Schlagwort-Archiv: May

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“.

Narromine, 18 May 1893

When we woke up in the wagons — the train served as our provisional quarter, a gorgeous fresh morning greeted us. For a long time we stood ready fully equipped waiting for Mr. Mack. But the brave farmer was nowhere in sight and only came towards 9 o’clock with a large break, drawn by four splendid Australian horses.

Now there was not enough space for us, the servants and the rifles in the wagon so that riding horses had to be caught for some of the gentlemen in the pasture. This took again quite some time even though the assigned riders were very skilled. They followed the group of horses at full gallop and drove the selected animals towards the barn where they could be saddled and mounted.

Thus we were finally ready — in front Mr. Mack, me and multiple gentlemen on the large wagon. Then the other gentlemen on horses and a number of also mounted acquaintances and employees of Mr. Mack who were to serve as drivers. We first rushed through the small village of Narromine, then past fields until we reached the forest.

The hunting ground was on the property of Mr. Mack who owned around 220.000 ha here and is one of the richest squatters of the country. His livestock consisted of 100.000 sheep, 500 heads of cattle and 500 horses. Some areas of his property he had cleared, surrounded with solidly constructed wire fences and grown wheat on it. Sheep, horses and cattle have to find their food in the nearly interminable „bush“ where only a few fences extending over wide areas exist to prevent animals from „getting lost“.

To increase and improve pastures, the farmers use a drastic measure which in the eyes of a European used to a rational forest management looks like vandalism.

As wood has little to no value here and its collection is unthinkable, the mighty trunks are incised deeply to about a hand’s width so that they die in time in order that they do not have to be cut. This measure clears a wood rather quickly so that undergrowth and grass starts growing and great pasture land is developed. It doesn’t require much fantasy to image how sad a forest treated like this is looking: Here rise mighty trees which are already showing signs of wasting away due to their incurable wounding. There some are already close to death and, bereft of their leaf cover, with their dry wide branches starring into the air, await the wind to topple them down to their brothers already on the ground. The extermination rage of the farmers is namely especially directed against eucalyptus trees as they claim that the long extended roots of that tree destroy the ground. Pinewood, casuarines, blue rubber trees, however are mostly spared. Due to this measure the woods which are already quite open by nature have even more gaps so that one can drive through the woods nearly everywhere without the need for any built paths.

Driving through the woods requires, however, robustly built wagons, brave horses and a certain insensibility to the shocks and hits that happen constantly while driving over the wild collection of fallen tree trunks that are everywhere. I had the opportunity to learn about these tracks as well as the skill of Mr. Mack who drove in full trot and gallop over the fallen tree giants which I had considered insurmountable obstacles. We had, however, to hold onto the wagon with both hands in order not to be thrown out of the wagon and soon Mr. Mack sat in my lap, soon I in his. But this did not concern us and on it went, always at the same steady speed.

After some time the crazy drive was stopped and a war council held. During it I bagged three delightful parrots that had landed near the wagons and their feathers were in all colors of the rainbow.

According to the decision taken I first undertook a hunt on wagon for kangaroos while the riders with their greyhounds remained behind at considerable distance. In fact I soon spotted a group of kangaroos that fleeing already at a great distance in the most comic jumps through the woods. But the dogs had already spotted the game and could not be held back despite the shouts of the riders and pursued the kangaroos. In a few minutes the dogs had caught a middle size piece but were driven away with the whip and led even further back. I then managed to bring the wagon close to a kangaroo so that I could kill it with a bullet when it stood up on its hind legs. Killing my first kangaroo made me rejoice very much, especially as it was a beautiful specimen of the large species of Macropus giganteus.

After this first success it was not possible to approach within shooting distance to these timid animals. Partly due to our giant wagon with its four horses made too much noise in the dry wood, partly because the impatient dogs made the game too nervous so that Mr. Mack attempted another hunt elsewhere, realizing the futility of our efforts here.

The hunt had barely started when a rider arrived with a message that the kangaroos had escaped from the drivers and entered a neighboring area. I and two other gentlemen then jumped into the wagon which Mr. Mack drove without regard for terrain over rocks and trunks at full gallop in order to still catch the kangaroos, letting the horses run as fast as they could through the woods. I felt like sitting on a gun munition wagon that had to overcome obstacles at full speed and can only admire the robustness of the wagon. Suddenly, Mr. Mack stopped and showed me the place I should aim for. At the first moment I was not a little surprised about my position as behind me, in the direction the drivers would approach 1400 sheep were bleating, to my left was a tall wire fence, to my right Mr. Mack took up position on his large wagon and behind me there were horses grazing. But I did not have much time to reflect. As soon as the rifles were loaded as the cries and whips of the riding drivers could be heard and just afterward appeared a large group of jumping kangaroos right between the sheep herd and the wire fence. They were still about 100 paces distant when I heard a noise behind me and saw three kangaroos flee by my position. With a quick coup double I killed a very strong old female and a middle sized piece. The shots confused the group that had approached close to my position, the lead kangaroo was jumping from one spot to the other, the group following it so that I managed to bag three pieces one after another.

A larger group of kangaroos fleeing in jumps offers a very strange and comic view. One can hardly believe that these seemingly awkward animals are actually fast and can jump huge distances thanks to their well developed rear legs and their tail which they use to propel themselves off the ground. They are timid and attentive, namely the lead kangaroo is watchful and continuously turns towards all directions.

Two females had a young one each in their pouches. The kids crawled out after their mothers had been killed. One of them was hairy, the other still naked. But both looked like they would survive.

My two shooting neighbors had also fired but missed. The riders who had arrived in the mean time had bagged three kangaroos that had been caught by the greyhounds, which by the way was no easy task as an especially old kangaroo had put up much resistance against the dogs and wounded them gravely with its strong claws on the rear legs, so that this time too two dogs had been grievously wounded.

While we examined the bagged pieces and their hides were collected, behind us again approached some kangaroos which however could not be turned towards us despite the riders getting quickly into their saddles.

As in India, the sons of Albion worshipped the custom of a luncheon even in the Australian bush. We had to comply with this custom. At least the lunch was in hunting style as there was no champaign nor silver cutlery or a covered table but only an open fire on which was roasted mutton on a grill and then eaten half raw, half burnt. The time necessary for this culinary procedure I used to bag some representatives of some bird species new to me.

On the proposition of Mr. Mack, another hunt was undertaken in an open wood of eucalyptus that had an undergrowth of tall yellow grass. The riders first drove in two especially strong kangaroos one of which was shot by Clam, the other — in full flight — by a bullet of mine. At the end a kangaroo jumped out alongside the fence which I shot when it passed over the branch of a stream.

As the time was rather too advanced for another hunting drive, our hunting guide led us across the bush to a water stream in the midst of the wood,  said to be a very popular place for water fowl, especially pelicans. I asked Mr. Mack not to drive up close to the water but to stop earlier so that we could sneak up but he was of the opinion that the game was not timid and would tolerate the appearance of the wagon. My fears were however justified. As soon as we came thundering down to the water with our antediluvian wagon a large flock of the most beautiful pelicans lifted off with heavy wings and was soon high up in the air. Still I and Wurmbrand who had quickly descended from the wagon managed to shoot two of these mighty birds (Pelecanus conspicillatus) that crashed with a thud into the water which splashed high into the air. As I hoped that the flock would return to the stream again, I hid myself behind a tall tree and in fact the pelicans flew lower and lower. Unfortunately good Mr. Mack spoiled everything with the best of intentions as he came driving by in his wagon in the decisive moment to tell me to only use coarse grain.

Naturally the timid birds disappeared and were never seen again. Instead at least there was much other water fowl of all kind flying and landing in this tiny stream. I managed to observe some representatives of this rich ornis such as cranes (Antigone australasiana), then spoonbills (Platalea regia), gray herons (Ardea paeifica), cormorants and darters (Plotus novae hollandiae) as well as multiple specimens of an Australian ibis species and numerous ducks and bag some of them.

But here too Mr. Mack failed to be patient. He soon approached in his wagon and some riders close to my position so that I had to give up the hunt, accepting the futility of waiting longer. I assumed my position in the coach box — not without regret. As the quiet water in the forest was not only a beautiful spot but would have offered many opportunities to bag many interesting pieces. For about 6 km we drove in the wagon, followed by the riders through the woods until we arrived back in Narromine after sunset.

The endurance of the Australian horses put to our service today was truly admirable. They had to run continuously at a fast hunting gallop, except for the breakfast pause, without the riders going easy on them. Even on the return trip some riders were joking around and chased each other or performed some kind of Jeu de barre. Our four-horse team too had to draw the heavy break loaded with six persons during the whole day cross country at fast trot or gallop — a performance that must be appreciated even more as these horses never are feed with barley or other type of corn food but only feed themselves on the pasture. As soon as they are no longer required for use, they are set free and have to care for themselves. The horses usually are very tall, have beautiful forms but a bony incredibly strong build. Each farmer has a considerable number of horses so that at any moment one can see a group of six to eight horses in the bush. If only some are needed, they are driven either into a fenced area or one catches them with a lasso.

It is not rare to see a farmer forced to reduce the number of his horses. This is namely necessary in the sad years of drought that occurs from time to time in the whole land as it is a question of preserving some of the scarce grazing for the upkeep of some of the sheep herds so that the other livestock is reduced as much as possible. Thus on many large farms during the last drought 6000 horses were shot in the woods. The drought is the greatest terror for the Australian farmer as it causes all sources, streams and standing water to dry out, grass is withering away and the livestock perishes from hunger and thirst. Farmers have to seek to preserve at least a small part of their sheep herds to resume rearing in the following years. Every other kind of livestock, cattle, horses and sheep, are lost. This year was especially rich in rain and thus the pastures everywhere quite luxurious so that we met only healthy and well nourished herds in the woods.

Hodek who had bravely ridden alongside the drivers during the whole day also made some catches in pursuing two kangaroos separated from the large main group until he had luckily caught them. But he lost his way in the bush during this wild chase, so that we had to send out a few riders after the hunt to find him — in a short time they completed their mission successfully.

On the drive through Narromine I met Mrs. Mack who arrived with her daughter and various other ladies in a pony-drawn wagon. The eleven-year old son of Mr. Mack, George, a splendid chap and skilful cross country rider  acted as a brave driver during the day.

We spent the evening and the night again in our special train.

Links

  • Location: Narromine, Australia
  • ANNO – on  18.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. Having collected enough money for the creation of a Goethe monument in Vienna, there is now a discussion where it should be erected. It would take until 1900 before it was actually unveiled in its current location opposite the Schiller monument.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Hüttenbesitzer“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Merlin“.

Sydney, 17 May 1893

The most rewarding excursion out of Sydney because it is leads to the most beautiful part of New South Wales is the one to the Blue Mountains — a place that is in fact incomparable in its delightful scenery.

The Blue Mountains run nearly parallel to the coast at a distance of 40 km to 200 km delimited in the North by cross running Liverpool mountain ridge, that is it runs from West to East, and in the South by the mountainous area next to the Australian Alps whose highest elevation is Mount Beemarong (1230 m). This mountainous area rises sharply out of the plain to create an extended high plateau on which are set individual mountain ridges. Covered with woods and otherwise infertile but rich in mineral wealth the Blue Mountains split the undulating grass rich grazing grounds of the interior from the fertile luxurious alluvium strip on the East coast.

At the rather distant Redfern Station of the Western Line that from Sydney crosses the Blue Mountains in a Western direction, the minister of public education, Mr. F. B. Suttor, the guide and organizer of the journey as well as the German consul general Pelldram were awaiting us.

The day’s weather was wonderful, the atmosphere clear and clean. Even though the special train was driving at English speed it still took quite some time to get out of Sydney and its far extending suburbs and smaller settlements so that a visitor can well appreciate the extensive space and the growth of this young city during the last few decades. Everywhere there was cleanliness and prettiness. The houses in the suburbs are usually ground floor only, small and covered in corrugated iron. When the train finally had passed out of this labyrinth of houses, large orange gardens and also eucalyptus groves reach close to the railway line which then ascends the mountain ridge that is covered with pine wood. We find here Californian pines (Pinus insignis), Pinus Strobus (Weymouth pine) and now and then mighty rubber trees.

In these woods too there were numerous settlements as these outlying areas of the Blue Mountains serve as summer retreats for the Sydneysiders. All the richer inhabitants of the city own a country retreat here so that all the pretty points of view, all idyllic  spots in the valleys and gorges are covered with villas that are built in the spirit of cosiness and joyfulness. In all the gardens of the villas  a vast variety of Chrysanthemums and late blooming roses are flowering.

Having passed through a long tunnel the railway line ascends more steeply and the scenery starts to look like a mountain landscape. Valleys alternate with wooded mountain ridges and from time to time grotesque rock formations appear. Due to the clean atmosphere the more distant hills and mountain ridges appear in an intensive blue color which explains the name of „Blue Mountains“; this faint blue mist lies over the valleys — a strange spectacle of nature that I observed here for the first time.

Towards 1 o’clock we arrived at Wentworth Falls station, 871 m above sea level,  climbed into the waiting wagon and drove to a beautiful sightseeing spot as our guide modestly called it.  The drive might have taken half an hour through the eucalyptus forest, when suddenly after a turn of the road a mountain panorama opened up in front of us that could not be compared to anything else in its originality and impact.

Surrounded by steep, craggy heights, a wide deep valley bottom extends at our feet, covered in might mighty trees and ferns, bathed in an aromatic blue. A clear mountain stream descends as an impressive waterfall down into a depth of 300 m with great noise and sprays over three rocky ledges only to collect itself there in a basin to form a lake and gushingly continue its path down the valley. Fine water mist envelops the descending water like a shaking, swinging and floating cloud and turns into a colorful rainbow in the sunlight.

„Über allen Wipfeln ist Ruh'“ (‚Above all the peaks it is quiet‘), and only when a slight wind draws above the tree tops, they nod with quiet whispering their approval to the smashing accords of the waterfall. No twittering birds are audible and only now and then a predator bird is circling in the blue air.

Advancing up to the edge of a small rocky ledge on a stone cliff that descends for multiple hundred meters to the valley below, we enjoy the delightful spectacle to the full. The size of the height difference between our position and the bottom of the valley is best illustrated by the fact that the tall rubber trees that must be up to a hundred meters tall look like small bushes from above. The virgin forest stands so close that not even a spot of the ground is bare and the eye can only sweep across a blanket of tree tops. Everywhere luxurious plants are growing. Epacrideae and ferns glance curiously out of rock crevices at the wonders of nature. Even the most sterile ground is ornamented with all kinds of greens and contributes its share to embellish the view. Heavy dew that had fallen in the morning transformed itself under the force of the sun’s rays into many millions of pearls that now were glittering playfully in all colors on each blade.

Under the overhanging parts of a rocky face of the valley are installed small stair steps. They lead up to various rocky peaks and ledges that offer the most splendid views of always changing new scenes.

Only the constant insistence of our minders who were concerned about the possible delay of our special train made us take leave from these majestically beautiful paintings.

The train then drove past a number of lovely places among them the small village of Katoomba where multiple beautiful valleys meet and is one of the most popular summer retreats of Sydney.

At Blackheath station we stopped again to go to the waterfall of Govett’s Leap 5 km distant past delightfully situated villas. There we had a similar view as we had seen at Wentworth Falls.

Here too we viewed from the edge of a vertically descending rock face into a deeply cut valley that was surrounded by sharply pointed rocky heights and covered far and wide with green tree tops. The giants of this valley seemed to be even smaller than those at Wentworth Falls, as the rock face as if chiseled by man is descending even farther down. In an arc, here too, crashed down a mountain stream while a second smaller water course falls down to the valley in myriads of separate drops like a veil. The last rays of the setting sun offered magic light effects; the tender blue of the atmosphere blended into the rosy breeze of the illuminated mountain peaks. Above the dark-green woods descended in time a violet mist. Even the coolest critic of nature must be enthusiastic about Wentworth Falls and Govett’s Leap. As I believe it is right to boldly state — disregarding my existing preference and predisposition for natural beauty —  that this joy of viewing the Blue Mountains alone is compensation enough for the arduous seaborne journey to Sydney.

Apart from Wentworth Falls and Govett’s Leap there are also a number of other points here that are distinguished by their great beauty. But unfortunately the meagerly allocated time for our stay in New South Wales did not permit to visit all these remarkable places in this mountain area.

Back in the train again we soon reached the highest point of the railway line shortly before Zigzag  station at an altitude of 1025 m above sea level. For the part of the Western Line that crosses the mountain — called Zigzag Railway — the constructor Mr. John Whitton made use of zigzag lines in a similar way as this was the case at the mountain railway leading to Darjeeling. The zigzags start at Lapstone Hill and continue until a place 31 m below the highest point where the line starts to descend towards Bathurst.

While we descended towards the valley, there were quite a few signs that we were moving towards the interior of the country and its large farms. The freight trains mostly consisted of long rows of cattle wagons. Each of these wagons was filled with living sheep and thus loaded train after train moved towards the docks and slaughter houses of Sydney. The dry sheep pastures in the interior have forced the breeders to produce firstly fine wool producing animals and only at a lower priority sheep for meat production. Nevertheless despite the production centered on breeding sheep and on huge quantities of valuable wool in New South Wales the export of sheep for meat production is still considerable. The importance of the ship trade in this colony can be assessed by the fact that in the year 1892 1,583.666 heads of sheep were exported from here and 520.660 heads were imported into New South Wales.

At sunset we arrived at the other side of the foot of Blue Mountains. Before the train fully entered the plain it crosses an extended area rich in coal mines in which coal is found in mighty beds and everywhere one could see mining shafts, a sign of busy mining activities. Around the shafts are numerous quickly built settlements, the houses of the workers and mine owners. Some walls of corrugated iron or wood, the roof sometimes only formed out of the strong wood-like bark of the rubber tree — and a house is complete. In this manner the towns and villages of Australia grow in short time, as if they had been produced out of the ground by magic.

At Bathurst station dinner was served in the train. Towards midnight we reached the destination of our journey in Narromine where it was planned to hunt the next three days under the guidance of the farmer Mr. Mack.

Links

At Sea to Sydney, 14 May 1893

The sky was very cloudy; over the land there were dense black bands of clouds. The temperature had dropped markedly. The sea was rough so that the pitching became more and more intensive and the journey proved to be quite uncomfortable.

During the night we had driven around Sandy Cape and took a Southern course from there. Portside was the open sea, starboard the coast with some mountains and hills some of which with peculiar forms such as the Glass House mountains with their  pointy cones.

In the evening we passed by Moreton island on the latitude of Brisbane, the capital of Queensland.

Links

  • Location: near Moreton Island
  • ANNO – on  14.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Wiener Salonblatt of 14 May mentions that FF has departed Thursday Island on the 9th in the direction of Sydney.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing the tragedy „Uriel Acosta“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Carmen”.

At Sea to Sydney, 13 May 1893

In otherwise calm weather the sea was choppy so that „Elisabeth“ was pitching. These movements seemed to be caused by a high sea coming from the East. We saw the Northumberland and Percy islands, very stony islands that reminded me of Dalmatia with their steeply descending rocky shore and sparse vegetation. At noon we are opposite Port Clinton which we can only recognize as a line on the horizon. The great coral Harrier Reef that up to now has accompanied us on backboard and provided good cover against wind and sea is leaving us behind. We are now in the open sea that was by and by getting calmer. Towards 8 o’clock in the evening we crossed the tropic of Capricorn and passed the group of the Capricorn islands. Late at night the lights from Lady Elliot island are blinking at us.

During the day I had the opportunity to observe a richer wildlife than before. Dolphins appeared and played around the bow of the ship — some bullet shots fired at them proved ineffective — frigate birds and various sea gulls presented themselves; among the latter one of a species I did not know, black-brown with noticeably large and pointed wings. In an elegant flight this sea gull circled around the ship and suddenly dove into the waves to re-emerge with a skillfully caught prey.

Links

  • Location: near Lady Elliot Island
  • ANNO – on  13.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Sultan of Johore whom Franz Ferdinand had just visited during his stay in Singapore is now in Vienna. A small world.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die kluge Käthe“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Das goldene Kreuz”.

At Sea to Sydney, 12 May 1893

We continued our journey in the most beautiful weather. Early in the morning we passed by the Palm islands, then in Halifax Bay Magnetic island and Cape Cleveland with its decoration of a beacon. At noon we were East of Cape Bowling. The coast is now retreating and mountains and mountain ridges are only visible as faint contours.

Towards sunset we approached the mainland again and drove past Gloucester island, a fairly large hilly island that we had already noticed from afar due to its dense and rich vegetation. Up close we recognize a complete forest of beautiful Araucaria Cunninghamii and Bidwillii — these true pines from Queensland — that cover the slopes with their wide dark-green branches. With joy we greet the first  conifers after a long time, a clear proof that we were more and more departing the tropical region.

Still with sufficient daylight that turned everything into a purple mist we passed through the lovely scenery of Whitsunday passage with the islands of Hook and Whitsunday. The bright light of the light beacon ship facilitates navigation. During the night we passed by the Cumberland islands.

Links

  • Location: near Cumberland Island
  • ANNO – on  12.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Das Hochzeitsnest“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “DIe Jüdin”.

At Sea to Sydney, 11 May 1893

Lizard Island can also tell about a raid of natives on whites. Eight years ago, an English fisherman with wife and child and a number of servants had settled on the totally uninhabited island. When the man was out fishing, natives raided the settlement, having probably rowed over from the mainland. The woman and the servants defended it bravely for some time. Finally  the poor woman fled with her child and a servant in one of the large tin water containers that are used to collect rain water, set off from the land and thus swam out into the sea. After a long drift the miserable party landed at Coquet island where they all perished from hunger. Since this sad episode Lizard island is again uninhabited.

After 5 o’clock the anchors were hoisted and the islands of Direction and Wooded passed, as well as Two and Three Islands and the Capes Flattery and Bedford. The coast which was clearly visible as we were driving close to it changed its character from what we had observed during the days before. Higher mountains appeared that were partly densely covered with woods and partly on their slopes were only covered with grass or had bare spots. Sometimes, there were, as during the day before, white sand fields that resembled snow fields Many of the mountains probably are of volcanic origin. The rise steeply out of the sea like the 1090 m high Pieter Botte at Cape Tribulation that looks from a far like a conical termite mound.

While up to now there had been no signs of human settlements visible on the coast, today we sighted a small settlement namely Cook Town with its light house visible from afar.

A few miles south of Cook Town appeared two light beacons with signal stations on two rocks opposite one another on Archer Point and Rocky Island. Like guardians they protect the difficult passage at night here. A short distance further to the south lies a historic reef called Endeavour reef. Here Cook suffered major damage in the year 1770 on his first voyage around the world (1768 to 1771), which — originally started by the Royal Geographica! Society to observe the transit of Venus in the south sea — prepared the occupation of East Australia by the British crown. He had to stay for quite some time in the bay where now lies Cook Town to repair the leak on his brave three-mast ship „Endeavour“, a vehicle of 350 tons displacement and a crew of 85 men.

Repeatedly we saw high pillars of smoke rise into the sky that were caused by forest fires which the natives start to catch game, especially kangaroos fleeing from the fire.

An hour after sunset the course was changed at Cape Grafton and having passed by the islands of Fitzroy and Frankland, towards midnight the lights of Johnstone River came into view.

Links

  • Location: near Frankland Island
  • ANNO – on  11.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die kluge Käthe“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Tannhäuser”.

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“.

Port Kennedy, 6 May 1893

The resident wanted to assist me in adding to my collection of bird bodies had proposed a journey to the Australian mainland for today, a day used for transporting coal to „Elisabeth“, and had graciously provided the government’s steam boat „Albatross“, a small yacht. Early in the morning the resident himself came to fetch us with this steam boat and we started the journey in the company of multiple gentlemen which would take us around Cap York to Somerset Bay. Three gentlemen participated as guests in the journey: a French missionary who had just arrived from New Guinea where he had gained exact information about the country and its people as his stories revealed. Then a captain of an English warship who used his extended holiday to catch butterflies in the north of the Australian continent and in New Guinea. Finally a botanist whose equipment did not reveal his peaceful goal as instead of the usual professional equipment such as a botanical box, shovel etc. he had only belted on revolver bullets and overall had the look of a true squatter.

The morning was beautiful but there was a stiff eastern wind blowing which threw around our somewhat aged „Albatross“ after we had passed the northern coast of Horn island and entered into the Flinders passage that we were by and by nearly all attacked by the mean evil of sea sickness. Furthermore we had the strong current against us so that the sea waves were short and caused a heavy pitch of the ship. After a drive of around four hours we finally entered into the Albany pass and set the anchor opposite the island of Albany in Somerset Bay.

The somewhat stormy journey and its regrettable consequences were compensated by two elements: the realization to now finally set foot onto the Australian mainland and the beautiful scenery of the land of the bay. On one side rises the island of Albany, on the other the mainland with its wooden hills one of which has a large building that is visible from afar and in its white color stands out very effectively from the green trees in the background and thus dominates the bay. Somerset Bay was originally intended to become what now is Port Kennedy, namely the harbor and coaling station for steam ships that pass the strait of Torres but the harbor of Somerset proved to be less well situated, too small and too shallow, so that Thursday island was selected.

We ascended the hill and entered the building we had already seen from the ship. Originally during the time when Somerset was intended to be the main harbor in the strait of Torres this building was to be the seat of the local government but now surrounded with wire fences serves a rich „leaseholder“ and his family as their accommodation. I call him here „leaseholder“ as we could not really determine who and what he actually was. Some called him a sportsman, others a squatter and stressed that he owned large cattle herds. The man himself we did not meet as he had preferred to spend the day out of the house despite his having been informed prior about our visit.

Grown curious about the person of the „leaseholder“ by this strange behavior we asked his two sons who the resident had presented to us already on board of the „Albatross“  and the wife of this strange man who received us most kindly in the house. She, named Jardine, in color and face a typical South Sea islander, only increased our curiosity by her declaration that she was the „niece of the King Malietoa of Samoa“. The two boys, however, told that their father had been at sea during many long years and owned many ships. Now he had quit going out to sea and now calls huge cattle herds his own.

This mention of his former trade and the wealth of the „leaseholder“, the circumstance that he had evaded our meeting, the connection to Samoa with his union to a chief’s daughter, finally many different conspicuous ship parts we noticed in his house, all this together could have been useful to create the impression that the „leaseholder“ had been once engaged in audacious pursuits between Samoa and the coral sea. Distant memories from Cooper and  Walter Scott, figures such as the „red swashbuckler“ or the „pirate“ came to my mind. An impression that was vividly refreshed after we returned from the hunt in the evening and saw the „leaseholder“ sail in a small cutter and maneuver swift as an arrow into the bay with great skill. The mythical cloud of his existence that surrounds so many others like him in Australia was never lifted and thus the romantic figure of the „leaseholder of Somerset“ looms all the stronger in my memory.

As leaders of the hunt to which we were now undertaking, that is as guides, the resident had appointed the two sons of the „leaseholder“. The youthful age of the two, one was twelve, the other not yet eight, did at first not offer me much confidence but during the hunt through the forest I changed my opinion as the two half-Samoans had expert knowledge as they apparently spent most of their days in the forest and bush.

As soon as we had told the boys that we wanted to hunt and shoot birds, they led us to the best spots, showed us tracks and scratching places of kangaroos, pointed out rare flowers and other plants — all like true children of the woods. The older already displayed a considerable drive, commanded and decided with assurance; the younger one was a true rascal who answered our question about which school he was attending with a certain pathos: „I used to go to school but now I have given it up.“ And he was still only eight years old!

We separated into various parties of two gentlemen each and I entered the forest with Regner led by the older boy. The forest was similar in character as the one visited the day before on Horn island.  Only the vegetation in the forest of Somerset seemed to be richer, more luxurious in those parts where more humidity was present or small streams were flowing and at times reminded me of a tropical forest. There were tall beautiful trees, in between palm trees and fern-like herbs; even orchids and entwining lianas were not missing. l bagged specimens of various species of the Australian birds but I failed to see a cockatoo or parrots. The day was fairly hot, the Australian sun was sending down its burning rays upon us. Finally I came upon a larger stream with a name reminding me of home to my joy, Pola River, and contained very dark brown water rich in iron like that of our highmoor streams. Here the vegetations had to be called especially rich and the most beautiful butterflies among them many of an astonishing size were flying around.

Following the shore of the Pola River I met Wurmbrand and Clam the latter of which had had hunter’s luck and bagged the first kangaroo — a dwarf kangaroo of the species of jumping hares which still had a length of  175 m from the nose to the tail. The small guide of the two gentlemen had taken along two house dogs into the forest. These suddenly had barked whereas the prey passed Clam in full flight so that he could kill it with a bullet.

In the shadow of tall trees we paused for a moment which Ramberg used to take a few photographic images. Then we went back through the forest and multiple graves of the natives to Somerset where already Prónay and Bourguignon were waiting. The latter one had an accident which could have easily had the gravest of consequences. Bourguignon had namely, as his bullets had become wet during the rain the day before, used Prónay’s cartridges with white powder that proved too much for his rifle. After some shots the chamber burst and created an opening of at least 10 cm in length, whereas the piece of the barrel blown away had considerably wounded the shooter in the arm. Had Bourguignon had the rifle at a greater angle then a very critical wound would have been inevitable. He had returned to Somerset where the wife of the „leaseholder“ had expertly bound his wound.

Actually the „niece of the King of Samoa“ performed her duties as a house wife most graciously. She had given me orchids and lemons from her garden and permitted us to view the rooms of the house in which everything was in a picturesque disorder and neglected mess. Only a real arsenal of rifles and revolvers was an exception to this. These weapons were all in excellent condition but one could see that they had been often used. Asked about this, our hostess explained that the territory of Somerset had been very insecure a few years ago so that the inhabitants of the settlement had to be prepared at any moment for a raid by the natives and thus always have weapons within reach. Even the eight year-old rascal had two rifles in his own name; one of which was for killing birds the other for the fight against humans. Even guns were not absent in this well armed home as a pair of old ship cannons  were laying under the billiard table in one room, a second pair was situated on the covered veranda of the house.

Saying good-bye to the occupants of this strange home we ate a miserable snack at the sea shore before embarking and steered back to Thursday Island.

We now had the current working for us; the wind too had abated so that „Albatross“ moved fairly calmly and the journey was very agreeable in the cool evening. While we drove past the resident pointed out the spot to me where in the year 1862 on the order of Bowens, the governor of Queensland, the British flag had been hoisted for the first time in order to take possession of this territory in the name of the Queen.  The sailors had posted a fishing tow line despite the relatively fast drive. Suddenly it was asked to stop the machines, a large fish had been hooked and with united force the captain and his men drew a fish of over 1 m length on board. The fish’s look was similar to a tuna and is called here a king fish.

On board of „Elisabeth“ everybody was still occupied with loading the coal which was no small activity at Port Kennedy as this harbor strangely did not possess lighters for this task nor other practical tools. The commander thus was forced to move „Elisabeth“ close to the coal-carrying hulk in the middle of the harbor and transport the whole coal over the deck — a long-winded and very dirty task. Also the maneuvering to the aged and already rotten coaling ship was not easy in the swelling sea and the currents. As without the greatest precaution our iron colossus with its protruding towers might have all too easily penetrated the hull of the hulk without warning.

Links

  • Location: Thursday Island
  • ANNO – on  06.05.1893 in Austria’s newspapers. The Wiener Salonblatt and die Neue Freie Presse note the arrival of Franz Ferdinands at Thursday Island in good health.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing Goethe’s „Torquato Tasso“ and the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera “Die Hugenotten”.