Today is the last day of the experiments on the blacks and the Pintaby and the Nalliae are still here. I took over the reading of the instruments again. The whole day was a hell of a day with thick dust much worse than the willy willies we met on the trip. Murch and Maurice have been out in the Krichauffs every night after wallabies but have had no luck so far. This morning Kurt and I went out a couple of miles along the Finke with rifles. I got one duck and Kurt a rabbit and we met the hunters coming home empty handed. However one of the blacks came in a little while later with a euro.
I have just woken up to the fact that the chatter amongst the boys and girls when one walks past is a repetition mostly of ones name bestowed by the natives shortly after our arrival. Murch is Etanga meaning some form of lizard, Davies is Chornba or prenty, Maurice something meaning big eyes as he wears glasses, Barry is Indakuma or white ant, Larnach is Ratya or kangaroo rat and I am Cupailja another form of lizard. Murch got his name because he once went to sleep in the sun and Davies because of his head movements. The rest are rather hard to get at even from the girls but they explained Cupailja as small and quick. Wardlaw was called frog before he went back which seems the most suitable of the lot. It is rather strange to be addressed by the more civilized ones as Mr Cupailja.
I was quite sure that much of the fun was associated with the very downright an earthy implications of our tribal relationships which sprang from this
- 73 -identification. It was just as well that wedidn't understand too much of it, but I was clearly introduced to the wizened up old hag who was my tribal mother, midst much laughter from all of us and hysterical laughter from her.
It has been raining in isolated showers all around the mission and early in the night we got a small storm of about twenty two points which hunted me inside as I was sleeping on the sand outside in the cool.
Today we started to pack up the gear and dismantle the balance and spent the rest of the day busy packing.
Murch and I were subjects for a urea concentration test but after all the preliminaries the dust storm got up again making things impossible.
Our test, which was some sort of control, was done early this morning to dodge the dust, but it did not start today following a couple of points last night. Miller and a station owner called Macnamara have come back. Macnamara is the owner of a station called Bosun's Hole 16 miles south of the Gosses. We travelled across his property during the trip. He gave me a couple of photos of the man up on the murder charge, taken on his place a year or so ago and was very interested to hear the state of the water holes out Mt. Liebig way, telling us that he knew of only two whitemen who had gone out by that route before. One was Cramer and the other Albrecht.
I told Macnamara privately about the rain area south of Mt. Liebig and my walk. He spent some time lecturing me about the folly of it, but also said that he had seen such areas once or twice himself and reckoned one good storm could do it. He said that it was too far out for him to use it even temporarily for his cattle and too risky, as they might get stranded. He thought the natives were not in Arundta territory and must be others. He had never been out that far himself as it was believed to be useless country.
- 74 -Thursday:
Murch and Maurice and Davies pushed off today in Mr Johannson's car to see the Finke Gorge and stay a night there. They were driven by Kurt but came back after a few hours saying that they could not find the track. They started off again with one of the black boys as guide but only with five gallons of petrol.
I got one of the old men across in the evening to see if his interpretation of my churingas was the same as the one I got from the wild ones. To my surprise he agreed exactly on all but one small point, where I could easily have misunderstood. That settles their truthfulness for good.
Considering the fact that most of this had been done in sign language I felt freed from the suspicion that they were making it up as they went along. It also checked on the old man too. He had been a source of many legends that we half thought he was inventing.
He also bought a pair of keditcha boots across with elaborate secrecy. They would be a wonderful thing to have, but he wants ten bob for them and a promise not to let anyone see them until we get south. He told us many tales of the use of them however and all this was substantiated by Course. These are made of womens hair and emu feathers and possess the property of leaving a track from which it is impossible to tell the direction of travel. Also all the natives are afraid to follow the track of Keditcha boots as the tracks may be made by a spirit or a man who will not hesitate to kill anyone following the track.
Cramer himself could not induce his boy to follow the tracks in the murder case and apparently arrived just too late to prevent it.
Maurice and I have bribed Miller to keep his plant here in case it rains before we get off and holds up the car. In which case we can get back into the Alice in two days on his horses, which are now in pretty good nick.
I had a long discussion with Albrecht about what he believed was the future of the natives in this country last night and was very interested in what he said. He seemed to recognise that we had no sympathy with religious dope and confined himself almost entirely to food supply, birth rate, etc. He says that almost every native in Australia has now come in contact with white men, either by hearsay or by actual exposure and that their natural curiosity will inevitably lead them all into rail heads and outlying stations, thus leaving their home country to which they will mostly never return.
At the stations they were generally cared for, trained as stockmen or domestics and paid enough to keep their relatives. But the stations found that most of them went walkabout, often just when they were needed and
- 75 -that only a handfull were reliable. Those who got to the towns, like the Alice soon discovered alcohol and before long reached the metho stage, living in squalid dumps like Heavitree Gap and worked only to buy liquor. The women fell into the hands of the lowest type of white for money. It was also quite true that many better types of whites on stations, dovers and others took a lubra along as a matter of course.
His argument is that the mission forms a buffer between these myall blacks and the whites, which is certainly so. But it gives no explanation of his policy of sending black missionaries out to break down the tribal religions. He was a good man but, while he could criticise other sects, especially catholicism, he was an equally blind evangelist who saw everyone else as benighted. He knew not what he did.
I dismantled the meterological gear today and collected a few little things from the natives. The Finke Gorge party have not arrived back yet but will probably turn up in the morning. It will do Pro. Davies a bit of good to have to sleep in the sand a couple of nights.