Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
home, but have spread at such a rate as to have become a nuisance, as have also the blackberry and brier-rose brambles.
In fact, most things, whether plants or animals, which have been brought in here, do far better than in the Old Country.
Someone introduced some blackbirds and thrushes to make song birds; there are such a lot of them now that they destroy the fruit crops and have to be got rid of. Trout have increased so much in some of the rivers and lakes that they have eaten down all the feeding weed and are now getting diseased.
Rabbits have become a perfect plague, and have to be poisoned or trapped by the thousand to save the crops and bush.
Stoats were imported to kill them, but these have now increased at such a rate as to be a nuisance in their turn. Even Boy Scouts, having been introduced from the Old Country, have increased and Oh, well, I won’t talk about them as I don’t think they have become a nuisance yet; at any rate I have not heard of people shooting or poisoning them so far.
When you are in Dunedin you might just as well be in Scotland. This beautiful city stands on the shore of a long loch, which reminded me at once of the Clyde on a small scale, with downs and moors and upland farms on either side of it.
I have sailed in a good many fine ships in the course of this journey, but the best one of all of them was the Union steamship Maunganui, in which we sailed from New Zealand to Tasmania. She is one of the big fleet of fine steamers belonging to Australia which are employed entirely in running between New Zealand and Australian ports.
It is a three days’ voyage, just a thousand miles, from the Bluff in South New Zealand to Hobart in the south of Tasmania; and a nice old dusting we got as we came across with a big sea and a head wind against us.
But in the evening of the third day we saw right ahead of us some jagged headlands and needle- rocks outlined against the setting sun, and we knew that the Eagle Hawk point of Tasmania was before us.
Tasmania is to Australia what the Isle of Wight is to England on a rather larger scale. Australia is twenty-four times the size of the British Isles, and Tasmania is as large as Scotland, while the channel between them is 270 miles wide instead of two.
But Tasmania is, like the Isle of Wight, a beautiful island where Australians like to go for their holidays in the summer. Hobart is the capital, and you steam up to it for some twenty miles through a magnificent natural harbour of deep water protected on all sides from gales and high seas.
As you pass up this wonderful loch you see an island – well, it is almost an island, that is, a peninsula, connected with the land by a narrow neck with deep water on either side of it.
In the early days of the colony the convicts used to be kept here; and to give the warders less work to do the neck of land was guarded by a number of savage watch-dogs.
Then the sea on either side was infested with sharks, and they were encouraged to act as guards also by being continually fed with meat and scraps, and occasionally with a live pig so that they should learn not to be afraid of attacking a swimmer.
All this was a little discouraging to prisoners who wanted to escape, and they never tried to.