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Frank Leward: Memorials

Same to the same

page 49

Same to the same.

Hobart Town, May 1839.

My dear Mother Weve just come back after a very pleasant time in the country. The skipper said we might go so Jones and I got our horses from Government House and off we went very early in the morning across in a ferry to the other side of the river. The horses played up in the punt but when we got on the other side we did gallop away in the morning air over grass tree hill it was splendid I never felt so happy in my life. We were going all day and only stopped for some grub at a place called Richmond an awfully pretty little village. You would think it was an English village with corn fields all round it. In the evening we got to the old gentlemans place its just like a country place in England he seemed very glad to see us and we put our horses up and went into a big room where there was a roaring fire, they always have fires here summer and winter great logs on the hearth. He gave us a rattling good tea. I was sleepy afterwards I could hardly keep awake while he told yarns about the old times out here, Jones went bang off to sleep and the old gentleman laughed. Next day I was awfully stiff but we went out hunting some beastly rum looking brutes called Kangaroos they do go at a pace down hill hopping with their hind-legs and tail with their front paws hanging in front and their young uns sticking their heads out of a pouch sort of thing in front it does make you laugh to see them. We killed three. Its awfully rough riding over trees that have page 50fallen. Jones came a tremendous cropper once I thought he was done for but he got up and his face was all over blood but he washed it off and didnt say much about it.

Besides the big kangaroos they call old men kangaroos there are a lot of smaller ones called Wallaby very good to eat just like hare they eat them with currant jelly. Then there is a pretty little beggar called a Kangaroo rat just about the size of a rat but as tame as anything they follow you about hopping just like the big ones it does make you laugh. Then theres a horrid beast called the devil, they catch them in large traps one was caught here by its paw and the brute knawed its own paw off to get away. They are long low looking sort of brutes like bull dogs. There are native tigers and bears. The tigers are worse than the devils, but the bears are jolly little beggars quite harmless. There are lots of parrots and parroqueetes that look jolly flying about and are good shooting. They eat them here and they make very good pies. It seemed curious at first to eat parrots in a pie but we are quite used to it now.

One night we heard there was a bush fire about three miles off so we got up to go to it and after walking a long way through the bush we began to hear the row and to see the smoke and flames and when we got to the top of a hill we could look down on it It was the most splendid sight I ever saw. The sky was lit up for miles round and the fire was coming along the valley just like a sea of fire. We could walk right down to it and it came on just like the sea does when the tides page 51coming in. It made an awful roaring and whenever it got to an old gum tree the fire ran right up to the top, the gum trees grow to a tremendous height here sometimes, and when one of them caught fire it was grand like a house on fire and then in the distance one of these big trees that had been burning for a long time would come down with a crash like a cannon going off and send the sparks and flame and smoke up in the air like fireworks. When I first got there I couldnt stir for looking at it but the men had set to work some way off from where the fire had got to and were clearing away the scrub. If you clear away the scrub for about a yard wide the fire doesnt pass it but dies out there. So I and Jones helped them as hard as we could because our friend was afraid it would get to his fences, fencing here costs a tremendous lot because they have got such a lot of land and if the fire once catches a fence it runs like anything right along and destroys it all.

While we were working away we kept hearing reports of falling trees in the distance like thunder and when the wind set in our way we were almost choked with the smoke. You could hear the Joeys as they call the Kangaroos hopping by to get away from the fire but lots of them and oppossums and snakes get killed by the fire. By the time the fire had got to the path we were clearing we had got a good lot done so we kept it from getting on to our land and it gradually went off somewhere else and we got back in the morning fearfully tired. It went on smouldering for two or three days but didnt come up to Mr. Champions land, he was awfully obliged to us for page 52helping, and said it would but for us but of course that was only because he is so awfully polite.

We were hunting and shooting about for nearly a month and then we had to get back again. He was very sorry when we went you cant think what a jolly hospitable old gentleman he is. We had rattling good dinners every day at two and then a big tea in the evening and awfully good wine he brought out from England more than twenty years ago. Before we came back we went to the East coast its very pretty and warm there and you can pick up oysters on the rocks and eat them as fast as you like. We saw a lot of natives they are ugly looking beggars and very stupid and quite naked they are so idle they wont work.

Ill tell you all about the oppossums next time I must stop now and send this off

Your affectionate son


Love to all Grandmamma and Mabel especially.