Chapter 52031589

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXVIII
Chapter TitleWONTUNGALEE.-THINGS IMPROVE AT BOOROOMA, AND RONALD STARTS AFTER LOST CATTLE
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52031589
Full Date1884-08-13
Page Number3
Corrections1
Word Count1546
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2011-02-04
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleRonald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay
article text

RONALD WALTON.

A TALE OF EARLY SQUATTING LIFE IN    

QUEENSLAND

THE "AUTHOR OF ADVENTURES IN QUEENS-

LAND

CHAPTER. XVIII-Wontungalee.-Things

IMPROVE AT BOOROOMA, AND RONALD STARTS    

AFTER LOST CATTLE  

JUPITER'S gin, who always retained her native name-Wontungalee was an intelli- gent creature, and made herself very useful to Ada, She was a native of that part of the country, but her husband's tribe belonged to the neighbourhood of Limestone. Since the murder of the two men at Molonga Creek, Ronald had not allowed the blacks up at the station, nor on the run. Indeed, they seemed to have no desire to visit that locality, for they had received a severe dressing for their horrible raid. Once or twice a year, Won- tungalee visited her friends, and stayed away

a month or six weeks each time. She was . very kindly treated by Ada, who, during little Ron's earlier infancy, installed herself as nurse, in the room of her white nurse who left her, and who could not be replaced by another for some considerable time. The child took readily to his black nurse, and she having no child of her own, became passion- ately fond of him. She was never so happy as when occupied with him. She manufac- tured many little things for his amusement, such as dilly-bags to put his toys in ; diminu- tive sets of native implements of war, of the chase, and such like. She would sing, and dance corrobborres by the hour to please him,  

for in all such wild performances he delighted and never tired of his kind nurse's efforts to satisfy her rather exacting charge.  

It must not bo supposed that Boorooma sheep alone suffered {rom the drought, far otherwise; for it was one of the best dry weather nins between it and Brisbane. The loss on many runs was immense. In the coin se of a week after Ronald's visit to the Haunted Hut, the.graas had sprung so. much, ' thatthe" necessity for cutting down trees to

feed the sheeauo longer existed.

Ronald's<*¡_^^H^^_^\£<«od management» corabjned ^^^^^^^^HjBratiga'ule personal exertions, MBaHfl^aTgood example to the men vere the means of preventing any serious losses amongst the sheep, and they soon beean to improve in condition. The lambs of fully half the en-es were killed as they dropped, but the rest of the ewes had so improved that Ronald determined to allow tho lambing to proceed in the usual way, and to save the lambs. The experiment was successful, and a crop of lambs was added to the Socks, that ultimately proved to he no disgrace to them.

Nothing has been said about the cattle during the past trying times. The sheep; being of primary importance, absorbed all Ronald's attention, and all the labour on the station ; and it was not till after shearing .tuâtha found time to hunt them-np. .Their beat was at the eastern extremity of the mn, outside the sheep; for cattle will not feed where sheep are depastured. Cattle have a wonderful instinct for discovering grass and water during times of drought; that is, if they ore allowed their own, uninterrupted {Veedora, as, the Boorooma cattle hod while the dry season lasted, and for some time after. Fully two'-tbirds of thc herd hod disap- peared, and 'Ronald at first thought they might be dead, but on searching their run thoroughly, ho found that the surmise was not correct, very few carcases being seen. Ho therefore took a wider circuit, and came on the tracks of a considerable mob of cattle ?

proceeding towards the west. He had nevenj

had time to explore in that direction since Wm

^OT^R1tJin.Ctetia»i|,g5r\ Hn.ew Very little oj

The blacks hod said that laklM'Bxlatêrt ó" long, long way from there, and that the country was well grassed ; bus the statement was dis- regarded, being of such slight interest at the time, and blacks' statements are generally very unreliable.

A party of four, including Smasher and Pinchgut, with Jupiter for a tracker, and Ronald in command, started, well armed, and .with o Bupply of rations for eight or ten days, in search of the lost cottle. The weather being hot, they did not push on very rapidly. The country travelled over wos richly-grassed and well watered by large creeks, or heads of rivers. They camped at a creek about thirty miles from Boorooma. What a pleasant time it is, when the day's hot ride is over, the horses hobbled out, and the sun has gone down' behind the high rongeB. The night dew falls, cooling the air and the hot ground alike, and thc travellers are lounging on their blankets^ or on the grass, enjoying their pipes, tea, or yarn, as the humour takes

them.

It Was with 'difficulty: they followed the tracks of the cattle, for the mob had left their ran in dry weather, and the rain had Bince descended wit!» no gentle force. Good tracker as Jupiter undoubtedly was, his powers had been fully taxed, and nt lost he was : thor- oughly beaten just before they camped.

* Where do you think the cattld have gone to, Jupiter?" said Ronald, os the boy, after many unsuccessful efforts to discover any further traces, came to' a standstill, looking Very* unanuable, 'ss* black-boys always do

under such circumstances.

"*?« Don't know, ïif. ' That might go 'long a big fellow lake. Black-fellow call it ' Coong liroggie' (big water).";

"Where >B that!'' ?

"Oh, 1 'spect that fellow hundred miles straight on end."

*' How do you know of the big lake ? You

never BOW it ?"

*' No, sir ; mo not see 'im i only my gin yabber oil about 'im. That fellow go there when that go bush."

" OU, that is the direction elie goes, is it? I wonder if she ever secs that black skinned rascal, Molonga?"

Jupiter pretended not to hear the question, and puffed away clouds of smoke from his pipe, which he kept everlastingly between his teeth. Ho was a faithful fellow to his master, but Molonga was his wife's uncle, and though lie would not have felt thc least compunction in wiping out that individual if a fair chance and excuse offered, yet he would not do it for one reason alone-a reason that influences skins less tawny by many shades than Jupiter under similar circumstances-he knew he would have the length of his wife's tongue pretty often, and he dreaded it ; so bethought and truly, that his wisest course was to say as little as possible about that blood-thirsty wretch, Molonga, for fear bc might be enlisted os a tracker to run him to his death, and eo be implicated, in WonUingtilec'a estimation. Ronald had always been kept in ignorance of Molouga's whereabouts, and of bi» relation- ship to Wontungalee, but there was some- thing in Jupiter's manner causing hun to suspect that thc boy was reserving thc infor- mation be sought, so he put the question in a more definite form.

" Does she ever see Molonga, Jupiter ?"

"Don'tknow, sir. That might sometimes when that walk about bush."

" Then you do not know for certain ?" , " No, sir-eint quite cock-sure of it." '

" I would like to come across him. I

would let daylight into his knowledge-box, tile murdering vagabond 1 He killed two

good shepherds, and though 1'had a sort of revenge ion «orne -of bis -fellows, lt will not be tapíetetlU'i'potMD?.* ,. ; ,:

! "I'd give him a blue pul, slr, with the greatest iileaaureiin tbs world, " «aid Smasher.

£>»Jfr oath I and it'ivi I," #»ld Pin*;,

?''Ht-WASySà got kèien 'fan lott. Him J

big 'trong feUow^ftcrai frightened," suggested i Jupiter. .'. . 1

,M thia, juncture .they dismounted and

camped. When all had been satisfactorily " 'arranged for the night's Uvootó,' Smasher «aid,' '. . '.'.r:.'? ?.. ? - ' >'

" Shall we watch to-nigbt, tiri" '

? .' Did you see any ,blackY tracks ,abtfut to 'day, Jupiter T" aaid Ronald. \ -

"Never a one, air. Black-faHow not been walk about here long tune." \

(" Then we will not-watch." '\: : ' .,

The party snugly rolled themselves ap In their blankets, and with their heads\jillowed on their inverted saddles, soon slid into dre&m-lasd. . 'i 1 \,

A saddle is certainly not aa comforcableto . lay one's head on as a horsehair pillow, wit

when a man is tired, it passet matter veryN. well. If one ia luxuriously inclined, he may indulge in a pillow made of green grus, roiled np in hi« saddle-cloth, with ? 4 couple i of saddle-straps round it, but such would have ' been considered altogether' , too effeminate by any one of that patty. Jupiter's pillow in his camp at Boorooma, waa e. large, round, flat atone, which, if a (trifle bigger than hit head, was certainly very little

harder, , . I

Molonga was a savage, considerablyover six feet ; hro&d and muscular aa a giant -, *nd as active os a wild beast. He .had lived at the. lake mentioned by Jupiter, «ff and On,1 all his. life-about forty, years.. He waa a distinguished warrior, und chief of tis tribe.