Schlagwort-Archiv: May

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“.

Sydney — Auburn — Moss Vale, 22 May 1893

After I had attended mass on board — it was Whit Monday, I visited a large factory in Auburn, situated West of Sydney in the direction of Parramatta. The factory produces meat tins. It is managed by a group of sheep breeders  and supplies the English and the Belgian army with tins. New South Wales is the classic territory of the meat canning industry. Its importance today in meat production from the numerous herds of Australasia has been started 50 years ago by a Mr. Sizar Elliott from Charlotteplace. In 1892 New South Wales was already exporting meat valued at 3,408.144 fl. in Austrian currency.

Built in open meadows the factory lies close to the large cattle and sheep market on which every week many thousands of cows and sheep from all parts of the country are sold. Large enclosed spaces near the factory are intended to keep the cattle and sheep prior to being butchered.

The tour started in that department responsible for the packaging of the containers and cases are produced out of tin. All these processes such as cutting, turning and soldering are done by machines at enormous speed.

The most important part of the factory is butchering sheep located in a hall that contains compartments for groups of ten sheep each. The butcher kills each sheep by slashing the throat of each animal and at the same time breaking the spine by bending the animal’s head over his knee. Then the butchered piece is taken by two assistants who remove the skin, cut off head and feet and put the gutted body on a rolling band which feeds it into a line. The work proceeds at such a speed thanks to the workers‘ practice in their bloody trade that the whole procedure from the butchering of a sheep to its loading takes only about two minutes, which explains why a good worker can „handle“ about 160 sheep on a daily basis.

The removed skins glide through an opening to a room below where they are packaged to be sold untanned. Heads, feet and entrails are used for producing tallow.

With astonishing skill the workers on the line execute their work in first splitting the body into two parts then removing the parts free of fat and bones, namely loin and ham if they are spotless and move them into cooking cauldrons while the other parts go into pans to produce tallow. It runs out of the pans by special tubes through cooling machines and then directly into barrels. The remainders of the tallow production, namely the bones are used to produce fertilizer.

The pieces of meat intended for preservation are boiled for a short time in cauldrons, then cut into small pieces by machines and pressed into tins that are soldered close after a worker has properly adjusted the mass of meat in the tin. It is then cooked in a water bath in an iron tub. To increase the speed of the process chemical substances are added to the water.

After the completion of this procedure the goods are ready for the market. The whole procedure takes only a few hours from the moment the butchering of the sheep begins to the moment when it disappears into a tin.

In a similar manner beef and sheep tongues are preserved, only the cows are not killed in the manner practised in our country by hitting it on the head. They are shot here. For this purpose cattle are driven into chambers on whose walls are small slits. A butcher approaches to one of the slits, aims for the head’s spot between the horns and shoots one cow after the other with a small caliber rifle, almost a Flaubert.

The factory processes 4000 sheep and 26 cows daily with a relatively low number of workers who are well paid as the weekly earnings are on average around 26,4 fl. in Austrian currency. I tasted various tins and found especially those intended for the military quite tasty. I liked best the beef preserved for the Belgian army.

Back in Sydney we ate breakfast at the amiable and very obliging consul general’s who lived in a very lovely house in one of the suburbs and possesses a large number of interesting objects that he had acquired on his earlier missions in Asia.

As my collection efforts had not abated, I drove in the afternoon to various dealers who had been recommended to me to acquire bird bodies, ethnographic objects as well as platypus hides and there discovered a speciality of Sydney, emu eggs on which were engraved inventive depictions of kangaroos, lyrebirds emus, brushtail possums etc.

A five hour railway drive brought us to Moss Vale, on the Southern Line, 138 km south of Sydney, the starting point for another three days‘ hunting expedition. Mr. Badgery, a farmer, on whose extensive property the hunt would take place this time was our guide. In the station of Moss Vale a rich evening meal was waiting for us. Having conquered it, I retired to the salon wagon that had been decoupled while my entourage booked rooms in a nearby hotel.

Links

Sydney, 21 May 1893

After a quite cool night spent in the wagon, we returned to Sydney after 7 o’clock on Whit Sunday. The otherwise beautiful and vibrant city, however, looked quite dead as due to the strict Sunday laws all shops were closed and nobody was in the streets, some sleepy street cleaners excepted.

On board I answered the mail and said good-bye to Schleinitz who would return to Vienna with Leopold.

Catholic St. Mary’s Cathedral where I wanted to attend High Mass was packed with devouts. Built in the Gothic style and complete except for the roof and the towers, the Lord’s house whose artistically designed glass windows are remarkable is in the mean time covered with a provisional wooden roof. Mass was celebrated by the auxiliary bishop with many assistants as the most prominent church dignitary of Australia, Cardinal and Archbishop Patrick Francis Morran was currently in Rome. The celebration took quite some time: namely from 11 o’clock sharp in the morning to half past 1 o’clock in the afternoon. I had not yet attended such a long sermon and certainly not one in a language I did not understand like today’s in English.

After the conclusion of the service, a great crowd assembled in front of the church. The throng around me was so thick that I hardly managed to reach the wagon. A number of persons, among them many Irish, touched my clothes as this was said to bring luck. Very pleased about this innate power that I had not divined before, I had to remain in place in the wagon while the crowd shouted one „Hurrah“ after the other, as the horse of the cab was totally perplex due to the great shouting and would not move until it was led by the reins. At that moment a wooden dais with a considerable number of humans on it collapsed with a big noise beside my wagon. Fortunately nobody was hurt. Only a particularly cheeky boy was thrown head first into an empty barrel standing nearby which created a moment of hilarity. The scene would have been worthy of Wilhelm Busch’s pen!

Hardly back on board, I received a visit of all the ministers of the colony of New South Wales during which consul general Pelldram acted as interpreter. With good conscience I could tell the gentlemen about my enchantment with the beautiful country and the lovely city which seemed to be received with great satisfaction. At least the mood during the reception was very animated, especially when the consul general made a mistake and continued to answer in English instead of in German the laughter seemed to go on forever. The prime minister Sir G. R. Dibbs, a stately tall man and father of six blooming daughters made a very sympathetic impression on me not only by his imposing physique but also by his character. The gentlemen had arrived in a small steam yacht and invited me to a drive to the most beautiful spots of the harbor — an offer I could hardly refuse, all the more so as the little I had already seen I have found to be extraordinarily pleasant.

If one drives alongside the individual bays, to a certain extent to get closer to the intimate details of the scenery, one’s wondering eyes see the development of panoramas that are so enchantingly lovely. Everywhere a colorful mix and variety of water and land, ships, gardens and lovely villas. Azure blue waves crash into the mainland’s shore and the islands. The shore and the islands are covered with rich vegetation and surrounded with glittering rocks. Deep bays intrude into the land while extended land tongues jut out into the dark sea plowed by numerous ships and boats. Above all this stands the serene clear sky and the clean fresh air.

The yacht set course first around Dawes Point past the Darling harbor that cuts deeply into the Southern coast where the large merchant ships are moored. Following the turns of the bays North-West of Darling Harbour to Waterview Bay and the bay to the North of Morts Dock we reached Cockatoo island where we visited the large dry dock that had recently been built at the expense of many millions and offered easily enough space for two ships of the size of our „Elisabeth“. This island presented a lovely view of the extended city, the green hills with their countless villas that peeked out between large trees. In various places in the bays lay decommissioned war and merchant ships that are contemplatively awaiting their end of the days and provisionally serve as depots and magazines. From Cockatoo Island we drove into the Parramatta River, the Western branch of Port Jackson.

At the end of this bay that extends 29 km into the land into which the unimportant small Parramatta river flows lies the city of the same name at a blooming shore. The two villages Hunters Hill and Gladesville are famous for the beauty of their landscape as well as their splendid orangeries and fruit gardens situated in the bay. Exiting the Parramatta River we turned north and reached Woodford Bay, passing by the land tongue of Greenwich. Woodford Bay forms as far as the scenery is concerned the most beautiful part of the surroundings of Sydney and made me believe to be at the shore of our own country’s lakes.  With sparkling champaign a number of toasts were given that for us always ended in praise for the charms of Sydney. The extension of the beautiful excursion was constrained by the announced visit of the auxiliary bishop who was to come on board for an audience with me at 5 o’clock.

The heads of all administrative departments had been invited to an evening gala dinner hosted by the lieutenant governor in Government House. I need to mention one act of gracious hospitality by the lieutenant governor who announced the toast to His Majesty the Emperor in German despite being only partially conversational in German — for the first time in a long row of dinners I attended up to now in British colonies.

Links

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”.