Page:Australia, from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay.djvu/51

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THE NETTLE TREE.

the brush bordering on this river, we experienced considerable annoyance from the- great quantity of nettle-tree saplings. My hands and arms soon ached from the poisonous touch of its leaves, and our horses suffered very much; one of them threw himself on the ground, snorting convulsively with pain. The nettle-tree attains a very large size at the MacLeay and Nambucca, being often six feet in diameter, and of a corresponding height; its wood is very soft and spongy, and its leaves, which are of great size, resemble in shape the leaves of the mulberry, and at the same time possess the bright green velvet appearance of the geranium leaf. The slightest touch of one of these leaves occasions a most acute stinging pain; but horses suffer infinitely worse, than men from contact with the leaves of the nettle-tree, as their skin rises in large blisters, and great temporary constitutional derangement seems to take place. Our blacks killed a large carpet-serpent near here, which was carefully preserved for their next repast. Having already halted for one hour, for our horses to have some grass, and to take some refreshment ourselves, we pushed through the brush, and emerged on some good undulating forest land, intersected by small brushy water-courses; and at length began ascending a long thickly-wooded slope, which led us to the summit of a high range, extending to the westward in an undulating outline of conical summits. This range was timbered by very large black-butt trees, and covered with luxu-