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here and there rises to 3300 or 3400; but to look at the hills from a distance, no one would anticipate any difficulty in driving a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep across the range. When they come to be traversed, however, the uniform gentle slope, which they appear to have towards the low land between them and the sea, is found to be worn and worm-eaten, as it were, by a thousand winding and branching glens and gullies, so that the surface is completely cut up in every direction into a mazy net-work of ravines and separating walls of rock. Each of these glens has precipitous, sometimes overhanging sides, made of thick-bedded sandstone, nearly horizontal, or inclining only with the general inclination of the ground the glen being only just wide enough to admit of a rocky and broken water-course at its bottom. The further we go up the sides of the range, the deeper and wider do these glens become, until, as is the case with the grand valley near the Weather-boarded Hut, the cliffs are 1500 feet high, and five miles apart, winding in headland after headland like the shore of some great sea-coast; and so unbroken and perpendicular, that if you drop a stone, you can see it strike the trees below; while to pick it up again, you would have to make a circuit of fifteen or twenty miles. Sir T. Mitchell says, that some of the surveyors, when tracing part of this system of glens in which the Cox River rises, emphatically 'thanked God when they found their way out of them.'

All this broken country, rocky and bare as it may be, with scarcely a foot on its higher part of anything but hard brown sandstone to be seen, is yet covered by the everlasting gum-tree bush; not mere scrub, but lofty, well-grown trees, that contrive somehow to send down their roots between the crevices of the rocks, and for the rest, live upon air.


The reader of Australian travels frequently finds mention made plains'-Bathurst, Liverpool, Goulburn Plains, &c. He must not, however, imagine a great flat country stretching to the horizon all round him. The Australian plains' are very often rolling, undulating country, surrounded by hills, or even mountains. Their characteristic is to have few trees, and those scattered in park-like clumps, and an open grassy country. The grass of Australia never forms turf; the blades are few and scattered, or grow in tufts like Italian rye-grass, so that, however green a country looks at a distance, you can usually, in riding over it, look down through the blades of grass on the brown ground below. It takes from three to five acres to feed one sheep. The herbage, however, is sweet and wholesome. After rain, it of course looks green and luxuriant; but during the dry season, as might be imagined, it looks more like hay than grass, and a lighted match falling in it would instantly set it in a blaze. In some of the three-year droughts with which the country has ere now been afflicted, every blade of grass withered away and disappeared, and the plains then became a mere expanse of dust and sand.

When high land strikes out upon the coast, so that the lower slopes of its cliffs and the hollows of its ravines are kept frequently damp by the moisture of the sea-air, or the springs that trickle from the rocks, we find a totally different vegetation from that composing the bush, or that found upon the plains and downs. Instead of the dry, shadeless gum-trees, we get lofty spreading trees, with thick umbrageous foliage, and a dense growth of underwood, from which rise slender and elegant palm-trees, leafy fern-trees, and other beautiful trees and plants. These thick jungly spots are known as 'brushes.' They increase in number and richness towards the north, and on the north-east coast the trees are tangled and matted together by huge creepers and climbersgreat lianas, that stretch their cable-like stems from tree to tree, and from bough to bough, hanging in graceful festoons between them, and giving to the dark glades of the forest the appearance of decorated halls.

Although the brushes or jungles increase in richness and beauty towards the north, or as we approach the equator, this is by no means the case with the gum-tree forest or bush. The largest and finest gum-trees and most beautiful bush are those of Van Diemen's Land. The most meagre, stunted, monotonous, and dreary bush is that of the north-east coast between Cape Melville and Cape York, and that on the low shores of Port Essington. Except this gradual deterioration, there is but little change in the general aspect of the vegetation over the whole of Australia. The bush around Sydney and that of Swan River has the same general aspect, as well as that of Melbourne and Adelaide, although the species of gum-tree differ more or less in each locality. Other small and local exceptions are to be made also for the country around Moreton Bay, and some other spots on the north-east coast, as about Whitsunday Passage. Forests of araucarian pines here give a totally different character, and a much richer and more beautiful aspect to the country, though it is perhaps almost equally sombre and monotonous.

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If we were to penetrate, with Captain Sturt, into the heart of this great country, we should meet with scenery stranger and more repulsive than any we have yet attempted to describe, and should have the African illustration with which we commenced forcibly recalled to us. We should, in fact, penetrate into a great sandy and stony desert, second only in aridity and barrenness, and perhaps in extent, to the desert of Sahara. It is from this great central plain that the hot winds' blow, which are an occasional annoyance to an Australian summer. These are felt in all the colonies, in Sydney, and Victoria, and even in Van Diemen's Land; they are, however, worst in South Australia, where they have been known to last nine days, and where some of the houses have a double wall towards the north, to protect the inhabitants from the heat. A hot wind, or, as it is called in Swan River, a 'land wind,' always blows from the

interior. It is frequently a strong breeze, or even a gale, raising up clouds of dust, and drifting even small pebbles along. It is as hot and dry as the blast of a furnace, just like what may be felt by opening rapidly the door of a very hot oven, and holding the face to it. It licks the perspiration from the skin, and makes it feel hot, dry, and feverish; crackles the leaves of the trees; splits the shingles of the roof; makes the knob of the door-handle too hot to clasp comfortably; curls up the bindings of the books that may be lying on the table; and drives man and beast to lurk in the darkest and closest recesses they can find that are sheltered from its influence, and where yet some little stock of cool air may linger, untouched by its parching breath.

The climate of Australia is noted for its dryness; not but that a very large quantity of rain falls in the course of the year, but for the most part it falls all together, and runs rapidly off in floods, leaving the greater part of the year with scarcely a drop. In the southern or colonised part of Australia, rain usually falls in great quantity in their three winter months-June, July, and August. At Sydney, snow is unknown, a few hoar-frosts in the early morning being the only sign of what we should call winter. In the mountains, however, it occurs more and more plentifully, in proportion to the altitude, till in the Australian Alps, or Snowy Mountains, it reigns through the greater part of the year.

In consequence of this abundance of snow on this lofty group, perpetual streams of running water flow from its sides, running on the one side into the plain of Gipps' Land, and on the other forming the head-waters of the Murray. These are the only rivers in all Australia that have a constant stream of water. All other rivers and lakes are full only in wet seasons. For the greater part of the year, the lakes are mere swamps-sometimes not even that, but dry grassy flats. The rivers, in the same way, are for the most part a mere succession of pools, called 'waterholes.' This peculiar character is common to the smallest 'creeks' or brooks, and the largest and longest rivers of the country, except the Murray, and the rivers of the Moreton Bay District. There is the river-valley, and the river-bed or channel, often with steep cliffy banks, and all the apparatus for a deep river, except the water. The river-channel is often for miles as dry as a turnpike-road, covered with sand and gravel, lying here and there in heaps, and often full of young trees and clumps of grass. A stranger is apt to ride across a river without being aware of it. Perhaps by looking very attentively, a little slowly-trickling rill might be found, stealing somewhere among the stones, or oozing through the sand. Following such a riverchannel upwards or downwards, perhaps for a few yards only, perhaps for many weary miles, the traveller suddenly comes on a water-hole, which may be a mere pond, a few yards across, but sometimes is a fine reach of water, a hundred yards, or even a mile or two in length. In the latter case, the river looks like a river

indeed, with wide-sweeping reaches of clear deep water; so that a stranger to the country could have no doubt that with a boat he could row down it to the sea. Yet it would end as suddenly as it began, and the channel beyond would be as dry again as ever. How these deep water-holes were formed, is a riddle that is not very easy of explanation. They are often excavated in hard rock, and have square perpendicular sides. It seems indeed as if a number of people, taking advantage of some extraordinary drought, having determined to deepen the river-bed, had commenced a number of excavations in different places, and had all left off suddenly, with their work unfinished, or only just begun. Some of these water-holes are saline or aluminous-in many districts all have a slight taste of that quality-but some are so impregnated as to be utterly undrinkable. Sometimes one hole as salt as a brinespring may be found within a few yards of another perfectly fresh. In endeavouring to describe the peculiarities of Australia, it happens that one naturally selects those most striking to a stranger, and those are not often the most agreeable ones. If the selection just placed before the reader should have the effect of giving him a disagreeable or repulsive idea of the country, let him be warned that such an idea needs correction. It is the feeling with which many, perhaps most persons, look upon the country on their first landing, and possibly for some time afterwards. When once,

however, their association of ideas and local prejudices have received the necessary correction, they begin to perceive beauties springing up and pleasures arising where at first all appeared barren and distasteful. Beautiful or magnificent scenery abounds in most parts of Australia. If the land be, on the whole, barren rather than fertile, there is enough of it to make extent compensate for want of richness. If the dryness of the climate renders navigable rivers impossible, and flowing streams rare and uncertain, it is, on the whole, a heavenly climate to live in-wholesome and invigorating in spite of the heat, with one unclouded glorious day succeeding another in almost certain succession for eight or nine months out of the twelve. To the traveller, houses become luxuries rather than necessities. Any spot where he can find water enough for his horse, and to make his own pannikin of tea, is for the night his inn. Few things in nature are more fresh and inspiriting than the Australian bush at early dawn, while the dew is yet upon the leaves; or a canter across some open, grassy plains, just sparkling in the rising sun, with their occasional clumps of trees casting long shadows on the ground; or little bosky dells marking the course of a river-channel, from which light wreaths of mist are beginning to rise. The Australian

magpie, or break-o'-day bird,' is then in full voice, pouring forth one or two slightly hoarse, but rich, full notes; while many strangely twittering, queer-songed birds join in the chorus; and the laughing jackass (a kind of large kingfisher) breaks in with the grotesque and discordant braying cachinnation from which

No. 2.


he derives his name. There is an exulting sense of freedom and independence which at such times sends the blood bounding along the veins, derived partly from the pure air and perfect health of body one possesses; partly, perhaps, from the sense of the unbounded country around us, and our power of roaming over it in any direction or to any extent, according to the dictates of our own sweet will and inclination, which we denizens of an old, densely-peopled world, cramped and penned in by hedges and walls and fences, and condemned to travel along turnpike-roads, rarely if ever experience. Having now endeavoured to convey to the reader a sort of rough notion of the general aspect and characteristics of Australia, as depending on its geology, botany, and meteorology, we will proceed to give him the best account we can of its gold districts, of the circumstances under which the gold is found, the way of procuring it, and the manner of life of the gold-diggers.

In order to avoid interrupting our narration, however, with occasional explanations, we will first give a brief general sketch of the method of occurrence of gold generally at or near the surface of the globe. Gold occurs sparingly in many hard rocks, such as granite, gneiss, mica-slate, chlorite-slate, clay-slate, &c., and sometimes even in limestone and other such rocks. It occurs far more abundantly in quartz, not in quartz-rock, as is often saidbecause quartz-rock is nothing more than a sandstone indurated by heat-but in quartz, the pure unmixed flint or silex. In igneous or metamorphic rocks this usually occurs in veins, or in large, irregular bunches or lumps, with veins diverging from them. These veins are most commonly only a few feet wide, and for the most part traverse the rocks in a vertical or highly-inclined position. Sometimes, however, veins or irregular masses occur many yards across in every direction, and sometimes, but very rarely, quartz is found in such abundance as to make what even might be called hills of itself. The gold is disseminated in this quartz, sometimes in such exceedingly minute particles as to be invisible, not only to the naked eye, but even to the eye aided by a powerful lens. Nevertheless, some Californian quartz of this kind, when crushed to powder, and treated with quicksilver, has been found to contain gold enough to pay the expenses of the operation and leave a profit. More commonly, the gold is seen as little yellow specks, flakes, or grains scattered through the quartz. When the quartz has a crystalline structure, which it often has, little nests of gold, likewise crystalline, may be seen imbedded between the interlacing crystals of the quartz. Where the interstices in the

* The general reader must be reminded, that by crystals mineralogists do not mean anything necessarily clear and transparent; they apply the term to those regular forms which all minerals assume naturally, each having its one peculiar form. The most dense and opaque minerals and metals-lead, copper, iron, and gold-are often found in their natural state in a crystalline form.

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