They have great difficulty in procuring fire, and are therefore seldom seen without it. Bennillong, or some other native, once showed me the process of procuring it. It is attended with infinite labour, and is performed by fixing the pointed end of a cylindrical piece of wood into a hollow made in a plane: the operator twirling the round piece swiftly between both his hands, sliding them up and down until fatigued, at which time he is relieved by another of his companions, who are all seated for this purpose in a circle, and each one takes his turn until fire is procured.
Most of their instruments are ornamented with rude carved-work, effected with a piece of broken shell, and on the rocks I have seen various figures of fish, clubs, swords, animals, and even branches of trees, not contemptibly represented.
Like all other children of ignorance, these people are the slaves of superstition.
I think I may term the car-rah-dy their high priest of superstition. The share they had in the tooth-drawing scenes was not the only instance, that induced me to suppose this. When Cole-be accompanied Governor Phillip to the banks of the Hawkesbury, he met with a car-rah-dy, Yel-lo-mun-dy, who, with much gesticulation and mummery, pretended to extract the barbs of two spears from his side, which never had been left there, or, if they had, required rather the aid of the knife than the incantations of Yel-lo-mun-dy to extract them; but his patient was satisfied with the car-rah-dy’s efforts to serve him, and thought himself perfectly relieved.
During the time that Boo-roong lived at the clergyman’s house she paid occasional visits to the lower part of the harbour. From one of these she returned extremely ill. On questioning her as to the cause, for none was apparent, she told us that the women of Cam-mer-ray had made water in a path which they knew she was to cross, and it had made her ill. These women were inimical to her, as she belonged to the Botany Bay district. On her intimating to them that she found herself ill, they told her triumphantly what they had done. Not recovering, though bled in the arm by Mr. White, she underwent an extraordinary and superstitious operation, where the operator suffers more than the patient. She was seated on the ground, with one of the lines worn by the men passed round her head once, taking care to fix the knot in the centre of her forehead; the remainder of the line was taken by another girl, who sat at a small distance from her, and with the end of it fretted her lips until they bled very copiously; Boo-roong imagining all the time that the blood came from her head, and passed along the line until it ran into the girl’s mouth, whence it was spit into a small vessel which she had beside her, half filled with water, and into which she occasionally dipped the end of the line. This operation they term be-an-ny, and is the peculiar province of the women.