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John Gilbert diary entry

12 May 1845 - 13 May 1845

Page 98. Volume 2

[in left margin]


resembles it in flavour, the other appeared as the inside or stalk of some plant, both however when roasted was not despised by any of us, in return we gave them some bits of Tin, and an old Powder Canister, with which they were highly pleased. The ground root they term Um=bel=bur=ra, and the other Tu=ree, they made us understand that it was necessary to bake them in a fire and then eat, Mun-da598 appears to be their word to eat, in approaching us now they do not come with such a formidable show of Spears, or attempt to come across what we show them to be the boundary line. thus every thing today has gone on in our constant intercourse with them in the most amicable instead of as we supposed it would be a day of trouble, and annoyance and perhaps bloodshed. if we can always meet Natives in such a friendly manner, it will be not only fortunate but a great sourse of consolation, and congratulation to us in the end. A new and very singular but beautiful tree was seen by Roper when out among the Lakes the Dr thinks belongs to the Araliaceous form, it grows to a height of from 20 to 40 feet in height, the bunch of leaves borne at the extremities of the long branches which interlace each other, each leaf has from 11 to 13 leaflets, as large and very much the appearance of the Laurel, spreading out in a circular form, the blossoms are from the extreme end from the centre of the bunch of leaves, on long fast599 stalks, the blossoms small and frilled600.

[in left margin]

Tuesday 13th.

Early this morning our Lotophagian neighbours paid us their accustomed visit, they do certainly improve on acquaintance, they not not only approach us without their spears but have evidently great confidence in our friendly manners, Brown who is at all times a most amusing fellow, kept them constantly in good humour. We tried to gather a few words from them, but were on the whole unsuccessful, the following however, were the most satisfactory Be=kin, a shield. We=qit, eating. Enundo, breast. Ya=mo, Throwing board. Man=dan, Woman or Wife601. It is certainly amusing to witness the extraordinary closeness of their examinations of every thing we have with us, our clothing, our Hats, the difference of texture, particularly. Brown after a good deal of trouble induced them to bring over a few of their women, to one of whom he gave a piece of sacking, the poor thing at the same time trembling and almost sinking in the sand with fright. my note book astonished them exceedingly, and when we dis=tributed among them slips of Paper, with Kangaroo's, Horses, Emu's, and other things

Note 598

Written sideways, on a page headed “Burdikin” in Gilbert’s diary (volume 1, page 177) and within a sketched outline of a fish and below some fish measurements, are the words “Mun=dar [means] edible”. Also within the fish sketch are very faint words which may read “Tu=ree” and “Umbel-burra”.

Note 599

“Fast” presumably in the sense of firmly fixed, stable, securely attached.

Note 600

Noted by Leichhardt to be “a species of Sciadophyllum”, the tree was identified by Fensham et al (2006: 480) as Schefflera actinophylla, the Umbrella Tree or Octopus Tree (family Araliaceae).

Note 601

These Aboriginal names (as far as can be read) are also recorded in the pencilled part of Gilbert’s diary (vol.1 page 156).