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John Gilbert diary entry

5 May 1845

Page 88. Volume 2

[in left margin]


Roper taking another horse soon left us, after which the natives still very curious came close up to the bank of the Rivulet, and seeming very much inclined to cross we met them on the opposite bank, and held a long conversation in gestures from which I fancied I could gather from them that the rivulet α Lakes we are now upon run a long distance to the Westward, we now succeeded in getting them in a good humour, and they gained confidence, we gave them several bits of old iron, for which they threw us over in exchange a spear, head or=nament and several Waddies. the spears resemble those of the natives of the Coburg Peninsula584, a strong reed for two thirds of its length and the remaining portion or pointed part of very hard wood, they had also very long spears of hard wood armed with a single Barb. and ornamented at each end with a white paint. They seems [sic] very curious to know if any more people than those they saw were in the tents, and where we were going all of which I explained to them in gestures, some of which they may have guessed correctly, but I dare say most of my gestures α words were as unintelligible to them as theirs to me. suffice it to say we at length induced them to move quietly off, and they divided into two parties as they left us, probably forming two distinct families although their whole number was but 18. several of them were certainly very fine men, but the greater number were young apparantly from 14 to 18 years of age; there was only one old man, and when I pointed to my beard and his to let him understand that I admired it they seemed well pleased. A Kite which had been shot was thrown over the water to them, which they took up very readily, and soon plucked, ornamenting them selves with the down. our camp is in very long grass and the banks of the stream densely clothed with very high reeds, which inter=cepted a fair view of our camp, they were so curious that numbers of them were constantly climbing the trees to obtain a Birds eye view of us. Neither the Dr or Roper returned at night, another days delay therefore will be the consequence.

Note 584

The Cobourg Peninsula on the north coast of Australia, where Gilbert had collected between July 1840 and March 1841.