Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/179

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mean. Flinders' description, which must be one of the earliest accounts of the creature, is true:

"Clarke's Island afforded the first specimen of the new animal, called wombat. This little bear-like quadruped is known in New South Wales, and is called by the natives womat, wombat, or womback, according to the different dialects—or perhaps to the different rendering of the wood-rangers who brought the information. It does not quit its retreat till dark; but it feeds at all times on the uninhabited islands, and was commonly seen foraging amongst the sea refuse on the shore, though the coarse grass seemed to be its usual nourishment. It is easily caught when at a distance from its burrow; its flesh resembles lean mutton in taste, and to us was acceptable food."

The original manuscript containing Flinders' narrative of the expedition to the Furneaux Islands is in the Melbourne Public Library. It is a beautiful manuscript, 22 quarto pages, neat and regular, every letter perfect, every comma and semi-colon in place: a portrait in calligraphy of its author.