(650) … This operation completed I took my apparatus back
to the club and set off on the bicycle to call on a Friend here,
a Mrs Elcock, who lives out at Milton, a place two or three miles
out of the town. I had considerable difficulty in getting there,
however, as there was a strong wind against me all the way and
the roads were very heavy and muddy.
(652) … Soon after dinner Mr Douglas came in and we spent
the evening very pleasantly in conversation on various subjects,
among which cycling was the most important.
Monday 28th September
… (659) … Before going to (the club) however I went
round to the Exchange corner to look up Mr.W.E.Mort, a brother-in-law
of W.A.Douglas to whom I had a letter from that gentleman. Mr.
Mort is a partner in the great firm of Morts Dock and Engineering
Co., the only large shipyards in the colony and a firm that has
bought out a great many of the smaller places round about. To
my surprise I found Mr Mort, both in and ready to see me at once,
and I was still more astonished to find myself within twenty minutes
of having made his acquaintance, running about the city with this
gentleman looking for a "bike" on which to accompany
him on a three days ride in the south of the colony.
In King Street we
ran up against Mr Mort’s wife and daughter, a little girl
of twelve or so, and (660) when I had been introduced we all went
to the Fresh Food and Ice Co’s shop in this street where
the ladies were left with the strawberries and cream, while Mr
M. and I continued our so far very unsuccessful search for a ‘hireable’
I think we must have called at twelve different shops at least
before we gave up the quest, and at each place we were told either
that they never let machines or that all they had were in use.
As it was one o’clock when we gave up in despair of ever
getting what we wanted, Mr Mort asked me to come up to lunch with
him at his house at once, an invitation I accepted, leaving the
club business till the afternoon. To get out to Greenoaks we took
the King St. cable tram and riding out with it for about two miles
we were ultimately landed close to the terminus, some five hundred
yards from the house.
The cable station which we passed on the way is a fine large building,
very much nicer looking than that at North Shore. (661) Mr Mort’s
house is in the same grounds as the old family seat, Greenoaks,
now let I believe, and it overlooks part of the harbour, being
very high up and in the suburb known as Darling Point. All the
Mort family bicycle and this is almost the only topic upon which
they can talk at present, though they have only learnt to ride
a few months. …
(663) … Soon after two o’clock I called on Mr Mort
again, this time to find him in and only waiting for my arrival
to go home, as he wished to take me out with him to mend a puncture
in one of his tyres. (664) When we reached Greenoaks the first
thing I saw was the damaged machine hanging by long hooks from
the roof of the verandah in front of the house, and at once we
took off our coats and commenced the job of taking off the tyre.
The chain was already off and soaking in a basin full of kerosene,
though how it had got as dirty as it was with a leather gear case
on to keep out the dirt, I cannot understand.
Before the bicycle was nearly finished it was teatime and we went
inside and had a "spell", tho’ it would be more
correct to say I had it, as Mr Mort hardly did anything but look
on all the time I was working. It was half past six before everything
was put straight again, so I accepted Mrs Mort’s invitation
to stop on to dinner …
Wednesday 30th September
(666) Meeting Mr Mort in the Strand Arcade at 10.30 this morning
we inspected a bicycle which an agent there said he would lend
me for £1 a week. Not being satisfied with the machine I
told him I would call again if I could make no other arrangements
and let him know if I would have it. Mr Mort then told me that
he had to go over to his works at Balmain, and asked if I should
care to come with him and have a look round. Of course I was very
glad to have such an opportunity, so we went straight down to
the ferry and in a quarter of an hour we were landed on part of
the wharfe belonging to Morts Dock and Engineering Co.
This place must cover an area of over twenty acres, being equipped
with drydocks, slips, foundry, machine shops and every requisite
for repairing ships up to about 2000 tons. On one of the slips
was a German boat, a cruiser I think of perhaps a thousand tons,
having a fresh keel fitted to her, the (667) original one having
been damaged on some rocks. All about this vessel there were lots
of the bluejackets engaged in various jobs such as cleaning up
and painting the boats, washing their own clothes or working cranes
and other machines to help the men engaged in the repairs. The
ships to be attended to are hauled up the slips by water power,
the plant for which was made by Armstrongs of Newcastle-on-Tyne
and is very well arranged. The works are arranged round the shores
at the end of a bay in the harbour so that the boats waiting for
repairs stand all about the enclosed space of water so as to be
ready at the shortest notice to come up into a dock. In the dry
dock was a fine fourmasted iron ship of the Aberdeen Line having
her bottom scraped and painted. Mr Mort took me down into this
place to see the men at work there.
At the office where we stopped for a short time before returning
to town we picked (668) up a Mr Cruikshank whose profession is
the inspection of marine boilers for the government. This gentleman
said if I cared at any time to have a look over the railway works
or any of the government departments he would be very glad to
get me the required permission, an offer of which I hope to avail
myself some time in the future.
When we got back to the city I went off to another bicycle shop
near the new Market Buildings in York St. called Edgar’s,
where the clerk at G.B.&Co’s [Grace Brothers?] told
me I should very likely be able to hire a machine. Here again
however I was told that nowhere in Sydney should I be able to
get a bike on hire as all these were already let out. In despair
I asked the man if he had a second hand one for sale, when he
showed me a New Howe which he said was a very good investment
at £11.0.0, the fact of its being last year’s pattern
making no difference to its reliability or fitness for my purpose.
(669) Of course the man was only selling on a commission so I
told him that if his principal would get one or two slight repairs
made I wd. give him £10 for it, and I agreed to call again
tomorrow morning for the reply. After lunch I met Mr Mort and
party by agreement at the Cinematograph exhibition in Pitt St.,
but as this scientific novelty is probably quite an old acquaintance
of the greater part of the reading and sightseeing B.P. at home
I will not describe it in detail. Really the only difference between
this invention and Edison’s kinetoscope is that here the
moving pictures are thrown on to a screen so as to be life size
instead of having to be viewed through little peepholes like a
The best life studies in my opinion were the arrival of an express
train, and Baby’s dinner, the child’s unsuccessful
and rather wasteful attempts to feed itself in the latter picture
being very naturally reproduced, while the whole audience shrieked
with laughter when young hopeful (670) held out his chubby little
fist with a piece of cake in it, for Daddy to taste. …
(672) … The journey out [to Turramurra] took us nearly three
quarters of an hour, the country we passed through being prettily
wooded and undulating, with every few miles a little collection
of houses round a station with some uncouth name like Wahroonga,
Pymble and many others.
Thursday 1st October
(673) My first business this morning was to go to Edgar’s
bicycle shop in York St. to see if the owner of the Howe machine
was willing to sell out on my terms, but though I had made an
appointment with Edgar he was not in and did not turn up though
I waited twenty minutes for him. Telling the lad I would return
in an hour I went back to G.B.& Co to do a little writing
to fill up the time also calling on W.J.Baker the Friend cutler
whom I saw on my former visit to Sydney. When I returned to Edgar’s
I found the man in and was told that I could have the machine,
with all necessary repairs executed, for the money I had offered
and I agreed to have it sent round to the club just before lunch.
It is really funny what a great hold bicycling seems to have taken
on the society of Sydney, for at the club every meal time, the
men at my table are almost certain to talk of very little else,
and (674) the same remark applies to chance scraps of conversation
that one hears in trams and ‘buses.
The greater part of my afternoon was spent in packing up, all
my things having to be put away so that my room might be used
if necessary during my absence.
About four o’clock I went down on the ‘bike’
to the town and got my letters from G.B.& Co., besides several
little touring requisites such as parcel carriers for my handle
bars, and a lamp. Mr Mort had agreed to meet me at Redfern station
at 5.15, and supposing that the train left at that time I had
to race my hardest from the club to get there punctually. I was
in a way disappointed however to find that we did not leave till
the half hour, so that my hurry was entirely wasted energy. Having
secured my rail & bicycle tickets I set out to look for Mr
Mort & running up against him very shortly I found him in
a great state of excitement about me, thinking that I was lost.
(675) Mr Mort informed me, as soon as he had satisfied himself
that I was all right, that he had got an engaged carriage, &
that with us there would be a Mr McCabe & his little boy,
going as far as Woolongong [sic].
This gentleman is a colliery manager & I believe owner , somewhere
down this line, & seems to be a great friend of Mr Mort’s.
The country we travelled through was very uninteresting till we
approached Como, a lake named of course after the Italian water,
& certainly very pretty though not to be at all compared I
should say to Como on the other side of the world. Really the
scenery here was very similar to the Hawkesbury, winding &
thickly wooded shores with one or two cottages stuck about the
margin being all there was to see.
At Woolongong the train stopped for ten minutes & we had a
very refreshing cup of tea, together with some beautiful Tasmanian
(676) At Kiama, a great agricultural centre, the platform was
more or less crowded with loungers who had evidently come down
to see the train as the one excitement of the day, and I was greatly
amused at the interest they manifested in our bicycles, the windows
of the guard’s van being quite blocked up with curious and
critical faces. We reached Nowra, the end of our journey, at about
ten thirty, but the station being two miles from the town we had
to get on our ‘bikes’ to ride in my lamp giving me
a lot of trouble on the way by going out every few yards, the
oil in it being so thin that any sudden jerk forced enough of
it up the wick to put out the light.
The Prince of Wales Hotel at Nowra is a funny rambling old building
with such thin partitions between the rooms that every movement
of one’s next door neighbour is as audible as if he stood
by one’s side. We managed however to get a very comfortable
Friday 2nd October
(677) This morning at five o’clock I was awakened by the
noise made by two commercials who were making an early start for
Moruya. One of these, a typical Jew called Levy, we made acquaintance
with last night & Mr Mort asked him, as he passed through,
if he would kindly tell the keeper of the half-way accommodation
house that we were coming on later.
After breakfast I went out on a tour of investigation in the town
to see if I could get some cycle lamp oil of a rather more stable
quality than that I had already. In a chemist’s shop, the
only one I believe in the town, I found just the very thing I
was in want of, a mixture of colza and kerosene and luckily the
man had just enough to fill my lamp.
Soon after nine o’clock we started, the roads being in good
condition, and the sun just pleasantly warm, though giving promise
of an uncomfortable heat later (678) on in the day. We had gone
about a mile when Mr Mort though it would be wise to stop and
blow up his tyres; so we got off in the middle of the road for
this purpose, to the great annoyance of a horseman who came up
just then with two beasts which he found it hard work to drive
past, partly on account of the width of scrub on each side of
the road into which in opposite ways his two charges kept rushing
We pedalled on quite slowly for five or six miles, all of which
was up hill and a good part of it in a perfectly straight line.
The road sides were just the same all the way, our view being
shut in by gum trees or thick scrub, with here and there a patch
practically cleared either by fire or hand with the purpose, never
carried out, of growing some crop or other on it. When we had
covered about eighteen miles we met an old man, with whom as we
happened to be walking up hill at the time, we (679) stopped and
talked a bit. In the course of conversation the old chap told
us that his name was Conolly and that a mile further on we should
come to his house, where if we liked we could stop and have something
for lunch. Mr Mort however had heard of the man before, and as
the coach custom had left him for a certain Ben Louttit further
along the road, we thought it would also be our best plan to try
the latter place.
At Conolly’s house which we passed soon after this, we saw
the old coach stables, just rude bark sheds already in a somewhat
advanced state of decomposition. Near here was a road mender or
maintenance man (hereabouts emphasis is placed on second syllable)
who was engaged when we came up to him in setting his dog on to
finish up a snake that he had already more than half killed himself.
The dog however was not at all keen on the job and contented himself
with emitting a prolonged series of short barks (680) at the rapidly
Tom Louttit’s house which we reached in another ten minutes
is only a little hut built of weatherboards with a tin roof, and
behind it stalls of a similar pattern to those at Conolly’s,
though better in appearance because newer. The proprietor of this
little place and his wife made us very comfortable for the short
time we were their guests, the food though plain being very good,
and the charges so low that as the worthy couple are just starting
Mr Mort and I thought it better to give them rather more than
they asked. After our lunch Mr Mort lay down for a rest while
I made a rough sketch of the place, my camera having gone on the
day before to Milton, so as to lighten my load. After leaving
Wandandia, the real name of this little spot, we had several miles
of heavy sandy road ending with a hill three miles long, up which
Mr Mort insisted on walking, though the greater part of it we
might well have ridden.
(681) This hill wound up the side of Myrtle Creek, the only piece
of scenery that we had passed through worthy of the name, and
on reaching the top we had about a mile and a half of down hill
so steep that we had to back pedal the whole way as well as keeping
our brakes hard on. From the bottom there was a spin of over a
mile along a perfectly level and very good road, and here we made
a great pace, what wind there was being in our favour. Our next
descent was a really lovely slope, just steep enough to take us
along fast without necessitating the use of the brake, but the
fun was rather spoilt to me by my hat blowing off half way down.
From the foot of the hill into Milton is a steady pull of over
a mile, at the top of which we halted and tidied ourselves up
to be fit to meet the Milton society, a large part of our apparel
having been transferred from our backs to the handle bars during
the warmer hours in the middle of the day.
(682) Milton is a little township of perhaps two thousand inhabitants,
one long street on the ridge of a hill being the backbone with
a few stunted ribs sticking out on either side in the shape of
blind alleys generally serving as the approach to one, or at the
most two, tumbledown little wooden cottages. I think the Milton
populace must consider a ‘bike’ a thing of beauty;
at any rate while I was cleaning mine outside the hotel it was
a ‘joy for ever’ to the twenty or thirty spectators
who seemed glued to the spot and every now and then would make
a remark in an awed whisper as if the machine would be offended
at these criticisms did it hear them.
After tea Mr Mort sallied out and purchased a wire meat cover
as a present for Mrs Louttit, the flies at our midday halting
place having been a great annoyance to him. To pass the time in
the evening we played about with an awful instrument of torture
known as an Ariston Organette, the ‘better days’ of
which were long past.
Saturday 3rd October
(683) For some unknown reason the Fates seem to have decreed that
my night’s rest shall always come to an untimely end, for
this morning I was again awakened soon after five o’clock
by someone rushing into my room and shouting out to know if I
were Captain Youl. Before I had time to reply the door was slammed
to and I was left to abuse the memory of the unknown intruder.
We had an early breakfast as Mr. Mort was very keen on getting
away as soon as possible, and by a quarter to nine we were well
on our road, with a light wind in our faces and a red hot sun
on our backs. To Ulladulla, the first town on our route, is a
distance of four miles & as the general tendency of the road
is down hill we covered this in a quarter of an hour; of which
performance Mr.Mort was very proud. Ulladulla is a little fishing
village of ten or twelve houses & a store the bay on the shores
of which it is situated, being fairly well protected (684) from
the sea by a long sandy bar.
From Ulladulla to Termeil there are two roads one by the shore
& the other upon the hill side, & people’s opinions
seemed to differ so much as to which it would be better for us
to follow that Mr.Mort decided to go by his own recollection of
the two ways & fixed upon the lower.
I do not wish to fill up the rest of this page with adjectives
descriptive of this road, as I could easily do, but it will be
enough to say that I could hardly wish my worst enemy a harder
fate than to have to bicycle through that road. Fourteen miles
on a blazing hot day, the only wind an occasional fiery gust,
& sand from four to eight inches deep all the way, is about
enough to finish anybody; & at times I felt as if I could
drop right off my machine, the exertion was so great. Things would
not have been so bad if there had been any shelter, but the trees
were few and far between, & even among them there was no shade
as the sun was nearly (685) straight above us. Once when I was
trying to pass Mr.Mort we both got mixed up in the sandy rut &
came to grief together, & though neither of us were hurt yet
the incident did not exactly improve our tempers which the trying
circumstances we were placed in had strained to an uncomfortable
Five miles or so from Ulladulla we came to Lake _________ a shallow
salt basin in which for want of a better place, we had a bathe,
& though refreshed for a short time thereafter, yet the permanent
effect was if anything rather to enervate rather than to brace.
About a mile beyond the lake we passed a little humpy known as
__________ where I dismounted & had a glass of water, in return
for which I ‘snapped’ the house the most interesting
feature of which was a tree stump which was in use as a chimney
(photo on opposite page).
Sometime after leaving this spot having got some way in front
of Mr.Mort I sat down by the road side to wait for him, &
was very much surprised when he came up (686) to see him go scorching
by without so much as a look in my direction. Thinking that perhaps
I had offended him by leaving him behind I presently resumed my
way with the expectation of getting a great blowing up when I
again overtook my companion.
I had not gone far however when I came to some houses, spread
along the road with long intervals between them, over a distance
of half a mile & at the further end of this settlement I found
Mr.Mort resting in the bar of a little cottage honoured with the
name of Turmeil Hotel. Here we had a feed consisting of boiled
eggs & accessories, the chops which were set before us being
consigned to a large dog after we had had one taste of them.
While we were thus recouping our energies Mr.Mort told me that
when he was at Eton he had been fag to Lord Rosebery & that
the noble earl had himself fagged for Mr.Mort’s elder brother
Laidley. In remembrance of this school acquaintance Mr.Mort has
(687) christened his estate at Bodalla, Dalmeny.
When we started again from Turmeil we had a long two miles of
steep climbing most of which we walked, the road being beautifully
smooth making us wish that it had been our lot to run down it
instead of toiling up.
Having reached the crest of the ridge the road keeps approximately
at the same level with long sweeps on gentle gradients which are
both easy to ride up & pleasant to coast down. For four miles
we went on through this sort of country the forest or bush all
around us being shady & more or less pretty none of those
ugly rung trees to spoil the landscape.
While walking up a short piece of steep road in this part of our
journey we heard a rattling noise among some bushes on our right,
& on my throwing a stone into the place a large iguanah ran
out & like a flash scrambled up a tree far out of our reach.
This lizard-like animal was fully three feet long to the end of
its tail & its skin was a patchwork of varied colours that
looked (688) very fine in the sunlight. All along the road we
were struck by the great number of snake tracks which showed very
clearly in the light dust, this being the time of year when those
reptiles go down as near to water as possible to stop there during
Our hill top road ended at last in a long hill too steep to coast
down, at the foot of which we stopped for a drink in Cockwire
Creek, a very pretty little streamlet losing itself on either
side of the cleared space in very thick bush.
I noticed a beautiful heliotrope coloured flower just about here,
growing on bushes three or four feet hight, & though each
flower was very small the general effect was like a large bouquet,
so close were the blossoms together. After a few hundred yards
of up hill from Cockwire Creek we got onto a piece or road just
like a cycling track with no ruts or loose stones but a very thin
covering of the finest gravel so that we travelled over this at
a great speed.
The pleasure was by no means lessened by (689) the latter part
being all down hill, but we got a nasty surprise at the bottom
just when we were going our fastest to rush up the opposite bank,
in the shape of a wooden tramway right across the road, the rails
of which stood up three or four inches from the ground & bumped
us unpleasantly as we rushed over them.
This line which was built to carry timber, runs on near the road
for a mile or more & we met it again in the middle of a little
village called Benandra, where some children were playing see-saw
over a large log on the ‘green’.
These kids called out ‘fatty’ to Mr.Mort & greatly
incensed him thereby & he told me afterwards that he had half
a mind to stop & wallop one of them on the spot! In the flats
round this village there were a lot of cattle, the bells on their
necks sounding very pretty especially when the stock themselves
were hidden in the bush. When we had gone a few miles from Benandra
Mr.Mort announced that the next hill would be our last one (690)
before reaching Bateman’s Bay, but he was somewhat out in
his calculations as we climbed at least three or four before we
came to the real last. On running down into the valley wherein
lies the Bay, we found the ferry in which we were to cross to
the township moored away from the shore & the boatman on the
opposite shore running along to his little skiff to come to our
assistance. When we were all on the ferry & just moving off
we saw a spring cart & two men in it tearing down the hill
to catch us, so the man waited for them, greatly to their satisfaction
as for some reason they were in a tremendous hurry to get across.
In fact they were so keen on making haste that they both lent
a hand in driving the punt along & in an incredibly short
space of time we were on the opposite bank of the river.
Fisher’s Hotel, the only one I believe in the place, is
a little wooden building with a good wide verandah in front &
a very pleasant landlady who at one time kept (691) the hotel
for the Morts at Bodalla.
After tea we had the company, by Mr.Mort’s invitation, of
the postmaster of the town, a little nervous-looking man who seemed
to feel it his duty to laugh outrageously at every feeble little
joke or remark of Mr.M’s & where possible to flatter
that gentleman to his face so as to almost make him blush.
The conversation at tea turning upon the subject of whales every
man present seemed to try & top the last story in a truly
Yankee fashion, & if half of what I heard is true these animals
& the ‘thrashers’ that kill them must be wonderfully
One fact that all present agreed to, certainly seemed very extraordinary
if true; namely that a ‘killer’ or ‘thrasher’
has been known to come up to a whaling boat, & lifting the
anchor, drag the craft right out to a whale! Mr Levy the traveller
dropped in during the evening & told Mr.Mort some astonishing
facts with regard to the boot business; (his line).
Sunday 4th October
(692) As Mr.Mort was in a great hurry to go on to Bodalla he would
not hear of our staying here today but told me before breakfast
that he intended to start at nine o’clock. This laudable
desire of his to leave early was however knocked on the head by
my having to clean out & screw up again the bracket of my
bicycle as it had been working yesterday in a rather unsatisfactory
manner. When at last we did get away it was nearly eleven &
I felt anything but ready for another forty miles, the heat being
intense & the exertion of working on at my machine with about
a dozen critical onlookers having taken it out of me a lot. Just
after leaving the bay we had a long & steep hill to climb,
on the top of which we passed a Roman Father in a buggy with a
very nervous horse, tho’ I think the driver was more frightened
if possible than his animal.
A little further on while descending the (693) hill again we passed
two other cyclists, a lady & gentleman, who we have since
heard left Mogo this morning. This little township is a very uninteresting
collection of twenty or thirty houses & a pub. at the door
of which latter place we pulled up for some refreshment. We had
no sooner got off our machines than a crowd of men poured out
of the door, surrounding a big fellow in a sack who seemed to
be considerably more than half seas over. Shoving our way through
these larrikins we went into a little parlour & gave our orders;
which we had no sooner polished off than the hero in the sack
came in & tried to force us to drink with him. Rather foolishly
I think Mr.Mort had another ‘long beer’, while I nearly
had a row with the bully because I would have no more; I was very
glad when we were well away again, the society of Mogo, perhaps
I should say the section of it that we came across, being hardly
to my taste.
(694) We had hardly cleared the place, when Mr.Mort began to complain
greatly of the heat, & to wish he had been satisfied with
one glass, & as he said he would take it very easy the rest
of the way, I kept on going ahead & then waiting for him as
being less fatiguing to me than walking most of the way as he
During one of these waits, while I was sitting on the road side
in the sun, there being no shade to be had anywhere, my tyre suddenly
exploded with a report like a gun, the outer casing having completely
given way with a tear fully three inches long in it. On taking
the tyre off I discovered that this was an old sore the canvas
lining having been torn before in the same place & stitched
together again with fine twine. We very soon put the inner tube
to rights the rent in it being comparatively small but the outer
case was rather a business, especially as being ribbed it offered
a very poor surface for the patch to adhere to.
(695) Eventually however we managed to make more or less of a
job of it & after waiting a few minutes for the solution to
harden we proceeded on our way. At the top of the next hill I
looked at the place & was surprised & annoyed to find
that the pressure had drawn the patch to one side & that a
sort of ‘bleb’ of the inner tube was protruding through
the re-opened rent, thus: (drawing of bulge emerging from the
patch on the surface that contacts the road)
Of course I had at once to let the air out, & after some consideration
we decided that Mr.Mort was to go on to Moruya & send back
a trap for me, leaving me his repairing outfit & pump so that
I might have another try to put the thing to rights.
This I did, & thinking that perhaps it would last better if
I let it harden longer before riding it again, I left it for half
an hour before even blowing it up. When I did start again it was
simply to push the machine to see how the patch held & (696)
I think I must have gone a mile in this fashion before I trusted
myself once more on the saddle, & then of course I only went
very slowly, being overtaken even on a down hill by two traps
the latter containing five Salvation Army men. As I proceeded
however & the tyre shewed no signs of giving way, my confidence
increased & I was soon bowling along over the ground at my
usual pace, overtaking again the Salvationists & the other
After two miles of
this, when I was thinking that perhaps after all I should catch
up Mr.Mort before he reached Moruya, the old thing gave out again
& I was reduced to the use of Shank’s mare once more.
Very shortly the red coats caught me up again & as they had
to get out & walk up the hill we went on together. I found
them very intelligent fellows, though to all of them a bicycle
was quite new & a great source of interest. About two miles
of gradual rise brought us to the top of the ridge (697) from
which there is a very good run right into Moruya, & here I
stopped & had another try to repair the tyre while my five
companions drove on.
I had only just finished
up the patch again when I heard the sound of wheels approaching
& a little sulky drawn by a very lively piebald pony came
into view. This turned out to be the trap sent out for me by Mr.Mort,
so I packed the bicycle in front fastening it up to the splashboard
with string, & we commenced our trip into the town. As we
went along I was increasingly sorry that I had had the bad luck
to burst my tyre when I did as the road was very good & with
very little or no effort I could have run all the rest of the
way into Moruya.
At the foot of the
mountain were was a level stretch of splendid road for about two
miles into town, & we bowled along over this in splendid style.
It was most humiliating thus to have to come through (698) the
town, my bicycle being to all appearances undamaged & the
natural conclusion to an onlooker being that I was too lazy to
ride! Arrived at Keating’s hotel I was told that Mr.Mort
had just left and hurried through some lunch & made another
attempt to start away on the ‘bike’ telling the driver
of the buggy that was to bring our bags, that most probably he
would have to pick me up on the way.
This forecast of mine
was fulfilled sooner than I expected for I only got just clear
of the town when the patch shewed such evident signs of giving
way again that I dismounted & waited till the buggy came up,
taking off the front wheel to make the packing easier. The road
to Bodalla is most monotonous all the way, one stretch of six
miles being in a perfectly straight line with the exception of
a trifling dip & deviation in the middle. There are three
settlements on the way, none of them worthy of the name of village
but each honoured with a long & high sounding name. (699)
These are, in the order in which we came to them, Bergalia, Turlinjah
& Trunketabella the last named being in the Bodalla estate,
& really only one farmstead with its dependencies.
At Turlinjah there
is a prettily situated little post office, quite buried in an
orchard & approached from the road through a rustic lych gate
over which is suspended a rudely painted inscription to the effect
that inside will be found Turlinjah P.O. As we came in sight of
Trunkalla, as it is called generally, I was much struck by the
splendid low lying meadow land that surrounds it, on which there
must have been some 500 ‘milch kine’ feeding. This
was by far the best looking land of the sort I have seen in Australia
& as I believe it cost over £10 an acre to clear it,
this is perhaps no wonder.
Just beyond this place is a fine wooden bridge over the Tuross
river, not half a mile from Bodalla & of very recent construction,
an old log erection that once stood there having been washed away.
(700) When we drove into the inn yard at Bodalla I was told that
Mr.Mort was waiting to see me in the ‘cottage’, a
sort of appendage to the hotel often used by families as being
more private than the main building.
On entering the sitting room which was very dark owing to small
& well curtained windows, I found Mr.Mort in a ludicrous state
of semi collapse, mopping furiously away at his head & imbibing
quantities of liquid refreshment, while his brother Edward looked
on greatly amused, not being a cyclist himself.
As soon as Mr.Mort had partially recovered we all strolled out
into the road where we met the new Dr. & his wife whose names
are Pawlett & also Mr.Freeman the estate accountant who bears
a remarkable likeness to Lord Salisbury. In the evening a tall
lanky jolly looking Scotchman, by name Douglas Hutchinson, dropped
in to see Mr.Mort & as he is sort of estate manager the two
talked a lot of ‘shop’, while I occupied myself writing.
October (Bodalla, Derraquin)
At an early hour this morning I was awakened by the peculiar piercing
cry of some .i.magpies;, a large number of which I have since
learnt are kept by the old secretary of the .i.Bodalla Company;
company, Mr.Freeman. Having their wings clipped they are allowed
to roam about at their own sweet will & all day long one can
hear them calling one another among the tall trees in the village.
For an hour or so after breakfast I was occupied in printing some
photos & writing a little diary, & while I was thus engaged
Mr.Laidley Mort, William’s oldest brother, came in &
With this gentleman I went out into the village, partly with the
object of telegraphing to a man in .i.Moruya; who was reported
to have on hand a .i.bicycle; tyre that would suit me, & also
to make a small tour of inspection of the place, my view of it
last night having been very limited.
The main attraction is the store, a typical country shop keeping
in stock a little of everything & none of it very good.
This store, like all the rest of the place, is run by the .i.Bodalla
Company;company & must be I should say as large a source of
income as any other branch of the estate.
While I was strolling around, Laidley Mort’s two daughters,
Ethel & Phyllis, rode in, & as Willie happened to be about,
I was duly introduced. The former has a great reputation as a
horsewoman, her mount “Mickey” is considered to be
too much of a handful for ordinary people to manage, though his
fair rider handles him with the greatest apparent ease.
Yesterday Willy Mort announced to his brother that he would come
over to “Derraquin” to lunch, & in accordance
with this arrangement we had the buggy got ready & drove over
about twelve o’clock.
The distance is about five miles, & though the road itself
is fairly good, yet the number of ups & downs along it made
our progress rather slow. For the first two miles our way lay
through more or less cleared land, & past the Roman Catholic
Chapel & a little group of houses known as Borang, but when
these were left behind we entered a region of natural bush, the
only reason for its ever having been “taken up” being
to prevent any outsider from settling down right in the middle
of the .i.Bodalla; estate. About a mile before reaching Derraquin
we came to a saw mill, the property of the .i.Bodalla Company;
company & worked by two men who live in pretty little creeper-covered
cottages near by.
“Derraquin” stands some way from the road on a little
hill perhaps eighty feet above the level of the surrounding paddock,
& to reach it we made a considerable deviation so as to lessen
the climb for the horse.
When we arrived at the stables we were met & welcomed by Ted
Mort, who helped us to take the horse out of the buggy & give
him a feed before turning him loose. Round the house Mr.Mort has
planted a little shrubbery which as yet is only in its first stages
but should in time look very well. None of the original gums have
been left standing within a large radius, as their presence might
endanger the house in case of a bush fire, a common occurrence
about here in summer.
In a little open loose box in the stable yard Mr.Mort pointed
out to us two colts, one of which had already nearly broken a
man’s neck by throwing him off against a high fence when
he was first mounted.
On walking up to the house we were met by Mr.Mort’s only
child, a little girl of twelve or so, & her governess Miss
Cross, & to both of whom I was introduced. On our way to Derraquin
Willie Mort had described Miss Cross to me as a beauty of the
first water, but something in his manner had forewarned me that
I should find her rather the contrary, & in this case my supposition
turned out to be correct.
Almost immediately after lunch Kitty & her governess rode
off to the village while we gentlemen had a look round the place,
including Mr.Mort’s darkroom & an arbour he uses as
a workshop. Here I may as well say that Ted Mort’s wife,
who was I am told a very beautiful woman, was drowned in the .i.Tuross;
river three years ago under very sad circumstances, her husband
at the time being away north.
Since that event Mr.Mort has changed from a smart business man
into a kind of modern hermit with no visible object in life &
no occupation other than a little attempt at farming, most of
the work being left to his men.
As Willie Mort imagined that he had a lot of business to do in
the village, we harnessed up our old “gee” again about
half past two & drove back to .i.Bodalla;, to be “bailed
up” when nearly there by two women in search of subscriptions
for a church in .i.Moruya;.
Arrived at the .i.Bodalla; Arms, Mr.M’s “business”
seemed to resolve itself into the cleaning of his .i.bicycle;,
& this he only did after seeing me start on my machine.
While we were thus occupied, my companion kept up a running commentary
upon his brother Laidley’s mismanagement of the estate:
rather bad form, I thought, before one who a week ago was unknown
When I had finished my .i.bicycle; I went a little run on it round
the village & was surprised to find that the patch I had put
on at the top of the .i.Moruya; hill was still holding, no matter
how much I bumped it over stones. After tea, which we had in the
public dining room, Mr.Mort called in the .i.Bodalla Company;
company’s joiner, a dark gloomy-looking Frenchman with a
black beard & restless little eyes looking out under his shaggy
eyebrows. This man’s aid was invoked to turn up a little
piece of wood for part of Mr.Mort’s cyclometer & he
was also good enough to promise to turn me up a couple of handles
for my machine, the old cork ones having tumbled to pieces during
the journey down.
Later on our friend Levy, the Jew ‘Commercial’, dropped
in & we spent a rather melancholy half hour in his company,
hearing a full account of his wife’s last illness &
death. Mr.Levy takes about with him on his travels a little white
fox terrier, whose funny tricks somewhat dispelled the gloom of
his conversation, though, poor man, he seemed terribly in the
dumps on this particular occasion.
There is a funny old chap at the hotel called ‘Peter’
who looks after the fires & does odd jobs about the house,
his youth having been spent in Heidelberg where he was born, &
later on practised the art of floor polisher to the nobility &
gentry of the district. He is now in his second childhood &
having lost all his teeth, it is at times difficult to make out
October (Bodalla, Dalmeny)
At breakfast this
morning Mr.Mort announced that he intended to drive down to ‘.i.Dalmeny;’,
his estate of five thousand acres or so, taking with him ‘Doctor’,
an old horse of his that he has had in use for over twenty years.
Before describing this outing, however, I will make a rough plan
of .Bodalla; which may come in useful later on.
About ten o’clock we set off on our eight-mile drive, the
old horse taking us along splendidly & seeming willing, if
he had not been held back, to run us up the hills as fast as we
travelled along the level.
‘Doctor’ is even still Mr.Mort’s great pride
& in his younger days he was by far the fastest horse in the
district, easily travelling from .i.Moruya; to .i.Bodalla;, a
distance of fifteen miles, in an hour & a quarter.
As far as the gates of Derraquin our road was the same that we
were on before & the other three miles was through much the
same sort of land, a good deal of it being still in process of
clearing or in its natural state. At one place after entering
the .i.Dalmeny; estate which is bounded by Lawler’s creek
on the north, we stopped & had a long conversation with the
“boss” of the clearing gang. This man’s story
of the poor price they get for their work & the consequent
hand-to-mouth way in which they live, was truly extraordinary,
but as any surplus they may have at the end of a job, after settling
up with the store, invariably goes in a huge spree at a neighbouring
village, one has hardly the same sympathy with them that such
a tale would otherwise evoke.
As the elegant name .i.Dalmeny; coupled with the word ‘estate’
may produce a wrong impression, I had better describe here the
appearance of the place from the road.
After crossing Lawler’s creek, we have on the right a strip
of land a hundred yards or so wide, all on the side of a hill
& quite cleared so far as the undergrowth & smaller trees
are concerned. The large trees, however, have all been left standing,
their dead white limbs sharply defined against the sky, while
round the bole of each is the inevitable “ring” in
the bark cut to a depth of a couple of inches or so. These trees
stand pretty thickly together, while on our left between the road
& the lake, stretches a broad green paddock with only an average
of about ten trees to the acre.
On this land there are a number of cattle grazing & certainly
they should thrive there, as Mr.Mort tells me that nearly ten
pounds an acre has been spent on getting it to the state it is
in at present. Rather more that a mile from the little creek we
come to the swell new gate that Mr.Mort has had erected at the
entrance to his drive, & here we catch our first glimpse of
the house, a small red-painted weatherboard cottage, at present
let to & occupied by the Maxwell family. This then is Mr.Mort’s
“little place”, & though there is nothing much
there at present to please the eye, yet were enough money spent
in planting & laying it properly out, I think I can safely
say that I have seen no place in Australia that would be likely
to beat it.
Instead of driving up to the house, Mr.Mort took the buggy down
near the boat house where we were to picnic, & there let “Doctor”
loose to look after himself in the way of provision. Having taken
our box of provisions into the boathouse to be safe in case of
rain, we proceeded to look up some of Mr.Maxwell’s family
of sons, seven of whom, great strapping hairy-chinned fellows,
assist him in the working of the farm.
The first two we came across were at work in a seven-acre paddock,
ploughing, & on catching sight of us they came forward &
greeted Mr.Mort quite pleasantly, tho’ not exactly in a
cordial manner. This I ascribed to a slightly strained relationship
as landlord & tenant, that has lately existed between Mr.Mort
& Mr.Maxwell arising I believe more out of the former’s
obstinacy than anything else.
Two more of the sons we found in the .i.cheese: factory;, a little
wooden shed behind the house & with one of these Mr.Mort seemed
to be on much more friendly terms, though for what reason I cannot
tell. This youth offered to take Mr.Mort over part of the farm
that had been recently cleared, & as this did not interest
me I stopped behind & inspected the farm stock, in particular
some very young calves that were running about in a little enclosure.
When I thought it was getting near lunch time I strolled down
to the boat house, & pending Mr.Mort’s arrival began
to collect some dry sticks & driftwood for a fire to boil
our billy on. While I was doing this, Mr.Mort appeared, &
we set about the preparation for our lunch in earnest; but as
Laidley’s two girls had promised to join us we did not begin
till they arrived.
The first course consisted of mutton chops cooked on a dilapidated
old grill that we had borrowed from Mrs.Maxwell, & though
some of them were burnt & some underdone, yet I think we all
enjoyed them more than if we had had them served in the orthodox
manner at the inn. A little excitement was added to our meal by
the very pressing attentions to our grub basket of a large black
kangaroo dog that Miss Ethel had brought with her.
When we had finished lunch, we washed up & packed the things
away again, & as Mr.Mort thought it was time to go, we set
out about trying to catch old ‘Doctor’. After a lot
of trouble Miss Ethel managed to secure him, but to do so she
had to drive up a batch of at least a dozen others with whom the
old fellow had picked up an acquaintance during his freedom.
Leaving us to harness ‘Doctor’ up & follow them,
the young ladies rode off by way of the front gate, their route
in coming having been across the narrow strip of water at the
mouth of the lake where there is a short cut between .i.Dalmeny;
& .i.Brou;. At the front gate, as we were driving away, we
met old Maxwell & Mr.Mort stopped talking to him for nearly
an hour, one of the topics of conversations being the lightening
of the new gate which, as it is, is too heavy to be easily opened
As we passed the piece of land at present being cleared, Mr.Mort
called the man to him & contracted with him to have all the
dead trees in the lower paddock cut down & burnt up for a
sum of three shillings each, large & small. Taking into consideration
that there is no brushwood about with which to make up the bonfires,
& that this will have to be brought from some distance, I
thought this a very low figure; but Mr.Mort said it was more than
he usually paid & probably the men would make a good thing
out of it.
When we came to Derraquin we saw Kitty & Miss Cross just riding
up to the house, the latter presenting a most ludicrous appearance
as her black mantle flapped up & down with the stilted, uncomfortable-looking
canter of the old screw she rode.
At tea in the evening we had the company of Ted Mort who had driven
in with his buggy, bringing a new purchase of his in the shape
of a four-wick oil magic lantern .i.lantern slides; that he wished
to test in the hall with my assistance. Pretty nearly all the
evening was spent in this entertainment, as Mr.Mort could not
satisfy himself that the new machine was any improvement on the
old one, & every possible device was tried to prove that we
could get a better light with four that with only three wicks.
The little village hall in which this went on is capable of seating
about two hundred people, I should say, & the floor was so
wonderfully smooth & well-polished that I imagine the place
is more used as a ballroom than for other purposes.
One of Mr.Mort’s slides purporting to be a likeness of Mr.Freeman
was so like Lord Salisbury that at the first glance I half thought
it was the noble peer, the face if detached from the body being
about precisely alike the portraits I have seen of him. The operations
were considerably hampered by Mr.Mort’s having forgotten
to bring his slide carrier, which obliged us to hold all the slides
in position by our fingers.
Wednesday 7th October (Bodalla, Comerang)
Hearing an unusual commotion outside my window this morning, I
got up & looked out to see what was up. On investigation it
turned out that some men were at work changing some of the old
telegraph poles for new ones, & anything out of the common
having a great attraction for the .i.Bodalla; children, a large
crowd of them had assembled in front of the cottage where there
was a good view of the operations.
After breakfast Mr.Mort & I drove to the old house at Comerang,
stopping on the way at the Central ‘Bails’ or cow
sheds where those animals are ‘bailed up’ (the original
use of the word) to be milked. This building is entirely of wood
& must cover at least half an acre, all under one roof; while
near it are the men’s cottages & the .i.cheese: factory;.
‘Factory’ is a very grand word for the little room
that we entered before inspecting the ‘bails’, but
as many as thirty cheeses a day are made here at some times of
the year, & even the ordinary somewhat smaller output keeps
two men working their hardest all day. The large vat in which
when we entered the curds were just settling, holds about a thousand
gallons, & the whey from this when drained off into an iron
tank outside, is available for removal by the farmers to feed
their calves if they choose to take the trouble to take it away.
Of course this only applies to those who bring their milk here,
& as a large part of the whey is always left when the farmers
have had their proportions, the .i.Bodalla Company; Company rear
about fifty calves themselves on it. These calves were fed while
we were there, & it was most amusing to see the way in which
they jostled & pushed one another to get at the disagreeable-looking
liquid. Even when the trough was empty, they were not satisfied
but began to lick one another’s heads & faces to save
For some reason or other these bails have been built on the top
of a little hill, an arrangement that I should have thought must
entail a needless amount of fatigue to the cattle when coming
to be milked. From an æsthetic point of view, however, the
site is very pretty, as most of the buildings are covered with
creepers, & the old woodwork, black with age, looks quite
rustic. A few hundred yards from the gates there is a large pig-rearing
establishment, but we passed quite near enough to it on the road
to satisfy any curiosity I might have felt as to its interior
arrangements, which you may gather we did not inspect.
‘Comerang’, the house belonging to the late T.S.Mort
& where the present family lived when young, is a charming
old place with whitewashed walls & wide verandahs nestling
in a garden such as one seldom sees on this side of the globe,
& all buried in climbing roses, camelias, & virginia creeper.
On our arrival we were most effusively welcomed by the old caretaker
Bowman, & his wife, whose very touching devotion to the Mort
family & at the present moment to Willie, reminded me forcibly
of the greeting a man might get after a long absence from his
The first thing we did after tying up old Doctor, was to have
a look round the garden, which certainly lost none of its beauty
or interest on a nearer inspection. Though only small comparatively,
it is very tastefully laid out with little gravelled paths running
between the beds, & in the more shady parts there are patches
of primroses & violets or a row here & there of lillies
of the valley all out in flower.
Having thoroughly investigated every recess of this old-world
garden, we went indoors, & while Mr.Mort went through some
of the drawers in which he keeps a few things in readiness for
a chance visit, I wandered round through the empty rooms, trying
to imagine what they must have been like when the place was regularly
The old schoolroom was particularly interesting, with its low
ceiling & deep leaded windows; & looking at the remains
of a once-gorgeous rocking horse, & a broken box of wooden
bricks in a corner, one could easily picture the great romps &
games that the now discoloured walls must often have witnessed
more than thirty years ago.
When Mr.Mort had done all he wanted inside, we turned our steps
to the .i.cheese: factory; nearer the river, leaving a request
with old Bowman for some cut flowers to take back with us to .i.Bodalla;.
This place is only a duplicate of the Central Bails only on a
smaller scale, but as we were rather longer here I had an opportunity
of seeing a little more of the process. It seems that when the
milk first comes in, the natural heat is taken out of it by placing
the cans in cold water, & when cooled it is poured into the
large vat & raised to a high temperature by steam, the rennet
being added to it at the same time. Not knowing the proper technical
terms, I cannot use them, but when all the curds that will form,
have formed, the whey is drained off & the vat covered up
till such time as the curds begin to turn acid or sour.
At this stage I had to leave to go with Mr.Mort to the .i.cheese:
store;. I am afraid that I am hardly as yet qualified to set up
as an expert on cheese-making. The store is a long wooden building
in which when we were there, there were over 5000 cheeses, &
as we entered, a dray left the door with two tons more, en route
for Sydney. Every one of this huge number should be, & generally
is, turned over once a day, & as this work falls on the storekeeper,
an old man called ‘Mark’, his office is most certainly
The space under the floor of this building is devoted to the manufacture
& storing of .i.Bodalla; gorgonzolas, & though their looks,
as they stand all sloppy & straw covered, do not promise any
better eating than their smell, yet I am told on good authority
(not local) that they are very difficult to beat.
When we returned to the house, we were utterly taken aback at
the great spread of flowers that the old couple had gathered for
us, for when laid in the buggy on sheets of newspapers they filled
the bottom of it up to a height of six or eight inches!
Going back to the village we took the lower road which led us
round by the cemetery & the home farm. As we passed the former
place Mr.Mort pointed out to me his father’s grave &
also that of his brother Ted’s wife.
At the Home Farm there are, beside the usual bails & factory,
the remains of a poultry-rearing establishment which a former
manager of the estate put up with the idea of creating a large
industry. All that is at present left standing of the extensive
runs & houses, is some hundreds of yards of dilapidated wire
fencing which just serves to keep in a few calves, who are either
not wise or not strong enough to knock it down. Over this fresh
example of mismanagement Mr.Mort went into another tirade against
all managers, & this one in particular.
At lunch, besides ourselves there were Laidley & Phyllis Mort
& Douglas Hutchinson, the last named being as usual in a very
good humour with a smile continually playing round his lips, though
what he finds in his remarkably monotonous life to keep him so
jolly I cannot imagine.
Yesterday the parson, Mr.Witherby, left his card for Mr.Mort,
so during the afternoon we .i.bicycle;d down to the vicarage,
accompanied by Phyllis on her horse, to pay a formal call. We
did not go into the house at all, but in true Australian style
stopped & chatted outside the gate of the garden, the vicar’s
daughter, a red splotchy-faced girl of about twenty-five, doing
most of the talking.
When we were getting to the end of our stock of commonplaces,
Mr.Mort said we must move off as we were going on the river, an
excursion we had talked about but which never came off. Before
tea I spent an hour or so kicking a small football about with
a dozen or so of the youth of the village, whose great idea of
sport seems to be to make as much noise as possible, especially
when the ball is not on their part of the field.
In the evening Mr.Freeman came in, & while I did some writing,
he & Mr.Mort talked shop, their main topic being an idea of
the latter’s which he was trying to convince Mr.Freeman
was practicable, viz. the erecting of one central .i.cheese :factory;
whereby the .i.Bodalla; cheeses would all be uniform, instead
of as at present half a dozen different makes.
In theory of course this was right enough, but the practical difficulties
mentioned by Mr.Freeman, such as the cost of carting the milk,
of erecting the new place, & many others, were to my thinking
quite insurmountable. This, however, was not what Mr.Mort thought,
for he argued on & on, doing all the talking, while Mr.Freeman
patiently sat & listened to him, occasionally saying yes or
no only, while I had to abandon my writing because of the noise.
October (Bodalla, Brou)
“It’s raining at last!” Such were the words
with which Douglas Hutchinson burst into my room this morning,
& though unfortunate for us as preventing our seeing anything
out of doors today, we could not but feel glad for the many to
whom rain at this time of year is a perfect godsend.
In spite of the wet, Mr.Mort urged me to come over with him to
.i.Dalmeny; again, but I did not see the force of his argument
at all as there was nothing down there to interest me, & I
badly wanted some time for writing. Seeing that I was obdurate,
Mr.Mort lay down on the sofa & spent his morning in a series
of short snoozes, after each of which he would flatly deny that
he had so much as closed his eyes.
After lunch I went over to the Post Office & paid a call on
Mr.Jackson, the postmaster, learning from him the method of working
the Morse code & other interesting details connected with
his daily routine. In times gone by, Mr.J. has been something
of an amateur photographer, & though he now does very little
in that line yet we chummed up over this & the equally-shared
subject of cycling.
When I returned to the hotel I found Mr.Mort in the act of leaving
in his trap for .i.Dalmeny;, though the rain was still falling
heavily & seemed likely to continue. Not feeling inclined
to accompany him I waited till his brother Laidley drove home,
& as his buggy was covered in, I gladly agreed to go over
to .i.Brou; for tea, the invitation having been informally given
This house, like Ted Mort’s on the opposite side of the
road, is on a considerable elevation, & from the front verandah
there is a fine view out to sea over the bar of the lake, a strip
of bright yellow sand fringed with shrubs.
Mr.Mort has here a well-appointed billiard room, though from want
of use it has an untidy, mouldy appearance, & the cushions
on the table are as hard as bricks. Here Laidley & I spent
an hour or so, & when Willie returned from .i.Dalmeny; I had
a game with him, though both the brothers were a long way too
good for me.
Our tea was a most amusing meal, as, the rest of the family being
away in Sydney, there was an insufficient supply of table furniture
& we had to turn to between the courses & wash up plates
& knives & forks.
About seven o’clock Hutchinson & Ted Mort came in &
we spent a very enjoyable evening, playing a little billiards
& more practical jokes, everyone trying to see who could make
his neighbour look the biggest idiot.
It was quite fine when the time came for us to leave, but there
was a great thunderstorm playing over our heads as we drove homewards,
some of the flashes being quite blinding. On reaching our sitting
room we found the place in darkness, the lamp, being left too
high, having choked itself out with the soot in the chimney.
Friday 9th October (Bodalla, bicycle mending)
Every morning now before we get up, Hutchinson brings in Mr.Mort’s
letters, & this morning he announced to me that a new tyre
I had ordered from Sydney was waiting for me at the post office.
After breakfast I went over & got it & tried it on my
wheel, but to my disgust it was far too big & utterly useless.
This was the more extraordinary as the old tyre & the rim
as well as the new arrival were all marked 27 inches, he natural
conclusion being that the new tyre was marked wrongly.
On going to the post office again to wire for advice, I found
Mr.Jackson glued to the government telephone, through the wires
of which he said he could hear the lightning making a noise like
frying bacon. When I put my ear to the receiver to listen, there
came an extra-loud crack that made me drop the handle at once
as if I had been shot; certainly the noise was as bad as if it
had really been a shock I had felt through the wires.
Later on in the morning Mr.Mort had a great struggle with his
front tyre, the valve being a little out of order though that
gentleman insisted that someone had purposely pricked the tube.
In taking the tyre off the rim, Mr.Mort did make two holes in
it which I know for a certainty could have been done in no other
way, but he still would persist that some malevolent person had
done it when his back was turned, a really most absurd theory.
Till nearly three o’clock we were engaged over the job,
& then we only knocked off because Mr.Mort wanted to go down
to .i.Dalmeny; again, & not because we had put the thing to
rights. When Mr.Mort was fairly out of the way I took the wretched
thing up again & after a lot of trouble I patched it up, mended
the valve & put the tyre on the wheel again.
After this I did some writing, & while thus quietly occupied
in the sitting room I heard with great amusement the remarks made
by a group of village boys on our .i.bicycle;s that were standing
in the verandah outside the open door.
When Mr.Mort came back he just remarked that I seemed to have
put the tyre right, & without a word of thanks proceeded to
ride it up & down the village in front of the inn, for the
delectation of his two nieces who had just ridden in from .i.Brou;.
At one o’clock I posted my mail & soon after I received
a wire from the cycle agents to say that they were sending me
down another tyre which they thought would fit my wheel.
There is a telephone system here between the private houses on
the estate & the .i.Bodalla Company; company’s office,
& all the evening we could hear the bell of the hotel instrument
ringing away with the lightning, which though not visible to us
seemed to be very lively somewhere near. At Mr.Mort’s [invitation]
a tall young ‘commercial’ who had just arrived at
the hotel, came in & chatted with us after tea, & as he
has been all through the country to the south he had a lot to
Saturday 10th October (Bodalla, Dalmeny)
Again this morning I was wakened by the sound of Hutchinson’s
cheery voice, this time bringing me my letters from home, far
more worth having than even a new tyre.
As the sun was very bright, & the rain appeared to have quite
cleared off, we decided to pic-nic once more at .i.Dalmeny;, but
as Mr.Mort wished to go down there early & I preferred to
wait, it was arranged that I should ride down, if a horse could
be procured for me.
This job was shelved by Mr.Mort on to his brother Laidley’s
shoulders, & I had to wait for his arrival to know if there
were any horse suitable about the place. When Laidley came in,
accompanied by his daughter Phyllis, he said the only mount he
could offer me was Milo, a horse that was used by the butcher
to collect the cattle from the bush, & though an old &
not very fast animal, he might answer my purpose for the day at
Shortly after this was settled, Miss Phyllis & I rode off,
going round by .i.Brou; in order to avoid as much of the hard
road as possible.
From .i.Brou; to .i.Dalmeny; the track lay through thick scrub
most of the way, with here & there a patch of open ground
where as often as not there were some young cattle grazing. In
one of these little oases we came across a herd of eight or ten
horses, mostly old family favourites with the one exception of
a young colt whose attentions to our mounts were too obtrusive
to be quite pleasant.
A little further on we came to the mouth of the lake which we
had to ford, though the tide being just about full, our horses
were almost swimming in the deepest part.
At the boathouse we found Mr.Mort boiling the “.i.billy;”,
& in a short time we were hard at work upon the chops, our
ride & the fresh breeze having given us all great appetites.
Having brought a tin of plum jam with us, we found ourselves at
a loss when we wanted to open it, for Mrs.Bailey had not thought
of sending a tin opener & none of us possessed anything that
would serve the purpose. As there seemed no way out of the difficulty
I had to take the tin up to .i.Dalmeny; & get Mrs.Maxwell
to open it for me.
When we had packed all our things away in the buggy again after
a very enjoyable meal, we strolled up to the house & paid
a sort of call on the ladies of the family, these consisting of
Mrs.Maxwell, her mother, & only daughter.
As a diversion, Mr.Maxwell suggested that we should come down
to the boathouse again & with the help of his mongrel dog
‘Brumby’ try & catch some of the .i.tiger cat;s
that he knew lived there under the floor. This we did, but without
result, the said animals being evidently ‘not at home’,
even to such an august party as ourselves.
This was disappointing, as I should have liked at any rate to
have seen a tiger cat & still better to have secured him as
a curio, but such was not our luck & shortly after we got
our horses & set off home again.
On the way we stopped for some time by the front gate to watch
Mr.Mort & Maxwell burning off some thick coarse grass that
grew in patches all over the paddocks. The method of extermination
by repeated burnings off is an idea of Maxwell’s own, at
any rate in relation to this particular pest; but many plants
seem to grow all the better & stronger after a fire, the bracken
being a specially good instance of this.
When we came to the .i.Brou; gate Miss Phyllis left me & I
cantered on to the village, arriving there just in time to help
the ostler in unloading a large dray of chaff, the sacks in which
it is done up being more than a single man can tackle. This dray
was drawn by bullocks & I was very much interested to watch
the skilful way in which Clark the driver handled his team, a
slight flick with the long whip or often only a word being all
the direction the leaders needed in their various evolutions about
the yard. Of course the leaders are the only trained animals in
the team, the others being just caught out of a mob when wanted
& yoked up together to be straight away taken perhaps a long
journey; & without the two leaders it would be almost an impossibility
to do any work.
When Mr.Mort returned at about seven o’clock, he came into
the sitting room & announced that ‘Doctor’ was
very ill, & as soon as possible Hutchinson & Mr.Freeman
who is a great man on horses were called in to give their advice.
When I saw the old fellow I thought he looked very bad: his breath
came in short gasps & his heart was beating so fast that one
might think he had just finished a race. I don’t think any
of us thought he would pull through, & till after midnight
we four sat up in the cottage, going out to have a look at the
patient every half hour or so.
This was a most dismal evening, as Mr.M. said he was reminded
of his father’s death of which he gave us a very full account.
Sunday 11th October (Bodalla, Derraquin)
This morning Mr.Mort definitely announced that he intended to
return to Sydney today; and as I was in no particular hurry to
leave, I decided to accept Ted Mort’s kind invitation that
he had given me on Friday, and go to Derraquin for a few days.
Up until twelve o’clock I was kept employed by Willie Mort
in helping him to take his .i.bicycle; to pieces & also in
packing up my own bag; & just when I was comfortably ready
Ted Mort came in for me, accompanied by Miss Cross & Kitty.
While we had been at work two butcher birds in the wisteria that
hangs over the verandah had greatly pleased us with their peculiar
song, & when Kitty came in she gave them some bread crumbs,
which to my surprise they were not too shy to come down &
eat. These birds are of a plain grey colour & about the size
of a small thrush, but any want of beauty in their appearance
is amply compensated for by the sweetness of their note.
The buggy in which we drove to Derraquin was only built to carry
four people, & as there were five of us to go we had rather
a squeeze to fit in. The fifth person was the housemaid, but her
getup was so swell that at first, before I heard her talk, I took
her for a visitor or perhaps someone living along the road to
whom they were giving a lift.
After lunch, which we found waiting for us on our arrival, we
four set out in a spring cart to drive over to .i.Brou; &
then to see Pat Lennard, a friend of Mr.Mort’s at present
laid up with a kick from a young horse. As we drove up the .i.Brou;
drive we found Mr. Laidley Mort in his shirt sleeves, toiling
away in the hot sun at a single-handed game of .i.golf;, the craze
of that good old sport having bitten him very deeply.
At the point where
Whittaker’s creek empties into the .i.Brou; lake, there
is a strong stone & rubble dam over which runs the road leading
to Pat Lennard’s house, & here we parted with Miss Cross
who preferred a longer call at the Morts to the rough drive through
the bush, that lay between us & Pat.
Certainly we had a great jolting over this part of our road, but
happily the distance was not long & we were soon sitting in
the kitchen of the Lennard’s little place inquiring after
the damaged leg & being plied by Mrs.L. with offers of milk
or biscuits or bread & jam.
After a pleasant little call here & a look round the small
homestead & garden, we got into our spring cart again &
returned to .i.Brou;, intending to leave almost at once unless
there was anything special to detain us. This however there proved
to be, as Dr.Pawlett & Laidley Mort were just going out for
a game of .i.golf; to which the rest of us were invited as spectators.
When this was over — I was not particularly sorry for it,
as there could be no game worth watching without a proper links
or any greens — we four returned to Derraquin & spent
a quiet evening reading & singing a little, while the frogs
outside croaked horribly.
Monday 12th October (Bodalla, Derraquin)
The Derraquin mail bag usually arrives at about nine o’clock,
& it was a pleasant sight this morning to notice among the
other letters, a batch of English papers including the Graphic
& the London News.
I had not much time however to examine them at the moment, as
Mr.Mort had decided to run down with me to the .i.Wagonga; heads,
a distance of seven miles or so, to see what .i.fishing; there
was to be had there. We went in the spring cart again, & after
passing the .i.Dalmeny; gates we had a pretty road to follow for
most of the way through bright green scrub variegated here &
there with dense bushes of the little white clematis. This creeper
is also known as the .i.tick ;plant, swarms of those unpleasant
little insects being found in every tree where the clematis grows.
On one part of the road as we were following the course of a little
creek we came to a very picturesque bark humpy, inhabited by a
solitary old German, who makes a bare living by digging for .i.gold;
in the dry parts of the old creek bed.
As we descended the hill to the .i.Wagonga; .i.ferry; we got a
beautiful view over the river; with a little glimpse of the sea
above the sandy breakwater that nearly meets at the mouth the
steep cliff on the south head. The .i.ferry; itself, propelled
like the one at .i.Bateman’s Bay; by a crank gripping a
fixed cable, plys between the road on the north shore & a
pile of stones on the south, this form of landing place being
necessitated by the fact that at high tide the stretch of sand
on which it is built is well covered with water.
On catching sight of us the boatman, who happened to be on the
further side, rowed over, & though we did not think it worth
while to cross we stopped & had a long talk with the old man
about our prospects if we came down to fish some day.
We were sitting here chatting when a small .i.punt; of most quaint
design & manned by an assortment of village lads approached
us round a jutting corner of rock, so that almost before we were
aware of their presence they were close up to us. One of these
boys turned out to be a young Ross, the son of the fisherman with
whom Mr.Mort generally ‘excurses’; & from him
we learnt that if we cared to come down on Friday or even as early
as Thursday we might get some sport among the schnapper that were
just beginning to come inside the river.
On my enquiring what they were all doing in their very primitive
.i.punt;, young Ross told me that he was out looking after some
.i.oysters; beds over which he had the care for some man in Sydney.
While talking of fishing, the .i.ferry;man gave us a very interesting
account of the way in which sharks are caught in the mouth of
the river, their oil & fins being both sufficiently saleable
to make it worth while organizing regular .i.shark ;hunts in the
proper season. It seems that when the salmon go up the river to
spawn, the sharks follow them & make all the water swirl with
their wild rushes at the poor little fish. While they are thus
engaged, the fishermen go out in a large boat rigged with a short
strong mast, & a block & tackle; & having caught a
few salmon as bait they fish for the sharks with great iron hooks
& a strong cable. When one is caught he is brought alongside
& hauled up on to the covered-in deck right forrard, where
his liver is cut out & his fins cut off, the carcase being
returned to the water as useless.
Naturally I was puzzled to know why the fins were taken, &
on my asking I was told that the Chinese consider them a great
delicacy & give a good price for any quantity for shipment
After telling young Ross that we would in all probability come
down on Thursday to fish, Mr.Mort & I started home again,
the return drive being rather spoilt by the intense heat that
seemed to be blown at us from all quarters of the heaven.
After lunch we intended to ride into the village, but as the heat
was still very oppressive we stayed indoors till it should get
cooler, & as an occupation I developed some of my .i.photo;s
taken on the down trip to .i.Bodalla;. In connection with this
dark room & the shower-bathroom adjoining, Mr.Mort has very
ingeniously arranged that the over flow & waste pipes shall
run into a little open tank in the garden, from which Miss Cross
can get all the water she wants, for the flowers or vegetables
under her care. As all the water for the house has to be pumped
up by horses from a cistern at the level of the stables, this
is a great economy.
About four o’clock Mr.Mort & I set off for .i.Bodalla;,
my mount this time being a grey mare belonging to Pat Lennard
& kindly loaned to my host for my special use. On our way
we stopped by Whittakers Creek & rode up into a little oat
paddock of Laidley Mort’s where two of Ted’s horses
were at work rolling the young crop in charge of a young fellow
I think our reason for dropping in here was that Mr.Mort feared
his horses were being knocked up by the heat & the hard work,
& he naturally wished to satisfy himself that they were not
When we rode into the hotel yard at the village I went and inspected
“Doctor”, who seemed to have quite recovered from
his illness & was whinneying away in his loose box like a
Inside the hotel, in the bar parlour, we found Laidley Mort &
Mr.Pawlett busy eating oranges, Mr.Bailey having just received
a case of very nice ones from Sydney, & at that lady’s
invitation we sat down also & sampled the fruit for her.
After this refreshment I went over to the post office where the
second new tyre was waiting for me; & being naturally anxious
to see if it would fit better than the other, straightaway proceeded
to try it on. Greatly to my satisfaction I found it went on splendidly,
but as I was alone could get no one to give me a hand. It took
some considerable time to put the wheel to rights again; &
by the time I was finished & ready to return to Derraquin
it was nearly dark.
Before leaving the village, however, I stopped sometime, chattering
in front of the inn, where quite a little crowd of the .i.Bodalla;
society had assembled, including Laidley & his two girls,
Miss Cross, Kitty who had ridden in, two brothers Hutchinson,
& several others. I .i.bicycle;d back, as I wanted my machine
at Derraquin, & Mr.Mort led my horse, arguing all the time,
of course in fun, that a .i.bicycle; was no good if you could
not lead a horse with it.
In the evening my attempts at writing had to be abandoned owing
to Mr.Mort’s ceaseless talk.
October (Bodalla, Derraquin)
During the night the weather seems to have changed completely,
& when I woke this morning the sky was a dull leaden colour,
& from the south east a strong wind was blowing with a loud
roaring noise like a heavy sea on the beach. This, Mr.Mort explained,
was a .i.southerly ‘buster’;, a by no means uncommon
sequel to very hot weather & a welcome sight to the farmers
as heavy rain is almost sure to follow.
At breakfast our conversation turned upon curios & Mr.Mort
said he had a couple of real .i.boomerangs; he would be glad to
let me have if I cared to be bothered with them, & as such
an offer is not to be met with every day I said I should be only
too glad to have them if they were really to spare. Later on,
however, while shewing me how to throw these missiles Mr.Mort
lost them both in the long grass below the house, & it was
only after a tiresome hunt that we found one of them again, the
other being abandoned.
While we were seeking these weapons Miss Phyllis rode up the drive,
her errand being to borrow some literature from Miss Cross to
pass the time during the wet weather that appeared imminent. Very
shortly after our arrival the rain began, but instead of commencing
with a few drops as one would have expected, it suddenly burst
upon us in a regular torrent, & continued to pour in torrents
for quite an hour.
As this state of the weather quite prevented our going out anywhere,
I went into the dark room & spent the rest of the morning
in making a dozen .i.lantern slides; from old negatives I brought
with me from Sydney for the purpose.
Seeing that these were all very successful, Mr.Mort suggested
that I should try my hand at some reducing work, & make some
slides from whole plate negatives of his. To oblige him I did
this, with varying results, none as good as my own contact work
to which of course I was more accustomed.
Later on in the afternoon I sat down to write some diary, but
was so much interrupted by the noisy frolics of Kitty & her
cousin Phyllis who had again come over to see her, that I had
to “give it best” as the expression is in the colonies.
In an interval between the showers Mr.Mort drove into .i.Bodalla;,
but when he returned home he was wet to the skin, a regular thunder
shower having come down halfway along the road.
After dinner we had a lantern .i.lantern slides; exhibition in
the laundry, the only room in the house both big enough &
free enough from furniture to allow of a decent-sized screen being
erected. The object of this show was just to test my new slides,
& as Mr.Mort’s own were down at the hall still, we were
very soon through the programme.
Later on when discussing my departure which I had fixed for Friday
morning, Mr.Mort did his very best to make me stop longer, &
seemed quite hurt at my refusal.
Wednesday 14th October (Bodalla, Derraquin)
Having two meetings to attend in Moruya today, Mr.Mort left early
in his little buggy, & to make it easier for him I rode down
to the gate on Pat’s mare & opened it for him, as one
of his horses was young & very fresh.
After his departure, I had hardly got well settled down to my
writing when the servant came to tell me that I was wanted at
the telephone; & on going there I found Mr.Mort, speaking
from the Bodalla Hotel, wanted me to print some clouds into a
picture of his that was without any. This job kept me going till
eleven thirty, when having made up my mind that I would go into
Bodalla, I got my .i.bicycle; and rode off, covering the five
miles of very hilly road in a little under half an hour.
Arrived in the village I executed my various little commissions
such as despatching the first tyre back to Sydney, & then
returned to Derraquin for lunch, occupying another half hour over
the journey, though I had to walk up the two steepest hills.
In the afternoon I again rode into the village, this time on the
grey mare, as I found I had forgotten several little things, &
I was in want of more exercise. My chief errand this time was
to get a map of the estate from the office, in order to take a
copy of it; but I found to my surprise that they had no proper
survey & I had to get the particulars from which the rough
.i.map; on page 709 is compiled, from three or four different
While I was doing this Laidley Mort came in & pretty well
insisted on my coming out with him to the new links he is having
made, so that we might test the greens by an actual game. As an
outcome of his .i.golf;-madness Mr.Mort is actually organising
a club in .i.Bodalla; with entrance fee & subscription of
ten shillings each. How he expects to get any membership I don’t
know, for the .i.cricket club; can only be made to keep afloat
when the sub. is half a crown or under.
One of Jackson’s little boys acted as our caddie & we
teed off from behind the Post Office in proper style, our average
for the six holes out & home — the rest were not completed
— being about eight each. The ground was very rough &
hilly, with quantities of bracken growing in patches all about,
in which Mr.Mort lost two balls, to his great chagrin.
When we got back to the village I had a long chat with Mr.Freeman
who is a native of .i.Reading;, & having worked for some time
in Huntley & Palmers he was naturally anxious to hear all
that I could tell him about the old town; as however he left it
more than thirty years ago, I should say he would hardly recognise
parts of it today.
On my way back to Derraquin I met Douglas Hutchinson driving a
mob of fifty or sixty cattle, & being on horseback I gave
him a little assistance in turning them into the side road where
they were wanted.
While I was doing some diary-writing before dinner, Kitty came
into the room & began a conversation on horses, a subject
I felt a regular tyro in before the young lady had finished her
discourse. She is properly mad over riding & considers no
other form of sport or exercise can hold a candle to it, &
if she goes on on these lines with the opportunities she has,
before long she should be as expert a horsewoman as her cousin
Just as we were finishing dinner, Mr.Mort not having yet returned
from Moruya, Douglas Hutchinson walked in, to spend the evening
with us & certainly his very lively company made the time
pass much more pleasantly than it would otherwise have done. When
he had gone, & the ladies had retired for the night, I sat
up & waited for Mr.Mort, who did not put in an appearance
until after midnight, his meetings having detained him longer
than he expected. These .i.agricultural society; & similar
meetings seem to be Mr.Mort’s sole occupation in life!
Thursday 15th October (Bodalla, fishing)
This morning I got up early & packed my bag before breakfast
so as to have it ready for the coach to take on before me, if
we did not return from our .i.fishing; in time to see to it myself.
It had been arranged that, as Phyllis Mort was coming .i.fishing;
with us, I should ride down to the river on my .i.bicycle;, the
spring cart being unable to hold more than four people with any
degree of comfort. When I had seen the rest of the party safely
off I went down to the stable & did several little alterations
connected with the machine before starting, as I knew with the
old horse they had to draw them I should easily catch the others
up this side of .i.Wagonga;.
By Mr.Mort’s advice, instead of going around by the drive
I took a short cut to the road, following a narrow track beside
a fence, where the many sticks & stones in the path necessitated
my walking so much that it would have been quicker, I think, to
On the way to the river only two incidents occurred worthy of
note, these being, firstly, the great wetting I got in riding
through the ford at Lawler’s Creek, no foot road appearing
to be there over which I could have carried the machine; &
secondly a black gin .i.aborigines;& her horse that we passed
by about half a mile from the .i.Dalmeny ;gates, the latter being
considerably disturbed at sight of the bicycle.
Instead of going down to the ferry we turned off to the left,
a long mile from it, & followed a very good though little
used road to an old wharf belonging to the .i.Bodalla Company;,
but now only used occasionally by Mr.Maxwell. Here were old Ross
& his son waiting for us, & the former told me that if
he had not seen me coming ahead of the others he would very soon
have given us up, as it was over an hour beyond the time when
Mr.Mort had arranged to start.
Our boat was an old & somewhat shaky twenty footer, very broad
in the beam & fitted with sweeps instead of oars. To make
her more serviceable for light river work, her sea days being
over, the centreboard case had been removed, but though she was
still fitted with a mast & square sail we did not avail ourselves
of them, Mr.Mort being very timid ever since his wife’s
While I was waiting for the rest of the party to come up I threw
out a small line baited with an .i.octopus ;feeler to try &
catch some red bream, a fish young Ross told me that was very
plentiful in the river, though I failed to get even a bite.
These octopus make very good bait I am told, & as we used
very little else all day I will shortly describe both the fish
& the way in which it is secured. To begin with the latter
process, the animal makes for itself a little house of oyster
& other small shells, generally within twenty yards of the
shore & in shallow water, & the fisherman coming along
in a little punt or canoe drives a three pronged spear right into
the middle of this edifice, at the same time transfixing the occupant
if he happens to be at home.
I suppose this octopus is the same genus as the horrible monster
of which one often sees accounts & pictures, but in this small
variety which more resembles a long-armed starfish than anything
else, there is nothing very dreadful to look at. Exception might
perhaps be taken in respect of the mouth, a circular opening in
the underside of the body, furnished with a black long beak exactly
like a parrot’s, & very powerful.
The flesh, particularly that of the feelers, is very white &
tasty looking, while the ‘insides’ of the body are
many & brilliant coloured, from a dark purple to the lightest
yellow. One other curious feature is the ink bag, a little sac
of black fluid with which the octopus colours the water all around
it when it is pursued & so hides its whereabouts very effectually.
Even when the animal is quite dead the long arms writhe &
twist about, & the suction of the little mouths along them
is strong enough to sustain the whole weight of the body if anything
is laid along them to hold it up by, for a long time after death.
When the cart arrived we brought the provisions from it into the
boat & immediately set off, rowing upstream for a mile or
so before we dropped the kedge, or as it is called here, the ‘Kellick’.
After getting out our lines, great & small, we must have sat
& waited for nearly an hour before anyone had so much as a
bite, but at last Kitty sang out that there was something pulling
at her line, & with young David’s help she soon landed
her first spoil, a fine .i.leatherjacket;.
[photo of Mr.Ross holding the leatherjacket]
This fish, about eighteen inches long, & covered as the name
implies with a thick rough skin, was about the most wonderfully
coloured of any I have seen, the stripes on the lower side of
his body being as many hued as a rainbow, the general effect of
the changing from green to blue as the light happened to fall
On the neck there was a very hard horn sharply serrated &
so arranged that at the fish’s will it would fall into a
little sort of socket along the back that just fitted it. The
mouth was also peculiar, as though only small it was armed with
four teeth so powerful that with one snap they bit clear through
a stout wooden pencil that I held between them to test their strength.
The excitement attending this fellow’s arrival had hardly
subsided when Miss Phyllis, who was also armed with a light line,
brought up a companion to him, if anything more brightly coloured,
but otherwise the same.
This was all we caught before lunch, though we shifted our position
more than once to try & change the luck; & at twelve twenty
we pulled in shore on the bank of a little bay & made up a
fire to boil the billy. Near our landing place we found a plentiful
supply of very good .i.oysters; fastened to the rocks & while
the venerable Miss Cross was preparing lunch, the rest of us occupied
ourselves with knocking some of them off & opening them with
our knives, not to mention demolishing them as well.
Here also the rocks were covered with little ‘shaley’
stones mostly nicely round & smooth, & after lunch was
over we amused ourselves by playing ducks & drakes with these
over the surface of the perfectly still water.
[photo “A fishing Party”, showing Miss Cross, Phyllis
Mort, Edward Mort and Muriel Mort in the boat]
As we re-embarked we heard in the bush some distance off, the
pheasant-like cry of the .i.lyre bird;, whose power of imitating
the notes of other birds is, I am told, really marvellous.
This time we again changed our position & tried further up
the river, but though we fished till five o’clock in various
places we only succeeded in hooking one more poor leatherjacket.
We kept on hoping to the last, however, & it was only in response
to Miss Cross’s call for tea that we gave up & once
more landed to boil the .i.billy;.
Near the spot we had chosen for tea, which was on a little spit
of land surrounded with shingle & rocks, were a number of
tall dead gum trees, holding out their white arms to the sky as
if asking why they were thus left to cumber the ground & spoil
the landscape. Their present purpose seemed to be the menial one
of serving as perches for some hundreds of great black .i.shags;,
that sat in solemn rows like British workmen at a funeral, dressed
in their Sunday best.
Indeed, their sober & almost judicial attitude so much annoyed
David that he rudely pelted them with stones, & though he
did not hit any they must have felt offended, for they flew off
en masse with a great flapping of wings after they had wisely
shaken their heads about over the unprovoked assault.
By the time we had finished our tea it was just beginning to get
dusk, so we gave up any further prospects of schnapper fishing
& sadly turned our bow homewards. Little as we thought it,
however, there was still in store for us the best sport of the
day, & an ample compensation for our unsuccessful efforts
to hook the wily schnapper.
The first indication of the presence of our new quarry was a great
swirl & rush in the water just as we rounded a little headland
at one end of David’s oyster lease. When old Ross saw it
he shouted out “There’s a .i.stingaree;.i.stingray;!”
& gave frantic directions to his son to get ready the octopus
spear & attach a line to it in case we saw any more.
These stingarees are great flat fish something like this [pencil
sketch of stingray] with great bull-like heads & a fondness
for .i.oysters; by no means peculiar to them alone. In colour
they vary from almost yellow to a dark leathery brown, & they
glide along the sea bottom except when excited, when a rush is
made generally within a foot of the surface.
The .i.oysters ;oyster beds consist of a strip of carefully cleaned
shingle along the bank, covered with from six inches to a foot
of water at low tide & perhaps ten yards in width. Along the
outer edge of this strip there is a little wall of stones not
more than a few inches high, on which the oysters fasten themselves,
the spawn being placed on the clean shingle close by.
As we coasted quietly down beside these beds we saw first one
& then another of the voracious stingarees, surrounded by
opened oyster shells & lying still on the bottom, evidently
in the enjoyment of a first class meal. Each one as we came up
to it was very promptly speared by David, & while the stingaree
rushed off with the line like a miniature whale, we pulled inshore
& jumping on the beach, gradually hauled him in again.
Our job was by no means ended, however, when we had landed the
old villain, for their skulls are so thick that it took half a
dozen very powerful blows with a baulk of timber to smash it in.
The under side of the stingaree is a clear creamy white all over,
while his little mouth has a palate & jaw lined with the hardest
bone, & so constructed that he has only to put an oyster inside
& then so to speak ‘close his lips’ & the
shell is burst open, allowing the little inhabitant to be swallowed
We killed six of these horrid-looking creatures, each of them
measuring at least three feet across the flappers, & we only
ceased when there was not light enough to see the prey, even if
we had gone right over one.
The name ‘stingaree’ is given in honour of a spike
from four to six inches long growing out of, & parallel with,
the tail thus [sketch] on the top, & with the point of which
a very nasty & poisoned prick can be given when the animal
is at all angered.
We reached Derraquin about 8 o’clock.
.c.Friday 16th October (Bodalla, Moruya, Cooper’s)
Though I had intended to make an early start this morning, I did
not get away for various reasons till a quarter past ten, &
even up to the last minute Mr.Mort kept on upbraiding me for going
away so soon, his idea apparently being that I had any amount
of time at my disposal.
When I reached the village I called at the .i.blacksmith;’s
to get a small alteration made to my mudguards, & while this
was being done I went on & called on Mr.Freeman to say goodbye.
I was talking to this gentleman when we suddenly heard a loud
report, & on running out to see what was up we found Jackson
standing over a .i.snake ;that he had just shot, & beating
its head with a stick to make quite sure that it was dead.
As I had never had a good opportunity before of taking any .i.photo;s
in the village I took my camera with me now & went up to the
church, from which I wanted to get a general view of the inn &
the houses round it.
[Distant views: Bodalla village from the church; the T.S.Mort
Memorial Church itself ]
Having done all I wanted in this direction, & with the altered
mudguard properly in position, I set out again from .i.Bodalla;
my departure being witnessed by quite a little crowd, including
besides those I have mentioned, Mrs.Bailey & her two girls,
the storekeeper, old Peter & several others.
My ride was uneventful, as far as .i.Moruya ;at any rate, though
I stopped several times on the way to speak to people, & once
at .i.Bergalia ;for a drink of water. As I passed through .i.Turlinjah;,
where there is the pretty little post office I described before
, there were a number of children just coming out of school, their
astonishment at my appearance being a pleasant contrast to the
rude & senseless remarks often made to the cyclist by English
Just as I was approaching Moruya I was stopped by a man on horseback
who wanted to know what I sold bicycles like the one I rode, for,
& said he thought he could procure me at any rate one purchaser.
Naturally I could not make out what the man meant, but I learnt
later on in the town that a bicycle agent had just gone through
on a machine, & I suppose I had been taken for this gentleman.
I had lunch at Keating’s Hotel again, & was much surprised
& a little annoyed to find that Mr.Mort had left the bill
for the trap to Bodalla for me to pay; the expense being really
a mutual one, as our bags had to be sent through anyway whether
I rode as well or not.
I had a good rest here, & about three o’clock I started
again, with seventeen miles before me to Cooper’s Accommodation
House. For two or three miles I had a good level road to follow,
& then a long stretch of up hill through rather pretty bush,
with a well-macadamised track all the way.
From the top of the hill I had a grand run down, the road being
quite straight, so that for over a mile to the foot of the incline
I could see what was before me. At the bottom, however, I had
to stop & spend half an hour over some slight but still necessary
repairs, & while thus engaged I was very attentively watched
by three or four calves who seemed to take a great interest in
what I was doing.
From this spot the hard work of the day began, & I had to
climb a hill fully four miles long & so steep that it was
a real exertion to push the bicycle in front of me. Halfway up
I met two men with horses, both of them strangers to the bicycle
& very curious about it, particularly enquiring how far it
was possible to go in a day, & even offering to give me both
horses in exchange for my machine.
From the top of the mountain there was a glorious view right over
the country I had come through & out to sea; in fact it almost
repaid me for the climb, tho’ it was a bit of an ordeal
with the sun blazing down on my head all the time.
From the summit down into the valley I had to work almost as hard
as if I had been grinding up the hill, for it was too steep to
rely on the brake & I had to back-pedal the whole time. Going
round one of the many corners I nearly ran into a buggy &
pair that was coming up the hill, & from the driver of this
vehicle I learnt that it was only nine miles on to Coopers.
This news encouraged me & I wasted no time over the next five
or six miles, all of which was just up & down work beside
the .i.Deua River;, the road in many places being either built
up over the water or cut into the side of the steep cliff that
hung over the stream.
As I passed a little house, about five miles & a half I should
say from the place where I met the trap, I sang out to some men
standing there to know how much further I had to go. They replied
“four & a half miles”, & though I queried
this I was much more surprised a mile further on to be told there
were still five miles before me.
By this time it was getting dark, but I had still the great advantage
of knowing from a photo of Mr.Mort’s what sort of place
I was going to, so that I could not very well miss it on the road.
At last after a mile or so of riding through a dense & very
dark bush I emerged onto a piece of cleared land, & seeing
a light in front of me I made sure it must be the .i.accommodation
house;, & steered for it accordingly. As I jumped off at the
door, an old woman emerged from the back regions with a candle
in her hand, & from another part of the house a small crowd
of youths & lads streamed out, all staring open-eyed at the
Supposing, as was natural, that the old lady was Mrs.Cooper, I
said “Here I am at last — I suppose you had almost
given me up”, when what was my chagrin to hear in return
that I had still a mile to go to my destination, & that the
name of the people living here was Floy & not Cooper. However,
the old granny offered me a glass of milk & water, which I
very gladly accepted, & she then asked if I were a doctor,
because, she explained, she had a son very ill inside & she
would like some medical aid if it could be procured.
all I could do was to regret that I was not qualified, & sympathise
with her about her son’s illness, & after a little more
conversation I hurried on again to Coopers as I badly wanted my
When I really reached the accommodation house I found Mrs.Cooper
ready for me with a good substantial meal of eggs & bacon
supplemented with thick slices of toast & the best fresh butter.
I had brought my diary with me with the idea of doing some writing
after tea, but when the time came I was far too sleepy for anything
of the sort, & with the prospect of another long day before
me I turned in very early.
.c.Saturday 17th October (Cooper’s, Araluen, Jembaicumbene)
My bedroom here was most quaint; quite a regular cube in shape,
with walls & ceiling all covered with canvas sacking, it much
resembled a padded cell; while the fourpost bed with its mosquito
curtains, took up more than half the space & hid from view
the little window opening on to the front verandah.
In spite of the cosy room, however, & the delights of a feather
bed, I slept very badly, perhaps partly because the night before
I had a long snooze on the sitting room sofa before turning in;
& when I got up I felt anything but ready for another 25 miles.
A bathe in the cold waters of the .i.Deua River; put me more or
less to rights again, & when I had made a considerable hole
in the tender spring chicken Mrs.Cooper kindly provided, I was
much better equipped for my journey than when I first rose.
About nine o’clock I started, the road for several miles
still following the course of the river, with of course a general,
though slight, tendency to rise. The bed of this river in its
upper reaches is all cut up with old alluvial .i.gold; workings,
& looks like a gigantic collection of ant hills, quite bare
of any vegetation & giving a very dismal appearance to the
It was at the top of a long hill just near these workings that
I experienced about the greatest shock I think I have ever had,
in the manner described below. I was sitting on the road side,
having a ‘spell’ & deriving very little refreshment
therefrom on account of the heat of the sun — there being
no shade anywhere near — when I felt a sudden and violent
bite on my right arm.
At first I though my career had been cut short by a snake, as
this was a rather bad part of the country for those pests, but
as I saw no sign of the aggressor, I made a closer investigation
of the wounded limb, which resulted in my discovering a huge red
& black .i.ants; that had crawled up my sleeve, & probably
in fear of being killed by some sudden movement of mine had avenged
himself by giving me a very nasty nip.
Another five miles or so beyond this spot I began to feel the
heat tremendously, & at the first cottage I came to I stopped
& got a glass of water, & at the same time found I had
four & a half miles further to go into Araluen. This part
of my journey I found the hardest of any, as though it was down
hill most of the way, there was a very strong wind against me
that made it necessary to work all the way.
The town of .i.Araluen ;lies in a sort of cup among the mountains,
the only at all level entrance to which is the one by which I
was travelling, so that as I proceeded the valley assumed more
& more the appearance of a huge ‘cul de sac’,
if the expression may be used in this connection.
I suppose from the lower end of the cup where the river runs out
of it, to the foot of the road leading up the Araluen Mountain,
must be a distance of four miles, & all the way there are
little cottages & humpies dotted among the partially deserted
(?) diggings, & lining the roadside. These houses, most of
them tenantless & rapidly falling to pieces, lend a most miserable
air to the place, which at its best could only have been a barren
wilderness, producing nothing in the way of vegetation save a
kind of stunted scrub of nearly the same dirty yellow tint as
the parched & sandy soil from which it grows.
The town proper is fairly in the centre of the valley, & on
its outskirts some Chinese have cultivated little patches of ground
on which they grow potatoes & other vegetables, the only pleasant
colouring in the whole landscape. There is an hotel, if it may
be honoured with the name, near the entrance to the town, but
the coach driver whom I met soon after I got into the valley told
me it was an “awful place”, & I had much better
go on another mile to “Maddigan’s”, the .i.accommodation
house; where the travellers all stop at.
I felt it very hard when I was just beginning to congratulate
myself on having reached my goal, to find that to get a decent
meal, I must struggle on yet another mile against that tremendous
wind & in the pitiless sun. However I got through at last,
but found on sitting down to lunch (a meal spread in a sort of
back kitchen, where the family & guests “grubbed”
together) that I was too hot, or too tired, to eat anything, so
I retired to a little sitting room & lay down on the sofa
for a rest.
Suddenly I remembered that I had forgotten to call at the post
office for my home letters, which I had instructed Gibson Battle
& Co to send there for me, & as I did not feel like going
back for them myself, at any rate at present, I asked the landlord
to send a lad for them & gave him a note with my name on it,
asking that any letters for me might be given to the bearer.
Happy in the prospect of soon getting the latest news from home,
I went back to my couch to continue the cooling process. But my
repose was destined to be of very short duration, for I had not
been alone five minutes before a little red-haired man shuffled
into the room, followed by a young cyclist whose acquaintance
I had just made at the dinner table. Of course I got up to receive
these gentlemen, who had evidently come to see me, & I was
considerably surprised when the former, addressing me by my right
name, introduced himself as Mr.McFee, & also made me acquainted
with the other man’s name, which I have since forgotten.
It was some time before I discovered how the fellow had found
out my name, but when he eventually produced my request for the
letters & said something about having “arranged it all
right with the postmaster”, I both satisfied myself on this
point & also that the man was drunk.
For some time he maundered on about having known someone of my
name once, & evidently cadging for a drink, till at last I
got utterly weary of him & asked what he was going to do about
my letters. After a long while spent in useless back & forwards
talk, during which he said he was a reporter come in search of
copy, he finally promised to ride into town at once & get
my mail for me.
When he had gone, I went & spoke to an old gentleman who seemed
to be a permanent boarder at the hotel, & as his advice agreed
with my own opinions, I decided to go after the man on my bicycle
& if possible get the letters before he could do so. McFee
had a full two minutes start of me, but as the wind was with me
this time I easily caught him up & was at the office quite
a minute before his arrival, though I believe he galloped all
In doing this, however, I got nearly wet through, having had to
ride across two fords on the way at full speed, but I did not
regret it as I had both an exciting race & the satisfaction
of getting my letters at the end of it.
On the return trip McFee challenged me to another race, &
without waiting for my reply he galloped off, tearing down the
road as if he were in the Derby, while I followed quietly behind,
not feeling disposed for any more racing, especially with the
prospect of the Araluen mountain before me for my afternoon’s
After another rest, & having blown up old Maddigan for entrusting
my message to such a fellow as McFee, I started out for the other
ten miles that lay between me & my destination.
The first mile or so was easy running, of course with the exception
of the strong wind that was really more tiring I think than steady
up-hill work; but after this level stretch I had three miles at
the least of pure “bullocking”, as the expressive,
if somewhat vulgar-sounding, Australian term has it.
On the way up I stopped frequently to rest, at the same time admiring
the really splendid view over the valley I had just left, or reading
the letters I had such hard work to secure. These letters, together
with short scraps of conversation with several people I met coming
down the hill, made the weary grind seem less tiring & by
the time I reached the .i.accommodation house; at the top I was
not nearly so much used up as I had been when I rode into Araluen
earlier in the day.
Halfway up, I was introduced to a little spring of drinkable water,
in a rather novel & purely Australian way, as follows. I was
steadily pushing my machine along in front of me when a man rode
up behind me, & going on in front, he suddenly dismounted
& climbing up the rocks that edged the road at the left, he
took off his soft felt hat, doubled it up so that the rim made
a sort of cup, & dipped it into a little crevice that from
where I was standing looked no larger than a soup tureen.
When I came up to him, I asked this man if the water there was
good, & as he told me there was no better in the district
I also climbed up & had a drink, but as I had my flask with
me I had no need to resort to the same improvised method of conveying
the water to my lips, as my friend had.
After another longer spell at the accommodation house, I mounted
again, the next three miles being up & down with a preponderance
of the former, & I believe when I reached the summit I must
have risen fully a thousand feet above the Araluen plain.
Mr.Hassall’s house at .i.Jembaicumbene ;where — by
the kind arrangement of Ted Mort who had written beforehand of
my coming — I proposed to spend the night, was about two
miles beyond the highest point, but the road was as level as a
billiard table all the way, & it seemed only like a mile at
Jembaicumbene, or as I believe the house itself is called, ‘.i.Bellevue;’,
stands back some distance from the road, & as there are large
groups of willows & a high embankment between, all that I
could see of the place was the roof & some chimneys. When
I rode into the back yard I gave my machine into the care of some
men who were idling about, & was proceeding to the house when
Mr.Hassall himself came out & welcomed me as effusively as
if I had been an old friend.
The family consists of the old gentleman & his daughter &
stepson, both pretty well on in years, & they were all very
kind in their reception of me, quite making me feel at my ease,
though I had come there as a perfect stranger. In the evening
Mr.Hassall talked of the old pioneer days while the others shewed
me some good quality specimens.
.c.Sunday 18th October (Jembaicumbene, Braidwood, Manar)
Mr Hassall thought a cyclist must be dependent upon a shower bath,
for he had the old one in his bath house rigged up & filled
for me, though when I came to use it the valve was so much out
of order that it took me some minutes to put it right.
After breakfast Mr.Royds produced some very interesting old coins
for my inspection, the one that took my fancy most being an almost
unique specimen of the silver dollar as used in the colonies in
the early days. These coins had a “.i.dump;” punched
out of the middle, thus reducing their value from four shillings
to three and twopence. When the English standard coinage came
into use, the old mixed currency was withdrawn so that now it
is almost impossible to get one of these dollars or the little
dumps, the size of a sixpence, that passed for tenpenny bits.
As the time passed it got warmer and warmer, until by eleven o’clock
it was so hot that I decided to put off my departure till the
afternoon, & by midday the thermometer stood at 98° in
the shade. After a stroll round the paddocks with Mr.Royds to
inspect some of the horses & stock, I settled down to some
writing which kept me busy till lunch, while Mr.Hassall &
his son-in-law, or rather stepson, slept peacefully in big armchairs,
with handkerchiefs spread over their faces.
At about three o’clock I started, just allowing myself time
with a margin for breakdowns, to get to .i.Manar ;where I was
to stop the night, by dinner time; but when I had gone rather
more than two miles I discovered to my dismay that I had left
all the contents of my tool bag behind, & of course I was
obliged to retrace my tracks (not steps this time) as I might
require them at any minute.
Very glad I was that I did this, for I had not gone five miles
on my way again before my front wheel began to squeak in a truly
terrible manner. No amount of oil seemed to put this right, or
even slightly better it, & as the noise was very highly pitched
& short in duration I began to think it must come from some
other part of the machine. Accordingly I loosened first this nut
& then the other, only to tighten them up again afterwards
until I began to despair of ever stopping the maddening squeak.
I had just started again after one long spell at oiling &
fixing up, when I as nearly as possible ran over a big .i.snake
;that was slowly crossing the road. I don’t think my tyre
can have been more than an inch from his tail, but I only noticed
his presence by seeing him scuttle away very fast when I had passed
Eight miles from Bellevue I came to .i.Braidwood;, a town of about
2000 inhabitants, & considering its want of situation, being
right in the middle of a vast flat plain, a very decent-looking
It was really most annoying to have to ride through this town
with the constant bat-like squeak of the bicycle as an accompaniment;
& in fact everybody seemed to turn round & stare at me,
no doubt wondering why I did not oil my wheel.
At a crossroads just outside the town I stopped & blew up
the back tyre, as it seemed to be going down; but this did not
alarm me, as I put it down to the newness of the case which had
perhaps expanded as it got more supple. About a mile further on,
however, I had to get off & take the tyre to pieces as it
had dropped again to almost the same state as before.
Considerably to my surprise I found two cuts in the tube, &
by the time I had repaired them & put the tyre on again, it
was almost dark, & I had serious thoughts of returning to
Braidwood for the night.
Having once more set off after this tiresome stoppage, I covered
the next few miles to .i.Warri bridge; in good time & very
comfortably, as the road was perfect, save for occasional patches
of stones. This bridge, fully two hundred yards long, must be
a fine sight by daylight; but as I only saw it by the fitful rays
of a clouded moon, I got a poor idea of its appearance.
Before crossing it I stopped at a little .i.accommodation house;
just at the end, kept by an old couple called Adams, & here
I lit my lamp, besides having a glass of some of the best lemonade
I have yet tasted in the colonies.
From the bridge to Manar it was about five miles, & all the
way there were masses of loose metal on the road, often across
its whole width & not even “blinded” with earth
or sand, which would have made it more pleasant riding.
Over all this distance I only met one lot of human beings, &
these were some children evidently returning from a day’s
picnic, to whom the approach of my lamp from the darkness seemed
to be a great source of interest.
Truly it was a dismal dreary piece of road, & the rain that
began to come down in thundery sputters did not at all improve
matters. The only other sign of life that I passed beside the
children was a large waggon drawn up by the roadside, in front
of which the driver had collected some sticks & lit a fire,
his absence at the moment being very likely because he was in
search of more fuel.
.i.Manar ;consists of two groups of bark stables on either side
of the road, & from here up to Mr.Gordon’s house, which
so far as I know has no other distinctive name, there is a drive
over a mile long.
The men at the stables from whom I asked the way to the house,
were immensely interested in my machine & asked all sorts
of absurd questions about it, which showed their entire ignorance
of the subject.
Finding the front gates of the house fastened, when I had at last
reached my haven, I rode round to the back & so gained easy
access to the door, where I handed in my letter of introduction
from Miss Hassall. Very shortly Mrs.Gordon, a middle-aged, pleasant,
motherly-looking lady dressed in black, came out & welcomed
me very cordially, & after introducing me to her son Dencher
told me there would be something ready for me to eat in a few
Having apologised for my late arrival, I went round to my room
& had a most necessary & enjoyable wash, amateur bicycle-mending
being a dirty job at any time & particularly in the middle
of a very dusty road.
While I was having my supper, the young Miss Gordons made their
appearance, all of them much alike & all very jolly &
with plenty to say.
At Dencher’s suggestion, when I had finished, I went out
with him for a turn in the garden, though there was still a light
rain falling, & the moonlight was too much obscured by clouds
to be much good. This garden the family are very proud of, &
rightly so too, as not only is it really beautiful & very
tastefully displayed, but it is one of the oldest of any size
in the colonies, having been planted by their — that is,
Dencher’s — grandfather, early in the century.
There are specimens of nearly every English tree, & many other
imported trees, & in one little corner near the house I came
upon a little bed of common primroses all in flower, which I think
pleased me more than anything.
When we returned to the house I was introduced to the rest of
the family, consisting of four more girls, all younger than my
previous acquaintance, the smallest being about nine years old
I should say. Mr. Gordon was up in Sydney at the time of my visit,
for which I was sorry, as I was told that he is a very nice old
gentleman & I should have liked to meet him.
With the prospect of an early start tomorrow before me, I turned
in at 9.30.
.c.Monday 19th October (Manar, Tarago, Goulburn)
I think there is a good deal of truth expressed in the time-worn
remark about the smallness of the world, so invariably used when
one happens unexpectedly to run up against some old friend or
acquaintance; particularly when the meeting takes place in any
more than usually remote part of the country. At any rate, in
Australia one is greatly struck by the frequency with which one
runs across people, & as I have gradually got more accustomed
to these sorts of surprises I was not quite dumbfounded when I
walked out of my room this morning right into the arms of Mr.Powell,
my cabin companion between Brisbane & Sydney! Our recognition
was mutual & immediate, though we had really seen very little
of each other on that short trip, & to my surprise I learnt
that Mr.Powell lives somewhere near Manar, & had come in this
morning to meet the coach with a lady visitor on her way back
[.i.Photo;graph of the Manar Homestead]
Before breakfast the family assembled in the drawing room &
Mrs.Gordon read prayers, a service usually conducted I should
say by her husband, as she was more than once in a difficulty
as to the proper place.
As I had a long run before me to Goulburn, the town at which I
proposed to end the trip, I got ready to start pretty early, but
was kept back half an hour or so by Mrs.Gordon’s desire
personally to show me the beauties of the garden. Down the front
drive to the gate that I had found fastened last night, there
were several nice little lilac & laburnum trees, all out in
bloom; but the great feature was a clump of English oaks, standing
out in the paddock, & just at present looking very beautiful
in their fresh green leafage.
Dencher came with us on this little tour, & told me among
other interesting things that the Adams’ sons at Warri were
most notorious .i.sheep stealers;, one of them being in jail at
the present moment on a three year’s sentence.
Finally I got away about 9.30, my departure being witnessed by
the whole family, who stood in the front of the house to see me
off, the smaller ones greatly excited over the bicycle which was
quite a novel sight to them.
A mile or so beyond the stables, when I thought I was getting
along famously, one of my packages came loose & I had to stop
& fix it up again, & while thus employed, the wind carried
away my hat & it took me a long time to find it again. A little
further on I came to the .i.Doboy hill;, a climb over a mile long
though not very steep, & when I reached the top I found a
little shade under a tree & proceeded to take the bearings
of my front wheel to pieces, as it still squeaked badly. Even
this did not stop it, however, & I was at last forced to the
conclusion that somehow some of the balls had been lost.
From the top of this rise I had a nice run to .i.Boro;, a little
township five miles out of .i.Tarago;, the railway terminus. Just
before entering this village I had a great chase after a cow that
two men were driving along the road in the same direction as I
was travelling in. The stupid animal preferred to tear along in
front of me rather than let me overtake her & she might have
gone on thus endlessly had not a wide opening in the fence presented
itself into which she hurried to get out of my way.
From Boro to Tarago the road was still level & good but through
most uninteresting country, all of it devoted to cattle &
cleared of the greater part of the timber.
There is no hotel at Tarago, though both the miserable little
bar-shanties call themselves by that name; & at the one I
went to I had to sit down to lunch with the family, the hostess
being occupied most of the time alternately kissing & slapping
a dirty little baby that was perched up beside her on a chair.
I had a short rest after this meal, doing a little writing at
the same time, & at 2.30 I set off once more for the other
twenty three miles to Goulburn. There is a branch line of railway
from Goulburn to Tarago, but as the next train would not leave
for some hours I thought I might just as well ride on, especially
as the people I asked about it told me I should have a good road
all the way.
The first half of the distance, to the eleventh mile post, I covered
with no particular exertion, in three quarters of an hour; there
being nothing of any interest to detain me on the way. After a
very short rest here I mounted again, the next three or four miles
being all up & down & therefore slower work. I should
say the land around Goulburn must be splendid for grazing purposes,
for as far as I could see there was nothing but an ocean of bright
green grass, the horizon not even broken by a tree or bush.
Through this level tract of country the road runs perfectly straight
for five miles & I do not think I saw a single dividing hedge
or fence the whole way. When I reached .i.Goulburn ;bridge, from
which the miles along the road are measured, I looked at my watch
& found that over the twenty three miles from Tarago I had
occupied just two hours, or almost an average of twelve miles
an hour, with the wind against me all the time.
On my way into the town from the bridge I stopped a man driving
a cart to enquire which was the best hotel in the place, &
on his advice I went to the ‘Royal’, situated in a
convenient position in the main street. Here I fell in with a
young fellow who told me that he was just giving up a bicycle
agency in Goulburn, & I got some very interesting information
from him about the cycle trade in the colonies generally.
.i.Photo; of Main Street, Goulburn
“The large tower is over the Post Office, the railway station
is in the next street parallel on the left, the Royal Hotel is
close to the right hand, & Tarago lies in a direction that
might be described as a line from the lens or centre of the picture
through the largest telephone pole.”
I should not perhaps have pushed thro’ so rapidly from Manar,
if it had not been for the English mail that I knew would leave
Goulburn today, so when I had changed my bicycling things for
ordinary attire, I went along to the Post Office to find out when
the mail closed. This I was told was not till 9.30 so I had plenty
of time to do some writing, the conveniences for which at the
hotel were not very good.
Dinner was a most amusing function, all the dishes being placed
on the table in front of the landlord, who presided, & as
there was a double row of large plates he had to reach over those
nearest him when anyone wanted helping from the further ones!
When I had posted my mail just in time for the collection, I dropped
into a chemist’s shop for some trivial purchase, spent fully
an hour there chatting with the proprietor who told me many amusing
& interesting facts in connection with patent medicines.
.c.Tuesday 20th October (Goulburn to Sydney)
Somehow or other I had got the idea into my head that the only
good day train for Sydney left at one o’clock, & I had
been wandering about the town till after ten before I discovered
that it went at eleven a.m. As I did not wish to be chained in
this very uninteresting town for another twentyfour hours, I rushed
back to the hotel & packed my bag in a great hurry, but still
reaching the station in lots of time.
On my bicycle to Sydney I had to pay about three shillings &
this time instead of giving me a ticket for the machine as they
had done in Sydney, the porter stuck three large handsome stamps
onto the tyre, this being the method in which luggage rates are
prepaid in the colony.
The only other occupant of my carriage was a Mr.Dean, an elderly
gentleman & apparently a well to do squatter. The train was
very slow & I think it stopped at every station, taking five
and three quarter hours over a run that only occupies the night
mail four hours.
At .i.Moss Vale;, the first large place we came to, the train
stopped ten minutes for lunch, & a really good meal was provided
in the station refreshment room which quite resembled an English
one in its appointments & style. Not far from here are the
famous .i.Fitzroy Falls; which had I had the time I should much
have liked to stop & see; but as I was told that owing to
the dry season there was very little water coming over them, perhaps
I did not miss so very much.
By this time it had got very warm & even the motion of the
train failed to induce any draught through the carriage, &
the dust was very trying.
Punctually to time, at a quarter to five, we arrived in Sydney,
& I proceeded at once to the club, where once more I ran right
up against an old acquaintance, Mr.Osborne, with whom I travelled