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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)

TITLE: Discovery Beyond the Blue.
By
05/09/07


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The unmerciful heat from the noonday sun dried salty sweat on three explorers George Blaxland, Lieutant William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth. Their four native guides seem to cope better but the four laden pack-horses struggled to inhale the hot, dry air. The five dogs accompanying them were unusually quiet; they too suffered from the high temperatures.


Changing direction to avoid another huge rock formation, a cooling breeze greeted them. Faint bird calls echoed through the rocky terrain. It had been a long, slow, rugged mile since leaving the overnight camping place at dawn. Blaxland found the constant arguing between Buriagala and the younger natives frustrating, but said nothing. Buriagala was losing respect from the younger natives.

Bungaree, the only English speaking native, spoke quietly to Blaxland. “Daruk men angry. They hungry. No food here. This dead land belong to Wiradjuri tribes, protected by bad spirits.”

Blaxland studied the dark face of the worried native. “Tell them, God will protect us.”

The sun was dipping toward the western horizon. Tomorrow would be Sunday, a day of rest for the exhausted group. Blaxland would read a passage from the Holy Bible as usual, after a large Sunday breakfast ... he hoped. Bungaree would interpret the words to the rest of the natives; how acuate they were he wasn’t sure, if the interrupted bursts of laughter were an indication. Still, Blaxland had noticed the change in Bungaree, who often asked questions regarding the Sunday text.

Coming to an abrupt stop, the men peered down what must have been a sheer drop of approximately four hundred feet. Eyes scanned the view beyond the cliff edge. Rivers and creeks flowed through the wilderness below but the surroundings looked dry and bare. Tiny shrubs and crumbling rock covered where they stood, causing the horses to slip and slide. Disappointment reflected on the faces of each traveller. They had come to a dead end.

Lawson spoke harshly to Bungaree. “We need to find a place to camp before dark.”

Calmly Blaxland replied for Bungaree. “We’ll use the compass and sexton; we’ll have to back-track awhile.”

Leading the pack-horses away from the precipice, Bungaree grinned at Blaxland.

A gun-shot sounded putting a flock of squawking birds to flight, which caused the horses to rear up. Wentworth had shot a second snake. Less than an hour before, a snake had bitten Baia-me, Buriagala’s dog. Their treatments could not save Baia-me, but the anger between the natives eased, relieving the tension.


Later that afternoon they set up camp by a swamp, which was almost entirely covered with a harsh grassy weed. Thirsty horses and dogs drank their fill. The air was cooler but the ground was hard and dry with tufts of Mungo grass, creating hard work of pitching tents. Clouds formed overheard. Rain had threatened many times over the past week, nevertheless none came.

Blaxland retrieved a quill pen, a bottle of ink and paper from his saddle bag. Sitting on one of many huge boulders scattered over a large area, he began to record the day’s events. It had become a ritual from day one, Tuesday, May 11, 1813, nineteen days before.

Today, he too, was displeased by the little ground they had covered. Lawson was rightly angry and Wentworth had muttered something about going around in circles. Blaxland recorded a vow that he wouldn’t take a native again on any long distant expedition as a guide. It was obvious once out of their own tribal district; they were as lost as the group they were to lead. Bungaree had become more of a travelling companion, willing to learn about the new terrain as well as the Scriptures.

Sounds of a usual victorious chanting increased as the natives entered the clearing. A large kangaroo swung between two of the dark skinned aborigines. Buriagala carried what looked like wild yams and onions. They were laughing and nattering away in their native tongue.

“Mister Blaxland” Bungaree called. “Buriagala, he choose good place to hunt, yes.”

“Yes, Bungaree, Buriagala chose good. We will eat well. Tell him, thank you."



The day following the day of rest, twenty-one days after their departure, the pioneers stepped onto the grassland below. Glass bottles strapped to saddles tinkled as the horses trotted the last few yards where the soil was rich for farming, changing the future of the colony. It was the beginning of greater discoveries in a land which lay beyond the Blue Mountains, New South Wales—Australia.


******

Note: Information regarding dates and landscape etc. was researched from the following websites.

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200411h.html
http://www.infobluemountains.net.au/history/crossing_evans.htm

The Aborigine tribes Daruk and Wiradjuri tribes are geographically still in existance today.


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This article has been read 1089 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Esther Gellert05/10/07
Thanks for this interesting story. The beginning of Australia's interior discovery! What an exciting moment in our history.

I enjoyed it.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge05/11/07
How cool for us Americans to have an opportunity to learn of Australia's history! Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this. Angel
Edy T Johnson 05/13/07
What a treat to read what you gleaned from your research! If we didn't have a DIL from New Zealand, we'd perceive that "down under" part of the globe as far away as another galaxy, I'm afraid. But, here you give us a chance to participate in the pioneer experience not so different from explorers in any new place. I found this most interesting reading, and appreciated the insights regarding the tribal peoples. Thanks muchly!
Kaylee Blake 05/13/07
Ya learn something new everday! I like a good descriptive story, with an educational quality. I know virtually nothing about Aussie history, so I found this piece to be very interesting! Good job!
Sara Harricharan 05/14/07
Very interesting! I liked reading about this historic discovery. I especially liked the names, that seemed to fit so well into the story. Very well done!
Benjamin Graber05/14/07
This is very interesting. I don't know much about Australian history, so I appreciated the chance to learn some! Thanks for sharing this!
Lynda Schultz 05/14/07
I loved the glimpse into this bit of history - good story and description.

One thing you might want to look out for: "Changing direction to avoid another huge rock formation, a cooling breeze greeted them." It sounds like the breeze changed directions to avoid the rock.

Other than that: well done.
Jan Ackerson 05/14/07
Fascinating! New to me, too.

I'm pretty sure you meant "sextant" instead of "sexton." And this is an awful lot of story for the word limit--definitely worth expanding.
Joanne Sher 05/14/07
I felt like I was right there with these brave men on their expedition. Excellent description and sense of place.
Rita Garcia05/14/07
I enjoyed this sooo much! Thanks for sharing this little bit of "Down-under." Fantastic writing!
Sharlyn Guthrie05/14/07
I definitely found this piece of Australian history intriguing, AND you captured my attention and imagination in your telling of it. Kudos!
Pat Guy 05/14/07
Wow! You did a really good job on this! I felt as if I was right there and I loved it. I could feel, smell and taste the land.

THIS is good! I LOVED it!
Pam Carlson-Hetland05/15/07
Excellent story - excellent writing. As mentioned above, there is alot of content in such a short word count. You really made the people and landscape come alive for the reader. Good job.
Jacquelyn Horne05/15/07
Interesting. New to me. Thanks for the informative story.
Mariane Holbrook05/15/07
YOu did a beautiful job writing this. I learned a lot from it. Fantastic!
Patty Wysong05/15/07
Cool! I love learning of places other than right here--it's so different and fresh. Good job with the descriptions!! :-)
Julie Arduini05/15/07
Not only did I enjoy the history lesson but the descriptions were even better than "down under", they were out of this world. Really strong writing here!
Betty Castleberry05/15/07
Fascinating. I know zilch about Australia's history, although I would love to visit there some day. This is well written,informative, and entertaining.
T. F. Chezum05/15/07
Very, very interesting. I enjoyed this a lot. Great job.
Cassie Memmer05/15/07
Neat history! I had never thought of how your country would have been discovered, just as ours was. Thanks for enlightening me. We'll need to hear more about this! :o)
Donna Emery05/16/07
This was very informative but interesting. I enjoyed the characters and the new information. Thanks for sharing it
LaNaye Perkins05/16/07
You did such a great job of bringing the history of Australia alive. Well done!
Brenda Welc05/16/07
This was a great story. I kept trying to remember the names from history until I realized it was America--I'm on vacation so I'm a little slow.

Good Writing!
Sandra Petersen 05/16/07
I read a non-fiction once about the many explorers and their quest to reach the interior of Australia and to criss-cross the continent. I read about these men, and your story brought it back afresh.

One or two words misspelled. Besides the one Jan pointed out, Lawson's rank would have been 'Lieutenant' instead of 'Lieutant'.

I immediately had a sense of the setting in which this took place. Great descriptions! I felt like I was there with the explorers.
Loren T. Lowery05/16/07
I guess I'm getting hooked on historical fiction because of articles like this - I just wanted to keep on reading! Good job.
Maxx .05/22/07
I've been gone for a bit, but finally got the chance to look at the comments you made on my story The Pit several months ago. Thank you for that! And I am delighted to return the favor!

This was a very descriptive read, the pacing was solid, teh characters were easy to relate to. Plus I learned a lot! There were a few places I might have chosen different words (like all teh numbers in the opening paragraph) but those are minor and just shows that many different styles can be successful. Great job!