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November 17. — Moving on early, we were guided by the natives for about twelve miles, round the head of Fowler’s Bay, crossing through a very sandy, scrubby, and hilly country, and encamping at a water hole, dug between the sandy ridges, about two o’clock in the day. I had ridden a little in advance of the party, and arriving at the water first, surprised some women and children encamped there, and very busily engaged in roasting snakes and lizards over a fire. They were much afraid and ran away on seeing me, leaving their food upon the embers, this our friendly guides unceremoniously seized upon and devoured, as soon as they came up with the drays. These few women were the first we had seen for some time, as the men appeared to keep them studiously out of our way, and it struck me that this might be in consequence of the conduct of the whalers or sealers with whom they might have come in contact on the coast. Old Wilguldy, however, appeared to be less scrupulous on this point, and frequently made very significant offers on the subject.

Soon after we had encamped several natives came up and joined those with us. They were exceedingly polite and orderly — indeed the best conducted, most obliging natives I ever met with — never troubling or importuning for any thing, and not crowding around in that unmannerly disagreeable manner, which savages frequently adopt — nor did I ever find any of them guilty of theft; on the contrary, several times when we had left some article behind, they called to us, and pointed it out. To them we were indebted for the facilities we had enjoyed in obtaining water; for without their guidance, we could never have removed from any encampment without previously ascertaining where the next water could be procured; and to have done this would have caused us great delay, and much additional toil. By having them with us we were enabled to move with confidence and celerity; and in following their guidance we knew that we were taking that line of route which was the shortest, and the best practicable under the circumstances. Upon arriving at any of the watering places to which they had conducted us, they always pointed out the water, and gave it up to us entirely, no longer looking upon it as their own, and literally not taking a drink from it themselves when thirsty, without first asking permission from us. Surely this true politeness — this genuine hospitality of the untutored savage, may well put to the blush, for their exclusiveness and illiberality, his more civilised brethren. In how strong a light does such simple kindness of the inhabitant of the wilds to Europeans travelling through his country (when his fears are not excited or his prejudices violated,) stand contrasted with the treatment he experiences from them when they occupy his country, and dispossess him of his all.

There were now a considerable number of natives with us, all of whom had been subjected to the singular ceremony before described. Those we had recently met with, had, in addition, a curious brand, or mark on the stomach, extending above and below the navel, and produced by the application of fire. I had previously noticed a similar mark in use among one or two tribes high up on the Murray River, (South Australia,) and which is there called “Renditch.” At the latter place, however, the brand was on the breast, here it was on the stomach. I have never been able to account in any way for the origin or meaning of this mark; but it is doubtless used as a feature of distinction, or else why should it only be found in one or two tribes and so far apart, had it been accidental or arisen from lying near or upon the fires in cold weather, every individual of certain tribes would not have been affected, and some individuals of every tribe would: now, the first, as far as my experience enabled me to judge, is the case; but the latter most assuredly is not. Both at the Murray, and near Fowler’s Bay, the natives always told me, that the marks were made by fire, though how, or for what purpose, I could never learn at either place.