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THE LYRE BIRD OF GIPPS'S LAND.
It is the opinion of Mr. Haydon that the greater part of the scrub country through which he travelled would be capable of cultivation if cleared. This scrubby tract is nowhere found in Victoria except between Gipps's Land and Western Port.
It was while performing this journey that he had an opportunity of closely examining the shy and curious lyre bird (Memora superba), which is peculiar to Australia, and only found on the south-eastern coast. The settlers sometimes called it a pheasant, but it is in reality one of the thrush family. The lyre bird is so extremely shy that even the enthusiastic researches of Mr. Gould did not enable him to ascertain satisfactorily its breeding habits and the number of its eggs.
“I was awakened," writes Mr. Haydon, " at sunrise by the singing of numerous pheasants. These are the mocking-birds of Australia, imitating all sounds that are heard in the bush in great perfection; they
are about the size of a (small) fowl, of a dirty brown colour, approaching to black in some parts; their greatest attraction consists in the graceful tail of the cock bird, which is something like a lyre. But little is known of their habits, for it is seldom they are found near the dwellings of civilized man.
• Hearing one scratching in the scrub close to the dray, I crawled out, gun in hand, intending to provide a fresh meal for breakfast. The sun, having just risen, inclined it to commence its morning song ; but the natural note (bleu bleu) was almost lost among the multitude of imitative sounds through which it ran—croaking like a crow, then screaming like a cockatoo, chattering like a parrot, and howling like the native dog—until a stranger might have fancied that he was in the midst of them all. Creeping cautiously round a point of scrub, I came in view of a large cock bird, strutting round in a circle, scratching up the leaves and mould with his formidable claws, while feeding upon a small leech which is the torment of travellers, and spreading open his beauteous tail to catch the rays of the sun as it broke through the dense forest. As I raised my gun, a piece went off within six feet of me : it was one of the black police who had blown the bird's head off that had been amusing me for more than an hour.”
These birds when disturbed never rise high, but run off into the densest scrub, scarcely allowing a sportsman time to raise his piece before they are out of his reach. Even the aborigines, who are so skilful in creeping up to game of all kinds, seldom kill more than three brace in a day. Their song is not often heard during rain, or when the sun is obscured.
“ The nest is about three feet in circumference, and one foot deep, having an orifice on one side : they lay but one egg, of slate colour with black spots. The female is a very unattractive bird, having but a poor tail, nothing like the male."
Gipps's Land, with its boundary of snow-capped precipitous mountains, its fine plains, many lakes, and temperate climate, may be considered as one of the several contrasts of soil, climate, and vegetation, of which Darling Downs, Moreton Bay, Illawarra, and Bathurst, each afford different examples—variations which deserve more minute examinations than we can afford space to give, but which may be studied in the travels of Mitchell, Sturt, Leichardt, and Strzelecki.
In the last stage of Mr. Haydon's expedition he passed some hours over grass-tree plains, which, although picturesque, present a very dismal idea to the settler, as where they grow,—and they are found throughout the coast range of the three colonies,—the district may be pronounced barren, except to the botanist.
“ The grass (Xanthorhoea) trees are from two to four feet, the crown of the leaves about four feet, and the flower-stem rising out of the midst of the fibre-like foliage from four to six feet.”
SOUTH AUSTRALIA – MOUNT LOFTY – MOUNT BARKER_CITY OF ADELAIDE_THE
RIVERS MURRUMBIDGEE AND MURRAY-NAVIGATION OF THE MURRAY-CALCULATION FOR STEAM TRAFFIC - VARIOUS BIRDS OF SOUTH AUSTRALIADESCRIPTION OF ADELAIDE-MINES OF COPPER, LEAD, SILVER, AND GOLDTHE BURRA BURRA-STATISTICS OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
\HE River Glenelg, flowing into the sea, marks the natural boundary
T between the provincere licetoria and that of South Australia,
thence embracing a seaboard of about fifteen hundred miles, into which no river navigable by vessels of burden flows, and only two ports have, as yet, been found capable of safely accommodating ships of burden. As
a compensation, inland journeys may be performed with little obstruction, on horseback or by drays, for hundreds of miles.
The first important indentation into the line of the coast is Encounter Bay; but there are coasting ports at Rivoli Bay and Guichen Bay, at which wool has been shipped. Hopes were once confidently entertained of finding an entrance from the sea to the River Murray, but it has unfortunately proved that this, the noblest stream in Australia, ends in the Lake Alexandrina, and is divided from the ocean by a barrier of land and a surf-beaten sea margin.
On rounding Cape Jervis, which forms the apex of the county of Hindmarsh, which is for the most part occupied by industrious settlers, although the promontory itself is rather barren, and only known for its shore whale-fishery, Kingscote Harbour and Nepean Bay, on the opposite shores of Kangaroo Island, appear excellent harbours, and one of them well supplied with water. Unfortunately they lead to nothing. The buildings erected by the South Australian Company in 1837 were permitted to fall into decay. Recently a few stock stations have been taken up on the island, and about one hundred persons are resident there.
The kangaroos, so numerous in Flinders' time, and the emus have disappeared ; and even the large white eagles that stooped upon his men, mistaking them for kangaroos, have become rare.
Entering St. Vincent's Gulf, and passing Holdfast Bay, where Governor Hindmarsh disembarked, and Mrs. Hindmarsh's piano was floated ashore through the surf,—for it is no harbour at all, but a dangerous open roadstead,-passing a number of seaside villages, Port Adelaide is reached, which, by dint of dredging and with the advantage of quays, has become a safe and convenient harbour, and, with the aid of the intended railroad, will afford the city of Adelaide nearly as much convenience as if it had been planted on a navigable river, or on a deep harbour; that was impossible, since no site exists in South Australia combining a good harbour, agricultural land, and fresh water. No other port presents itself in St. Vincent's Gulf, unless we except Port Wakefield, to which vessels from Swansea with cargoes of coal for smelting copper have recently been consigned. It has been proposed to construct a tramway between this port and the Burra Burra mines, and an attempt would have been made to execute this project if the gold diggings had not temporarily withdrawn all English speculation from South Australia.
The whole sea face of York Peninsula and Spencer's Gulf is unfavourable to the formation of a port and town, until we arrive at
MOUNT LOFTY-MOUNT BARKER_CITY OF ADELAIDE.
Port Lincoln, on the western arm of Spencer's Gulf, where a natural harbour could receive the largest squadron that ever went to sea,a landlocked estuary, protected at its mouth by Boston Island, with three arms or bays, Spalding Cove, Port Lincoln proper, and Boston Bay. But these harbours, viewed with so much admiration by seamen, are silent; no busy population labours on the shores, a few scattered flocks and herds are all that the mainland supports; and the allotments, which were competed for so eagerly in the years of land mania, are left to nature and a few wandering cattle.
On entering Port Lincoln, a white obelisk on the summit of a hill, erected to the memory of Flinders, on the spot whence he viewed the future province of Australia, by Sir John Franklin, who was one of his officers, proves that a sailor had a better sense of what was due from the countrymen of a great man than the colonists who have so largely benefited by his laborious investigations.
To pursue the coast line of the province of Victoria to 132o of E. longitude, where it ends in a desert, would be useless, as no rivers or harbours break the line of, for the most part, the uninhabited coast.
Equally vain would it be to state, as foolish South Australian advocates who do not know the value of truth frequently do, that South Australia contains an area of 300,000 square miles, or nearly twenty millions of acres, without adding that a very large proportion of this vast space is occupied by stony deserts and lakes of mud. Nevertheless, enough of land remains admirably fertile and well watered to support a large population, much larger than is likely to occupy it for a long series of years. In the most inhospitable regions, copper, lead, silver, and iron have been found ; and there is no reason to doubt that gold will eventually be discovered.
The district in a north-westerly direction, between Port Lincoln and Streaky Bay, has been but imperfectly explored, and, with the exception of a few detached squatters stations, settlement has not extended beyond the peninsula formed between the River Murray and St. Vincent's Gulf, the furthest inland township being founded by the Burra Burra mine, ninety miles from the capital.
South Australia is intersected by three mountain ranges, Mount Lofty, Mount Barker, and Wakefield.
The Mount Lofty range runs from north-west, and, after attaining a height of about 2,000 feet, twelve miles east of Adelaide, falls to the south-west, terminating in low cliffs on the seashore near Ockaparinga.