Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/53

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Description of the Natives of King George's Sound.

proach the shores, or come into shoal water. They have neither nets, nor hook and line, and the only weapon they use is the spear, with which they are very dexterous. In the mouths of streams or rivers, they take large quantities, by weirs made of bushes, but the most common method is pursuing the fish into shoal water, and spearing them, or as they lie basking on the surface. During calms, they walk over the mud and sand-banks, in search of flat fish, which are easily detected while lying at the bottom. At night, too, they light torches of grass-tree, and thus see the fish at the bottom, apparently asleep, when they very readily spear them. By these methods, vast quantities are taken, but it can only be done in dead calms. Another common method is to sit on a rock, motionless, and occasionally throw into the water pieces of limpet, or other shell-fish, keeping the spear under water until the bait is seized by a fish, when they are almost certain of striking it.

In the autumn, when the smaller species of fish approach the shores in large shoals, they surround them, and keep them in shallow water upon the flats until the tide falls and leaves them, when they are easily speared, and very few escape. For this purpose they use a very small spear, without a barb, and throw it by hand; should it so happen that the tide does not sufficiently fall to enable them to take the fish, they gather bushes, and plant them round so thickly, as to enclose them, when they are speared at leisure.

Fish being very plentiful, they often kill more than is sufficient for present use; in this case, they roast them, and separating the flesh in large flakes from the bones, pack it carefully up in soft bark, in which way it will keep good for several days.

Immediately on killing a large fish, they make a small opening just below the gills, through which they extract the inside. If there be any fat, it is carefully separated: the bowels, liver, &c. they cook and eat.

Although sharks are very numerous, the natives are not at all alarmed at them, and say that they are never attacked by them[1]. Sometimes they will spear them, but never eat any part of the body. Sting rays and maiden rays are also common, but not eaten, though sometimes killed for amusement. On some part of the coast the sting is used to point their spears.

Oysters, and other edible kinds of shell-fish, are to be obtained in large quantities. None of them were eaten by the natives previous to the formation of the settlement; but since its establish-

  1. Though not afraid of sharks in the shallow water of either of the harbours, yet in the river connecting the lakes with Eclipse Bay, they are extremely timid, and will not venture on the trees overhanging the banks.