Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/55

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
Description of the Natives of King George's Sound

of an acrid and unpleasant taste. They roast them in the ashes, and then pound them between two flat stones, rubbing the stones with a ball of earth, to prevent the root adhering to it. When thus prepared, they are mucilaginous, and of a glossy black colour. They may be considered the bread of the natives who live in the neighbourhood of the Sound, but are not found in the interior.

The tuboc is of the tribe Orchideæ[1]: it is very pleasant eating, when roasted. In the early part of spring it throws up a single stem, hollow, and similar in appearance to that of the onion, but is mucilaginous, and sweetish to the taste. This also is eaten. Before the young root comes to maturity it is called chokern, and is eaten raw: the old one is called nāānk[2].

The chocket is the small bulbous root of a rush; it is very fibrous, and only edible at one season.

The roots of fern, sedge, and other plants, are also used as articles of food; also mushrooms of two species, and another kind of fungus.

When the different species of Banksia first come into bloom, they collect from the flowers a considerable quantity of honey, of which the natives are particularly fond, and gather large quantities of the flowers (moncat) to suck. It is not, however, always to be procured; the best time is in the morning, when much dew is deposited on the ground; also in cloudy but not wet weather.

They describe various kinds of roots in the interior that are eaten by them. One species they call yoke, and say that it resembles our potato, being as large and as well tasted; but it has only one tuber to a stem, and is altogether different in its leaf and appearance.

Another root is carrot-shaped. Rice they call kioc, and say there is plenty; that it grows on a small shrub, and is of a reddish colour; that they shake it out into their cloak, and eat it uncooked.

Bread they call quannert, or marrin, both which names I conceive to denote substances eaten by them that are only to be found in the interior.

A bee is found at King George’s Sound, I have never known a hive near the settlement; but the natives say they sometimes take them, and eat the honey.

I have been thus particular in describing their food, because I conceive that, in savage tribes, it gives rise to most of the peculiarities of their habits and customs. At King George’s Sound they live upon the productions of nature, unassisted by art, varying at different seasons and in different districts, poor in quality, often scanty, and therefore compelling the natives to a

  1. Probably a species of Thelymitra.
  2. Nāānk signifies her, or female.