heard in a foreign land, cannot fail to raise plea- 
surable emotions even in the rudest and most untutored 
mind, for it speaks a language of youth and home fami- 
liar to all. We had a large species of lark on the plains, 
something between the bunting and the real lark, which 
we called the Mounting Lark. It was a very fine bold- 
looking bird, much larger than the common bunting, 
with the long powerful legs and claws peculiar to that 
bird ; but the beak was large, and in shape resembled that 
of the lark. It was of a dark-brown colour, with black 
cheeks and breast, frequented the dry open plains, would 
run along the ground, rise high in air, drop and rise 



THE BOB IN. 147 

again, all tlie while uttering a loud wild carol, which, 
without possessing the melody of the European skylark, 
was a deep, rich, although monotonous, song. It was 
known among the shooters by the significant name of 
" Captain Flash;" was a summer migrant to our parts, 
as well as a smaller species of lark of a lighter brown 
colour, which was also found on the plains, and appeared 
to be a link between the lark and the piper. 

The Fiper was very common on all the dry plains 
during the summer, and resembled the Meadow Piper at 
home in appearance, habits, and call-note, but was 
lighter in plumage. Used to kill a large variety on the 
dead seaweed along the coast, which I considered the 
Eock Piper. 

Pive species o^Boimwere more or less common to the 
districts in which I have camped. The large black-and- 
white robin, which we also called the Magpie Sparrow, 
was the largest of all : a thick bird, larger than the Tel- 
lowhammer at home, pied black and white ; a summer 
migrant to us, and generally seen in pairs very sparingly 
dispersed about the small belts of honeysuckle on the 
edges of the plains. I never fancied this a true robin. 
The common Australian robin is smaller than its British 
namesake. The body-colour deep black, with a white 
forehead and dull-red breast. Of this bird we had three 
other varieties, the one a little larger than the last, the 
red on the breast much brighter and much more of it. 
This was often on the plains, the other more in small 
timber. We had another variety with a red forehead, 



148 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

which was not common with us, and very local. But the 
rarest of all was the purple-breasted robin, the smallest 
of all, — sooty black, with no white on the forehead, and 
a deep plum-coloured breast. This was a shy solitary 
bird, and I always found it singly in the thickest scrub. 
In habits the Australian robin resembles the home 
bird, but it has no soog. 

"We had a curious little bird which we called the 
Swallow diceum, in size and habits much resembling the 
golden-crested wren of Europe. The body colour purple- 
blue, like the swallow, with a red throat and under-tail 
coverts. It was an irregular visitant to our parts, had 
a deep loud call-note, and frequented the large gums, 
being very partial to the bunches of mistletoe which grow 
on those trees ; they are extremely difficult to see, on 
account of their small size and habits. 

Of the Wrens we had about four varieties. The Su- 
perh Warhler, or blue wren, one of the most splendid 
little birds in the colony. The Emu, or pheasant wren, 
the smallest and most curious of all the bush birds ; and 
two other species, but I am not certain whether these 
were true wrens, although we called them so. These 
latter we always found in small bushes by the edges of 
the creeks or swamps ; they were both mottled, black, and 
brown, and one had a faint but rather pretty whistle. 

The Superb Warhler is certainly rightly named, for I 
don't think there is a handsomer warbler in the world. 
This is a small bird, with a jet-black body, long fan- 
shaped tail ; the neck, shoulders, and part of the back 



THE EMU. 149 

being covered with a little cape of long feathers of the 
most splendid bright ultra-marine colour. The blue wren 
is common at all seasons throughout the whole bush, 
frequenting small scrub and old honeysuckles, and is very 
partial to tea-tree scrub by the side of creeks. The male 
has a pretty little song, which he trills out when perched 
upon an old dead log, with his family round him, — for we 
rarely saw a blue bird without four or five brown-co- 
loured birds in his company. The females and young 
birds of the year are plain dull-brown, with a light-blue 
tail, and some have a reddish throat. I do not think the 
male birds come to their full plumage till after two or 
three moults, and, like all tlie other handsome birds 
here, they are in best and hardest feather in the winter. 
The little JSmu or Fheasant Wren was the smallest 
bird in our parts, — scarcely larger in the body than a great 
bumble-bee. The whole colour is light-brown, the fea- 
thers loose and long, and the male has a pale-blue throat. 
The tail is about three times as long as the body, com- 
posed of six feathers (the middle ones much the longest) 
all clothed with fibres, after the manner of the tail-feathers 
of the native pheasant. It has very small wings, and 
weak powers of flight, — in fact, when flying it appears to 
have a difficulty in bearing its long tail. It is a busy 
little bird, and I liked much to watch a family of them 
creeping about the small scrub and heather like so many 
little field-mice. "We generally found them in small 
colonies or families, among heather, low scrub, or long 
grass on the plains and swamps : they were very hard to 



150 BUSH WAITDEEIKGS. 

rise, and wlien on the wing easily knocked down wltk a 
small bush or cap. The male has a weak but pretty- 
little song. 

I have seen two or three species of Sedge Warller in 
the reeds by the side of the creeks and swamps, and one 
used to keep up a continuous little song throughout the 
summer nights, not unlike that of the sedge bird at 
home. 

The Satin or Sliiny Boioer Bird was a rare and only 
an occasional visitant to us, generally appearing in the 
autumn and winter, and those which we saw in our 
district were principally the yellowish-green birds, some- 
times accompanied by an old black cock. The old male 
satin bird is a splendid bird, nearly as large as the jay at 
home ; the whole plumage a beautiful deep-purple glossy 
black, the eye bright-blue, the beak, which is long, thick 
white. The old males are very shy and very rare in pro- 
portion to the yellow birds. Like many of the parrots, 
the males do not come to their full purple plumage 
until after about the fourth moult ; the standard colour 
of the females and young birds being greenish-yellow, 
mottled, which in the males becomes every year chequered 
with black, till they attain their full plumage. The note 
of the satin bird is a kind of loud guttural hiss. They 
are very common in some parts oiji the ranges, and they 
come down much into the bush gardens when tlie peach 
is in bud, and when the grapes are ripe, and are at such 
times very destructive. When they came into our parts 
the yellow birds were by no means shy ; they frequented 



THE r.V^'TAIL. 151 

tlie gum trees and tea-tree scrub. They breed in thick 
tea-tree and other scrub, generally in gullies and near 
the nest ; the old birds form a sort of bower of dead 
sticks, which they ornament witli parrots' feathers, &c 
If the old male is shot the female will soon find another 
mate ; and I have shot three cock birds from one bower 
up in the Dandanong ranges. The ilesh is rather bitter, 
like that of the starling at home, and they are not much 
fancied for the table of the epicure, but often found 
their way into our bush larder. 

"We had two species of Fantail, the largest, which we 
called the Stock- Whip Bird, or shepherd's companion, had 
rather the appearance of the pied wagtail at home, but 
was much larger and thicker, of a sooty black-and-white 
colour, with a long spreading fan-shaped tail. It is a very 
lively bird, always in motion, and its attitudes are very 
elegant as it flits from tree to tree, or runs along the 
ground with outspread tail, uttering a grating call-note, 
something similar to the springing of an old watchman's 
rattle, but of course not so loud, ending with a sharp 
smack. It is common on the plains during the summer, 
often among sheep, upon whose backs I have seen them 
perched like the starling at home. They were generally 
in pairs, bred in the belts of honeysuckle and shey-oak 
on the edges of the plains, and the nest is very curiously 
formed, — a small round cvxp stuck upon the bare surface 
of a large limb, without any shelter, looking just like a 
nob or wart growing to the bark. The other variety 
was much more elegantly formed, also with a spreading 



152 BtJSH WANDERINGS. 

tail, shiny black-and-white in colour, and the throat and 
chest were faintly tinged with salmon-red. This was 
hardly so common a bird as the other, but frequented 
much the same localities. The great difference between 
the two birds lay in the shape of the beak and gape — 
the beak of the larger species resembling that of the 
swallow ; the other was more like the night-jar. They 
were both fly-catchers, but I do not think they were the 
same species. 

"We had no real wagtails in this country, but I ob- 
served our common little pied wagtail very common in 
South Africa, in the months of January and February. 

The bird which we used to call the My-catclier was 
much smaller and more common than either of the fan- 
tails, which it, however, resembled in shape and habits, 
and was pretty generally dispersed over the whole bush 
throughout the year. It was of a light variegated brown 
black-and-white colour, with a long spreading tail, and 
principally frequented the honeysuckle scrub. Its note 
was a kind of grating chatter, — loud for the size of the 
bird. "We had another variety, light chestnut-brown, 
but this was very rare with us, and I once saw a speci- 
men of this bird, pure white, but whether it was a dis- 
tinct species I am unable to say. 

Another little bird, which we called the Tretty Fly- 
catcher, very much resembled the salmon-throated fantail, 
but was much smaller, and the colour was more glossy. 
It w^as a rare and solitary bird, and I generally used to 
kill single examples in the thick scrub. 



THE CEESTED SHRIKE. 153 

The Great Shrike, or cobbler's bird, as we called it, 
was rather a common bird in our forests throughout the 
year. It is a real shrike, as large as a thrush, of a dirty- 
white and blackish-brown colour, very bold, and gene- 
rally seen singly or in pairs. It is very bold, and one or 
two were always about the bodies of the kangaroo which 
hung near the tent. It has a loud clear whistle, and is, 
I believe, an excellent cage bird. "We had a smaller 
species which we called the Stringy-harh Shrike, of a 
chestnut-and-white colour, which generally frequented 
the tea-tree scrub, and seemed more to resemble the 
thick-heads than the true shrikes : this was a summer 
migrant to us. 

The Thick-Head is a species of oriole, peculiar to thick 
scrub ; and of this we had at least two varieties. The 
one large as the bunting at home, of a uniform greyish- 
brown colour, the other much smaller, lighter in plu- 
mage, with a gray chin. The larger variety was rare with 
us. This bird derives its name, I suppose, from its thick 
chubby head. 

"We had two species of Oriole, as we called them — the 
one a little larger than the British yellowhammer, of a 
bright yellow-and-black colour, rare, and principally 
found in the tea-tree scrub. The other smaller and more 
common, of a dull yellow-and-gray colour. 

There was a bird on the ranges which we called the 
Crested Shrike, in size and shape resembling the cross- 
bill at home, and the beak was as large and powerful, 
but not crossed. The body colour was yellowish-green, 



154 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

with fine black and white markings, and a large black crest 
on the head. In the male the throat is deep black, in 
the female dull. It was not a very common bird ; gene- 
rally seen in pairs high up in the gum or stringy-bark 
trees, and the call-note rather resembled the mewing of 
a cat. 

We had no real titmice in our districts. 

The Collier's Aid bird was a pretty little bird of a 
chestnut-brown colour, with white belly and a black 
crescent round the breast. The beak was long, thin, and 
curved, and the bird bore some slight resemblance to the 
humming-bird, of which class we had no real varieties 
here, the range of these little birds being confined to 
within 40 degrees north and south of the equator. It 
was common throughout the year in the small honey- 
suckle and other scrub, but was rather local. 

"Whilst watching in the thick tea-tree scrub by the 
side of a creek for ducks, the ear is often startled by a 
loud whistle ending in a sharp smack like the loud crack 
of a whip, something like that of the stock-whip bird, 
but a great deal louder. This is the call-note of the 
CoacJi-Whip Bird, a large species of fly-catcher, nearly 
the size of a thrush, of a uniform light cinnamon-brown 
colour, with a long wedge-pointed tail and small round 
wings. I do not believe the bird is so very rare in 
favourite localities, but as it always keeps in the 
thickest tea-tree scrub it is oftener heard than seen. 
There was a smaller species, something resembling this 
bird, but which had not the same loud note, and which 



THE LITTLE WAX-BILL. 155 

I generally found in low scrub, on the edges of the 
tea-tree. 

"We come now to the finches, and the members of this 
class are small in proportion to the soft-billed and honey- 
eating birds. 

"We had three varieties of the wax-billed finch, or 
blood-bird, as they are wrongly called in the buslj, on 
account of their blood-red rumps, the real blood-bird 
being of a bright-red colour, and not met with in this 
district. The Little Wax-Bill, which was the smallest 
and commonest of all, being no larger than the liskin at 
home, of a deep-brown colour, a pointed black tail, a 
thick beak, red cere round the eye, a bright-scarlet rump, 
and a red mark over each eye. This was a gregarious 
bird, and generally met with feeding in flocks, on the 
ground, among the honeysuckles. The Guinea-Hen 
Much was larger than the last, but hardly so large as 
the linnet at home : of a dark-gray colour, striped and 
marked with black, a bright-red rump, a short dark tail, 
the feathers barred, like that of the British wren. This 
bird was usually seen in pairs, among the small shey- 
oaks and tea-tree scrub. These two species remained 
with us throughout the year. But by far the most 
elegant, and in our district the rarest of all, was the 
Spotted-sided Finch, a summer migrant to our parts, very 
similar in shape and size to the last, but of a pure white 
colour, with gray-and-black markings, six or eight deep- 
black spots on each side, a bright scarlet rump, and pale- 
red bill. This little bird was sparingly dispersed in pairs 



156 BUSH WANDEEIN&S. 

throughout the summer, over the honeysuckle and shey- 
oak scrub, where they bred, and in the autumn they 
congregated previous to leaving. The beak of all these 
birds is thick, of a reddish colour, having the appearance 
of being moulded in wax, whence their name. ]N"one of 
them had any song, but merely a call-note, or chirp. 

We had also another little BlacJc-and-White FincJi, 
something in appearance resembling the last bird, but 
of a much duller colour; with no red on the rump or 
spots on the side, and the beak was dark. It was a very 
common little bird with us, used to congregate in large 
flocks on the plains and open meadow-land, flew in jerks, 
like the wagtail at home, and appeared to remain with us 
throughout the year. 

However monotonous the call of the Diamond Sparroio 
may sound in the ears of that man who has always been 
accustomed to the rich melody of the various warblers 
that frequent the groves and thickets of Europe during 
the summer season, it brings with it a cheery welcome 
to the bushman, as the first notice of the arrival of the 
birds of summer into this part of Australia, — one of our 
earliest spring migrants. This elegant little bird fre- 
quents the large gums and honeysuckles ; generally in 
open situations, rarely in the depths of the forest, among 
the branches and leaves of which it runs after the 
manner of the British titmouse, continually uttering its 
monotonous call-note, " Twit, twit, twit," loudly and 
quickly repeated. It is a pretty little bird, about the 
size of the guinea-hen finch; the upper plumage ash- 



THE PAEEOT. 157 

gray and white, barred with black and yellow, and three 
or four small red spots ou each wing. They bred in the 
holes of the trees, and the eggs were small and white. 
Some of our spring migrants appeared to come very 
early, and I have noticed the swallow, the marten, and 
the diamond sparrow the first week in August, but the 
majority of them came to us early in September. 

The last on our list of the small bush birds, and cer- 
tainly one of the handsomest little birds in the colony, is 
the Diamond Bird, which rather resembled the last in 
shape, habits, and appearance, but was much smaller 
and prettier. It would be in vain to attempt to do 
justice, in a written description, to the vai'ied and beau- 
tiful plumage of this handsome little bird. The general 
colour, ash-grey and white, but spotted and spangled all 
over with red, yellow, orange, and black, and the tail 
coverts rich dark-red. It was very common in some 
places among the large gums in the deep forests, and we 
rarely found this bird and the diamond sparrow in the 
same localities. The habits of the two are similar, and 
the call-note of the diamond bird, although not so loud 
and pretty as that of the diamond sparrow, is very loud 
for the size of the bird. It bred in old logs, and some- 
times in a hole in the ground. It was a summer migrant 
to us, but I once saw a small flock in the winter, 

]\Iany of the birds above described bear a strong re- 
semblance to their European namesakes, so much so, in 
fact, that we can class them by their peculiarities in 
shape and general appearance. But we now come to a 



158 BUSH "V7AXDEEIKGS. 

class only found in southern climates, and whicli for 
beauty of plumage, have no rivals in the old world — the 
IBarrots, and I do not believe any country can be richer 
than this, certainly not in individuals, whatever it may 
be in varieties of this tribe of birds. At particular sea- 
sons they swarm over the whole bush, I do not know 
how many different species are met with throughout this 
country. We had about twenty kinds, more or less, 
common in our forests, and I have seen many other 
species, among them the cockatoo parrots, from other 
parts, which were strangers to us. 

The cockatoos, on account of their size, stand first on 
the list. 

The 'Black Cockatoo, or black toucan — for it has not 
the crest of the cockatoo, — is the largest of all this spe- 
cies. It is a fine bold-looking, but by no means hand- 
some bird ; the body full and round, larger than a crow ; 
the tail long and spreading ; the wings round when 
extended ; the head large, the beak very powerful ; and 
the old bird has a kind of crest which it can erect when 
angry or frightened, and which gives it a very ferocious 
appearance. The grovmd colour over all is deep-black, 
the feathers edged with yellow, which, as well as the 
spots on the tail, is much brighter in the young than in 
the old birds : the cheeks sulphur-yellow, and the tail- 
feathers spotted with the same colour. An old bird will 
measure about two foot from the beak to the end of the 
tail. The black cockatoo was common in our forests from 
about December, when the old and young birds camo 



THE wniTE coce:atoo. 159 

down from their breeding-places, aud remained with us 
during the winter. They did not breed in our neigh- 
bourhood, but I think they went to nest very early, for I 
once shot a female in May with a large egg in her. They 
principally frequent the honeysuckles, but are often in 
the large gums. The old birds are veiy shy, and have a 
loud hoarse call-note or cackle. "When they first come 
they are in large flocks, and they then always frequented 
the large honeysuckles, over the tops of which they would 
fly, or rather float through the air, with a wavering kind 
of flight, toying and playing with each other, after the 
manner of the rook at home. As the winter advanced 
they appeared to separate, and, although you hardly 
ever see a single bird, they disperse themselves much 
more generally over the forests. The young birds are 
excellent eating. Their principal food appeared to be 
large seeds and grubs, and they score the young honey- 
suckles round with their powerful beaks in search for 
these latter as if cut with a knife. 

There is another variety of this bird, the tail-feather 
spotted with red. I only knew of two specimens being 
killed in our district, but I believe it is not uncommon 
near the Head, 

I believe there is a third variety, the tail barred with 
red, which is very rare. This I never saw. 

The White Cockatoo is very common in many parts, 
where they congregate in immense flocks ; and I have 
seen a large patch of meadow ground covered with them 
like a sheet of snow. They were comparatively rare in 



160 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

our districts, and I never saw them in large flocks ; but 
an odd pair or two used yearly to breed in our forests. 
The white cockatoo is a handsome bird, as large in the 
body as the last, but the tail is very short, and it has, 
consequently, a much rounder and thicker appearance, 
especially when on the wing. The whole body is pure 
white, and the crest, which is very long, sulphur-yellow, 
and the wings are tinged with yellow underneath. It is 
a very wary shy bird, and the call-note nothing more 
than a loud hoarse scream. Although apparently wilder 
in the bush than the black cockatoo, it is much oftener 
seen as a cage bird. They are excellent eating, and 
when stufl"ed and roasted in the same way, can hardly 
be known from a duck. I recollect we used to cook 
wood-pigeons at home so, and, when eaten with the fen- 
man's duck sauce, a little port wine, cayenne pepper, 
and a slice of lemon, we could not tell them from 
widgeon. 

There is a variety of the white cockatoo with rose- 
coloured crest, but this I never saw here. 

The most curious looking of all the species is the 
Yan Kate, a bird nearly as large as the white cockatoo, 
of a dirty-white colour, the shafts and under parts of the 
feathers, and the down rose-coloured. It had no crest, 
and the beak was not like that of the other cockatoos, 
for the upper mandible projected with a kind of tliin 
liook, more than an inch long, over the under one, which, 
with the large bare cere round the eye, gives the bird a 
znost grotesque old-fashioned appearance. It was not 



THE SCAELET LOWJiT. 161 

very common, and I generally used to find them iu pairs 
among the stringy -bark trees, but I have occasionally 
seen them in small flocks. They are very shy, and it is 
difficult to get -within gunshot of them. When disturbed, 
they would take a long flight round and round, making 
the forest re-echo with tlieir loud call-note, " kakadua, 
kakadua," often and quickly repeated. 

We had a species of small cockatoo, which we called 
the Corella ; the body was grey, tinted with yellowish 
green, and the male had a long, thin, crimson crest. In 
the female, the crest is yellow. It was not quite so large 
as the African grey parrot, which it much resembled in 
shape. They were only occasional visitants to our parts, 
and I always saw them in pairs. 

By far the finest parrot that I have seen in Australia, 
is the King Parrot, which was, however, very rare iu 
our forests, and what few I killed were principally im- 
mature birds, for the king parrot, like the satin-bird and 
fche scarlet lowry, does not attain its fall plumage until 
after the third or fourth moult. Although rare with us 
in certain places they are as common as the red lowry, 
which bird it seemed, as far as I could see, to resemble 
much in habit, and I think they are of the same species. 
The king parrot is not much less than the magpie at 
home. The plumage of an old male is a dark green 
body, with flaming red breast. The females and young 
birds are much duller in plumage. 

Although not so large a bird, I think an old male 
Scarlet Lowry quite as splendid in plumage as the king 



162 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

parrot. It is next in size to this bird ; the whole colour 
of a gorgeous deep red, the feathers edged with black, 
and the wing-feathers and tail have a dark purple shade. 
It is a magnificent parrot, and, as they float through the 
forest, they strike the eye like a flame of fire. The 
male and female are alike in plumage, but the female is 
smaller, and the tints much duller. Por the first two or 
three seasons, the immature birds are greenish yellow, 
and they then go in flocks, and feed much upon the 
ground about the homestead, in company with the 
rosella. These are called the " green lowry," and they 
were the tamest of all the parrots. The red lowry was by 
no means rare in our forests, pretty generally dispersed 
over all, and they much frequented the gum-trees and 
scrub near water. All the parrots draw much down to 
the creeks and water-holes, where they are very fond of 
washing. Sometimes the scarlet lowry are seen in small 
flocks ; sometimes, but rarely, they associate with the 
green, but we generally see them in pairs, male and 
female, by themselves. It is by no means a shy bird, and 
feeds principally on seeds. 

The Rosella, when full plumaged, is a handsome bird, 
and is known in England better than any of the others, 
as the common cage-parrot from this countr}-. The 
ground-colour is green, prettily variegated with red, 
yellow, and white ; the head and throat crimson, and it is 
nearly as large as the lowry. It was very common 
throughout the whole bush, in particular localities. Unlike 
the other parrots, I do not think the rosellas migrate 



THE BLUE MOITNTAINEEE. 163 

much, but keep about the localities where they are bred. 
"We generally saw them in small flocks, and they were 
sure to be about the little bush-farms. It much re- 
sembles the lowry in shape, habits, and flight ; but, un- 
like that bird, is often seen feeding on the ground ; and 
it is altogether a tamer and more domestic kind of bird. 
The male and female are alike in plumage, but the male 
is much the handsomest. 

One of the most dashing of all the parrots is the Blue 
Mountaineer, which, unlike the three last, is ahoney-eater. 
On this account, the blue mountain parrots are certain 
migrants to and from different districts, and their migra- 
tions are regulated by the state of the blossoms of the 
gum and honeysuckles, upon which they feed ; not that 
they ever entirely left our forests, for I rarely went out 
at any time without seeing a pair or so. But the large 
flocks of them only come at such times as the trees are 
full of honey, and depart as suddenly as they come. 
The blue mountaineer is a splendid parrot : body sea- 
green, head lavender-blue, the breast beautifully mottled 
and watered with red, yellow, and orange ; the tail green 
and sharp pointed, the middle feathers longest, but 
altogether much shorter than in the other species ; the 
wing-feathers with each a large spot of yeUow, and the 
under- wing coverts flaming red, which gives the birds a 
splendid appearance as they dash through the forests, like 
lightning, screaming as they go in all the wild joy of their 
native freedom. They are always in larger or smaller 
flocks, do not associate with the other parrots, and are never 
m: 2 



164! BUSH WANDERINGS. 

seen feeding on the ground. Although each one is dif- 
ferent after its kind, it would be hard to say which was 
the handsomest bird, if an old full-plum aged male of each 
of these four parrots were laid before one on a table. They 
are capital eating, and, as they come in good flocks, are 
much sought after " for the pot." They have a loud, 
grating, hoarse scream when flying ; and during their 
migrations I often used to see immense flocks pass over 
high in air ; in fact, this and the little green paroqueet 
seem to fly higher than any other birds in the colony. 

"We had a curious ground parrot, common in the long 
grass in the plains, on the heather, and often in low 
tea-tree scrub (sometimes up to the knees in water) 
called the Swamp Parrot. I have heard some very 
learned ornithologists call it the Pheasant GucTcoo, which 
I consider a very far-fetched name. The tail certainly is 
shaped like that of the common pheasant, and it is 
barred, and here the resemblance ends ; but in what 
respect this bird resembles the cuckoo, I never could 
make out, seeing that it lives on the ground, has the 
beak of the tree-parrot, and the call-note is nothing 
more than a faint twitter. The swamp-parrot is an 
elegant bird, both in shape and plumage ; nearly as large 
as the rosella, but not so plump. The ground colour, 
light sea-green ; every feather of three colours, green, 
black, and yellow ; a long pointed tail, the feathers 
barred with black and yellow, and a red forehead. The 
shape of the beak, head, and body, is that of the parrot. 
But the legs are long and bare ; the claws long, straight, 



THE GEEEN PAEOQUEET. 165 

and pointed. In fact, it is a tree-parrot with the foot of 
the lark. It lives on the ground (but I have seen them 
perch on the tea- tree scrub), runs much and quickly, is 
hard to rise, flies in jerks, goes away very sharp before 
a wind, and is very pretty shooting, rising from the grass 
and heather. We used to find them during the whole 
year, frequenting different localities at different times ; 
and although they could scarcely be said to flock, I 
generally rose three or four on the same spot. Dogs 
will set them like quail. 

Another splendid parrot is the Green Leek, and this 
was by far the rarest of all the species with us ; for I 
only knew of one example being killed, and this was an 
old bird, on a dry sandy rise near a swamp. It is about 
the size of the last, which it rather resembled in shape ; 
but the beak is larger, and the tail not so long. The 
body colour is dark leek-green, the head yellow, the 
throat and breast orange and yellow. I know very little 
of its habits, but I believe it is common on the stringy 
and iron bark ranges. 

The commonest of all the paroqueets is the common 
Green Paroq^ueet, which in shape and habits rather 
resembled the blue mountaineer, with which bird they 
much associated. They were both honey-eaters, and 
their migrations were regulated by the same causes. 
Although in general much commoner than the blue 
mountaineer, at certain times they would disappear 
altogether from the forest, and then again come " not 
as single spies, but in battalions." This bird is about 



166 BUSH WANBEEINGS. 

half tlie size of tlie mountain parrot, of a bright green 
colour, the back light brown, yellow shoulders, and red 
under the tail, which is short and pointed. These and 
the blue mountaineers were the only two species that 
seemed to associate in flocks. It is a sharp-flying little 
bird, has a shrill scream ; generally frequented the 
gums ; and it was pretty to watch them, creeping like 
mice among the bunches of blossoms, when feeding. 
They were very rarely on the ground under the trees. 
They are very plump, and excellent eating. 

"We had a smaller species of this paroqueet which 
resembled it in all respects, but it was only half as large, 
and much rarer. They used to associate. 

All the parrots come into their best plumage about 
May, remain so till December, when they begin to get 
dull and ragged. The birds in this country appear to 
moult but once in the year, just after the breeding 
season, and are a long time before they come into good 
plumage. 'No birds here are of much value to the 
collector, from the beginning of December till the end of 
April. 

Owing to the dense foliage of the trees, the brilliant 
plumage of the birds in the Australian forests does not 
strike the eye, as might at first be supposed ; and as is 
the case with the small flowers, it is not until they are 
collected and closely examined that one sees how beau- 
tiful they are. 

The swift Flying Loriqiieet was by far the handsomest 
of our common paroqueets, and stands in the same rela- 



THE SHELL PAEOQTJEET. 167 

tion to them as the blue mountaineer does to the parrots. 
In fact, there is a resemblance between the two birds in 
shape, flight, and habits. The loriqueet is smaller than 
tlie green paroqueet, but much finer made ; and the two 
middle feathers of the tail are long and pointed, project- 
ing beyond the others, which gives the bird a very sharp 
appearance. The plumage is green, prettily marked with 
blue and red; the shoulders are crimson, and the tail 
faint rose coloured. It was an uncertain visitant to our 
forests ; seemed to be the most common in the beginning 
of winter ; but at irregular periods all through the year, 
except in the very heart of the breeding season, large 
flocks would come down into the timber. This bird is 
rightly named ; for, as they dash through the forest, they 
fly almost with the speed of the spine-tailed swift. Eoth 
this and the green paroqueet are honey-eaters. 

Very few of the parrots breed with us. I have taken 
the nest of the rosella out of a hollow tree ; eggs three, 
and white. I found the eggs of the swamp parrot, four, 
white, and more oblong than those of the other species, 
which are generally round, on the ground, among the 
heather ; and I took the eggs of one of the ground paro- 
queets out of a hollow tree ; but I do not think any of the 
others breed in our forests, except perhaps an odd pair or 
so of mountaineers. I do not fancy any of the parrots 
are gregarious in breeding, but that they breed in odd 
pairs, generally dispersed over the forests. 

Occasionally, but very rarely, a flock of the Budgere 
Gar, or Sihell J?aroqueet, would pay us a visit; and I 



168 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

recollect, in the middle of the summer 1854, our gum- 
trees swarmed with them. They stayed about a month, 
when they suddenly disappeared, and only an odd strag- 
gler or so has been since seen in our district. I should 
say that this is the handsomest paroqueet in the colony, 
and is well known at home, as a cage-bird, by the name 
of the zebra paroqueet. It is smaller than the loriqueet, 
which it rather resembles in shape. The ground colour is 
light sea-green, prettily striped, and variegated with yellow 
and black ; a light yellow forehead, and three or four- 
deep purple spots on each cheek. But it is impossible 
to do justice to the beauties of this class of birds in 
a pen-and-ink sketch. The shell paroqueet is very 
common on the Adelaide side. 

"We now come to the Ground Paroq^ueets, and these 
can be easily distinguished from the others by their long 
thin legs, straighter claws, and smaller beaks ; and they 
can all run well upon the ground, which the other species 
cannot. "We had, I think, two varieties of common 
ground paroqueets, which were always in flocks on the 
plains or in the heather, often under the large honey- 
suckles, and they appeared to remain with us throughout; 
the year. Unlike the swamp parrot, these little birds 
fly much into the trees, although they always feed upon 
the ground. They are smaller than the loriqueet, of a 
light green above and bright yellow below ; the tail long 
and pointed, yellow underneath. One variety had blue 
on the forehead. The other was a duller and plainer bird. 

But the Bed-sJioiildered Grou7id Faroqiieet was by far 






THE CRAKE. 169 

the prettiest of all, and this was a regular summer 
migrant to our parts, and generally seen in pairs or small 
flocks, of four to six in the forest, feeding on the ground, 
on dry sandy rises, under cherry-trees or small gums. 
The general plumage of this paroqueet is green and 
yellow, and it has a dark red spot upon each shoulder. 

The lowan, the emu, the wild turkey, and the native 
pheasant have already been described. 

My list of game birds includes the sis species of 
quail, the pigeons, the snipe, plovers, native com- 
panion, coot, moorhen, dabchick, bittern, herons, white 
cranes, egret, nankeen crane, spoonbill, and ibis. 

I have already described the large crake peculiar to 
Port Philip ; but we had two smaller varieties, which, 
although they in habits mucb resembled the water-rail, 
were, in my opinion, true crakes, and I considered them 
identical with the spotted and lesser crakes of Europe. 
They both frequented the long grass by the edges of the 
lagoons and swamps, were local, but by no means rare ; 
I think the lesser crake was the most common, and I 
rarely met with both in the same localities. 

The dark variety much resembled the spotted crake of 
Europe in shape and plumage. It was larger than the 
other, the beak longer, and dark green, the eye vermillion, 
eye-lids and legs red ; the head was chesnut red. I used 
to kill two varieties ; in one the head was dark, but as it 
resembled the other in every respect otherwise, I fancied 
it was the same bird in a different state of plumage. 

The lesser variety was lighter in plumage and smaller 



170 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

than the lesser crake of Europe, and I should fancy must 
be the smallest wader in the world ; the beak was light 
green, red at the root ; the legs green, the eye reddish, 
the eyelid dark. I rarely saw either on the wing ; they 
would run among the tussocks of swamp-grass like mice, 
and the dogs often chopped them. 

I cannot say that I ever identified a true water-rail 
out here. 

A species of dunlin, or small stint, came in the autumn 
on to our plains in large flocks, but I never saw them in 
the breeding season. It much resembled the British 
dunlin, and I fancy we had two if not three varieties ; 
at any rate, the specimens I killed used to diifer very 
much in size and plumage. 

Occasionally, but rarely, I have killed a bird in every 
respect resembling the European long-legged stilt, with 
a beautiful red eye. I always found solitary examples, 
generally standing in the shallow water at the edges of 
the lagoons. 

"We had a species of large wader, which I fancied 
rather resembled our bar-tailed godivit. It was known 
among the shooters by the name of the sea-snipe ; light 
grey and mottled. I generally found them singly or 
in pairs, both along the coast and in the marshes ; it had a 
loud, long, single call-note, which I often used to hear 
after dark. 

The smallest of all the stints with us was a little light- 
plumaged bird, with a chestnut head ; it was not nearly 
so large as the English Kentish plover, and used to 



THE CEAKE. 171 

congregate in the autumn in focks, often on the sea- 
beach, and on the sandy shores of those lagoons that lay- 
near the sea. 

I now and then killed a large grey sandpiper, by itself, 
on the coast, nearly as large as the^ dotterel ; I never 
saw them in flocks, and with us they were wild and shy, 
and always singly on the beach. 

A small species of plover frequented the sandy margins 
of certain lagoons, and although I generally found single 
birds, I have met with them in small flocks. "We called 
it the bull-eyed plover; it was a true plover, rather 
larger than the ring dotterel, which it resembled in call- 
notes and habits, and had a red arc round the eye. 

I did not consider this district nearly so rich in num- 
bers or varieties of the smaller waders as the wild marshy 
nature of the country would lead us to expect ; nor were 
the coasts at all rich in sea-fowl ; it is true I paid but 
little attention to the smaller water-birds, for when 
beating the swamps or up and down the sea-coast I was 
after larger game ; but I generally noted every bird that 
I saw, and certainly here I met with much fewer birds 
than I used to fall in with when coast-shooting in Eng- 
land; doubtless there are many other species which I 
overlooked, and I should certainly recommend the 
Australian naturalist to pay attention to this class of 
birds; for no country in the world is more fitted to 
their habits, and both the crakes and some others of the 
smaller species which I killed appeared to be but little 
known here. 



172 BUSn WANDERINGS. 

We liad two species of avocet, as we used to call 
both ; but one was not a true avocet, for though it 
resembled the real avocet in shape and in the peculiar 
formation of the feet, the bill was straight, and the body- 
mantle was light red instead of black ; the real avocet 
exactly resembled its British namesake in colour, but 
had not the large white spot on the wings peculiar to 
that bird. Both species used to come on to our coasts at 
uncertain times; used occasionally to associate; but I 
think the real avocet was the most common. 

Of the Grehes, besides the dabchick, we now and then 
killed a large crested grebe in the bay, but this I never 
saw inland. I never myself saw the snake-necked grebe 
here, although I have seen a specimen in Melbourne, 
said to have been killed in the neighbourhood. 

"We had neither the mei'ganser or goosander here that 
I know of. 

The black swan, the two wild geese, and nine species of 
wild duck, have already been described in my list of 
game birds. 

We now come to the gulls and terns, and of these 
birds again our coasts were rich neither in numbers nor 
varieties. 

Of the gulls, I could only identify three species in our 
district: the great black-backed gull, the lesser black- 
backed gull, and the common, or, as we called it, the 
pigeon-gull, with a white eye ; all these resembled their 
British namesakes in habits and appearance, and perhaps 
the pigeon-gull was the commonest. "We had, however, 



THE OYSTER CATCHEE. 173 

a large, dark-grey mottled bird on our coast, wliich I 
used to take for tlie young of tlie great black-backed 
gull; this and the young of the common gull were 
excellent eating. 

I am only certain about three terns : the large Cas- 
pian, the common, and the black terns ; and these all 
appeared exactly like the European birds. I have killed 
another species, something like the roseate tern, and I 
have heard of a smaller tern, about half the size of the 
common tern, which I never killed. Both the common 
and Caspian tern used to frequent our coasts, and the 
large Caspian tern was by no means rare ; I used to 
shoot the black tern on the swamps and plains, where 
they would come occasionally in large flocks, especially 
in the autumn ; but I never saw them hero in the 
summer, and our coasts afibrded no suitable breeding 
places for the other species. 

The Oyster- catcher, or Sea Magpie, as we called it, was 
by no means rare on these coasts. It was just as noisy 
and restless a bird as its British namesake, which it 
appeared to resemble in all respects. 

At times, when a large shoal of small fry set into the 
bay, hundreds of Gannet would follow them, dashing 
down headlong into the water, exactly as we used to see 
them on the north coasts of Britain. The gannets here 
appeared to resemble the British bird in all respects, 
but I fancy the chestnut on the head was darker, and 
did not extend so far. The young birds of the year 
are mottled, after the manner of the young gannets at 



174 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

home. The eye of the mature bird is transparent yellow 
white. Once while walking along this beach, an im- 
mense bird, as large as an albatross, flew by me. I could 
not get a shot at it, and I never before or since saw so 
large a sea-bird on these coasts. 

"We had two species of Cormorant, — the large one more 
like the shag than the cormorant at home ; but it had no 
crest, and the colour was not bright. The smaller species, 
which we called the diver, had a white breast, and fre- 
quented creeks and inland lagoons, often very far away 
from the sea-coast. 

The Curlew was at times common on our coasts, 
generally in small flocks, but I never, in the breeding or 
at any other season, met with them inland in our district. 
Although there were many miles of barren moorlands in 
the neighbourhood of the beach, they had not the cha- 
racter of those wild moors on which I have seen this bird 
breeding at home. The Australian curlew is very like 
its European namesake. The call-note is exactly the 
same. And when the sea was going down after a heavy 
autumnal gale, which had driven the birds on shore, I 
used to enjoy a walk by the sea-side ; for at such a time 
the long melancholy wail of tlie curlew, the shrill cry of 
the oyster-catcher, the loud hoarse bark of the large gull, 
all blending with the wild whistle of the wind, and the 
regular unbroken roll of the surf as it set in upon the 
shingly beach, would strike the ear like rich and varied 
music, although played upon nature's rudest and wildest 
chords. 



1 



THE MUTTON PETEEL. 175 

I cannot say that ever I saw a true wliimbrel out 
here. 

The Pelican was not rare on the mud flats of either of 
these bays, but I never saw them on the sandy beach. 
It is the largest sea-bird on these coasts ; the body colour 
pure white, the pinion feathers deep black ; the beak long 
and broad, and the pouch large enough to hold a man's 
head. They are easily crept up to when sitting half 
asleep on a sea-bank, but they are of little value to the 
gunner, and it is therefore a pity to shoot them ; for they 
give an interesting wildness to the scenery on these 
coasts, whether when passing at evening with motionless 
and expansive flight over the mud flats to their feeding- 
grounds, or when far out at sea they float buoyantly on 
the surface of the water, rising and falling with every 
billow. 

"We had a small species of penguin in our bays, which, 
although rarely to be seen on the water, was often washed 
up dead on the beach ; it was not more than half the 
size of the king penguin, so common on the coast of 
Africa, which it exactly resembled in shape and texture 
of plumage ; but the body colour was shiny blue above, 
white underneath. 

The Petrels close my list ; and of this bird we had, as 
far as I could see, three varieties. The Mutton-Urd^ 
which was the largest of all, nearly the size of a pigeon, 
of an uniform dark dun colour ; a smaller variety as to 
blue and white; and the common little storm petrel, 
smallest of all. Strange to say, I never myself killed a 



176 BUSH WANDEKIKGS. 

single variety of either on these coasts ; and all the 
specimens I found were washed up on the beach dead. 
Often after a heavy westerly gale, I have picked up a 
dozen of the small birds on the coast, and I never could 
make out what killed them, unless they were beaten 
down by the violence of the storm. The blue-winged 
variety was rare, and I only met with two specimens of 
the mutton-bird in our bay. But there are islands some- 
where off the Heads where both these birds must breed 
in immense quantities, for boat loads of the eggs of the 
mutton-bird are brought sometimes in the season up to 
Melbourne for sale, and dried mutton-birds are a staple 
article of commerce on some of these coasts. I have seen 
more than a hundred dozen of the blue variety brought 
in dead by one fishing boat. 

So much for the different birds that I met with out 
here, and I do not believe many more species are to be 
found in this district, although I have, no doubt, omitted 
some. My list will give a pretty good general idea of 
the ornithology of Port Phillip, and this is all that it pro- 
fesses to do. This part of the country is certainly not a 
first-rate station for a collection, as most of the prettiest 
and rarest Australian birds, such as some of the parrots, 
the rifleman, the regent-bird, and many others, are 
strangers here. But the only way to obtain a knowledge 
of the natural history of any country is to compare the 
notes of naturalists kept in different districts, good or 
bad ; and when one looks upon the map, and sees what 
a mere speck the district which I have been describing 



S^^AKES AND REPTILES. 177 

appears upon the face of sucli a laud as Australia, it will 
be easily seen that no one man, by his own unaided re- 
search, could ever obtain a knowledge of the ornithology 
of this country. Small as was my limit, and barren as 
it might have been when compared with other districts, 
I was always finding something new ; and I have no 
doubt, were I to go over the same ground again, I 
should fall in with very many things that I had over- 
looked ; for as one of our best field naturalists — "White, 
of Selborne — well observes, " It is with zoology as in 
botany ; all nature is so full, that that district produces 
the greatest variety which is most examined." 

I have hereafter noticed the snakes and the principal 
ireptiles here. Thousands of small frogs inhabit the 
swamps, and afford an unlimited supply of food to the 
different aquatic birds. "We had three or four different 
species ; none, however, large. The commonest of all 
was a very little frog, bright green, which used to sit 
upon the caudock leaves and rushes, uttering a most 
melancholy croak. But the deep regular clock of the 
bull-frog, as we used to call it — which, by the way, is 
a very small fellow for the noise he makes — is the 
deepest and loudest of all. The frogs appear to come 
into the swamps as soon as they fill ; and I recollect one 
year, when the swamps filled early, they first croaked 
about April, which is the autumn here ; and at the same 
time I observed the fry of some small fish in one of the 
lagoons. We had a curious-looking tree-frog, light yellow 
brown, with very long legs, which lived in the bark of the 



178 BTTSH WANDEEINGS. 

dead trees : the note resembled the setting of a saw, 
and we called it the carpenter-frog. I never recollect 
seeing a toad out here ; nor did I ever notice a water- 
newt in any of our swamps or water-holes. Leeches 
abound in the streams and swamps : we used to catch 
them by throwing a sheep-skin into the water, and 
upon taking it up it Avas covered. We could sell them 
for a shilling a dozen. 

I am nothing of an entomologist ; but I was surprised 
tha.t we saw so very few pretty butterflies out here. I 
only knew three or four species, and these were nothing 
extraordinary. The prettiest variety was one white, red, 
and yellow, which flew about the gum-trees. At times, 
a great cloud of moths, as large as small birds, would 
invade our t^nt in the evening, attracted by the light ; 
they were remarkable, however, for nothing but their 
size. In the early summer, swarms of locusts, resem- 
bling a handsome beetle more than the locust of Egypt, 
settled on the gum-trees ; and the whole forest would 
ring with their loud monotonous drone. Grasshoppers 
of different species cover the ground in the dry summer 
weather ; and thousands of mole-crickets live in holes on 
the plains. The most curious insect here is the prayiiig 
mantis, a species of grasshopper, with wings like leave-;, 
about six inches long. There is a very handsome species 
of wasp, which used to come into our forests in the early 
spring, and burrow into the sand. I do not believe there 
is any native honey-bee in Australia ; but swarms of the 
common domestic bees yearly leave their hives and fly 



SNAKES AND REPTILES. 179 

into the forests, and there is now plenty of honey to be 
found in the old hollow gum trees. These forests abound 
in beetles, of various species and colours ; and I have no 
doubt a man might soon get a fine collection of the 
coleoptera, by poking about the old rotten trees and dead 
wood which strew the ground, 

I have often regretted that I knew nothing of botany. 
Although the wild-flowers here are not so large and 
gaudy as we generally see them in a southern land, it is 
when collected in a nosegay that their beauties strike 
the eye ; and it is only then that we can form any idea 
of the delicate and varied tints of the little wild flowers 
which we pass by unheeded when growing on the plains 
and in the forests here. Some of the heaths and grasses 
are very fine ; but there is a great absence of large wild- 
flowers in Australia. 

Of course, such a country as Australia must present 
a wide field to the naturalist, let his particular taste be 
■what it may ; and the further we go back from the 
peopled districts, the more rare and, as yet, undis- 
covered species, especially of plants and insects, will 
be brought to light. These two branches of the natural 
history of such a country as this, must be only in their 
infancy ; and it was always a matter of surprise to me 
that so much is already known of the general Fauna of 
this land ; and I cannot close my slight sketch of the 
ornithology of this country, without paying a compli- 
ment to the perseverance and research of Mr. Gould, 
whose splendid work, which is, unfortunately, beyond 
N 2 



ISO BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

the reach of the field naturalist, is a pretty good proof 
of the attention he must have bestowed upon the sub- 
ject. During the last three years, 1 believe only about 
two birds unnoticed by him have been discovered. As 
to myself, I was never lucky enough to fall in with a 
single new bird ; and often have I been disappointed, in 
ray early days of collecting here, when I have taken up 
a specimen which was new to me, and showed it to an 
old collector, by his quiet remark, " Oh, yes ; I know this 
bird well : it is very common in such a district." 

The collector here has many difficulties to contend 
with : he w- ill be able to procure very little assistance ; 
must depend almost entirely upon his own exertions ; 
and unless he has some small capital, will not be able to 
give his sole attention to a pursuit which yields but little 
present emolument. I had to procure my daily bread by 
my gun ; collecting was with me only a secondary con- 
sideration ; and I was always obliged to be camped in 
the settled districts, within reach of a market for my 
game. 

Collecting is not a profitable occupation; and this 
is hardly yet a country where men care to give up 
their time solely for the sake of benefiting science. But 
there are now many able and zealous naturalists at work, 
and Melbourne can boast of a museum, raised within the 
last three years, that is a credit to the curators. Very 
few bushmen or settlers care anything about the natural 
history of the country. A mob of cattle or a flock of 
sheep are naturally of more interest to the squatter or 



LIST OF akim:ais and bieds. 



ISl 



stock-rider than any rare animal or bird that he may- 
chance to fall in with during his daily rides ; and the 
only specimen that possesses much value in the eyes of 
most of the colonists at the present day, is a lump of 
quartz well inlaid with gold. 



List of the Animals, Bieds, Eeptiles, and Pisn, 
noticed in these 'pages. 



ANIMALS. 



Kangaroo. 

WaUaby. 

Wild Dog. 

Native Bear. 

Wombat. 

Opossum. 

Eing-tail. 

Large Flying Squirrel. 

Little Sugar Squirrel. 

Tiger-Cat. 



Native Cat. 
Flying Mouse. 
Kangaroo Hat. 
Bandicote. 
Bush Rat. 
Beaver Eat. 
Platypus. 
Spiny Ant-eater. 
Bats (3 species). 
Fur Seal. 



Eagle Hawk. 

White Fishing Hawk 

Peregrine. 

Hobby. 

Merlin. 

Blue Falcon. 

Kestrel. 

White Kestrel. 

White Goshawk, 

Sparrow Hawk. 

Musquito Hawk. 

Harrier. 



BIRD S. 

Marsh Harrier. 
Swamp Hawk. 
Kite. 

Carrion Hawk. 
Large Owl. 
White Owl. 
Yellow Owl. 
Grey Owl. 
Brown Owl. 
Little Brown Owl. 
Morepoke. 
Little Morepoke. 



182 



BUSH -VVAKDEEINGS. 



Night-jar. 


Brown Wren (2 species). 


Laughing Jackass. 


Sedge Warbler (2 species) 


Sacred Kingfisher. 


Satin-bird. 


Kingfisher. 


Stockwhip-bird. 


Magpie. 


Fantail. 


Black-backed Magpie. 


Fly-catcher (2 species). 


Blue Jay (2 species). 


Great Shrike. 


Swamp Magpie. 


Stringy-bark Shrike. 


Carrion Crow (2 species). 


Thickhead (2 species). 


Blue-eyed Crow. 


Oceole (2 species). 


Mocking-bird. 


Crested Shrike. 


Large Grey Cuckoo, 


Cobbler's-awl Bird. 


Common Cuckoo. 


Coachwhip-bird (2 species). 


Bronze Cuckoo. 


Wax-billed Finch (4 species). 


Summer-bird. 


Diamond Sparrow. 


Miner. 


Diamond-bird. 


Green Thrush. 


Black Cockatoo (2 species). 


Grey Thrush. 


White Cockatoo. 


Mountain Thrush. 


Yan Kate. 


Wattle-bird. 


Corolla. 


Eedwing. 


King Parrot. 


Leatherhead. 


Lowry (2 species). 


Wood Swallow (2 species). 


Eosella. 


Honey -bird' (3 species). 


Blue Mountaineer. ' 


Bell-bird. 


Green Leek. 


Spine-tailed Swift, 


Swamp Parrot. 


Common Swift. 


Ground Paroqueet (2 species). 


Swallow. 


Bed-shouldered Paroqueet. 


Marten. ■ 


Swift-flying Paroqueet. 


Mounting Lark. 


Common Green Paroqueet 


Small Lark. 


(2 species). 


Meadow Pepit, 


Zebra Paroqueet. 


Kock Pepit. 




Kobin (5 species). 


Game Birds. 


Swallow Diceum. 


Emu, 


Blue Wren. 


Wild Turkey, 


Emu Wren, 


Lowan, 



LIST OF BIRDS, ETC. 



183 



Native Pheasant. 

Black Swan. 

Magpie Goose. 

Cape Barron Goose, 

Mountain Duck. 

Black Duck. 

Wood Duck. 

Pochard. 

Whistle-wing. 

Shoveller. 

Teal. 

Musk Duck. 

Coot. 

Dabchick. 

Water-hen. 

Bittern (2 species). 

Heron. 

Purple Heron. 

White Crane (2 species). 

Little Egret. 

Spoonbill. 

Straw-necked Ibis. 

Nankeen Crane. 

Spotted Bittern. 

Native Companion. 

Bronze-wing Pigeon. 

Scrub Pigeon. 

Ground Dove. 

Crowned Pigeon. 

Snipe. 

Landrail. 

Painted Snipe. 

Common Quail (2 species). 

Scrub Quail. 



Painted Quail, 

Nuthatch Quail, 

King Quail. 

Silver Quail. 

Spur-wing Plover, 

Plover of the Plains, 

Golden Plover. 

Stone Curlew. 

Spotted Crake. 

Lesser Crake, 

Dunlin. 

Black and White Stilt. 

Small Stint. 

Sea Snipe. 

Large Sandpipers. 

Bull-eyed Plover. 

Curlew. 

Avocet (2 species). 

Crested Grebe. 

Great black-backed Gull. 

Lesser black-backed Gull, 

Common Gull. 

Caspian Tern. 

Common Tern, 

Black Tern, • 

Oyster-catcher. 

Ganuefc, 

Cormorant, 

Diver. 

Pelican. 

Penguin. 

Mutton-bird. 

Petrel. 

Little Stormy Petrel. 



184 



BUSn WANDEEINGS. 



REPTILES AND INSECTS. 



Black Snake. 


Tarantula. 


Carpet Snake. 


Leech. 


Whip Snake. 


Blowflies. 


Deaf Adder. 


Ants. 


Guana. 


Musquito. 


Sleeping Lizard. 


Sand-fly. 


Bloodsucker. 


Locust. 


Common Lizard. 


Mole-cricket. 


Bull-frog. 


Wasp. 


Green Frog. 


Butterflies. 


Carpenter-frog. 


Moths. 


Centipede. 


Praying Mantis. 


Scorpion. 


Grasshoppers. 


ris] 


SES. 


Eel. 


Herring. 


Brim. 


Mullet. 


Black-fish. 


Murray Cod. 


Trout. 


Fresh-water Cray-fish 


SEA 


FISH. 


Snapper. 


Fiddler. 


Flat-head. 


Flounders. 


Sea Pike. 


Butter-fish. 


Garfish. 


Jelly-fish. 


Salmon. 


Cuttle-fish. 


Salmon Trout. 


Star-fish. 


Cray-fish. 


Crabs. 


Oyster. 


Toad-fish. 


Shrimp. 


Porcupine-fish. 


Dog-fish. 


Mutton-fish. 


Shark. 


Limpets. 


Benito. 


Saw-fish, 


Stingoree. 


Shells. 



NOTICES OS SHOOTING. 185 



CHAPTEE X. 

NOTICES ON SHOOTING — SUGGESTIONS FOE THE PEESEEVATION OF 
THE GAME — THE DOGS OF THE NATIVES AND BUSH DOGS. 

NowHEEE do we see better guns out in the field than 
here, and a man is not known among the shooters by bis 
personal description, but by his gun : " Used to shoot 
with an old double Joe Manton ;" " Had a long single 
Eigby ;" or, " Shot with my Purday gun ;" was the 
manner of speech by which a stranger was recognized 
among our mob. Any one who keeps his eyes open has 
every chance of picking up a good gun here cheap, for 
nearly every emigrant brings one out with him, often a 
first-class gun, perhaps an old family relic, or the parting- 
gift of some old sporting friend ; and this is generally 
the first thing that goes when he becomes hard up on 
lauding. I suppose it is owing to a different class of 
men coming out, but I have remarked that we do not 
see so many first-rate guns brought into the colony now 
as formerly. 

There are several good gunmakers in Melbourne, but 
all colonial work, especially little jobs, are dear. 
The best powder costs 5s. per lb. ; shot 6d., caps 7*. 
per 1,000, Some wretched rubbish is sent out here 
in the shape of powder, and if the shooter happens 



186 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

to run out in the busb, he will most likely liave to put 
up with the common treble Y., at 5^. per lb. There is 
no saving in shooting with cheap powder, for, indepen- 
dent of the foul state in which it keeps your gun, and 
the wounded birds that go away, a pound of Hall's best 
1^0. 2 grain will go as far again as the weaker powder. 
A man who shoots for his living cannot be too particular 
in the choice of his ammunition, for in duck-shooting he 
can easily lose more by wounded birds in the day than 
will keep him in ammunition for a week, and no one but 
he who has experienced them can judge of the duck- 
shooter's feelings when his cap misses fire, after having 
crept on his hands and knees up to a flock of black duck, 
for perhaps half a mile, through a wet swamp. Pigou 
and Wilks's No. 2 grain was my favourite powder when- 
ever I could get it ; but all the good brands are pretty 
much alike, if you are only certain that it is the genuine 
article, and the canister fresh. The best plan is to stick 
to one gunmaker, and he will generally use you well. 

It cannot be denied that the game is rapidly dis- 
appearing in all the settled districts, especially near town, 
and if steps are not speedily taken to prevent the whole- 
sale destruction of the birds in the breeding season which 
is now carried on, in a few years the shooter's occupation 
in Victoria will be gone. Much as we may all object to 
the principle and working of the British game-laws, it is 
quite certain that, until the law interferes and makes it an 
act illegal for all, there can be no preventing it. For, 
however well one mau may be disposed, and wish to 



PEESEETATION OF GAME. 187 

slioot fairly, it is liardly likely that he will care to spare 
the breeding-birds, -when he knows that they are pretty 
certain to be shot by some one or other less scrupulous 
than himself. 

The inhabitants of any wild country, who depend upon 
the chase as a subsistence, have, as it were, a, prima facie 
right to the game of that country, and are, perhaps, 
justified in taking it at any season, as they best can. 
They wander about from spot to spot, and are not con- 
tinually disturbing one district; they have different 
hunting-grounds for different seasons ; their implements 
of chase are rude, in comparison with those used by 
the civilized man ; and they never care to take more 
than just enough to satisfy their wants, and there would 
be little fear of the game being ever entirely killed out 
if they were the only persons who followed the chase. 
But the case is far different when thousands of strangers 
flock to a new country, and wage an indiscriminate war 
at all seasons against the wild game peculiar to that land. 
It is then time that some measures should be taken to 
preserve the game, and if the shooters themselves are 
too blind to their own interests to do so, the law should 
interfere. But let me not be misunderstood. I am not 
here advocating any system of game-laws that will cramp 
the sportsman in this free country as the Legislature 
has already done at home; all I wish to see is a stop 
put to the ruthless slaughter of the old birds in the 
breeding season, and I am sure every fair sportsman will 
join in my views. Let us have no license. Let a man 



188 BUSH WAXDEEINGS, 

still be free to wander where he will on land that is not; 
purchased, but let us have proper seasons fixed for 
killing the game. What is sauce for the goose would 
then be sauce for the gander — it would be as fair for 
one as another — and all who take a pleasure or feel an 
interest in field-sports out here would be equally bene- 
fited. AVhen the game of any country becomes a 
marketable article, and of sufficient value to induce men 
to devote their whole time to its pursuit as a means of 
gaining a livelihood, it should in some measure be pro- 
tected, especially as it is not private property. One 
might imagine that it would at least be the interest 
of the shooters themselves to do so — at all events 
to spare the goose that lays the golden egg; but, un- 
fortunately, what is everybody's business is nobody's ; 
and, although they are the first to complain when they 
find the game decreasing, not one will give himself the 
sliglitest trouble to keep up the breed. It matters little 
to me — I never expect to have another head of game out 
of Victoria — but I have seen enough in five years' 
shooting to prove that, unless some steps are speedily 
taken to preserve the breeding-birds, in a few years none 
will be left to protect. 

The game list of Victoria should include those birds 
that are bought up as game, such as the turkey, the 
ducks, the pigeon, the quail, the snipe, and the rail. 
There are several other species quite as good for the 
table as these, but which are hardly considered game, 
viz., the bittern, the coot, the heron, nankeen crane. 



PKESEEVATIOK OF GAME. 189 

plovers, aud wattle-birds. It is a matter of doubt 
whether the kangaroo will ever be deemed worth pre- 
serving, but I have already touched upon this subject. 

Some of the game birds, such as the quail, pigeon, aud 
rail, only come into this part of Port Phillip to breed, 
and I know the shooters here will say, that as soon as 
they have done breeding they all leave with their young, 
and unless shot just at the times when they come down 
none would be got at all. This may be partly true, but, 
in my opinion, we never gave the birds a fair chance to 
see how long they would stay on the breeding-grounds 
with their families after the breeding season. I fancy, 
if allowed to breed in peace, they would remain till the 
end of autumn, perhaps well into winter. As to snipe, 
they might be killed at any time when they c^n be found 
here, for I fancy they breed up in the ranges early, in 
places little trod by the foot of the white man, and those 
which do come down into the peopled districts are the old 
birds and birds of the year. The ducks pair oiF to breed 
about the end of September (I once took a nest as early 
as August), and the flappers come down to the creeks in 
January. The pigeons breed in December, and the 
young birds are flyers by the end of January. The 
heart of the quail breeding season is early in December, 
and in January we kill strong flyers. My opinion is, 
therefore, that the safest way to preserve the game here, 
would be to make November, December, and January 
"fence months," for every species of game excepting 
snipe, in the settled districts. The shooters would then 



190 BUSH WANDEKINGS. 

f 

Lave a little good quail-shooting when they first came, 
and before they settled down to their breeding haunts. 
^February and March would be the best months for 
general shooting ; duck and kangaroo would keep them 
employed during the winter, and it is, indeed, hard if 
they could not afibrd to give the birds a three months' 
rest out of twelve, especially as they would reap the 
benefit of it themselves, and as during the hot summer 
season shooting is far more a toil than a pleasure, and 
half the game is spoilt by the heat. 

I am not here alluding to the professional shooter alone. 
It would be far more satisfactory to those sportsmen who 
merely follow the chase as an amusement, for they might 
then be always certain of a good day's sport within an 
easy distan,ce from town, which is very doubtful now, 
when men are roaming over the country with guns, dis- 
turbing the birds during the whole of the breeding 
season. 

I suppose there is already some law of trespass out 
here, but I don't know how it stands. This, however, 
I do know, that there is always bother enough if by 
chance the shooter enters a private paddock, especially 
near town. Eor my part, I hated the very sight of a 
three-rail fence; and half the pleasure of shooting in 
this wild country was taken away whenever I had to 
enter an enclosure, or ask leave to beat for my game. 

It is very properly prohibited to shoot the ducks 
which resort to the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne 
within a certain distance of the enclosure, in fact, to 



JTATIYE SHOOTING. 191 

shoot at all within the boundaries of the town ; and 
there is a fine for shooting on a Sunday, which is 
strictly enforced in the neighbourhood of towu, but has 
hardly found its way yet far into the bush. 

I should much like to know whether the aborigines of 
this country originally possessed any particular breed of 
dog for the chase before the stranger landed on these 
shores, or whether the domestic dog was introduced into 
this country by the white man. Unlike other savages, 
I do not believe that the Australian natives depended at 
all upon the dog for their success in the chase. Their 
original methods of hunting prove this ; for although 
they certainly now do prefer a gun to a spear when 
they can get it, and their dogs assist them much in 
killing kangaroo and opossum, they still stick to their 
primitive habits of the chase, especially in the wild dis- 
tricts. Eor instance, they will encircle a mob of kan- 
garoo, and kill them with a spear or a waddy ; they will 
stalk the wild turkeys on the plains under cover of a 
bush, which they carry before them, and snare them with 
a noose on the end of a loug pole ; they will watch a 
creek for hours, hidden in the rushes, and when a mob 
of ducks pass by, will knock down two or three with a 
waddy or bomerang ; and they can also spear the ducks ; 
they will sit by a water-hole on a summer evening as 
motionless as statues, and snare the pigeons that come 
down to drink. They have peculiar methods of catching 
quail. They can tell, by examining a tree, w^hether an 
opossum is at home ; and they soon run up, by cutting 



192 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

nicks in the bark, as a purchase for their fingers and 
toes, with a tomahawk (which, before the white man 
settled here, was made of stone, and answered every 
purpose), and drag him from his hole. Of course, no 
white man can ever equal them in stealthily creeping 
on to their game; and I have often remarked that 
neither the kangaroo in the forest nor the wild turkey 
on the plains take half the notice of a black that they 
do of a white man. As all the species of birds and 
animals above mentioned, and fish, formed their prin- 
cipal subsistence in the way of the chase, they could get 
along very well without dogs ; and as they had nothing 
to fear from the attacks of any wild animal, and no 
property to protect, I think it most probable that the 
domestic dog was introduced into this country by the 
white man, and that before he landed the blacks did 
without their assistance ; for I cannot believe that the 
wild dog could ever have been broken from a state of 
nature to become of any service to man, more than the wolf 
of Europe. Still the oldest settlers seem to have no recol- 
lection of seeing the blacks without dogs. That they are 
very fond of them, is evident from the pack which accom- 
panies every tribe — hungry, mangy, sneaking-looking 
curs, of no particular breed ; most likely a cross of every 
blood known in the colony. I have seen a Lubra, or 
native woman, suckling two puppies ; and, like monkeys, 
these ladies have a particular fancy for fleaing their dogs. 
Next in relation to the bushman's mate stands his 
dog ; and I should almost feel myself wanting in grati- 



BUSH-DOGS. 193 

tude were I to pass over these faithful companions 
without a slight notice. 

It is difficult to say what is the most general breed of 
dog we meet with in the bush : in fact, we rarely see a 
true-bred one at all. Every bushman probably brings a 
dog or two into the bush with him, of such breed as he 
fancies best ; and as there is no restraint and no care 
bestowed in crossing them, they breed indiscriminately, 
and it would puzzle a good dog-fancier to distinguish one 
breed from another. But mongrels as they are, these 
bush dogs are not to be despised. Although self-taught, 
nature supplies the place of education; and their 
natural instinct seems to be much more highly deve- 
loped than among the fuller broken and truer bred dogs 
of the old country. Every bush dog is a sporting dog 
after his own fashion ; and as there was no tas, and their 
keep in the forest cost nothing, they must have been the 
veriest curs that were turned out of our kennels. Our 
dogs were used for every purpose ; and as they were 
treated more like companions than servants, they 
appeared to identify themselves with us in every 
transaction, and seemed to fancy a day's shooting was 
got up as much for their pleasure as our own. It is 
little wonder that they were keen after kangaroo and 
opossum : we never gave them any meat except what 
they helped to kill themselves, nor did they seem to 
expect it. They knew where the offal of the kangaroo 
we had killed in the day lay in the forest, and regularly 
every evening went off to feed ; and if there was no 
o 



194 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

kangaroo liandy, they would stroll away from the tent at 
night, run an old " 'possum up a tree," and stand barking 
under it till they brought one of us out to shoot it. No 
kennels for them; each had its own little den under 
some old tree-root close to the tent, and we always 
slept in perfect security. 

It is dangerous to go up to a bush tent or hut after 
dark, on account of the dogs ; and the best plan, as soon 
as one sees the camp-fire, is to " Coo e, e," to warn the 
inmates of one's approach. 

I can often fancy a shooter at home seeing the turn- 
out for a day's sport here. In my shirt-sleeves, with a 
game-bag on my back, and my pack of mongrels at my 
heels (for no matter, whatever was the sport all the dogs 
were sure to follow us), one a half-bred bull and terrier, 
a large half-bred mastiff and hound, a fine-bred grey- 
hound terrier, and a long-backed spaniel, worth, in the 
eyes of an English sportsman, to use an old phrase of 
the road, " about ninepence a side, pick 'em all the way 
round," I looked far more like a rat-catcher than any- 
thing else. Tet these were the dogs upon whom we 
depended, not only for our personal safety, but our daily 
bread. Little fear of any one molesting us at night with 
these protectors round us ; and as for sporting, they were 
all close-hunting dogs for quail and snipe — would retrieve 
a black duck' from the thickest rushes; and, in "fur," 
scarcely anything, from a kangaroo or opossum down to 
a bandicote or bush-rat, escaped them. 

There is a small tax now of Its. 6d. per year laid upon 



DISEASES OE THE DOGS. 195 

every dog kept in and about Melbourne — a kind of 
douceur, I fancy, to the police ; and each dog must be 
registered and wear a collar. Although fewer diseases 
prevail among the dogs out here than at home, I have 
heard it remarked, that they are far more difficult to 
cure. Hydrophobia is unknown. The worst and most 
common sickness is a species of distemper, not at all like 
the distemper at home, but a kind of spasmodic affection 
in the loins, which comes on at all ages. It is to be 
cured ; but I never knew a dog worth much after it. 
The receipt which I got from a sportiug " Vet" was to 
cut the roof of the mouth across, from gum to gum, sa 
that it may bleed freely, and give a dose of garlic every 
morning for four days. I do not know what it is owing 
to, but dogs either get very soon worn out in this 
country, or very cunning ; for a sporting dog is worth 
little or nothing after about his fourth season. 

How imperceptibly and closely does a man become 
attached to old localities, and old companions, even if 
they are but dumb animals ; for, childish as it may 
appear, it was with feelings of deeper emotion than any 
one can imagine who has not, like myself, spent year after 
year in the solitude of the bush, that I parted from my 
mates and the old bush-tent, and for the first time in my 
life drove my dogs back, who followed me when I left 
with half-imploring, half-incredulous looks. As I turned 
my back upon the forest, I felt that my sporting career 
iu Australia had ended ; that I was parting with friends 
whom in all probability I should never see again ; that I 
o 2 



196 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

was leaving a home at least, even if it was a humble one, 
with no consolation in the reflection that I had to seek 
another home and new friends in whatever strange land 
the wanderer's lot might cast me. 



BlfAKES A2fD EEPTILES. 197 



CHAPTEE XI. 

THE SXAKES AND REPTILES PECULIAR TO PORT PHILLIP, AND OTHER 
BUSH ANNOYANCES. 

Although the busliman lias nothing to fear out here 
from the attacks of any wild animals, he has still his secret 
enemies, which in many cases are as dangerous as the open 
foe ; and what he has most to dread in the Australian bush 
are the snakes. I do not believe any part of the world 
can be more infested with these reptiles in the summer 
season. Let him walk where he will — in the depths of 
tlie forest, in the thick heather, on the open swamps and 
plains, by the edges of creeks or water-holes — the shooter 
is sure to meet with his enemy, the black-snake. It 
enters his very tent or hut, and coils itself in his 
blankets. In fact, nowhere is he safe ; and if he did 
not altogether banish the thought of them from his 
mind, he could never have a moment's peace. It does, 
indeed, appear as if the eye of a watchful Providence 
peculiarly guarded the traveller in these wilds ; for at 
any moment he is liable to tread upon a deadly snake, 
coiled up in his very path, which does not always get 
out of the way, but lies watching him with his basilisk 
eye, ready in a moment to make the fatal spring if 
touched, and very often the snake is not seen till the 



198 BUSH WANDEEINQS. 

danger is past. Much as I was accustomed to the sight 
of them, and the hundreds that I have killed, I never 
saw one without a cold chill running through my blood ; 
and it is often with a shudder that I look back upon the 
many narrow escapes I have had from snakes. How 
I avoided being bitten is a mystery to me. I once 
threw myself on my blankets for a rest, during a hot 
windy day, in my shirt-sleeves, and a large carpet-snake 
lay curled up within three inches of me ! Twice have I 
taken up the little whip-snake in a bundle of dry grass ; 
and twice have I had a large snake twist itself round my 
leg ; and in one instance my leggings saved me, for the 
snake struck me below the knee. I have picked up 
a dead quail in long grass, which had fallen close to 
a snake ; and scores of times have I all but trod on them 
in thick grass. I always wore long boots, or game- 
keeper's leather leggings in the bush during the 
summer ; and I should recommend every one to do 
the same. I consider the greatest danger we ran was 
if we chanced to pick up an old log at night for the 
bush-fire in which might be a snake ; a man cannot be 
too careful in handling dead logs and sticks in the 
forest; for, independent of snakes, this dead-wood is 
infested with centipedes and other insects, the bite of 
which is dangerous. One thing is fortunate, by constant 
practice the eye becomes so accustomed to range over 
the ground that, in most instances, I could see a snake 
before I reached it, unless it was coiled up very snugly. 
I could never identify more than three distinct species 



THE BLACK SNAKE. 199 

of snake out here : the black-snake, the diamond or 
carpet snake, and the little whip-snake; all, I believe, 
equally poisonous in their bite. We had many varieties 
in colour, but I think these were the only three distinct 
species. 

A small kind of boa is met with up the country, 
according to the Blacks, which is harmless ; but I never 
saw it. 

There is another species in some parts of the country 
which they call the deaf or death adder, but it is never 
met with in the districts where I have been. It is 
described as a short, blunt snake, with legs, and as 
being able to sting or bite at each end : and it is said to 
be the most deadly of all the snakes. That such a reptile 
as this exists, I never can believe ; although there is a 
species of short, thick snake, unknown in these parts, 
found on some of the dry stony rises, and this is pro- 
bably the one meant. I have heard the most extra- 
ordinary stories respecting the size and quantities of 
snakes met with in some parts of the colony ; and this, 
and the wonderful escapes they have had, is a prolific 
subject with some old bushmen, but I always received 
such " yarns " with the greatest of caution. 

The black-snake is the handsomest, but certainly the 
most venomous and spiteful, in appearance of the whole 
lot. It is of a rich black colour, above the belly-plates 
light. We had a variety in which the belly-plates were 
copper-red, which we called the copper-snake. It was 
always smaller and thinner than the common black- 



200 BUSn WANDEEINGS. 

snake, and miglit have been the young. None of the 
snakes here run to a very large size : — five feet will 
perhaps be about the average length. The largest I 
ever saw was a black-snake, killed by my mate in a thick 
scrub on the beach, near Mordialloc, which we called the 
two-mile scrub, certainly the worst place for snakes that 
I knew. It was six feet five inches long, and very 
thick. On showing it to a Black, he observed, " Ah ! 
me know that fellow long time." I think both the 
black and the carpet snake were equally common with 
us. "\Ye general!}'" used to find the black snake more 
among the timber and thick scrub than the other ; but 
in the dry season we were sure to find both near water. 
There is a strong scent peculiar to tlie Australian snake, 
and I have often smelt one long before I saw it. 

The carpet-snake runs much about the same length as 
the black-snake, but is rather thinner. I generally 
found them in more open places ; and often on the plains 
in dry weather, they would lie coiled up in a crab-hole, 
or print of a bullock's hoof. The carpet-snake is of a- 
brown colour, with a yellowish tinge and light belly, the 
shades varying much, according to age and season. It 
is a dangerous plan to let heaps of glass bottles accu- 
mulate near a bush-tent, for they attract snakes much in 
hot weather. 

The little whip-snake is the smallest of all, being 
hardly thicker than one's finger, and rarely over a foot in 
length. It rather resembles the blind-worm at home in 
colour and appearance, but it is longer, and the tail 



THE SNAEES. 201 

more pointed. They frequented the dry plains, were local; 
and I often used to find them under heaps of dry cow- 
dung. 

The snakes here lay up during the winter in old logs, 
dead-log fences, and holes in the earth. They dis- 
appear about the end of March, and come out again iu 
September. They say here, that in the end of Pebruary 
is the pairing season, and then they travel by night. I 
cannot say if this is correct, as I never killed one at night, 
except in a log. At all other times they retire as soon 
as the sun goes down. They are the most dangerous 
when they first come out, for then they lie in a half-torpid 
state, and don't care to get out of the way. One thing 
is certain, that the snake will rarely if ever molest a 
man, unless trod upon, or so hard pressed that it cannot 
get away. They generally glide off out of sight, or if 
they do lie still it is in hopes of not being perceived. They 
can hear the approach of a footstep a long way off; it is 
wonderful how^ quickly they disappear. I have seen a 
snake lying in a bush, and have only taken my eye off 
it for an instant, to see if my cap was all right before I 
fired, and it has vanished as by magic. I have seen 
some persons kill them with a stick ; I always fancied a 
charge of shot was the safest, and I rarely went out in 
any day in summer without killing two or three. It is 
best to approach a snake sideways, for they say here 
that they can cast themselves backwards as well as 
forwards. I never but once saw one make a spring, and 
that was at a dog. The snake was in a half-erect posi- 



202 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

tion, and sliot out its full lengtli like lightning. Many 
dogs are very quick at killing snakes, and will seize and 
throw them up like a rat, but sooner or later they pay 
the penalty of their rashness. An old bush-dog generally 
stands over a snake, at a respectful distance, and barks 
till the shooter comes up. 

The laughing-jackass and stump-lizard both destroy 
snakes ; and they say that Underwood, in Van Diemen's 
Laud, who cured the bite of snakes, discovered the 
secret of his elixir by watching a battle between a snake 
and a stump-lizard. After the lizard had killed the 
snake, he saw it eat the leaves of a small plant. He 
gathered some, made a decoction of it, and this was the 
secret of Underwood's mixture. Whether this was the 
case or not I am unable to say, but I believe his remedy 
is very efficacious; and he has himself acknowledged 
that the principal ingredient is a plant on which we 
tread in this country every day of our lives. . 

It is singular, considering how much I was always 
about the bush, and the number of snakes that I killed, 
not a single instance of a snake-bite ever came under 
my actual observation ; so it appears that these snakes 
are less to be feared than might at first be imagined. I 
have known men who have been bitten and recovered, so 
that the bite is not always fatal. Much, I think, 
depends upon the state of the blood, and the season of the 
year. One man I knew was bitten in the finger by a 
whip-snake, when putting up a fence. He coolly laid his 
finger on a post, and chopped it ofi" with his axe, and 



THE S>'AKE. 203 

thus probably saved bis life. My remedy, if I bad been 
bitten, vronld have been to cut the wound till it bled 
well, and put on it a charge of powder, and flash it off. 
I thiuk this might have stayed the poison until I could 
have reached medical assistance. Many carry a piece of 
caustic; but the new remedy, I believe from India, 
where it has been tried and found most efficacious, is 
ipecacuanha. If bitten, score the wound with a penknife 
till it bleeds, make a paste with a little ipecacuanha and 
spittle, and bind it round the wound. Of course these 
are only temporary remedies till medical assistance can 
be obtained ; but when we consider how liable any one 
is to be bitten out here, it certainly would be prudent 
for every one to carry a little ipecacuanha in his pocket, 
even if he never wanted it. The Blacks have a remedy, 
and no doubt it is herbal. 

The snakes here live always on and in the ground, 
and not in trees, which, however, they can climb, for 
they are not unfrequently found in a magpie's nest. I 
was once standing quietly by a creek, watching for ducks, 
on a summer's evening, when I heard a rustling in the 
scrub, on the other side, and I saw a large carpet-snake, 
swarming up a tea-tree pole, and presently another and 
another, till I am certain there were at least a dozen 
crawling up and down the poles at various heights. I 
did not stop to see what they were about ; as the Yankees 
say, I soon " made tracks back," for I fancied I must 
have come upon a snake Bettlement. I believe there are 
such places, where hundreds congregate in long grass 



20i EL'Sn "\7ANDEEINGS. 

or thick scrub. I think a great many of the bullocks 
that lie dead along the plains in the summer are killed 
by the snakes. The sheep often kill them by jumping 
with all four feet upon the snake. 

The Blacks are very timid about snakes ; yet, although 
they travel bare-legged and bare-footed through the bush 
at all seasons, they never tread on one ; in fact, their 
eyes are like an eagle's, and they can see anything on 
tlie ground in an instant. They are very careful, how- 
ever, in getting over a log, rarely treading on it. They 
will eat snakes, which they kill themselves, when they 
are certain the snake has not bitten itself, which it often 
does in its dying agonies. I have eaten the black-snake, 
and had it been a little fatter should not have known it 
from eel. 

The principal food of the snake is small animals, 
birds'-eggs, and frogs. I once saw a large carpet-snake 
charming a lot of birds. It was under an old honey- 
suckle, which had been blown down, and a congregation 
of small bush-birds were gathered round it, hopping, 
chattering, and fluttering about the dead branches of 
the tree. The motions of the snake were the most 
graceful I ever saw: it was half-erect, moving its- 
head backwards and forwards, shooting out its tongue, 
evidently endeavouring .to decoy a victim within reach, 
which it would soon have done, but it caught sight of 
me, and glided away, and the performance stopped. 

There is no real water-snake in this country, but all 
the snakes can swim, and in summer are alwavs on the 



THE S>-AEE. 205 

edges of "svet swamps, creeks, &c. I Lave often seen a 
snake drinking, wlien I have been watching by the side 
of a water hole. I once shot a pair of ducks in a creek, 
and they fell in the rushes on the opposite side. As I had 
no retriever, I stripped and swam in ; and while I was 
swimming across, I saw what I took to be a black piece 
of stick, lying on the top of the water ; when I came up 
to it it proved to be a large black-snake, lying, perfectly 
motionless, at full length on the water. I passed within 
a foot of it, but it never moved. I often wondered since 
wlicther it was after the ducks. 

The bush-fires must destroy thousands of snakes 
annually, and wherever the country becomes cleared 
they will, of course, in a great measure disappear. But 
they can never entirely be rooted out of this land, where 
so many miles of swamp, scrub, and heather must for 
ever remain, in their original wild state, a harbour for 
the snake and other vermin. But I think Government 
should offer some slight reward, say sixpence or a shilling, 
for every snake's head that was brought in. 

It is strange that this country should be so prolific in 
snakes, while in jS'ew Zealand, only about a thousand 
miles distant, not a reptile is, I believe, to be found. 

The guano is a large species of tree-lizard, and 
frequents gullies and ranges where the timber is high, 
and the localities wild and unfrequented. It was very 
rare in our district ; in fact, it is found only in the most 
solitary places. The guano runs from all sizes, up to 
ten feet, and I have beard of them even longer. The 



206 BTJSH WANDEEINGS. 

body is thick, covered with a close scaly hide, of a dark 
brown colour ; the head is large, and the tail long and 
thin, like a whip-thong. It is a repulsive-looking reptile, 
and I must say I never liked the sight of them. A 
friend of mine once met a large guano, in a narrow bush- 
track, marching along with a great piece of beef in its 
mouth, which it had stolen from a tent. It carried the 
beef with its head in the air, like a retriever carrying a 
pheasant. It dropped the beef when he fired, and dis- 
appeared into the bush ; so, after all, he got the best of 
the bargain. The guano is not venomous, but can bite 
severely, as the scars on the faces of those dogs that 
hunt them will testify. It is very nimble, and can run 
up a tree like a cat, keeping its body out of sight 
behind the trunk, or a large limb, peering down, with its 
hideous countenance, on the shooter below. It is almost 
impossible to shoot them unless there are two guns, one 
on each side of the tree. The guano is eatable, and the 
tail a bush delicacy. I have seen them in the Dande- 
nong ranges, and I believe they are very common in the 
high timber on the Gripps Land Eoad. 

The Sleeping or Stump-lizard is another repulsive- 
looking but inofiensive reptile. It runs to about one foot 
in length, is very thick in proportion, and the tail is 
short and blunt. It is of a variegated brown colour, the 
belly livid blue, the inside of the mouth and tongue black, 
and the belly is not covered with plates, as in the Euro- 
pean lizard, but the skin is continuous. They are com- 
mon all over the bush during the summer, frequenting 



THE LIZAED. 207 

generally moist situations, — such as tea-trees and damp 
grass ; sometimes, however, in dry heather. The sleeping 
lizard well deserves its name. It is the very counterpart 
of its relative, the guano, being sluggish and lazy, always 
lying apparently half asleep, did not the bright little eye 
prove that they are " wide awake." They never try to 
escape by flight when a dog attacks them ; all they do is 
to turn their head towards it with open mouth, and I 
fancy their repulsive look often protects them. Dogs 
will set them like quail. Their principal food appears to 
be grubs and caterpillars ; and as these insects require 
very little catching, I should say the life of the stump- 
lizard is about as lazy a one as any in the colony. They 
can bite severely for their size. 

There are several other species of small lizard in the 
bush, all harmless ; but one they call the bloodsucker — a 
perfect guano in miniature — they say, is poisonous. I 
fancy not. But a stranger in a foreign land should 
always be careful in handling reptiles, unless he well 
knows their habits. 

It was curious that we had no alligators in this part 
of the country. Many of the creeks would be the very 
places for them, and I am sure some of the swamps are 
wild and dismal enough to hold any kind of uncouth 
reptile. I believe the Blacks fancy that some species of 
large reptiles or amphibious animal do inhabit the large 
swamps, and I have often had the same opinion myself, 
when camped on the edge of one of these dreary, im- 
penetrable marshes. I have listened to the extraordinary 



208 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

noisea that issue from tlie reeds and scrubs at nigbt. 
Surely, I bave tbougbt, tbere must be some reptiles in 
these -wilds unknown to us, and perhaps, after all, the 
bunyip may be no fable. 

Besides the snakes, we had many other little annoy- 
ances during the summer months in the bush, which it 
was not always easy to avoid. Centipedes, six inches long, 
are to be found in every old log, and under stones. 
Small scorpions abound on every stony rise ; and taran- 
tulas, or large spiders (as the bushmen call them, trian- 
tulopes), as big as penny pieces, with a dozen great hairy 
legs, come crawling down the sides of the tent in wet 
weather ; and the bushman should always well examine 
his blankets before he turns in. The cruellest practical 
joke I ever heard of was played in a bush-tent, when 
one of the party laid a dead black-snake in the bed of his 
mate. The man upon whom the trick was played did 
not die from the fright, but his intellects received such 
a shock, that in all probability be would remain a lunatic 
for the rest of his life. The swamps are full of leeches, 
and very pleasant it is if one finds its way into your shoe 
when up to your knees in a swamp, crawling on to a mob 
of black-duck. The forests literally swarmed with great 
blue and yellow blowflies, which shoot out living maggots, 
and " Catch-'em-alive-oh" would drive a roaring trade 
among the clouds of little black flies that infest the 
bush during the summer. Ants of every variety and 
size, from the little sugar-ant up to the great red soldier- 
aut, ply their busy trade in the summer all over the 



THE MOSQUITO. 209 

forests. There is no keeping these little busybodies out 
of the tent, and it is no joke if a great bull-dog, or soldier- 
ant, about an iucb long, finds its way up the leg of your 
trousers. Swarms of mosquitos hover over every marsh 
and water-hole in the evening, and myriads of sand-flies, 
hardly perceptible to the naked eye, are sure to attack 
the back of your neck and ears when seated by a water- 
hole, quietly watching for a duck or pigeon at evening. 
These are the only insects I really cared for. I could 
generally keep the mosquitos off by the smoke of my 
pipe, but with the sand-flies I could do nothing. The 
Australian bug is harmless, luckily, for it is about the 
size and shape of an almond ; and as for fleas, they breed 
in the sand, so that it is easy to guess their name is 
legion. The blight in the eye, which is so common here 
during the summer, especially on the diggings, is brought 
on, I believe, by a small fly. The sting of the scorpion 
and centipede are not only very painful, but very danger- 
ous. A little sweet oil promptly applied soon cures the 
bites of the others. 



,T 



210 BUSH WANDEEIKGS. 



CHAPTEE XII. 



BUSH LIFE. 



Matstt persons consider the shooter's life a lazy one, 
and are too apt to set down the whole of our " respectable 
corps" as a body of " loafers." Don't you believe it. 
No man can be idle who has to earn his bread first, and 
then cook it, before he eats it ; and if any one doubts my 
word, he had better go and try it. 

There are three or four classes of shooters out here. 
The " swell," who now and then comes out from town 
for a day's sport, and obtains the services of some pro- 
fessional shot, who knows the ground, to help to fill his 
bag. Money is no object with him, his sole aim being to 
take home a good lot of game, which he does not forget 
to show to his friends as his own killing. 

There is a second class, who are very good at " shoot- 
ing over the pitcher." These are, for the most part, old 
hands, men of sporting habits, who are generally to be 
found at the bar of a sporting public-house, where they 
" pitch," to any one who will stand nobblers, about the 
lots of game they used to kill, and wind up by abusing 
the new chum shooters, and the sporting prospects of 
the colony at the present time, as compared to their day. 
These men deal much in mysteries, and almost every one 



BUSH LIFE. 211 

claims the honour of being the oldest duck-shooter in the 
colony, as I have heard at least a dozen diggers affirm 
that they sunk the first hole on Bendigo. 

Then there are others, genuine sportsmen at heart, who 
know how to find game, and what's more, kill it when 
found ; but being tied much by their business in town, 
have little time to devote to field sports, but who enjoy 
a day when they do have it, doubly, on account of its 
rarity, and it is a pleasure to go out with them ; and 
besides them, there are others who, although settled, and 
following their regular trades, occasionally take a turn 
with the gun when business is slack, thus combining 
pleasure and profit. They never go out except when game 
is well in, and one night from home is about their limit ; 
and these are the men who really enjoy the pleasure of 
sporting, without the hardships which fall to the lot of 
the regular shooters. 

But the men whom I consider the real shooters are 
those who stick to it year after year, rough weather and 
smooth, no matter whether game is plentiful or scarce, 
trusting solely to their guns and their own exertions for 
a living ; and, depend upon it, these must be anything 
but idle men. 

It is astonishing how soon a man, who is made of the 
right stuff, can settle down to the rough usages of a bush 
life, and quite forget the domestic comforts he has left 
behind him in the Old "World ; and I have remarked that 
those men who grumble least — in fact, make the best 
bushmen — are often they who have moved in a better 
p 2 



212 BUSH WAKDEEINGS. 

sphere of life at home. Witli a good mate, as long as 
his health stands, I do consider the shooter's life one of 
the happiest and most independent in the colony. A 
good -vvaterproof tent properly put up, with a fly on the 
roof, and a turf chimney, is by no means a bad residence, 
and quite as warm and comfortable as half the Aveatlier- 
boarded houses that are knocked up here. The shooter 
is generally camped amidst the most beautiful scenery, 
close to some good water-hole or creek, with plenty of 
wood at hand. He has few artificial wants, and the real 
necessities of life are easily and cheaply obtained. His 
meat, of course, he procures by his own gun ; and a bag 
of flour, a little tea, sugar, and tobacco, fill his larder. 
His cooking is simple, his furniture home-made. His 
time is fully occupied, and not an hour hangs heavy on 
his hands. His method of life is laid down by no rule. 
He eats when he is hungry, sleeps when he is tired, and 
works just when he pleases. The laughing-jackass calls 
him up in the morning, and the flute-like note of the 
magpie is his vesper bell. His very occupation preserves 
his health. Content and health go hand in hand ; and 
although he has his share of the world's troubles — and 
what class is exempt from them ? — he has also the inward 
satisfaction of feeling that he is leading a happy, in- 
dependent life, and has no one to thank but himself for 
his daily bread. 

I have lived at times by myself in the bush, and it was 
then a lonely, laborious life. Often have I toiled from 
■sunrise to sunset, come home dead beat to my lonely 



BTJSn LIFE. 213 

tent, and, after ten hours' fasting, had to light my firo 
and cook my solitary supper ; and often have I turned 
in fairly "baked," and put my supper off till morning. 
But with a good mate, the case is different. It is true I 
have spent many a rough day in the forest ; and many a 
night, when lost, I have lit my pipe, and thrown myself 
down to sleep before a log fire : no companions but my 
dogs, no covering but the sky, and no supper but an 
opossum or bandicote thrown upon the ashes. And the 
shooter should never leave his tent without a few matches 
and a little salt, for he never knows where he may sleep 
at night, or of what his supper may consist. But I can 
also truly say that some of the happiest hours in a life 
which certainly has had its bright as well as gloomy pas- 
sages, have been passed in my bush-tent, when, after a 
good day's sport, supper finished, and pipe lit, I have 
thrown myself on my opossum rug, and the toils of the 
day fairly over, have spent the hour before turning in 
yarning with my mate over " the days past, the present, 
and the future." At such a moment I would not ex- 
change the rough freedom of the shooter's life for the 
best situation in the colony. 

The only thing he has really to fear is illness ; but,, 
happily, few disorders prevail in this favoured land, and 
these are chiefly confined to the towns and diggings, and 
two-thirds of them the result of intemperance and a 
reckless habit of life. Except in cases of accident, we 
rarely hear of a bushman being laid up. Sickness will, 
however, at times, enter the bush-tent, and ou such occa- 



214 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

sions a general gloom overspreads the whole of the little 
community. Ear away from medical aid, the sufferer has 
to trust to such simple remedies as are at hand, and 
patiently await the issue. It is now that the rough 
sympathies of his mates are fairly awakened, and each 
one vies with the other in assisting and consoling the 
sick man. A hardy constitution generally " pulls him 
through ; " but when his complaint is beyond the help 
of man, he calmly resigns himself to his fate, and dies 
" unhonoured and " in many instances " unknown ; " for 
very often a man in this country knows very little more 
of his mate than his name. If visions of youth and 
home do flit across the mind of the dying man, it too 
often happens that there is not one among the strangers 
who stand around his death-bed with whom he can in- 
trust a last message to his relatives and friends in the 
old country, who will probably wait month after month 
with "the sickening anxiety of hope deferred" for 
tidings of the absentee, which will now, perhaps, never 
reach them. This is one of the darkest pictures in bush 
life, but it is one which, in the early days of the dig- 
gings, was too true. I have seen death in more shapes 
than one in the bush, and it is then, and then only, that 
a true sense of the loneliness of his life breaks fully upon 
the wanderer's mind ; and as he misses his old comrade 
from the evening bivouac around the camp-fire, he smokes 
his pipe in silence, thoughts of his own happy home in 
early days will pass, like bright but transient gleams of 
sunshine across the field of memory, and for a while his 



BUSH LIFE. 215 

reckless spirit is subdued by feelings of a deeper and 
more serious caste. 

It is strange that tbe man who lives by Lis gun rarely 
saves any money ; and this is the reason (whatever may 
be my own inclinations) why I should scarcely be justi- 
fied in recommending any one to follow this life who 
comes out here with the hope — too often a delusive one — 
of making a rapid fortune. There is very little fore- 
thought with the shooter ; and I suppose that the old 
law of the rolling-stone gathering no moss holds good in 
his case as well as any other. If he makes his daily 
bread he is content, for he seems to think with Burns, 

But cheerful still, we are as well as monarch in a 

palace, ; 
Though Fortune's frown still hunts us down, with all 

her wonted malice, ; 
We make, indeed, our daily bread, but ne'er can 

make it farther, ; 
But, as daily bread is all we need, we do not much 

regard her, O. 

Nowhere do we meet with more real friendship and 
genuine kindness of heart than in the bush. Eough in 
aspect, careless in dress, off-hand in his manners, 
there is a vein of simple and warm-hearted kindness 
running through the character of the real bushman, 
which we rarely, if ever, find among men whose better 
feelings have become insensibly deadened by a continual 
intercourse with the world. Isolated, as it were, from 
his fellow-men, solely dependent upon his own exertions 
for his daily bread, he feels himself under no obligation 



216 EUSn WANDERINGS. 

to any one, cares little to form new acquaintances, and 
always appears reserved and shy before strangers, espe- 
cially "new chums;" but let him fall in with an old 
mate, or roan of his own stamp, and the meeting is often 
of a boisterous character. No one more readily sym- 
pathizes with the reverses of a mate ; and so little selfish- 
ness is there in his nature, that he willingly shares his all 
with him, whether it be his last shilling or his last fig of 
tobacco. His rude hospitality is proverbial ; and the 
benighted traveller always finds food and shelter at the 
bushman's tent, as a matter of course ; and, uulilce the 
way of the world in general, the more "hard up" the 
stranger is, the more he is welcome. This is all done 
without ostentation, as a duty he owes to his fellow-man, 
and upon the principle that any day or night he may 
require the same assistance himself. I am here alluding 
to those men who knock about the bush on their own 
resources, living by wood-splitting, shooting, &c., and 
not to the regular settlers on stations ; although, for my 
part, I can say that there were but few stations which I 
called at where I was not welcome to such accommoda- 
tion as the " men's hut " afibrded. 



ge:s-eiial eemakks. 217 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

GENERAL KEMAEKS ON THE SCENERY, CLIMATE, AND THE SEASONS 
OF PORT PHILLIP. 

There is a monotony in the scenery of this part of 
Australia which is very wearying to the eye ; and 
although at times the traveller suddenly comes upon 
a break in the landscape, the beauty of which no pen 
or pencil can portray, yet the thick forests and the low 
swamps and plains are of such vast extent, that the 
wayfarer in Victoria may plod on for many a weary mile 
Avith one unvarying landscape continually before his eyes. 
Deep forests of gum and stringy-bark, evergreen both 
in summer and winter ; flats of stunted honeysuckle, 
bearing no resemblance but in name to the sweet wood- 
bine at home ; parched and barren plains, miles in extent, 
without a green blade of grass in the summer, and not a 
drop of water for miles ; immense swamps and morasses, 
impenetrable even to the foot of the native, interspersed 
with open lagoons and creeks, and water-holes, hidden 
from the view by dense masses of tea-tree scrub ; sandy 
moors, clothed with coarse stunted heather ; the distant- 
horizon, bounded by heavily-timbered ranges, extending 
throughout the country, form the principal features of 
the Australian landscape on the shores of Port Phillip, 



218 BUSn WANBEEINGS. 

wHere nature still reigus paramount in her sternest and 
wildest mood. 

Scarcely a wild-flower of any size delights the eye, 
except the pink and white heather, which certainly do 
present a splendid appearance when a large patch in full 
blossom bursts suddenly upon the view; and some creepers, 
which, beautiful as they are when examined closely, are 
too small to attract the notice of the casual passer-by. 
The wild orchis and the geranium are everywhere com- 
mon : many of the smaller species appear to be identical 
with their namesakes at home; and I have plucked more 
than one little wild mountain-flower on the ranges here, 
which has brought back to my mind scenes many thou- 
sand miles distant. The flowering shrubs are some of 
them most beautiful ; and many a rare exotic, which 
would be highly prized in the greenhouses at home, 
blooms unnoticed in all the wild luxuriance of untamed 
nature, in the deep gullies here. The only two large 
wild-flowers that I ever saw, were the large white lotus, 
common in the water-holes and creeks, and a large white 
star-flower, which grew in rich profusion by many of the 
mountain streams. As for wild fruits, I never could fall 
in with any worth gathering, except the wild cherry, 
which is a little larger than an apple-pip, and grows 
with the stone outside ; the native grape, of a transpa- 
rent greenish-yellow hue, as large as a black currant, 
which clusters on a creeper thickly interlaced among the 
tea-tree scrub ; the cranberry, which here grows on a flat 
creepiug bush, on and sometimes in the sand ; and a few 



FOREST SCENEET. 219 

other berries no larger than currants. The Australian 
cranberry, which is described as growing on a bush ten 
to fifteen feet high, and the berries of which resemble the 
Siberian crab, does not grow here. There is a fine fruit 
peculiar to the "mallee" scrub, of a bright red colour, 
called the " quontong," about the size of a greengage, 
which grows on a shrub something like a small shey-oak ; 
it is bitter to the taste, makes excellent preserves, and 
the emus eat them greedily. I have tasted a kind of 
fruit they call the native pear, not half so good to eat as 
a raw Swedish turnip. "Whatever others may be found in 
the interior I do not know ; but, as far as regards hand- 
some or remarkable species, both in botany as well as 
ornithology, this district must be about the worst in 
Australia. Melons and pumpkins will grow anywhere, if 
planted, wild ; and a delicious fruit is the little water- 
melon in hot weather. 

There is a savage grandeur in the scenery of the 
Victorian forests, unsoftened by the lighter foliage of 
those beautiful shrubs which we generally look for in 
a southern land. The principal features of the woodland 
landscape here are old gum and huge iron or stringy 
bark trees, which have braved the storms of centuries, 
and stand out in bold relief from the deep evergreen of 
the cherry, the light foliage of the wattle or black- 
wood trees, and the " mournful weird-like appendages " 
of the shey-oak. The gullies are choked with shrubs, 
many of them very beautiful ; but we see little variety 
among the forest trees ; and we look in vain for the 



220 BUSH -WANDEKINGS. 

graceful pine and silvery birch, which add so much to 
the beauty of the northern forests. The ash, the beecli, 
and the ehn, which give so softened an appearance to the 
^YOOcllands of England, and the leafy palm, the stately 
date, and other light feathery trees that grace the 
tropical landscape, are strangers here. 

As Prichard observes, " Here we do not find in the 
great masses of vegetation either the majesty of the 
virgin forests of America, the variety and elegance of 
those of Asia, or the delicacy and freshness of the woods 
of our temperate climate of Europe." 

The vegetation is gloomy and sad. It has the aspect 
of our evergreens or heathers. The plants are for the 
most part woody; the leaves of nearly all are linear, 
lanceolated, small, coriaceous, and spinescent. The 
grasses, which elsewhere are generally soft and flexible,, 
participate in the stiffness of the other vegetables. The 
greater part of the plants of New Holland belong to new 
genera, and those included in the genera already known 
are of new species. The native families which prevail 
are those of the heaths, the protse compositte, leguminos^y 
and myrthideee ; the larger trees all belong to the last 
family. 

Some of the trees, however, are very pretty, especially 
the cherry, the box, and the wattle. The cherry rather 
reminded me of the yew at home, with its dark sombre 
foliage ; and I have at times fancied a resemblance 
between some of the old gum-trees, with their gnarled 
and twisted branches, and the brave old oak of happy 



rOREST TREES. 221 

England. The forests here are open, and there is little 
undergrowth in many places. But the ground is every- 
•n-here covered with dead logs and branches, which lie 
rotting in the wind and sun — a sure sign that the hand 
of man has as yet but little interfered with the works of 
nature. It is curious that most of the trees here are 
rotten at the core ; the wood of many is very brittle, and 
huge limbs are continually splitting and falling from the 
trees without any apparent cause, and with but little 
warning to the passer below. The wood of all is heavy, 
sinks in water, and splinters much ; and although, when 
polished, the grain of many of the trees is beautiful, the 
wood is in general too hard and stringy to be used much 
for domestic purposes. Posts and rails, and large slabs 
for building bush-huts, are about the only uses to which 
the Australian timber can be put. If this country had 
only the pine forests and rivers of northern Europe, it 
would be perfect. But Nature divides her gifts, and 
what she denies to one land, she bestows on another. 
If the pine and fir could be introduced into these forests, 
what a boon would be conferred upon the inhabitants of 
Australia in the nest century ! The kauri pine of IN'ew' 
Zealand might surely be grown here. All British trees 
and shrubs thrive in Australia, and in many a settler's 
garden we see standard-peaches, nectarines, and rose- 
trees flourishing, without any artificial aid, in a climate 
that here renders those trees and shrubs common to all, 
which at home are but the property of few. 

I have seen some fine gun-stocks made both of cherry 



222 BUSH "WANDERINGS. 

and liglit wood, but although they may be prized as 
curiosities, for use they are not to be compared to a good 
bit of walnut. As a hint, however, I may here add, that 
if a man fancies a tree for a gun-stock — and many of the 
cherries and light-wood trees, which are the best for this 
purpose, have a capital curve — he should cut down a 
tree, not too large, hack it roughly into shape, and bury 
it in the ground for some time to season, and it will not 
split. 

About thirty-five different species of trees, whose wood 
can be put to useful purposes, are, I believe, known to 
grow in Victoria. 

The gum is certainly the Australian oak, and monarch 
of the forests here ; but although it often grows to an 
immense size, and is a handsome wide-spreading tree, it 
has not the majestic or durable appearance of the British 
oak : moreover, the wood is worth nothing in comparison ; 
the butt is very short, for the branches begin to spring 
out at a short distance up, and the wood is hard and 
splintery, and little good, except for firing. The branches 
are more crooked and twisted than in any tree I ever 
saw. The trees soon rot ; and an old gum-tree shows 
more signs of premature decay, than as being fairly worn 
out by old age. The bark is as smooth as glass, and tlie 
trees very difficult to climb. The leaves are long, and 
these grow in drooping clusters, of a pale-green colour, 
white under. The blossom is pretty, of a pale-yellow 
colour, in thick bunches, and the pollen and honey I'rom 
them afibrd a rich treat to the honey-eating birds of 



GUMS, BARKS, ETC. 223 

these forests. There are many varieties of gum ; the 
leaves of one of which— the peppermint — have a strong 
peppermint flavour, to -which the opossums are very 
partiaL 

The stringy and iron bark trees also — I believe, species 
of gum — are commoner than the gum in certain places. 
In fact, each tree seems to fancy a peculiar locality, and 
rarely grow together. I remarked that the gum-trees 
grow in much moister situations than the others. These 
trees grow much straighter, cut out into greater lengths, 
and the timber of these and the "messmet," as we called 
it — a species of bastard gum — were much more used in 
our forest than the gum, especially for posts and rails. 

The bark, when properly stripped ofl", is very useful 
for thatching bush-huts, flooring tents, &c. ; and the 
coat of inner fibres inside the bark might be put to 
many useful purposes. The Blacks also make canoes of 
it ; but the only native canoes that I have seen have 
been " dug-outs," similar to those used by the North 
American Indians; but the Blacks in our district re- 
quired no canoes. 

Splitting posts and rails is a good bush trade, when 
men understand which trees split well, and pick a 
country where good trees stand thick. About 25*. is 
the general price per 100 on the ground : and two men 
will knock out more than that in a day. All the capital 
required to start this trade is a crown license, tent, 
tools, and rations, and a strong arm. And very different 
is the life of the Australian wood-splitter to that of the 



224 BUSH "WANDErJKGS. 

North American lumberer. Hero the wood-cutter is 
always dry, and his life is a healthy one ; whereas pre- 
mature old age and shortness of days are the inevitable 
fate of the timber-lumberer on the banks of the American 
rivers. Cutting firewood along the coast used to give 
employment to many. But, I believe, no timber must 
now be cut within a mile of the beach ; and it won't pay 
for cutting at any distance, unless there is water carriage 
to Melbourne. The wood must soon become very scarce 
around the towns. 

The wattle is a pretty, light-looking, flowering shrub, 
in some places growing to good-sized trees, but generally 
tall shrubs ; and the wattle-poles are used for a variety 
of purposes. The bark is much sought after for tanning ; 
and gathering wattle-bark, in places where the trees 
stood thick, paid well at one time. As the tree dies 
directly the bark is stripped, we rarely now see a wattle- 
tree of any size in the forests where the bark-peelers 
have been at work. 

The honeysuckle is certainly the most worthless tree 
in the forest, and I think one of the ugliest. The wood 
is spongy and soon rots ; there is nothing handsome 
either in the shape or foliage of the tree, the branches 
being crooked and ragged, and one half of them generally 
rotten. The wood is no good, even for buiming, as it 
holds no heat. In autumn the trees are covered with 
large cones, which, when flowering, are clothed with a 
yellow down, filled with sweet pollen, and on this account 
the honey-eating birds much frequent the honeysuckles. 



THE s'Waiip-oae:, 225 

Here and there tliej grow to* an immense size, but you 
generally see them ten to twelve feet high, growing 
together in patches in the gullies and damp ground. 
Inside the dead coue is a kind of pith, whicli makes 
a famous wick for a " slusk-lamp." It often happened 
tliat we were out of candles in the bush, and we could 
not run into the grocer's over the way, and buy a pound 
just when we wanted ; so we filled an old panikin half 
full of sand, stuck in one of these small honeysuckle 
cones, melted a little fat, poured it on to the sand to fill 
the panikin ; lit the cone when it was hard, and this we 
called a slush-lamp. 

The shey-oak is a prettier tree, but never grows to 
any great size, has a wide-spreading top, and the leaves 
are peculiar, being nothing more than long drooping 
fibres. The shey-oak apple is a pretty kind of fruit, 
resembling the cone of some of the species of pine, 
but small and round ; it is bitter to the taste, and used 
in flavouring the colonial beer. The wood is hard, makes 
capital fires, and the root of the shey-oak is much used 
by the Blacks in making their weapons, such as bome- 
raugs, liangels, &c. 

The light or black wood tree is another pretty tree, 
rarely grows to any large size, and the wood, for beauty 
of grain and general utility, beats any in these forests. 
The blossom is pale yellow, and has a beautiful scent, 
much like that of the lilac. 

The swamp-oak is an elegant shrub, and put me much 
in mind of the broom at home. The flower is yellow, and 
Q 



226 BUSH WA^-DEEINGS. I 

when in full bloom it has a very pretty appearance, waving 
inthelight summer breeze. Theygeneraliygrowin patches, 
on moist ground, and in the old country would be the 
very cover to hold a spring fox or an outlying pheasant. 

The tea-tree is the common scrub here, and grows 
universally throughout the country, in dense patches in 
all moist situations, and by the side of creeks and water- 
holes; and it is to the cover of this shrub that the 
Australian shooter owes many a pair of ducks. It is a 
kind of high bush, grows on a long pole up to twelve to 
fifteen feet ; the branches are bushy, shoot up always per- 
pendicularly, and the leaves are something like the spines 
on a fir. It has a very pretty yellow blossom. The tea- 
tree grows of all heights ; is of a dark-green colour : 
the scrub is very thick, and almost impenetrable, except 
down a cattle track. The wood is hard ; the poles are 
straight, and valuable for many bush purposes. 

A species of mistletoe grows as a parasite on some of 
the old gums. It strongly reminds one of the mistletoe 
at home. 

Immense pieces of swamp, or fungus, are found in the 
forest, and, when dry, used to make an excellent tinder 
for lighting our pipes. I have seen the Blacks eating a 
kind of fungus ; and there are several edible roots here 
which we know not, but which they grub up and eat. 

In the summer, a kind of white secretion gathers on 
the leaves of some of the gum trees, and falls to the 
ground. It is here called manna. It is sweet, and not 
unlike coarse pounded sugar. I never savv* it in such 



PEllENNIAL GEEENNESS OF THE EOEESTS. liliZ 

quantities as Avould pay for gathering, unless it was very 
clear. 

The general scrub or underwood of these forests is 
" myall ;" some species of coarse heather and low shrubs. 
I do not know of any thorn in this country except the 
box. 

I have above slightly noticed the common trees and 
bushes peculiar to this district. Of course, there are 
others which I do not know, but these are the most 
striking ones. The fern tree is met with in the Dan- 
denong ranges ; but many handsome and curious species, 
such as the cedar, the pine, the cabbage-palm, and the 
grass-tree, peculiar to other parts of Australia, are 
strangers here. 

Nothing, perhaps, in this country, strikes the English 
emigrant so much as the perennial greenness of the 
forests, and the slight difference there is in Australia 
between the summer and winter landscape. It is true 
that, in the winter, the leaves want the green freshness 
of spring, but they still cling to the branches ; and at 
this season the trees shed their bark, which hangs down 
in long strips, waving to and fro as the wintry wind 
whistles through the forests with a low mournful wail. 
The seasons, moreover, so imperceptibly glide into each 
other, that the change is scarcely noticed. Magnificent 
as are the Australian forests, he cannot help at times 
comparing the monotony of the woodland landscape here, 
with the varied changes of scene which the different 
seasons present in his northern home ; and at no season 
q2 



228 BIJSn WANDEEINGS. 

is the contrast so apparent as in tlie winter. " Enter a 
forest," as Inglis prettily observes, " wlien the sun breaks 
from the mists of morning upon the dews of the past 
night. Beautiful as is a forest in the spring, when the 
trees unfold their virgin blossoms ; beautiful as it is in 
the summer, when the wandering sunbeams, falling 
through the foliage, chequer tlie mossy carpet beneath ; 
beautiful as it is in autumn, when the painted leaves 
hang frail ; it is more beautiful still when the tall pines 
and gnarled oaks stand in the deep silence of a wintry 
noon, their long arms and fantastic branches heaped 
with the feathery burden which has never caught one 
stain of earth." Such is a true picture of a northern 
forest, which the Australian native has never witnessed ; 
and although probably out of place here, it may serve to 
remind more than one reader of many a distant scene, 
which, however rude in comparison to the soft and sunny 
landscape of the south, can never be fairly obliterated 
from the mind of that man who, let him wander where 
he will, still looks upon the laud of his birth as his own 
peculiar home. 

Notwithstanding its changeability, the climate of 
Victoria must be as salubrious as in any part of the 
world, or we could never lead the gipsy out-door life 
we do here : in fact, as a modern writer truly says, 
" the heat brings no fevers, the rain no agues, the cold 
no consumptions : the rivers are not bordered by 
miasma; the plains are bracing; the air pure; the 
sky open, blue, and bright. The bush itself is free 



OUT-Or-DOOR LIFE. 229 

from forest poison. The settler can range the land 
day and night, over hills, downs, prairies, and bush, 
sleeping in waggons or on the sward, without any 
fear of malaria to blight the healthy, or insidious fogs 
to undermine tlie delicate." 

As to sleeping in the open air, except just in the rainy 
season, the bushman thinks nothing about it, if he has 
but a few matches and tobacco (and what bushman is 
without these) ? But lighting a roaring fire, he throws 
himself down before it, with a saddle or game-bag for 
his pillow, and tumbles off to sleep as sound as in a 
favourite "four-poster." Night after night have I come 
in wet through from flight-shooting, and thrown myself 
down in my wet clothes on the tent floor for a few hours' 
nap till it was time to start for the morning's shot ; and 
as for my old mate, he was a perfect water-dog, and when 
he came in wet I never knew him change his clothes, 
but he just sat before the fire till he was dry. All con- 
stitutions are certainly not alike ; but I can only say that 
I never had a day's illness in the colony except it was 
brought on by my own imprudence, and I am certain no 
one led a harder or more exposed life. 

The real Australian summer and winter are of short 
duration ; the spring and autumn long, and the pleasantest 
seasons of the year. There is little or no twilight in tlie 
evening, and night sets in as soon as the sun sinks into 
the west — one deep crimson streak 

Of intense glory ia the horizon's brim, 
While night o'er all around hangs dark and dim. 



230 BUSH WANDEKINGS. 

On June 21, which is the shortest day here, the sun 
rises about 7, and sets a little after 5 p.m. ; and on 
December 21, the longest day, it rises a little after 
4 A.M., and goes down about half-past 8 p.m. The sun- 
sets are sometimes magnificent. The moonlight nights 
are very beautiful ; and at times the heavens present a 
splendid appearance, spangled with myriads of stars, 
many of them strangers to our northern hemisphere. 
My favourite constellations were Orion's Belt and the 
Southern Cross, for they have been my guiding stars on 
many a night when the shades of evening closed in over 
the forest, and found me miles away from my bush-tent. 
A man soon becomes accustomed to find his way about 
the bush. A little knowledge of the proper position of 
the sun, moon, and stars, and a small pocket-compass, 
the bushman's surest friend, will guide him day or night 
through the most trackless forests. If ever the night 
comes on thick, the best plan is to " camp up" at once, 
for when the track is fairly lost, the more a man wanders 
about to find it, the more confused will he become. I 
never needed a watch in the bush. The sun is always 
due north at twelve, and the reflection of its rays on a 
compass will show the time within about a quarter of an 
hour. The hottest months in the year are January and 
Tebruary, and then at times the heat is intense. The 
greatest curse to this country are the hot winds and bush- 
fires. In the summer evenings the sun sets fiery red, 
and the bushman well knows what this betokens. Next 
morning the burning north wind comes sweeping over 



BUSH FIE2S. 231 

the deserts of the interior like a fui'nace blast, and both 
man and beast feel its efFeets. All bush-work is sus- 
pended during the heat of the day. The cattle seek the 
nearest water-holes, the dogs lie panting in the shade, 
and the birds sit listless on the branches with open 
mouths and drooping wings. The hot wind generally 
commences about nine, and in the afternoon it suddenly 
chops round to the south, and a sea-breeze sets in. The 
hot winds are most prevalent in January and February ; 
they sometimes last three days, and come on perhaps 
every ten days. In Melbourne a hot-wind day is called 
a " brick-fielder," on account of the dust, which darkens 
the sky. On these days dense volumes of smoke rising 
in different directions warn the settler that bush-fires 
are raging, and the whole country will be in a blaze per- 
haps for miles. The fire comes rolling on, devouring 
everything in its progress, sweeping through forest and 
over plain, and nothing stops it except a bare place that 
has been previously burnt. Such a day was Black 
Thursday some few years since, when bush-fires raged 
throughout the country, and the loss of life and destruc- 
tion of property was so immense, that it has ever since 
been a " black-letter day" in the bushman's calendar. 
In my opinion these fires are in a great measure pro- 
duced by the heat of the sun and atmosphere. They are 
sure to rage on a hot-wind day, and I have seen a fire 
break out in different places on the plains a mile apart 
at the same time. Glass bottles and pieces of tin lying 
about act, I fancy, as burning glasses to the sun's rays, 



232 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

and there are plenty of these all over the bush ; for 
■wherever the white man camps, he is sure to leave behind 
him an empty bottle or sardine case. The shooter should 
be very careful about his wadding in the dry summer- 
season. The law is stringent with regard to camp-fires 
in the bush during the summer. In pitching a tent in 
the forest, it is best to pick an open place in the timber, 
burn away the long grass all round, and clear up the dry 
logs. We were once burnt out, " lock, stock, and barrel," 
and lost all our little property. 

Nothing can exceed the pure salubrity of the climate 
here in the spring and autumn, and there is a freshness 
in the early summer morning's breeze, laden with the 
perfume of the gum, lightwood, and other blossoms, 
which I never felt elsewhere. The nights are coldish 
throughout the year, and a heavy dew often falls in the 
end of summer. I never saw snow in Victoria, although 
I believe the snowy ranges and Australian alps are often 
covered. I only once saw ice about the thickness of a 
sixpence. Hailstorms are prevalent in the summer, often 
accompanied with thunder, and the hail-stones are about 
the size of marbles. The rainy season is very irregular. 
In some years the swamps and water-holes are well filled 
by July ; in others the heavy rains do not fall until the 
end of winter. May, June, July, and August, are generally 
the rainy months. The drought is most felt in January 
and February. In most of the other months we have 
occasionally a rainy night or two. The principal weight 
of rain falls at night ; and when it does rain, it comes 



A THUXDER-STORIT. 233 

down in earnest. It, however, soon runs off the dry 
rises, and sinks into the light sandy soil ; and we suftered 
little or no inconvenience in the forests from the rain, 
even in the most rainy seasons. 

I only saw three or four regular thunder-storms in this 
country ; but these tvere storms, and one of them I shall 
recollect to the day of my death, for I was lost in the 
forest that night, and the storm raged with unabated 
violence from ten at night to three in the morning. The 
night was pitchy dark, except just when a flash of bright 
lightning lighted up the gloom of the forest, and then for 
some seconds 1 was fairly blinded. The raiu came down 
in torrents ; and as the blue lightning hissed through the 
sky, every flash seemed pointed where I stood, and a 
large shey-oak was struck, and shivered into a thousand 
pieces w^ithin a few yards of me. I never expected to 
leave the forest alive, and I think I never spent so long 
and dreary a night as this. I have looked death in the 
face more than once, but it has always been in moments 
of excitement. In this instance I stood helpless as a 
child, without any power to avert or even avoid the 
danger. Never does man feel his own insignificance so 
much as when the elements are at war around him. 
There is often a great deal of beautiful sheet lightning 
at night, especially in the northern sky, with distant 
rolls of thunder ; but heavy thunder-storms are of very 
rare occurrence. I once felt a slight shock of an earth- 
quake here. 

I have perhaps already dwelt too long upon this 



234 EUSH WANDEEINGS. 

subject, but I must beg of tlie reader to bear with me a 
little longer, and read a few lines whicb I have copied 
out of Melbourne Funch, and whicli, although apparently 
the ofispring of a discontented mind, convey a true and 
not very exaggerated idea of the natural history of this 
land of contrarieties. If intended as a sarcasm, they 
certainly contain more truth than bitterness. 

Know ye the land where the shey-oak and gum-trees. 
In shapeless deformity darken the wold ; 

Where the blast of the north, where the chill of the sea breeze, 
Now scorches to fever, now pierces with cold ? 

Know ye the land contrariety sways. 
Perverting the laws common nature obeys ; 
"Where black swans and magpies in whitened array. 
And water-rats duck-billed, come forth to the day. 
Where trees shed their barks as the serpents their skin, 
And the stones of the cherries are outside, not in ; 
Where the crowing of cocks at the midnight is heard, 
And beasts breed their young in a manner absurd ; 
Where enjoyment a fiction is, comfort a myth, 
And the heart of an esculent hardens to pith ; 
Where a wooden pear offers the toughest of fruit. 
And the laugh of the bush jackass never is mute ; 
Where the dust of the earth, and the glare of the sky. 
Are a plague to the breath, to the skin, and the eye, 
Where waters are brackish, and rivers are dry : 
Where the load-star of life is the gold in the mine, 
And the spirit supreme is the spirit of wine? 



235 



CHAPTEE XIY. 

GENERAL SPORTING OP VICTORIA— THE TUEF— THE CHASE— THE 
RING, AND CRICKET. 

Although tlie aiiri sacra fames is the ruling passion 
of tlie colonist, tliere is a decided taste for field-sports, 
in fact, for manly sports of every description, among all 
classes out here. No one enjoys a race, or a good day's 
shooting, more than the Melbourne citizen ; and a man 
of business is far more independent here than at home, 
for he can have an occasional run in the bush, and 
return again to his office, or counting-house, after having 
blown the Melbourne dust off him, without being 
" spotted " as a sporting-doctor, or lawyer, as the case 
may be. I certainly never, even among the game- 
keepers of the old country — and I had some expe- 
rience with these gentlemen in my early days — have met 
with better field-shots, take them as a class, than the 
shooters out here ; and as for riding, half the bushmen 
live in the saddle ; and it would puzzle some of our best 
cross-country jocks to stay a couple of miles with three 
or four stock-riders, cutting out a wild bullock from a 
mob in the bush. 

It is not astonishing that the turf is rapidly rising in 
Victoria, where horses are in such general request, and 



236 BUSn WANDERINGS. 



I 



wliere the encouragement of a good breed is a matter of 
such vitality. A better and different breed of horses is 
gradually creeping into the country. Importations of 
thorough-breds from England yearly take place ; more 
attention is paid to breeding and training ; race meetings 
are springing up in every district ; lads from most of the 
English stables find their way over here ; the stakes are 
well worth winning ; and now the impetus has once fairly 
been given, we may expect to see Victoria soon rank 
second only to England in the noble sport of horse-racing. 
There is no want of either money or pluck among the 
Victorian turfites ; and when men of judgment are 
backed by men of money things are sure to go on right. 
I believe there are now more races in Victoria through- 
out the year than in any other country out of England. 
It is true there is a good deal of " leather-plating," and 
many of the colonial cracks have more the appearance of 
good English cocktails than " Derby winners ;" but 
Eome was not built in a day, and if old Prank Buckle 
could rise from his grave, he would see many an altera- 
tion and improvement in turf matters at home Avhich in 
his time were never dreamt of. Melbourne Course lies 
perhaps three miles out of town, and is as nice a country 
race-course as a man would wish to see. There are two 
separate clubs in Melbourne, — the Melbourne Jockey- 
Club and the Melbourne Turf-Club. Each has its 
separate meetings. The spring Jockey-Club meeting- 
of 1858 lasted four days, during which twenty-one races 
were run. The public money given amounted to about 



THE TUEF. 237 

£2,000, and the gate-money carae to near £.1,000. 
There is also a "convincing" ground on Emerald Hill, 
near Melbourne, where pinvate matches and steeple- 
chases come off, and where many an owner is convinced, 
to his cost, that his nag is not the flyer he took him to 
be. A very fair new Government race-course has been 
lately laid out, at Dandenong, about twenty miles from 
Melbourne, where the managers get up two days' sport. 
These races are principally supported by settlers in the 
neighbourhood, and will see a better day. Independent 
of the local interest they possess, they will afiord a kind 
of " hay and straw " meeting to the Melbourne trainers, 
and occasionally put an odd £50 into the pockets of 
those men whose stud is limited, and these hardly able 
to run in the best company. Within the last two years 
a new era has opened upon the Victorian turf, by the 
establishment of Mr. Anthony Green's training-stables, 
on Emerald Hill. He certainly led oif the ball well, for in 
the year 1857, his first year of public training, his stable 
won sixty-one races ; value of the stakes, £8,G93. No bad 
worlc this for a young colony. If a knowledge of his 
profession and experience are worth anything, he ought 
to get on. One of the oldest and best friends I ever 
had in the colony, he has my sincere wishes for his 
success. I trust he may long keep up the position lie 
now holds, as the " John Scott " of Victoria ; and may 
"Green's lot" prove a terror to the Victorian turf for 
many a year to come ! 

A small but remarkably neat pack of hounds is kept 



238 BUSH WANDEKINGS. 

in Melbourne, hunted by Mr. George "Watson, of steeple- 
chase celebrity. Their meets are advertised, and their 
doings duly chronicled in BelVs Life in Victoria, by 
"Nimrod's Ghost." As they rarely meet more than ten 
or twelve miles from the kennel, and the wild-dog and 
kangaroo are now rare in this district, a "bagman" is 
generally the order of the day ; and I rather fancy that 
the meets of the Melbourne hunt bring out men more 
to try the merits of rival nags and riders among the 
stiff three-rail enclosures of this country, than to show 
the real science of hunting. 

It is little wonder that steeple-chasing should be a 
favourite amusement in this land of " posts and rails ;" 
and Abbott and Walkover will long live in the recol- 
lection of all who have seen this game little uag and 
rider leading the van in a good field of Victorian 
steeple-chase cracks. Trotting-matches and foot-races 
are constantly taking place. Eegattas are often got 
up in the bay. There are some excellent wrestlers on 
the diggings. Border gatherings, periodically held in 
different districts, recall the memory of the Scot to the 
games of " Auld Lang Syne;" and every Christmas 
some sporting and eccentric " Pub." advertises amuse- 
ment for the million, in the shape of sack-races, 
climbing the greasy-pole, and other good old English 
sports. 

Pigeon-shooting from the trap seems to be on the 
rise, and every season has a champion. Just as I was 
leaving, two or three heavy matches were on the carpet. 



THE EIJv'G. 239 

My old friend, Groldstone, was at the top of the tree ; 
and although, no douht, there are as good fish in the sea 
as ever came out of it, yet -^-hen he walks up to the trap, 
I should consider it a safe investment to "put a fiver" 
on him. 

" The ring " is not forgotten in Victoria ; and in 
a new country like this, where men of all nations arc 
thrown together, where the bowie-knife and the revolver 
are weapons familiar to all, where two out of every three 
men we meet are in the prime of youth and strength, 
where a sort of Jack's-as-good-as-his-master feeling is 
predominant among all classes, where in a hasty dispute 
a blow quickly follows a word — the encouragement of 
fair British boxing is of far greater moment than might 
at first be supposed. Por of all modes of settling 
a dispute, the naked fist must be the beat, so long as 
the rules of the British P.E. are fairly acted up to. One 
thing is certain, that although we occasionally do hear of 
the most dastardly crimes being committed, the general 
feeling of man towards man in this country is good ; and 
if his quarrel is but just, a man may generally reckon on 
having fair play. There are several professors of the 
" manly art of self-defence," men or stars of the London 
ring, both in Melbourne and on the diggings, and plenty 
of the right stufi" to make good boxers. BelVs Life in 
Victoria is the oracle of the Victorian P.E,, and when a 
"tournament" does come ofi", all things are conducted 
with as much order and regularity as if the veteran 
commissary were there with his staff", and the veritable 



240 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

" ISTunquam Dormlo " watcliiDg the proceedings with his 
eagle eye. 

Sell's Life in Victoria, a new periodical, devoted to 
" the turf, the chase, and the ring," is published weekly, 
and in addition to all the sporting news of the colony, 
generally copies from its London namesake a verlaiim 
account of any good fight or race. The time for news 
to travel between home and here is short, and when any 
great sporting event is about to come off in the old 
country, it is looked forward to with as much interest 
here as at home. BelVs Life in Victoria appears to be 
ably conducted, free from all party spirit, and such an 
organ must be of the gi'eatest service to the sporting 
interests of the colony. 

Of all out-door manly sports, however, cricket has 
gone ahead more in a short time than any game in the 
colony, and Victoria can now pick an eleven which will 
be soon hard to beat by any club in the world. It is 
plain there must be some very good professionals out 
here as tutors, for I have watched practice on the 
Melbourne ground which would not disgrace Lord's, 
and the club is but yet in its infancy. But the Victorian 
cricketers seem to enter heart and soul into their fa- 
vourite game, and stick at nothing to render their club 
perfect. This is as it should be, and it is gratifying to 
see that those manly old English games, which were the 
pride of our forefathers, and have rendered England 
famous throughout the world, are not forgotten when 
her sons leave their native shores, but meet in friendly 



BETTiyO-EOOMS, nOESE-BAZAAES, ETC. 241 

rivalry in foreign climes. Matches are played between 
the Victorians and the Sydney club ; and although I 
believe at present the old colony has the pull, we may 
expect, as practice makes perfect, to see the tables 
turned, and " the old man beaten by the boy." 

I have seen some capital black-breasted Eeds out 
here ; but if any cock-fighting is carried on, it is done 
" under the rose." And although there are some most 
''varmint" looking "tykes," both in Melbourne and on 
the diggings, they appear to be kept for their legitimate 
purpose — that of guarding the house or tent. 

There is a Tattersall's-yard in Melbourne, with an 
hotel attached, where turf business is transacted. There 
is the Turf-Club Hotel, several private clubs, and a 
public betting-room in Bourke Street, where a man can 
"get pepper" to any amount about what horses he 
fancies best. Business is also done here on the home 
events. Several horse-bazaars are held in the town every 
morning, where the " horsey" gentlemen of the neigh- 
bourhood are wont to congregate and compare notes ; 
and if a sporting man is wanted, he is generally to be 
found in Eow's Bazaar, or Watson's Sale-yard. There 
are public billiard-rooms for the nobs, skittle-alleys for 
the mob, and chess divans for the sober coffee- drinkers ; 
and each class is ably represented. Much to the credit 
of the town, there are no public gaming-houses, although 
I have not the least doubt that, if a man fancies himself, 
he can anywhere, " on the quiet," find his match at 
a hand of crib or blind all-fours. 



242 BUSn WANDEEINGS. 

Take it all in all, Melbourne bids fair soon to become 
cue of the most sporting towns out of England. There 
is nothing strait-laced about the colonist. If he 
wishes for a day's sport, he has it; and he backs his 
opinion in a race, fight, or steeple-chase without caring 
who knows it ; and is thought none the worse of for it. 
Moreover, the tastes of most men out here are this way 
inclined ; and as long as this is the case the good cause 
must flourish. Eational and manly amusements will 
always create a good feeling among the inhabitants of 
any land, and nothing shows the character of a people 
more than the choice of their sports and pastimes. The 
encouragement of field sports gives a healthy tone and 
manly bias to all classes, which will, I trust, long con- 
tinue in Port Phillip ; although I myself have ceased to 
be personally interested in the doings of the colony. 



243 



CHAPTER XV. 

EIVEK FISH AND ANGLING. 

Vert little can be said respecting the angling, or 
river-fishing, in Victoria. Coming, as I did, into this 
country with the magnificent rivers and lakes of Sweden 
fx'esh in my mind, nothing struck me more than the 
insignificance of the rivers in this part of the colony; 
they are, in fact, little more than creeks — many of them 
merely a succession of water-holes, during the summer 
choked with high reeds and bulrushes ; the banks of others 
stony, steep, and rugged, or grown up with small trees, 
which overhang tlie stream and nearly meet at the top. 
I brought all my salmon-tackle out with me from the 
north : the only use I made of my rod was to cut it up 
for cleaning and ramrods. My trolling and fly-lines 
came in handy for tying up wisps of game ; and my 
scdmon and trout flies soon became the prey of the moth, 
instead of the fish. A man requires very little fishing- 
tackle out here, and whatever he wants he can buy in 
Melbourne. Most of the creeks and water-holes, how- 
ever, do abound with fish, such as they are ; but the 
only fresh-water species I ever met with were eel, bream, 
trout, black-fish, mullet, and herring ; and most of these 
can live in salt as well as in fresh water. 
R 2 



244i TiVSK WANDEKI^'GS. 

The Australian eel runs to a large size, is blacker in 
colour than the British eel, and fatter and richer to the 
taste. They abound in all the swamps when they are 
full of water, and as the water runs off they get into the 
creeks and water-holes, Avhere they remain during the 
summer, and early in autumn they draw down to the 
sea. I cannot say whether they go there for the pur- 
pose of spawning, but I know these migrations are very 
regular, and thousands are caught about the end of 
March and beginning of April, at the mouths of the 
creeks, as they travel out. AVhen they come back I 
don't know, but they do not appear to remain long in the 
sea, for I used to see the Blacks spearing them on the 
swamps as soon as ever they filled and the creeks began 
to run fresh-water. During the winter all the creeks 
that have outlets to the sea are fresh, and the water in 
the bay at their mouths is only brackish for a long way 
out to sea ; whereas, in the summer, the water in these 
creeks is salt for a long way up. In many places the 
eels here don't care to take a bait, but where they do a 
large worm on a night line always answers. It is a 
singular fact that earth-worms are very rare in Australia. 
The Blacks are very expert at spearing eels on the 
swamps with a single long-pointed spear ; I have known 
two of them to catch 1 cwt. in a day, and sell them for 
a bottle of grog. The wholesale price here is generally 
Sd. per lb. I never saw a real good eel-gleave out here — 
the very thing for these swamps and creeks. 

The black-fish is found in most creeks, and appears to be 



FEESII-WATEK TlSn. 245 

about the only fresli-Avater fish, except perhaps the eel and 
the trout, indigenous to the inland creeks, which have no 
direct communication with the sea. The black-fidh runs 
to no great size, at least with us — I never saw one Vv-cigh 
1 lb. In appearance and habits it rather resembles the 
tench at home, and is a nice-eating fish. 

The Australian bream, or brim, was certainly the best 
of all our fresh-water species ; but I am not certain whetlier 
it can be strictly called a fresh-water fish, for I have 
only seen them in the creeks during the summer, when 
the water was brackish. It is something like the Euro- 
pean bream in appearance, but not so coarse, and more 
silvery to look at. With us they rarely exceeded 1 lb. 
in weight, and were very much like the small snapper. 
Its habits much resemble those of the carp — very shy, 
frequenting deep clear holes ; and were I to angle for 
them I should fish early and late, and use the same bait 
and tackle as for that fish. 

The Australian river trout is a very poor apology for 
the trout at home, and looks more like a cross between 
the roach and the miller's-thumb than anything else. 
I rarely saw one longer than my finger. It seems to be 
a grovelHng fish, does not rise to the fly, and I fancy we 
were wrong in calling it the trout, which fish it resem- 
bles neither in shape, habits, or appearance. They were 
common in most creeks and water-holes. 

At certain seasons the herring and mullet come up 
from the salt water into the creeks and rivers that run 
direct into the sea, and they appear to live as well iu 



246 BUSH WAKDEEINGS. 

fresh as salt water. They are the only fish that will 
rise to the fly here, and catching them is about on a par 
with whipping for dace and roach at home. For fly- 
fishing the Tarra and the Barwen are the Coquet and 
the Dove of Victoria. I believe the general fly in use 
out here is red body and white wings ; but the Victorian 
fly-fisher requires no very varied assortment of flies in 
his book. Both the herring and mullet are bright, clean- 
looking fish, but they run to no great size. 

I believe the Murray cod is a fine fish; so large, 
according to the accounts I have heard, that I fear my 
readers would never be able to swallow them. I have, 
however, seen one over 20 lbs., and it resembled its 
European namesake in no one point that I could per- 
ceive. Cod-fishing in the Murray, however, is now 
becoming a lucrative trade. In the large rivers up the 
country, such as the Murray and Darling, there may be 
other fish and better fishing than on the coast, but my 
remarks apply only to the Melbourne district. 

Small crayfish abound in all the swamps ; and a small 
species of turtle is taken on the banks of some of the 
inland rivers, the eggs of which are considered a delicacy. 
There are no species of pike or perch in these lakes and 
rivers, and none of those soft fish, such as the roach, 
chub, or carp, peculiar to Britain. The flesh of Vic- 
torian fresh-water fish is certainly very meagre. 

One thing is quite clear — that Victoria is no country 
for the angler. I hardly ever saw a stream on this side 
adapted to throwing the fly. Even if the fish were 



worth killing, and if you booked a good fish, the chances 
would be very much against your landing it, owing to 
the steepness and rottenness of the banks, and the heaps 
of moss and rubbish with which every river is filled. 
Moreover, angling is never likely to become a favourite 
amusement with the present race of Yictorians. Unless 
he can make good wages at it, neither the regular colo- 
nial shooter, nor fisherman, deems the sport worth follow- 
ing ; and angling in this country hardly affords excite- 
ment enough for the amateur sportsman. Of all field- 
sports angling is, without doubt, the least mercenary, 
peculiarly the sport of youth and declining years, and a 
happy and contented mind. As long as the gold-fever 
rages there is not likely to be much quiet or content out 
here ; no one in this country, as long as he can earn a 
shilling, is considered old enough to knock off work ; and, 
as for the young " currency lads," they are more pre- 
cocious than the youth at home, and cracking a stock- 
whip is more to their taste than throwing the fly. 



248 BUSn WANDEKIXGS. 



CHAPTER XYI. 

SEA-FISH AND SEA-FISHING. 

But these coasts abound in sea-fish of many speciea ; 
and sea-fishiug, although, like many other things in the 
colony, now overdone, is still a paying game, when men 
are steady and stick to their W'ork. Since the great 
influx of " Celestials," salt fish has risen in value ; and if 
John Chinaman has benefited no one else in the colony, 
he has at least done some good to the fishermen ; for 
instead of being obliged now, as formerly, to run the fisli 
up to Melbourne themselves, or sell them to the hawkers 
at their own prices, on every fishing station along the 
coast Chinamen are camped, who buy the fish from the 
boat, and salt them on the spot. Tons of salt fish are 
yearly sent up to the diggings for consumption by the 
Chinamen. 

There is always a ready sale for fresh fish in Mel- 
bourne, and often at exorbitant prices. A good fish- 
market is much wanted here. The Melbourne Billings- 
gate is held on Prince's Bridge, at daylight, where the 
hawkers from the country sell their fish to the street 
hawkers, and any one who wishes to hear a little chaff or 
colonial slang can enjoy a rich treat by paying a visit 



SEA-riSlI, OTSTEES, ETC. 219 

to the bridge-end any morning, when the fish-carts 
come up. 

The principal sea-fish here are snapper, flathead, sea- 
pike, salmon, salmon-trout, mullet, herring, and gar-fish. 
There are doubtless other species, unknown to me, but 
these were the common market fish on our coasts. The 
snapper and flathead are about the only ones taken by 
the hook. There are some famous oyster-beds in 
"W^esteru Port Bay, and there must also be oysters in 
Port Phillip Bay, only no beds have yet been found, for 
I have often picked up capital oysters on this beach, 
washed ashore after a heavy gale. The wholesale price 
for oysters in Western Port Bay is Sd. per dozen. The 
oyster, peculiar to our bays, was large, and resembled 
the coarse British oj^ster in appearance and flavour ; but 
there is a very pretty little shell-fish, which they call the 
Sydney oyster; this is not the shape of the common 
oyster, being long and deep, and the shell ridged. The 
pearl oyster, which is found on some of these coasts, is 
not met with in these bays. Some very large cray-fish 
are taken at the Heads. Shrimps used to abound in Port 
Phillip Bay ; and when they sold at Ss. per quart, and ci 
man could catch some gallons in the day, shrimping was 
as good as gold digging. An old friend of mine made a 
little fortune at it when thirsty gold diggers swarmed in 
the Melbourne public-houses. Strange to say, all the 
shrimps have now disappeared from this bay. 

The snapper season is the fisherman's harvest herej 
they come on to these coasts about September (I recoUeet 



250 BUSH WANDEEIKGS. 

we used generally to kill oui' first snipe about the time 
the first snapper was caught), and are taken up to 
Christmas. They then leave the ground, travel up the 
bay by the Geelong line, and out to sea at the Heads. 
The snapper is a flat, coarse-looking fish, something 
similar to a large bream, but with a large prickly dorsal 
fin like the perch. They are a very gregarious, bold 
biting fish, have their particular feeding-grounds, and I 
have known six or eight dozen big snapper taken by one 
boat's crew in the day. They are worth about £1 to 
£1. 10^. per dozen, are a very good eating fish, and take 
salt well. The large snapper run from 12 to 20 lbs., and 
I have seen them larger. As soon as the big snapper 
begin to leave, the second-sized ones come on to the 
feeding-grounds, and last of all, about Christmas, the 
small ones. 

The flathead is a curious-looking fish, and, like the 
morepoke among birds, seems all head. They generally 
run from half a pound up to two pounds, but I have seen 
them larger. They have a sharp prickle on the edge of 
each gill cover, the wound of which is dangerous. I have 
seen some very ugly wounds inflicted both by this and 
the prickly back fin of the snapper, and it is dangerous 
work standing in a crowded boat with the big snapper 
floundering about the bottom, unless a man has on good 
sea-boots. I suppose it is owing to the quantity of animal 
food men eat, and to the heat of the blood ; but a small 
flesh wound, which at home would be treated as nothing, 
is often out here attended with serious consequences. 



THE SALMON. 251 

A poultice made of the leaves and stalk of the marsli 
mallow, wliicli in many places here grows wild, and is the 
most valuable plant in the bushman's herbal, is an excel- 
lent remedy for cuts, bruises, swellings, &c. 

The flat-fish come into the bay with the small snapper, 
when the large fish have left, and are caught up so late 
in autumu, principally with lines, while the boat is drift- 
ing. The small snapper are caught with bait on the same 
ground as the large ones ; twenty to thirty dozen cf flat- 
head and small snapper are sometimes caught by two 
hands in the day. They will be worth about 2s. per 
dozen ; but the value of the fish here depends much ou 
circumstances. The flathead is considered as fine a table 
fish as any in the colony. 

The principal net-fish here are salmon, salmon-trout, 
mullet, herring, seapike, and gar-fish ; and these come on 
the coast, in large shoals, at irregular periods. 

The salmon and the salmon-trout rather resemble the 
small salmon-trout at home in shape and appearance; 
but they have no adipose fin, and rarely run to any large 
size. They are both, however, clean, silvery-looking, nice 
eating fish. jS'ow and again a good haul of salmon or 
herrings is made on the coast, and I have known a boat's 
crew to clear £60 in one night. But this is a rare oc- 
currence now. The large shoals of fish don't set in to 
these shores as formerly ; and if by chance one is seen, 
too many are on the look out to share the prey. As I 
said before, sea fishing is overdone in this bay. When I 
first knew Mordialloc, I don't believe more than three 



252 Ersn WANDEEI^'Gs 



I 



fishing parties were camped there ; and " "Wiseman," one' 
of the oldest and best fishermen in the bay, had the coast 
nearly to bimself. Now there is a regular canvas town 
of fishermen's tents here during the season, and I have 
counted between forty and fifty boats on the snapper 
ground at one time. 

The seapike runs to 5 or 6 lbs., and much resembles 
the seapike at home. The gar-fish sometimes run to a 
good size, are taken in large shoals, and sold by the 
basketful. 

There are a great many dog-fisb in these bays, of 
dift'erent species ; and one which we called the pig-headed 
dog-fish is curious and interesting, as being antediluvian ; 
in fact, many of the common fishes peculiar to these seas 
are of the earliest kind, and have for the most part a 
cartilaginous structure ; and it is worthy of remark, as 
Professor Owen observes, that we have both in the 
botany, zoology, and ichthyology of Australia a striking 
analogy to that of the Oolite ^Era (of geologists), a 
period in the earliest stage of creation, when the mam- 
malia first appeared. 

I have seen some fair-sized sharks taken in both these 
bays, and one monster, which must have rivalled Port- 
Eoyal Tom, haunted our bay for a season, and if he w^ere 
only half as largo as the fishermen represented, must 
have indeed been a wonderful fish ; I don't think, hovr- 
ever, we had any ground-sharks ; I never heard of a 
whale finding its way in at the Heads ; at times heads of 
large porpoises would show themselves, but neither in 



SEA nsn. 253 

numbers nor varieties of species can these coasts be at all 
compared to the British shores. 

The benito sometimes, but rarely, comes into these 
bays. The butter-fish runs to a large size oiF the Heads ; 
and if the accounts I have heard are true, this must be 
the largest eating-fish ofi:' these coasts. The smaller ones 
used to come on to our beach in summer, and we speared 
them in shallow water. 

We had two species of large ray, — the one which we 
called the stiugoree— for, I presume, the stingy ray ; and 
the other the old maid, or fiddle-fish ; and small flounders 
abounded on the sandy flats. The stingoree is a very 
large species of ray, often weighing 15 or 20 lbs., with a 
long thin tail, and a long, sharp, jagged spike on the back 
of the tail, which the fish can erect at pleasure. The 
fiddler is something similar, but rounder, with a smaller 
tail, and no spike. Both used to lie on the bottom in 
shallow water. The back of the fiddle-fish is marked 
with black lines, and I suppose it derives its name from 
some fancied resemblance to a fiddle. The livers of botli 
these fish, as well as the shark and dog-fish, boil down to 
capital oil, and this is the only purpose they are put to, 
neither being considered eatable. I have, however, eaten 
both, and, with the help of a bottle of " Burgess's 
original," should not have known them from skait. Jelly- 
fish of all shapes and sizes float about the bay ; and cut- 
tle-fish, the long tendons of which are an excellent bait 
for snapper, and which we called squid, abound on the 
coasts. There are several nastv-looking fish in these 



254 BUSH wandehings. 

bays ; — tlie poisonous toad-fisli, tlie prickly porcupine- 
fish, and others ; and often, when a net is drawn ashore, 
many small but singular wonders of the deep are brought 
to light. 

We had several species of limpet or wilks on the small 
rocks ; one which we called " the warrener," as large as a 
great wood-snail, which was capital eating. By the way, 
I never recollect seeing any land-snails in these forests. 
But the finest shell-fish in this bay was the "mutton- 
fish," which in the island of Jersey is called the 
" ormer," a large flat sheil-fish, often as large as one's 
hand, which sticks so closely to the rocks by the fleshy 
side that they require to be removed with a knife. These 
mutton-fish are excellent eating when roasted on the 
ashes, and a dozen of them will make what is colonially 
termed a " capital feed." The Blacks are very fond of 
them ; and it is extraordinary to see what a time they 
can remain under water when diving for mutton-fish on 
the rocks below the surface. 

Two or three species of small crab were found in the 
crevices of the rocks at low water ; and one, which we 
called the soldier-crab, was handsome and curious. There 
was a funny little species of land-crab, round, and about 
as large as a musket-ball, which used to cover the beach 
at low water in such quantities in certain places, that the 
ground seemed alive with them as they scuttled back- 
wards into the sand. The crayfish, however, i-epresented 
our lobster and crab on these shores. 

A small species of saw'fish — I have seen the saw about 



THE rUE-SEAL. 2bO 

one foot long — is met with in these bays ; and there are 
some very pretty varieties of star-fish. But we had very 
few shells on these coasts : those which we did find vrere 
small and plain-looking ; and whatever value they might 
bear in the eyes of a conchologist, were certainly not to 
be prized on account of their beauty. 

Good fishing-gear is still dear out here, especially 
English sieve-nets and a good whale-boat : and to start 
right, a fishing-party requires some capital. I have known 
men stick to it during the summer, in a small dingy, 
single-handed, and make a good living, when the hook- 
fish were well in : but this is dangerous work ; for the 
squalls come on so suddenly in these bays, that the 
fishermen have often to "up killoch" and run into 
shore before the wind with scarcely five minutes' warn- 
ing. Tour is about the right number for a good fishing- 
party; and if they only understood their business, worked 
steadily at it, and shunned the "nobbier" — the ruin of 
many a good man in this country, — they could hardly 
fail to do well. But, like the shooters, blie fisherman's 
}notto is generally "happy-go-lucky;" and perhaps the 
principal reason why we never see either in very flourish- 
ing circumstances is, that there is rarely a woman in the 
bush-tent to keep " the house in order." 

The fur-seal abounds at certain seasons on some of the 
rocky islands at the entrance to "Western Port Bay. The 
skins are valuable, and I should think the blubber was 
worth something : but nobody seemed to care much 
about them. Sealing, however, is not a boy's game ; for 



250 BUSH WANDEEINCS. 

it requires a good boat and hardy crew to weather the 
surf, which at times breaks with thundering violence 
over the iron-bound coast at the entrance to this bay. 
The seals appear to come on to these rocks about the 
end of November ; and fine still weather in December 
is the right time for sealing, 

"Western Port Bay will, I fancy, soon be the great 
rendezvous of the fishermen south of Melbourne. The 
shipping and steamers have much disturbed the fish in 
Port Phillip Bay within the last few years, whereas in 
"Western Port Bay there is no harbour for shipping ; 
and altliough the shores are principally mud-flats in- 
stead of a sandy beach, there is much good fishing- 
ground, and many places where a net can be " shot." 
The distance from town is considerable ; but even now 
hawkers run regularly during the winter ; and depend 
upon it, if the fishermen once get down there, John 
Chinaman will soon follow them. 

"When I first came into this district, I camped for two 
seasons at Mordialloc, on the beach, about fifteen miles 
south of Melbourne, then the best fishiug-station in this 
part of the country. In my time there was not a better 
shooting-ground anywhere near Jtlelbourne ; and had 
things only remained as they then were, I should never 
have cared to leave it ; but the game became scarce, and 
all the land bought up, so that you could not walk a mile 
without a three-rail fence staring you in the face. I shall 
even look back with pleasure upon the time I spent at 
Mordialloc ; nor shall I easily forget the uniform kind 



" WAIFS AND STEATS." 257 

treatment I received, not only at the hands of Mr, 
McDonald, the owner of the station, but of every one 
else connected with it. I certainly was more at home 
there than in any other of my camping-places : for it is 
very rarely that a station-master out here will conde- 
scend to notice (otherwise than as a parish-beadle regards 
a vagrant in the old country) a vagabond shooter who 
camps upon his run. 

A few years ago many a man earned good wages by 
picking up "waifs and strays," washed ashore on the 
coasts of this bay ; and I remember, when the Ontario 
was wrecked on the Heads, in 1853, some thousands of 
pounds' worth of property came ashore, and the beach 
was strewed for days with valuable articles of every 
description. Unfortunately, her cargo was not a dry 
one ; and I saw a fatal accident, which resulted in the 
death of one of our party, arise from the reckless man- 
ner in which the spirits were served out upon that occa- 
sion. Formerly every ship discharged her lumber in the 
bay ; and owing to the heavy rates of storage in Mel- 
bourne, emigrants would cast many things overboard 
rather than bring them ashore: now, however, people 
are more careful ; and this beach is so regularly 
" combed," that one rarely sees anything worth pick- 
ing up. 



BUSH WAKDERINGS. 



CHAPTEE XVII. 

THE ABOEIGINES OP POET PHILLIP — PAKTING ADVICE TO OLD FRIENDS^ 
AND CONCLUSION, 

Of the Auatralian aborigines I have but little to say. 
They are a race fast passing away ; and the few that we 
do meet with now about Melbourne — in fact, in all the 
settled districts — are very different men from the real 
Australian native of the last century. There are only 
two tribes now in the vicinity of Melbourne ; and these 
are but remnants of what they were when we first took 
possession of their country. The Tarra Blacks, who camp 
about the ranges at the head of the Tarra, north-east of 
Melbourne, and the " Bomerang, or Coast Tribe," whose 
head station is at Mordialloc, and who own — if we can 
use that term now we have dispossessed them of all their 
land — the country to the southward down to the Heads, 
These, by constant intercourse with the white man, have 
learnt much of our language and habits, are on capital 
terms with us, and there is no more danger in meeting a 
lot of them in the bush than a gang of gipsies at home. 
The Gipps Land tribe appears to be the most numerous 
in this part of Port Phillip, and these men seem to 
be wilder and more ferocious than any I have seen, 
"Wherever Government has taken up their land, a 



THE ABOEIGINES, 259 

Black's reserve of, I believe, a square mile, is left, 
and blankets and rations, provided by Grovernnient, 
are served out to them by the master of the station 
nearest to their reserve. There is also a protector, or 
kind of magistrate, appointed to look after their worldly 
interests ; but no one seems to trouble himself about 
giving them any religious instruction. It is not within 
ray province to offer any opinion as to whether or not it 
is our duty to do so, after, as it were, adopting them. 
There is a great cry at home about sending missionaries 
into foreign parts of which we know but little, and yet 
here we have tribes of savage heathens wandering about 
among Christians, in the close vicinity of a large city in a 
rising colony, which is now certainly more like England 
than any we possess, abounding in religious sects of all 
denominations, and yet no pains are taken to instruct or 
convert these poor savages. Perhaps it is not possible 
to do so. Perhaps they are better off as they are ; and 
this is probably the case — for, as Bonwick justly observes, 
" we have a sad tale to tell when we speak of our so-called 
civilization upon these aborigines." To adopt our habitu, 
they must be entirely removed from the associations of 
the Mia-Mia ; and what have we to offer in exchange for 
endearing relations, joyous freedom, and an unanxious 
existence ? The black man is thrust upon a competiticn 
society to earn his bread ; he is exposed to the gibes and 
contempt of the lowest of our countrymen ; he is without 
sympathy and without friends ; and is herded with men 
from whom he learns the most obviously developed prin- 
s 2 



260 BUSH WANDEEINGS. 

ciples of European civilization — swearing and drinking. 
It is true he eats better food, wears better clothes, and 
sleeps in better dwellings. But where is his home ? "Who 
■will be his sister, his mother, his brother ? "Who will 
ally herself as wife to his dark skin ? Can he ever know 
the sweetness of a child's love ? No ! He soon tires of 
our food, our work, our confined habitations, our heart- 
less ridicule, and hastens back to his camp-fire, to find a 
friend, to feel himself a man, to dwell with those that can 
love him. Attempts were formerly made to convert them, 
"which always failed ; but this was long before the country 
was peopled as it is now. Heathens or no heathens, how- 
ever, the life of the savage here is perhaps as free from 
reproach as that of many of their Christian neighbours. 

"When I camped at Mordialloc, I lived on very neigh- 
bourly terms with the " Bomerang " tribe, for they 
generally had their "miamies" close to my hut; and 
as I never made too free with them, or gave them a 
promise I did not intend to keep, I was a bit of a 
favourite with them. Like most other savages, they 
strictly imitate the white man in all his vices ; and this 
tribe is fast paying the penalty ; for since I knew it first, 
more than two-thirds have been swept away by disease 
and intemperance, and in a few years it will exist only 
in name. It is melancholy to see a whole race of beings 
thus disappear, without any apparent cause. There is 
no prostration of physical strength, or mental activity ; 
they wither in the prime of life, and sink into the grave, 
as though a blight had fallen on them. 



THE ABOEIGIlfES. 261 

Of the many thousands who inhabited this colony 
before the arrival of the white man, not 2,000 survive, 
and most of these are on the banks of the Murray. 
Although debased far below their own savage level since 
their intercourse with the white man, the few that are 
left still retain much of that free independent spirit, and 
wild roving disposition, which characterizes all savages 
who have to gain a living by the chase. For although 
they can get their rations all the year round at the head 
station, they never care to live long in one place ; but, 
following up the habits of their early life, make periodi- 
cal excursions into the bush at different seasons, when 
the different game is in. Thus swans' eggs, kangaroo, 
ducks, pigeons, eels, and crayfish, all furnish them with 
food and occupation at certain seasons ; and it was but 
rarely that many of these were on the reserve at one 
time. I have often remarked, when wandering through 
these forests, that the Blacks invariably fix upon the 
prettiest situations for their camping places. I cannot 
help thinking that the character of the Australian abori- 
gines has been much belied by those writers, who have 
described them as but one degree removed from the 
brute. It is true that they possess inherently all the 
bad qualities of the savage, and where is the wild man 
whose character is not marked by ferocity, treachery, or 
cunning ? But they have also many good attributes, 
which might shame the white man. I always found 
them honest, and fond of the truth ; and although they 
will ask for anything they fancy, just as if they had a 



262 BUSH WANDERINGS. 

right to it, I never knew them steal. They are a manly, 
independent race, certainly not cowards. Some of them 
are the merriest vagabonds under the sun. It would be 
impossible to make a slave of an Australian Black ; and 
they always appeared to me to possess a degree of savage 
intelligence, superior to that of many other wild men. 
Some of the men are very athletic fellows, far from bad- 
looking ; but I cannot say much for the personal appear- 
ance of the females. Strange to say, these ladies seem 
to care nothing for finery or ornaments, a dirty blanket, 
or opossum rug wrapped loosely round them, and a short 
black pipe stuck in their hair completes their toilette. 
The Black's opinion of the white man is pithy and 
laconic : — " Big one fool, white fellow, all same working 
bullock." 

No improvements, or alterations, seem to surprise 
them. The Australian native, unlike his neighbour the 
New Zealander, makes no endeavour to keep pace with 
the times. " To be content, is his natural desire." The 
easier he can get his bread, the better he likes it ; and if 
he can obtain suflBcient food for the day, he cares little 
about the morrow. Nor is this to be wondered at, when 
he has been accustomed from his birth to lead a careless, 
wandering life, in a country where Nature has so liberally 
supplied him with food, and where the climate is such 
that a bush-gunny, ah, or mia-mia, will shelter him in 
the most inclement weather. Some of our chaps I used 
to like very much ; and when my old friend, King Der- 
mot, is gathered to his fathers, I trust his prediction to 



ADVICE. 263 

me upon one occasion will be verified — that " When he 
tumbled down, he should go up long way and fly about, 
all same big one eagle-hawk." 

Although, as I have before stated, a fortune is not likely 
to be made by the gun out here, still I consider this is as 
much owing to the habits of the shooters themselves, as 
to anything else. If I were a second time thrown upon 
the shores of Australia, this is the life I should again 
follow ; and if three good men — really working sports- 
men, none of the make-believe sort — were to start with 
a small capital, fit themselves up with a house, tent, and 
rations, go down into some good kangaroo country near 
the coast, shoot and salt for the season, save the skins, 
as I have before recommended, and when the season was 
over, go down upon the beach and fish, — I am certain 
they might do as well at it as anything else in the bush. 
But the diflSculty would be in finding three men who 
would stick well together for any length of time in this 
country, where self-interest is the only thing that binds 
men to each other, and where the whole decalogue 
appears to be comprised in this single sentence, " Man 
love thyself." Most men out here are red-hot to enter 
into any new scheme, but they will rarely stick long 
enough at it to give it a fair trial : as long as things go 
on right, all is well ; but as soon as the sun becomes a 
little clouded, half of them knock under, and leave a 
mate without a moment's warning. It is strange, that 
although two men can, and do often, stick, well together, 
we rarely see three agree long. Yet for this job there 



264 331JSH WANDEElirGS. 

should be three, and if they would only give it a fair 
trial, they might make as good wages at it as any other 
bush work. I should, however, certainly not recommend 
either the labourer who can earn his steady £1 per 
week, or the man in town who has a regular and certain 
billet, to leave it and take to the gun. They are both 
better off where they are, and would probably be neither 
of them fit for this work ; for it is a great mistake to 
suppose that shooting is a game to which any one may 
turn for an easy living when he can do nothing else. 
But for men like myself, who are neither labourers nor 
men of business, but who can at least handle a gun, and 
do not mind roughing it so long as they are free, this is 
the life ; and I am certain that they would be far more 
independent, and I do not know whether they would not 
make as much at it as many a man in town, who, to all 
appearance, holds a good and lucrative situation. Por 
although the profits may not be great, the expenses are 
small ; and if it was not for " the bursts," which are 
almost sure to occur when a bushman visits town with 
the hard earnings of perhaps a twelvemonth in his 
pocket, he might always save a little money. 

And now, in conclusion, a bit of advice to any old bush 
friend, who may chance to cast his eye over these pages. 
Unless his circumstances are such that he can live inde- 
pendent, or has good friends able and willing to help 
him, let him stay where he is, and not think of returning 
home. We all know what home sickness is ; and where 
is the wanderer in a foreign clime, let his condition be 



THE OLD COUNTET AND THE BTTSH. 265 

■wLat it may, who has not at times felt a longing desire 
once again to see the land of his birth ? But old Time 
works his revolutions as steadily at home as abroad ; and 
when he does return after a few years' absence, he will 
most probably find so many changes, so many ties will 
have been severed, that bound him to the home of his 
youth, so many old friends dead, others so changed, 
that in nine cases out of ten he will feel himself an alien 
in the land of his fathers, and experience far more re- 
gret than pleasure when he once again sets his foot on 
his native shore. Such was my fate ; I trust i\, may not 
be the lot of all. Of one thing, however, I am certain, 
that the man who has led a wild bush-life for any length 
of time will hardly ever again settle down to the staid 
customs and formalities of the old country. He will 
miss the jolly freedom and independence of the bush ; and 
this is the reason why so many who do go home with the 
intention of remaining, are sure to return again to the 
colony after a short absence. But, above all things, let 
no working man think of going home unless he " has 
made his pill;" for if he has to get his living by hard 
work, he will find it far easier to do so abroad than at 
home ; and if be should chance to want a supper or a bed 
on this side of the equator, he will have something more 
to do to get it than to walk up to the first bush hut or 
tent that he comes across, and throwing down " his 
swag," by the simple passwords " Good evening, mates," 
obtain a hearty welcome for the night. 



1 



266 BUSH WANDEKINGS. 

Cease we our chronicles, and now we pause, 
Though not for want of matter ; but 'tis time. 

It is now some years since I left my home " a vagabond 
to be," and during that period have wandered over many 
lands, my gun a,nd fishing-rod my only companions — a 
true citizen of the world. 

In the prime of years, in the full flush of youth and 
strength, such a life offers charms of wild independence, 
which can never be realized by that man who is tied to 
one spot ; no matter with what comforts he may be 
surrounded, or what sport he may enjoy, ready made to 
hand. But as years creep on, and a man begins to feel 
that " the old gentleman with the scythe" is pressing 
hard upon his heels, his enthusiasm will in a measure 
abate ; and the more he has buffeted with the rude waves 
of the world, the greater will be his desire to east anchor 
in some quiet haven, which he may regard as a permanent 
home in declining years. For how truly has Sam Slick 
described the dark side of the wanderer's life in the fol- 
lowing words : " Here to-day, gone to-morrow ; to know 
folks but to forget them ; to love folks but to part with 
them ; to come without pleasure, to go without pain ; 
and at last, for a last will come to every story, still no 
home." Never, perhaps, was the history of a life written 
in so short a sentence. 

Sterne wisely remarks : " Matter grows under our 
hands ; let no man say, come, I will write a duodecimo," 
This must be my excuse if my wanderings have led the 
reader too far. My fitness for the task I have under- 



CONCLUSION. 267 

taken, I ground upou the fact of having lived five years 
ill tlie bush, my sole occupation shooting and fishing ; 
and as I have stated very little from hearsay, but nearly 
all from actual observation, the truth of all I have stated 
may be relied on. I have no intention of instructing the 
colonial sportsman, — my only wish is to amuse the sports- 
man at home. If this object is attained, and if every one 
who opens this little work feels half the pleasure in its 
perusal that I have done in writing it, I am satisfied. 
AVith this hope, and with best wishes for the welfare of 
all the old mates and friends I left behind me in the 
bush — and I did not know there were so many till I had 
to take leave of them — I shall close my slight notices of 
the field sports and fauna of Australia relis. 



INDEX. 



Albatros, Dlomedea exulans. 
Ant-eater, spiny, Echidna liys- 
tnx. 

B. 

Bandicoot, Peramdes nasuta. 
Bat, Rhinolophus (megaphyUus?). 
Bear, native, Pkascolarctos cine- 

reus. 
Beaver rat, Hydromys chryso- 

gaster. 
Bee-eater, Mei'ops. 
Bell-bird, Myzantha meJanophrys. 
Bittern, Botaurus australis. 



Cat, native, Dasyurus viverrinus. 

Coach whip-bird, Psophodes cre- 
pitans. 

Cobbler's-awl bird, Acanthorhyn- 
chus tenuirostris. 

Cockatoo, black, Calyptorliyn- 
chus macrorhynchus. 

white, Cacatua gale- 

rita. 

• yankate, Licmetis na- 



corella, Callocephalon 

galeatum. 
Coot, Fulica australis. 
Cormorant, Phalacrocorax car- 

boides. 
Crane, Nankeen, or Night heron, 

Nycticorax caledonicm. 



Crane, Australian, or Native 

companion, Grus australasi- 

anus. 
Crow, white-eyed, Corvuscoronoi- 

des. 
Cuckoo, large grey, Cucidus op- 

tatus. 
bronze or zebra, Chry- 

sococcyx lucidus. 
Curlew, Numenius australis. 



Dabchick, Podiceps poliocepJia- 

lus. 
Devil-devil, Diaholus ursinus 
Diamond-bird, Pardalotus punc- 

tatus. 
Diceum Swallow, Dicceum hi- 

rundinaceum. 
Dingo, Canis Dingo. 
Diver, Podiceps australis. 
Dog, wild, Canis Dingo. 
Dove, ground, Cinclosoma punc- 

tatum. 
Duck, black, Anas superciliosa. 
mountain, Casarca tador- 

noides. 
musk, or moss, Biziura 

lohata. 
Shoveller, or Spoony, 

Sp)atula rhynchotis. 
Duck-billed platypus. Platypus 

anatinus. 

E. 
Eagle, wedge-tailed, or Eagle 

hawk, Aquilafucosa, 



270 



INDEX. 



Egret, little white, Herodias 

immaculata. 
Emu, Dromaiics Novce Hollan- 

dice. 



Falcon, blue, Astm- Novce Hol- 

landice. 
peregrine, Falco melano- 

cjenys. 
Fantail, large, Kliipidura mota- 

ciUoides. 



Gannet, Stda australis. 

Goose, magpie, or tree, Aiiscra- 

nas melanoleuca. 
Cape Barron, Cereopsis 

Novce HollandicB. 
Goshawk, white, Astur Novce 

HollcmdicB {alhino). 
Gull, great black-backed, Larus 

pacificits. 

lesser black-backed. 

pigeon, Xema Jamesonii. 



Hawk, large white fishing, Ich- 
thyaiaetus leucogaster. 

swamp. Circus assimilis. 

sparrow, Accipiter torqua- 

tus. 

carrion, leracidea leri- 

gora (?). 

musquito, Falco frontatus. 

Heron, purple and white, Arclea 

Novce Hollandice. 
night, or Nankeen Crane, 

Ni/cticomx caledonicus. 
Honey-eater, Mdiphaga Novce 

Hollandice. 

- warty-faced, Zcpi- 



thomyza phrygia. 



Ibis, straw-necked, Geronticiis 
spinicollis. 



Jackass, laughing, Dacdo gl 
gantea. 



Kangaroo, Macropus major. 
rat, Hypsipryinnus 

minor. 
Kestrel, Tinnunculus cencroicles. 
white, or Little white 

hawk, Elanus axillaris (?). 
Kingfisher, sacred, Halcyon 

sanctus. 
• Australian, Alcyone 

azurea. 
Kite, Milvus isurus. 
Koala, Fhascolarctos cinereiis. 



Landrail, Ralliis pectoralis. 
Lark, mounting, Cinclorham- 

phiis cruralis (?). 
Leath erhead, Tropidorhynchus 

cornicidatus. 
Lowan, Megapodius tumidus 
Lyre-bird, Menura superba 

M. 

Magpie, Gymnorhina tihicen. 
black, Corcorax leuco- 

pterus. 
Martin, Collocalia arhorea. 
Miner, or Soldier-bird, Myzan- 

tha garrula. 
Mole, water. Platypus anatinus. 
Morepoke, Podargus Cuvieri. 
little, 2Egotlieles Novce 

Hollandice. 
Mouse, Mus musculus. 
flyingj Acrobatcs pyg- 



271 



Nightjar, Caprimidr/us {ma- 
crurus?). 

0. 

Opossum, silver, Phalangisla 
cmereus. 

ringtailed, Phalan- 
gisla viverrina. 

Oriole, Pacliycephala glaumra. 

thick head, Pachycephala 

simplex. 
Owl, yellow, Strix delicatulus. 

brown, Strix per sonata (?). 

large grey, Athene strenua. 

little brown, Athene loo- 
booh. 

Oyster-eater, or Sea Magpie, 
Ilwmatojmslongirostris. 



Paroqueet, Ground, red-shoul- 
dered, Euphema pmlchella. 

' ?ingloriqueet,Za<Aa- 



nius discolor. 



Platycercus 
eximius. 

— shell, or Zebra, Melo- 

psittacus undulatus. 

green, Platycercus 



jlavirentris. 

green leek, Polytelis 



Barrahaudi. 

Parrot, king, Aprosmictus sea- 
pidatus. 

scarlet Lowry, Platy- 
cercus Pennantii. 

blue mountaineer, Tri- 

choglossus rubritorquis, 

swamp, orPheasantCuc- 

koo, Pogophoms formosus. 

Pelican, Pelecanus conspicillatus 

Penguin, Spheniscus. 

Petrel, TJiallasidroma marina. 

Pheasant, Mcnura superba. 



Pigeon, bronze-wing, Peristera 

chalcoptera. 

scrub, Peristera elegans. 

crown, Lopholaimus an- 

tarcticus. 
Piper, Schceniclus subarquatus. 
Pipit, Anthus av^stralis. 
Plover, golden, Cliaradrius xan- 

thocheilus. 
Pochard, or China-eye, Nyroca 

australis. 



Qua.il, common, Synoicus aus- 
tralis. 

king, or Chinese, Synoicus 

chinensis. 

painted, or Wanderer, Jle- 

mipodius varius. 

silver, Synoicus Diemenen- 

sis (?). 

stubble, Coturnix pecto- 

ralis. 



Rat (Norwegian), llus Rattus. 
Eobin, common, Petroica phce- 

nicea. 
black and white, Petroica 

bi color. 
Robin, rose-breasted, Erythro- 

dryas rosea. 
red-capped, Petroica 

Goodenovii. 



Satin-bird, Ptilonorhynchus ho- 

losericeus. 
Shovel-bill (duck). Spatula rhyn- 

cotis. 
Shrike, Cracticus destructor. 
Snipe, Scolopax australis. 
Spoon-bill, Platalea flavipes. 
Squirrel, magpie, Petaurista 

taguanoides. 



272 IN 

Squirrel, sugar, Petaurus sciu- 

reus. 
Stilt, red -eyed, Himantopus leu- 

cocephalus. 
Swallow, Ilirundo neoxena. 
wood, Artamus sor- 

clidus. 
Swan, black, Chenopis atratus. 
Swift, spine-tailed, Acanthylis 

caudacuta. 
common, Cypselus austra- 

lis. 



Teal, Anas punctata. 

Tern, Sterna. 

black, Onychoprion fuligi- 

nosus. 
Thrush, Colluncinda harmonica. 
mountain, Oreocincla lu- 

nulaia. 



Tiger cat, Cuscus maculatus. 
Turk ey , Leipoa penicillata ( Qollo- 
pachin). 

W. 

Wallaby, Halmaturus ualaba- 

tus. 
Water-hen, Trihonyx ventralis 
Wattle bird, Antliochcerus carun 

culatus. 
Whistlewing, or Pink-eyed duck 

Malacorkynchus memhrana- 

ceus. 
Wombat, Phascolomys ursinus 
Wood Swallow, Artamus sordi 

dies. 
Wren, blue, or Superb warbler, 

Malm'us cyaneus. 
emu, Stipiturus malachu- 

rus. 



\ 



cox AND WYMAN, PRINTERS, G.iEAT QUEEN STREET, LONDON. 



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