The widow of Ensign Brock’s, who died in July last, availed herself of this opportunity to get, with her family, partly on her way to England.
Although the settlement had now been established within a month of ten years, yet little had been added to the stock of natural history which had been acquired in the first year or two of its infancy. The Kangaroo, the Dog, the Opossum, the Flying Squirrel, the Kangaroo Rat, a spotted Rat, the common Rat, and the large Fox-bat (if entitled to a place in this society), made up the whole catalogue of animals that were known at this time, with the exception which must now be made of an amphibious animal, of the mole species, one of which had been lately found on the banks of a lake near the Hawkesbury. In size it was considerably larger than the land mole. The eyes were very small. The fore legs, which were shorter than the hind, were observed, at the feet, to be provided with four claws, and a membrane, or web, that spread considerably beyond them, while the feet of the hind legs were furnished, not only with this membrane or web, but with four long and sharp claws, that projected as much beyond the web, as the web projected beyond the claws of the fore feet. The tail of this animal was thick, short, and very fat; but the most extraordinary circumstance observed in its structure was, its having, instead of the mouth of an animal, the upper and lower mandibles of a duck. By these it was enabled to supply itself with food, like that bird, in muddy places, or on the banks of the lakes, in which its webbed feet enabled it to swim; while on shore its long and sharp claws were employed in burrowing; nature thus providing for it in its double or amphibious character. These little animals had been frequently noticed rising to the surface of the water, and blowing like the turtle.
The subjoined engraving is from a drawing made on the spot by Governor Hunter.
Among the few circumstances that occurred out of the common course of events, must be mentioned that of a man belonging to the hospital, who, in endeavouring to get hold of a boat which was close to the shore, over-reached himself and fell into deep water, where he was drowned. The body being immediately found, the means recommended by the Humane Society in such cases were made use of, but without the desired effect.
The barracks for the assistant surgeons, and the tower of the intended church, were nearly completed during this month, and the paling round the new store-house was begun. The Reliance, whose leaks had been discovered, was strengthened with riders, several people being employed to bring in timber for that purpose. These formed some of the public works at Sydney. At Parramatta, Toongabbie, and the other interior settlements, all were actively employed in securing the abundant crops which every where promised to reward the industry of the settler and the labourer.
The annual election of constables took place in this month. These municipal regulations were attended at least with the advantage of introducing something like a system of regularity into the settlement, than which nothing was more likely to check the relaxation which had lately prevailed in it.