|Chapter Title||A DOUBTFUL DINNER.|
|Newspaper Title||The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889)|
|Trove Title||Recollections of a Pioneer|
RECOLLECTIONS OF A PIONEER.
CHAPTER IV. A DOUBTFUL DINNER.
[BY CAPTAIN UNDERWOOD.]
We determined to cross the sandhills again, and to travel inland to the southward. Among the sandhills we came on a bed of large toadstools, and thought they were
mushrooms. I ate two of them about the size of a tea saucer, and my comrade ate but one. That made us feel glad and thankful. Our appetites seemed satiated, and we travelled on, but about an hour after our meal we began to feel strange symptoms —dimness of sight, cold sweat, swelling of the hands, and strange halluci nations of sight and hearing. We thought we saw building, coaches, heard sheep bleating, dogs barking, &c. I perceived we were wrong, and felt we had taken poison. In that condition we wandered about at times after sounds and sights till we came on a waterhole. I directly drank a hearty draught, and almost immediately after felt that I was dying. I told my companion if I did die then, and he should ever reach any place, to report where he had left me. He cried like a child at the thought of being left alone in the forlorn condition, ignorant of his position as he was. I threw myself at the side of a bush, as I thought to die; but I had not lain long before I began to vomit violently, and threw back the poison I had eaten. I felt relief, and crawled to the water for another draught, and after lying for a while rallied again. I got on my feet, and felt returning strength, and the poison had quieted all feelings of hunger, so on we trudged again; but our senses continued in a disordered state all the day. We determined not to chase after sights or sounds. We saw no natives. Still carrying our bird, we travelled along in sight of the coast sand hills; it was pleasant among the trees, so we paced along till just about dark setting in. A DOG BABK6. When about to break some boughs to make a breakwind, we were startled afresh at what appeared to be the barking of a dog close to us. At other times we could never see or hear the same objects to gether, but we agreed about the barking of the dog. As we advanced to the dog it re treated barking. Then we together thought we saw the form of a man at a distance: he seemed to be approaching us, and the first impression to my sense of seeing was, that his throat was cut from ear to ear, and his head seemed bound up with rags, so disordered were my eyes. On a near approach he hailed us to ask who we were, and whence we came. We told
him we were the relics of a shipwreck. "Poor fellows," he exclaimed, "I dare say you are hungry. We have a hut close to here, come along: "How sweet was that sound; how welcome that report. In a few minutes we were AT A SHEPHERD'S HUT. There were two shepherds, with a flock of sheep, who had taken up their position there before the winter had set in. They had a horse and cart at the hut, by means of which they had brought their swag. The flock belonged to Mr. Stirling (afterwards of the firm Elder, Stirling, & Co.) Tea, mutton and damper were given us. There was a good log tire, and we soon had some sheepskins spread for our repose. Such relief was precious; we passed an easier night than the previous one. RETURN TO THE WRECK. Next morning I felt very ill, hot a pro position was made by the shepherd to take the horse and cart and retrace our way to the boat we had left. Partly with the hope of finding some flour drifted ashore from the wreck, or anything else that might be of use to them, I re turned in the cart with them. We reached the boat, but found nothing on the beach. From the top of a sand hill we could see an object on the water, which was now smooth, that resembled a large buoy, about seven miles from the shore, we thought it must be the wreck, as it seemed stationary. We determined to re turn to the hut, and next day come back bringing an axe to cut saplings to make oars to fit the boat, and if the weather re mained fine to pull off and examine the object. We came, made oars, and found it was the wreck. When she capsized, all the chains were on deck ranged ready for a last resource. They had fallen off and were on the ground. The hull was almost perpen dicular, with the masts and yards float ing a mass of wreck around it. The stern at times rose five or six feet out of water as the swell rolled by, then nearly disap peared under water. I had some money on board as well as other valuables. I knew where it was deposited, and thought, as life was spared to me, if I could recover the money it might be useful to me, as I had not much left after so many thwartings as I had met with. I determined on making the attempt to go down and try if I could enter the cabin and recover the money at least. I could see the cabin hatch was off and away. I stripped and got on the rudder head under water, when I was about breast high in water. I stood pondering a while before making a dive, when all at once a large shark came right at me, and was so close before I got out of the water that I touched him with a stick I held in my hand. When be turned up at me I saw he was of the white shark species. I took that as an omen that I was not to attempt going below. If I had gone down before he came up possibly I should never have re turned to the surface again. Finding we could do no good at the wreck except by getting some pieces of small rope from the floating mass, we pulled back again to the shore. FRIENDS IN NEED. Our friends the shepherds told us there no chance of getting back overland to Adelaide from where we were before the return of summer, as they were cut off by swamp land and lakes and that our only hope would be by the boat, by getting souh along the coast to Rivoli Bay. The weather was now fine, and we had some rough paddles made. Having got to know from the shepherds that along the beach south of Cape Jaffa there was a mark on the beach that denoted the whereabouts of their hut and the place for us to try to land the boat, we parted with them, they to return with the cart, we to pull round the Cape to land and stay with them till we could equip outselves with provisions and anything we required for our voyage along the coast. We ran round the Cape and away sooth till we found the mark mentioned and pulled in for beaching, but we found there was a strong swell bursting on the strand. After some hesitation we gave way as well as we could on the back of a swell, but before we got in another overtook us and sent as pell mell before it in the boiling surf on to the beach. We lost our oars in an instant and were almost smothered, but we got ashore, and the boat was knocked up by the surf on to the dry sand. Being once more safely on the sod I felt for a moment resolved never to enter that boat again whatever might become of us, so we trudged away over the sandhills towards the hut. I had lost my hat in the first boat scene at the wreck, and I had no other till after we reached Rivoli Bay, many days afterward. I told the shepherds of our reception at the beach, and though we were forced visitors on them, that I did not feel inclined to risk a further voyage in the boat; that we had almost gott smothered in landing, had lost our paddles, and left the boat to look after itself in the surf, and that any one might have it that wanted it. Our friends had no provision made for such a reinforcement, and however willing they were to show us hospitality they could not hold out to us inducements for a per manent lodging, as they had no means of recruiting their stores. They offend to spare us anything they could to give us any assistance in their power, but they could not see how we could remain there. All that being discussed, it was resolved, that if the boat was still seaworthy we should try it again. So we all went to hold survey, and see what would be re quired. We found the boat no worse for the tumbling about in the surf, but she was as bare as when we first landed. A FRESH RIG-OUT. Survey being over we returned to the hut, set to work to make new paddles by fixing a broad paling to a round handle by nailing them together; two paddles were so constructed. Then we had a sappling for a mast. A sort of lug was made out of a woolpack by sewing the parts together and lashing it on a yard. The bits of line taken from the wreck made halliards, tacks, and sheets. We shaped a piece of board, rudder fashion, made holes through it and corresponding holes in the boat's sternpost, lashed it in its place and lashed a tiller on for steering. We got damper made, mutton oooked, some lucifers, a pannikin, &c., all of which were put into a bag. The mast was Iashed in and the bag of stores hoisted at the mast-head to keep it from the effect of the breaking surf at the launching. All was got ready in a day. Next morning (Sun day)—weather fine, wind light from east - we went to the beach all in company. Find ing heavy surf rolling in we launched the boat to the wash of the surf; our shepherd friends were to hold her there just afloat, till I gave the word to push us seaward. It was nearly an hour before the chance appeared; when it did they pushed and we paddled, and we got just far enough out before a topper came in and burst inside of our position. We were now fairly AT SEA AGAIN. We lowered our stores from the mast head, set our lug to the light easterly wind, and waved farewell to our kind friends. SALTIA July 4 The weather is all that can be desired and the crops, I have been informed are looking splendid in most place north. A number of bullock teams are passing here daily enroute to the newly selected lands. Timber for building purposes, ploughs and fencing wire are in great demand, judging from the quantities which pass here. I am happy to say that sickness is not so rife in our midst as it was lately.