Page:Aboriginesofvictoria02.djvu/253

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235
NOTES AND ANECDOTES.

also, that the Aborigines have no traditions regarding them; that when asked about them they invariably deny knowledge of their origin.

I can safely affirm that these statements are quite incorrect—there are no such circles, and never were. I am convinced that no structures of a monumental character were ever erected by any of the Aborigines of Australia. Nor can the megalithic circles alluded to be referred to any natural appearance in any of the more recent overflows of basalt.

The authority for the statement regarding the stone-circles in Victoria is a paper by the late Sir Jas. Y. Simpson, in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (Scotland), quoted in Sir J. Lubbock's Pre-Historic Times. Mr. Ormond, in a letter to Sir. J. Y. Simpson (page 122), says that he has seen many, especially near the Mount Elephant Plains in Victoria, and he then gives the above description of them.

Mr. Ormond may possibly have alluded to the min-mys or camping-places which have been found in open and exposed places, where the natives formed rude stone-circles merely for the purpose of shelter from the keen winds which sometimes sweep over the plains. Flat stones of basalt often occur only a few inches thick, and having two or three square feet of surface; these have been collected by the natives and set on edge, but have generally been removed by the settlers for the purpose of building the stone walls with which the country is now intersected in every direction.

Mr. Peter Manifold, who has resided on his estate in the district in question for more than thirty years, has kindly given me the following valuable information on the subject:—

"The stone-circles are made by the natives, and are always found in exposed situations where timber is difficult to obtain. The natives there formed these break-winds of stones, placed on edge in a circular form, some of them very perfect, leaving the opening generally towards the east, the prevailing winds coming; from the north-west and south-west. These circles are common on the plains or eastern part of this property, where branches of trees could not be procured for giving shelter. When we first occupied this country, it was quite common for the natives to use these circles as camping-places, always having the fires in the centre. The fires were very small, as they had frequently to carry the wood long distances. The circles are generally formed of large stones set on their edges, and bedded in the ground close together, without any other stones on the top, thus forming good protection from the wind as they lay around the fire. The stones are of the common basalt, there being no other in the district. The situation selected was generally where water was convenient, or in some favorable place for game. The circles were al)out the size of the ordinary mia-mys, that is from ten to twenty feet in diameter."

I may add that the European shepherds have been in the habit of constructing rubble-walls in circles for the same purpose of protection from the winds.

On a little basalt islet in Lake Wongan, about seven miles north-east from Streatham, I observed an ancient Aboriginal work consisting of extensive