Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/403

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181
CAPTAIN EVERILL'S REPORT.

long. 142° E. Our boat contained tents, trade, instruments, &c., and with ten days' provisions, twelve men, sails, awning, &c., was fully laden, in fact too crowded for convenience. It being my intention to try and discover the position of the mountains, and failing to do that to ascend the river as far as possible.

Accordingly we proceeded on the morning of the 16th, sometimes using the oars in the slack water reaches, but mostly six or eight hands wading through the water tracking or towing the boat with a rope over the sharp stones. We frequently had to cross and recross the river, sometimes to cut away snags to get the boat through, the river becoming more difficult if possible every mile we ascended; even if the "Bonito" had not been stranded she could not have got two miles further up the river. The Red Hills becoming more frequent and rising in altitude as we ascended, but still of the same formation, excepting that the lower strata is very much honeycombed and of a duller colour. The birds were represented by parrots, hornbills, many and various descriptions of pigeons, including the Goura or crested pigeon, night herons, eaglets, swifts, swallows, cockatoos white and black, many varieties of king-fishers and king-hunters, small insect and honey-eating birds, cassowaries, oriels, and occasionally we have heard the note of the bird of Paradise. We had not yet seen any four-footed animals in New Guinea, and only tracks of pigs, and some which we afterwards found to be those of bandicoots and rats. There were many tracks of alligators, which caused me considerable anxiety, as our men were in the water fully three-quarters of the day. Also, we found many tracks of river turtle, but although we frequently tried the river with fishing-lines we caught nothing, and even by dynamiting all the likely places we only got a few cat-fish and some smaller species resembling minnows. There were many descriptions of non-edible wild fruits, including a large variety of figs, a species of bread-fruit just fruiting, which afterwards proved an excellent article of food; the sago palm appears to nourish everywhere about here, as we found it in more or less quantities through-out our journey. Tree ferns also began to get plentiful; but I leave the details of these important subjects to be treated by the special scientists who accompanied the Expedition, and to proceed on our journey. The river must have been unusually low even for the dry season when we ascended it, and is very noticeable here from the immense gravel wastes or circuit of shingle and stone that was now exposed to view from the low state of the water; in places there being a distance of 1 to 2 miles between the banks proper of the river; the intervening space being filled with the dry beds of the river, and small islands formed by the deposits of sand and silt, some of those islands being thickly wooded. In another place the river runs between two stacks or neatly