Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

me it was always tame. It is 16 inches in length, 7 inches in girth, and of a deep brown colour when placid, and a faintish yellow when irritated. The largest of the lizard family is the guana, a brown coloured reptile, with a back serrated like that of the Jew lizard, and in length averages from 2 to 3 feet. It lies for hours on the ground perfectly still, but when approached, swiftly scuffles off, swimming streams, and climbing trees with great agility.

Lizards and snakes are most numerous in swampy places near the coast, and around the lakes and creeks in the interior. Frogs are

I know but of two varieties : the bell frog, so named from their evening chorus resembling the tinkling of bells, and the bull frogs, that break the stillness of night with their loud and oft-repeated “flump, flump!”

Insects. The number and varieties of the insect family are in Australia great. Locusts, and several varieties both of flying and of hopping grasshoppers abound in the hottest

common.

season.

Common house-flies; blow-flies, like the English blue-bottle, but brown in colour; fleas and bugs are in myriads; and mosquitoes, and stinging sand-flies, are, in swampy places, very numerous. Of ants, there are many kinds, some with wings, and some an inch and a half in length; and the varieties of beetles, ichnumans, spiders, caterpillars, moths, butterflies, &c., are many, curious and splendid. Slugs, snails, and common earth-worms are met with; the two former resemble those of Britain, but the worms, although not numerous, are larger than their British congeners. The gum grub, a milk-white maggot, about 5 inches long, and as thick as a man's forefinger, is a soft, marrum-like marsal, swallowed by the aborigines whole and alive, after the manner of the lazzaroni with their maccaroni. It is described as exceeding all delicacies. Bees swarm in some places, and the hive-bee, introduced from England, thrives prodigiously, and produces an abundance of fine honey and wax. The venomous insects are the centipede, the scorpion, and the tarantula. Their powers and malignity have been greatly magnified ; for, although they are frequently met with, people are rarely injured by them. The centipede is generally found among dead wood. Its bite is more virulent than that of the scorpion or tarantula, but seldom or never fatal. Still it must not be neglected, or violent inflammation, if not worse consequences, will result. Fingers and toes have not unfrequently been lost from inattention to wounds of this nature. The application of ammonia to the wounded part, with purgative medicines taken inwardly, will usually allay the pain, and prevent all permanent injury. If no ammonia is at hand, a strong drawing poultice may be applied to the part affected with advantage.

CHAPTER IV.

The woods of Australia—The grasses—Vegetables and

fruits—Mode of planting and cultivating.

The indigenous vegetation of the Australian colonies is peculiar. Of trees, the encaliptæ and acaciæ are the most common. They are all evergreen; most of them put forth rich blossoms in spring, and those that do not periodically throw off their leaves, throw off their bark instead. The foliage is scanty, hangs vertically, and is of a deep sombre green colour, producing a monotonous and mournful aspect, and affording but little shade. The coatings of bark are thick, and numerous, hence the severe igneous mutilations which the forest trees of Australia withstand without loss of vitality. A sweet substance like manna drops from the leaves of the encaliptæ, and is greedily picked off the ground by the aborigines, the birds, and the ants.

The most general and frequently used timber is as follows:

Stringy bark, a variety of encalyptus, grows in clayey soils, and attains a gigantic size. It is a most durable and useful wood, hard in texture, and even in grain. The settlers split it up into shingles, palings, rafters, battrns, &c., for building purposes.

The gum trees, so named from the quantity of gum obtained from them, are all varieties of the encalyptus. They mostly grow on the banks of rivers, or in other humid situations, and attain an immense size. The red-gum, the most common, and the most beautiful of its tribe, is much used in the colonies by cabinet-makers, builders, and wheel

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »