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"At this period, I was unluckily invested with the command of the outpost at Rose Hill, which prevented me from being in the list of discoverers of the Hawkesbury. Stimulated, however, by a desire of acquiring a further knowledge of the country, on the 26th instant, accompanied by Mr. Arndell, assistant surgeon of the settlement, Mr. Lowes, surgeon's mate of the 'Sirius', two marines, and a convict, I left the redoubt at day-break, pointing our march to a hill, distant five miles, in a westerly or inland direction, which commands a view of the great chain of mountains, called Carmarthen hills, extending from north to south farther than the eye can reach. Here we paused, surveying "the wild abyss; pondering our voyage." Before us lay the trackless immeasurable desert, in awful silence. At length, after consultation, we determined to steer west and by north, by compass, the make of the land in that quarter indicating the existence of a river. We continued to march all day through a country untrodden before by an European foot. Save that a melancholy crow now and then flew croaking over head, or a kangaroo was seen to bound at a distance, the picture of solitude was complete and undisturbed. At four o'clock in the afternoon we halted near a small pond of water, where we took up our residence for the night, lighted a fire, and prepared to cook our supper: that was, to broil over a couple of ramrods a few slices of salt pork, and a crow which we had shot. "At daylight we renewed our peregrination; and in an hour after we found ourselves on the banks of a river, nearly as broad as the Thames at Putney, and apparently of great depth, the current running very slowly in a northerly direction. Vast flocks of wild ducks were swimming in the stream; but after being once fired at, they grew so shy that we could not get near them a second time. Nothing is more certain than that the sound of a gun had never before been heard within many miles of this spot. "We proceeded upwards, by a slow pace, through reeds, thickets, and a thousand other obstacles, which impeded our progress, over coarse sandy ground, which had been recently inundated, though full forty feet above the present level of the river. Traces of the natives appeared at every step, sometimes in their hunting-huts, which consist of nothing more than a large piece of bark, bent in the middle, and open at both ends, exactly resembling two cards, set up to form an acute angle; sometimes in marks on trees which they had climbed; or in squirrel-traps*; or, which surprised us more, from being new, in decoys for the purpose of ensnaring birds. These are formed of underwood and reeds, long and narrow, shaped like a mound raised over a grave; with a small aperture at one end for admission of the prey; and a grate made of sticks at the other: the bird enters at the aperture, seeing before him the light of the grate, between the bars of which, he vainly endeavours to thrust himself, until taken. Most of these decoys were full of feathers, chiefly those of quails, which shewed their utility. We also met with two old damaged canoes hauled up on the beach, which differed in no wise from those found on the sea coast." - Watkin Tench



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Watkin Tench