Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/138

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At a subsequent stage it was deemed advisable to bury all unnecessary baggage, so as to leave the party as free as possible to force their way onwards through the heavily-timbered country that surrounded them on every side. The count, not without a pang, had even to leave his mineralogical and botanical collections behind him. Day by day the party pushed their way through the tropical undergrowth, but with the exception of their wiry leader, they all gradually became so exhausted as to be physically unable to cope with the difficulties that beset their progress. According to a contemporary narrative,[1] the count, being more inured to the fatigues and privations attendant upon Australian exploration, alone retained possession of his strength; and, although burdened with a load of instruments and papers of forty-five pounds weight, continued to pioneer his exhausted companions day after day through an almost impervious forest, closely interwoven with climbing grasses, vines, willows, ferns and reeds. Here, the count was to be seen breaking a passage with his hands and knees through the centre of the forest; there, throwing himself at full length among the dense underwood, and thus opening, by the weight of his body, a pathway for his struggling companions. Thus the party inch by inch forced their way, and to add to their discomfort, the incessant rains prevented their getting rest either by night or day. During the last eighteen days of their journey their provisions consisted only of a very scanty supply of the flesh of the native bear. On the twenty-second day after they had abandoned their horses, the travellers, to their intense delight, came in sight of Western Port, and descried a vessel riding at anchor.

  1. Port Phillip Herald, June 2, 1840.