Posted by: crisdiaz24 | May 19, 2009



Sturt in his dealings with the blacks is something of a rarity among Australian explorers. He did not despise them or reject them. He treated them with kindness and tried to understand them, and in return he found them to be a gentle friendly people ‑ embarrassingly friendly, in fact, since they invited the explorers to sleep with their grubby wives. They were, he said, an undernourished but merry people who sat up laughing and talking all night long. Being naked they suffered very much from the cold at night, and at this point he split his blanket so that he could give half to a shivering old man. He notes that they were adept at foretelling the weather from the position of the moon, and that in sight and smell they were keener than a dog.

The tribes they had first encountered on their way up from Menindie were rather a scrawny lot, and very primitive; on seeing a horseman for the first time they had thought that man and beast were one creature like the mythical Centaur, and they had run off in astonishment when the man had dismounted. But here, on this green watercourse, they were a much more vigorous breed, the men six foot tall, and although by tribal law their front teeth had been knocked out, many of them were handsome. They netted fish and dived for mussels in the waterholes, they brought down birds with their spears, and from the seed of a plant they called nardoo they made a rough kind of flour that was baked into cakes.

Sturt questioned the tribesmen whenever he could, and now, by signs and by moving their arms in the manner of paddling a canoe, they indicated that there were indeed great stretches of water further to the east. With renewed hope the party went on and found that the watercourse continued to divide itself into many different channels and waterholes. With its grass and heavy timber the country was much more promising than anything they had previously seen. On November 1 they arrived at a lake with seagulls flying above it, and still further east they came on other great pools indigo‑blue in colour and very salt. Here in this wilderness they interrupted a strange scene: a group of seven men crying bitterly. Nothing could make them explain the occasion of their grief, they cried and cried and would not stop, and in the end Sturt was obliged to go on his way, having left them a present of his greatcoat.

A few days later, when they were 120 miles upstream from their original starting‑point, they came on a crowd of some 400 blacks, more than they had ever seen before. The men were very fine, no tribal scars on their bodies, no bulging stomachs among them, and no missing teeth. They were very friendly once they got over their fear of the horses. They came forward with gifts of ducks and flour‑cakes, and held up troughs of water for the horses to drink. But they also blasted Sturt’s hopes for the last time: from this point on they said the stream diminished, and nothing lay further to the east but the desert. Riding out in that direction Sturt came on a swamp, and beyond this he was confronted by an endless plain.

Now finally he had had enough, and the party turned homeward. They retraced their steps down the creek to the point where they had first reached it, and then struck out for Fort Grey and the south. Sturt wrote: `Before we finally left the neighbourhood where our hopes had been so often raised and depressed, I gave the name of Cooper’s Creek to the fine watercourse we had so anxiously traced, as a proof of my respect for Mr Cooper, the judge of South Australia.’ And he added, `I would gladly have laid this creek down as a river, but as it had no current I did not feel myself justified in doing so.’

Alan Moorehead, Cooper’s Creek



1. The difference between Sturt’s attitude towards the aborigines and that of other Australian explorers was that he…

  1. found them as attractive as white people.
  2. refused to sleep with their wives.
  3. treated them as fellow human beings.
  4. was embarrassed by them.

2. The most valuable characteristic of the aborigines for an explorer like Sturt would have been that they…

  1. had a natural awareness of what was around them.
  2. laughed a lot.
  3. understood the movement of the stars.
  4. were undernourished.

3. The first tribes the explorers met ran away because they…

  1. thought they had seen a Centaur.
  2. were afraid of horses.
  3. were savage.
  4. were surprised to see the man and the horse separated.

4. The tribesmen Sturt met near the watercourse…

  1. fished in boats.
  2. grew plants in order to make cakes.
  3. had had all their teeth knocked out.
  4. were much better‑looking than those he had seen earlier.

5. Sturt’s party were much more hopeful as they proceeded because…

  1. the tribes were more communicative.
  2. there were signs of water further ahead.
  3. they had canoes.
  4. they saw lakes further to the east.

6. Which of these statements is true?

  1. The explorers were prevented from going on by finding some aborigines crying.
  2. The aborigines were crying for no reason at all.
  3. Sturt could not understand why they were crying.
  4. Sturt gave them his greatcoat because he was upset by their story.

7. The effect the 400 blacks had on Sturt was…

  1. depressing.
  2. encouraging.
  3. exciting.
  4. negligible.

8. Sturt called the watercourse Cooper’s Creek because…

  1. he believed that the name “river” could only be given to water with a current.
  2. he liked the sound of the name better than the River Cooper.
  3. it was the only way he could think of to honour Judge Cooper.
  4. he was so depressed after his long journey.


1. In a state of semi-starvation (para. 1):_________________________________

2. Uncultivated or uninhabited land (para. 3):______________________________

3. Mental anguish or sorrow (para. 3):___________________________________

4. Protuberant (para. 4):_____________________________________________


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