Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/114

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101
TRIBES OF BOTANY BAY.

population in the immediate vicinity which continually, or from time to time, engaged in fishing operations was very considerable. A party of twelve soldiers, on one occasion, travelling across the country from Sydney to Botany, for the purpose, if possible, of seizing certain blacks who had committed some depredations among the colonists, fell in with a group of aboriginals amounting to 212 in all. On the approach of the military the women and children took shelter in a cave, while the men came boldly forward, armed with their spears and clubs, and by voice and gesture warned the strangers off. On the officer in command, however, making friendly signs, and giving them to understand that he did not entertain hostile intentions, the aboriginals laid down their arms and a peaceable interview took place, when it was discovered that the offenders did not form a part of this tribe. Although the Europeans were, on this occasion, completely in the power of the blacks, the latter did not evince the slightest disposition to act with treachery; but they manifested some impatience during the stay of the former, and seemed pleased when they were departing. From the two foregoing facts and other similar data it has been pretty accurately ascertained that the aboriginal population of the country immediately adjoining the coast, extending from Port Jackson to Broken Bay, amounted, at the founding of the colony, to 1,500 persons—a large population for so limited an extent of country, and capable of offering very effective resistance to the progress of the