Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
Devils. They had heads rather like pig, with dogs’ bodies. They were very lively and active, but are said to be very wild and untamable. Another curious animal is the Wombat, but we only saw his back. There were several of him there, but, in every case he was curled up asleep; the night is his time for action. He is a very hairy little fellow, like a very small bear.
Then, though we didn’t see him, we heard of another animal who is plentiful in the rivers of Tasmania, and that is the Platypus. He is flat-bodied like a mole, only about four times as large; instead of a mole’s hands he has webbed feet like a duck’s, and instead of a snout he has a duck’s beak.
In the woods there are beautiful parrots, parrakeets, and cockatoos of all sorts; but they are not loved by the fruit farmers – they are worse than loafing boys for robbing orchards!
The green parrots are very beautiful birds, more like big swifts as they dart about in small flocks, flashing green and blue in the sunshine, with bright red heads and white throats; and they give a nice little chuckle instead of the usual harsh scream of the parrot tribe.
We saw also a great many wild swans. These are all black with red bills and they are very plentiful all over Tasmania. The pity is that people slaughter them in such a wholesale way that they will die out before long unless they get better protection.
There are still a good many kangaroos and wallabies – a small kind of kangaroo – about the State, but only where they are strictly preserved by the landowners.
The orchards of Tasmania are some of the finest in the world, and a great many of the best apples which you cat in England conic from there.
Sheep and cattle and horses all do well there also, and so do hops and wheat. Then there are some as wonderful mines for gold and for tin; Mount Lyell and Bischoffsheim mines are widely celebrated.
The timber, too, is very good – the carved fittings and doors of the great Town Hall at Melbourne are all of the handsome Tasmanian woods. So Tasmania is a rich, beautiful, and mild country, and it is not surprising to find it fill of British colonists of all kinds.
Brady the Bushranger
To get to Australia from Tasmania you embark on a steamer at Launceston and steam for forty miles down the Tamar River and then for 230 miles across the sea.
Our ship had the Australian name of Rotomahana (which people call for short “The Rotten Banana “).
As we steamed down the Tamar we saw splendid looking fruit farms on the wooded hills on either bank, and very pretty homesteads nestling among the trees.
At one spot a high rocky bluff stood up above the forest. This is called “Brady’s Look-out “ because in the old days a celebrated bushranger or highway thief of the name used to hide in some caves in the neighbourhood, and from the bluff he could see round in all directions and so escape from pursuers. But they got him in the end.
A Sea Scouting Practice
The sea between Tasmania and the mainland of Australia is called Bass Strait. George Bass, after whom it was named, was a young ship’s doctor who came out to Australia in the vessel which brought Captain John hunter to be Governor in 1795. On the same ship was a midshipman named Matthew Flinders.