Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/71

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58 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

left shoulder, it is fastened by the thong under the right arm, leaving the right arm and shoulder free and exposed. The object of this manner of dressing is apparent. The aboriginal, in his primitive state, is never unarmed, either by spear, waddy, or tomahawk, ready for use at all times either for attack or defence, so that it is indispensable that his right arm should always be untrammelled.

Necessity, which, as the old school-book maxim has it, is the mother of all invention, has in no instance excited the inventive faculties of the aboriginal to a greater extent than in suggesting a method by which to cross the rivers and watercourses which intersect the country, and which at certain intervals it is a matter of no small difficulty to transmigrate. Whenever such a feat is to be accomplished two or three blacks set about "barking" the first tree of whose magnitude and quality they approve, an operation which, from their practice in this species of exercise, is soon accomplished. With the sheet of bark thus stripped the boat or punt is formed by which the other side of the river is to be attained. The curve which the bark will naturally retain will prevent the water from entering at the sides, and a quantity of malleable pipe-clay, or other such substance, everywhere available, will prevent the water from obtaining ingress at the ends. A couple of saplings will supply the place of paddles, and on this simple ferry the individuals or the entire tribes, as the case may be, are transported across the impeding waters.