In malarial countries, sleeping on the ground is distinctly dangerous, and as such districts are usually thickly timbered, the Northern Territory hammock is an admirable device, more particularly where mosquitoes abound.
This hammock, which is almost a standing bedplace when rigged, is constructed as follows:—To a piece of strong canvas 7 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide, put a broad hem, say 3 1/2 inches wide at each end. Into this hem run a rough stick, about 2 feet 8 inches by 2 inches diameter. Round the centre of the stick pass a piece of strong three-quarter inch rope, 8 to 10 feet long and knot it, so as to leave a short end in which a metal eye is inserted. To each end of the two sticks a piece of quarter-inch lashing, about 6 feet long, is securely attached.
To make the mosquito covering take 18 feet of ordinary strong cheese cloth, and two pieces of strong calico of the same size as the canvas bed; put hems in the ends of the upper one large enough to take half-inch sticks, to all four extremities of which 8 feet of whipcord is to be attached. The calico forms the top and bottom of what we used to call the “meat safe,” the sides being of cheese cloth. A small, flapped opening is left on the lower side. When once inside you are quite safe from mosquito bites.
To rig the above, two trees are chosen 7 to 8 feet apart, or two stayed poles can be erected if no trees are available. The bed is rigged about 3 feet from the ground by taking the rope round the trees or poles, and pulling the canvas taut by means of the metal eyelet. Then the lashings at the extremities of the sticks are fixed about 3 feet further up the trees and you have a bed something between a hammock and a standing bed. The mosquito net is fixed above the hammock in a similar manner, except that it does not require the centre stay.
An old friend of mine once had a rather startling experience which caused him to swear by the Northern Territory hammock. He was camped near the banks of a muddy creek on the Daly River, and had fortunately hung his “meat safe” about four feet high. The night was very dark, and some hours after retiring he heard a crash among his tin camp utensils, and the noise of some animal moving below him. Thinking his visitor was a stray “dingo,” or wild dog, he gave a yell to frighten the brute away, and hearing it go, he calmly went to sleep again. Had he known who his caller really was, he would not have felt so comfortable. In the morning on the damp ground below, he found the tracks of a fourteen foot alligator, which was also out prospecting, but which, fortunately, had not thought of investigating the “meat safe.”