In running, this animal confines himself entirely to his hinder, legs, which are possessed with an extraordinary muscular power. Their speed is very great, though not in general quite equal to that of a greyhound; but when the greyhounds are so fortunate as to seize them, they are incapable of retaining their hold, from the amazing struggles of the animal. The bound of the kangaroo, when not hard pressed, has been measured, and found to exceed twenty feet.
At what time of the year they copulate, and in what manner, we know not: the testicles of the male are placed contrary to the usual order of nature.
When young the kangaroo eats tender and well flavoured, tasting like veal, but the old ones are more tough and stringy than bullbeef. They are not carnivorous, and subsist altogether on particular flowers and grass. Their bleat is mournful, and very different from that of any other animal: it is, however, seldom heard but in the young ones.
Fish, which our sanguine hopes led us to expect in great quantities, do not abound. In summer they are tolerably plentiful, but for some months past very few have been taken. Botany Bay in this respect exceeds Port Jackson. The French once caught near two thousand fish in one day, of a species of grouper, to which, from the form of a bone in the head resembling a helmet, we have given the name of light horseman. To this may be added bass, mullets, skait, soles, leather-jackets, and many other species, all so good in their kind, as to double our regret at their not being more numerous. Sharks of an enormous size are found here. One of these was caught by the people on board the Sirius, which measured at the shoulders six feet and a half in circumference. His liver yielded twenty-four gallons of oil; and in his stomach was found the head of a shark, which had been thrown overboard from the same ship. The Indians, probably from having felt the effects of their voracious fury, testify the utmost horror on seeing these terrible fish.
Venomous animals and reptiles are rarely seen. Large snakes beautifully variegated have been killed, but of the effect of their bites we are happily ignorant. Insects, though numerous, are by no means, even in summer, so troublesome as I have found them in America, the West Indies, and other countries.
The climate is undoubtedly very desirable to live in. In summer the heats are usually moderated by the sea breeze, which sets in early; and in winter the degree of cold is so slight as to occasion no inconvenience; once or twice we have had hoar frosts and hail, but no appearance of snow. The thermometer has never risen beyond 84, nor fallen lower than 35, in general it stood in the beginning of February at between 78 and 74 at noon. Nor is the temperature of the air less healthy than pleasant. Those dreadful putrid fevers by which new countries are so often ravaged, are unknown to us: and excepting a slight diarrhoea, which prevailed soon after we had landed, and was fatal in very few instances, we are strangers to epidemic diseases.