Page:Aboriginesofvictoria02.djvu/364

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APPENDIX H.


HUNTING THE BLACKS.

(By the Honorable A. F. A. Greeves.)


"It was when I was Chief Constable of the Port Macquarie district," said Mr. D—— "The blacks had been very troublesome; among other murders they had committed was one of Mr. ———'s stockmen, whom they seized and sawed up into junks while he was alive. We found the cross-cut saw; but more of that by-and-by. I was only turned nineteen then, and was delighted to be appointed to head the party to track and punish the miscreants. The party consisted of two half-civilized blacks for guides—you know one tribe will always betray and attack another; one better sort of young fellow named Meade, a sort of second or lieutenant; and four Government men, with two soldiers. Well, we beat about a long time before we could get on their track."

"And pray how did you find out their trail?"

"Oh why, after several days' reconnoitring, at last we found a little bit of bark on fire, and one fire smouldering away. It was cold weather, so that all were carrying bark torches to keep themselves warm; but they were cunning enough either not to light fires or to cover over the ashes with bark, so that we should not find them. However, in this way, we went on day after day until we came into the wildest country you can imagine. All rocks and stones; no horses could have gone there."

"What; were you on foot?"

"On foot! Every man of us. Horses won't do to track the blacks; they take too much looking after; they occasion too much noise in trampling on dry leaves and rotten sticks; besides, when the natives are pursued, they resort to precipices and ravines where horses could not go twenty yards. I think it was the second day after we found their track that one afternoon, on turning the corner of a rock, we found ourselves in a long valley, bounded by rugged precipices on each side. The bush was open; there were only a few large trees here and there. There were copses of brushwood scattered about of stunted Banksias and mimosas, like thickets of hazel at home. Well, just as we entered the valley, we saw the whole party of blacks defiling a great height above us, in a zig-zag direction, among the precipices. They did not appear to see us, and we hurried on after them. At last we began to hear their voices. Sunset was near, and we presently heard them breaking off branches to construct their mia-mias—or