Extract from Charles Darwin's: Voyage of the Beagle (1972).
Charles Darwin had spent the night at Emu Ferry Inn before crossing the Blue Mountains to Bathurst.Darwin wrote:
"At sunset, a party of a score of the black Aborignes passed by, each carrying, in their accustomed manner, a bundle of spears and other weapons. By giving a leading young man a shilling, they were easily detained, and threw their spears for my amusement."
They were all partly clothes, and several could speak a little English; their countenances were good-humoured and pleasant; and they appeared far from being such utterly degraded beings as they are usually represented. In thier own arts they are admirable: a cap being fixed at thirty yards distance, they transfixed it with a spear, delivered by throwing the stick, with the rapidity of an arrow from the bow of a practised archer. In tracking animals or men, they show the most wonderful sagacity; and I heard of several of their remarks which manifested considerable acuteness. They will not, however, cultivate the ground, or build houses and remain stationary, or even take the trouble of tending a flock of sheep when given to them... It is very curious thus to see in the midst of a civilised people, a set of harmless savages wandering about without knowing where they shall sleep at night, and gaining their livelihood by hunting in the woods. As the white man has travelled onwards, he has spread over the country belong to several tribes. These, although enclosed by one common people, keep up their ancient distinctions, and sometimes fo to war with each other.
The number of aborigines is rapidly decreasing in my whole ride (to Bathurst and back) with the exception of some boys brought up in the houses , I saw only one other party;these were rather more numerous than the first (seen at Penrith), and not so well clothed. This decrease, no doubt, must be partly owing to the introduction of spirits, to European diseases (even the milder ones of which,as the measles,prove very destructive), and to the gradual extinction of the wild animals. It is said that numbers of their children invariably perish in very early infancy from the effects of spirits, to European diseases (even the milder ones of which, as the measles prove very destructive), and to the gradual extinction of the wild animals. It is said that numbers of their children invariably perish in very early infancy from the effects of their wandering life. As the difficulty of procuring food increases, so must theri wandering habits; and hence the population, without any apparent deaths from famine, is repressed in a manner extremely sudden compared to what happen in civilised countries, where the father may add to his labour, without destroying his offspring.
Besides these several evident causes of destruction, there appears to be some more mysterious agency generally at work. Wherever the European has trod, death seems to pursue the Aboriginal. We may look to the wide extent of the Americans, Polynesia, the Cape of Good Hope, and Australia, and we shall find the same result.