Schlagwort-Archiv: hunting

Hunting camp at Laroki, 17 June 1893

Already at 5 o’clock came the wake-up call. Our sleep had been quite disturbed by countless ants that were partly tiny partly, like the red ants that dropped on us the day before on our ride under the trees, of considerable size whose mean bites plague and enrage the hikers on New Guinea day and night. One of the gentlemen even found a large scorpion in his hammock. Not a very friendly surprise!

The time of departure for the hunt had been set so early as the morning was the best time to hunt birds. it was beginning to dawn when we jumped out of our hammocks to cook tea and make the necessary preparations for the hunt. As each of us wanted to say out during the whole day and thus fully use the short time we could spend in New Guinea.

An original scene in the morning was the female baggage carriers bathing without any timidity in the river laughing all the time and chatting naked as Eve. This dance of nymphs naturally offered the opportunity to compare the variety of skin colors of the natives. The nuances of complexion ranged from dark-brown to light-brown with a predominance of coffee-brown or golden bronze with a tint of olive which is so characteristic for the Polynesian blood. What all had in common were the extremely beautiful dark eyes and their good nature, even friendliness of their physiognomy.

We set out in five marching groups that split on the other bank of the Laroki to the shouts of „Hunter’s Luck“ and disappeared in multiple directions into the darkness of the jungle.

I first turned towards the North shore with Bedford, my servant on board Biaggio as well as some natives and then followed the stream in a Western direction. Loud bird songs from hundreds of beaks were heard which I considered a good omen for a successful day.

One has no experience how difficult it is to discover birds in the impenetrable tangle of tree tops, branches, twigs, lianas and parasite plants of such a jungle. Especially as they most of the times sit in the highest spot on giant trees which one can see from the ground only through some gaps. Only a keen and at the same time trained eye can finally spot the birds. Sometimes this is achievable only after a long patient wait. If the bird flies away, all was in vain. Bedford and the savages showed an astonishing aptitude in spotting the birds, given that they are permanent inhabitants of the forest and each native wanted to be the first so that all ran around and made more noise than necessary.

We had big trouble to constrain this overzealousness. Finally I ordered my servant to keep the natives all close to him and follow us in a group at a distance of 100 paces while I with Bedford and one Papuan cautiously wanted to sneak forward. But as soon as the voice of a bird was heard, the whole group stood close behind us until Bedford managed to drive them definitively back with the help of strong curses in Papuan language. That the birds fled during those discussions or kept quiet and thus could no longer be detected was self-evident.

What I wanted to bag today first of all was one of the splendid king bird of paradise (Cincinnurus regius). We did find, following the voice a tree on which was such a bird too. But unfortunately, there wasn’t a male among them so that I shot only a female which had a plain color and had the characteristic skyblue legs.

In multiple places in the forest I saw giant nest of the brushturkey. This strange bird scratches leaves, twigs, earth lying on the ground, that is all the debris in the forest, together into a big pile of 6 to 8 m length and 2 to 3 m height in which it lays its eggs to hatch them assisted by the warmth of the earth or the heat from decomposition of the amassed vegetation. The effort the comparably small turkey has to spend to collect such great quantities of materials for its wall nest can be measured that around the hill-like nest the ground is picked clean for hundreds of paces. My savages dug into one of these nests but unfortunately did not find any eggs.

Out of a dense bush three Papuan frogmouths (Podargus papuensis) in front of me of which I bagged one. Really close to there I shot a forest bittern (Zonerodius heliosylus) that hid itself sitting on a twig of the tree.

Often I heard sounds in the forest that reminded me of the call of the mountain hen and which ended in loud cries. I also noticed the strong flapping of the wings of an apparently very large bird. Bedford explained that this was the hornbill that was incredibly timid and it would be difficult to bag a specimen. In vain we tried to sneak up to where the sounds were coming from. Every time even before we could see them they flew away with big cries warning all their comrades so that the forest was full of warning cries.  I had given up hope to achieve a favorable result when I discovered two rare beautiful scarlet and citron colored pigeons (Ptilopus iozonus) which I bagged. The shots seemed to cause such a disturbance among the hornbills that I heard their wings fluttering everywhere until one of them flew by accident just over me on a tall tree top so that I managed to shot it down. It was a Rytidoceros (Buceros) plicatus, an old male and a splendid specimen characterized by its giant beak, the red-brown neck, the metallic glittering black feathers and the snow-white tail. The age of the bird was estimated as seven years by examining the ridges on the beak, as the natives calculate that it grows another year on its beak every year. The savage who brought me the animal performed a very comical dance of joy by constantly kicking out his legs in an eccentric manner. As soon as he had calmed down again I sent him back directly to the camp in order that the bird was placed as quickly as possible into the hands of the taxidermist.

Gradually we had entered more mountainous terrain where the scenery changed. The forest was more open, tall grass covered the ground and the stony places and rocks were surrounded by eucalyptus trees. Here I shot a wallaby and a beautiful falcon (Accipiter cirrhocephalus).

It was shortly before noon when the heat became very muggy and the bird world had become very quiet and Bedford proposed to rest. We camped with the Papuans between the rocks in the shadow of some trees, ate our tins and tried afterwards to sleep a bit what however was unfortunately made impossible by the countless vexing ants.

Thus I entered into an „English“ conversation with Bedford in which I learned that this hunting ground chosen by the governor was an unsuitable one and that the best hunting opportunity was actually in a territory about 40 kilometers out of Moresby in the valley of the Vei Maori River where the governor used to go hunting too. But, added Bedford, he still hoped to find some birds of paradise to shoot in a valley nearby in the afternoon.

The Papuans spent their break in a much more agreeable manner for them: They smoked tobacco which they had begged off from me, grilled the freshly shot wallaby and ate this strange roast with pleasure.

Despite the strong heat we started again already at 2 o’clock and climbed up a steep mountain ledge which was as tiring as it was difficult as we could not follow a set path but had to climb what we encountered over blocks of rocks and clefts covered with grass without knowing where to put one’s foot and slipping at any moment. Short of breath  and bathed in sweat we arrived on the hill where we let ourselves fall into the grass to recover some of our breath and regain some of our strength.  As now it was necessary to climb down on the other side of the mountain ledge what was even more difficult at the beginning. The descent continued very slowly as we advanced only gradually. Halfway down even the natives ran out of force one after another and sat down and did not want to continue marching. Only the insistent admonitions of Bedford as well as the circumstance that we had the strikers march in front of us and thus drove them forward made them move.

Slashed and flayed we arrived finally in the small densely overgrown valley in which Bedford hoped to find birds of paradise. In profusion, however, just at that moment a heavy rain started pouring down so that all hopes for a catch were dashed. As soon as it starts raining, all the birds of paradise hide themselves in the densest mountain tops, concerned about their feathers, press themselves against the trunk and thus absolutely can not be seen.  I still climbed up the hill on the other side of the valley and saw a female bird of paradise but a male was not to be seen.

As Bedford now declared that it was futile to continue the search for birds of paradise and we had to cover an important distance to return to the camp, we changed our path in that direction.

The valley was so densely overgrown that we could only enter it by advancing in the stream running through the valley floor. At its shore the natives eagerly rushed into the stream to quench their thirst but found not much refreshment in the warm water.

Continuing to wade in this stream, we noticed right at the start that our shoes were filling with fine sand which hurt me especially as the walking had blistered my feet. Where the deep areas of the stream prevented wading we had to go around the stream and squeeze ourselves between the trees at the shore or climb over the fallen trunks. Finally we arrived at the Northern end of the valley where I had hunted in the morning and where we now were returning home, that is to the camp which I reached late in the evening fully soaked and very tired. Such a ten hour expedition in the tropical jungle in such a muggy atmosphere is much more exhausting than a march double its length in our latitudes.

The other hunting group arrived earlier than I and every gentleman had brought something interesting, thus Clam a splendid bird of paradise and three crowned pigeons, Wurmbrand two  blue bitterns (Ardeiralla flavicollis), a snow-white kite with light-brown wings (Haliastur girrenera) and two strange crake-like birds called comb-crested jacana (Parra gallinacea), Prónay finally a cockatoo, a pink pigeon etc.

According to the original plan the next day would be spent hunting at the shore of the Laroki too but the information given by Bedford made me ask the governor to organize an expedition to the famous hunting grounds at the shore of Vei Maori. To lessen the concerns of the governor regarding the limited time for this plan I declared to prolong my stay on New Guinea by two days. This prolongation decided the matter.  Sir William accepted the hunting expedition to Vei Maori under the condition that he would have enough time to prepare so that we unanimously agreed to return to Port Moresby the next morning.

This evening sleep came easy despite ants and scorpions as even the natives were exhausted from the activities of the day so that they forgot to sing and dance and the camp was completely quiet at an early hour.

Links

  • Location: Port Moresby, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 17.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die Jungfrau von Orleans“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Port Moresby to the hunting camp at Laroki, 16 June 1893

According to the appointment we should depart at 7 o’clock in the morning on the expedition to the Laroki river but only set out when a certain signal, hoisting a red flag on Government House, indicated that everything was ready. Finally at 9 o’clock the red flag appeared and we went on lan where the governor and four of his officials who had the intention to participate in the expedition awaited me.

The number of officials the governor had were only a few persons and the body of his military land army consists in an armed police force of 70 men and is currently composed mostly out of natives from Fiji as well as the Solomon islands.The commander of this force was the  Commandant of Armed Constabulary. The policemen are said to be bold, skillful people who set out to restore order if a native tribe within British New Guinea has committed some misdeed. If the natives murder a white man, the guilty are executed and in fact hanged as the natives consider being shot less ignominious. The murder of natives is usually not handled as strictly and punished with hard labor for which the criminals are deported to a nearby island.

For the march to the Laroki, horses were provided for me and the gentlemen who wanted to participate in the expedition while our people had to march on foot. The baggage, the supplies and the munition was carried by natives but in no way by men who would never deign to such servile actions but instead by young girls who carried the heavy loads with admirable endurance. The use of about thirty girls as carriers our caravan naturally looked particularly strange.

The guide for this difficult route to the Laroki river was a mixed blood of a Samoan and an Englishwoman called George Bedford who was notable by his strong stocky build. He spends the largest part of his life,  a true ranger, hunting and collecting for researchers in the jungles of the island only to now and then go and talk to Port Moresby and to sell the bird bodies caught on his journeys to the merchant resident in the colony.

The horses we were riding roam freely iin the bush when they are not needed and had only been caught during the morning with a lasso; they are all descendants of Australian horses which the gold diggers once brought to the coast.

The day was hot and muggy. We crossed over many first bare limestone hills that ascend up to the top of Port Moresby and reached after having completed a steep descent the valley on the opposite side of the mountain range. There we saw banana and yams plantations surrounded by strong fences whose poles were fixed in regular intervals and connected one to the next by fibers of a vine called „sei“.

The valley we were now entering in a Northern direction reminded me in terms of the plants and its vegetation to the plateau of New South Wales. Here as there the ground was covered by individual tufts of tall grass of up to 2 m high. Between these grass islands was a terrain similar to a savannah in which rose now and then evergreen eucalyptus trees. Irregularly arranged ranges of hills of various sizes and forms delimited the grass land.

On the Northern horizon the contours of the Owen Stanley mountains appeared in a delicate blue tint whose peaks of Mount Victoria reached up to 4002 m. Its majestic top had been climbed for the first time by a European on 11 June 1889, namely governor Macigregor.

The climb caused the greatest of difficulties and the whole tour took 64 days. Macgregor and his party had set out on 22 April 1889 at one of the estuaries of the Vanapa river and continued their drive upriver for six days. There they camped while they ordered to bring carriers and supplies from Port Moresby and continued on 17 May on foot. Storms, swamps, gorges, craggy hills and obstacles of all kind hindered the advance of the expedition that had to cut its path step by step, ax in hand, through the jungle until the had climbed to the top on 11 June which Macgregor named Mount Victoria. The return trip lasted from 13 to 25 June and the arduous journey was made more complicated by the fact that Macgregor was not very good walker.

A great appetite for exploration seems to be one of the qualities of Macgregor who is an outstanding explorer of geographic worlds as he spends the largest part of his time on explorations and inspection tours into the interior in the areas he is assigned where he shows as much endurance as courage. Many still unexplored area and numerous native villages he set foot in as the first white man and was naturally from time to time forced to make use of the destructive power of modern firearms when the savages ambushed him or fought against him.

On expedition that Macgregor always likes to mention with a certain pride was the one up the Fly River. It arises in the center of New Guineas and flows in a huge delta in the gulf of Papua and has been discovered in 1845 by Captain Blackwood. Later L. M. d’Albertis as well as the missionary MacFarlane drove in the steam boat „Ellengowan“ 800 km upriver. Macgregor now managed to drive a further 168 km on the mighty river meandering in countless bends beyond the endpoint of d’Alberti’s journey up to the border of British New Guinea driving into German territory for which purpose he first used the steam boat „Merrie England“ and a whaling boat.

The report of Macgregor’s research exploration made me truly want to also enter into virgin territories, to drive on rivers that had never been sounded nor mapped, to see areas that no European had set a foot in, to bring back home valuable and plentiful catches as a collector and hunter.

Thus in thoughts I rode through the monotonous country under the burning heat of the sun. For three hours we saw nothing but grasses and rubber trees where animals were scarce. Now and then, while we rode under eucalyptus trees, red ants dropped down on us and plagued us mightily. Next to a swamp enclosed by trees, cockatoos and large parrots took to the sky with great cries while no other living beings could be discovered in that area.

In the area of the Laroki river the vegetation was finally luxurious and varied. Mighty trees such as the native olive tree (Notelaea ligustrina), Casuarinae, mangroves and Ficus replaced the tiring sight of the monotonous grasses and eucalyptus trees, and soon we entered into the shadow of a beautiful jungle that follows the river on both sides like we having arrived at the South shore of th Laroki. Between the high trunks appeared all kinds of ferns, winding rotang palms (Calamus Rotang), orchids, mistletoes and other parasite plants.

The Laroki arises in the East of Port Moresby beyond the Astrolabe range at the Western foot of the Richardson mountain range, takes at the beginning a Western direction and then after absorbing Goldie River turns Northward and finally flows into Redscar Bay. At the place where we reached the river it had an important depth at a width of about 30 m, but it still continued to be 60 m wide and more; it is said to shelter as all the waters of this area numerous crocodiles but we did not see any of them.

We stopped at an open space at the shore under mighty trees to await the arrival of the caravan following us which included knowledgeable local guides who were to lead us into the jungle at the North shore.

After one and a half hours the caravan arrived, completely exhausted from the journey they traveled during the hottest hours of the day and required a lengthy pause to recover while we hastily ate a meal made out of the tins in order to cross the river in the company of our guide and devote the time to hunting. In the mean time those staying back set up the camp at the rest stop.

From the North shore of the Laroki we ventured out in multiple directions into the jungle and namely I set out in a North-western direction accompanied by the mixed blood Bedford and a Papuan. During our slow advance I had to admire again and again the splendor and festive silence of the jungle filled with giant trees.

The goal I wanted to accomplish was to bag as large as possible number of specimens of the bird species so diverse on New Guinea whereas I mainly targeted birds of paradise, the large hornbill, Papuan crowned pigeons  (Goura albertisi) and brushturkeys. But as I did neither speak English nor Papuan, I had some difficulties communicating with my companions which I tried to solve with sign language.

The first catch was a beautifully colored parrot that did not look taller than a wren sitting in the top of a mighty tree. Soon afterwards my guide stopped and pointed at a spot in the undergrowth where 80 paces away I discovered a large chicken-like bird and killed it. To my joy it was a female brushturkey (Talegallus cuvieri).

Only by using all energy I managed to advance in the dense jungle. Almost constantly I had to wiggle my way like a snake through the tangle of twines and climbing plants that connected the mighty trunks and the branches that were hanging down and dropping from the twigs and was felting the bushes and covering the ground. Thorns and leaf edges with barbs, thick, trunks laying criss-cross and being covered with twines as well as fallen trees multiplied the obstacles step by step. Despite the shadow provided by the dense leafy tops of the jungle, I was covered in sweat. I was a bit surprised not to find mosquitoes close to the river and at least I was spared that plague.

Suddenly I heard loud bird cries and it took possession of me when Bedford announced that it was the call of the birds of paradise. Just as tigers in India, the most valuable catch of the hunter in the South Sea are birds of paradise! It is a very timid bird and as it is usually frightened by the most quiet noise and disappears only caught with lime-twigs or slings and only rarely by shot. The difficulty of hunting birds of paradise, the colorful splendor of their feathers and especially the tail feather of the male have made these inhabitants of the air the topic of legends and fairy tales — all this will be sufficient to explain my desire to catch this prey.

With extreme caution we sneaked close to the trees where we had heard the call and nearly became blind by watching for them until we realized that only females were sitting up there. The unornamented hens were no desirable target for me. In contrast to humans, in the animal kingdom it is usually the male that is favored by beauty so that in the birds of paradise only the male has the splendid feathers while the female is completely inconspicuous.

As no male was following the tender calls of the females I had to relinquish my position after some time without success. On a small clearing covered with grass two wallabies suddenly jumped up at my feet. I bagged one, while Bedford killed the other.

My next catch were two very large fruit pigeons (Carpophaga pinon) and a specimen of a new kind of black, yellow and white colored oriole (Eulabes dumonti) that sat on a eucalyptus tree. A nankeen night heron (Nycticorax caledonicus), that I shot when it flew over my head, made me sense the presence of water and in fact I soon came to a pond covered with cane brake in which was all kind of water fowl. The ducks seemed to have forgotten their usual timidity here or did not notice the presence of humans. As they returned again and again to the pond even after I had fired quite a few shots. Thus I managed to bag two whistling ducks one of which was a species I did not know before (Dendrocygna arcuata and guttata). Of such ducks I saw a whole flock of around 30 pieces sit close to me on a large Ficus; also divers and coots were present here. Furthermore I shot a splendid crake but could not bag the bird as the Papuan accompanying me was unwilling at any price to recover the crake out of the swampy water.

I was much astonished to find suddenly cattle in this secluded area. It gawked at me for some time and then timidly fled. They answered my question about this with the explanation that these were cattle from a herd formerly held at Port Moresby that had been banned into the wilderness as it had caused too much damage in the gardens of the natives. The cattle was now living in a semi-wild way. Whenever a piece is required it is shot from the herd.

At the edge of the small pond stood two snow-white egrets to which I was just sneaking up when a fleeing wallaby made them fly up into the air with hoarse cries. In spite of the darkness that had set in I noticed a sitting obscure white bird: I fired and in front of me lay a splendid duck (Tadorna radjah) with snow-white body, head and beak and metallic dark-brown wings.

In the mean time it had become completely dark so that it was time to return to the camp. Surrounded by whizzing fireflies we passed the river and found my gentlemen already in the camp who had also brought some catches.

The camp at the Laroki set up under giant trees offered a truly picturesque view. It was a real hunter’s or gold digger’s camp without any comfortable sleeping or kitchen tents such as those I had been offered everywhere on my expeditions in India. Each of us had a hammock fixed to the trees above which was hanged a 2 m oil cloth to protect against the rain while below our hand baggage and the rifles were stored. The cooking was done on the open fire and the evening meal consisting of risotto and the content of some tins was simple enough. It tasted much better after the hard work of the day than the fine cookery of Bussatto. Next to us around the large fire the Papuan guide and the female baggage carriers had set up their camp and from time to time they sang in a monotonous voice. Furthermore there stood the tied horses. At our feet the river was rushing and through the dense leafy tops the golden stars and the silver moon were glittering.

I lay for a long time, wrapped in a blanket at the shore of the river and while I looked at the glittering night-time sky, the sparkling camp fires and the ghost-like shadows moving over the trunks and bushes of the jungle, deep memories out of my childhood came up. Yes, thus I had dreamed about the camp life of Cooper’s heroes in the endless forests of North America in „The Last of the Mohicans“ . . .

When I finally went to frequent my hammock, the natives began to dance in the distance and to sing. Their singing and their individual shouts of joy  reminded me of the songs and shouts with which in our Alps the young men greet their „girls“ and made me remember many beautiful memories about home that lulled me to sleep in which dreamed about an images about a scenery far from Laroki and New Guinea.

Links

  • Location: Port Moresby, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 16.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die Grille“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Owa raha to Ugi, 8 June 1893

When we were hoisting the anchor early in the morning to leave Owa raha, heavy rain was falling again. The departure, especially turning the ship in the very narrow harbor with its many coral reefs was just as difficult as during the entrance. Fortunately the weather improved when we drove in a North-western direction alongside the coast of San Cristoval so that we had a clear view on that densely overgrown island with its mountains rising up to1250 m. Rounding Cape Kibeck or Mahua we saw on starboard the group of islands called the Three Sisters, whose largest island is Malan paina and soon after, the island of Ugi, our destination today. Numerous dolphins and some sea birds enlivened the calm sea which was given the beautiful day of an intensively blue color.

Selwyn Bay on the Western coast of Ugi where we anchored is actually only one rather open mooring area in a beautiful scenic surrounding. We had to move really close to the surrounding coral banks at the shore which drops so suddenly that the bay adds depth quickly and the sounding amounts to 32 fathoms at the sea ladder when the anchor is resting at 20 fathoms.

On Ugi lives an Englishman with one assistant who are here protecting a small coal depot which was just been restocked by a sailing schooner. Furthermore there were on Ugi only a few native settlements snugly hidden between the trees. The natives were part of the same tribe as those on Owa raha.

Rushing on land quickly with a boat I sought the two Europeans. These coal guards who might justly be called lonely people led me into the interior of their hut made out of wooden planks in which only the number of weapons seemed remarkable. They are thus equipped to withstand any attacks of the natives.

Hodek photographed a group of savages who curiously stood around the station and then we entered into the interior of the island with a native man as a guide who the two Englishmen considered to be a fairly trustworthy companion.

The vegetation we saw was no less gorgeous than the one on Owa raha which had enchanted us so much. But we noticed in favor of Ugi’s scenic attractions a large number of small streams that rush flowing crystal-clear and splashing between the splendid trees to the coast. Along the shore of the streams stood marvellously beautiful places in the shadow of the giant trees filled with countless colorful butterflies.

The bird world too was represented in the most lovely manner even though one of the two station guards assured us when we asked him closely about the presence of game and especially birds on the island that on Ugi there was but one kind of large pigeons but no parrots etc.

I had barely taken 100 steps into the forest, when the first shot bagged me a splendid totally red parrot (Eos cardinalis) and I then just thereafter shot a beautifully colored pigeon (Ptilopus eugeniae) with a snow-white head, crimson breast, yellow belly and green and purple wings. Directly afterward a larger bird took off from a tall Dracaena which I bagged. It was a male specimen of an eclectus parrot (Eclectus pectoralis). It is green with blue-ending wings. Below the wings are light red feathers, the beak is orange-yellow. The size of the parrot is comparable to a strong domestic pigeon. The female is totally differently colored, namely scarlet but sky-blue in the neck, the belly and wings. During the hunt I shot also a scarlet myzomela (Mysomela pulcherrima), a totally coffee-brown pigeon having the shape of a  turtle dove and two large fruit doves (Carpophaga pistrinaria), as well as a pair of the splendid yellow-bibbed lory (Lorius chlorocercus) whose feathers consist of all colors of the rainbow and are certainly to be counted among the most beautiful parrots. The birds were difficult to see in the dense leaves of the giant jungle trees even though one could always hear them.

Thus I might have walked for about an hour admiring the tropical wonders of the forest and flowers and looking out from time to time for a colorful bird when I came to a clear stream in which I took an agreeable cool bath given the intensive heat and waded across and found myself unexpectedly in the middle of a village called Ete-Ete and met here a larger number of the gentlemen of my staff who were in the midst of intensive bartering with the natives. By and by also arrived my gentlemen each of which had made interesting catches, namely in parrots. The officers informed us that at their arrival all inhabitants had fled, especially the women and hid themselves in the forest and only after quite some time re-emerged to more brave who could not identify threatening behaviors and brought after long discussions spears and other objects for trading. The value of minted coins seemed to be known to the people. While the looked at tobacco products, textiles or pearls with indifference, they offered everything what they owned for a coin, namely for an American dollar that were considered especially valuable. Only the necklaces made out of shells or dog teeth, they would not trade for any amount. Thus we bought weapons and fishing equipment among them a strangely formed wooden harpoon with six prongs as well as combs etc.

As intermediaries for the exchange served, besides one of the station guards who had accompanied the gentlemen of the staff as interpreter, two strange fellows named Rora and Belingi, the chiefs of the village’s two tribes. Rora’s extremely off-putting exterior was in no way embellished by the emblem of his dignity, an old sky-blue felt hat of enormous size that was missing its top and formed at the same time his only piece of clothing. The cylindrical monster is said to have been once the property of a slain and then eaten missionary. The right hand of Rora was in a bag as he had been wounded while fishing. Belingi, the co-regent, seemed to be of a high age and to have participated in many hard fight as the chief’s body was covered with deep scars. We could clearly see a spot on his breast where a heavy spear must have entered and been thrust sideways through his body.

Even these two old fellows showed themselves fearful and wary as the large number of white men, the shooting and hunting close to the village had shocked them quite a bit. Finally we managed to get the two to part with two of those large wooden cooking vessels inlaid with mother of pearl which the islanders used in large feasts. They are made out of hollowed out trunks and are 1 m long vats that are more or less richly decorated on the exterior wall. Even with time the chiefs were willing to call the women and girls and have them photographed by Hodek, arranged in a picturesque group, but only under the condition that no white man with the exception of the photographer looked at the ladies. Therefore we had to step behind a hut while Hodek took the picture and could only later browse in the village. Here some of the ladies with large décolletés nevertheless presented themselves in front of our eyes. As soon as we had seen the beauties of Ete-Ete, we had wished they would have stayed hidden.

The huts of Ete-Ete resembled in form and ornamentation quite closely those on Owa raha, but the holy places on Ugi were more poorly equipped. Dolphin coffins were missing, the carvings were meager and the fetishes less ornamented. Instead we found war canoes in Ete-Ete but it was impossible to buy one of these or a fetish as neither money nor good words helped even though I finally offered multiple sovereigns for those interesting objects the islanders considered holy.

The inhabitants of Ete-Ete resembled also those of Owa raha, but suffered in part from a nasty rash of blisters that was unpleasant to notice on the individual bodies. As far as decorative objects were concerned we found only small differences: Thus the necklaces were richer but most bracelets made out of white stone that is of European origin.

Worth a mention is a burial place which holds the remains of nobles and consists of a small hut covered with palm leaves on whose dais skulls are spread out for bleaching. Close by, partially hidden, fragments of human bones were laying around which left no doubt that we were looking at the sad remains from disgusting feasts.

Continuing my way through the forest I bagged a few birds but had to walk to the coast after a short time as we all had to be back at sunset. The excursion ended with us walking slowly back along the beach and almost wading in the sea to Ete-Ete and boarded the waiting boats which took us back to the ship.

Links

  • Location: Ugi, Solomon islands
  • ANNO – on 08.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Neue Freie Presse reports in many columns about Franz Ferdinand’s stay on Java back in April.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Meister von Palmyra“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Numea, 2 June 1893

Today a deer hunt was to be organized. Everybody assured me that the territory was rich in game and thus the hunt promised excellent results. Even though I always am somewhat sceptic about such tales and promises in foreign countries, I was still full of hope to catch at least one specimen of the deer species introduced and acclimatized here. At dawn we set off from the board and met the adjutant of the governor at the landing as well as one of the highest civil servants who formerly had been resident in Tonkin and been assigned by the governor as his representative.

M. Picquie himself could not participate in the hunt as he had slipped and dislocated a leg while playing „catch“ with the young ladies during a garden party he had organized. Apparently the cause of his injury seemed to the governor not dignified enough to tell me and had instead communicated that he had fallen off a horse during a business trip and thus injured himself.

The company of the former resident of Tonkin by the way was very welcome as he could tell me during the drive many strange things about this country which had become important for the European Oriental politics and where he had lived for many years. We only had to cover 21 km but spent three hours as the horses were notable for their special slowness and the road went up and down the mountain.

The weather was agreeable, the temperature pleasantly fresh. We were now already in June, that is close to the coolest period in this part of hemisphere in which — in July and August — the average temperature drops from the annual average of 22 to 23° C during the day by 5 to 7° C, while it drops in cool nights down to about + 9° C.

The region we were driving through has a mostly monotonous character in scenery as the road goes almost always through the monotonous looking Niauli forests. Still there are changing and interesting impressions. Close to a saddle of a mountain which we had to cross there was an oasis amidst the Niauli forest with splendid almost tropical vegetation. We passed numerous settlements with large vegetable gardens and furthermore also hotels or more precisely road-side inns with proud names such as „Au rendez-vous des chasseurs“, „Hotel beau site“ etc. that offer the Libérés the prized opportunity to waste their small savings on drink.

The orange tree is growing splendidly here. Unfortunately, the golden fruits are fouling on the trees as it is not profitable to harvest them due to the impossibility of exporting oranges.

During the drive we saw few birds which was all the more remarkable as 45 species of birds were natives only of New Caledonia. I managed to observe only a small predator, then a kingfisher as well as a Myna and a few singing birds. Poorer still the country seemed to be as far as mammals were concerned. Apart from deer there seems to be only a species of fruit-eating  bat, large megabats (Pteropididae). This lack of large animals and the periodically recurring need for more substantial food than fish, megabats, rats, worms and snails is used by ethnographers to explain the native predilection for human meat suppressed not long ago.

The last part of the journey turned out to be very difficult as a large water pipeline was under construction for Numea and the iron pipes was just then being transported there.

Next to a small settlement we were expected by two gentlemen who led us on foot through a wide valley to the hunting ground. Here I had the first chance of seeing a large number of Kanaks who had been called out of the interior of the island to serve as drivers — beautifully built muscular men of a dark coffee-brown color with dense fully curly hair of a true Papuan character which they wore combed upwards. Their faces are not beautiful and raw, but show a certain intelligence in their expression. Clothing is limited to small waist belts. In contrast the Kanaks are all the more equipped with all kinds of ornaments which they carry as necklaces and bracelets made out of shells and footrings made by twisting megabat hair. As weapons they carry long lances with very original points as well as clubs made out of heavy ironwood that is found on the island.

The endurance of the natives at swimming and their skill in fishing are reportedly excellent. My informants claimed to have personally observed how these islanders had swum out two to three miles out into the sea and there threw out a fishing rod while „treading water“, then keep their catch under their arm and continue to fish until they had caught a sufficient number of fishes to return to land. The Kanaks are said to be highly proficient in guiding canoes and using them for fishing, a method much preferred to the just described fishing rod technique. It might well be possible that my informants had seen more than actually happened and that the fishermen stood on reefs and cliffs — not visible to the observer — below sea level and so on a firm setting could go after catching fish.

In total there are about 40.000 natives on New Caledonia whose race however is on the way to extinction as the numerous endemic and many newly introduced illnesses as well as the numeric gender imbalance causes their number to decrease year by year. The killing of new born girls is said to be widely practised. Women are also treated everywhere much worse and have to perform all the hard work. In earlier times, the population was reduced by the continued feuds between the different tribes where the prisoners and the killed were always eaten. Today the natives are more peaceful but withdraw from contact with the whites.

The civil servant in charge of the natives had set out with the drivers and posted us for the hunt at the foot of a hill covered only with grass behind which was a densely forested mountain slope. The islanders with their dogs were tasked to drive through these woods to force the deer to cross over the hills. This battle plan did not please me in the slightest and in fact neither were the drivers as well as almost all the natives that had before taken part in our hunting. They walked without order or plan during the drive, took up position on small hills or at the edge of gorges where they started shouting for extended periods while only a few drivers with dogs actually entered into the woods. The dogs still barked a few times but the hunt took another direction turned away from our position what was to be expected right from the start as the game in New Caledonia too shows no preference to cross into an open valley. All the more so as there was much noise behind us caused by the construction of the water pipeline.

Thus I sat there for a full three hours when suddenly but at great distance a spike was fleeing in front of me. I shot it, apparently a hit to the lungs but the deer stood up again and draw itself forward for a few steps to collapse in the high grass. As soon as one of the drivers had seen this, they all ran in the true sense of the word like wild men with great shouting to the deer that naturally again stood up and fled into the very dense wood pursued by the wild men and the dogs where one could hear their sounds for some time until the deer disappeared forever. From a true follow-up search one could naturally not speak and also a heartfelt request directed to the wild men to find the wounded animal in their own manner and kill it was in vain.

Thus the first drive was a complete failure even though the game was said to be plentiful which had been assured at the start of the hunt that the game was more like a plague on the land by their quantity in the woods and the fields. As usual in such cases the hunting masters were certain that the failure of the hunt would have been successful at an earlier hour or if executed as a chase — an insight that came too late. As I would have put up no resistance to start the hunt earlier, I would even have started our journey after midnight if necessary.

Unfortunately a straight continuation of the hunt was impossible as the governor who had followed us was awaiting us in a settler’s house close by for an opulent breakfast which consumed a full two hours as the majordomo and liveried servants presented a never-ending series of dishes and wines. As well meant this feast had been I still considered it a waste of time — sitting on pins and needles — and would have preferred to use the time for hunting or  collecting beetles and butterflies, with one word more purposeful as I had only a few days to visit the interesting island in the midst of the South Sea which I would never see again in my lifetime. I had not come to spend hours eating at a table! After the end of the breakfast I hoped to be released  —  but not at all. A Hiob’s message arrived that the dogs of the drivers had been lost and the hunt could only be continued after the dogs had been caught again. With the exception of my gentlemen all participants of the hunt seemed to e relieved and continued to eat until they finally managed to recall the dogs to duty late in the afternoon.

Finally a new drive started from a hill that was densely covered in ferns. The local islanders may be really honorable people and have all kinds of good qualities but driving and hunting they completely fail to understand. The dogs soon barked and one could see soon thereafter some great game run through the bushes. Unfortunately the unlucky drivers had noticed the deer too and now all ran in the direction of the game with cries. The deer naturally broke in the opposite direction which made the drivers happy and shouting and gesticulating in front of my position  perform some kind of war dance.

As I lacked the possibility to express my opinion with some native strong or swear words I slung my rifle on my back in my helpless anger and turned away from this „wild, daring hunt“ to the wagon where I received the message from the fast following hunting master that just now four deer had crossed at the position I just had vacated. I did not doubt the truth of the appearance of the deer which might also only have shown up to restore the honor of the hunting master but did not change my direction to return to the position and started calmly my homeward journey.

This partly compensated for the failed hunt. Driving between the high mountains surrounding the valley, we enjoyed the vivid color effects produced by the rays of the setting sun on the mountain slopes; The Niauli trees glittered in a blueish color next to the clefts and bare areas which glittered metallic and were glowing red due to the rich iron content in its rocks.

At a late hour we were back on board of „Elisabeth“ which its commander followed by my gentlemen and a number of officers soon after left to attend a dinner given by the officers of the French armored ship „Thetis“ on its board while I stayed home.

Links

  • Location: Numea, New Caledonia
  • ANNO – on  02.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Meister von Palmyra“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Badgery Station, 25 May 1893

As the early morning hours promise as much success as the evening ones for the platypus hunt as the animals leave their lair also in the morning emerging out of the water to eat, I asked our hunting master to let me have another go at trying my luck in hunting platypus. At 6 o’clock sharp I was ready. Unfortunately, I took nearly one valuable hour until our horses had been caught in the meadow. Even though we covered the considerable distance to a suitable spot riding hard we only arrived at the river at an advanced hour. At least the situation was eased by the dense fog over the river area.

During this ride I learned about a method unknown to me of curing devious horses. The brave fox I was foundering but still had to gallop in order to transport me in time to the hunting ground.Rittes. When the malady understandably did not get better Mr. Badgery had me switch horses with him, so that the slim fox had to carry Mr. Badgery with all his weight which must have been twice that of mine at full gallop over rough and smooth. Incredible but still true — after half an hour the animal was cured!

The location where we were to hunt for platypus was similar to the one the day before in a steeply descending gorge shaded by trees, in the valley bed a stream was flowing calmly. Mr. Badgery remained behind with the horses while I and the hunter descended to the shore of the stream. Hardly arrived I already saw a platypus emerge and swim away in the water. A happy shot killed the animal on the spot but now it was hard to know what to do as the animal was floating downriver in the deep water and nobody was eager to swim in the ice-cold water of the river in the cool morning. Finally my practical Australian had a good idea to solve the problem by throwing rocks in the water behind the platypus. The waves thus triggered pushed the platypus towards the shore. This procedure took quite some time but finally resulted in us bagging the animal which was found to be an old male. A few hundred meters downriver I saw another platypus but I only could see the animal dive and was unable to fire a shot.

Now the hunter explained that there was another good spot about 2 km further away but we had to hurry to reach it in time. We quickly jumped into the saddle and rode along the valley ridge on a rather bad stony path which would have been only suitable for goats but which the horses followed with strange skill. We climbed down the slope to the river and soon I could see a platypus emerge and swim in circles according to the visible black back on the opposite shore, still out of range. The hunter also announced with signs that he had spotted a second animal further downriver. I decided to wait behind the tree cover until one of the animals was close to this shore which would have happened soon if not fate in the form of Mr. Badgery had intervened. He could no longer contain his curiosity and had advanced with the horse to the ledge where he could survey the water and unfortunately also discovered the two platypus. In the best intention he called without interruption to point out the presence of the two animals. The hunter who was with me could not abstain to shout back despite my pleading gestures not to respond so that a loud long distance conversation developed which naturally made the timid animals quickly disappear from sight. Even though they are at a lower level of development, they hear and view extremely good so that the most distant suspicion of a danger perceived by their senses made them dive and return to their lair from which they would only emerge again in the evening.

In a not very rosy mood I climbed up the slope and sacrificed a blameless rock wallaby that crossed my path to my bad mood and could criticize Mr. Badgery’s ardor — due to my limited knowledge of the English language — only by repeating in an accusing voice „not well, not well“. Mr. Badgery replied to my words in the beginning only with a stoic smile. Then he tried to give me a longer explanation. As he was repeatedly saying the word „breakfast“ and pointed in the direction of the farm, I had to conclude that his curiosity was based on a very prosaic motive, namely a huge hunger, and that he wanted to now allay it why a continuation of the hunt was no longer possible. I made a timid attempt to repeatedly and pleadingly say „platypus“  accompanied by gestures. „Piatypus“ being the English word for „Schnabeltier“ and pointing down to the river. My hunting master remained adamant, mounted his horse, waved at me to follow him and rode towards his breakfast. On the way back I had quite some hunter’s luck and bagged two bears and a  buzzard.

After Mr. Badgery had revitalised himself with a hearty breakfast we ventured out for a rock wallaby hunt as the sun had in the mean time conquered the fog. In the same location where we had achieved favorable results the day before. Already during the first drive an astonishing number of wallabies fled but this time were evading my position and escaped on the side where Wurmbrand and Clam stood, so that one bagged 18, the other 19 pieces. As the day before a few pieces had escaped on my left, the hunting master tried to stop that this time by positioning some people to defend the critical spot. But they had failed to understand their mission and defended not up from my position but in front of my position so that the game almost always retreated before I was able to shoot. Thus my result was only six rock wallabies. A second drive ended without any result while an improvised drive at a valley crossing delivered ten wallabies for me within only a few minutes even though the drive had begun before I had taken up my position.

Now we said good-bye to the beautiful rock valley where we have spent many a good hour yesterday and today and rushed past the farm to a distant hill where we tried to do a last hunt prior to our departure. Unfortunately the attempt failed as the game escaped on the flanks so that only Wurmbrand and Prónay bagged a  wallaby each while I made do with a hare.

This was the end of a eminently successful and interesting hunting expedition in New South Wales. We had to rush back to Sydney where social engagements awaited as an afternoon party was to be hosted by me and the gentlemen of the staff on board of „Elisabeth“ to which invitations had been sent out even before my departure to Arthur’s Leigh Badgery station.

In order to prevent any loss of time due to the wagons getting stuck, they had already crossed Wollondilly River earlier and we thus found the vehicles already in good order on the other shore when we crossed it on horseback. Here we said good-bye to the kind farmers and the hunting companions and started our return journey to Moss Vale. Our mounting the wagon was greeted with three „Hurrahs“. After a drive of four and a half hours we arrived in Moss Vale.

As the train would only depart at 2 o’clock in the morning to Sydney, we arranged quickly an improvised night hunt. We found a hunter who owned three well trained dogs that could track possums and quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus), chase them up the tree and then bark.

At the spot outside the village where the hunter was already waiting for us with the dogs, they started their chase on the command of „Go on“ only to bark loudly only a few minutes later. I rushed there and saw the dogs barking and jumping at an eucalyptus tree. The moon was favorable so that my first shot already gained me a quoll that I had discovered on a branch after some search. It is also part of the predator marsupials and resembles in build our marten. Its body is slight and elongated. The neck rather long, the head is elongated and the point of the muzzle is of a fleshy red color. The tail is long and uniformly bushy. The toes at the rear legs are armed with strong pointed claws. The fur is on the back a livid brown speckled with white spots, the belly is white. A bit smaller than a possum, Dasyurus viverrinus has a body length of 40 cm and its tail length is about 30 cm. In its way of life this marsupial resembles completely that of a possum. It spends the day in holes and ventures out during the night to feed checking in also in the chicken coops and there murdering everything without mercy.

Urged on by their owner the dogs rushed on and soon afterwards barking was heard again. But this time there was a novelty, namely a possum of a still unknown possum called ring tailed possum. Hunting with the three dogs was a great joy as they found new tracks quickly and pursued it until they had found and stopped the game. Only then did they start barking and waited for the hunters to arrive and kill the piece. The brave pack also retrieved a quoll who probably had not run up the tree quickly enough. The hunter’s son, about ten years old, distinguished himself by his excellent eyes. He was always the first to spot the game among the branches and pointed it out to me triumphantly. When a shot was fired, the boy quickly ran forward to protect the kill from the dogs. Until midnight we had bagged six quolls and six possums — certainly a rare result achieved under original circumstances at night in moonshine.

When we approached the home of the hunter during our march across the woods, the dogs suddenly disappeared and all whistling and calls were in vain. Their owner assumed that they had returned home to rest as they were tired from the long hunt. We followed their example and returned to Moss Vale.

Links

  • Location: Moss Vale, Australia
  • ANNO – on  25.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Faust“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing “Der Freischütz”.

Badgery Station, 24 May 1893

Today rock wallabies were to be hunted. In a dense fog and severe cold we stopped at the shore of the meandering river where the day before the wagon had been stuck, as I wanted to go and have a look with one of the hunters at a remote spot where it was said platypus happen to be seen. Sneaking through a small pine forest we arrived at the edge of the river but could not see any game except for a duck. Thus we were soon back on horseback and crossed the river and ascended the heights on the opposite side until we reached a deeply cut rocky valley with steep faces in whose bed a spumous river formed a path through the stone. The valley or better the gorge presented a picturesque view thanks to the rocks in the water and the trees and bushes that were growing between them.

This gorge was a favorite spot of the rock wallabies and would serve as the location of today’s hunt. At first, Mr. Badgery had assigned me to a not very well chosen position and the drivers started their drive too early so that, when I finally managed to climb into a better position, rock wallabies already were fleeing towards me at great speed. As their name indicates, they live on rocky ground where they are hiding during the day below projecting rocks or in rock holes while they emerge to feed in the surrounding areas during the night. They do not dare to go out from their hiding place, as they can not flee were well on the ground. The speed they jump around on the rocks, their element, is as surprising as the size of the jumps they execute. While the movements of the kangaroos may be very funny, those of the wallabies are even more so. I have killed some of them in the midst of them jumping. The rock wallabies are rather small but have the most beautiful fur among all kangaroos as it is of a rich brown, and on the belly yellow. Older animals have glittering silver gray streaks in the fur.

The first pieces I bagged jumped like chamois alongside the river from rock to rock. After the first shots the timid animals quickly had discovered the direction out of which peril threatened as I was standing in an open clearing. Therefore I chose another spot and stood deeper down in the gorge behind a rock, so that I could thus kill one piece after the other. This hunt was very lively. Along the line of shooters the shots rang out without interruption like at a good hare hunt and the echo reverberated from the walls of the valley. The drivers also assisted with their whips as they could advance here only on foot. Soon we had bagged 51 rock wallabies of which 26 I accounted for personally.

A second drive took place further downriver in the same gorge after we had waded across the water on horseback and taken up position on the other shore. My position was the furthest one in the gorge. In front of me lay a wild mixed pile of dead trees and to my left a deep water pool reflected huge giant trees. The silence was only broken by the noises of the river. The lovely scenery of the location fascinated me so much that I had almost forgotten to hunt, being lost in thought. There was not only much to see for any friend of nature but also much to do for a hunter. The game appeared at the same time at my position out of two clearings. Even though the drive ended much more quickly than the first one, the result was very satisfying — 33 rock wallabies of which I personally bagged 10.

A quick ride brought us back to the farm where we enjoyed a quick noon break due to the hunting success which we used to sort the numerous furs.

It merits to be noted that the horses of this farm also excelled by their endurance and their skill in moving in very difficult terrain. This can be best exemplified by the brown horse that carried  Mr. Badgery’s respectable weight of 160 kg the whole time and galloped at quick speed without falling back once behind the other horses.

In the afternoon we hunted in the same area as the day before and saw much game even though we had hunted intensively there the day before. I shot five wallabies and my gentlemen 17 as well as a kangaroo.

As it had been my most burning desire to bag one of the rare platypus whose killing had been achieved only by a few European hunters I rode with a burning ambition even though there was only a small chance of success after  4 o’clock with my guide to the river to take up my position. On the way I shot an Australian bear who sat high up on eucalyptus tree. The river that otherwise splashes over the rocks is rather calm for some distance where the platypus should be found, so that one could believe one was at a standing water The heights enclosing the river valley dropped in stony faces down to the shore. Trees at the edge reached out widely into the water. Silence marked this place.

We carefully sneaked up but could for the longest time not see any game until my companion tapped on my shoulder and pointed to a spot below the overhanging shore where I could only distinguish a small black moving line at the surface of the muddy water. I fired and to my greatest joy I saw a dying platypus turn over. With a pole we fished the rare prey out, a fully grown large male of  Ornithorhynchus paradoxus.

This animal is indeed very strange. For a few years one has known that the platypus in fact is laying eggs — this was once been deemed a fairy tale — which are then kept in a nest to be hatched. The platypus reminds in its build as well its behavior in the water most closely of an otter or a beaver, attains an average length of 50 cm and possesses webbing between the very sharp clawed toes on its short feet. On the front legs it even reaches above the toes. At the rear legs the male has also a very large moveable claw about whose precise function nothing is known. Earlier is was assumed that it was poisonous and used as a weapon.

Strange is the duck bill which is soft at the edge. The animal uses it to catch insects living in the water. The tail is smooth similar to that of the beaver and mostly not very hairy. The fur is especially beautiful as it consists of dense beards of a dark brown color with a silver white shading. On the neck, the breast and the belly the fur feels like silk. The eyes are very tiny. The ears barely visible. The platypus lives mostly in calm spots of running water and constructs a lair at the shore that is often up to 10 m long and ends in a chamber. It usually has two entrances, one above the water surface the other below it. In the morning and the evening the animal goes fishing in the surrounding calm water, diving from time to time and reappearing in short intervals on the surface as it can not stay for long under water without catching air. Extremely timid and cautious the platypus returns to its lair at the slightest suspicious noise or hides under bushes and water plants. Usually one can see bubbles rise to the water surface before the animal emerges first with its bill and head then with its back.

My companion urged to visit a spot a bit upriver where he hoped to find other platypus. Here I indeed saw soon, covered by a tree, that rings formed in the water and then a bill, the head and the back of a platypus emerge but the distance was rather great and the animal was not facing me. When it was calmly swimming further away like an otter I tried on the advice of my companion to fire a low probability shot. The grain hit in the right direction of the platypus but it dove below the surface and, appearing again for a fleeting moment, then disappeared for forever. I did not have more luck with a second platypus that I had discovered from the same position also at a considerable distance. As it was already getting dark and thus it was unlikely to catch another prey, I risked a shot that hit well as the hunter assured me but the animal must have sunken or swam into its nest as we did not see it again.

Having reached the farm Mr. Badgery very lively congratulated me  for having bagged the platypus and assured me that bagging a platypus was a great rarity and only one in a hundred hunter is able to boast about such a prey.

At the dinner which took place in very animated mood of all participants I offered a toast to the Queen’s health whose birthday today was celebrated everywhere in the country. Mr. Badgery then gave a long speech in my honor which was kindly replied by me.

The evening was splendid, the moon was up in the sky in full splendor — thus the program could be completed with a hunt for possums. I hunted in the opposite direction as the one the day before. In three hours we circled around the farm in a great arc and returned with good results of ten possums and then after this so successful day in any dimension fall quickly into a refreshing sleep.

Links

  • Location: Badgery Station, Australia
  • ANNO – on 24.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Aus der Gesellschaft“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Die Walküre“.

Badgery Station, 23 May 1893

As the farm called Arthur’s Leigh Badgery Station that was to serve as our quarter during the hunting expedition is 34 km away from Moss Vale, the journey of the whole party was undertaken in wagons. Unfortunately we no longer had access to Mr. Mack’s excellent horses. To the contrary we had to make do with some nags tired of life so that the journey which could have been completed in one and a half hours took more than four of them.

The weather was favorable, the temperature low. We passed through the small town of Moss Vale which has a population of 1240 inhabitants. Its villas extend far out into the land and it contains a country retreat put at our disposition by the governor of Sydney who usually stays there during the hot months. Following the road that leads across this hilly terrain  we passed through a number of smaller villages built in the already familiar „Australian“ style of corrugated iron and wood and passed by isolated farms. In between scrawny mighty eucalyptus trunk alternate with overgrown pasture land.  Under the trees colorful parrots were flying around. I bagged multiple specimens of  crimson rosellae (Platycercus elegans), a splendid sight with their crimson feathers with sky blue wings and tail. After about 13 km we entered into a forest, the bush that still had, despite being much cleared by the farmer’s axe, tall beautiful trees, mostly eucalyptus again mixed with pinewood.

In one spot of the forest Mr. Badgery pointed out one tree whose branches extended wide over the road. I looked up and saw a larger animal hang from a branch in the cowering manner of a sloth.

Without being certain about the species this animal might be part of, I shot at it with strong grain. The shot had little effect despite much fur fell out of  the dense gray skin which showed that I had apparently hit it quite well. The animal continued to cling with its arms even harder to the branch and seemed only have perished due to the third shot, without making any noticeable move. We just wanted to climb the tree when the animal suddenly crashed down onto the road and I recognized the so called Australian bear (Phascolarctus cinereus). It is part of the group of marsupials and resembles a small bear in its exterior. The grown animal barely reaches a height of one meter in length, the body is compactly built and covered in a very dense and smooth fur that is gray on the back an white on the belly but the interior sides of the extremities is white. The head is round like a bullet. The tails is flattened. The ears have bushels and extend upright. The five toes of the front leg are divided into two groups, the rear legs are marked by a fusion of the second and third toe. The thumb is most important for climbing, the rear legs do not have nails. The animal I had killed had a child that had fallen out of the pouch during the fall.

A peculiarity of the Australian bear is its indolence and apathy. Its only skill is climbing which it executes astonishingly slowly. We tried some time afterwards to make a koala hanging on a tree flee or at least climb faster by shouting and making noises. Only it did not take notice for a long time, finally coolly turned its head and looked at us, climber a few centimeters higher and again remained quiet hanging from the branch out of which I finally shot it down.

The Australian bear seldom descends down to the ground but lives almost exclusively on trees. It tends to stay on the same trunk until it has eaten all the leaves, its only food source. Having eaten everything, it moves to another it likes and stays there until the quest for new food forces it so seek a new location. Its phlegmatic way of life makes it game that is easy to track. It is usually not hunted much as its fur has little value — fortunately, as otherwise this strange animal would have been soon extinct. The koala’s distribution is said to be limited to a fairly small area and extends only to a few regions in New South Wales, especially the forests in the South-west of Sydney.

During the remaining drive through the bush which took quite some time due to the quality of the horses and the many obstacles in the terrain, we eagerly watched out for Australian bears that are however not easy to spot as they are difficult to identify on the branches and trunks as their coloring almost completely matches those of the fur. Still I managed to bag seven pieces whereas I was each time surprised about the passivity of these animals in regard to the shots. One hits the lazy fellow naturally with the first shot but often ir required a number of shots until the dead bear still holding on with its arms and claws  tumbled down from the tree.

In a deeply cut valley we crossed the Wollondilly River with its very stony bed in a ford. The first two wagons crossed the obstacle successfully but the third one on which were Hodek, our hunters and part of the baggage bogged down in the middle of the water as the wheels got stuck between the rocks and the horses were unable to draw the vehicle out. Due to a jolt a small bag fell into the water and happily drifted off in the river until it could finally be recovered quite a distance from the crossing. To lessen the weight of the wagon, the occupants had finally to decide to dismount and wade through the water — a tragicomic view as they understandably were not happy about this and dove only with hesitation into the cold water. Still only with the assistance of gathered helpers was it possible to move the wagon and get it out of the river and up the steep ledge of the shore.

Finally we arrived at the farm of Badgery Station, a small low-rise single storey building surrounded by barns and primitive estate buildings in the middle of cleared land. Here we were received by Mr. Badgery’s brother who usually lives in Moss Vale but would serve as our hunting guide during the next days. Our arrival was delayed only towards 1 o’clock due to the low performance of the horses, the bear hunting undertaken during the journey and the time-consuming crossing of the river, so that a breakfast could not be avoided. Still, our host announced a hunt for kangaroos and wallabies during the remainder of the day.

After riding horses had been caught from the meadow, a cavalcade of 25 riders moved out to the forest nearby. Here the mounted drivers split off while we assumed our positions alongside a dry stream.  In front of us was a hilly terrain covered mostly with blue rubber trees where the first hunt was to take place.  Hardly arrived in our position we already spotted wallabies appear everywhere between the bushes. The whole line of shooters opened fire but not always with the desired effect as some of the shooters were very lacking in marksmanship. I was not in a good position, though I saw quite many animals I could only rarely shoot as the game was fearful of a deep gorge and preferred to escape between my fellow shooters. The mounted drivers performed their duty well and did not blindly ride around as those use during the hunts of Mr. Mack. They rode at a walk and drove the game with shouts and cracking whips towards the position. The result of the drive was 15 pieces.

The wallabies bagged here — the name used by the English to designate all smaller kangaroo species — differ from the large kangaroo that we had hitherto hunted by a more vivid color of the fur which is more brownish. The bagged pieces were stripped in place after the hunt and the hides hung onto the saddles. In the evening they were handed over to the taxidermist. The removal of the hides is done with astonishing skill and speed revealing a practised hand in this procedure.

The next hunt took place at the foot of a hill up the ledge without me getting a chance to fire. The other shooters could show off five wallabies. In numerous hares that I saw I greeted the representatives of our European Lepus timidus that had been introduced a while ago and seems to like its new homeland very well.

Even though the sun was already setting, another drive was undertaken. It resulted in 15 wallabies and two kangaroos. As much as I could observe the wallabies are more timid and more prudent than the kangaroos as they already start to flee when the driver becomes even a little visible and they always crouch after only a few jumps to watch out all around. If they notice any movement of the shooter they immediately turn or jump madly out of shooting distance. . Sometimes the wallabies hide on the ground if the are driven into a corner by the drivers and only jump at the last moment. Some of the bagged females carried young ones in various development stages in their pouches.

After the conclusion of this very successful hunt we returned to the farm to dine quickly as a night opossum hunting expedition had been promised in the case the moon was visible. What is called „opossum“ here is a common brushtail possum (Phalangista vulpina), while the true opossums (Didelphys) are living in America and consist of various species of marsupials. In fact Luna was lighting in full clarity towards 8 o’clock so that we could march out led by two Australians experienced in hunting opossums. First we hunted at the edge of a forest. The unusual night hunt in moonshine was interesting and exciting.

On the order of the hunting experts we formed an open line and advanced quite loudly to get the opossums feeding on the ground to stand up. We had barely advanced a few hundred paces when one of the hunting masters indicated with a whistle that he had discovered an opossum. He pointed a strong branch out to me on which the game should be hiding itself but I failed to see it for quite some time. Only when I moved my back to the moonlight shining on the branch I could distinguish the contours of an opossum which pressed itself motionless against he branch like a marten. After the shot, the dead animal dropped from the tree.

The body of the common brushtail possum is about half a meter long with a very dense woolen fur. The tail is bushy like that of a fox. The head which has two black running strings resembles with its pointed muzzle that of a marten. The eyes are large and beautiful. The ears stand out erect. The animal makes a very delicate impression in build and figure. During the day it is not visible as it hides in caves and tree holes and only emerges at the start of the night. It is mostly a herbivore and grazes at the edge of the forest. It is thus found mostly near sheep pastures with large trees. The common brushtail possum is not lazy like the koala but rather quite agile. Only after it has fled onto a tree it clings motionless to a branch. This animal is often hunted for its excellent and valuable fur as well as it is guilty of raiding the chicken coop. It must be counted among the rarer animals.

It is strange how quickly the eye gets accustomed to see animals in the dim moon light that appear only as small dark blurs on the tall eucalyptus trees. We hunted in the gorgeous cool moon night for about another two hours and then returned home after I had bagged six possums and one Australian bear.

Links

  • Location: Badgery Station, Australia
  • ANNO – on  23.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Marquis von Villemer“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Cavalleria Rusticana” and the ballet „Rouge et Noir“.

Mullengudgery, 20 May 1893

During the night we drove from Narromine to Mullengudgery where we would hunt on the lands of various farmers  who planned to join us in this undertaking. The most prominent among them were Mr. Alison and Mr. Campbell.

First on the agenda was a wagon hunt on Australian bustards to which I was looking forward with interest as I had not yet known about that kind of game and had not found a natural history description of it. At dawn Mr. Campbell picked me up in a small wagon on which I and Clam took our seats and then we went off in the already familiar Australian manner at a very fast pace cross country to a very large meadow that served as a pasture for sheep and featured tufts of grass and some individual clumps of trees.

Soon Mr. Campbell showed me a big bird that stood with its high neck in the heath and which I recognized as a bustard when we tried to drive closer. The Australian bustard seems to have the same qualities as its European brother, especially the same timidity as it too did not remain standing. A shot at great distance was unsuccessful. We now drove continuously around in the heath and saw many more bustards. But these always flew away many hundreds of meters distant from our wagon so that I only managed to come within shooting distance to a flock and bag a beautiful specimen which however was totally ruined by the  500er bullet. The coat of the Australian bustard is different from that of the European one as the male has a large black badge on the breast while the back feathers are pearled. It also lacks the barb of our bustards.

Our morning hunt was very exciting because I saw many other specimens of various other bird species I had not known before beyond the many bustards. Among them the Australian crane that is parading around seeking food while crying constantly. One of them I shot with a bullet without however being able to catch it. On a dry tree sat a whole flock of ibis and at another location I saw for the first time a pair of the beautiful pink cockatoo with its red crest that they challengingly raise at any moment. During the return drive I bagged a beautiful falcon (Hieracidea berigora).

Having returned to the station I found the other gentlemen there with whom I was now to undertake a water game hunt and in the afternoon one for emus.

With the usual country-specific delay we set out, followed by a number of riders. This time our wagon was even more enormous than the one in Narromine. This one was a hunting wagon of huge dimensions and pyramidal height. But this vehicle driven again by the also present Mr. Mack proved itself splendidly. Taking short-cuts, he guided the monster through the pinewood forest of at least 3 m tall so that the wagon’s impact broke the trees and drove over them at speed which would hardly have been possible with a lighter vehicle. Extraordinarily skilled were also the four horses that drew the wagon. They jumped and turned progressing through the thicket.

Just after the departure we saw a large number of bustards that stood around in the open terrain in small groups or flew past us. Also rabbits rushed around everywhere or sat in front of trees in numbers of six or eight. These animals form one of the worst plagues of Australia. Once imported, they multiplied in a frightening way and can not be eradicated now. The number of the rabbits might be illustrated by the message of Mr. Campbell that he had caught in one night more than 8000 rabbits in traps without noticing a difference afterward. Some farming neighbors had to move away from Mullengudgery as they could not contain these animals. The number of rabbits had increased in 1883 so dramatically — during a single year 102.300 km2, an area larger than the combined size of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Lower Austria, was destroyed by the „rabbit plague“ — that the government had allowed important subsidies for the capture of rabbits from 1883 to1890 to contain the expansion of the rabbits.

The sums the government spent for the eradication of the rabbits are estimated to be more than 12,000.000 fl. in Austrian currency. The only reliable measure is the enclosure of the threatened areas with wire netting of which the government has built in total 1688 km while the length of wire netting built by the individual herd owners of the country is said to amount to 21.500 km.

When we came to a small fairly dense forest, suddenly some emus starting fleeing and were immediately pursued by the riders until they had driven them into a corner created out of wire netting. Unfortunately the birds managed to get over the netting after multiple tries and disappear forever before we arrived with the rifles.

The proximity of a large swamp made itself noticeable by the presence of countless cranes that were standing in the low cane brake and filled the air with their hoarse cries. The hunting leaders intended to position us at various points where there were open water areas and ducks tended to land and then send the horses in to scare up the game. Wurmbrand and Clam remained at the beginning of the swamp while I drove on for about another 7 km, driving past some open pools where I shot some pieces of game, among them a rare harrier. A rather deep stream was overcome with the wagon at a gallop and I then was in my position at a small pool that extended between two veins of the swamp. Here I selected a more favorable spot under a strong willow bush and surveyed the surrounding area with great attention.

By and by some flocks of ducks approached but usually at a height I could not shoot at them. I could hear shots in the far distance, now and then a crack of the whips. But the game seemed to have taken another direction and avoid my position. The hunting leaders had apparently made wrong assumptions and spaced the shooters too far from each other so that the game could spread out and fly away into all parts of the world after the first shots. In relation to the total number of shooters many approaches had been left uncovered which the game used to escape, leaving us behind. I waited for two hours and had to be satisfied with four ducks during this time until my endurance paid of towards the end of the hunt. I bagged two birds that were a beautiful addition to my collection. An ibis that I shot out of a flock flying over my head as well as an Australian crane. That one had approached my position to about 200 paces when I missed it twice with my bullets. As it could not know where the shots were coming from it remained sitting so that I could bag it with the third bullet. The gentlemen of my entourage did also not return home without a catch and brought two beautiful bustards with them which they had met near the swamp in sandy terrain.

Already during the hunt I had spotted various emus at a great distance and now urged the farmers to use the afternoon to bag one of these rare animals as this had been one of the main reasons of this trip. They complied eagerly with this request and positioned me alongside a fence in a plain covered with crippled trees and bushes while the riders rode of taking a wide turn in order to drive the emus present towards me. In front of me stood some low mustard bushes, the favorite food of grazing sheep. Behind these bushes I tried to take the best possible cover. I must have waited for only about 20 minutes when I heard the loud shouts of the galloping riders and a dust cloud was advancing towards me. Now I saw a very strange image of at least 40 emus running furiously with their necks held high at full speed. In front of all of them ran an almost black large male  leading the whole unorganized herd behind. The animals rushed alongside the fence which they could not overcome, breaking out into the open area from time to time which was skilfully prevented by the riders. Only 40 steps away from me, the first animals noticed me and now the whole herd dispersed. I sent two grain shots at the closest emu and heard the grains impact against the dense coat of the bird and could determine that it had been heavily wounded but could not prevent it from taking off. Having learned from this, I took the rifle and shot an old male that had started turning to flee. Other shots I could not fire at the departing animals due to the presence of the riders. The herd fled now at a frantic speed towards the plain where my gentlemen had unfortunately been incorrectly lined up that is in a secondary line. Only Clam managed fire some shots at the emus at a great distance. If the gentlemen had been placed correctly sideways from me, the resulting catch would have been considerably bigger.

The piece wounded by me with grain was soon discovered by two riders. The bagged pieces were of a rare beauty and large specimens whose collection was even more welcome as it is said that this mighty bird species is on the way of becoming extinct.

The riders tried to drive the bustards back again, in fact from the other side so that we only had to turn around in our positions. After some time some pieces advanced toward us. But the emus with their fine senses had exactly noticed the dangerous position and escaped at a great distance from our position without a chance of reversing their direction again.

Mr. Campbell proposed to hunt cockatoos and bustards as the continuation of hunting emus was futile and there was still some time left.  He sent out two riders to find the spot of the cockatoo flocks. They returned after a few minutes with the report that they had found a flock. As fast as our wagon permitted we drove in the reported direction and after about 2 km we saw a flock of gorgeous pink cockatoos (Cacatua roseicapilla) flying above the tree tops and land in an open area. Immediately I and Wurmbrand jumped off the wagon and sneaked up to see the 300 to 400 redheads with raised crests visible above the grass. A bit later we could see the delicate animals themselves, seeking food, parading around with a grave air. When we had approached to 60 paces, the flock lifted off as if by command and with two shots I bagged three pieces that shrieking fluttered around on  the ground.

Following a strange drive cockatoos never separate themselves from dead or wounded comrades of their flock but fly around it in the air and dive down to it again, even if one shoots multiple times at them. Thus the colorful cockatoo flocks flew up into the air like a pink cloud only to dive quick as an arrow. Another ten pieces were bagged until the flock finally ascended to great height and disappeared beyond the eucalyptus tree tops.

Soon afterward I shot during another drive still three lovely small parrots and with a bullet a bustard and finally reached in complete darkness the station where Hodek was hard at work in preparing and treating the various catches.

After I said good-bye to the friendly farmers, the railway took us to Narromine where we then said a heartfelt good-bye to the kind Mr. Mack who had arranged and greatly contributed to our hunting successes.

I had left the wagon in Narromine for a moment when a decently but poorly clad young man approached me out of the crowd, took and pressed my hand and said to me: „When Your Imperial Majesty returns to Vienna, I ask you to greet the old „Steffl“ (St. Stephan’s Cathedral) and tell it that he was a faithful Austrian who will not forget his old homeland!“ Having said this, he disappeared. I immediately sent one of the gentlemen after the unknown man who after a long search found him and offered him some support in my name. The compatriot refused all kind of assistance, mentioning that he may be poor and out of work but he had only wanted to see a member of the Imperial family. Then he disappeared again in the crowd. The whistle of the locomotive was sounded and we moved on. This surprising scene in the Australian bush moved me deeply. This simple man with his love for his homeland truly aroused my patriotic heart. What sacrifices, what kind of sorrows the poor man has to bear in the hard struggle for existence and still he carries the memory of his homeland with him and keeps alive his love to his old Imperial family! Whatever might have sent him to Australia, the true Austrian spirit in this burdened man lives on too — many thousand miles away from his dear homeland — and expressed itself in words that made a profound impression on me, his warm blooded compatriot.

Links

  • Location: Narromine, Australia
  • ANNO – on  20.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Maria Stuart“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Margarethe (Faust)“.

Narromine, 19 May 1893

Mr. Mack had invited me to visit his farm and added that it was easy to reach by a small detour on the way to the hunting ground. I accepted this invitation with pleasure as I was eager to learn about how a farmer was living in the midst of the herds, of the boundless meadows and woods, more or less cut off from the rest of the world, mostly having to rely on himself and and his family to spend his time.

Soon we had reached the farm, a very pretty single floor building enclosed by an open veranda similar to the houses of the small landowners in the Southern parts of our monarchy. The house has been built out of dried clay and is only covered with corrugated iron. The interior however is very tastefully and cosily decorated. In the parlor The whole Mack family received me in the company of some friends who had come to visit from Melbourne and Sydney.  We took a look at the well tended lovely garden in which bloomed the most beautiful flowers despite the quantity of rain that had fallen recently and tasty grapes that were offered to us which grew on an arcade. When Minister Suttor suddenly proposed that I should invited the ladies present in the house to dinner in the evening in our dining wagon, I was at first a bit consternated. As I had never hosted ladies in a dinner wagon, especially not in the Australian bush, I was intrigued by the novelty of the proposal and wanted to accept it — a decision that was eased by the agreeable prospect of being surrounded by a circle of beautiful ladies after the hard work of the day. Among these ladies, the laurels belonged to a young Australian woman with gorgeous almond-shaped eyes.

Continuing the journey to the hunting ground we passed buildings where the sheep of Mr. Mack were shorn with machines. A procedure that happens so quickly that one man is able to shear 100 sheep per day. As it was not the season of shearing, we could not see the machine in action.

On the hunting ground, the first kangaroo hunt started immediately. Unfortunately the passion to hunt the game with dogs had taken too much possession of the riders so that despite the presence of many kangaroos on the ground they managed to escape on the flanks or in the rear, so that I only killed one piece while others bagged two more.

My position this time was near a large kangaroo trap that is a place enclosed by tall fences to which lead multiple narrowing access paths. This trap serves to catch large numbers of kangaroos and then shoot or bludgeon them. If the kangaroos in an area namely become too numerous which happens easily due to their quick reproduction, the farmer has to be afraid about his pasture as the kangaroos eat the same food as the sheep. Multiple farmers in the same district then organize large joint hunts on horses where the drive the kangaroos in groups into such traps and thus bag seemingly incredible quantities.  Thus it is said that recently during the hunts of a single year in a territory of not more than 1000 to 1300 ha 60.000 kangaroos were killed. The kangaroo meat is not used but their skin, however, is a valuable article, especially for export to Europe. In 1892 144.712 kangaroos and 655.598 wallabies were killed.  As far as the fertility of the kangaroos is concerned, they seem to be the equal of our hares as otherwise the size of the population could not be so important given the constant hunting.  The animals, however, always receive fresh additions from the extended untouched lands into the inhabited areas.

The grilled or better only charred mutton filled a break today too. Then followed again a hunt for water fowl. After the experiences of the day before I did not expect much but was very pleasantly surprised by the originality of the hunt as well as the pieces caught. Having reached a long river-like stream that was meandering in the midst of the woods between trees the hunting companions wanted to rouse the water fowl by horses on both sides so that it would always fly in the middle of the stream. In the water were many dead eucalyptus trees that gave the area a strange melancholic touch. As the water surface was around 220 paces wide, one could not shoot with grain as Mr. Mack explained to me. He said — a farmer does not acknowledge obstacles — he would drive the wagon into the water, then let the horses go free and I was to shoot from the coach box. Thus said and done! After a few heavy strokes with the whip, the horses decided to draw the wagon into the water that reached at the beginning up to their shoulders and took the wagon into the middle of the water reaching more and more deep areas by partly swimming partly standing. From the coach box Mr. Mack let the horses go, jumped on the back of one of them and reached the other shore, leaving me to my fate.  As the coach box soon was half submerged, I had to take a not very agreeable hip bath. The water was icy — during the previous nights it had even frozen — and the hunt lasted over an hour. Small miseries one does not take into consideration during the heat of the battle.

I had just completed loading the rifles in my wet position when a flock of ducks flew one after the other over my head so that I could immediately open fire. But without special success as the flocks flew at great height. Who can describe my anger when right at the moment I had again shot in vain at too large a distance a black swan flew past, a specimen of this extremely species of Australian bird which I had not expected to see in the water. Fortunately there was hardly time to reflect about this dire case as only a few minutes later I could see a pair of black swans fly by and had the hunter’s luck in bagging both with a coup double. They were extremely beautiful birds with black smooth bodies, white wings and intensively red beaks.

Towards the conclusion of the hunt that had been very skilfully organized I saw another swan fly by that I shot down out of a considerable height. My total catch consisted, apart from the three swans that constituted the pièce de résistance of the day, of 12 ducks, mostly Australian shovelers, a result that was in no relation to the cartridges spent. But the ducks flew at a considerable height.

Now it was my task to get out of the water again which proved difficult. The horses were in fact brought right to the wagon by riders. But the roping was tricky as it had to be done from the coach box and the horses proved obstinate. As soon as one was finally roped in, the second tore itself off, the  third would not come near the wagon and the fourth reared up vertically into the air. Finally the wagon and the horses started turning in circles until one of the axles broke. After spending much effort and time in vain, I jumped from the coach box on a horse of one of the drivers and thus swam out of the water. After some time, they succeeded to bring both horses and the wagon back on land.

The conclusion of today’s hunt was to be another kangaroo hunt. As it was already late due to the episode in the water, Mr. Mack rushed very much and again drove in fast gallop through the woods over tree trunks so that we were left in a daze. During the drive  I saw a kangaroo sit under a pine tree at a considerable distance. A lucky bullet caught it with a shot.

In the middle of the forest where the hunt was to take place we met the riders sent ahead. They had not been idle but had caught an emu. The animal that is taller than a grown man if it stands upright lay with bound legs on the ground and its neck was bent in order to find its way into my collection. The animal tends to be extremely evasive. The riders had to chase the emu over many kilometers at the hardest gallop until they managed to catch it, so that the horses were fully spent.

The kangaroo chase failed, and due to the same reasons as the one in the morning. While there were many kangaroos but if chased too fiercely, they dispersed and escaped at the flanks so that only one piece was bagged and a second one was snatched by the dogs.

In line with my invitation the dinner took place in the wagon in the company of the ladies of Mr. Mack’s family and was quite entertaining in its relaxed joviality. Thinking about noblesse oblige and my role as the host I talked mostly with the older ladies, while my gentlemen honored the younger members at the table.

Links

  • Location: Narromine, Australia
  • ANNO – on  19.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Die Neue Freie Presse reports about the financial difficulties caused in England due Australian losses. The Bank of England raised interest rates to 4 percent in order to contain the Australian crisis.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Das Heiratsnest“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the ballet “Excelsior“.

Port Kennedy, 8 May 1893

The method of loading the coal was so primitive and so time consuming that in the morning, despite working without interruption and with great effort, the required quantity was still not on board and only towards noon the loading was complete. As the low tide and the strong counter current were noticeable at that time and we only had 1 foot of water below the keel we had to wait until the next day to continue our voyage to Sydney.

The morning I spent on board and killed a sea eagle from the iron deck — a beautiful specimen of Haliaetus leucogaster — it had snatched a piece of meat swimming on the water surface.

In the afternoon we had the choice of either to go hunting or fishing for corals and shells.

I decided to do the latter and thus the commander and I drove to a reef marked on the map between  Goode Island and Hammond Island, while the other gentlemen landed on Hammond Island, which nobody among us had yet set foot upon, to hunt there. We equipped ourselves with everything necessary to fish corals, with hoes, hammers and crowbars, and drove in the dinghy to the reef.

How incompletely the people of Port Kennedy know the surroundings of their town and how badly they are informed about it had already been proven by the hunting expert of Prince of Wales Island. Today we would make similar experiences. Even though the resident and all others we had asked about it had declared that there are no corals here — though the valuable red precious coral is not present in the tropical seas —  we saw ourselves surrounded shortly after we had arrived at the reef by the most beautiful and interesting corals. The whole reef that can be clearly seen during the lowest tide by individual points emerging out of the water might be about 100 m long and descended sharply down into the deep sea on one side while on the other side it flattened out by and by towards the land. At its deepest spot we anchored the boat and jumped onto the reef where the water only reached up to our knees.

We found ourselves in the most delightful spot for a collector I have ever seen. Even though I have held numerous illustrations of such coral reefs in my hand and read many descriptions of them, I found that my expectations were surpassed here by a wide margin and I was gladly surprised by what I could see here on the spot. The coral reef resembled a flower bed filled with flowers of all kinds and colors, magically produced by the unimaginable quantity and diversity of the animal kingdom present. There were first coral stocks that remind of antlers in their multiple branching; trunks thick as an arm that carry tree-like branches, fan-formed plates, large lumps that have at a closer glance a very delicate and fine composition despite their rough appearance. Then countless species of sponges, mollusks,  sea cucumbers and other animals of the lower order that are all notable by their colorful intensive flashy glowing color. No painter — and even if he had the palette of Makart — could represent the prismatic color effects, the glittering splendor, clarity, brilliance, the never ending scale of color tones with which these children of the sea are so splendidly ornamented.

On the gray frame of a Madrepore for instance hang hundreds and hundreds of echinoderms and mollusks that enhance in the finest nuances of the rainbow in all the shades the game of color. Between the bushes, vases, globes, branches of these polyps those so diverse limy skeletons of the coral animals, appear all kinds of strange fish, starfish, crabs, snails and even in the shaft of the corals all kinds of animals are hidden and buried. And here and there and there, over, beside, under each other, in hundreds and thousands of places in the coral reef, always an overwhelming number of organic beings — an unknown incomprehensible spectacle!

The commander, the sailors and I waded without interruption in the shallow water over corals and discovered something new at every step and put it into the boat for the collection. We were so eager that only the fast setting sun made us think about our return and have the boat filled up to rim taken in two by the steam barge. Leaving the reef proved to be difficult. The current was very strong and the anchor had been caught amongst the corals too so that we had to drive at full speed to free the shaft and the wings. Such a strong current as that between those canals between the strait of Torres I have not yet seen and believe that a rowing boat surely would not be able to keep up against it as even the steam barge managed to bring us on board only very slowly.

Only late in the evening the gentlemen of the other party returned from Hammond island having bagged but little prey as the woods were too dense and only a few representatives of the bird world could be seen. This party too had difficulties in embarking and had to leave behind one anchor.

Links

  • Location: Thursday Island
  • ANNO – on  08.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Emperor returned home from Budapest.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Kriemhilde“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Cavalleria Rusticana” and the ballet „Sylvia“.