a richly detailed account of a young man's adventures in early nineteenth-century new south wales and beyond. A near contemporary fair copy of the journal of a servant of Dr Helenus Scott and his two sons Robert and Helenus. The Scott brothers, Robert and Helenus, with whom the anonymous author travelled to Australia, were granted an estate of 4000 acres and in later years became prominent local citizens and magistrates. The author was clearly little more than a boy and performed general tasks, including cooking, for the Scotts during their first years in New South Wales.
The journal begins with his departure from London 8 August 1821, describing the lengthy crossing on HMS Britomart from Gravesend, including the death of Dr Scott and a vivid account of the sailors' rituals when "crossing the line" of the Equator in which the Boatswain dressed as King Neptune ("...the Doctor was the first that he calld for and his eyes were blindfolded... they seated him on a plank put across a large flat tub full of water when the man they calld the Barber came with a pan of Tar and grease and smeard his face..."), passage to the Cape of Good Hope, Hobart and then Sydney, the journal continuing with two trips inland, both including many encounters with Aboriginal people and accounts of wildlife including black swans, "flocks of kangaroos", snakes, bandicoots, and emus, the first an expedition west of Sydney, well provisioned with "a good stock of Tea and Sugar and every Man a Musket", across the Nepean river then west of Bathurst ("...Across the country that no one had ever been before...") for two weeks through a hostile landscape ("...A rocky Barren plain with scarcely a Blade of grass to be seen nor a drop of water to be found..."), the party soon lacking food and drink (being reduced to eating a snake washed down with tea) and losing one man, returning to Sydney and then to the Coal River settlement (i.e. Newcastle) and up the Hunter River for an initial exploration of the region around St Patrick's Plain or Singleton, then returning - leaving Sydney 24 May 1823 - with altogether nine men, most of them convicts, and all the equipment needed to start farming ("...After we had got a little settled, Mr Scott gave all the men half a pint of Rum each, for to Christen the farm which was named Glendon..."), the writer remaining at the new settlement for about six months then, tiring of living in such a remote place, running away to Sydney and being taken on board the Berwick to work his passage home, the ship departing 6 February 1824 and sailing first to New Zealand where the journal ends with a trading encounter with Maori and a lurid account of the 1809 Boyd massacre in the Bay of Islands
A particular highlight of this account are the many detailed descriptions of encounters with Aboriginal people. Local guides assisted the group on both their trips inland except, tellingly, the ill-fated exploration west of Bathurst which resulted in one death; their guide Bungaree warned them that the local tribe "never see white man, they kill and eat you". The author records in detail the appearance and customs of Aborigines including body decoration ("...[Bungaree] would paint himself all over with Red and White streaks..."), the rubbing of possum fat on the skin, and burial customs ("...they stand [the dead] up on there feet against A tree and plaster them round with clay until they are quite covered..."). He describes Bungaree's reaction to his first encounter with a musket and how a member of one Aboriginal group helped himself to water being boiled for tea and scalded himself - none of the group realising the water would be hot. Most remarkably, perhaps, the writer was a witness to a battle between two Aboriginal groups:
"...two of the Chiefs of each party went and gabbled together for some time and then parted and set down at a distance from each other for about an hour when all of a sudden one of the partys jumped up and began to hollow and a volley of spears was thrown... they then got into close quarters with their Waddies which are large clubs made of Iron Wood, and fought for twenty minutes and then the other party run away... they set down and talked for a long time, and then they went off hollowing and singing and skipping to have a Carrobarah, which is a kind of dance..."
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