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[CHAP. XIX.
NEW SOUTH WALES.

rats. Mr. Browne shot one: certainly it is a most extraordinary animal; a stuffed specimen does not at all give a good idea of the appearance of the head and beak when fresh; the latter becoming hard and contracted.[1]

20th.—A long day's ride to Bathurst. Before joining the high road we followed a mere path through the forest; and the country, with the exception of a few squatters' huts, was very solitary. We experienced this day the sirocco-like wind of Australia, which comes from the parched deserts of the interior. Clouds of dust were travelling in every direction; and the wind felt as if it had passed over a fire. I afterwards heard that the thermometer out of doors had stood at 119°, and in a closed room at 96°. In the afternoon we came in view of the downs of Bathurst. These undulating but nearly smooth plains are very remarkable in this country, from being absolutely destitute of trees. They support only a thin brown pasture. We rode some miles over this country, and then reached the township of Bathurst, seated in the middle of what may be called either a very broad valley, or narrow plain. I was told at Sydney not to form too bad an opinion of Australia by judging of the country from the road-side, nor too good a one from Bathurst; in this latter respect, I did not feel myself in the least danger of being prejudiced. The season, it must be owned, had been one of great drought, and the country did not wear a favourable aspect; although I understand it was incomparably worse two or three months before. The secret of the rapidly growing prosperity of Bathurst is, that the brown pasture which appears to the stranger's eye so wretched, is excellent for sheep-grazing. The town stands, at the height of 2200 feet above the sea, on the banks of the Macquarie: this is one of the rivers flowing into the vast and scarcely known interior. The line of watershed, which divides the inland streams from those on the coast, has a height

  1. I was interested by finding here the hollow conical pitfall of the lion-ant, or some other insect: first a fly fell down the treacherous slope and immediately disappeared; then came a large but unwary ant; its struggles to escape being very violent, those curious little jets of sand, described by Kirby and Spence (Entomol., vol. i., p. 425) as being flirted by the insect's tail, were promptly directed against the expected victim. But the ant enjoyed a better fate than the fly, and escaped the fatal jaws which lay concealed at the base of the conical hollow. This Australian pit-fall was only about half the size of that made by the European lion-ant.