Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
they don’t come in among the breaking waves.
People therefore do a great deal of bathing in the shallow creeks and in the surf on the coast, and almost every Australian boy is a good swimmer; he would be thought a bit of an ass by the others if he were not. They swim a good deal with the dog stroke, especially while learning.
Most Australian boys are also good marksmen with the rifle, and most of them can ride. So they are pretty useful fellows all round.
Tiger the Tracker
While in New South Wales I heard from Mr. Vincent Dowling, an old bush hand, some exciting experiences of life in the bush.
The native blacks, of whom there are only a few thousand left now, are marvellous trackers, and here is an instance which happened not long ago.
A policeman in an up-country township went to arrest a man who was “wanted” there, but he went unarmed, and the man covered him with his revolver at some distance, retreated into some thick bush and made good his escape.
But the policeman at once got his arms, and with a black tracker, of whom the police kept several for tracking cattle thieves, he started in pursuit.
After going over fairly easy ground for ten or twelve miles, they got into a dry, stony district, and here the runaway, knowing that he would be tracked., thought he would get a chance of escaping his pursuers, so he jumped from rock to rock, leaving scarcely anything of a footmark to show where he had been.
But a nail scratch here, a grain or two of rock freshly broken there, a few rocks leading at easy bounds from one to the other, gave the tracker his line. Then the tracks led into a thick patch of scrub in which there was a fencers’ camp.
Tiger – for that was the tracker’s name – at once ran right round the clump examining all footmarks leading out of it, and then reported to the policeman that either the man was still in there or he had gone out wearing another pair of boots.
Then he made a wider circle at a good distance outside the first circle. Here he found footmarks going away from the clump, while the foot-tracks crossed by the inner circle had shown only some tracks walking into the clump.
So Tiger at once guessed that the man had changed his boots in the camp and had then walked out backwards for a short distance in order to deceive any trackers, and, when tired of that, he had turned round and walked in his right direction.
Very soon the fugitive got tired of wearing the strange boots, and, evidently hoping that he had successfully dodged his pursuers, he had thrown them away and put on his own again.
At last they came to a river. This was one hundred miles from where they started. The foot-tracks led straight down into the water, so it looked as if the man had deliberately walked right in and had swum across. So Tiger swam across and carefully examined the far bank to see where his man had come out.
He had not come out – as Tiger fully expected.
So back Tiger came and soon found footmarks still left in the mud close to the near bank, which showed that the runaway, instead of swimming across the river, had turned alongside the bank and had walked in the water for a long way downstream; in fact, Tiger followed the tracks for three miles in the water and then they turned up on to a bush path along which a herd of cattle had