Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/712

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686
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NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

in advance of their camp. The guide, waving his branch at arm's-length, said, in a loud tone of voice, that we were travelling peaceably (Barku-balkala). Then followed a loud-toned conversation between him and the Pinnarus of the camp. Being at length satisfied, they came towards us, and led us to a place adjoining a water-channel, on the farther side of which they were encamped in a cluster of bee-hived-shaped grass huts. Here we were told to camp, and some of their young men were sent to gather wood for our fire.

In this manner I was taken during several days from camp to camp in the country bordering Sturt's Desert and Lake Lipson.

In the Wiimbaio tribe a messenger of death walks in a dejected manner on nearing a camp, holding his spear in one hand and letting it rest in the hollow of the other arm. When close to the camp he says "Dau" (death) twice, which is the formula suited to the occasion. His face is painted with a little pipe-clay. He walks through the encampment, repeating the word "Dau" at each hut, before he sits down, apart from the others, waiting till some friend brings him some food. After a time he again goes into the camp and delivers his news.

It is always possible to tell by the appearance of the messenger what the kind of news it is, whether of death, of fighting, or of elopements.[1]

In the Ngarigo tribe a message was called Mabun, and a messenger Gunumilli. He might be any one chosen by the old men or the Headman.

A messenger who merely carried a verbal message from some person to another would probably carry with it a ball, made of strips of opossum pelt rolled tightly together, as a friendly token from the sender.

A man was chosen as messenger for tribal matters who had relatives at the place to which he was to go.

The man who acted as messenger between myself and the Murring Headmen about the holding of the initiation ceremonies was the Headman of the Snowy River clan of

  1. Dr. M'Kinlay.