Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/81

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23
FROM SYDNEY TO NEW GUINEA.

Island, from a fanciful idea of its resemblance in shape to the fabled monster of the Egyptians.

During the night our skipper was busily engaged superintending the navigation of the vessel through Whit-Sunday Passage, a narrow strait running through an almost bewildering maze of islands. This passage is counted the most beautiful spot in the whole extent of the Queensland coast. We cleared the passage at six in the morning, so that we just missed feasting our eyes on the varied loveliness of this romantic archipelago. Ever since passing Lady Elliot Island we have had perfectly calm seas and Italian skies; the vessel skims along the surface of the unruffled waves like a sea-bird; and one happy result of these favourable conditions is that not a soul amongst the party is now absent from the table at meal times.

Cape Upstart and Cape Bowling Green stand closely adjacent to one another, both named from their peculiar aspects. The one rises abruptly from the sea to a height of more than 1,000 feet; the other lies flat with the sea-level. A vessel might very easily run aground at the latter spot, as the captain of the S.S. "Gunga" found to his cost a few months ago, when he got stranded there. The casualty occurred in broad daylight, and so simply, that the wife of the lighthouse keeper, standing only a few yards inland, waved her apron to warn the skipper of his danger.

Late in the evening we entered Cleveland Bay, and dropped anchor in the open roadstead, about two miles from shore. Townsville stands upon the beach, on both sides of Ross's Creek, and high hills, rising abruptly, enclose it all round. I had learned from the Brisbane papers that "The Vagabond" was abroad in Northern Queensland, and next morning, upon landing, I encountered this particular eye of the "Melbourne Argus," looking as fresh and jolly as ever. By Mr. Julian Thomas I was introduced to Mr. Gulliver, of Acacia Vale, who received me very hospitably, and lent me the manuscript diary of Mr. Edelfeld, who had been employed by him in collecting botanical specimens in New Guinea. From the perusal of this record I gained much valuable information. Here a small flock of about flfty sheep were bought for the use of the expedition, the survivors of the voyage amongst the lot being reserved