A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 794 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13.
farther northward it is hilly, but in no part can be called mountainous; and the hills and mountains, taken together, make but a small part of the surface, in comparison with the vallies and plains.  It is, upon the whole, rather barren than fertile, yet the rising ground is chequered by woods and lawns, and the plains and vallies are in many places covered with herbage:  The soil, however, is frequently sandy, and many of the lawns, or savannahs, are rocky and barren, especially to the northward, where, in the best spots, vegetation was less vigorous than in the southern part of the country; the trees were not so tall, nor was the herbage so rich.  The grass in general is high, but thin, and the trees, where they are largest, are seldom less than forty feet asunder; nor is the country inland, as far as we could examine it, better clothed than the sea coast.  The banks of the bays are covered with mangroves to the distance of a mile within the beach, under which the soil is a rank mud, that is always overflowed by a spring tide; farther in the country we sometimes met with a bog, upon which the grass was very thick and luxuriant, and sometimes with a valley that was clothed with underwood:  The soil in some parts seemed to be capable of improvement, but the far greater part is such as can admit of no cultivation.  The coast, at least that part of it which lies to the northward of 25 deg.  S., abounds with fine bays and harbours, where vessels may lie in perfect security from all winds.

If we may judge by the appearance of the country while we were there, which was in the very height of the dry season, it is well watered.  We found innumerable small brooks and springs, but no great rivers; these brooks, however, probably become large in the rainy season.  Thirsty Sound was the only place where fresh water was not to be procured for the ship, and even there, one or two small pools were found in the woods, though the face of the country was every where intersected by salt-creeks and mangrove-land.

Of trees there is no great variety.  Of those that could be called timber, there are but two sorts; the largest is the gum-tree, which grows all over the country, and has been mentioned already:  It has narrow leaves, not much unlike a willow; and the gum, or rather resin, which it yields, is of a deep red, and resembles the sanguis draconis; possibly it may be the same, for this substance is known to be the produce of more than one plant.  It is mentioned by Dampier, and is perhaps the same that Tasman found upon Diemen’s Land, where he says he saw “gum of the trees, and gum lac of the ground.”  The other timber tree is that which grows somewhat like our pines, and has been particularly mentioned in the account of Botany Bay.  The wood of both these trees, as I have before remarked, is extremely hard and heavy.  Besides these, here are trees covered with a soft bark that is easily peeled off, and is the same that in the East Indies is used for the caulking of ships.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 13 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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