Page:Aboriginesofvictoria02.djvu/342

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APPENDIX:

noose had been used at some favourable juncture with deadly certainty, and the coveted booty taken possession of. The whites of the locality found out who was the murderer, and he shortly disappeared; and for many years afterwards the lonely spot on the plains where the body was found and buried was an object of interest to the European traveller who passed that way.

The patience shown by the blacks in snaring game is very great, and I have known a man spend hours in catching a turkey. The usual plan is for the man to put boughs round him till he looks like a mass of leaves. He then makes a running noose out of a piece of cord, fastens it on to the end of his spear, and sallies forth in quest of game. The turkey is only found in open country, and is a most wary bird; but the black is equal to the occasion, and particularly patient when on his success depends his dinner. When the bird puts down his head to feed, his enemy moves towards him, and as the bird raises his head, the black stops quite still; the bird sees what is apparently a bush, is satisfied, and again lowers his head to feed, when the black again moves closer; and so on till the noose is thrown round the neck of the unsuspecting bird, and he is secured. Quail are also caught in the same manner. Ducks were sometimes caught in narrow creeks, by fixing nets from side to side in the branches that grew along the banks. The blacks then imitated the cry of the hawk, causing the birds to fly upwards in alarm, and thus get entangled in the net above them. A favorite way to take ducks on a lake or large sheet of water was to put some small bushes carefully round the head, and then tread water noiselessly till the black arrived amongst the ducks; when he would pull one at a time under water, twist its neck, and secure it in his girdle till he got a sufficient number, when he would glide quietly away and go on shore.

The tribes along the Murray made splendid nets, which they used most successfully. The Billybongs which run inland for miles, and served as reservoirs to hold the waters which were brought down by the floods, had weirs placed carefully across their mouths in summer, when the water was very low; and these weirs, which were formed of stakes interlaced between with little twigs, served most effectually to retain the fish which had passed over them during the floods, and which, when the water got low, were secured with ease. In order to secure the old men who were unable to get their own food from the danger of starving, it had been wisely decreed that animals of a certain sex, such as the she opossum, &c., and particular descriptions of fish and other game, could not be eaten by the able men of the tribe; but, when taken by them, should be given to the old men, under pain of incurring the penalties duly provided, and in a manner losing caste.

The largest article in the shape of a covering of any sort which I have known them to manufacture—with the exception of the opossum rug—is a circular mat, about three feet six inches in diameter, made out of rushes by the lubras, on the banks of Lake Alexandrina, into which the Murray empties, and used by them and not by the men. These lubras also make rafts out of the reeds which grow on the banks, and on them go out sometimes miles on the lake to fish with nets. Both men and women are very expert at diving and catching the large fish, which lurk amongst the stones and timber at the bottom of the