Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/397

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175
CAPTAIN EVERILUS REPORT.

Here are two or three large villages on the south side of the river, but the water was too shallow on that side to go close in; so standing across to the north side of the river, we found a deeper channel. The right or north bank of the river here appears to form another entrance from the sea farther to the eastward. This entrance I have named the McIlwraith Channel, in commemoration of the first annexation of New Guinea by the McIlwraith Ministry. We now steamed between the main banks of this river. The river here is wide, and there are at least two deep-water channels, but also a number of shoals and sand-banks. The trees are very high and the foliage is luxuriant. In places on the left bank are numbers of cocoa-nut and banana plantations. We also began to get among the pandarus, and a very bright green tree, commonly known as the fresh water mangrove. We saw no signs of natives on the north side, excepting a bridge across a creek. The greater portion of the country appeared very swampy, and the banks are only just out of the reach of high water. We passed on the north side two lots of red cliffs, forming small hills forty feet high. One of these corresponds with D'Alberti's Howling Place. Passing through the Fairfax Group, which is formed of small islands almost under water, very thickly wooded with high trees, we anchored for the night; next morning we proceeded up the river, meeting the same kind of scenery, low banks, covered in places with the fresh-water mangrove, and again we found the banks ten and fourteen feet high in detached and broken places, and composed of red clay. We also came across immense numbers of flying foxes. We saw no signs of permanent houses, but the remains of temporary shelters, and the only sign of human life was a solitary canoe made fast into the bank. Animal life was well represented by black cockatoos, numerous pigeons, hornbills, small green parrots, lorrykeets, with plenty of swallows and smaller birds. The banks of the river were a little higher (in places), and had been cleared in places, now overgrown with coarse grass and bamboo, the remains of native houses. We found very deep water, seven and eight fathoms, no bottom. The weather was squally, with showers and strong south-east winds blowing. Higher up the river, as we neared the Ellengowan Island, the banks appeared covered in places with a species of long reeds or grass, of the same family as sugar-cane; and wherever these appear there is generally a mud or sand-flat extending a little way from the shore. We went round the north side of Ellengowan Island, and on getting to the west of it, saw a village on the south side, but did not stop. Above Ellengowan Island, the birds appear to become scarcer; but in some places the trees were literally black with (lying foxes, hanging like pears on a tree. The vegetation appears the same, but there are no signs of cocoa-nuts to be found here; and from the mast-