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2-309 (Text)

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addressee author,male,Hodgkinson, C.,un
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Ward, 1969
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2-309-plain.txt — 3 KB

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At the distance of twenty miles from the mouth of the river, and from thence to the point where the river ceases to be navigable, the brush land is interspersed with small alluvial plains, clear of trees, and varying in extent from fifty to a hundred acres. These clear patches of ground possess all the exuberant fertility of the brush land, and have now been cultivated for several years by squatters, (the MacLeay river being beyond the boundaries). This part of the river, however, has the great drawback of giving ague to those residing there, which is not to be wondered at, when one considers the immense extent of the surrounding swamps. This disorder was particularly prevalent among the cedar sawyers, who led a life, compared with which, the life of the lumberers, or wood-cutters in Canada, is civilization itself. These men are generally convicts, who have become free by servitude; they live in pairs in the dense dark brushes; their habitation being merely a few sheets of bark temporarily piled together, as they are continually moving in search of fresh cedar, Here they live exposed to the myriads of noxious insects with which the brush abounds, whilst not a breath of air can reach them through the entangled mass of surrounding vegetation.
The cedar dealers furnish them from time to time with salt provisions, flour, tea, and sugar; and every three or four months the sawyers travel down to the cedar dealers, who live at the mouths of the rivers, for a settlement of their accounts. As these latter individuals are not remarkable for delicate scruples of conscience, they generally settle the balance due to the sawyers in a very summary way. They take care to have a good assortment of clothing, tobacco, &c. in their huts, with which they furnish the sawyers at an advance of about three hundred per cent. on the Sydney prices: this, with a cask or so of rum and wine, to enable the sawyers to have a fortnight's drinking bout, generally balances their accounts. The scenes I have witnessed at the MacLeay river, on these occasions, surpass all description. Men and women, (for many of the sawyers have wives), lying day and night on the bare grass in a state of intoxication, and only recovering to renew their orgies; casks broken in, and the contents passed round in buckets; men fighting; native blacks, who have been supplied with liquor, yelling and screeching like demons, under the influence of alcohol. Such are a few of the accompaniments of the cedar sawyers' drinking bouts. At length, when they have drank enough to balance their account, they wend their way once more to the brushes with their rations, there to remain until the next time of settlement.
The cedar is cut in square logs, on which the cedar dealer strikes his initials with a branding hammer; the logs are then launched into the water by the aid of bullocks, and afterwards rafted down to the vessels to be conveyed to Sydney. 
The cedar is employed in Sydney for every purpose to which deal is generally applied; and is also sited for all kinds of cabinet work, as it is of a handsome grain and colour.