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OUR ANTIPODES:

OR,

RESIDENCE AND RAMBLES

IN

THE AUSTRALASIAN COLONIES.

CHAPTER I.

(1847.]

Second Excursion into the Interior. From Sydney, by sea,

to Port Macquarie, 200 miles north of Sydney ;—and from thence a ride of 150 miles to the Squatting District of New England.

SEA-SICKNESS A SEDATIVE-PUNCH-PORT MACQUARIE-LAKE INNES COT

TAGE-BAGPIPES--PRETTY GIRLS AND THE POLKA-THE BUNYIP-MILITARY COLONISTS-HOSPITALITY-RIDI ACROSS TH. MACQUARIE MOUN. TAINS-SQUATTING STATIONS—THE YARROWS-TIMBER-CEDAR-GLOOMY FOREST-THE BELL-BIRD-THE TREE-FERN-FLIGHT OF PARROTS.

March 1st.—The Governor, being desirous of visiting some of the more northern parts of his government, fixed upon this day, the first of the Australian autumn —for the commencement of his tour.

The thermometer has not as yet been very autumnal in its indications, ranging pretty steadily during the last week between 80° and 86° in the shade.

At 8 P.M. accordingly, his Excellency, with a party consisting of two ladies and four gentlemen, embarked in the Maitland steamer, and put to sea.

Lady Mary Fitz Roy and myself were travelling in search of health—she hoping to regain that first of all earthly blessings, never fully valued until lost, by change of air and quiet at the residence of a family near Port Macquarie; myself in the excitement and exertion of an extended excursion by sea and in the saddle, and in the bracing climate of New England's high tableland.

Major Innes of Lake Innes Cottage, who attended the Governor on the voyage, was to receive the whole party for a visit of some days; and Mr. Marsh, an extensive squatter of New England, had invited the gentlemen to share the hospitality of Salisbury Court—the name of his homestead; so as to see something of pastoral life in that distant province.

Our vessel was a slow one, but safe and clean, the commander an excellent seaman, and besides ourselves there were few passengers. The night was dark and calm ; but towards morning the wind and sea, getting up together, imparted to our little craft a degree of motion which spared neither sex nor age in those unfortunates whose interior economy sympathised with its billowy and bilious undulations. Its effects however were highly beneficial in the case of the only troubled and troublesome spirit on board—a noisy and drunken woman, a “for’ard”—I may say a very forward passenger--who had absorbed during the night the contents of a great bottle of strong waters, and was by sea.

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sickness so quickly and completely sobered and silenced as could have been done by no other agency-marital and constabulary authority inclusive.

Human vanity is always tickled by a feeling of superiority over one's neighbour. I do not know that it is ever more satisfactorily indulged than by the exempt from sea-sickness, as he lounges at his ease on the heaving taffrail, and occasionally casts a pitying glance on the

poor ghosts” who, one after another, sink pale and silent through the stage-trap of the cabin-stairs, or on the more actively wretched creatures on deck, flinging their flaccid corpses over the bulwarks, as if they were hanging them up to dry, or as Ponchinello does those of his various enemies from his wife to the devil-after he has sufficiently pounded them and poked them with his murderous baton.

Let me pause a moment to inquire how it is that the high official, in whom resides the duty and the power to quash all public exbibitions or dramatic representations of an immoral or irreligious tendency, has permitted Punch to escape the rigour of his censorship! How is it that the “ virtuousest, discreetest, best” of parents expose without apprehension their children to the bad example and evil lessons inculcated by the entire life and character of this popular hero, but unmitigated reprobate? Is not the career of Punch, domestic and public, one of successful and unpunished villainy from beginning to end? Does he not break the laws, thrash his wife and dog, murder his infant offspring, belabour the magistrate, cheat his tradesmen and the gallows, hang the hangman, and defy the-devil himself ?

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And yet-humiliating reflection ! no sooner does his rascally penny trumpet sound at the corner of a London street or square, than every soul within sight or hearing,

, between the ages of seventy years and seven weekseven the professional mute who is hired and paid to look grave, gets a grin upon his face in mere anticipation of the enjoyment he is about to receive, or has before experienced, in the exhibition of the infamous adventures of this diabolical - But I have no patience with the inconsistencies of human nature ! and no temper to continue so irritating a subject !

March 2d.-During this day our course kept us pretty generally within sight of land, and sometimes very near it. The character of the coast is scarcely highland, yet neither is it flat. It presents a wavy line of hills and hollows covered with bush, occasionally jutting into bold rocky bluffs, or green turfy knolls sloping abruptly to the surf-vexed beach. The verdure of the grass lands in the vicinity of the sea is very remarkable in this country, as compared with the pastures of the interior. The same feature is observable on the banks of the inland salt-water creeks, and doubtless arises from an evaporation which of course falls on the earth in the shape of fresh water.

Towards 3 P.m. our obliging skipper, judging perhaps by our complexions that in so unsteady a banquetting hall few would share his cabin dinner, attempted to put into a snug looking cove, called Seal Rock Bay. The little Maitland, however, appeared to resent this stoppage to bait, and became so restive in a cross swell as to compel him to get out to sea again.

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March 3d.—At 5 A.M. after a roughish passage of two nights and one day, we made Port Macquarie, and ran up to take a look at the Bar—a natural and ugly obstacle that, with the exception of Port Jackson, disfigures, I believe, every harbour on this coast, if not those on all the coasts of New Holland. With the “Sow and Pigs” shoal just within its jaws, even the splendid harbour of Sydney can hardly be said to be exempt from this serious blemish. The water was leaping and chafing on the sandspit in a manner highly unpleasing to a seaman's eye; but, no pilot appearing, our captain put his head out to sea again, as if to verify the adage “ Reculer, pour mieux sauter,” and then, wheeling about and plying both “persuaders,” he took the three successive surfs in capital style ; and in a few minutes the steamer was alongside the little wooden pier of Port Macquarie. Would he have acted so boldly in the absence of the sleepy pilot, had he been able to look only a few days into the inscrutable future?

On the 11th of this month occurred the fearful wreck of the Sovereign steamer on the Bar of Brisbane-a port situated about 270 miles north of Port Macquarie. From the 3d (this day) until the 10th, the shoal was considered impassable on account of the weather. On the following day, however, the commander of the steamer attempted to come out on his passage to Sydney. After safely crossing two of the lines of surf, the beam of the engine was fractured by a violent jerk. The third surf curling over the paddle-box fell on board, and sent the vessel to the bottom with fifty-four persons, of whom forty-four perished.

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