Civilisation has almost fulfilled its inexorable law; but four out of a considerable population remain, and they remember naught of the bad old times when the humanising processes, or rather the results of them, began to be felt. Again, 20 miles to the south lies Hinchinbrook Island, 28 miles long, 12 miles broad, and mountainous from end to end: there also the rain-clouds revel.
They must have been a fine race, fine for Australian aboriginals at least, judging by the stamp of two of those who survive; and perhaps that is why they resented interference, and consequently soon began to give way before the irresistible pressure of the whites. The long and picturesque channel which divides Hinchinbrook from the mainland, and the complicated ranges of mountains away to the west, participate in phenomenal rain.
Inhospitable acts were common when the white folks first began to pay the island visits, for they found the blacks hostile and daring. There the rainfall averages about 140 inches per annum.
Why invoke those long-silent spectres, white as well as black, when all active boorishness is of the past? Geraldton has in its immediate background two of the highest mountains in Australia (5,400 feet), and on these the monsoons buffet and break their moisture-laden clouds, affording the district much meteorological fame.
In these pages there will be an endeavour to refrain from egotism, and yet how may one who lives a lonesome life on an island and who presumes to write its history evade that duty?
My chief desire is to set down in plain language the sobrieties of everyday occurrences--the unpretentious homilies of an unpretentious man--one whose mental bent enabled him to take but a superficial view of most of the large, heavy and important aspects of life, but who has found light in things and subjects homely, slight and casual; who perhaps has queer views on the pursuit of happiness, and who above all has an inordinate passion for freedom and fresh air.
All are not free to test touchy problems with the acid of experience.
Besides, there are not enough thoughtful islands to go round.So, take a stroll down memory lane to remember all of our past Word of the Year selections. To this proposition it will be for these pages to find answer.Possibly there may be something to interest those who wish to learn a few of the details of the foundation of a home in tropical Australia; and to understand the conditions of life here, not as they affect the man of independence who seeks to enlarge his fortune, nor the settler who in the sweat of his face has to eat bread, but as they affect one to whom has been given neither poverty nor riches, and who has proved (to his own satisfaction at least) the wisdom of the sage who wrote--"If you wish to increase a man's happiness seek not to increase his possessions, but to decrease his desires." Success will have been achieved if these pages reveal candour and truthfulness, and if thereby proof is given that in North Queensland one "can draw nearer to nature, and though the advantages of civilisation remain unforfeited, to the happy condition of the simple, uncomplicated man! Other islands and islets are in close proximity, a dozen or so within a radius of as many miles, but this Dunk Island is the chief of its group, the largest in area, the highest in altitude, the nearest the mainland, the fairest, the best." In furtherance of the desire that light may shine upon certain phases of the character of the Australian aboriginal, space is allotted in this book to selected anecdotes. It possesses a well-sheltered haven (herein to be known as Brammo Bay), and three perennially running creeks mark a further splendid distinction.We cannot always trust in ourselves and in the boldest of our illusions. Then, if success be achieved and the illusion becomes real and transcendental, and other things and conditions merely "innutritious phantoms," were it not wise, indeed essential, to tell of it all, so that mayhap the illusions of others may be put to the test?