The Australian is a very thick person, and hardness of the native skull is brought home to the European, who for the first time sees him using his head, as we sometimes use the thigh, to break obstinate pieces of stick across. I have seen them thus splinter tough boughs of nearly the thickness of a policeman's truncheon!
Next to this extraordinary hardness of cranium the extreme dexterity with which they use their feet would excite the surprise of the observant white man. They will pick up anything from the ground as readily with
their toes as we can with the hands; and as for climbing, they will "swarm up" a tree, a hundred feet high, in as smart a manner as an English sailor mounts the rigging of a ship. Nor does it matter to the climber whether the trunk of a tree is slender enough for him to embrace it or not. I have seen black fellows literally walk up a big tree by throwing a kind of lasso round it, and across their shoulders, and then lying well back, twisting the rope of vegetable fibre higher and higher as they ascend until in the giddy height they land safely among the boughs at the top.
With all his physical strength, however, the poor Australian savage is but a short lived being. Not only are there no centenarians among them, but Englishmen, who have studied the natives attentively for a lifetime, have assured me that it is extremely rare for a black man to attain the age of fifty. The women age at a very early period of life, and little wonder. Moreover, with out wishing to be ungallant or hypercritical, I may say that any living being more repulsive, than the average old "gin", can scarcely exist on the face of a globe.