Page:The Visit of Charles Fraser to the Swan River in 1827.djvu/12

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their decomposed state renders them of benefit rather than otherwise to the soil. Here I observed a brown snake, similar to that of Port Jackson, and it is remarkable that this was the only snake seen during the survey[1].

"At the distance of one mile from the mouth of the river[2], the genus Eucalyptus appears, although in a stunted state. I was much astonished at the beautiful dark-green and vigorous appearance of the trees, considering that the season had been evidently unusually dry; but the cause must arise from the great quantity of springs with which this country abounds. On penetrating two feet into the earth, I found the soil perfectly moist, and I feel confident that, had I penetrated a foot deeper, I should have found water. On the beach I observed several small pools of water and many moist spots, which, in seasons of unusual humidity, must be the seat of active springs issuing from the calcareous rocks that bound them. The luxuriance of the vegetation on the immediate beach is truly astonishing. It consists principally of syngenesious plants, and a species of Hibiscus with peltate leaves[3]. Here I observed a beautiful pendulous Leptospermum, resembling in its appearance, and the situation which it prefers, the weeping willow[4]. An arborescent species of Acacia[5] was likewise seen associated with it.

"While examining the productions of a mass of cavernous limestone rocks on the beach, I was astonished by observing an extensive spring issue from beneath them, in width about 7 feet, running at the rate of 3 feet in a second. The water was brackish, but it is evidently fresh at some periods of the tide. Its elevation is about 3 feet above low-water mark, yet at its lowest ebb its current was at the above rate. The water was found, on being analysed, to be of the same quality as that at Harrowgate[6].

  1. Snakes. On the occasion of the French visit in June, 1801, the report states:—"Snakes are common enough on Rottnest Island. Many are not less than 4ft. to 5ft. long, with a diameter of 1½in. to 2in. Their color is greyish, but we did not observe if they were venomous." This was probably the brown snake (Diemienia superciliosa), the color of which varies. It may be presumed that they would also be on the mainland, as brown, black, and brown-banded are to be obtained about Perth to this day, though not so numerous as in the Eastern States.
  2. This would be the position of the present railway bridge crossing the river at Fremantle.
  3. Hibiscus Huegelii, but leaves not "peltate."
  4. Agonis flexuosa. The peppermint tree.
  5. Acacia cyanophylla.
  6. This mineral spring would be about the position of the Port Brewery, near the railway bridge; but the water is not similar to Harrogate.