Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
it was not till seventy years after him that Captain Cook came along from South America through the Pacific Islands to New Zealand, and then on to the coast of what are now New South Wales and Queensland.
He was soon followed by other British explorers who opened up South and West Australia and Tasmania. They brought a good many live sheep with which were started those sheep farms which have since made the country so rich through its wool and preserved mutton.
At first Australia was thought to be a good place to which to send convicts, instead of keeping them in prisons at home, but soon so many people began to go out there to farm on their own account that the sending out, or transportation, of bad characters was stopped.
It proved such a rich country for farming and for minerals, and so healthy for Europeans, that it went ahead by leaps and bounds, and now within a hundred years it has already got a population of four and a half millions of British people; and it sends to England every year close on forty million pounds’ worth of goods.
Australia is made up of six great States – Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania.
The Australians as Soldiers
Australia has its own Army and Navy, in which every boy and man have to serve. The loyalty of Australians to the Old Country is so great that they have sent strong contingents of soldiers at different times to help us in our wars in other parts of the world.
In 1885 a fine body of men came from New South Wales to take part in the war in the Sudan (Egypt); and in the South African War in 1899-1901 all the Australian States sent fully equipped forces to uphold the flag in South Africa.
A number of them came to our relief in Mafeking, and the column which I had in the Transvaal after the siege was made up of Australians, Canadians, and South Africans.
And they were a fine lot of fellows; no tenderfoots there! They had lived in the bush and backwoods. Every man was a true scout; he knew how to find his way by day or night in a strange country; he knew how to hide himself from an enemy, how to read tracks, how to cook his food and look after his horse. Of course he could ride, shoot, and swim; and if one of them got wounded or injured the others were not going to leave hum behind, no matter how great the danger might be to themselves.
I remember one party of them getting surrounded by Boers in bad bushy and rocky country, and though it looked like all of them getting shot down – as all their horses were – they stuck it out gallantly and got away with comparatively slight loss in the end.
The boys of Australia are all obliged to serve as cadets, and to learn shooting and drill; and being also generally good scouts and swimmers, they will be as good as their fathers have been for the defence of their own country or for helping our Empire should she ever need it.
At daybreak we sighted Australia, a flat-topped bluff rising above the horizon. By breakfast-time we were up to it, a thickly wooded island lying off the wide shallow mouth of the river up which we had to go to reach Brisbane.
A very pretty trip it was as the river wound its way through mangrove swamps and wooded hills with occasional grass farm.
Then we began to pass factories, chiefly great meat freezing establishments, shipping wharves,