Page:Aboriginesofvictoria02.djvu/264

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246
APPENDIX:

which generally grows about the thickness of a man's thumb, and to the depth of four to six or eight feet. It has a delicate sweetish flavour when roasted in hot ashes, something like that of a chestnut, and is much sought after. It is dangerous to travel on horseback through the country where it grows, on account of the frequency and depth of the holes, which are not more than about eighteen or twenty inches in diameter. I have sometimes been made aware of their proximity by seeing small quantities of sand jumping up before me, and, on going to see the cause, have suddenly come on a small hole among the scrub, so small that I could scarcely believe a human being could be at the bottom of it in a stooping position, with the knees on each side of the head. In this position the native dexterously throws the sand by a sudden jerk of the hand

Aborigines of Victoria - Fig 250 - Kertamaroo (King John).jpg

Kertamaroo (King John).
FIG. 250.

backwards, under the arm and up behind the shoulder. The only bald natives I ever saw are the warran diggers, who are said to wear the hair off the head by pressing it so frequently against the sides of these holes.

Besides sinking wells, they have other means of obtaining water in the deserts, where none is to be found on the surface of the ground. In the Mallee scrubs they find water in the roots of the narrow-leafed Mallee, but only in some of the larger trees, and it requires an expert to know which trees contain it. They trace a root that runs near the surface of the ground as far as possible, and then tear it up and let the water trickle out of it. I have never seen this species of eucalyptus in Western Australia; but there they obtain water—sometimes as much as a gallon at