Page:An Australian Parsonage.djvu/74
roofs set upon the ground, with perhaps a mud chimney built separately on one end. Sometimes instead of thatch the erection is covered with strips of paper bark. The arrangements beneath this roof, when once made, admit of no capricious alterations; stumps driven into the earth at a greater or lesser height, with boards nailed across them, compose alike both bedstead and table. Some little distance beyond the saw-pits we met three or four men bringing down a little troop of horses to be shipped for the Indian market.
That which most attracted my eyes in this my first journey through the bush, was the very singular-looking tree called "Blackboy" by the colonists, known to botanists as the Xanthorrhoea, or grass-tree. The stem is bare and often quite straight, about ten to fourteen inches in diameter, with a wide-spreading foliage at the top which one must call grass for want of a better name, though it quite as much resembles rushes, on which, in many of the runs, the cattle depend mainly for their food. The last year's crop, if it has not been eaten off, hangs down like a beard, brown and faded, in which state it is used for all descriptions of thatching, whilst the upper part is of a fresh green colour, out of which there often rises a tall slender rod, shaped like a bulrush or a poker, according to the fancy of the beholder.
The "blackboys" vary in height from one foot to twenty, and when seen for the first time, and from a distance, might easily be mistaken for savages dressed up in the traditional wavy head-dress of a South Sea Islander. The colour of the stem is not naturally black, but brown; nevertheless, most of them are so com-