Page:Diary of ten years.djvu/89

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71

must pass in order to arrive at a more open, level, and grassy country, which appears to continue in the interior, and to preserve the same uniformity of character, as far as has been examined in that direction. The hills on the range are principally covered on the surface with the hard red sandstone, or ironstone already mentioned, either in lumpy fragments, or broken into coarse gravel; in some places, granite appears in large solid masses, or hillocks; there is a good deal of coarse herbage, but little grass, except in a few of the valleys. Many prickly shrubs abound, differing exceedingly in general appearance, yet bearing very similar flowers, of the pea blossom in shape, and of the colour of single wallflower. There is also a profusion of what you and I would call heath; but the learned botanists assert that there is no heath in the colony—far be it from me to dispute their judgment! This is almost a forest of great mahogany and blue gum trees, which have not been seen beyond the range. The streams do not appear to flow decidedly to the east, but rather to the north and south.

In the many valleys which we saw, I doubt if the streams flow through the summer. Pools and springs may be frequent; but there are no mountains, whose summits covered with snow might furnish a regular supply of water, nor frequent rains to saturate the earth and feed its springs. The thirsty soil absorbs, and the unclouded sun of summer evaporates, the moisture in its progress; and this, I take it, is the solution of the apparent paradox, with respect to rivers—that they are sometimes greater at their source than at their mouth. Such is the state of the river in summer; but what must it be in winter, when every valley and ravine pours forth its tributary streams into one common channel, the sole outlet of the accumulated waters of an extensive district? The Avon, through which I walked (first tucking my trousers up to my knee), seems the only artery for the collected waters of a line of 150 miles which we traced; and yet we did not reach its source. * * * * * * *