The Endeavour Journal of Joseph Banks 1768–1771 [Volume Two]
Some account of that part of New Holland now called New South Wales
Some account of that part of New Holland now called New South Wales
3 Banks's ‘oo’ is a token figure. They had run about 2000 miles along the Australian coast.
1 Dampier was mistaken in reporting the aborigines to have woolly hair—or, to use his own words, ‘short and curl'd, like that of the Negroes’, and to be ‘coal black, like … the Negroes of Guinea’. He seems to have been ‘a faithfull relater’ of what he himself saw; but what did he in fact see? According to his printed accounts, he touched on the coast of Australia at four places on two separate voyages. The first occasion was in the Cygnet, from 5 January to 12 March 1688, in Cygnet Bay on the north coast; see his New Voyage round the World, Chap. XVI (Voyages, ed. Masefield, I, pp. 451–8). The second was in the Roebuck at Shark Bay on the west coast, 6–14 August 1699; the third at Rosemary Island in Dampier's Archipelago, 22 August; the fourth at Roebuck Bay, 31 August —5 September 1699.—Voyage to New Holland, Chap. III (ibid., II, pp. 424. ff.). It was from the first and last visits, both on the north coast, that he describes his natives, and two visits should have kept an accurate observer from so elementary a mistake. Apart from passages already quoted, he says (New Voyage), ‘The Inhabitants of this Country are the miserablest People in the world. The Hodmadods of Monomatapa, though a nasty People, yet for Wealth are Gentlemen to these… . They are tall, straitbodied, and thin, with small long Limbs. They have great Heads, round Foreheads, and great Brows. Their Eye-lids are always half closed, to keep the Flies out of their Eyes… . They have great Bottle noses, pretty full Lips, and Wide Mouths… .’ In the Voyage to New Holland he remarks, ‘we had not the opportunity to see whether these, as the former, wanted two of their Fore-teeth’; a passage which Banks evidently ignored. Banks anyhow took the New Voyage at its face-value, and he was not in a position to do less. It is probable, however, that the time has now come for a really critical scrutiny of Dampier.
Water is here a scarce article or at least was so while we were there, which I beleive to have been in the very hight of the Dry season; some places we were in where we saw not a drop, and at the two places where we filld for the ships use it was done from pools not brooks.1 This drought is probably owing to the dryness of a soil almost inrirely composd of sand in which high hills are scarce. That there is plenty however in the rainy season is sufficiently evincd by the channels we saw cut even in rocks down the sides of inconsiderable hills; these were in general dry, or if any of them containd water it was such as ran in the woody valleys, and these seldom carried water above half way down the hill. Some indeed we saw that formd brooks and ran quite down to the sea but these were scarce and in general brackish a good way up from the beach.
1 This is not altogether just to Australia. Cook mentions ample running water (though not immediately found) at Botany Bay, including ‘a very fine stream of fresh water on the north shore’.—p. 311. Of the stay at Endeavour River he remarks (p. 368), ‘The Country in general is not badly water'd there being several fine Rivulets at no very great distance from one another, but none near to the place where we lay, at least not in the Dry season which is at this time, however we were very well supply'd with water by Springs which were not far off’.
2 We are rather hard put to it then to account for Banks's enthusiastic recommendation, in 1799, of Botany Bay as a site for a convict settlement. Giving evidence before a committee of the House of Commons, he remarked, ‘the Proportion of rich Soil was small in Comparison to the barren, but sufficient to support a very large Number of People … there were no Beasts of Prey, and he did not doubt but our Oxen or Sheep, if carried there, would thrive and increase; there was great Plenty of Fish… . The Grass was long and luxuriant, and there were some eatable Vegetables, particularly a Sort of Wild Spinage; the Country was well supplied with Water; there was abundance of Timber and Fuel, sufficient for any Number of Buildings, which might be found necessary’.—H. C. Journal, xxxvii, p. 311. He did make the proviso that any body of settlers going to the country must take a full year's allowance of victuals, raiment and drink, tools, seeds, stock &c.
3 ‘which only was not poisonous’—i.e., as long as it was not poisonous.
For the article of timber, there is certainly no want of trees of more than the midling size and some in the valleys very large, but all of a very hard nature; our carpenters who cut them down for fire wood complaind much that their tools were damagd by them. Some trees there were also to the Northward whose soft bark, which easily peels off, is in the East Indies applyd to the use of calking ships in Lieu of Oakum.11
1 Colocasia esculenta.
2 Banks's distinction of ‘red-flowered purslane’ was to contrast the plant with the yellow-flowered Portulaca oleracea.
3 Canavalia maritima Thouars.
4 Apium prostratum.
5 Tetragonia expansa.
6 Eugenia banksii Britten and Moore. Though no mention of Banks's brief note was made at the publication of this species 132 years after its collection, this is very likely the fruit in question.
7 Cluster Fig, Ficus glomerata, according to F. M. Bailey. See Pl. VI.
8 Sweet plum or Burdekin plum, Pleiogynium cerasiferum, syn. P. solandri. Cf. p. 590, n. 5 above.
9 Most likely Planchonella obovata (R.Br.) Pierre, the type of which was collected by Banks and Solander at the Endeavour River. We are indebted to Messrs L. S. Smith and S. T. Blake of the Queensland Herbarium for this identification.
10 Musa banksii. See p. 85, n. 4 above.
11 It seems likely that Banks here refers to the tree called in Queensland Tea-tree, and in New Caledonia, where it is very common, Niaouli (Melaleuca leucadendron). Like the eucalypts, it belongs to the family of Myrtaceae. It is very like a eucalypt in appearance, but underneath the outer ‘skin’ are layers of a thin soft brownish inner bark, which could quite well be used for caulking. It is found in both Australia and the East Indies; and possibly Banks read of its use in Rumphius. Cook on his second voyage, describing New Caledonia (II, p. 543), refers to the tree as identical with one in New Holland, and to its East Indian use—perhaps a reminiscence of Banks? See Britten, pl. 112, 1905.
Palms here were of three different sorts. The first which grew plentifully to the Southward had leaves pleated like a fan; the Cabbage of these was small but exquisitely sweet and the nuts which it bore in great abundance a very good food for hogs.1 The second was very much like the real cabbage tree of the West Indies, bearing large pinnated leaves like those of a Cocoa nut; these too yeilded cabbage if not so sweet as the other sort yet the quantity made ample amends.2 The third which as well as the second was found only in the Northern parts was low, seldom ten feet in hight, with small pennated leaves resembling those of some kinds of fern; Cabbage it had none but generaly bore a plentifull Crop of nutts about the size of a large chestnut and rounder.3 By the hulls of these which we found plentifully near the Indian fires we were assurd that these people eat them, and some of our gentlemen tried to do the same, but were deterrd from a second experiment by a hearty fit of vomiting and purging which was the consequence of the first. The hogs however who were still shorter of provision than we were eat them heartily and we concluded their constitutions stronger than ours, till after about a week they were all taken extreemly ill of indigestions; two died and the rest were savd with dificulty.
1 Livistona australis.
2 Areca monostachya Mart.
3 Cycas media R. Br. 〈JDH〉; but judging from J. H. Maiden's remarks in his ‘Australian indigenous plants providing human foods and food adjuncts’, 525: 1889, this might as well be Macrozamia spiralis Miq., whose nuts were relished by the natives.
4 One of the Eucalypts, of which there are a large number of species: probably Eucalyptus crebra (cf. p. 66, n. 4 above). See Pl. 22.
5 New Voyage (1697, p. 463; ed. Masefield, I, p. 452): ‘Most of the Trees that we saw are Dragon-trees, as we supposed; and these too are the largest Trees of any there. They are about the bigness of our large Apple-trees, and about the same heigth; and the Rind is blackish, and somewhat rough. The Leaves are of a dark colour; the Gum distils out of the Knots or Cracks that are in the Bodies of the Trees. We compared it with some Gum Dragon, or Dragon's Blood, that was aboard, and it was of the same colour and taste’. This was at Cygnet Bay. Cf. p. 57, n. 1 above. Dampier's gum seems to have been that of Dracaena draco; Banks's clearly that of a eucalypt.
Of Plants in general the countrey afforded a far larger variety than its barren appearance seemd to promise. Many of these have no doubt properties which might be usefull, but for Physical and œconomical purposes which we were not able to investigate, could we have understood the Indians or made them by any means our freinds we might perchance have learnt some of these; for tho their manner of life, but one degree removd from Brutes, does not seem to promise much yet they had a knowledge of plants as we plainly could percieve by their having names for them.
Thus much for plants: I have been rather particular in mentioning those which we eat hoping that such a remembrance might be of use to some or other into whose hands these papers may fall. For quadrupedes, Birds, fish &c. I shall say no more than that we had some time ago learnd to eat every identical species which came in our way: a hawk or a crow was to us as delicate and perhaps a better relishd meal than a partridge or Pheasant to those who have plenty of dainties: we wanted nothing to reccomend any food but its not being salt, that alone was sufficient to make it a delicacy. Shaggs, Sea gulls and all that tribe of sea fowl which are reccond bad from their trainy3 or fishy taste were to us an agreable food, we did not at all taste the rankness, which no doubt has been and possibly will again be highly nauseous to us whenever we have plenty of Beef and mutton &c.
1 An abbreviated version in English, under the title An Account of several late Voyages and Discoveries …, of Dirk Rembrantszoon van Nierop's Eenige Oefeningen (1674), in which an abstract of Tasman's voyage appeared. The relevant sentence is, ‘They saw the footing of wild Beasts having Claws like a Tiger, and of other Beasts: They found also Gum of the Trees, and Gum-Lac of the Ground’. ‘Gum-Lac of the Ground’ would simply be gum that had fallen to the ground.
2 Xanthorrhoca 〈JDH〉;, the Blackboy or Grass tree.
3 ‘trainy’: like train-oil, i.e. whale- or fish-oil.
1 pp. 89, 100 above.
2 A Dasyure or Native Cat, Dasyurus quoll (Zimmermann) 1777. There is a pencil sketch of this animal by Parkinson (I, pl. 2). Zimmermann described it from Hawkes-worth's edition of Cook (Specimen Zoologiae Geographicae, 1777, p. 489). The native name is Dekol.
3 See p. 100, n. 1 above.
4 One of the Horse-shoe bats.
5 Probably a Flying Fox. Roupette or Rougette were names given to a bat from Madagascar and Bourbon or Reunion island.
6 Possibly the reference is here to the Dingo, improbably to the Thylacine Wolf; cf. p. 86, n. 4 above.
7 See p. 84, n. 3 above.
8 There are several species of Australian shags; Parkinson described one of these in his list of Australian birds (loc. cit.) but says that it came from Tasmano (sic) Bay with a pigeon; it seems clear that the compiler of his Journal confused his notes and included two New Zealand birds with these Australian ones. See Lysaght and Sowerby, Emu, 56, p. 129.
9 In Northern Queensland one would expect these to have been the Red-footed Gannet, Sula sula (Linn.), and the Masked Gannet, Sula dactylatra Lesson.
10 Pclecanus conspicillatus.
1 Probably the Australian Crane, Grus rubicunda (Perry), which used to occur in the swampy area four miles south of Cooktown.
2 Four species now occur there, including the widely distributed Anas superciliosa to which reference has already been made.
3 In the absence of more detailed description identifications of the birds listed by Banks are almost impossible. Two species of Stone Curlew are found here: Orthorhamphus magnirostis (Vieillot), and Burhinus magnirostris (Latham). The Eastern Curlew, Numenius madagascariensis is often seen at Cooktown from September to May, so that Banks may have seen stragglers; but the Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, which occurs at the same time, is a more common visitor.
4 The Australian Crow, Corvus cecilae.
5 There are many Australian parrots and parakeets.
6 The White Cockatoo, Kakatoë galerita (Latham) is widespread and abundant, and large noisy flocks of the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus magnificus (Shaw) are common in the open forest of the upper Endeavour. The latter species is the only Australian land bird depicted by Parkinson (I, pl. 10); Latham says (Supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds, 1787, p. 63) that Banks brought one of these birds back to England, but whether it was alive or dead is not clear—one presumes dead. See Pl. 33.
7 Parkinson listed some other birds, but his list has to be treated with caution owing to the confusion of localities noted above. For further particulars of the birds of Cooktown and the Endeavour River see the paper by Storr to which reference has already been made, p. 83, n. 4 above.
9 The ‘Indians’ were indeed cunning hunters, ‘very clever in deceiving’ birds, in spite of Banks's scepticism. See Herbert Basedow, The Australian Aboriginal (Adelaide 1925), pp. 137–9. Basedow says (p. 137), ‘It is astounding how adroitly an aboriginal can project the light reed spears; to fell a dove at a distance of from forty to fifty paces is child's play for an experienced thrower’.
1 Oecophylla smaragdina virescens; see p. 66, n. 2 above.
2 Cf. p. 71, n. 5.
3 Banks did not fill in this blank; perhaps Acronychia laevis. Cf. p. 71, n. 4 above.
1 Myrmecodia beccarii Hook. f. According to ‘Britten no specimen was sent home, but the artist J. F. Miller made the drawing in 1773, Pl. 27 in the present volume.
2 To be accurate as a natural historian, he should have denounced not ants but termites, of which there were many East Indian species.
3 Microcerotermes turneri has both types of nest. See p. 71, n. 3 above.
1 Mugil sp.
2 See p. 60, n. 1 above.
3 This is merely a token figure.
4 See p. 94, n. 3 above.
Upon the whole New Holland, tho in every respect the most barren countrey I have seen, is not so bad but that between the productions of sea and Land a company of People who should have the misfortune of being shipwreckd upon it might support themselves, even by the resources that we have seen. Undoubtedly a longer stay and visiting different parts would discover many more.
1 Tridacna gigas; see pp. 87–8 above. The reference to Dampier is to the four volume 1729 edition. At Cockle Island (the name given by Dampier himself) off the north-west coast of New Guinea, his boats went to fish and cut wood: they came on board bringing ‘a few small Cockles, none of them exceeding 10 Pound weight, whereas the Shell of the great one [found earlier in the day] weighed 78 Pound; but it was now high water, and therefore they could get no bigger… . In the Afternoon I went ashore on a small woody Island, about 2 Leagues from us. Here I found … small Cockles in the Sea round the Island, in such Quantities that we might have laden the Boat in an Hour's Time: These were not above 10 or 12 Pound Weight’. A little later his men found a shell weighing 258 lb.
Whatever may be the reason of this want of People is dificult to guess, unless perhaps the Barreness of the Soil and scarcity of fresh water; but why mankind should not increase here as fast as in other places unless their small tribes have frequent wars in which many are destroyd; they were indeed generaly furnishd with plenty of weapons whose points of the stings of Sting-Rays seemd intended against nothing but their own species, from whence such an inference might easily be drawn.
That their customs were nearly the same throughout the whole lengh of the coast along which we saild I should think very probable. Tho we had Connections with them only at one place yet we saw them either with our eyes or glasses many times, and at Sting Rays bay had some experience of their manners; their Colour, arms, method of using them, were the same as we afterwards had a nearer view of; they likewise in the same manner went naked, and painted themselves, their houses were the same, they notchd large trees in the same manner and even the bags they carried their furniture in were of exactly the same manufacture, something between netting and Knitting which I have no where else seen in the intermediate places. Our glasses might deceive us in many things but their colour and want of cloths we certainly did see and wherever we came ashore the houses and sheds, places where they had dressd victuals with heated stones, and trees notchd for the convenience of climbing them sufficiently evincd them to be the same people.
The tribe with which we had connections consisted of 21 people, 12 men 7 women a boy and a girl, so many at least we saw and there might be more, especialy women, who we did not see. The men were remarkably short and slender built in proportion; the tallest we measurd was 5 feet 9, the shortest 5–2; their medium hight seemd to be about five feet six, as the tall man appeard more disproportioned in size from his fellows than the short one. What their absolute colour is is difficult to say, they were so compleatly coverd page 124 with dirt, which seemd to have stuck to their hides from the day of their birth without their once having attemptd to remove it; I tryd indeed by spitting upon my finger and rubbing but alterd the colour very little, which as nearly as might be resembled that of Chocolate. The beards of several were bushy and thick; their hair which as well as their beards was black they wore croppd close round their ears; in some it was lank as a Europeans, in others a little crispd as is common in the South sea Islands but in none of them at all resembling the wool of Negroes. They had also all their fore teeth; in which two things they differ cheifly from those seen by Dampier, supposing him not to be mistaken. As for colour they would undoubtedly be calld blacks by any one not usd to consider attentively the colours of different Nations; myself should never have thought of such distinctions had I not seen the effect of Sun and wind upon the natives of the South sea Islands, where many of the Better sort of people who keep themselves close at home are nearly as white as Europeans, while the poorer sort, obligd in their business of fishing &c. to expose their naked bodies to all the inclemencies of the Climate, have some among them but little lighter than the New Hollanders.1 They were all to a man lean and clean limnd and seemd to be very light and active; their countenances were not without some expression tho I cannot charge them with much, their voices in general shrill and effeminate.
1 ‘The aboriginal is no more black than the average modern European is white… . Under normal conditions, the colour of the Australian is a velvety chocolate-brown, somewhat lighter or more coppery in the female than in the male.’—Basedow, p. 40. A ‘chocolate-brown skin which appears black when sun-burnt or unwashed; wavy to curly hair’.—A. P. Elkin, The Australian Aboriginals (Sydney 1938), p. 4. Banks has added to his passage on the South Sea islanders a later marginal note, ‘Bourgainvile 2 species’, a reference to Bougainville's observation that there seemed to be two races in Tahiti, one tall and impressive who, ‘if they lived less in the sun, would be as white as we are’; and the other shorter and as dark as mulattos—though they had the same language, the same customs, and mixed without distinction. The taller men, Bougainville thought, were in the majority. His Ahutoru belonged to the darker, shorter people.—Voyage, p. 214.
1 It was Kaolin or pipe-clay. Cf. pp. 53, 92–3 above.
On their bodies we observd very few marks of cutaneous disorders as scurf, scars of sores &c. Their spare thin bodies indicate a temperance in eating, the consequence either of necessity or inclination, equaly productive of health particularly in this respect. On the fleshy parts of their arms and thighs and some of their sides were large scars in regular lines, which by their breadth and the convexity with which they had heald shewd plainly that they had been made by deep cuts of some blunt instrument, a shell perhaps or the edge of a broken stone. These as far as we could understand by the Signs they made use of were the marks of their Lamentations for the deceasd, in honour to whose memory or to shew the excess of their greif they had in this manner wept for in blood.1
For Food they seem to depend very much tho not intirely upon the Sea. Fish of all kinds, Turtle and even crabs they strike with their Lances very dextrously. These are generaly bearded with broad beards and their points smeard over with a kind of hard resin which makes them peirce a hard body far easier than they would do without it. In the southern parts these fish spears had 4 prongs and besides the resin were pointed with the sharp bone of a fish; to the Northward again their spears had only one point; yet both I beleive struck fish with equal dexterity. For the Northern ones I can witness who several times saw them through a glass throw their Spear from 10 to 20 yards and generaly succeed; to the Southward again the plenty of Fish bones we saw near their fires provd them to be no indifferent artists.
1 This deduction from ‘large scars in regular lines’ was wrong, and seems, we may guess, to have been determined more by what had been seen in Tahiti and New Zealand than by any information gathered from the Australians. Like the gap in the upper teeth described by Dampier, they were marks of initiation into adulthood. The scars, made by a stone ‘knife’ or strip of flint, often extremely sharp, were sometimes enlarged by rubbing with ashes or clay while the cuts were still fresh; hence the ‘breadth and the convexity’ which Banks noticed. The ‘Spartan’ aspect of initiation seems to have been mingled with cosmetic and tribal reasons—i.e. the scars served also for personal adornment and for tribal identification, they were both ‘beauty-scars’ and totemistic. Quite savage scarification was also used in mourning, but with less regularity; the favourite places for this being the head and the back.
Besides these things we saw near their fire places plentifull remains of lobsters, shell fish of all kinds, and to the Southward the skins of those Sea animals which from their property of spouting out water when touchd are commonly calld sea squirts. These last, howsoever disgustfull they may seem to an European palate, we found to contain under a coat as tough as leather a substance like the guts of a shell fish, in taste tho not equal to an oyster yet by no means to be despisd by a man who is hungrey.
1 Probably the cush-cush yam, Dioscorea triphylla, the size of the ordinary potato; ‘of two sorts’: white and red, the tubers of the latter purplish within. Or possibly D. transversa R. Br., long yam, the small young tubers of which according to Maiden are eaten by the aborigines without any preparation.
2 i.e. bitterness, cf. p. 85 above.
3 Probably Pandanus pedunculatus R. Br., though the taxonomy of the pandans is not at present well understood.
4 Cycas media 〈JDH〉;.
Their victuals they generaly dress by broiling or toasting them upon the coals, so we judg'd by the remains we saw; they knew however the method of baking or stewing with hot stones and sometimes practis'd it, as we now and then saw the pits and burnd stones which had been made use of for that purpose.
We observd that some tho but few held constantly in their mouths the leaves of an herb which they chewd as a European does tobacca or an East Indian Betele. What sort of plant it was we had not an opportunity of learning as we never saw any thing but the chaws which they took from their mouths to shew us; it might be of the Betele kind and so far as we could judge from the fragments was so, but whatever it was it was usd without any addition and seemd to have no kind of effect upon either the teeth or lips of those who usd it.1
Naked as these people are when abroad they are scarce at all better defended from the injuries of the weather when at home, if that name can with propriety be given to their houses—as I beleive they never make any stay in them but wandering like the Arabs from place to place set them up whenever they meet with one where sufficient supplys of food are to be met with, and as soon as these are exhausted remove to another leaving the houses behind, which are framd with less art or rather less industry than any habitations of human beings probably that the world can shew.
1 It was the leaf of Duboisia hopwoodi, a tobacco-like plant with different aboriginal names in different tribes, but now commonly known as Pitjuri. It had narcotic properties, and was chewed by both men and women; and as it was greatly valued, it was obtained by barter when it did not grow in a tribal area. We may add, however, that four leaves of Piper bctle, noted as coming from Cape Grafton, were preserved; J. F. Miller made a drawing in 1773 of a leafy shoot from material collected on the voyage, which figure was published by Britten (pl. 250, 1905).
The only Furniture belonging to these houses, that we saw at least, was oblong vessels of Bark made by the simple contrivance of tying up the two ends of a longish peice with a withe which not being cut off serves for a handle, these we imagind serv'd for the purpose of Water Buckets to fetch water from the springs which may sometimes be distant.1 We have reason to suppose that when they travel these are carried by the women from place to place; indeed the few opportunities we had of seeing the women they were generaly employd in some laborious occupation as fetching wood, gathering shell fish &c.
1 This was so. More than one sort of ‘bucket’ or water-trough was made of bark; the ‘bucket’ might also be used as a basket for carrying any sort of belongings. There is an interesting account in Basedow, op. cit., pp. 91–4.
Thus live these I had almost said happy people, content with little nay almost nothing, Far enough removd from the anxieties attending upon riches, or even the possession of what we Europeans call common necessaries: anxieties intended maybe by Providence to counterbalance the pleasure arising from the Posession of wishd for attainments, consequently increasing with increasing wealth, and in some measure keeping up the balance of hapiness between the rich and the poor. From them appear how small are the real wants of human nature, which we Europeans have increasd to an excess which would certainly appear incredible to these people could they be told it. Nor shall we cease to increase them as long as Luxuries can be invented and riches found for the purchase of them; and how soon these Luxuries degenerate into necessaries may be sufficiently evincd by the universal use of strong liquors, Tobacco, spices, Tea &c. &c. In this instance again providence seems to act the part of a leveler, doing much towards putting all ranks into an equal state of wants and consequently of real poverty: the Great and Magnificent want as much and may be more than the midling: they again in proportion more than the inferior: each rank still looking higher than his station but confining itself to a certain point above which it knows not how to wish, not knowing at least perfectly what is there enjoyd.
1 Stone hatchets were common enough with the aboriginals, but ‘wooden mallets’ do not seem to have survived, as a class of tool, for ethnographers to study. Stones were generally used for purposes of pounding. Banks may have seen some isolated example, if he did see a real artifact.
1 Ficus opposita, a tall shrub or small tree, or perhaps F. aspera Forst. The leaves were used like emery paper. Ficus spp. were favourite abrasives with various aboriginal peoples. Banks's radulo should be radula.
2 W. E. Roth, in his North Queensland Ethnographic Bulletin No. 3, Food: its Search, Capture & amp; Preparation (Brisbane 1901), says these fishing-lines were made of the fibre of the cabbage-tree, Livistona australis. The aboriginal had recourse to a large number of different vegetable fibres for his twine—e.g. the bark of the tree called Currajong, Sterculia spp., pandanus, hibiscus, the reed Juncus spp. as well as Livistona. Human hair, kangaroo hair, opossum hair were also used. There is a full and interesting discussion in Roth's Bull. No. 1, String and other forms of strand… . (Brisbane 1901).
3 The so-called ‘dilly-bags’. See Roth, String … again.
4 Flints, as used for cicatrization, could be exceedingly sharp.
5 The guess was good, though not as it touched on unwary animals passing beneath the trees. The aboriginal climbed after opossums and other small animals, honey, birds’ nests, tree grubs, and also to seize birds as they came in to roost. Basedow, pl. xix, opp. p. 144, has an illustration of a man climbing by notches, and making them as he goes.
1 cf. p. 110, n. 1 above.
2 A bulrush, Typha angustifolia, does grow in Australia, with stalks up to eight feet long; but the aboriginal lance was ordinarily made from the stem of the reed Phragmites communis, with sharp wooden points of the pea-bush, Sesbania aegyptica.
That they are a very pusilanimous people we had reason to suppose from every part of their conduct in every place where we were except Sting Rays bay, and there only the instance of the two people who opposd the Landing of our two boats full of men for near a quarter of an hour and were not to be drove away till several times wounded with small shot, which we were obligd to do as at that time we suspected their Lances to be poisned from the quantity of gum which was about their points; but upon every other occasion both there and every where else they behavd alike, shunning us and giving up any part of the countrey which we landed upon at once: and that they use stratagems in war we learnt by the instance in Sting-rays bay where our Surgeon with another man walking in the woods met 8 Indians; they stood still but directed another who was up in a tree how and when he should throw a Lance at them, which he did and on its not taking effect they all ran away as fast as possible.
Their Canoes were the only things in which we saw a manifest difference between the Southern and the Northern people. Those to the Southward were little better contrivd or executed than their Houses: a peice of Bark tied together in Pleats at the ends and kept extended in the middle by small bows of wood was the whole embarkation, which carried one or two, nay we once saw three people, who movd it along in shallow water by setting1 with long poles; and in deeper by padling with padles about 18 inches long, one of which they held in each hand. In the middle of these Canoes was generaly a small fire upon a heap of sea weed, for what purpose intended we did not learn except perhaps to give the fisherman an opportunity of Eating fish in perfection by broiling it the moment it is taken.
1 i.e., punting.
This was the only peice of workmanship which I saw among the New Hollanders that seemd to require tools. How they had hollowd her out or cut the ends I cannot guess1 but upon the whole the work was not ill done; Indian patience might do a great deal with shells &c. without the use of stone axes, which if they had had they would probably have used to form her outside as well as inside. That such a canoe takes them up much time and trouble in the making may be concluded from our seeing so few, and still more from the moral certainty which we have that the Tribe which visited [us] and consisted to our knowledge of 21 people and may be of several more had only one such belonging to them. How tedious must it be for these people to be ferried over a river a mile or two wide by threes and fours at a time: how well therefore worth the pains for them to stock themselves better with boats if they could do it!
1 These canoes were burned and gouged out, and the shaping done with stone tools; but it is a moot question whether the workmanship was Australian aboriginal or Melanesian, from the northern islands—probably the latter. Some of the Queensland tribes were certainly acquainted with the outrigger.
Of their Language I can say very little. Our acquaintance with them was of so short a duration that none of us attempted to use a single word of it to them, consequently the list of words I have given could be got no other manner than by signs enquiring of them what in their Language signified such a thing, a method obnoxious to many mistakes: for instance a man holds in his hand a stone and asks the name of [it]: the Indian may return him for answer either the real name of a stone, one of the properties of it as hardness, roughness, smoothness &c, one of its uses or the name peculiar to some particular species of stone, which name the enquirer immediately sets down as that of a stone. To avoid however as much as Possible this inconvenience Myself and 2 or 3 more got from them as many words as we could, and having noted down those which we though[t] from circumstances we were not mistaken in we compard our lists; those in which all the lists agreed, or rather were contradicted by none, we thought our selves moraly certain not to be mistaken in. Of these my list cheefly consists, some only being added that were in only one list such as from the ease with which signs might be contrivd to ask them were thought little less certain than the others.
|Morye||the hair||Walba||a stone|
|Yembe||the Lips||Gurka||a Rope|
|Bonjoo||the Nose||Bama||a Man|
|Unjar||the tongue||Poinja||a male Turtle|
|Wallar||the Beard||Mameingo||a female|
|Doomboo||the Neck||Maragan||a Canoe|
|Cayo||the Nipples||Pelenyo||to Paddlepage 137|
|Toolpoor||the Navel||Takai||Set down|
|Edamal||the Feet||Tapool||bone in nose|
|Kniorror||the Heel||Charngala||a Bag|
|Chumal||the Sole||Cherr||expressions maybe of admiration which they continualy usd while in company with us|
|Chongarn||the ancle||Cherco||expressions maybe of admiration which they continualy usd while in company with us|
|Kulke||the Nails||Yarcaw||expressions maybe of admiration which they continualy usd while in company with us|
|Gallan||the Sun||Tut tut tut tut||expressions maybe of admiration which they continualy usd while in company with us|
They very often use the article Ge which seems to answer to our English ‘a’ as Ge Gurka a rope.1
1 Banks's caution in collecting this vocabulary was well-repaid. His list was printed, with the addition of some words from Cook's list, by Hawkesworth, III, pp. 242–3, where it was studied by Ling Roth for his monograph The Structure of the Koko-Yimidir Language (North Queensland Ethnography Bull. No. 2, Brisbane 1901), pp. 6–7. If we take Ling Roth as the standard, we have Banks in many cases exact, and in most cases pretty accurate: as for instance, beard, Ling Roth walar, Banks wallar; hands, mangal, mangal; rope, gurka, gurka; man, bama, bama; nails, gulgi, kulke; thighs, kuman, coman; knees, bunggo, pongo; ears, milka, melcea; sun, ngalan, gallan. In some words there is a slight remove—e.g. a female, mami-ngu, mameingo; hair, moari, morye; sit down, dakaya, takai. Some show a slight misunderstanding—e.g. Banks's neck, doomboo represents dumu, the chest; nipples, cayo represents guyu, the breast, milk; sole (of the foot) chumal represents jammal, the foot and smaller toes; sand, yowall represents yual, a beach; a bag, charngala represents dan-gara, a parcel rolled up in tea-tree bark. In wageegee for head (properly kambago) we have a more complicated misunderstanding: it is probably derived, thinks Ling Roth, from bai-tchir-tchir, to cover—the action of laying the hand on the head, and not the head itself, being rendered. Of yarcaw and tut, tut, tut as ‘expressions of admiration’ he says, ‘the former is the modern yir-ké, a note of exclamation indicative of surprise, while the latter is still used as exclamatory of swift motion, e.g. a fish shooting along in the water’.