Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/344

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130
PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.

with a strong current which prevented my progress; but as far as I ascended the stream, it was not less than two chains wide, and in some places much more, and with almost perpendicular banks. The Hilda river flows into the Ethel river near the coast, and empties itself into the sea.

I am of opinion that the Hilda derives its source from the interior, immediately at the back of Mount Yule, and as the western side of the mountain terminates very abruptly, and apparently almost forms a perpendicular wall, I do believe the river has its source under this wall, or within a short distance of it. If this be correct, and the river proves navigable at all seasons of the year, it will be a most important route for future explorers, as this route would bring them into the centre of the south-easterly portion of the island. And as the western side of Mount Owen Stanley range gently slopes into the eastern side of Mount Yule, and forms a saddle between the two mountains, I believe from this centre the Mount Owen Stanley ranges can easily be explored, and probably from this point the summit of the mountain itself can be reached.

As it appears to me that Mount Yule terminates very abruptly when it meets the Hilda river, I have every reason to think my supposition is correct, and from that point a vast extent of level country extends in a north-westerly course for many miles, and will, beyond doubt, eventually be one of the localities for European settlements.

In retracing my steps to the coast, I passed through several villages, and was astonished to find a number of fowls cooped up in true European style; the birds are merely kept for the feathers of the male, which are particularly bright and used for ornaments; they are similar to the Malay fowls, with the exception of being a shade bigger.

On my return to Maiva I again stayed there a few days, and made a small collection of botanical specimens. The Maiva district is dry, consisting of a series of hills, up to 600 feet above sea level, with slate and ironstone; the vegetation is mostly a stunted eucalypti growth, and the natives are compelled to have their plantations in the valleys where there is more moisture and shelter for the fruit trees and vegetables. I