Page:The Visit of Charles Fraser to the Swan River in 1827.djvu/39

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35

is simply formed of a small piece of wood, about 18 inches long, with a stone at the end, fastened only by gum. The knife is also formed of stone, sharpened by others, but this is the meanest apology for a knife I ever saw. The natives are almost perfectly naked, having merely a band about 3 inches wide round their waists, made of the bark of a tree. The chiefs paint themselves with a sort of red clay, and twist their hair, which is long[1], round their heads, binding it with the feathers of the cockatoo and swan. The chiefs have likewise feathers through their ears, and a single quill feather through the septum of the nose[2]. On Monday, March 12, we reached the source of the river, which latterly had become so narrow that we were obliged to boat the mast and pull, the trees overhanging on both sides so as to prevent our sailing. Here we encamped[3] for that and the following day, and passed our time in examining the country. We shot as many swans and ducks as we required, and Mr. Fraser made a large collection of various plants. On Wednesday, having got the things into the boat, we commenced our passage down the river. The boats had not proceeded far before both got staved from the large quantity of stumps of trees that had fallen into the river. We repaired this damage and reached the flats. The captain here ordered the first gig to proceed up another of the rivers[4] and ascertain the depth of water and how far it extended, but not to proceed further than to be enabled to be on board by sunset the following evening The cutter continued her course down the river, and reached the ship a little after midnight in safety. The gig returned the next night at 10 o'clock, having proceeded as far up the river as they could consistently with the order to be on board by sunset. It is worthy of remark that the whole way the gig went she had 5 fathoms water, and it was equally deep and broad at the place from which they commenced their return as at first, while the water was extremely salt. On the gig's returning down the river she fell in with another party of natives, who were more timid than those we had observed up the river. The boat was obliged to pull on and off the shore for some time, and make every token and sign of friendship before these natives could be prevailed on to remain while they landed. At last one or two remained, when one of our people landed and gave them some presents. They soon became more friendly. One of the boat's crew gave the chief a jacket, and another a pair of trousers, and it was strange to observe him endeavor to put it on as the other had put on his jacket, thrusting his arms through the places


  1. The hair of the natives of Australia is short and curly as a general rule; in some instances the tail of the dingo has been introduced and wound round the top of the head, which no doubt deceived the visitors.
  2. Usually a small bone of the kangaroo or a piece of wood is passed through the septum of the nose.
  3. This camp was at the junction of Ellen's Brook, named after Mrs. Stirling. There is a sketch of the camp at the Public Library, but the trees are not true.
  4. Canning River.