Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/43

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Description of the Natives of King George's Sound.

the situation proved eligible; but in the most essential thing, good water, it was very deficient. Neither was there any timber found near the place that was serviceable for erecting buildings. And the want of these two important articles was a great drawback to the settlement, particularly in its early days.

The soil in the immediate neighbourhood of the encampment proved to be very unproductive, for on turning it up a few inches beneath the surface, it was nothing but a pure white sand. In the bogs or swamp, however, the subsoil was found to be of a peaty nature. The poverty of the soil, therefore, offering great difficulties for the cultivation of a sufficient supply of vegetables, various spots were selected for the purpose, among which the little islet in Oyster Harbour, Green Island, small as it is, turned out to be the most productive.

So favourable, however, is the clime to vegetation, that where a small supply of manure could be obtained, the crops were not only certain but luxuriant. The vegetables that were raised consisted of peas, potatoes, cauliflowers, cabbage, cucumbers, &c.; melons, pompions, water melons, and maize also succeeded without forcing when the season was warm, but these latter vegetables could not be depended upon.

The island in the Sound produced sowthistles, mallow, and wild celery, which were used by the colonists during an attack of scurvy, and proved to be very serviceable in removing the disease. The sowthistles and celery grew also on the sea-beach[1].

The general appearance of the country, although of a barren nature, is very picturesque. The hills behind the settlement are studded and capped by immense blocks of granite, and are strewed with a profusion of beautiful shrubs, among which the splendid Banksiæ: grow to a large size, and the Kingia and Xanthorrhœa or grass-tree are abundant.

In some parts the soil is of a reddish hue, and here the trees are more abundant and of larger size. They consist of various kinds of eucalyptus and casuarina (like the swamp oak of Port Jackson). Generally, however, the trees are decayed at the heart, and are therefore unserviceable for building.

The view to the north is over a country in appearance flat, but in reality formed by wooded banks, separated by swampy plains. On the banks, the honey-suckle (a colonial name for a small species of Banksia) predominates.

The plains are covered with a coarse herbage, but no grass

  1. A species of parsley (apium prostratum), and another of orach (atriplex halimus, Brown, Prod.), were used by my people. The latter, particularly, afforded us a very good substitute for vegetables. We found no celery; and it seems probable, that the wild celery mentioned above is the plant here described.–P. P. K.