Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/85

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72 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

they hold the distinguishing marks — preserving them with the same care as would a Roman soldier the cicatrices of the wounds received in battle, as incontestable evidences of his prowess or endurance.

The various plans adopted by the New Hollanders in their hunting operations have before been narrated. Next after the wild animals with which the country abounds, the aboriginals in their primitive state are chiefly indebted to the finny tribes for sustenance. Some description, therefore, of the manner in which they procure supplies of the latter may be somewhat interesting. When a lagoon contains fish they select some narrow outlet or opening on the margin, across which they form a hurdle by driving saplings into the bottom, and interweaving them with twigs, bark, or sedge; this being completed, a second is formed, at a short distance from the first, at the point of the outlet nearest the lagoon; in this latter a small opening is left under the water. The weir being thus finished, several men, armed with clubs or other weapons, proceed into the water, and, forming a line at the end of the lagoon opposite to the weir, proceed slowly along, beating the water as they go. The fish being by this means driven through the opening in one of the hurdles, the aperture is closed by means of a small wicker gate prepared for the purpose, and the fish, being thus enclosed in a small space, are easily taken by the hand or in baskets. Another mode of catching fish is pursued on the sea coast and on the low beaches of rivers and lakes. This latter method