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Title: Pictures of Travel Author: W Mogford Hamlet * A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1300681h.html Language: English Date first posted: January 2013 Date most recently updated: January 2013 Produced by: Colin Choat Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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PART I. FROM BRISBANE TO SYDNEY HEADS. (1907) I. BRISBANE TO TWEED HEADS. II. TWEED HEADS TO BALLINA. III. BALLINA TO DORRIGO. IV. DORRIGO TO TAREE. V. TAREE TO SYDNEY. PART II. FROM MOSMAN'S BAY TO MELBOURNE. (1912) I. THE OLDEST ROAD IN AUSTRALIA. II. THROUGH LOVELY ILLAWARRA. III. WANDANDIAN, PIGEON HOUSE MOUNTAIN, AND BODALLA. IV. BEAUTIFUL BEGA AND THE GARDENS OF EDEN. V. THROUGH CROAJINGALONG TO THE GIPPSLAND LAKES. VI. WALHALLA, DONNA BUANG, HEALESVILLE, AND MELBOURNE. PART III. ALONG THE COAST FROM BRISBANE TO SYDNEY. (1913) I. BRISBANE TO BYRON BAY. II. BYRON BAY TO THE BELLINGER. III. THE BELLINGER TO PORT MACQUARIE. IV. PORT MACQUARIE TO TAREE. V. TAREE, THE MYALL LAKES, AND PORT STEPHENS. VI. NEWCASTLE TO SYDNEY. APPENDIX I. DETAILS OF PHYSICAL MEASUREMENTS RELATING TO THE WALK ALONG THE COAST FROM BRISBANE TO SYDNEY IN 1913. APPENDIX II. REPORT OF A LECTURE GIVEN BY W. MOGFORD HAMLET IN 1907, FOLLOWING HIS WALK FROM BRISBANE TO SYDNEY HEADS.
Heinrich Heine, in his exuberant Reisebilder, may have depicted scenes full of old world interest, abounding in references to castles, witches, giants, runic legends, Rhine maidens, and other folklore, but one may venture to doubt whether his pictures are more varied, more entertaining, or more widely interesting that the enchanting panorama of earth, sky, and sea that is opened out along the undulating coastline of this our
Land of distance, dust and drought.
To the observant traveller those pictures come and go in such bewildering profusion that no single view is ever precisely like the one preceding it. Rivers, lakes, and mountains may present general similarities, but we soon discern differences and characteristics that stamp each picture with its own loveliness, individuality, and charm.
What pen, brush, or camera can present that particular and captivating nuance of reality that is momentarily flashed on the retina of the beholder?
How shall I catch and retain the first impressionist view of the passing scene, and attempt to reproduce it on paper for others to comprehend its beauty? The task seems hopeless. How shall I find any image on my mental photographic plate that can be converted or translated into cold type?
The gorgeous effects of light and colour will ever remain in my memory. Now, it is the sapphire ocean depths, now the alluring yellow sands, the dazzling cumulus clouds, or the unclouded blue firmament, the rich tints of the virgin forest, or the cultivated green of the crops on the hillside—a chain of beauty forming an endless series of vistas of beauty and brightness that can never be forgotten.
Our first picture, after getting quite away from the suburbs of Brisbane into the country and towards the Logan River, was marked by the numbers of beautiful jacaranda trees in full bloom contrasting with the tender green tints of springtime. They were particularly numerous, and seemed to thrive better in the Queensland climate than those seen further south. But the soft lilac-blue of the jacaranda was presently eclipsed by a picture we met on the way to Eight-mile Plains.
Imagine in the foreground the winding, white, dusty road, curving its way until lost in the distant perspective. On either side is the ever-present glaucous green of the eucalypts, just about to shed their barks, and presenting streaks of yellow buff and Indian red. A little way—and in the middle distance—is a break or opening in the scrub, admitting a flood of light from the noonday sun, which brilliantly lights up two fine bougainvilleas in full and mature bloom. Another turn in the road, and in a few minutes the scene changes—this mass of colour dissolves, and in its place appears tints of another part of the spectrum even more gorgeous than the first.
It is a tree of another variety of bougainvillea that comes into view. Instead of the rich crimson lake or purplish hue of the one we are so familiar with in Sydney, the colour differs, in that there is an admixture of orange tint, inclining perhaps to a brick red, but it is a rich blaze of striking colour nevertheless, set off by the darker background of eucalypt and mimosa, all ending in the upward delicate tracery of network formed by the branches, against the blue depths of an Australian sky, thus completing a picture that captivates the senses to live for ever in the memory of the beholder. The proper audible accompaniment is the song of the birds, and the flowing melody of Hollins' Spring Song, familiar enough to Sydney musicians. The effect is electric, the step becomes elastic, the walk is a pleasure, while the entire presentation is an impossibility to describe.
Scene II, is on the Pimpama Creek—a bend in the road, a farmhouse on the right with clustering vines, mango, and peach trees, the grass soft and thick on both sides of the road, with a depression in the road, crossed by a rustic bridge, under which is a gurgling stream of water joining the creek on the left of the picture; the clear water goes to form just such a brook as the one immortalised by Tennyson. There are willow trees in the foreground, while sleek cattle are peacefully browsing in the adjacent paddock. Beyond is a cultivation of arrowroot, which, with pineapples and sugar cane, is frequently seen growing here in Queensland. One cannot resist the invitation for a halt and a dip in a secluded willow-shaded pool hard by, after which we do justice to an al fresco breakfast under an unclouded sky, with a liberal supply of milk, which we obtain from the farm aforesaid. After the rest and refreshment we sling on our knapsacks and resume our journey.
"On foot and away with the dew of the morning,
While the flute-noted blackbird is chanting his song."
A pilgrimage from Moreton Bay to Port Jackson included, in our case, the preliminary journey from Sydney to Brisbane, which was accomplished by taking a sea trip, one of us going by the Orontes, while the writer went in one of the coastal steamers, landing me in the Queensland capital on the first of November. We breakfasted on that day at the Bellevue Hotel, and getting, rid of the starchy garb of conventional civilisation we despatched them off by return boat to Sydney, and clattered downstairs with as much clanking noise as a couple of cavalry troopers, much to the astonishment of the bystanders, who took us for military scouts, bound for some mysterious and unknown expedition.
Both the Lands Departments of Sydney and of Brisbane afforded us maps and useful information, and we were favoured with the good services of the Government Analyst for Queensland, Mr. J. Brownlie Henderson, who gave us minute details as to our exit from the streets of Brisbane, following which, we crossed over to South Brisbane by the Victoria Bridge, and despising the tram, walked to Stone's Corner, and on to Eight-Mile Plains, crossing the Logan River by the punt, and arriving at Beenleigh at 6 o'clock in the evening, where we had our first shower-bath and supper, both of which were duly appreciated.
After going to bed there arose a terrible thunderstorm, with a heavy downpour of rain, which continued far into the night, and sounded very ominous for the next day's work. However, we set out at 4.30 a.m., and in the fresh, cool morning walked briskly along the well-washed roads to the Albert River and Pimpama, the one producing sugar cane and the other arrowroot. We lunched at the Coomerah River with some fishermen, who gave us hot water and road instructions. After this I had the painful experience of making the discovery that I had developed a blister on my left foot, in spite of my having had both boots and socks specially made for me. Then there came another violent thunderstorm and tropical rains that completely blocked out the entire landscape. My friend walked proudly on after the storm abated slightly, though he eventually got wet through before the day was out. For myself, I had to suffer the humiliation of doing the last ten miles into Southport by train. It either had to be done or the alternative was to lie up, and this, too, on the second day out from Brisbane! At Southport I kicked off the offending boots, doctored my blister, and sent home the boots by rail, telegraphing home for a pair of boots that were well seasoned, and four years old—ones that had done active services on previous walks. These boots met me at Grafton. In the meantime I walked in sandals.
Southport is a deservedly-popular watering place, great numbers of people coming down from Brisbane for the bathing and fishing. There are bathing boxes placed along the beach belonging to the various hotels, boarding-houses, and private residences, and they are somewhat like English bathing machines without the wheels.
Next day I succeeded in walking in sandals with pads of cotton wool between my toes, and a few miles out we came to Meyer's ferry, on the Nerang River, where we had breakfast close by a bee farm.
After breakfast we signalled to the puntman, and there came a girl about 14 years of age, and she ferried us across. She was strong and robust and very skilful in the management of the boat, which she handled dexterously in spite of a strong tidal current, and she landed us safely on the other side.
After a short walk we came upon the famous Seven-mile Beach, which stretches right away to Burleigh Heads, intercepted only by Tallebudgera Creek. In former times, before a railway was constructed, the mail coaches used to run along this beach close down to the water's edge, and this drive was considered a fine thing, especially exhilarating when a stiff breeze was blowing. But to walk these long beaches it was necessary to time one's arrival at low tide. I was enabled to do this through the kindness of Mr. Lenehan, the Government Astronomer, who provided me with the times of high water for every day in November for all the ports on the North Coast. Twenty miles of good beach on a bright sunny day with a light nor'-easter was a unique and delightful experience. I found that barefoot walking on the firm hard sand close down and sometimes in the breakers was the best remedy for sore feet. Twice we traversed creeks, first the Tallebudgera, and then the one at Currumbin. At Burleigh Heads we came upon picnic parties getting oysters, bathing in the surf and fishing in the lagoon, where the water was so clear and the fish so plentiful that some tourists were simply shooting them with a gun, while others were kept busy taking fish with the usual line.
A little way inland we were told of a place called Coolangatta, exactly the same name as our own Coolangatta in the Shoalhaven district.
When approaching Tweed Heads we espied more "humans" afar off, and a row of bathing boxes under the cliff, with buildings and flagstaff above, standing out conspicuously on the sky line, so we sat down on an old wreck and at once proceeded to make ourselves presentable enough to mingle with the tourists on the beach. Here, to my great disgust and discomfiture, the sand gave way, and I slipped down into what had once been the forecastle of the ship, badly hurting my right leg. However, with bandage and boracic acid powder this healed up later on.
Tweed Heads, the Point Danger of the great circumnavigator, is still another and a more attractive watering-place for Queenslanders, who largely patronise the place. We crossed through the double fence that not only marked off Queensland from New South Wales, but which is intended to keep out tick infected cattle.
One felt glad to be within our own borders, There was a sense of feeling at home; for say what you will about provincialism, there is no place like the Mother Colony. We were welcomed and made comfortable at the Pacific Hotel, but our congratulations on our seeming success were but of short duration; for I became alarmed at my companion, who became so stiff in the muscles from fatigue that, after retiring, he could not again get up from his bed. I cheered him up with the hope that he would be all right after a rub down, a night's rest, and refreshment. In consequence of his indisposition there was no early start next day, and so the time was spent in lounging about on the hotel balcony. A council of war was held in the afternoon, and my friend urged me to go on and leave him to come on later. This having been settled I agreed to wait for his arrival in Grafton. However, at Grafton I got a message from my friend that he had decided to abandon the walk altogether, and go home to Sydney by the next steamer. Henceforward I either had to abandon the track likewise or proceed on alone. The latter was my decision. For I remembered previous and similar experiences. Further, I also remembered that Robert Louis Stevenson, who was an adept walker in his time, says in his essay on Walking Tours:—
"A walking tour should be gone upon alone, because freedom is of the essence; because you should be able to stop and go on, follow this way or that as the freak takes you, because you must have your own pace."
This was an unforeseen disaster to occur at such an early stage of the trip, but the decision having been made, I left Tweed Heads with Mendelssohn's Funeral March running in my memory, intending to walk only as far as Chinderah.
Many people have asked me what led me to walk the trip—why indulge in long-distance walking? To such my answer is: Mainly for the health to be acquired by this form of sport; for the beauty of the scenery disclosed; for the seclusion that your Mother Nature gives you, freed as you are from slavish conventions, society insincerities, late hours, and the feverish rush of cities; because it satisfies a natural instinct of man; it is the "Call of the Wild"—a call to leave all behind you and go out for a season into the wilderness and commune with the invisible; because, moreover, it brings forth patience, endurance, self-reliance, and just that amount of alertness whereby the body is made to promptly respond to the impulse of the will. Finally it is a natural life, unsullied it may be by either alkaloids or alcohol, wherein one treads the firm magnetic earth, breathing limitless oxygen while living a joyous life right out in the open air, the sun, and the rain.
What then did I go out to see, reeds and trees shaken by the wind? Yes, indeed for one is reminded of Thoreau when he said:—
"The morning wind ever blows: the poem of creation is uninterrupted—but few are the ears to hear it."
One of our most picturesque Australian rivers is the silver stream that, like its prototype in Britain, was once a real political frontier, but which has now degenerated, perhaps indeed for the better, into a parochial boundary line, merely indicating the contact of Queensland with the mother State. Lines of political demarcation change and disappear with the times, but the natural picture remains, and although the Tweed may lack the antiquities of an Abbotsford or a Melrose Abbey, celebrated in romance and minstrelsy, it possesses charms of its own, for the Tweed of the South is remarkable for its dense, luxurious sub-tropical foliage; its noble upstanding forest trees now being cleared for pasturage, fruit, and sugar cane. The mountains of Lammermuir are here represented by the Macpherson Ranges, capped by the glorious and rugged Mount Warning, that forms the background of one of the most charming pictures that can delight the eye of the traveller setting out from Tweed Heads to Murwillumbah. The myths and tradition of the old dusky race that once possessed the land, are hopelessly lost in an obscurity which is but of recent date, for the prehistoric age has only just now closed for ever, and without an Ettrick shepherd or "minstrel infirm and old," to hand the tales down to posterity. Glimpses and fragments are sometimes revealed on one's travels. For instance, The Home of the Lost Lovers, The Captive of Tintenbar, The Warrior's Glade, The Bride of Coolooli,' which serve but to indicate lost romance. With the passing of the aboriginal, there is nobody left to tell the tale, for the few remaining full blooded blacks know nothing of history, and, what is more, think that you have some sinister motive in asking for information about their forefathers, and simply palm off any idle tale for the sake of a plug of tobacco.
The thought of what their history might have been is irresistibly borne in upon you as you pass through the land, now being covered by cultivation, cattle, and canefields, plainly denoting the progress and prosperity of the pioneer. Farms alternate with scrub, and forest lands, but making withal a most agreeable and charming landscape. Among the homesteads dotted here and there on the Tweed the human touch of the Ettrick shepherd is, nevertheless, in evidence, and the wooing of the bonny lass is none the less real when in the cool of the evening the old story is told,
'Tween the gloaming and the mirk
When the kye comes hame.
Leaving the Queensland border about 3 in the afternoon I set out with the idea of going to Chinderah, but before I was aware of the pace I was making I found I had passed the turn-off, where the punt takes you across the river.
But one place is as good as another to the pedestrian, so long as it is mainly in the right direction. Such are the advantages of freedom in walking.
You set out for Chinderah and you arrive at Tumbulgum. Having thus a fine disregard for any particular direction, provided always the road is Sydneywards, I soon came to Terranora Lagoon, and the creek bearing the same name. One speculates as to whether the name may not have been Terra Nova, derived from the old-world languages, or must it be the euphonious blackfellow's speech, for it is sometimes spelt Turranora?
No precise information being forthcoming, I proceed up the volcanic red soil road, winding its way up the hill towards Bilambil, amid very extensive fields of sugar cane, ripe and ready for cutting. Harvesting was in full swing, and large patches of cane had just been cut and carted down the hillside to the punts lying in the river ready to be towed up the Tweed to the sugar mills at Condong.
All the heavy traffic is taken by the teams along the road, while passengers, mails, and parcels go by the busy little steamers that ply on the river from Tweed Heads to Murwillumbah.
As the day closed I found homely, if rough, accommodation at a wayside house on the top of the hills, my hospitable host and hostess refusing to take money for my supper and bed.
Next morning at sunrise my journey was resumed on the bright red road, with a wealth of succulent sugar cane towering on each side, so close that one could touch their purple stalks. Harvesting appeared to be everywhere in active progress.
As you descend the hill the fertile Bilambil Valley is spread out in one open strath of delicate refreshing green, with the river of the same name, a tributary of the Tweed, gliding away down past dairy farms where the lowing cattle were feeding in the thick dew laden grass, waiting to be led to the milking bails.
In the early morning one seldom meets anybody, save the men stirring on the farms, going to their continuous and ever-monotonous milking; but coming upon some teamsters who were getting their waggons ready for work, I heard a voice sing out to his mates, "Hulloa, boys! here comes Robinson Crusoe." Taking in the situation at a glance, I proposed that one of them might join me; if so I would take him and christen him as my man "Saturday." But they had to go and haul a load of timber, and could not accept my chances and prospects of Quixotic adventure. A more pertinent and practical question was, "Where y' making for, mate?" My laconic reply of walking to "Sydney" was met with scornful derision and unbelief, and the rejoinder being, "More likely Byron Bay to catch the steamer."
Tumbulgum and breakfast, crossing the punt, meeting horsemen, schoolboys in slow, weary, and unwilling pursuit of education, with here and there farm hands working in the fields, brought me towards the chief township of the Tweed. Coming near Murwillumbah I saw acres of the poisonous weed hemlock, Conium maculatum, growing on some flats close to the river. Having been lately interested in a case of hemlock poisoning I noticed that attempts had been made to mow it down to prevent any more children from eating or sucking it.
Murwillumbah was to have been a stopping place for me, but I found no rest for the soles of my feet. On the contrary the ruined streets were full of people. A great fire had nearly devastated the town—hotels that had escaped destruction were full to overflowing—stores were doing a roaring trade; the clink of the bricklayers' trowel and the carpenters' hammer were heard in the land—all seemed to be trying to obliterate the effects of the fire, and hastening to rebuild the town. Temporary bars, banks, offices, and stores forced their attention on one by their newness and flimsy makeshift appearance. There was no rest here for the pilgrim; so I dined and departed, merely stopping for my letters at a makeshift post office, getting some money at the newly planed, naked, and unpainted bank.
My route lay through the curiously-named townships of Dunbible, Billinudgel, and Burringbar. Names in this district are indeed tokens to conjure with when you hear of Billinudgel, Tumbulgum, and Myocum—the latter would admirably serve as an explosive "swear word" when deliberately pronounced Myocum. Over the Brunswick to Mullimbimby, passing the new country only recently cleared of palms and dense vegetation, with numerous farms and sawmills interspersed, but all indicating general prosperity and rapidly-increasing population.
Cape Byron—the most easterly bit of New South Wales—with Byron Bay and its jetty is a busy place, and a veritable land of bacon and butter. The latter useful commodity engrossing the attention of everybody, I will not attempt to repeat all I was told of its success and of the amount paid away monthly to the farmers for their cream brought to the great butter factory. Thousands of pounds, I am told, but it is all recorded by other travellers, and the traffic has given rise to a regular line of steamers between the bay and the capital. Proceeding on my way, I left the bush and got on to a long beach en route to Ballina. After walking some miles on the sand, Broken Heads barred my further progress. I had to strike a course upwards through palms and prickly bush, up on to the coastal road. It will be seen that Lismore and Casino were left unvisited. Coming again in sight of the blue ocean I espied a gap in the bush, and a steep path down to the sea. Descending the precipitous hillside at a breakneck speed, for I could not stop myself until I reached the bottom, right down to the beach, I came suddenly upon a mining camp, where, after a few words of welcome, I was invited to inspect the workings by Mr. Argles, the mining manager. Beach mining has been carried on here for some years past. The miners find gold and other precious metals, such as platinum, iridium, and the rare earths in the heavy black sands that abound in the locality. Gold is found not only as metal in the sands, but in combination dissolved in the sea water.
There were extensive works and appliances for winning the precious metal from the sea itself, but the sands afford the easiest source, the mode of work consisting of concentration and extraction of the gold by amalgamation. Mr. Argles is using a process protected by patent, and the interest aroused in the work is such that French and German capital has been largely invested in the scheme. I saw large areas of the beach sands pegged out as mining claims.
Coming as I did upon this mining camp, just by chance, as an entire stranger, the whole proceeding was very interesting, and quite the best part of a day was spent here seeing the process in working. My host knows all the geological and mining experts in the country, and the locality seemed to be nothing less than a perfect museum of specimens of rare earths and noble metals. The sands on the fine stretch of beach between Byron Bay and Broken Heads and on towards Lennox Head are dark and heavy, and for years past were known to contain platinum, iridium, and gold.
Not only those, but cerium, didymium, samarium, lanthanum, thorium, and similar elements found in the monazite sands of other countries. Radio-active elements, yttrium, and other rare earths are said to be found there. Although a perfect stranger, I was overwhelmed with kindness by these cheery miners, and accepted their hospitality by remaining to take dinner in the clean, cosy camp, but on taking leave of Mr. Argles, I had to firmly decline the many mineral specimens he offered me, since one's ideas of the force of gravity on a load of mineral specimens are persistently and continually brought home to anyone out for a long walk, for I had miles and miles of sand to traverse before I could hope to reach Ballina. I left the camp, after inspecting the works erected for extracting gold from sea water, and after having seen specimens enough to stock a museum. There were minerals galore obtained from the neighbouring reef and heavy black gem sand, containing rubies, zircons, cassiterite, titanium, topazes, emeralds, sapphires, and diamonds.
Alas, that they should be such tiny specimens, otherwise one might have stayed here and made one's fortune.
Tide was ebbing fast when I left my host, and the sands were firm and hard all the way to Lennox Head, but a cold southerly was blowing in an atmosphere so clear that the ocean was of the deepest azure blue, the foam on the white wave crests of the brightest dazzling snowy white.
Gaining the road again, I was soon rewarded with a view of Ballina in the distance, and the firm, white roads made of oyster shells invited one to put on pace, and I entered Ballina in a southerly gale at the rate of four miles an hour.
While the picture changes from the golden sands of Ballina to the sugar-producing Richmond, the human and economic interest deepens, for here the land yields nearly all the requisite items to supply a free Australian breakfast table.
Fruit, honey, milk, butter, eggs, bacon, sugar, and even coffee, are grown in this prolific country, for which the natural commercial outlet is the port of Ballina, hindered it may be somewhat by the existence of a shifting and changing sandbar, over which navigation demands skilful pilotage.
The estuary of the Richmond is a fine outspreading sheet of water, and once inside the bar you find yourself in a broad commodious harbour, where goodly-sized vessels lie at the wharfs loading up produce for overseas ports. The Brundah was about to sail away south on the full morning tide, and as it was a part of my original programme to ascend both the Clarence and the Richmond by boat, I accordingly left the town in the little river steamer about 8 o'clock.
Ballina, with a strong southerly wind blowing and the temperature down below 60 deg. in the month of November, was a phenomenon that quite reversed all my former experiences of this northern town, and instead of tropical clothing one was glad of woollens as the little steamer proceeded on her journey in quite the roughest weather experienced here for many years.
Names of places in Australia bring up a mixed medley of memories, for here was a town named after a place in County Mayo, in Ireland, while further on I came to Pimlico, with its associated miles of stucco-built streets of perhaps the most dreary part of London. Passing Pimlico Island, the busy mills of the sugar company came into sight at Broadwater, where the one topic of talk was sugar and the sugar cane. The large output of sugar is carried oversea to Sydney to be refined, and if butter was the prime product at Byron Bay, here it seemed as if the whole energy of the district was devoted to the production of crystal carbohydrate in such universal demand as a valuable modern foodstuff.
The odour of the sugar boiling and extraction pervaded the atmosphere, and the noise of traffic at the wharfs denoted a great thriving industry. Leaving the boat at Woodburn, I found myself among friends, with whom I dined and passed a pleasant couple of hours. Then, taking the open road again, I passed several bee farms—a sweet and fertile country indeed, for what with the progress in dairying, the land seemed to be truly flowing with milk and honey. New Italy, or L'Italia Nuova, was my stopping place for the night—a colony of Italians ruined by the ill-starred expedition of the Marquis de Rays, but to whom the late Sir Henry Parkes gave a home in this State. My host was a Venetian, one Antonelli by name, who kept a wine shop together with a fair-sized vineyard, and whose conversation soon became interesting in recounting his reminiscences of the silent ways of Venice—of St. Mark's and the great Campanile that he will never see again. The Stones of Venice were altogether different to his present Australian abode, which was merely built of adobe (mud) and woodwork, but very clean withal. A ladder led up to my bedroom, provided with windows, but quite innocent of Venetian glass, or, indeed, of any other sort of glass; it was just like sleeping in the open air, which suited me perfectly. The community is thriving, but not making the headway expected of them for although frugal and industrious, their British-Australian compeers surpassed them entirely. Certainly, I saw them under a disadvantage, with the fruit not yet ripe and the country suffering from drought. I could fancy myself in Italy, hearing the womenfolk keeping up a lively conversation in Italian. Breakfasting on fish and wild honey, the journey was resumed in bright sunshine to the tune of the War March of the Priests in Athalie.
From here onwards to Chatsworth Island my route was through waterless, dusty country, there having been no rain for months past. It blew hard southerlies, but without a drop of rain, and was cold enough to enjoy the warm fireside at mine Inn at Chatsworth, where the only conversation to be heard was ever the cutting of sugar cane and the ceaseless work at the sugar mills.
Here at last was the Clarence—Queen of Australian rivers, broad and majestic with a depth of water sufficient to accommodate square-rigged vessels for a considerable distance beyond the fishing villages of Iluka and Yamba that lie at its half-closed mouth. Fascinating and impressive in its grandeur is this grand river as you behold its fertile banks and miles and miles of rich pasturage and canefields spreading in every direction. It must have been a paradise of the blacks before the advent of us white men.
For here sang the river gods, father and daughter,
in dulcet toned music of wind and of water.
Six hours were spent in Maclean, the township formerly called Rocky Mouth, chiefly in luxuriating at an excellent hotel, engaged in correspondence, photography, and paying calls among friends.
Grafton was reached late that afternoon, and to my surprise here was a buggy awaiting my arrival. A short drive, and I was received by my host and hostess, Dr. and Mrs. Henry, of Grafton, by whom I had been invited to pass the next few days. Here, moreover, a pair of old and well-tried heavy walking-boots were waiting for me, having at my urgent request been especially sent on from Sydney.
King's Birthday was spent as a sort of holiday within a holiday, after a most pleasant stay, and so, bidding good-bye to a number of kind friends, the river was crossed in the ferry boat to South Grafton, where I was to take the Woolgoolga-road in real earnest. No more boats or river steamers until the Myall Lakes are reached. Some miles of dust, and then a turn-off on to the Armidale-road, putting up for the night at an inn near the cross-roads, one of which led to Coramba, the other to New England.
My next objective was the famous Dorrigo, because I wished to see some Sydney young men who had started farming on the Dorrigo plateau. To reach this district the choice of two routes was open to me: one by way of Coffs Harbour, another by Tyringham. The latter, being mountainous, picturesque, and romantic, was the one selected, as I should then see the Orara and the Nymboida, two rivers that both flow into the regal Clarence.
The music of Benedict's Lily of Killarney was sounding in my ears as I entered upon country celebrated by the poet Kendall, for there was the Orara, the subject of one of his sweetest songs.
The pure sparkling waters of the Orara have often been proposed as a source of water supply to the city of Grafton, and more than once the water has been analysed and found to be of exceptional purity, so that, taking all things into consideration, I approached the scene with something akin to reverence, and no longer wondered when Kendall tells us of sylvan scenes.
Where the silver waters sing
Down hushed and holy dells.
And flower of celestial spring
In tenfold splendour dwells.
Needless to say that on meeting the waters of the Orara I camped in a quiet secluded spot, and in a few minutes a thin curling blue smoke scented with resin and fragrant gum leaves rose from beneath a billy-can of the clear river water. Breakfast on the Orara at early morn is an experience not readily to be forgotten, and although my camera took in some views, they fall to reproduce the picture that fell upon my retina.
No less beautiful is the Nymboida, a cool swift-running river with a bed of boulders and pebbles; that reminded one of the Tay or the Wye. The clear Nymboida flows onwards over jet black diorite rocks in the lap of lands unseen save by its fringe of pines and willow trees. Here and there the water forms cascades, and gurgling rapids splashing and murmuring as it eddies and whirls itself into the deep dark pools away down beneath the steep river banks.
From the village of Nymboida to Tyringham, 25 miles, I was warned that no accommodation was in existence, but this I thought could certainly not be worse than my walk from the Richmond over the Clarence; but here I was on new ground, and the road led, onwards and upwards, into the mountains; indeed, it was my first ascent to the tableland of New England, to the famous Guy Fawkes and Don Dorrigo. The land was parched and the fallen leaves dry as tinder, the atmosphere was full of haze and smoke, the sun rose like a disc of bright copper, and I felt loth to go away from the refreshing Nymboida, and its excellent inn. On the way I took a photograph of an immense conglomerate rock and a single boulder of the same standing 30ft high. The views were becoming grand, rugged, and romantic as I slowly ascended the mountain. Such yawning chasms, towering hills, and dense forest, with a curving sinuous road cut out from the mountainside. Surely the country must have its romance, its heroes, giants, and fairies, and Die Walkurie in instant imagination peopled the picture before me. A bush fire was creeping upwards, and in some places actually jumping across the very road I travelled; one fancied Wotan in the midst with his wand, producing flames from the ground and the bare granite rocks; and there, standing in white samite could be none other than Brunhilda herself meeting her strange fate of being put to her long sleep, to become the prize of the first man that could awaken her. I could hear Brunhilda appeal to Wotan to surround her with the fire and the flame lullaby, sounds amid the crackling fire all around me. A blazing log across the road makes me hasten my pace, and away I go at a rather good pace, singing the Ride of the Valkyries. But Loge, the fire-god, was vanquished, much to my satisfaction and joy, for the blessed rain began to fall, the first rain for a month, so the picture dissolved, and I came upon beautiful tree-ferns and sassafras trees, change of geology, change of soil, change of vegetation, change of temperature, and climate. I finally reached Tyringham, gladly accepting what rough accommodation the one solitary inn could afford. The next day I entered upon rich red volcanic soil, and found myself within 14 miles of the Dorrigo.
Descending to the Bostobrick river, I was overtaken by a horseman who for three hours slowed his pace, and kept me company. He was a native-born farmer, and told me all about the country and its rapid rise, and how fortunes had been made by the mere transference of land from one person to another. The mode of taking up land by conditional lease and by purchase was explained to me, whereby you need not at once reside on the land, provided you make certain improvements during the first five years. By this means a clerk or a townsman may gradually get a home for himself, and when he is ready to resign his town work, may find the land cleared and fenced, with a house and a home with which he may begin his life "on the land."
The Bostobrick river meanders through pleasing country, dotted here and there with farms, but with the most rudimentary roads, that sometimes fade into unknown bush and disappear altogether; but I kept to the road by a sort of instinct, and came out at a clearing where there was a sawmill. Into the bush again, and I beheld a natural forest—a timber reserve—where the woodman and his axe are not allowed to cut down, destroy, and burn off trees.
Here is the forest dark and gloomy, with immense trees standing tall and straight, with festoons of vines and other climbing plants. The ground underneath is all entangled with lateral surface roots, that make the ordinary mode of walking impossible. When walking in George-street the feet are never lifted more than an inch or two; here it is necessary to lift each leg eight, nine, or ten inches with every step, otherwise you stumble and fall.
Coming out of the dark forest into the broad daylight there was a grassy plateau, and looking back at the trees growing close together it was in some places like a noble array of organ pipes arranged naturally in graduated succession.
But what a grand frontage of tall parallel upstanding living timber, with all its matted and intertwined foliage and pendent parasites, the whole forming a dense massive wall, dark and mysterious, suggestive and similar to the tropical forests of equatorial America.
Only the pale buff and citron green of the tree trunks were visible from where I stood, all the rest was deep, impenetrable, melancholy, black; and one wondered how ever a track could be found through this sylvan sublimity. Gustave Dore, had he seen it, would have adopted the picture in illustrating the entrance to the Inferno; nor could the immortal Dante have had a better type for his
Che la diritta via era smarrito.
Odysseus might easily have built his ship with such straight and lofty timber.
From one clearing I again entered the gloomy forest, now almost as black as Erebus, for there was a thunderstorm coming, and the flashes of lightning illumined the big tree trunks that stood up like frowning giants. There was a rough road, a cordway, and it soon dipped down at such an angle that was simply appalling. Can a bullock team go down into that abyss? Yet it must be so, since why make the road? The usual practice in negotiating such places is to tie a heavy log to the waggon, and thus descend these awful roads.
Now comes the rain, in big heavy drops, and I don macintosh, cap, and hood, and for the next two hours proceed through hail, rain, thunder, and lightning. Passing Bostobrick station I longed for a halt in a cottage provided with a wide roomy country fireplace. I ought to have halted here at the station, but foolishly went on three and a half miles further, until I met a team, and in answer to the cheery inquiry, "Where away mate?" I found I was all astray and on the road towards Armidale. There was nothing for it but to retrace my steps, and make for the sheep station I had passed. The squatter himself gave me the simple explicit instruction to walk straight to the east. Having a compass on my wrist, I did so, making a bee-line east, over paddocks, fences, and logs, through swollen streams knee deep in water, for the rain had come down in torrents. But the compass needle never yet betrayed me, and I soon struck the road. I reached the Little Murray river, crossing it on the stepping stones and wobbly pine log, and up some old grass-covered tracks left by the cedar getter. I then entered into a dense forest, and lost my way once more. The compass was again resorted to, for I knew the coast was away to the east. I simply followed an easterly course, and walked into North Dorrigo, meeting population and farmhouses, and a Salvation Army man on horseback. Tired and thinking I must surely be at my destination, it somewhat depressed me to find that the main Dorrigo township was four miles further ahead. Darkness had just set in as I reached the hotel; but dry clothes, true hunger, a cosy fireside, and a belated number of the Herald, a week old, just put me on the pinnacle of enjoyment, and thus ended 12 hours in the open air, which was the thing sought for.
Don Dorrigo Carbonera makes a fine sonorous mouthful of a name, which, if not exactly suggestive of "Castles in Spain," may nevertheless be here used in respect of the brave toilers and workers up on the Dorrigo; for whatever their intended careers may have been, they now at least appear to be, one and all, veritable timber-cutters and charcoal-burners, every man wielding his axe and firestick to some purpose.
Nowhere else will you see such a desolating display of blackened and half carbonised timber, such gaunt hollow stumps, the more dead shells of the old-time forest trees, their sombre ebony logs lying about all over the newly fenced paddocks in obstructive confusion, all telling of the settlers' dogged determination to clear the land at all costs.
The Dorrigo is the newest of lands, the Dorrigo is the oldest of lands, for now, after the lapse of many millennia, it beckons the white man to come up here and settle on the land; to come and find a dwelling place for wife and weans; to come and sow; to come and produce; aye, and to reap, and in due time to partake of the kindly fruits of the earth. Its motto and watchword might very properly be: "I rise, I emerge." Man is on the land, and look! what a goodly heritage is here awaiting him. Well-watered deep red rich soil, with the whole countryside filled with such a vast array of tall trees that one could hardly have conceived standing room for any more. The Dorrigo is a new land just being opened up, literally indeed, now being opened up; for until recently it was a sportsman's paradise, wild with game, covered and enclosed with dense forest vegetation, including some of the finest and noblest specimens of giant cedar trees, and the timber-getters, while searching after cedar, were really the pioneers and discoverers of this very fine district.
The signs of newness and business-like enterprise are everywhere apparent; new roads, new houses, tents, humpies, and all sorts of temporary shelter. Here you will see trees that were only felled yesterday, with their clean white chips still littering the soil, alongside of makeshift stores and unfinished hotels; banks that seem to have been established but a few weeks ago, all of clean weatherboard, just fresh from the carpenters' plane and chisel, with not yet so much as a coat of paint on their virgin walls, all plainly indicating that the Dorrigo is a great working reality with a future before it.
"Where axe and muscle, toil and pluck,
Must win the day and bring good luck."
One can foresee the picture of the Dorrigo of by-and-bye. There will be the same lovely Australian blue sky with a foreground of bright vernal tints, due to the fresh growing crops, changing to the warmer hue as harvest approaches, comely orchards laden with fruit, and the white rose-entwined farmhouses, the landscape intersected with its bright red roads whose mud will then, as now, still cling to boots and buggy wheels, while here and there, let us hope, some of the forest trees may be still left standing like sparse sentinels of the past, whereon the kookooburra may perch and laugh at the changed and civilised land.
Meanwhile, the men of Dorrigo are bent on butter and cream, the only paper they want is in the form of banknotes. Perhaps I am too hasty in saying this is their only want. I remember hearing them say they want a road completed from Wild Cattle Creek to Coffs Harbour, and an electric telegraph connecting up the Dorrigo with the main system, surely a reasonable request for this young community, and one hopes that the Commonwealth will grant it if only for the common wealth.
Before leaving for the Bellinger I walked out a few miles to a farm away in the bush to see some young men who had started farming for themselves, a pair of stalwart sons of Sydney, who had but recently settled on the land. The time selected for my visit was not that of the orthodox town caller, but most decidedly in the forefront of the forenoon, namely, at the classical hour of six o'clock in the morning. Like Rosalind in the Forest of Arden, I found that my young friends had carved the trees, not with love sonnets, but with more or less convincing directions as to the locus in quo of their farm. Such woodcraft led me, after sundry stumblings and shin scratchings over immense logs, to their delightful selection of 200 acres on the hilltop, where I found their welcome slab hut or log house, with cowsheds, and cattle just about to be milked. Horses, cattle, crops, ploughs, and cream separator, together with a plentiful rich crop of grass and felled timber, all bespoke of real work and determination. Methought that a fine scorn of delights and many laborious days are their certain portion for some time to come, the simple life being well exemplified by the cheery manner they carry their cream on horseback to the neighbouring butter factory, hugging it like a huge tin baby, as their sure-footed steed nimbly steps over the fallen logs on the way to market. A hearty ploughman's breakfast was despatched, and, bidding them good-bye, I walked into Dorrigo township and started off down the mountain towards the Bellinger.
Down from the Dorrigo plateau the traveller descends some 2000 feet by a winding zig-zag road cut out from the sides of the mountain spurs. At every turn and contour of the route new and beautiful pictures present themselves, each one seeming more marvellous than the first, the whole 20-mile descent affording a panorama of loveliness such as few countries can surpass. On the right rises 50 feet or more of frowning dioritic rock, topped with luxuriant shrubs and saplings, climbing plants growing up their moist sides, with here and there a little fountain or runnel of clear water issuing from a fern-clad cranny, streaming across the road to find its way down to the valley beneath. To the left is the deep abyss of the valley itself, and as you stand gazing downward you can look over the tops of tall trees. There they are, tree upon tree, with their rounded and fully shaped tops left untouched by the timber-cutter, all in their glory. Tier upon tier of massive timber as far as the eye can see, until the green foliage is lost in the purple and indigo tints of the far distance, all backed up by the bluest of blue mountains beyond. To the left, when descending, are the most fearful glens and gullies falling right away abruptly 500 feet or more from the road level. So terrible is the drop that one stands aghast at what might happen in the event of a landslip, or the too near approach of a passing vehicle. I saw the spot where a waggon and team of horses fell over the precipice, and their blanched bones still tell of the disaster that befell them. 'Twas well that my journey was in the full blaze of daylight, for I would not have ventured down at night.
In the midst of the preponderating green of the forest I came in sight of several flame trees, which were in gorgeous full bloom, and towered above in striking contrast to their background of green. It is a splendid sight to see the true flame tree or Sterculia acerifolia in bloom, a tree which must not be confounded, as it often is, with the coral tree of Illawarra.
Very steep is the descent all the way down until you meet the clear rippling waters of the Bellinger, and the widening valley of slopes of rich pasturage, the river bringing floods and fertility down to the verdant alluvial flats now studded with farms and paddocks, from the upper reaches right away down to the sea coast. My arrival at the hotel at Bellingen, where I received more invitations than I could possibly accept, made a pleasant ending to a long summer's day. About 5 next morning I was away on the road to Bowraville, or Bowra, as it is called by the local residents. On the road I met with a novel and flattering experience, for as I drew near to a farm I noticed a man hard at work ploughing a fine broad paddock apparently quite single-handed and alone. I halted and watched him making his straight and lengthening furrow with admiration. At the turning of the horses and plough the farmer stopped and asked a question or two of me, and to my surprise proposed that I should come and work for him. He said he would give me 9 shillings a day if I cared to come and help him on the farm. Declining the offer as politely as I could, he shook his head and went on ploughing, while I knew well what was passing in his mind. "Ah, well like the rest of 'em. Don't want to work."
The next day at daylight I let myself out of the hotel at Bowra, and after a few hours' walk crossed the Nambucca, and came upon a deserted inn at Congarini, where I met a Mr. H., comfortably camped, occupying the kitchen and best bedroom. This gentleman invited me to breakfast, so after a swim in the river I joined him, and after rest and refreshment went on my way rejoicing, singing the Credo from Gounod's Messe Solennelle.
Macksville and Mount Yarrahappini I pass undescribed, and arrive on that Sunday evening at a place called Unkya, hastening to a place of shelter just in time to escape a violent thunderstorm and its accompanying downpour of heavy rain. Unkya [Eungai] is an aboriginal name, and it is a test of your geographical knowledge to know how to pronounce it correctly. The sound is like erringi, the "g" being hard. While the thunder storm raged without I found myself thrown upon a happy Australian home, the house being used also as a store and post-office combined. After making myself presentable, I took tea with the pater, mater, and grown-up daughters with as much welcome freedom as though I had known them for months rather than minutes. A hearty convivial tea, with home-made bread, good butter, scones, cream, and new-laid eggs, made a pleasant prelude to a quiet Sunday evening, with its improvised church service, the occasional flashes of summer lightning continuing all night.
Barraganyatti, Clybucca, the great Maclean River, Kempsey, with its fine bridge, the Maria River, Telegraph Point, and the Hastings River are pictures that must pass by for want of space; but what a picture is quaint old Port Macquarie—brimful of historical associations. A charming picture is this forlorn old township, with its green hills, red soil, coastguard or signal station, ancient church, and grim old prison, empty and crumbling into decay. To my way of thinking, the old Port, as the name is abbreviated, is an ideal sanatorium, and perfect as a quiet holiday resort. One could spend many days and weeks here among its ruins, the legends and doings of the Innes family, the old-time military officers, the church with its many marble tablets and memorials. In the church may be seen a fine old pipe organ, one of 12 such instruments imported and presented by an Australian bishop, who thus stimulated and fostered the desire for true musical church service. I remember seeing one of these organs at Stroud, I think. However, the little organ here is by Walker, of London, and contains open and stopped diapasons, dulciana, flute, principal, and fifteenth, all on one manual, and is the type of village church organ for plain unpretentious church song, far and away above the ordinary squeaky instruments in vogue, and which can never be regarded as anything more than enlarged concertinas. At Port Macquarie I met Dr. Doudney, whom I knew in England when I was but a boy of 10, and strangely familiar it was to resume an acquaintance after the lapse of some 40 odd years.
A peep at Lake Innes, and then on towards Kew. The only incidents to be noted were that I saw a couple of men cutting down entire trees in order to get stag and elk horn ferns, and ship them off to Sydney, to be sold in the streets, and thus replenish the bush-houses in the suburbs. I also saw a fine black snake by the roadside, and it is not a little remarkable that this was the only snake I saw during the whole journey from Brisbane to Port Jackson. Near Kew I noticed the road and finger-post pointing to Kendall and the Comboyne, said by travellers to be a second Dorrigo. Kendall is, of course, named after the poet, and much of his work was done in the neighbourhood. After Kew come Queen's Lake, Camden Haven, Coopernook, and the rich pasture lands of the Manning. Jones' Island, Ghinnie, Cundletown, and Taree must be passed over, with but the bare mention of their extraordinary fertility, the whole district being simply idyllic, and is of itself a pastoral symphony of beauty.
My walk of 21 miles from Taree to Tuncurry was accomplished by noon, and I spent the rest of the day in looking round and in making up my notes. The district reminded me of the fen country of Norfolk and Lincolnshire; indeed, one of the parishes is already named on the map as the "Parish of Fens." For several miles the road was ballasted with cockle shells that produced a peculiar scrunching effect in walking. In other places sawdust had been used as a road-covering material, which I can hardly call road metal, for it was on fire in different places, having been set alight by the neighbouring bush fires; so that altogether the pilgrim's progress was hampered by smouldering sawdust, sea shells, sand, and scrub.
However, one is rewarded on reaching Tuncurry, for there bursts into view a quaintly original picture of cottages with a background of tall cabbage palms, with smoking, steaming sawmills, the shrieking noise from which was unmistakable. In the middle distance is a wharf, with a ship moored alongside loading up timber, while stacks of timber and big heaps of sawdust indicated the industry and name of the place to be Tuncurry and timber. Away out in the roadstead is seen a ship making for the timber wharfs, while the smoke in the offing is from a steamer bound for Sydney with a cargo of fish.
The village of Tuncurry stands at the mouth of the Wollumba River at Wallis Lake, and another river—the Cooloongolok—swells the waters that reach the sea at Cape Hawke, which is seen in the distance; while over yonder is the township of Forster, with its houses and more sawmills in active work. The main wharf, filled with ice boxes, fish boxes, and beer barrels, is provided with a semaphore, by which you signal the ferryman to ferry you across. A spit of sand of dazzling whiteness lies between the two shores, and on this bright summer's day the sea and sky made a wonderful picture—
Thick set with agate, and the azure sheen
Of turquoise blue and emerald green
That in the channel strays—
a picture that will remain with me as long as I live. Waiting for the ferry, I rested, and agreeably adopted the dolce far niente of the group of bare-legged fishermen, who seemed to be quietly contemplating the universe in general and the arrival of the pilgrim in particular. What could one do but succumb to the sweet idleness of the occasion, and do likewise? One stanch and ancient fisherman, with mighty bare arms and legs and a big bushy black beard, came and admired my travelling gear, and would have liked to become possessed of such an alpine ice-axe as I carried, for he said it was the very thing he wanted to go prospecting with. He took me for a geological surveyor, and his ideas in this respect were strengthened when we talked about antimony, bismuth, and gold, and the future prospects of the Gloucester goldfields.
I passed the whole afternoon in Forster in the company of fishermen, shipwrights, and timber-cutters, the chief gossip and the one mild excitement of the day being the launching of a new motor boat intended for the passenger traffic on the lakes, for here I found my self in the beautiful lake district of New South Wales, which the Government Tourist Bureau has lately brought before the notice of the travelling public, and especially those in search of new holiday resorts. The Gippsland Lakes of Victoria have long ago become available to visitors through settlement and comfortable railway communication between Melbourne, Sale, and Bairnsdale, but in this State our beautiful and picturesque lakes have hitherto remained unknown and unappreciated owing to the lack of interest, lack of accommodation, and want of proper means of access.
In view of the celebrated English lakes, and those of Ireland, such as the Lakes of Killarney, there ought to be more interest taken in what I may hero call our Cambrian Lakes. They are numerous, extensive, grand, and full of charms such as may appeal to the tourist in search of the beautiful. These lakes, with Port Stephens, are a great asset, if only as a pleasure ground, and I can confidently recommend visitors to go and see them for themselves. There is the Wallis Lake and the island of the same name, Smith's Lake, a chain of lakes called the Myall Lakes, and a large one called Broadwater. There is abundant fishing and wild fowl, and the series may be very properly grouped together as the Cambrian Lakes. The Myall River connects them all with Port Stephens, which of itself is a revelation of untold beauty, and by means of the Tillegherry Creek are brought within easy access of Newcastle.
My next day's walk, from Forster to Smith's Lake, was the slowest and heaviest on my record; a tramp of 10 miles through loose sand, took me no loss than five hours to accomplish, but after leaving the sand the road led me along the lakeside, where I saw some clever bullock driving through rough and difficult bush road; it was not so much the mere transport of the timber along the road, as the way in which these animals were educated to bring the timber down to the edge of the lake, and stand knee-deep in the water while the logs were rolled off to be floated to the sawmills. Various are the modes of travel in the country; from the motor car, racing at railway speed, down to the pedestrian at three or four miles an hour, but for slow travelling there is nothing to compare with bullock-driving, or worse still, a travelling mob of sheep. The wake of the latter is too dusty to be pleasant; but the slow and solid bullock team is a picturesque sight on the road in the shade of an avenue of tall trees. You can hear the crack of the teamster's whip a long way off, and at first you wonder whether it was not the report of a gun you heard. But slow and sure, onward they come, and you see a huge waggon-load of stores and merchandise, with 10, 12, or 16 patient bullocks, that turn and look at you with wild-eyed wonder. The team comes to a standstill, and Bullocky Bill is glad to stop and have a yarn with you. However incredulous other people may be at the length of your journey, he can exchange faithful confidences with you, and will slowly remark, "Long stage, Boss," whereas the ordinary passer-by will say, "Ah, ga'rne, what are ye givin' us." But to return to the bullocks, Bill tells me they each have a name to which they will respond, with suitable language of course. His team comprises the Doctor, Jack, Boxer, Darkey, Spidor, Bluey, Jew Boy, Boney, Bobs, and Bosker. I find bullock-drivers to be kind and cheery, always ready to pass the time of day, and wish you good speed, and as often as not they greet you with "Good day, Boss. Have you soon my chestnut mare along the road?"
Wallis Lake was a long time in view, but my road led away up over a hill to Smith's Lake and Neranie, while four miles further was the timber village of Bungwahl—
Where the Myall Lakes lie one by one,
Each glittering in the summer sun.
Just before coming to this place I saw the finger-post at the turn-off leading to Seal Rocks, the scene of the wreck of the treasure-laden, but ill-fated Catterthun. The postmistress at Bungwahl was glad to see me, for she had a registered letter containing funds for my expenses, that had been in her anxious keeping for nearly a month.
At Bungwahl I embarked on the little steamer Reliance, and traversed the Myall Lakes and river of the same name to Port Stephens, the Tea Gardens, the Duck Hole, Nelson Bay, and up the Tilligherry Creek to Saltash, thence by road to Stockton, where the steam ferry brought me to the busy port of Newcastle.
What a novelty to be in crowded streets once again. Newcastle seemed to be a very great place after being so long in the country, and how absurdly close together seemed the houses.
In the country and out on the open beaches I had been like a molecule in space, free to move at my own sweet will, to take the high road or the low road, or no road at all, as the whim moved me, but here, in a town, the mean free path of the molecule was too much confined and altogether too restricted. Here was the din and noise of traffic ringing in my ears, and once again amid all the luxuries of a pampered civilisation, I felt like the aboriginal when asked what he thought of the city of Sydney, and who replied, "Too muchee gunyah." However, I did not stay here long, and went away next morning soon after daylight, and while most of the folks were in bed I was well on the way towards Lake Macquarie; but the outspreading suburbs of Newcastle seemed endless, and the succession of coal pits, straggling streets, miners' cottages, and hotel corners, seemed interminable. Oh! the little boxes of houses I passed mostly hermetically sealed up, as though the inmates were afraid of fresh air. What will the intelligent visitor from Mars think of us all when he comes to visit our planet?
After passing Charlestown, I seemed to breathe again, for I was now out in the country. Belmont and Lake Macquarie are delightful places, and are the residential country places for the magnates of Newcastle, and many were the pleasant homesteads I passed. I stopped by invitation at the new Government farm and vineyard situate between Belmont and Swansea, and under the palms which grow here in wild luxuriance I partook of luncheon in the open air provided by my entertainer, Mr. Croudace, who was clearing the site of the introduced vineyards. I passed the Wallarah collieries and reached Catherine Hill Bay in a thunderstorm. Next day I reached Tuggerah Lakes and met a party of tourists and fishermen, and had some exquisitely cooked fresh fish for supper.
Proceeding along the beach next day in drizzling rain, I came up to a high fenced enclosure, under the cliff, and well above high water mark. My curiosity was aroused, and I discovered a fairy retreat, where bachelors may lead a free, if not a simple, life. Inside were a number of tents in the midst of a lovely garden, in which lilies and gladioli were blooming in bright array. A spring of clear running water fell from the hillside, supplying the kitchen and flower garden. What with bathroom, open-air dining-room and kitchen, the place was an ideal bachelor's retreat, where you may live the simple life far from the madding crowd. The next day I reached Norah Head and its fine new lighthouse, staying at Bungaroo Norah, or Norahville, which became especially interesting as being the favourite holiday place and quiet retreat of my friend the late Alexander Oliver; indeed, his charming accounts of this coast, of Wamberal, Terrigal Haven, and Kincumber, in no small measure made me resolve to include this lovely coastal district in my tour, and to the artist or photographer, I can commend it as a promising pictorial inspiration ground.
Leaving Terrigal Haven and the Skillion early one morning, I walked through the bush to Kincumber, where a motor launch was appointed to meet and take me across Broken Bay to Barranjoey, which proceeding solved the problem of crossing the Hawkesbury, which otherwise would have entailed a long detour inland. From Barranioey, by the road up over Bulgola Head to Newport for lunch, and on to Rock Lily and Narrabeen, I am on familiar ground that everybody knows. Passing through Manly Vale and Balgowlah, I arrive at the Spit, and am soon in sight of Manly, the Macquarie lighthouse, Middle Head, and Port Jackson, reaching Mosman about 7 in the evening on St. Andrew's Day, thus completing the journey exactly within the month, four days having been spent in delay at Tweed Heads, Grafton, and Terrigal Haven.
The impressions made by this journey, from Moreton Bay to Port Jackson, all down the beautiful coastline of New South Wales, will live in the memory as a "joy for ever," and it is well worthy of the attention of anyone wanting a good holiday. If I count up the number of mountains, headlands, beaches, capes, points, bays, lakes, lagoons, creeks, rivers, islands, towns and villages they amount to one hundred and forty in a distance of over seven hundred miles. Approaching Sydney Harbour at dusk, as I have done hundreds of times before, the subtle charm of the scene came upon me just as fresh and forcibly as ever. The North and South Heads, the indented bays and towers and twinkling lights of Sydney, compose my last Picture of Travel.
A thousand homes are waiting us by gully, plain, and hill,
A thousand fireless altars wait unseen;
But to-morrow you may follow us on any track you will,
By the little patch of black upon the green.
—John Le Gay Brereton.
And the little blackened patch with its wood-ashes and couple of smoke-stained boulders, the bit of forked sapling stuck in the ground, betokens plainly enough the camping place of some wayfaring traveller, teamster or the simple sundowner who has lately moved on another stage of his journey towards another of his thousand homes or havens of nightly rest. "I should very much like to go on one of your walking tours!" "How lovely!" "What a charming way of spending ones holiday!" "It sounds quite idyllic." Such are the spontaneous exclamations of my friends when I come home recounting the simple adventures of my walks abroad, to which my reply is that I am only reverting to the primal joys of my ancestors when I linger at the camp in the woodland glade, or rest beside the broad hearth of the country inn, truly a welcome refuge from the storm, amid the charm of mountain and valley.
I have twice walked all the way from Sydney to Melbourne, but the walk I now describe begins with Mosman's Bay—one of the many charming marine suburbs around the shores and heights of Port Jackson—that branching arm of Neptune thrust inwards from the vasty deep of the rolling Pacific, and which really is beautiful, in spite of all the good-humoured pleasantry of the cynical globe-trotter.
Mosman's Bay must have been all aglow with wild flowers, vines, evergreens, and scented bush, a veritable fairyland for the botanical student. I have myself gathered Christmas bells growing on places now covered up by prosaic streets and hard metalled roads. These and the antiquities of early man have disappeared all too quickly. "Antiquities!" the reader may exclaim. "What antiquities can there be in Mosman?" Well, only those remains of Paleolithic man. Items that tell of the fact that the ancient stone men came into touch with the modern men of the last century. Such were the aboriginal rock carvings and stone implements found even in recent years. These rock carvings in Mosman were to be found on some of the lichen-covered flat rocks overlooking the harbour, on sites probably selected so that the blacks could not be overlooked in their rites and ceremonies to which most of the carvings refer. Depicted on the sandstone were figures of men, women, boomerangs, wallabies, kangaroos, emus, and whales, with occasional representations of gods, battles, and the details of conquest and adventure. All these symbols were the expression of a rude art mainly relating to the bora ceremony, or coming of age of the young men and their initiation into the full privileges of manhood. Rudely chiselled picture writing it was on the old sandstone, but full of meaning to the Australian aboriginal tribes. These were to be seen where Muston-street now is, and on the site of St. Clement's Church, but they are now all obliterated and gone.* And the wild flowers too; for the waratah, native rose and fuschia, boronia and flannel flower, you must go further afield.
[* See Aboriginal Carvings of Port Jackson and Broken Bay, by W. D. Campbell, Ethnological Series, No. 1, Mines Department, Sydney, 1899.]
From my home in Mosman, once so surrounded with bush flowers, but now, alas, closed in by streets and houses, I set out one fine morning in April, walking down Avenue-road to catch an early boat for Phillip's historic Sydney Cove, originally the Warrane or Warrang of the blacks.
But Mosman soon passes from our picture. Adieu, lovely Mosman, for a while! I take a last glimpse of the point with its mass of doll's houses, high perched and clinging to the sandstone that dominates and determines the character of the scenery for miles in every direction. Mosman, from outside the bay, is like a bit of Rhineland or like an illustration from a book of fairy tales. The impression is here burnt in upon the memory that, after all, Sydney Harbour is what Phillip pronounced it to be—beautiful—let him scoff who may, for in whatever direction the eye is turned the dancing water presents some new cove or inlet of unexpected delight, yet I am inclined to think that in order to get the most charming effect you, must
See Sydney Harbour on soft summer nights,
When steamers like fireflies glide in from sea,
To merge in a maze of shimmering lights
That glitter like gems on Circular Quay.
So to Circular Quay we go, and what a transformation from the Sydney Cove of Phillip! It was here, he quaintly tells us, "that now for the first time the quietude of the forest was broken by the sound of the axe and the felling of giant trees."
Once in Sydney, one is struck with Macquarie's name, while Phillip is remembered by merely a street. Macquarie-place is of triple historic interest: it is the spot where the first religious service was held in the infant colony; it is here you may see one of the guns of the Sirius, the one used as a time gun, and the anchor of the same interesting frigate placed upon a marble pedestal, suitably inscribed with the details of its rescue; and, thirdly, this is the place where standard points or data of measurement are found. If you want to adjust your barometer you will find the datum line fixed into the wall on the north side of the Lands Department, and here also the pedestrian finds his datum for measuring distances—namely the first milestone for all Australia.
Now, which road shall I take? George-street, that one-time old bullock track, has its claims, it is true, but our milestone points to Botany Bay, and of all these roads the one to historic Botany Bay is the one for me. To Melbourne, via Botany, is, to say the least of it, unusual; but I am drawn to it by the magnetic charm of its being the first recorded road or track in Australia—one walked over by Hunter, Phillip, and Surgeon-General White, and the sailors and fugitives who had hoped to escape in the French cruisers lying at anchor in Botany Bay. Why, the road to Botany Bay is our Watling-street. Like one of the Roman roads of Britain it belongs to our early Australian history, and like all things primeval an old road brings to us associations of rude beginnings.
The scene soon changes from Macquarie-place to old Botany Bay, and further, to that part of the bay named La Perouse, for here stands the monument in memory of La Perouse and his officers and crew, on which is the following inscription:—
This place, visited by M. La Perouse in the year MDCCXXXVIII., is the last whence any account of him has been received. Erected in the name of France by MM. De Bougainville and Du Campier, commanding the frigate La Thetis and the corvette L'Esperance, lying in Port Jackson, in MDCCCXXV.
The pillar is surmounted with an astrolabe in bronze. Connect up this sad emblem with the picture in the National Gallery, where the ill-starred Louis is giving audience to La Perouse and giving him his final instructions before sailing on his fatal voyage. At a little distance from the monument is the railed-in tombstone surmounted with an iron cross, where the remains of the naturalist and man of science L'Abbe Le Receveur, or Father Le Receveur, lie. The grave lies east and west, the feet facing the dawn, and originally La Perouse had written the Latin epitaph on two pieces of board nailed to a tree on the site of the grave. The boards were replaced by a copper plate in Phillip's time, but now the horizontal tombstone has the original inscription, and with respectful uncovered heads we read that—
Ex F. F. Minaribus,
Physicus in Circumnavigatione Mundi,
Duce D. de la Perouse.
Obit Die 17 Feb., Anno 1788.
Close by is Cape Banks and Bare Island and its obsolete fortifications, now used as the home for veteran pensioners; so, after seeing all I wanted, I embark in an oil launch and cross the heads to the other side, to classic ground which must for ever be sacred to Briton and Australian-born alike—Kurnell Park reserve and its silver sandy beach—Captain Cook's landing place, Cape Solander, and the Bay of Flowers. And there, close to the Cook monument, is the white honeysuckle (Banksia integrifolia), growing perhaps on the very spot where Banks obtained his first specimen, originally named by him after the Linnean fashion, Isostylus integrifolia, the genus afterwards renamed in honour of Banks.
Leaving these interesting monuments of the past, I cross some fine grassy paddocks which, I believe, were the meadows of Captain Cook, which have been contemptuously referred to as mythical and non-existent.
From the meadows I get into swampy ground, and have to walk through a mile or two of water to get to Kuranulla Beach, in Whale Bay, and onwards to the township and seaside resort of Cronulla. From there I get on to the Port Hacking road, and soon find myself at Tyreal Bay, where another motor launch awaits me, and I finally reach Simpson's, where I enjoy the hospitality of Mrs. Kingham. Here I put up for the night, having walked some 22 miles, and thus happily ends my first day's tramp.
"Where birds and brooks from leafy dells
Chime forth unwearied canticles."
Starting off from Simpson's Hotel at Port Hacking, as soon after daylight as possible, I was greatly helped by the thoughtfulness of Mr Mann, who rose from his bed just to put me on the right track, since the path, through being little used, has grown over in places as to be well-nigh unrecognisable. Thanks to my guide, I was soon speeding upwards towards the mountain road on the tableland, some 700ft above sea-level. This is the old coast road to Wollongong, to Garie, to Waterfall, and to Clifton, and what a magnificent view now met my outlook! To the left was the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean, to the right were the heights of Woronora, Heathcote, and Loftus, while looking backward you could see Capes Banks and Solander, with Botany Bay shining in the morning sun, and Randwick and Coogee faintly outlined in the purple mist of the north. What a joy to be alive under the blue dome of heaven in a clear atmosphere on a fine morning in April; to say it was a fine morning is to utter the commonest of commonplace statements, for this lovely morning of bright sunshine and cloudless skies can only be expressed by one word—it was truly Australian weather.
Once outside the southern boundary of the park there are several timber-getters' tracks, some leading to Lilyvale and Helensburgh, Waterfall, or Garie. Keeping as near the coast as possible, I come within sight of Otford, named, I suppose, after Otford, in Kent, where the Danes were defeated in 1016, and through which Henry VIII. passed on his way to the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Our Otford may have some other history, about which we have no Domesday Book, and so must perforce be silent. But here is a long railway tunnel that cuts through Bald Hill, which we now ascend, and from the top of which a charming view is spread out before us—one of the most beautiful views in Illawarra.
Stanwell Park is famous as the place where the original inventor, Lawrence Hargraves, made his remarkable experiments in aviation many years ago, and the terms "monoplane" "bi-plane," and "cellular kite" had their origin here in Australia at this charming seaside resort.
I pass on through Clifton, where coal was discovered in 1797, and Scarborough, too—places that have, like Otford, their original counterparts in old England. Here I halt for lunch, having walked better and further than I contemplated, then on to Bulli and Thirroul, where numbers of tourists were in evidence, testifying to the ever-growing popularity of the South Coast. Any of those places may be safely taken as a good holiday resort, as they are handy to the Bulli Pass, Webber's Lookout, and Loddon Falls. I pass on beyond Bulli, and to Woonona, with the mountain of that name on my right, until I see Mount Keira looming in sight. Having resisted the attractions of many hostelries along the road, I decide to push on as far as Wollongong, for there in the distance I can see the dull, ruddy flames of the coke ovens. Darkness is coming on, and frowning above to the right of me Keira and Kembla stand out in dark outline. Wollongong gas lamps are now passed and I draw towards my hotel glad the walk is over, which I reckon to be quite 30 miles, having gone much further than I had either anticipated or intended when leaving Port Hacking.
Next morning I left Wollongong at day-break and, after walking over the mud flats, had breakfast at the bridge near the Tom Thumb Lagoon which is ever to be associated with Flinders and Bass, the two brave young men who came out in H.M.S. Reliance, in 1795, fired with the enthusiasm of adventure. For they were both of them born discoverers and it hardly seems credible that these fellows started off from Sydney Cove on a voyage of adventure in a boat 8ft long, called the Tom Thumb, with only a boy for crew. They explored Botany Bay and Geore's River, and later started off south and discovered both Tom Thumb Lagoon and Lake Illawarra, which was at first named "Big Tom Thumb."
Only those who are out in the fresh morning air can appreciate the sublime sight of seeing the sun rise up out of the ocean and shoot forth his great shafts of golden glory to light up Keira, Kembla, Fairy Creek, and Saddleback Mountains in the west, while Five Islands, standing out seawards, lie in purple mist between you and the sun.
The sun now rose upon the right; Out of the sea came he.
I knew these islands long before the prsent Port Kembla came into existence, before ever a smelting works appeared with its smoke smudge across the sky. The long seven mile beach, with Windang Island and Shellharbour Church in the distance, sometimes called the "Star of the Sea," are very familiar to me. Yet on this delightful autumnal morning with the gulls screaming in the grey dawn and the massive indigo-purple slopes if the Illawarra mountains in the background of the picture, the whole scene comes upon my retina as a freshly minted glory from heaven. Then at sunrise comes the ringing notes of great or giant kingfisher, the settler's clock, the kookooburra or laughing jackass, and what an awakening comes over the land.
One of the later historic associations of Lake Illawarra is that of the little homestead called Whiteheath, for there, on the margins of the lake, all in sight of Kembla and Keira, lived in retirement Eugene Dominique Nicolle, C.E., the engineering pioneer who first manufactured artificial ice in Australia, and who was associated with Thomas Sutcliffe Mort in establishing cold storage and the chilled meat industry, which has now assumed such enormous commercial proportions. The present Fresh Food and Ice Co. was originally established through his untiring energy, and by the enthusiasm of those associated with him.
Crossing the mouth of Lake Illawarra I get glimpses of lovely Jamberoo and Abion Park, with Bong Bong and Saddle back mountains in the blue background. A pleasant walk brings me to Shellharbour, and yet further on to the Minnamurra River and to Kiama, with its columnar basalt, reminding the traveller of Giant's Causeway and Staffa. Reaching Kiama about dinner time, I join two or three motoring parties and find myself dining among friends at Tory's Hotel. The lighthouse on the promontory, the deep blue of the ocean, the white breakers dashing against the basaltic clilfs; while inland, sloping upwards, are the verdant hills lined with glens and combes of dense foliage, with Saddleback rising majestically over the town, form the most exquisite picture the eye could behold.
From Kiama to Gerringong I traverse the prettiest bit of the road on the journey, the Illawarra Mountains on my right and the Pacific Ocean on the left for many miles. At charming Gerringong, situated on the very edge of the ocean, amid the richest of pasture lands and dairy farms, I propose to stop for the day, but not caring for the accommodation I decided to push on towards Berry, past Foxground and by Coolangatta, with the result that by the time I reached Berry it was quite dark at my hotel, tea was over, the servants out, and no supper available, so biscuits, with milk and soda, formed my frugal repast after a second day's strenuous walk.
As it was only some 12 miles to Nowra, I decided to take the distance leisuiely, and loiter about on the road just as I pleased. As it was unnecessary to make an early start I remained in Berry for breakfast. Getting away at the luxurious hour of nine, I passed the road leading to Barrangarry, Cambewarra, and Kangaroo Valley—a road indeed familiar to me from the fact that I have many times walked from Moss Vale to Kangaroo Valley and Berry. Indeed, it has since become so popular a pedestrian undertaking, that if one wants to suggest a walking tour this route is generally the one to be first recommended.
I accomplished the distance from Broughton Creek and Berry to Nowra by lunch time, having passed very many motor cars by the way. Indeed, motor cars were so numerous that as soon as I descended one hill I was confronted by another car, and thereafter one after another so rapidly that I had no alternative but to walk on the very extreme side of the road.
I now reach Bomaderry, and another mile or so brings me to the fine bridge which here spans the Shoalhaven River, and which was opened for traffic over 30 years ago by the Hon Sir John Lackey. Crossing the river, the picturesque town of Nowra is reached, situated some nine miles from the sea coast. Here I am joined by my comrade in the person of the secretary of the Warragamba Walking Club, who had very kindly consented to take on the contract of walking all the way to Melbourne. Here we met with excellent hotel accommodation, and the evening was spent in making careful preparations for our long Journey. Among other things we sent back to Sydney many of the starched badges and trappings of civilisation. We even abandoned coats, so we go to Melbourne without a coat to our backs, having determined at all hazards to travel light.
Among the hills we walked together,
In drivig rain and windy weather.
Nowra, situated on the finest river in the State south of Sydney, is delightful alike for climate and scenery, but the traveller who comes here should also see the magnificent panorama presented by the Shoalhaven River from Derry Mountains or Cambewarra, and he will agree with me that the picture by Fulwood in the National Gallery is by no means overdrawn.
Having carefully eliminated all unnecessary items from our outfit, we set out like the couple of sybaritic sundowners that we were, on April 21, and were soon tramping along a good macadamised road at a fine swinging pace. Six miles out we halted for breakfast in a by-road, hidden from the main road, where, with our backs against a white gum log and to the windward of our smoky fire, we ate our frugal but sustaining morning meal. Hotel breakfasts are slow and solemn functions which we regard as a vexatious waste of time and money. I solve the question by slipping out of the hotel at my own time, and having breakfast on the road after walking six or seven, or ten miles all depending on finding a suitable camping place. I have however, met many landladies who have been so much distressed at my perversity on this breakfast question that I have often gladly accepteod a steaming hot cup of coffee with a delicious morsel cooked for my special benefit. Who could refuse or ignore such hospitality? My thanks to scores of instances of such matronly kindness.
After discussing breakfast in this double sense we are met by a cold southerly wind, which makes us increase the pace to four miles an hour which is rather beyond our average of three to three and a half miles.
The sky at the zenith was of a pure deep blue and huge masses of cumulus clouds were piled up on the horizon like vast mountains of snow.
Approaching Tomerong we saw a danger signal with a warning that the bridge had been washed away, but this caution was for motor car drivers, not for pedestrians like ourselves, who sometimes negotiate creeks and even rivers, by wading them. A rise in the winding road brings us within sight of splendid views of Jervis Bay, with its magnificent harbour, that seemed to rival the claims of a sister harbour further north that shall now be nameless.
But this harbour has a great future too, especially now that it is to be our great military base, with its naval college and direct communication by rail with the Federal capital. Already a road is being surveyed from Nowra, but what its possible developments may be is for future generations to witness. Not far from here are some charming holiday resorts, namely, Currambene Creek, Sussex Inlet, and St George's Basin, all accessible from Nowra by car and thence by motor launch, which runs to the inlet.
The southerly accelerated in velocity, and passing the sawmills we soon after arrived at Wandandian and had barely got safely to the inn when the rain descended in torrents and the storm beat furiously around the hostelry. Wandandian is a native name meaning "the home of the lost lovers." The legend, like hundreds of others, is lost; but it reminds us that the Australian aboriginal traditions are not altogether wanting in romance. I wish I knew the story, but it is an instance of the indifference of early settlers in collecting or recording the folklore of our well nigh extinct black population. A motor party now drove up, and joining forces we foregather for a pleasant fireside evening, while outside it was dark, cold and dreary; so the best place for us was by the ruddy fireside, where each in turn entertained the company with tales of travel and adventure.
It rained all night and next morning too, but we decided to push on rain or no rain; and at starting our host cheered and complimented us by declaring that we looked like Burke and Wills come to life again as we stood on his threshold equipped for the journey.
At Conjola an arm of the sea spreads out into a fairly large lagoon around which are many ideal spots for a picnic: indeed all along this coast there are grassy glades, lagoons, white sandy beaches, bold cliffs and fern-clad glens sloping down to the sea. Instead of making for Ulladulla, we were advised to put up at Milton, which we did, with the satisfaction of finding a good hotel and the best of attention—a comfortable ending to a day's journey, in which we battled through heavy rain and the strong southerly gale which had travelled up to Sydney and, by all accounts, had done great damage there.
The next day was that of Saint George and Merrie England. It was also the birthday of our great world poet and melodious master of speech, Shakespeare. It was, moreover, a glad day of bright sunshine and we were in fine fettle and high spirits, and having an easy day's walk before us, we luxuriated in hotel breakfast, setting out at 7.45 and, after a brisk walk, arrived at Ulladulla at 9. This soft sounding name of the blacks means "safe harbour," the appropriate name being quite justified, for it is a safe little port, but owing to the advent of the motor car, the passenger traffic by sea has dwindled down to almost nothing, the steamers that now ply to Sydney chiefly carrying merchandise.
Ulladulla is famous, for near here the poet Kendall was born in 1841, his earliest recollections being saturated with the beauty of this district as one of the most favuored spots in the country. Not only have we his charming and vivid descriptions of bushland, but here in the little seaport of Ulladulla one can imagine his love for
The sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
and the ironbound rocky coast may have inspired him when he sang
Round the lordly capes the sea
Rolls on with a superb indifference
And, moreover, in his stirring poem God help our men at sea, the ocean terrors he depicts are true flashes of poetic insight.
But now Pigeon-house Mountain looms up clear and blue—a famous landmark visible for many miles out at sea. There was not much that escaped the sharp eyes of Cook and Banks while sailing along this coast, although there is the startling exception of Port Jackson. How ever did they come to miss it?—unless perhaps they passed by the Heads at night. Pigeon-house is an appropriate name for the mountain that stands out like a dove-cot in the soft blue mountains beyond. We reached Termeil about 5 and put up at Shoobridge's, up among the mountains that are known as the Pigeon-house Range. Here, over a good log fire, the evening hours were beguiled by reminiscences of the old digging days. It was interesting to hear a name venerable in the history of the geology of Australia, that of the Rev. W. B Clark, whose valuable work is known all over Australia. My host also spoke of Mr. Pittman, the Government Geologist and of Dr. Helms, the late eminent analyst of Sydney, and he was enthusiastic in his predictions of the future prospects of the Pigeon-house Mountain. "Had I ever heard of Holterman?" he inquired. "Why, of course, everyone knows of Holterman's tower, in North Sydney, now used as the Church of England Grammar School." He replied that he had known Holterman well at Hill End, and he told how Holterman had had a long run of bad luck—in fact had lost everything—and was about to abandon his claim and go shearing, or do anything rather than this wearisome and hopeless digging, so he borrowed a plug of dynamite and with the final hazard of the die, turned up nearly a bucketful of gold, laying bare a nugget weighing 700lb.
The next day we walked from Termeil to Bateman's Bay, passing through Kockwoy, which six years ago boasted of but one cottage and now is a thriving, busy village with a sawmill. Our next stage was through Mogo to Moruya, in granite country famous for having produced the granite pillars that support the colonnade of the General Post Office in Martin Place.
From Moruya, we went through Bergalia and Coila, to Bodalla, where we were entertained sumptuously. The great cheese industry must be a subject for another occasion. On through Kianga, where we were offered work as farm labourers. Crossing the river to Narooma, we found the punt man's name was Bettini, a nephew of Bettinl who married Mlle. Trebelli, who was famous in opera at Covent Garden as Madame Trebelli-Battin, and whose daughter is now known as Dolores. I remember seeing her mother as Raoul in Les Huguenots.
We saw Montague Island, Corunna, the Dromedary Mountain, Tilba Tilba, Wallaga Lake, with the aboriginal encampment, and then on to Cobargo; from there to Bermagui, back again to Quaama, and from thence to Bega the Beautiful.
This simple word, Bega, is the ancient aboriginal name signifying beautiful; so appropriately given to it long ago, long before the coming of the British people.
By whatever route you enter Bega, whether by Tangawanglo, Bembka, Big Jack Mountain, Tanja, or even coming up from Tathra, a rich unfolding colour scheme of beauty awaits you; grassy meadows along the flowing river, green fields of lucerne, golden crops of ripe corn, with here and there the homestead and dairy-farm with their avenues or clumps of dark green fir trees, offering grateful shade in summer, so that the sun may not smite thee by day nor the moon by night.
Then, amid the trees you perceive the winding road converging towards the town; with its glinting roof tops bordered with soft tints of green, that mingle with the warm russet tones in the middle distance, which melt away in the background to the purple and azure of the everlasting Australian hills; where the forest stands like an altar screen against the canopy of heaven.
We stood and gazed at the sight. Why should we not linger here? Why haste, when the lovely afternoon is all our own? We felt, like the Queen of Sheba, that there was no more spirit left in us.
Approaching nearer the town, we passed outlying dairy farms and butter factories; meeting an increased road traffic, accompanied by the cackling sounds of ducks and fowls, the lowing of cattle, and the chime of
The noisy geese that gabble o'er the pool,
The playful children just let loose from school.
We became anxious to reach the township before the shops closed, as our wardrobe, especially foot gear, showed signs of severe wear and tear. Both my own boots and those of my companion needed repairing at once. In my case I had already been obliged to discard the boots in which I had walked as far as Nowra, and now my second pair required mending. My third pair of good golfing boots, held in reserve, had been sent on from Sydney to await my arrival at Bairnsdale, in Victoria.
Besides these trouble we both of us felt the need of salads and fresh vegetables. Our mode of living was to breakfast at some creek by the roadside in the manner already described, and again to camp at noon, or thereabouts, for lunch, relying on the hotel for the third meal in the evening. The effect of this was that we were obliged to put up with the inevitable bread-and-meat tea served without vegetables.
Now, ancient and modern dietetics indicate fresh vegetable food as an absolute antiscorbutic necessity; therefore we felt the need of it acutely. So we wired from Quaama to our Bega hotel to provide us with any sort of vegetable available. That evening we were the envy of our fellow guests, for, after a warm bath and change of raiment, we sat down to a feast of nice hot cooked vegetables.
The Bega bootmaker refused to accept any payment for his labour, and, as I knew he must have worked overtime to get the boots ready by the time appointed, I expressed surprise at his working for nothing, and he told me he knew me long years ago in a law case in which he was one of the jurymen; and for auld lang syne he would not think of charging me anything. Under such circumstances I felt that boots thus repaired for love ought to make my feet all the more comfortable for the willing workman's kindly feeling. Bega being an important and a first-rate business town, we took the opportunity of overhauling our swags and replenishing supplies, and, having made our purchases, we were not long in getting away on to the road to Pambula. We now look back on the scene, but we shall never forget Bega the Beautiful.
We did not go to Kameruka, so justly celebrated for its cheese, but at the turn-off we saw what might have been a character from Kismet—a red-turbaned, dark-skinned son of the prophet, sitting by the wayside campfire near the river, with his tilt-cart in front or him, from which he appeared to be doing lucrative business. We left him, and proceeded on our way, singing the sailors' chorus from Wagner's Flying Dutchman.
At Wolumla we were coldly received, and shown into the tramp quarters away in the backyard, which we firmly declined; but by discreet perseverance we got at last the best bedrooms, and after an indifferent toilet sat down to an indifferent tea, our hostess still somewhat astonished at our audacity in demanding such luxury.
Just then another traveller arrived in a sulky, and it turned out that he was a Government inspector of dairies. This gentleman was evidently a persona grata at the establishment and, when it became known that we had the honoured gentleman's personal acquaintance, the landlady at once became ceremoniously obsequious—all smiles and attention. Nothing now appeared to be a trouble; a magic change came over the scene. The table was forthwith loaded with good things; the best china and cutlery were put on, napkins appeared, where there were none before, and we made the welkin ring with our tales of adventure. Before tea we were nobodies; after tea the best parlour, with a cheerful fire, was available, and we were each of us—a somebody. Evidently we ought to have dashed up to her front door in a motor car not as a pair of casual tramps.
We left Wolumla by starlight, about an hour before daybreak, and arrived at Pambula for breakfast. Instead of keeping on the road to Eden, we crossed the Yowaka River, turning off to Nethercote, to visit a flourishing and well-ordered farm—the model dairy farm of the district. Mr. Fourter, the prosperous proprietor, made us heartily welcome, and gave us an excellent dinner. After photographing his prize Jersey cattle, we left him about 3 o'clock, and walked—without let or hindrance—right into the Garden of Eden, or rather into the gardens, for there were many such, all made by those strong sons of Adam, who were valiantly fulfilling man's rightful mission on the land, namely, "to dress it, and to keep it"—literally to make it into a land flowing with milk and honey. As for the daughters of Eve, they were playing tennis, for here could be seen the unique spectacle of a tennis court in the Garden of Eden.
Crowning it all, we beheld the beautiful bay of two sapphire-tinted, silver-embroidered folding bays—Twofold Bay, a place noted for its lovely equable climate, and for its repute as a restful sanatorium for anyone seeking a pleasant change of air. Do you want to add sport? For sport may be had in its proper season in the form of whale fishing, affording amusement and profit to the whole community. If only a tithe of what we heard be true, the whaling adventures of Eden rival the tales of the Arabian Nights. There are the famous killers, which appear in the offing like a pack of intelligent submarine hounds, not only to round up the leviathan of the deep, but to swim over to a whaling station at Kiah and give the fishermen warning that a whale is in the bay. Someone comes along shouting "Rush, oh!" which is the signal for a general stampede, the whole town with one accord turning out to see the fun. Breakfast, dinner, or tea is left unfinished, or even untasted. Business is suspended; schools, offices, and stores are forsaken and left unattended, while everybody—men, women and children—rush out of doors to see the killers attack the whale. It is even said that once, when the Court was sitting, a whale was signalled. Then the cry was raised, "There she blows!" Upon a word, all accoutred as they were, barristers, ushers, solicitors, constables, audience, and even the hatless "prisoner at the bar," with one accord rushed down to the blue waters of the bay, leaving the astonished Judge, faithful to stern duty bound, all in solitary state, upholding the majesty and dignity of the law! We would have willingly given a day or two off to see such fine sport, but as luck would have it there were none about at the time.
I was interested in the fact that Mosman and Neutral Bays were associated with this district, for of the two brothers Mosman both were in the whaling industry—one remaining at Twofold Bay; while Archibald Mosman worked and lived in that little port within a port—Mosman's Bay. Moreover, Ben Boyd's name remains linked with Neutral Bay.
Here also we saw Boyd Town and the interesting remains of the South Head Tower; the church in ruins, and the fine hotel with its roof and doors of cedar. But all these things, together with the romantic history of Ben Boyd himself, are they not written in the "Edeh-Monaro" booklet, issued by the Tourist Bureau in Sydney?
We were very reluctant to leave our comfortable quarters, and the kind hospitality of Mrs. Pike; so we dragged ourselves out of Eden; indeed, we felt that we were driven out of Eden—by inexorable Father Time!
We crossed over to Kiah in a motor launch and looked over the old Boyd ruins, and were soon upon the road again, having decided to abandon that part of our programme which had included a walk round Green Cape to see the remains of the wreck of the Ly-ee-Moon, together with the Womboyne River, famous for its fishing. We had to cross the Kiah River without the safe help of a bridge, and made for Narrabarba that night. From here we walked to Timbillica, the most southerly post-office in New South Wales, and 316 miles from Sydney.
The de'il cam' fiddling through the town,
And danced awa' wi' the Exciseman,
And mony braw thanks to the meikle black de'il
That danced awa' wi' the Excisceman.
Two miles beyond Timbillica we walked across the border into Victoria, to find that one State is just about as much like another as two peas. There was the same old bush, resplendent with early blooming wattles, but yet we felt there was a difference, for we found the native fuchsias differing in variety from the ones we see at home. Moreover we found that the Customs barriers, with their frontier-like restrictions, had altogether vanished, due, not so much to the energy of the "meikle black de'il," as to the fusion of the States into one Commonwealth. Some years ago one could not walk into Victoria without having one's swag or rucksack searched by the Customhouse officer; now you can enter unmolested, and without fiscal hindrance.
Our southern border is the straight line surveyed from Cape Howe to the Pilot Mountain, away on the Upper Murray, and passes between Genoa Peak and Timbillica. We found the track very lonely from the time we left Timbillica Post-office.
The euphony of such names as Narabarba, Timbillica, Mallacoota, and Genoa is suggestive of Italian origin, yet it is true of but one of them; the rest of them are Australian, and of these, you will only find Timbillica on our maps. Narabarba is simply a homestead or rest-house for the lonely traveller going to Mallacoota or Genoa.
Croajingalong is a very sparsely populated portion of the north-eastern corner of Victoria. It is practically unknown in Sydney and is conspicuous on the map by its clear blank space. It consists, for the most part of an impenetrable forest of iron barks, stringy barks, and turpentines, with reedy swamps, sometimes brilliant with patches of beautiful callistemons. A road, however, has lately been made through, but it is rapidly becoming overgrown with scrub.
On this my second venture through this wild territory, we found it a vast, monotonous, fireswept, ironbark forest, into which we literally plunged down along, down into black Craojingalong, cheering ourselves as we went by singing the Pilgrims' chorus from Tannhauser.
We stopped at Wingan bridge for lunch, and early that afternoon arrived at Karloo, or Curlew Creek, where we found a bark hut at an open clearing in the forest, owned by one Denis, of the far away Emerald Isle, whom we discovered hard at work building a barn of that ever-useful material—stringy bark. After the usual cheery greetings, we laid down our swags and turned to, helping him in finishing the construction of his roof. We had worked for a little time when he said, "And now, I suppose, when you boys get to Melbourne you'll be afhther saying you helped to build my house." "That is exactly what we intend doing," I replied.
"Can either of you gentlemen tell me the toime?" I looked at my wrist watch, and pronounced the hour to be 5 o'clock; my friend's watch indicated 10 minutes past 4; but his wife declared we were both wrong and went into the house to consult, not the clock, but the almanack, for clocks and watches they had none, depending solely on the rising and setting of the sun as set forth in the almanac. Her reckoning made the time to be somewhere about 3 o'clock, and, on this astronomical basis, 3 o'clock it was accordingly—while we went on working at the building trade, in fine disregard of the hours and regulations of all the unions in creation. Why did we do it? Merely for fun, for something to do and to please our jolly, garrulous friend—this newly-found son of old Erin, who pronounced us to be "two sich knowledgeable gintlemen," adding, in his richest brogue, "and proud I am to meet ye."
We worked on till dark, when we foregathered round the homely board in the little bark shanty, before the ever-cheerful log fire, to partake of a plain bush supper, our host reverently crossing himself before entering upon the repast.
"Phwhat's that on your wrist, may I be so bould to ask" "A compass! Shure now, niver I saw the loikes!" His admiration as I showed him the points of the compass, luminous in the dark, was unbounded. "Well, well! Ye'll never git lost in the bush at all at all."
Denis was also in the midst of a more ambitious undertakiug, namely, building, single-handed a weatherboard cottage which had just been roofed in, but was still far from being complete. We slept in its only available room, which was as yet without floor, windows, or doors besides possessing numerous air-spaces in the unfinished walls, while sundry chinks in the roof enabled us to watch the stars and planets in their courses.
Thus, we tarried like Odysseus of many counsels, with the swineherd who freely gave us sound advice on pig-farming, remarking that, while he grew both corn and pigs, he made his crops walk to the nearest market.
On the morrow we fared forth from this primitive place and proceeded on our way to the Thurra River, passing Mount Everard in the distance, not far from Cape Everard, the latter being remarkable as being the first bit of Australia sighted by the men on board the Endeavour. It was discovered by Lieutenant Zachary Hicks at 6 o'clock in the morning of Apil 19, 1770 and Captain Cook named it Point Hicks in honour of the observer. For a long time I had searched official maps at the Lands Department for this Point Hicks, and began to think it was a myth, but I am now satisfied that this is the right position, although some think it was only a sand-hill on the Ninety-Mlle Beach.
We next climbed The Drummer which should have given us magnificent scenery had the weather been fine, but it rained heavily, and there was nothing for it, but to plug on doggedly through slippery clay and mud for many miles until we got on to the corduroy road leading down to the Cann River Settlement. After staying a night at the Cann, we reached the Bemm, and from thence came to a charming place called Bell Bird, where Mrs. Eriksen and her daughters made us very comfortable. The tales we heard of pioneering in this lonesome country were not at all inspiring: indeed, they served to warn us against taking risky short cuts, and from attempting to make bee lines through the bush. There were miles of sharp spear-grass that will cut your clothes to rags and ribbons, and the wire-grass grows to ten or twelve feet high, in which travellers are sometimes lost, never to be heard of again. Mrs. Parker of Club Terrace, gave me an account of a brave missionary from Melbourne, who was journeying to Comebienbah (pronounced Comeby-an-bah) and whose skeleton, with that of his horse, was found years afterwards with the saddle and bridle tied up to a tree, together with the remains of his Bible and the papers which led to his identification. He had probably tied his horse to the tree while he went into the bush, but never found his was back and so perished.
We then walked to Orbost, crossing the Snowy River not far from its mouth at Marlo, thus having seen the Snowy at its source in the neighbourhood of Kosciusko, and here again at Orbost, where it is a fine wide river, fertilising and watering the rich grassy meadows which reminded us of the Hunter River district, although less extensive in area.
Tyldesley's and Hospital Creek were our next stopping-places on towards Lake Tyers, where there is an interesting aboriginal station. From Mrs. Blay's boarding-house I walked to Cunninghame and the Lakes Entrance where we embarked on board the lake steamer across the Gippsland Lakes to Bairnsdale.
The Gippsland Lakes comprise three large sheets of water—Lakes King, Victoria, and Wellington, with Raymond Island lying between the two former. Our steamer left Cunninghame at 9 in the morning, and, passing Kalimna and Metung, with a fine background of blue mountains in the distance, we reached Bairnsdale (171 miles from Melbourne) about noon, where we had dinner and found boots, extra clothes, letters, and papers from Sydney.
In the afternoon we walked alongside the Mitchell River down to Paynesville, a place from which regular daily shipments of fish are consigned to Melbourne; consequently we ordered a fish breakfast but got sausages instead, the curious irony of the situation being that tons of fish were going every day to Melbourne.
We now took another steamer bound for Sale, passing along Lake Victoria through a narrow channel into Lake Wellington, and thence up the Latrobe River to the large and prosperous town of Sale where we put up at the Criterion Hotel, one of the best hotels we met with.
At Bairnsdale we reckoned up our mileage and found that we were now 543 miles from Mosman's Bay, and had made an average of twenty-two miles a day.
Cheerful at morn, he wakes from short repose,
Breathes the clean air and carols as he goes.
Walking through Nature's picture gallery with our harps tuned up to the music of the spheres, we found the heroic and classic folklore of Europe had been grafted on to this virgin land of Australia, making it what it is, a land of amazing surprises.
So, when I say that we now walked through fairyland into Valhalla to be feasted by the Valkyries and hear them sing the Nibelungenlied, I merely use a figure of speech to convey the fact that we crossed a bridge; maybe not quite so etherial as the rainbow bridge of Bifrost, but a wooden structure over the Thompson River; and entered upon a fairy-like town quite unlike anything we had yet seen on our travels.
Walhalla is a picturesque mining township clinging like an Alpine vlllage to the steep sides of a valley. The rushing river below, that carved out the valley in the geologic process of ages, now supplies the different mines with water, and so deeply hidden is the golden treasure of Valhalla that the shaft of one of these gold mines is as deep as our Katoomba is high above sea-level. We climbed up the mountain-side to visit the mines, and, looking down into the valley, the town appeared like a miniature scene in fairyland. Our hotel was jammed close up against the steep rocky sides of the hills. The bedrooms were without windows, but were provided with skylights, closed, of course, so that our host, at my particular request, got a ladder and climbed up on to the roof to open the skylight, thus enabling me to obtain my requisite air supply.
The next morning we set out before daybreak, leaving our romantic abode in Valhalla quietly, so as not to awaken the daughters of Wotan. We walked briskly up out of the valley, with Venus as our morning star shining brilliantly in the heavens. After climbing some 800 feet, past the grey precipice—by the solemn pine-fringed path—we stopped to have breakfast at a wayside cottage on the mountain, and then followed on the bush track, keeping Baw Baw on our left and Mount Useful on our right. What a libel on all the other mountains to single out this one alone as useful!
We walked on to Aberfeldy, where we were entertained by Kitty O'Keefe, who begged us to write our names in her album. She introduced us to one who had been a bride in January, a widow in February, and a wife for one brief month. This poor forlorn lady had never beheld either Melbourne or Sydney, nor had she ever set eyes on a railway train, much less had she seen the open blue sea! her travels being limited to journeys on horseback to Matlock and to Woods' Point.
As we descended the very steep mountain towards the hostel of Mrs. O'Keefe, senior (Miss Kitty's mother, the historic celebrity and heroine of Red Jacket), we saw a pretty sight. Toiling up the mountain track was a woman leading a packhorse. But what had she in the pack? Why, to our wonder and astonishment, four little rosy-cheeked cherubs of children, all snugly wrapped up together with furs and rugs, like birds in a nest. All honour to so brave a woman, going thus devotedly, day by day, to the Public school at Aberfeldy, to provide for her children's education. Think of it! ye city mothers, blest with every convenience—with schools in the next street.
We then crossed over the River Jordan, and journeyed down into Jericho, suffering no perils by the way, neither did we fall among thieves; nor did we dream when we left home that on this Journey we should reach the banks of the Jordan. With Valhalla fresh in our minds, we soon made the air vocal with the old song of our childhood days—
"On the other side of Jordan; in the green fields of Eden."
Going up from Jericho to Matlock we mounted the steep sides of B.B. Creek, passed on to Loch Fyne, and climbed up to Mount Matlock, to find ourselves in a cold, bleak climate, with a sky that threatened for snow, and right glad were we to reach our next halting-place, for we longed for shelter and warmth.
Who can better appreciate the broad open hearth of a homely Australian farmhouse than the wearied and swinked sundowner?
Listen to the glad welcome of your hostess as she exclaims, "Deary me! And did you walk all the way from Aberfeldy. My word, what a walk! Lawks me! From Sydney, did you say? Poor things! You must be dog tired. Come in, then, and rest yourselves by the fire!" And answering a rapid string of good-natured motherly questions, we plank ourselves down in the welcome chair, before a huge log fire in a ten-foot-wide fireplace, while preparations are being hurried on for the evening meal.
From a strong iron crossbar set in the chimney there hangs a steaming five-gallon iron kettle or cauldron, while sundry smaller pots, camp-ovens, and blllycans hang like black satellites suspended in the fiery system, like the big planets warming themselves around our solar system. A seductive and appetising odour of cooking, suggesting fine herbs, meat, and onions, pervades the air, and we soon respond to the glow and comfort of hearth and home. J'y suis, et j'y reste shall be my motto for the present; let the howling blast outside blow as it may, for now, indeed, 'tis a time "to take one's ease at one's Inn." We are now on the top of Mount Matlock, at an altitude of 4650 feet above sea level, the highest inhabited spot in Victoria, where the wind blows from all points of the compass; and our hostess might have been the prototype of Mistress Quickly, and this quaint old armchair, darkly smooth with use and age, might have served to hold a Sir John Falstaff—so broad and ample are its proportions.
The next day we set out for Talbot Peak (5000 feet) in fine spirits, singing Hail, Smiling Morn, intending to walk only as far as the Mountain Home, a place eighteen miles distant. But we arrived too soon. It was still early in the afternoon, and we looked askance at our prospective landlady rather suspiciously. She put her big bare arms a-kimbo, and warned us that we should get no other accommodation nearer than eighteen miles. We talked of going on. She said we were mad to think of it; but we quickly made up our minds to chance it, and to her disgusted surprise we trudged on.
This 36-mile stage was the longest walk we did on any one day, and it was after nine o'clock at night when we reached McVeigh's. From about six o'clock until our arrival it was very dark, and the forest was awfully grim and black. We were frequently startled by wombats and opossums crossing our track, so that I shall not easily forget our shouts of joy when we heard the sweet gurgling noise of melodiously running water, which was none other than that of the Upper Yarra. Turning a bend in the road we saw a welcome light in the window of a house. Knocking at the door, we Inquired if this was McVeigh's.
"No, sonny; 'tis tin miles fudder on." The rogue. It was McVeigh himself, playing off his little joke upon us tired travellers.
The next day we walked to Warburton, lunching at Starvation Creek. Seeing a fine building as we entered the town, we concluded it must be the convent; but it turned out to be the college and grounds of the Seventh Day Adventist Community. Two boys here greeted us as "Donner Bewhangers," which it seems is the local vernacular for tourists. We found a good hotel here: warm bath, hot supper, and cheerful fireside. The charms of Warburton are: First, the picturesque Upper Yarra, with its clear, pure water running through the most charming scenery; and, secondly, a famous mountain which is now attracting considerable attention as a tourist resort, chiefly owing to its beauty and accessibility. A new road was being made up the mountain at the time we passed through.
This mountain is the lovely Donna Buang, or "Our Lady of the Snows," for it is often capped with snow, and presents a most attractive appearance. We now come to the Launching Place, then, skirting the River Don, we halted at midday, dining in a barn, in which we took shelter from the inclement weather. We then climbed a steep basaltic mountain leading up to Malleson's Lookout, from which the view is superbly magnificent. I count it among the finest sights in Australia, and it merits greater detail than this mere passing reference.
We now descend to Healesville, which is one of the best-known tourists' resorts in Victoria, and well described in the various guide-books. My Melbourne friends must please pardon my bare mention of Yarra Glen, Lilydale, Madame Melba's house, and the Dandenong Ranges, while now I come to our last day's walk of 20 miles, which was from Croydon into the city of Melbourne, passing through Ringwood, Mitcham, Tunstall, Box Hill, Camberwell, and Blackburn (where we breakfasted on beer and buns).
We turned off from the Cotham-road to go to the Kew Cemetery, to see the costly and beautiful monument erected to the memory of Mrs. Springthorpe. With bronzed faces and still nimble feet we entered Melbourne through Collins-street, finishing up at the General Post Office, which we reached at 1 o'clock on Saturday, the 18th of May last.
We lunched, and then went to see the boat race on the Yarra. Afterwards we witnessed the performance of Kismet at night, thus projecting ourselves once again into the giddy whirlpool of city life, only to have our ears stunned with town noises, and our eyes confused with the crowds of jostling people, shops, building, and a thousand bewildering objects that claimed one's attention, all of which gives me reason for agreeing with the laconic opinion of the blackfellow, who, when asked what he thought of Melbourne, said, "Too muchie gunya."
The distance from Sydney to Melbourne by the usual road, namely, via Goulburn and Albury, is 583 miles; by sea it is 576 miles; by the coast 714 miles; but by our roundabout, though picturesque, route, 810 miles. The time occupied in the undertaking was 33 days.
Space now compels me to close with the tale not half told. To say that we thoroughly enjoyed the tramp is to speak but feebly of a holiday pilgrimage that brought us into contact with the real live men and women on the land, who were not, like ourselves, out for the sake of the scenery. For myself, I was indeed fortunate in having for my comrade-companion such an experienced walker, so accomplished a bushman and gentleman, as Mr. H. J. Tompkins, and whenever the way was cold and dreary, or the long road seemed unending, our minstrel instincts kept us merrily tramping on the track with many a song and story, for we both could echo Robert Louis Stevenson's walking song, in which he refers to Robbie Burns as "the gauger fluting on ahead":—
Whene'er I buckle on my pack'
And foot it gaily on the track,
O pleasant gauger, long since dead,
I hear you fluting on ahead.
Away on the wings of the morning,
To the purple-peaks of rugged Mount Warning;
Where virgin clouds gather and rain torrents fall,
Where the wood pigeons chant and the lyre birds call;
Through Bilambil Valley, where winding roads lead
to Murwillumbah town, and the silvery Tweed.
In the Temple of Peace sat Odysseus of many counsels and devices, dreaming at dusk of many a holiday rumble and pleasant pilgrimage. Six years had passed since he visited the Australian Tweed, yet visions came unbidden of the beautiful Bilambil valley, of the waters of Terranora, the sands of Burleigh, of the fleet-running creeks of Tullabudgery and Corrumbin, with the blue forest-crowned mountain overlooking the Tweed, with all its wealth of palms, tree ferns, vines and fragrant woodlands.
Yes, it all came back on the mind's retina like a soft, dreamy vision; pictures of gardens, green pastures, orchards, and dairy farms, jacaranda trees in glorious violet bloom; and all the wealth of foliage that may be seen on our Northern Rivers.
At last the grey-eyed Athena no longer held her peace, but in her soft wooing manner—she, the daughter of Zeus, spake thus:—"Since health is a prize set above wealth; since the path to health is the footpath; gird up thy loins and hie thee forth. Shoulder thy bundle, swag, or rucksack, and get thee hence. The dryads of Tumbulgum woods, the river gods of the Tweed—birds, flowers, and mountain sylphs—all unite in voicing the call of the wild."
But here the important question of companionship must be settled. Should I go alone, or share the company of friends? Robert Louis Stevenson held that it was best to be alone. "Now, to be properly enjoyed," he says, "a walking tour should be gone upon alone...because freedom is of the essence, because you should be able to stop and go on, and follow this way or that as the freak takes you." And Hazlitt says: "One of the pleasantest things in the world is going a journey; but I like to go by myself." Then again, the bold Walt Whitman quaintly pipes another tune when he exclaims:—
Allons! whoever you are, come, travel with me!
Travelling with me you find what never tires.
The earth never tires.
Very true, Walter, our common earth is entirely tireless and impersonal, and as for me, well, I am occasionally subject to fatigue and, although I can join with John Henry Newman in saying: "Never, less alone than when alone," yet it is sometimes desirable to have a companion, someone to bully and order about, a companion who will obey marching orders—start at any early hour of the dewy morn, and who will halt promptly when a halt is called, so that the walker may rest and luxuriously stretch at full length by the grassy water banks—a proceeding, I find, that is always complied with, and that, too, with sweet reasonableness and alacrity.
The mental suggestion that I wanted companions was whispered abroad and passed on by wireless to sundry pedestrian friends, and I was soon in touch with several possible companions; so that, after sundry shaking of heads by some, the personnel of the party came into being. First, there was our trusty and well-beloved Hal, fleet-footed as Hermes himself, who, scenting adventure in the proposed journey, literally look steps to join in the enterprise, and once the route was made clear he was itching to get away upon the road. Next in the party was a tried and valiant walker, whom I shall here designate the Knight of the Flaming Crucible of the Warragambian Order. The fourth member of the Company of Knights Errant was none other than a cavalier of the Roman Legion—the Count Podista.
Then it was that Odysseus of many counsels spake unto his Warragamba wanderers thus:—
"Fie upon this giddy life; there is, methinks, too much starch, too many frills, too many late nights, too much conventionality, too many gay distraction in Sydney to please me. Tarry no longer with the lotus eaters. An' thou lovest me, Hal, go pack thy scanty baggage, for we travel light, and you, my sweet friends, sleep on 't and let me hear more anon."
Unfortunately, the sirens and seductions of Sydney prevented us from all starting together, so it was arranged that the young Prince Harry and myself should embark on one of the steel-clad galleons from Sussex-street or thereabouts, and steam away north to Brisbane; while the Knight of the Flaming Crucible, and he of the Roman Legion, aforesaid, should train it by the North Coast mail, and meet us on the Manning River a fortnight later, and take up the running, or, rather, the walking, from Taree to Sydney; while Hal and I were to start off from scratch.
The composition of the party being thus definitely assured, there remained the questions of baggage, commissariat, the daily march, the regulation stride, accommodation, communication with our base, in a word—our route and itinerary. For the latter I took one of Pearson's road maps, and cut it up into sections, and gummed them into my pocket notebook. The itinerary was thus calculated to a nicety, and was exactly fulfilled as regards time, for we arrived in Sydney on November 28, according to scheduled plan. By this means, there was no need for forced marches, each day's walk varying from 15 miles to a maximum of 27 miles, consequently, the arrangements came well within the powers of any ordinary walker. True, some walkers prefer to have no set itinerary, but for our part we found it more convenient to plan our route beforehand, as we should then always know at what towns we could expect letters, and thus remain in touch with Sydney, home, and beauty.
Certain rules were deemed to be inflexible (Appendix 1), to wit—the weight of the swag was not to exceed ten pounds; the stride was to be the regulation military thirty-inch, which is as old as that of Napoleon's army; the speed to be three miles an hour; the daily distance never to exceed thirty miles. For health's sake we aimed to be always 12 hours in the open air each day, walking eight miles before breakfast, another nine before lunch, and nine miles, or perhaps less, before supper. Our walking clothes were to be the lightest obtainable, while the swag must only contain some tucker and les petites necessaires de voyage, that is to say, the proverbial toothbrush and its accessories. But since the accessories far outweigh the dental brush, the minimum of 10lb. was a fair allowance, for it included an aluminium billy can, a first-aid case, cup, knife, fork, and spoon, some silken garments for night use, and last, not least, what I deem to be the very sheet anchor for the soaking-wet, tired, pilgrim—a clean, warm, dry, woollen sweater.
Shouldering our swags, Hal and I stepped ashore in the Queensland capital, after having fully satisfied the port health authorities that we brought no raging disease germs with us. Having lost a day's sightseeing in Brisbane, we had to adopt Mark Twain's practical advice, and take train for Southport, as I had already twice walked right from Brisbane, through Beenleigh, Pimpana and Oxenford to Southport.
Arriving at Southport at 11 o'clock, we took the ferry boat and crossed the Nerang, and soon made our way on to the ocean beach, where shaking off the dust and trappings of convention, we began walking in real earnest. What a glorious beach of fine, yellow sends! There, in the offing, was a ship; straight ahead stood out Burleigh Head and other hazy headlands; while melting in the blue distance, were Tweed Heads, our objective for the first day's walk. Yes, it was worth coming 700 miles for this one walk alone. To be here "'twixt the green sea and the azure vault." Unfortunately, we struck the beach at high water; we ought to have started five hours earlier, for then the sands would have been hard and firm: indeed, years ago the mail coaches used to run along the sands at low water. However, I was glad to be here, walking barefoot on the clean, wet sands, with a good listener for a companion. 'Twas true, indeed, that:—
Here about the beach I wander'd, nourishing a youth sublime,
With the fairy tales of science and the long results of time.
While thus discussing geology and chemistry, dark lowering clouds came down from the north and we were soon overtaken by a sharp thunderstorm. This we did not mind a bit, since mackintoshes, coats and umbrellas were all left at home in Sydney, but when hail began to bombard our bare skins we sought shelter under some thick bush, for we knew that Queensland hail might sometimes be as large as pigeons' eggs. And what would you do then, Harry? Like the hero homeward bound from Troy, Hal was a man of many devices, and never at a loss for any emergency. He promptly replied that he would bury himself in the soft, loose sand, and hold the rucksack up over his head, and thus defy the storm. Brave Hal did not require this extreme measure, for although we both got wet, by the time we reached Burleigh Heads we were quite dry again, and, hungry too; so here we camped for lunch.
A fisherman took us in his boat over Tullabudgery Creek, and as it was low tide we found we could easily wade over Currambin, and so arrived at Tweed Heads soon after 6 o'clock, having done 21 miles, and what is more, doing justice to some exquisitely-cooked fish provided by Mrs. Martin, of the Pacific Hotel, who had been warned of our coming beforehand. Before 6 next morning we walked up the Tweed, crossed the North Arm by the punt, and slowly trudged up the hill loading to Bilambil. After five miles we wanted breakfast, and began to search for water. Descending into the dense scrub we came upon what appeared to be a deserted hut all overgrown with vines and creepers, and here found a poor hermit, who was in the last stages of consumption, and his racking cough had a most dismal and depressing effect upon us.
We, however, regained the road, and went on a couple of miles further, and stopped at a roadside cottage, and asked the housewife for water. She directed us to a spring hard by, and while I went looking about for a suitable place to make our camp fire she, glad of a chance gossip, thus addressed Harry:
"What; ye're a-travellln', I s'pose. How far are ye like to be a-goin'? To Sydney. Good Lord! You don't say so; and a-walkin' it. I reckon you'd much better take the steamer from the bay; but I s'pose it won't run to it these times now the cane's all cut. And is ye're pore old father goin' to walk there, too? Yes? My word! But you must be hard up or mad, the pair of ye."
She sighed as she thought of the hard, incomprehensible life on the road, while we, leaving her in blank astonishment, soon had the billy boiling, and a hot steaming breakfast ready, laughing right merrily over our self-imposed task. We mounted the hill, and were so engrossed in conversation that we heedlessly took the wrong turning, but were set right after going a mile or so out of our way by a jolly selector who recognised our rucksacks, and told us he had lately been to the old country and also to Switzerland, where he had seen plenty of chaps walking and climbing for pleasure's sake. So here within a short space of an hour or so we found persons who had both understood and misunderstood our wandering enterprise. After a pleasant walk through the lovely Bilambil valley we arrived at Murwillumbah, after having had a cooling swim in the silvery Tweed above Tumbulgum, all in sight of Mount Warning and the distant blue McPherson ranges.
We found friends in Brisbane, we found them again at Tweed Heads, and here at Murwillumbah we had friendly offers of a ride in a motor to Byron Bay, which we steadfastly declined. From here we walked to Dunbible through fine verdant dairying districts, through Burringbar to Billinudgel. Here we were in timber country, and saw the great logs prepared for transport to the sawmills.
Walking in the open air develops a keen appetite, and many people wonder and question the advisability of accomplishing eight or nine miles before breakfast, but I have already in former articles related the difficulties of getting early breakfast at the hotel, and I certainly prefer to have the meal on the road, served with that sauce which the gourmet would give anything to have—keen, oxygenated hunger.
Our breakfast at Billinudgel is a typical repast en plein air, and at the request of some of my Sydney friends I describe it. First we obtained some eggs and a loaf of bread from the local store. In our swag we had a dozen bananas, some butter, cheese, sugar, almonds, and raisins, with tea tabloids, and some saccharin or saxin tabloids, which latter are taken, not for medicinal or for prohibitive dietetic reasons, but simply for their wonderful portability. So, what do we do? We choose a nice grassy, shady nook, where, free from observation, we unbuckle and open out our swags, and despotic orders are given. Hal, dear boy, go beg borrow or buy some milk and get the two billycans filled. On forage excursions he always came back laden with the necessary raw materials, and as often as not with salad stuff—tomatoes, lemons, or whatever else is available. They all like Hal, and seem glad of a gossip with him. Meanwhile, I get a fire lighted, and spread the cloth on the grass plot—
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough!
Well, the rest is obvious. We fall to, with a fresh, keen appetite, declaring that breakfast under such conditions is a feast for the gods. Here we linger awhile, until finally we collect our things together, and go on our way again, singing the students' chorus from the Kermesse in Faust.
How we came to the Brunswick River and crossed over in the ferryboat, afterwards making a halt to disport ourselves in the brilliant, clear blue water of the lagoon, swimming about among the fishes, scattering and driving the whiting, bream, and mullet in all directions, remains fixed in our memories like a sweet sea dream.
Our trusty Hal, before going into the water, gave up his purse containing gold, to a fisherman named Faruccio, asking him to take care of it while we swam and revelled in the transparent lagoon. I was a trifle anxious about the proceeding, but was much relieved when we dressed to see the fisherman return the purse intact. I asked him what part of Italy he hailed from, for I took him to be an Italian. His answer was, "Non, signore; non sono Italano, sono Maltese." Our Irish landlady, who gave us a rough but liberal dinner, charging us 18d whereas it used to be a shilling, said she had raised the price "owing to the increased cost of living." Thus modern political economy is very far-reaching in its effects.
In the afternoon Cape Byron loomed large in the distance, and seemed to be a never-come-atable fixed point, ever so far off. This is our furthest east portion of the great continent of Australia, and was so named by Cook in honour of Admiral Byron, who was the great hero navigator in England just at the time Cook left London in the Endeavour.
But at last we arrived at the pier in Byron Bay and were glad, after so much beach walking, to find ourselves on the hard, hard road, or as the lady said, on terra cotta, once more.
We were very well entertained here by a fat, bucolic-looklng landlord, and served by a waiter who might have been one of the characters out of Dickens; he attended to our simple wants with a lofty, superior air too utterly disdainful for words, so that we concluded that he might be some cavalry officer in disguise.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar.
But, notwithstanding the "pleasure in the pathless woods" and all the varied but no less pleasing features of a walking tour, your superior person about town never omits to ask you in his smiling lofty manner what fun one can find in long-distance walking. Poor cynic! He looks at us through the wrong end of the telescope, and sees but a dreary tramp—merely that and nothing more. But the charm of walking grows upon you and comes to one with all the force of a new discovery, and you wonder why you have never attempted it before. The true spirit is to give yourself up in joyous abandon to the sweet, wholesome influences of sun, wind, rain, and sky.
Take any part of our route. Take the walk from Cape Byron to Ballina, either along the sands to Lennox Head—all within sound of the deep sea's musical roar—or by way of Tintenbar—along the red, red road, in the slumberous silence of the full summer day—and what pictures of sylvan beauty are unfolded! As you mount the hills you see Cape Byron, the bay, and its lighthouse, which at sunset flashes forth its light like a twinkling evening star, making one more lovely picture for your mental album. It is a scene of hills and dales, with fine cleared land, green with paspalum grass, and studded here and there with prosperous dairy farms. What a prospect! What colouring! Green grass, red soil, blue ocean, and azure sky! Look away towards the ocean in the east, and what more lovely sight can there be than
The milk-white coastline stretching far;
Seen from the slopes of Newrybar,
at which village we rest and regale ourselves with bread and honey just as a preliminary 11 o'clock lunch.
While at the bay we had the good fortune of meeting a true guide, philosopher, and friend in the person of Mr. Douglas M'Pherson, who not only gave us detailed information as to our best route, but satisfied our inner man with a hot, appetising breakfast, porridge included; and all prepared with his own hands and forethought, and this, too, at 5 o'clock on this bright summer morning. And then, still more kindness, for when we arrived at Ballina we found he had thoughtfully wired to the hotel and engaged rooms for us.
At the Brunswick I essayed to wade in over what I thought was a little sand bar, but I had not gone far when suddenly I sunk in up to my waist with all my belongings. Only a few minutes before Harry had very wisely crossed over in a boat, so there was nothing for it but to do likewise and take the friendly fishing boat, which entailed some little delay while I stretched myself and my clothes to dry in the sun.
Speaking of this pleasant little hill-top village of Newrybar reminds me of a number of bars we, at one time or another, had either heard of or crossed or maybe even entered. One is particularly struck with the number of places having the terminal "bar" in their aboriginal names. We had already passed through Burringbar, Newrybar, and Tintenbar; then there is Tambar, Noorebar, Wollongbar, Pulganbar, Yulgilbar, and Malanbar, not to mention Cobar and Canonbar away out in the far west. Moreover, all the coastal rivers each have a bar, which at times becomes a serious drawback to navigation.
Then, again, there is the fascinating bar to be found at every hotel and wayside inn, which you will find, like the river bar, right at the very entrance, and which tends to impede, or at least to greatly interfere with safe and steady land navigation. On the eve of the elections the matter of bars was the subject of much public discussion. It was held by some that both kinds of bars suffered from similar disadvantages, namely, insufficiency of water, and a movement was on foot for their total abolition in the interests of public safety.
We passed through Newrybar and Tintenbar, and were walking along the north arm of the Richmond—along a road ballasted with oyster shells, which, by-the-by, makes a very good firm dry road.
Within a mile or two of Ballina we met some horsemen who were puzzled over our appearance, and asked if we were walking round the world, and wanted to know what was the amount of the wager. "We are only walking a little bit of the world," I replied. "Well, then, what's the price of the watches," he said, taking us for travelling hawkers. "We have none to sell," said I. "Well, what d'ye want with four bally watches, then?" I proved to them that only one of the four was a watch: the others being aneroid, compass, and dial-thermometer. Their curiosity being satisfied, they said we were "a pair of sports," and passed on with the friendly salutation, "Well, so long."
The first man we met in Ballina was my friend. Mr. Halligan, the hydrographer, and with him for a little while we stood and watched some local sports going on in the park—a bowling match played between Ipswich (Q.) and Ballina. Here we altered our itinerary. Our original plan was to push on to Grafton via Woodburn, Chatsworth, Maclean, and Ulmarra; but this was a fine chance for Hal to see Lismore, so we steamed up the Richmond, making a lazy day of it, passing through large floating masses of the water hyacinth, which seemed, like the bars, to obstruct the navigation.
In Lismore we met so many friends that we never had a dull moment all the time we were there. We were very courteously entertained by Mr. Charles McKenzie, who took us for a long drive in his car through glorious scenery, visiting Rous, Alstonville, Ballina, and Wollongbar, and back by another road to Lismore. The Sunday we spent quietly with our friends in their charming house in the suburbs of Lismore, and it will ever be remembered as one of the most pleasant features in our tour. Our hostess, Mrs. McKenzie, is a charming lady—one of those who show a serene, kindly, and unaffected interest in the well-being of their guests, leaving nothing undone that could be done to make our visit to Lismore a happy one, and an event to be remembered.
From Lismore our route lay through fine pastoral country by way of Casino, Myrtle Creek, Camira, and Myall Creek, through forest lands to the Clarence, and we were glad at least to reach Grafton, where we were again amongst friends, who entertained us most cordially, omitting nothing that could make for our happiness.
Here Hal developed a sudden desire to see the inside of a gaol. Nothing I could say to dissuade him would prevent him. I told him there was not much to see, for I myself had been through most of the gaols in the country, and all I could say was that, although clean, they are dull and gloomy regarded as hotels, and the society questionable, to say the least of it. Besides, the bedrooms are limited in size, and very scantily furnished. In fact, I agree with Victor Hugo that such institutions are by no means attractive as hotels.
My host and I stayed up till midnight reading the Doctor's Dilemma, and talking on every conceivable subject, mundane or extra-mundane, but when we came to the Shavian philosophy, that every man is a scoundrel when he reaches 40, I dissented and had some misgivings as to the sanity of B. S., for I had turned 40 myself.
We crossed the noble River Clarence at 7 next morning, and shaped our course for Glenreagh, this being our longest day's journey of 27 miles. We came upon unfinished portions of the North Coast railway, and found the people expressing high hopes and expectations of the benefits that will follow its completion. I here met an Italian who, when I asked him his nationality, unblushingly said "Irish."
We stopped for our midday meal at the Bluff, within a stone's throw of the Orara River, which will always be celebrated through Kendall's beautiful poem. May it always run its placid, picturesque course in purity and plenty, for it is to furnish the water supply to the city of Grafton. Here we were almost entangled in a revolutionary political discussion, for we were close on one of those treacherous bars where waves of whisky and heated argument ran high, but Hal would have none of it, and quietly laid himself down on a bare verandah floor, and slept peacefully for fully half an hour. Starting off, we met a Danish sundowner sitting by the roadside resting. He had done his six miles as a fair day's march, and wondered who we were when we told him we could do five times that distance in a single day. However that may be, I admit that both of us were dog tired by the time we reached the inn at Glenreagh, still on the banks of the Orara, whose
Silver waters sing
Down hushed and holy dells.
Our inn might here have been the Tabard, our landlady the good wife of Bath, and we ourselves the Canterbury pilgrims, but under romantic Australian skies. After a good supper we were very comfortable, and a gentle rain began to fall to refresh the countryside, so we dreamed of Kendall and his love of the Orara, while the mopoke sang his dominant dirge to the night.
Next morning a kindly-disposed travelling hawker took our swags in his cart as far as Coramba, where Hal found he had developed a blister on his foot, so another good Samaritan took both him and my swag in his sulky to within a mile of Coffs Harbour, thus enabling me to travel light. I had not gone far before a thunderstorm overtook me, and I sought shelter at a cottage, where I was made welcome, and generously given afternoon tea. Resuming my walk, I had not gone far before the rain came down in torrents, from which there was now no escape, and I got a severe drenching. On nearing Coffs Harbour the sulky overtook me, and the gentleman driving was none other than a sawmill proprietor, who knew me well at O.B.X. creek when I was once engaged in a criminal case many years ago.
Coffs Harbour was an eye-opener to me, for no better instance could be given of the marvellous progress of Australian civilisation than this prosperous town. When I was last here there was no township at all, only a wharf, a sawmill, a rude accommodation house, and the inevitable blacksmith's shop. Now I beheld a fine town, wide streets, a palatial hotel radiant with electric light, a thriving business in timber, cream, and cattle, and all the numerous advantages of modern progress. Next day we walked through Bonville and Raleigh, and a man on horseback slowed down to gossip with me on Tennyson, Browning, and modern philosophy. His father knew both the poets personally, and we beguiled the time famously, with anecdote and reminiscences, until I was sorry when he galloped off on a by-road to attend to his business elsewhere.
We next came to the broad open Bellinger River, and had a most delightful walk up the right bank, and when near the punt we stopped at a dairy and slaked our perpetual thirst by drinking water out of a bucket. What a drink that was! No other vessel seemed half so satisfying as that clean and shining milk bucket. The Bellinger was beautiful beyond description; the country was green and prosperous, and the landscape that summer afternoon, with the meandering river and the blue mountains of the Dorrigo melting away in the distance, would be a subject for a picture worthy of any artist that shall some day put it on canvas for the delight of future generations. But we were nearing Bellingen, where we expected letters from home, and we increased the pace to reach the township before the post office closed. It was here that my travelling companion and I had to part company. He had proved himself both a good walker and a jolly companion, but now Sydney demanded him back again within a day or two; so fleet-footed Hermes was spirited away by petrol, and I was left to wend my way alone as far as Taree.
And he wandered away and away
With Nature, his dear, old nurse,
Who sang to him night and day
The rhymes of the universe.
The great epic of physical science remains yet unwritten, but the miracle of creation is being daily enacted under our very eyes, while the allegory of this dear earth is evolving and unfolding itself all the time. Look up at these mountain slopes as you rise from Bellingen to Bowra. Yonder is an upstanding giant of spotted gum, rustling his green tracery, a hundred feet or more, in the soft summer sky. Can we wonder why early man, whether Greek, Druid, or Briton, wandered and worshipped in a similar shade? Who shall tell the story how the fleeting elements are transformed into the strong-rooted tree wherein the birds of the air build their nests. Whence comes this hard and useful timber? To tell me that it grows is to stifle inquiry, to disappoint the mind, and leave me unsatisfied.
Given an invisible all-permeating gas, some watery vapour, some capillary circulating sap, some exquisitely beautiful cells; then let them dance to the music of the spheres all in the radiant sunlight, and you have this miracle of chemical and mechanical activity, perfuming the forest with fragrant eucalyptic odours.
Setting out from the Bellinger River, and having witnessed the departure of my friendly Hermes, I am, once more, stepping out upon the broad highway. And Hal, like his winged footed prototype, is whizzing away faster than ever, in a dust-raising 30-horse-power chariot, whilst I am left to meditate in solitude on man and modern Australian progress as seen on the North Coast rivers.
It is only 95 years since Oxley came up from Sydney Cove in the Mermaid and discovered Bellingen Glen, and the black tribes of Yarra Happini. It is less than a century since Britons first came to sit down with a people still living in the stone age. Six summers have passed since I walked this road, and what changes do I see. Let us compare six years of Australian progress with a similar period during England's early infancy. But one despairs in the attempt to find a parallel suitable for comparison.
Think of the Roman occupation; the landing of Augustine; or the Norman Conquest. You will say neither period is fair nor comparable, yet the fact remains that we are living in a land, where the primaeval forest stands as it stood in England in the days when baron or squire hunted and slew in the oak-timbered forest of the Weald of Kent.
Settlement is advancing all along my route. What formerly was a dense forest of mahogany, tallow-wood, swamp-oak, and bangalow palm, all alive with singing birds, with here and there a wallaby peering at me with guarded native curiosity, is now cleared for the plough, and I now see open meadows, green with paspalum grass and dairy farms.
My reveries of the past were soon broken by a genial farmer who overtook me and gave me a lift in his sulky. After the usual preliminaries of conversation we talked on evolution, the increased cost of living, eugenics and cattle droving. He had come from the township, staying there overnight expressly to hear the speeches for or against the no-license question, alternating his attendance equally at all the meetings, which indicated at least an open mind, ready to hear both sides of the argument.
Mounting the hill, we parted company, and I descended the beautiful valley to gaze on the peaceful pastoral scene, which was literally a land productive of, if not flowing with milk and honey. Camping about noon at Spinks Creek, I boiled my billy, had lunch, rested an hour or so, resumed the road, and arrived at Bowraville in the afternoon. The name of this place is fortunately shortened to Bowra, which although it sounds like Bowral, is a much better name, for I dislike all names ending in "ville."
Coming into the town, hot, tired, dusty, and thirsty. I was instantly recognised by the police, and was soon engaged in a friendly chat with the jolly sergeant and the post-master; both knew me, and welcomed me back again to Bowra. Again, more changes. A fine new hotel—increased business—butter factories and visitors, with an impending cricket match with Argent's Hill on the morrow. I found the hotel to be clean and comfortable, and the table excellent, but my stay was a brief one.
Next morning I walked briskly through the cool morning air, while bright and red uprose the morning sun. Not a soul was to be seen, but the cloudless air was already musical with the early matins of the merry bush birds. Distinct amongst them all was the cooee bird, or cornplanter, so called because he arrives when the farmer is planting his corn, in which he seems to have a vested interest. His advent is the sign that frost and cold have passed away. He is, moreover, the harbinger of summer, and was called by the blacks the koel bird. His cooee is very musical.
This call of the bush is very old, and I believe the aborigines were the inventors of the cooee. Oxley says that he heard them cooee, which he quaintly describes, spelling the word "koui" or "coui." The bird is, I believe, Flinders' cuckoo, and sings two clear musical notes sounded in a minor third. I mimicked him as I walked, and apparently the same bird followed me as I tried to whistle his notes, all the way to the Congarini punt, where I arrived at 7 o'clock, and was ferried over Taylor's Arms, about a couple of miles from Macksville.
I had been reckoning on the pleasure of camping at what was formerly a deserted hotel, but which was now, alas, inhabited by the road super. I walked away over the wet grass of the dewy morn to a hut, where I found a railway navvy camping, and at his cheery invitation boiled my billy at his fire. After breakfast I did a steady ten-mile walk, and camped for lunch at Oakihi or Unkya Creek, a tributary of the Nambucca. Later on, at the cross-roads, there was a finger-post showing two alternate roads to Kempsey and, while studying the map and debating the merits of the different roads, a sulky drove up and in it was my friend whom I had met in Bellingen.
He constrained me to get up and have a gossip. After accepting, we had not gone more than a mile when we were overtaken by a fine large motor-car, driven by a friend of his, representing a firm of princely merchants in Sydney. We were both invited into the car, so the sulky was dismissed and left at the next village. I saw that this arrangement would give me the chance of spending Sunday in Kempsey, and besides, one could hardly refuse the good offer, so we made a jolly party, and fled away to the Macleay, arriving in Kempsey about half-past 6.
On the Monday morning I crossed the bridge over the Macleay River, at daylight, and walked 12 miles before 8 o'clock. It was time to have breakfast. So, looking about for a suitable camping place near a creek, I espied a settler's new cottage not far off the road. As I passed the farmer called out and beckoned me to come across to him. "Are you looking for work?" Here was a poser, so for the fun of the thing I gave a non-committal answer and asked him, "What sort of work?" "Fencing," he replied, "and you may as well take it on, instead of tramping a dusty road."
Now, I thought, there are various kinds of fencing: fencing with foils; verbal fencing, wherein the art of language is used to conceal thought, or to divert it into other channels; besides, there is rabbit fencing, and the tick-proof fencing we saw on the Queensland border farther north. However, I explained to him that the only fencing I had over done was mending my own fence. He invited me into his house, and his wife gave me some breakfast, apologising that they had only just finished their morning meal.
I stayed some time chatting with my friendly host, proud that he should have thought that I was in any way fit to help him with the work. I left these kindly disposed people, sorry I could not help them. The amount of wages was not mentioned, but whatever it may have been, it was plain that it included bed and board in a clean and plainly furnished house.
About 11 o'clock my Kempsey commercial friend again overtook me in his sulky, and he gave me another lift to Telegraph Point, putting up at Mrs. Keogh's hotel for dinner, where we were introduced to some nice people and all sat down to an excellent meal. The good reputation of this clean and well-conducted inn had been impressed upon me before I left Sydney, and certainly it quite came up to my expectations.
The Maria and the Wilson Rivers join the Hastings River at Blackman's Point, where you cross over in the punt, and I walked on briskly to Port Macquarie, a place named, like so many more natural features of our geography, after Lachlan Macquarie. I am reminded of an anecdote told by the Rev. Dr. Lang, of the free use of the name Macquarie in New South Wales. Dr. Townson was entertaining a number of visitors at a garden party, when one of the guests brought the naturalist an insect, and wished to know its name and species. The doctor replied with the utmost gravity, "It is a species of bug that abounds in the live timber of the colony. It has not yet got a name, but I propose that it should be called Cimex Macquariensis, or the Macquarie bug."
Local residents omit the word Macquarie, and speak of the town as port, or, as the port. I was very pleased with my walk into port, and did the 12 miles from Mrs. Keogh's within four hours. On entering the town I met a stalwart soldierly gentleman on horseback, who resides at Lake Innes; like the good Samaritan he was, he took me to the inn, where he saw me properly housed and well provided for.
Port! old Port! like the famous wine, is aged, mellow, and tawny; it is grey and crusty, with the cobwebs of the Australian dark ages. Quaint old port is like "the soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed," and is now but the mere ghost of its former self. Where is now the dashing Major, with his retainers and troops of servitors? He lived, they tell us, in vice-regal state at Salisbury Court, a few miles from here and used to drive into port in a carriage and pair.
Where, too, are the men of the Buffs and the brave 48th, the officers, the soldiers, and sailors, the black native tribes, and the captives in chains? The records of some of them are still to be seen in St. Thomas' Church, which is full of interesting memorials of the past. The old kirk stands on top of the hill overlooking the grassy slopes of the harbour, where you can still see two table-topped tombstones, both windswept and weather-beaten. Their copper-plate inscriptions are being eaten away by the chlorine in the salt sea air. Out in the offing are quicksands, where Ben Boyd's yacht, the Wanderer, was wrecked in 1851, and now lies "full fathom five," buried near the bar.
The great gaol is crumbling away to dust, and will soon be demolished. The wharfs and the old wool warehouses are decrepit and falling into decay. The bonded stores, with their puncheons of rum and quarter-casks of brandy, have, like all spirits, vanished and disappeared; and it must have taken no small quantity to keep up the supply of grog for, from Phillip's time onwards, we constantly hear of the rum being served out as daily rations. Even that sober Surveyor General, Oxley, who was up here on the North Coast on his bush-scouting expeditions of discovery, served his men daily with a cutlass, a gun, and a bottle of rum. 'Tis well these days have passed. The times have changed, the people are all dead and gone. The soldiers have tablets to their memory in the church; but the rest, you ask? Well,
Drink and the devil had done for the rest—
Yo-ho-yo-ho, and a bottle of rum!
But enough of the past. This picture is fading, and another scene, a brighter one, is appearing on the screen of the future. Sleepy old Port is awakening. The railway is coming to Wauchope to be within 12 miles of the township. Already the spirit-driven chariots are coming up from the south and down from the north, bringing traffic and visitors. Port has a future before it as a sanatorium, and a very pleasant health resort. We are only just realising that the old port, with her green slopes and purple horizon, is blest with the most delightful and equable climate in Australia. The mean annual temperature (I quote from the late Government Astronomer's figures) is 63 degrees, and the rainfall between 60 and 70 inches. There are none of the sudden southerlies and wide ranges of temperature such as we have in Sydney and no better place, in those cases where the sea is not objected to, could be recommended for the tourist in search of health.
But now the night is lengthening, the south wind is calling, the curlew is wailing, and I seek my balcony-bed, where I fall asleep dreaming of—old Port.
Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas.
Port to Taree, 56 miles by road and friendly mile-post, but seeing I have already twice done the journey on foot, I now intend to go by a different route and so proceed to walk along the coast, for most likely there will be more adventure to be met with than by merely tramping the prosaic highway. This hope was fully realised as the sequel will show.
I mount the the grassy slopes overlooking the beautiful Hastings River, named after Warren Hastings, of historic Indian fame. I pass along romantic Lovers'-lane, with its seats, shelter sheds, and fireplaces for the visitor, past the obelisk erected to the memory of the two school teachers who were lost in the surf and arrive at the cross-roads and finger-post directing the stranger to Tacking Point lighthouse and Cathie Lake. I passed three deserted farms, but in one of them I saw some pigs and fowls, so someone should be living there, though not a soul was to be seen or heard.
On again, to the ruins of another farmhouse, all smothered with thorns, briars and lantana; and here the road petered out entirely and I was left to steer by compass and map. Making my course to the landward side of the lake, I found a huge wide swamp in front of me, and no signs of life. It was about seven miles across, treeless, except for the grass-trees in bloom, the orchids, flannel flowers and banksias.
On arriving at the mouth of the Cathie, (pronounced Kattai), about 2 o'clock I found the tide ebbing fast, making it dangerous to attempt to wade across. While wondering how long I should have to wait, I saw an old fisherman who told me to wait while he got his boat. It was well I did not attempt to wade across, as there were quick-sands in which I sank up to my knees while reaching out for the fisherman's boat.
He was a cheery old soul with a merry twinkle in his eye, and lived in an open glade in the wood, near the entrance to the lake. He had left the society of men, and was enjoying a barefooted hermit's simple life, alone in a stringy-bark hut and skillion with a mere sheet bark verandah, or awning, propped up by two saplings. Underneath was his fireplace with forked supports, crossbar and hooks for his pots and billy.
Although I had never met him before, we soon made friends and he apologised for having finished dinner. He had nothing to offer me, but would soon catch some black bream if I liked to wait. But I had plenty of provisions, including bread, cheese, and fruit, so I made my frugal repast while my newly found hermit friend discoursed to me on things in general and the art of smoking and curing fish in particular. Seeing me drink my tea with sliced lemons instead of milk, he addressed me in French, observing that I took my tea a la Russe and I judged him, and rightly too, as later events will show, to be an educated gentleman dwelling all alone in his den of stringy bark, with grasses, wild flowers, and bracken all around him. Indeed he might have been Coleridge's
"Hermit good, who lives in the wood,
which slopes down to the sea."
"You will never reach Camden Haven tonight, so I advise you to walk a few miles to a deserted house I can direct you to, where you can camp till the morning and then make for Laurieton. The town lies under yonder mountain, and you can't miss it". My good hermit friend walked about a mile with me, and would have gone twain, according to the words of ancient advice, so I offered him a silver coin as ferry money which he refused, saying he would die first rather than take it, so that I was sorry I had offered.
In due course I came to the abandoned cottage standing in a dry grass paddock. Here was kitchen with table and chairs, crockery, pots and pans, bedroom with stretcher, even a candle and a kerosine lamp. This was all very nice and would make an excellent camp for me. But alas! the tank was empty and would not hold a drop of water. The bottom was rusted away into holes. I hunted about for about an hour seeking but finding no water anywhere, so I reluctantly decided to push on, and followed a cart track through the bush which, in the end, brought me down to the edge of a lake.
Here was bitter disappointment—there was no outlet to the road—it was a cul de sac. Evidently the timber-getters brought their timber waggons down to the water-side and rolled the logs into the lake to be floated across to the sawmills at Laurieton. Now it was getting dark a southerly gale was springing up, raising choppy waves on the waters of the lake. Indeed the prospects indicated a rough, stormy night.
What shall I do? Make a stop and camp until daylight? No, I will not, I said with some determination. So I shouldered my swag and slowly retraced my course, not exactly by the way I came, but by a new track which showed recent wheelmarks only a few hours old, and wheelmarks, too, of bullock teams.
I went on, and on, for about four miles when all at once the sweetest music fell upon my ears. It was nothing less than the sound of a jangling cow-bell. I followed the sound and was soon rewarded with the joyful sight of a light in a cottage, two fierce cattle dogs and two men, the former trying to bite pieces out of my legs, the latter trying to make themselves heard. I had to confess to them that I was bushed, whereupon they gave me so much valuable and useful advice that I cannot tell to this hour what it all meant. "You should have kept to the upper track, and gone through the sliprails and come out onto Joe Thompson's place, and then struck the road. However, come along and have a drink and some tucker, and most probably we can give you a bit of a shake-down."
The picture that now appeared before me was of a broad, open fireplace which took up the whole width of the end of the cottage, a big roomy hearth with a cheery log fire, and two black chains in the chimney from which hung a big black kettle, hissing, steaming and rattling its cover as ready to burst, and an iron pot from whence came a grateful and all-pervading savoury odour. A tiny rush-light was on the table, but all the rest was in darkness, the ruddy firelight producing a fine Rembrandt effect by lighting up the faces of my hosts. I did not ask them their names, nor did I impart my own, but from their accents I propose to call the old man Jock and the young one Schwartz, because of his black hair and moustache, and his black pipe and black shirt.
It would be difficult to transcribe the language I heard that night from those two otherwise most inoffensive men. Woodcraft, bullock-craft and timber carriage with the very free use of the red adjective, formed the staple conversation. 'Twas as if the whole world, men, bullocks, trees and all, were painted with hemoglobin, ruddy crimson and venetian red. And then there were the merits of the baldy, brown-backed, black-faced, brindled and bob-tailed bullocks.
After a long pause, Schwartz opened up a conversation in his jerky but diffident style. "Stranger in these parts?" "Yes, I come from Queensland, but I belong to Sydney." "So, I suppose you've been up the Post-Office tower?" "No." "What! Never been up the tower, well, I'm surprised. But tell me one thing. I never could understand. Why did they want to make me sign my name in that ledger?" "Oh! that's the visitors' book." "Well, you can call it what you like. I say it's a bloomin' ledger. Anyway everybody's got to sign it. Have I been to Sydney? Rather! Oh, yes, I've been to Sydney. Cost me forty quid; but my mate took down fifty pounds and lost every stiver. Yes, sir! Fifty quid and nothing to show for it when he came back—not even a new tobacco pouch, and I knew he wanted one badly. Hadn't a bean left, and I had to send home for his passage money to come back with. All I could get out of him was that he took Ruby with him to the Tivoli, and he never knew nothink after that! I got a decent month's spree. Went to the Show, and to every bally thing that was going; but Tom never got as much as a tobacco pouch, or even a new pipe."
Next morning after breakfast Schwartz came on horseback and accompanied me to the slip rails, and set me on the right track.
I cam out on to the ocean beach, climbed Grant's Head, and walked to Camden Haven Heads, named after Lord Camden, then Secretary of State for the colonies. I crossed the ferry over part of Queen's Lake, walked through Laurieton, and then over the Camden River, passed the Three Brothers, named in 1770 by Captain Cook, who saw they were conspicuous landmarks from the sea. I then came to Diamond or Indian Head, where mineral oil was once reported to have been found. In the distance I saw Crowdy Head and the Mermaid Reef. Crossing the black swamp I walked through Christmas Bells growing 4 feet high, and then on to Moreland, five miles from Coopernook, where I rested for the night, having had a pretty strenuous day.
The next day I walked through Coopernook, crossed the Landsdown River, came to Cundle, and then on to the broad Manning River, coming in to Taree in very good time, where I was to meet my new walking companions to arrive by train from Sydney. Meanwhile, I spent the spare day in getting my clothes washed and mended, my rucksack mended by the saddler. In a word, I here made a complete overhaul of my outfit, and took in stores for the next stage of the journey.
A breath of unadulterate air,
The glimpse of green pasture, how they cheer
The citizen, and brace his languid frame!
At Taree, true to promise, the Knight of the Flaming Crucible and Count Podista arrived by train from Sydney. Each of these gentlemen bore the angelic patronym of Michael; both were Knights Companions of the Order of the Boot; and the three of us all booted and equipped, were eager to set off in search of adventure. So it came to pass, that at five o'clock on a summer morning the trio crossed the Manning River in the punt, and turned their face towards Tuncurry.
The old adage of two being company and three none did not apply in our case, for each had his say, and took his part in the division of labour, perhaps unequally, but still each took a hand, or at least a foot, in the day's proceedings. To give an instance, when the halt is called for breakfast, one man makes the fire and boils the black billy, and another lays the white cloth upon the grass, prepares the salad, opens the tins of cream, jam, or sardines, while the third man looks on expectingly, and offers valuable advice and gratuitous criticism. Mind you, I don't nay that an odd man is not sometimes useful. He is, in many ways; especially as a target or butt for the jokes and pleasantries of the other two.
How glorious it all was. Clear blue sky, a good firm road, sleek cattle lowing in the meadows, birds singing, with an occasional farmer cantering on horseback towards the town we had just left. Soon, we were overtaken by someone behind us driving in a sulky, who drew rein and relaxed his pace to gossip with us. It was a parson on his way to the neighbouring township of Nabiac to do duty on the following day, which was Sunday.
We were the objects alike of his curiosity and suspicion, for it appeared to him that we were neither hawkers nor farmers, not cattle dealers, nor even ordinary swaggies. We told him we were just pedestrians. "Obviously," said he, "and I suppose you are come to spy out the land, but I hope you don't come from Japan." "No," said I, "we are true men, we are no spies." "Yes, yes, but there's something afoot, I'm sure." "True, reverend sir," answered the Knight of the F.C., "my foot is on my native heath." "Ah, I see, and a wag to boot; but I hope that the authorities will take steps to inquire into your movements. Well, I can't quite make you out, but I hope you are not Japanese. Good morning, gentlemen," and he drove off to meditate, we supposed, on his sermon for the morrow.
I was very glad to find that we were all musically inclined, and as reverberations of the Quinlan opera were still in the air, we started off singing Gounod's Faust, beginning by humming the overture. Our time being our own, we ambitiously proposed to sing the whole opera through, but by the time we got to Mephistopheles' serenade, in the third act, we were all out of breath, so we decided to let the birds do the singing for a while.
Music, I think, is indispensable on a walking tour; it comes freely and naturally to the measured stride of the feet. It is the pedal accompaniment, and requires a stave of its own. And, besides, the verb to go is musically construed as andante, and thus you rhythmically go. Indeed, you will go treble the distance if you sing alto-gether whilst on the even tenor of your way, but remember! there must be no base motive. In the early part of the day you may rise to andante maestoso, and with an effort, keep up a crescendo sostenuto, but as a rule I find the tempo diminishes to molto piu lento in the afternoon. There is, however, an accelerando movement, usually taken at marching time, when the hotel is in sight which continues, ben marcato right on to the finale, when you can count three in a bar con spirito, ad lib, but I hope this will be merely regarded as a scherzo.
At the Wollumba River we lunched, and amongst the tucker was to be found a plentiful supply of nuts. Now, nuts I hold to be a species of food of high economic value, besides being very convenient to carry, but I had reckoned without my hosts, or rather, my guests. One of them had lately been subjected to the rather nimble operations of a dentist, and couldn't eat a nut to save his life; while the other upbraided me by asking me if I thought he was a squirrel. "Well," I said disdainfully, "then you can have tinned dog and damper." The Count had been eyeing me with the suspicion that I might perhaps weigh out his rations in grains and ounces, in accordance with the latest idea of a reduced proteid diet. I think he fancied I was starving him, for when we arrived at Tuncurry, he declared he was so famished that he must have something to eat, so to keep the Count in countenance we all partook of cakes and ale, just as a preliminary refresher.
At Tuncurry, we found ourselves in clover and plenty, at a good hotel with excellent homelike accommodation. The table was well supplied with fish; caught, cooked, and served to perfection, like that of old Nokomis, the renowned story-teller in Hiawatha. Here we met friends from Sydney, and we made a jolly party as we sat out on the balcony smoking, chatting, and telling tales, while being entertained by a good amateur ventriloquist.
Meanwhile, the soft, full-orb'd moon breaks through the silver-lined clouds, the mopoke sings his nightly dirge to the steady roll of the surf on the ocean beach. Then we disperse, one by one, to patter along the balcony, in clacking slippered feet, each to his respective room, where we slept like logs until we were awakened next morning by the enchantress bringing us in morning tea.
We now made an effort to get away and leave the lotus-eaters of Tuncurry and Forster, so saying good-bye to Mrs. Sloman our hostess, we crossed over to Forster, and what a charmingly original picture it all was. Nodding promontories, blue skies, and cloud-like mountains, with Cape Hawke shining in the glow of the morning sun, certainly made a picture to linger long in our memories. I can recommend Cape Hawke for—
When Sydney leaves you limp and pale,
When life seems one long worry,
Walk, take a car, or go by rail,
Go north and see—Tuncurry.
We embark on a dancing launch which, like a bird, flies panting over the clear water of Lake Wallis. At the upper end of the lake we land and walk towards Neranie and Smith's Lake, where we halt for dinner. Then on to Bungwahl, passing a road with its finger-post directing the traveller to Seal Rocks, the scene of many a shipwreck. Arriving at Bungwahl, we embark on a bigger launch which takes us on the more extended voyage down through the charming series of lakes. Thus I am revisiting the lake country of New South Wales, with its wide expanse of water and blue mountains in the background, one long glad feast for the eyes, while
The breeze, is as a pleasant tune
Amongst the happy reeds.
There is the Myall Lake, Broadwater, Tamboi, Tickribah, and Booloombayt; then comes the Myall River, extending all the way to Tea Gardens.
The whole of the afternoon was spent on the lakes, and we arrived at Port Stephens with appetites fresh and hearty. We sat down to a supper consisting of oysters and nicely-fried whiting, the viands disappearing like magic. Our serving maid attracted general attention all round, and we wondered what could be her nationality. With six of us at the table not one of us knew or could tell. At last she told us she came from Tyneside, and we drank her health in an extra cup of tea, and hoped, for her sake, that the best thing to wish her was "Weel may the keel row." The way that girl rapped out her stinging repartee made us pause and gape in wonder. She seemed like the girl that Stephano sings about in the "Tempest," for
"She had a tongue with a tang,
would cry to a sailor, go hang!"
However, she gave me a word of advice. She warned me not to walk in my sleep. In the morning I was glad I was no somnambulist, for the balcony handrail had been removed for repairs and alterations, and, had I wandered out in the night, well, this deponent would not have been telling this story of the Tyne lassie.
How shall I describe Port Stephens, and what shall I say of Nelson's Bay and all the pretty palm-fringed coves, the bay and lovely white sand beaches of this splendid harbour? Why, it would require a 500-page volume to do it justice. Her hour of triumph has not yet come. She is now the Cinderella of Eastern Australia, and her two elderly sisters, with the connivance of an old giant called Vested Interest, together conspired to keep her in bidden tutelage. But some day she will emerge and the Prince with the dainty slipper will appear, and she will come to her own, and will be publicly acclaimed not only as a necessary harbour for commerce, but as
"A thing of beauty and a joy for ever."
Crossing over by the ferry from Stockton we plunged into the noise and crowd of the busy city of Newcastle, which seemed quite bewildering and disconcerting to three wanderers from the quiet, open country. In fact, we got separated or temporarily lost, but we soon turned up as usual—at the hotel bar.
Rocks and bright gold sands,
Islands and creeks and amber-fretted strands.
To the ordinary business traveller, Newcastle is a well-known centre for coal and commerce, consisting of miles of straggling coal trucks, shops, and shipping—a sombre study in black and white. Were you to suggest to him a picture of the town, enriched with a splash of romantic colour in the foreground, you would only provoke his good-humoured but pitying smile. Yet the picture is there all the time. Colour, lights, shadows, historic setting, and a background of human interest, while the romance is still in the making.
Once upon a time certain pirates who lived in a secluded rocky fastness near Barrenjoey, for the Ishmaelite was then in the land, cleverly contrived and successfully carried out an attack on his Majesty's sloop Cumberland, and at a given signal seized the captain and officers and made off with the vessel. Two of the ship's crew escaped and walked overland, as we are now walking, and reported the affair to headquarters at Sydney Cove, whereupon Lieutenant Shortland was despatched in hot haste with an armed band of soldiers in the gunboat Reliance, to recapture the Cumberland and take the pirates prisoners.
Shortland sailed north, making for Port Stephens, a place where they would most likely be in hiding, but they were never found. It is more than likely they were lost after venturing outside Broken Bay.
While on his way back in September 1797, Shortland discovered a harbour, and a river originally known to the blacks as the Coquun River, which for an obvious mineralogical reason, was then called the Coal River; this name being changed in 1804, in honour of Captain Hunter, whose name it now bears.
With these old-time impressions in our minds we started at daybreak from our hotel on the Hunter, ascended the heights of Newcastle overlooking the ocean, and made our way along the cliffs just as the sun was rising. We passed coal mines, factories, works, and thickly-populated suburbs until we came out on to the Old Belmont-road, which we followed, camping for breakfast at Charlestown. At the picturesque pleasure resort of Belmont, on the shore of Lake Macquarie, we again halted to telegraph instructions for the launch to meet us at Kincumber to carry us across Broken Bay.
At Swansea we halted for 1 o'clock dinner, and learned that we had been reported as three German pedestrians walking round the world. As we sat at the dinner table a gentleman joined us, who turned out to be an old Chilean friend of Count Podista, staying here enjoying his holidays and revelling in the schnapper fishing. He earnestly invited us to give up the walking and come out in his yacht and enjoy ourselves after a less strenuous fashion. When we decided to continue our journey he begged me to accept a big sombrero as a memento or parting gift, which he insisted I ought to wear as a protection against the heat of the sun.
Now I had always thought that the investiture of the hat, especially of a red hat, was reserved only for cardinals of high degree, but one cannot look a gift horse in the mouth. So, adopting the policy of suaviter in modo, especially where presentation hats were concerned, I donned the big hat, to my companions intense delight, and, as I thought, ironical cheers. My new headgear, unlike the magic tarnhelm of Siegfried, was about as large as a lady's parasol, and made me look, if anything, more like a Spanish brigand than ever. I was forthwith proclaimed to be no longer Ulysses, but the Caballero del Sombrero. No wonder, then, that the little girl I met accosted me by saying, "If—er—if you please, sir, is the circus coming to-night?"
We went on towards Catherine Hill Bay in quest of further adventures, and began toiling slowly up the steep road, when lo! right on top of the hill, sharply silhouetted against the dusty white road, there suddenly appeared a black horseman, furiously riding a black horse and madly galloping towards us down the hill. Why, surely, it is the meikle black de'il himself! We had hardly recovered from our surprise when there appeared another, and another, followed by still more, some on bikes, some in sulkies, with others in all sorts of nondescript vehicles. On they came, until they could be reckoned up in dozens. These sooty black demons came up out of the depths of the earth. They were colliers liberated at the change of shift from the Wallarah coal pits. After they had passed us we stopped to have a chat with some schoolboys, who proudly informed us that as soon as they were old enough they, too, would leave school to go underground and join this black brigade.
Our inn stood on the top of a hill overlooking the ocean, where we tried by our unaided efforts to be comfortable. Mind you, I say unaided efforts, because no one else helped us to obtain the least comfort, peace, or quiet. The time of our arrival happened to be the practice night for the local brass band, and my bedroom was within a few feet of the weatherboard hall or shed where the bandsmen were assembling, while next to my bedroom on the other side was another room with a piano in active operation.
The band were coming up with vigorous prepreliminaries, and they seemed preparing to make a night of it—which they did. Our landlord rubbed his hands gleefully, and told us that we were lucky arriving as we did, and that we should have a little music—mark you, a little music! We, whose ears at another time and in another place had been ravished with the sweet strains of the Quinlan orchestra, were doomed for four weary hours to be bombarded with the Dead March and sundry solo obligatos on the cornet and trombone, while the young woman at the piano played fast and furiously in her endeavour to compete with the band. We hailed 11 o'clock-closing time—with joy. What tempo rubato! aye, and precious sleep rubato. However, we were out on the road in good trim for walking at 5 o'clock next morning.
We took a bush track from Catherine Hill Bay down to Landmark Bay, camping on the northern side of Wybung Head for breakfast.
We passed Bird Island, and had a splendid walk on the amber-fretted sands until, reaching Bungaree Norah, we were welcomed by Mrs. Hargraves and her family, descendants of Mr. Hargraves, the first discoverer of payable gold, to whom the Government grant of £10,000 was awarded. The house, beautifully built of cedar, was the quiet retreat of many a statesman and politician of other times, and was especially frequented by my friend, the late Mr. Alexander Oliver. Mr. Hargraves, jun., showed us a black snake skin 7ft 4in long, not including the head. We had no time to visit again the beautiful light house on Norah Head, but went on to Tuggerah Lake entrance, where we made up for our loss of sleep. The peace and quiet comfort given us by Miss Davis was as heaven itself after our experience of Catherine Hill Bay.
Next day we walked by the road instead of by the beach, through Wamberal to Terrigal Haven, where we dined with a party of tourists. Then, up over the Skillion and through the bush to Bulbabaring Bay and there, looming ahead of us, were the Three Points of Captain Cook, discovered and named by him in 1770, while to the left we perceived our next place of abode, charmingly situated and happily named Avoca, after the lovely Irish Ovoca or Vale of Avoca.
On the morrow we walked to Kincumber, and arrived at the head of the creek at nine o'clock, expecting to find our oil launch ready to take us to Barrenjoey. We were doomed to disappointment, and after waiting four hours only succeeded in crossing Brisbane Water to the Hawkesbury, via Woy Woy.
This unfortunate breakdown in our otherwise complete and perfect arrangements so disheartened us that we ignominiously took train from the Hawkesbury River to Sydney. However, we were determined to finish the walk according to the original programme, and at the earliest opportunity we came back by train to the Hawkesbury and chartered a launch to take us up to Barrenjoey. A third friend now joined us, so that we made a party of four.
What a series of beauty spots we now entered upon. Barrenjoey, Palm Beach, Bushranger's Hill, Farrell's Beach, Newport, Rock Lily, Narrabeen, Long Reef, Dee Why, Curl Curl, Brookvale—all of them so very well known to every tourist, cyclist, walker, and week-ender in Sydney that they need no description. They are delightful pictures of travel, easily accessible to everybody. At the turn-off on the Narrabeen road our party divided. I came on to the Spit, and thence to Mosman, while my three friends marched in to Manly, and took the boat to Sydney.
Nearly all the places of our last day's walk are intimately associated with the men who made history in the early days. I can imagine the many and frequent visits, in the whale boat of the Sirius, to Manly, Narrabeen and Barrenjoey, made by Governor Phillip, Captain Hunter, Dr. Balmain, Surgeon-General White, and Lieutenants Shortland and Bradley.
Body weight (nude), before starting, 57.60 kilos or 127lb 3oz; ditto after arrival in Sydney, 56.84 kilos, or 125lb 5oz.
Pulse rate, both before and after, remained at 68. Blood pressure, before 118 m.m.; after 105 m.m.
Lung capacity, both before and after was 3 litres.
The total mileage actually walked was 426, accomplished in 20 days.
Avenge rate per day, 21 miles; rate 3 miles per hour.
Longest day's walk was 28 miles.
Weight of clothes and contents of pockets, 6lb. Weight of swag, 10lb.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 June 1908.
Pictures of Travel.
There was a large attendance last night at the Mosman Town Hall to hear the lecture delivered by Mr. W. M. Hamlet (Government Analyst), under the auspices of the Sydney University Extension Board. The subject, Pictures of Travel, as seen on the Northern Coast of New South Wales, was reminiscent of a walking tour made by the lecturer and a companion from Brisbane to Sydney.
Mr. Hamlet, being an expert photographer, delighted his audience with a fine series of lantern slides of pictures taken on the way, and certainly they enabled his audience to see what really magnificent scenery is to be found on the north coast of the State.
He gave a broad outline of the geology and natural resources of the eastern littoral of Australia, from Moreton Bay to Port Jackson, and explained observations in the triassic and permo-carboniferous rocks, the coal measures, and the Narrabeen beds, the sand dunes and recent geological changes.
His description of the beautiful country aroused the interest of his audience, which was made acquainted with the numerous industries found on the eastern seaboard, including mining for gold, platinum, rare earths, and other useful mineral products, and the production of timber, sugar, butter, corn, and bacon.
He introduced his hearers to the Myall Lakes, which he considered suffered nothing by their comparison with the well-known Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, to Port Stephens and Newcastle, and described old rock carvings found in the Hawkesbury sandstone.
He referred to the lost antiquities of Mosman, and concluded by explaining the composition and structure of the local freestone, and its use in building up the "peerless city of sandstone."
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