The Life Of One Alone

The life and thoughts of a widow.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Following The Major Mitchell Trail

This trip was most enjoyable and I set out in the early morning light.

Major Mitchel was not a man I would have liked to have met despite his adventurous spirit. His temper was alarming and he was the last man in Australia to have fought a duel. However, he only shot the man's hat.

His duelling pistols are held in the National Museum of Australia.

His cruelty to the aboriginals is well documented and dampens his deeds as an explorer and surveyor.

Mitchell's party came across a large group of aborigines at Mount Dispersion. Mitchell thought they would be hostile and ordered his men to ambush them. Seven aboriginals were killed and members of the party said that Mitchell ordered old women and children to be killed.

On another occasion, Mitchell's men followed aboriginals who were running for their lives and shot them as they tried to swim across the Murray River to safety. He was widely criticised in the colony for his deeds.

Mitchell had an unusual way of counting how far they had travelled. He would count the stroke of his horse's hoof. When he reached 100, he would put his hand into his pocket and remove a counter, such as a bean or a pea and put it into his other pocket. He claimed that 950paces of his horse made up a 1.6 kilometres and after this he would take a new compass reading and start counting again.

Apart from his misdeeds, he was fortunate enough to be one of the first into this wide brown country and see it in it's natural beauty.

I personally cannot admire a man on whose hands lies the blood of aboriginals, but it is interesting to stop and reflect on the country through which they travelled.

A land untouched by white man, pollution and ravage through mining.


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