Letter | Published:

Barisàl Guns in Australia

Nature volume 81, page 127 (29 July 1909) | Download Citation



IN NATURE of June 4, 1908 (vol. lxxviii., p. 101), under the title of “Barisàl Guns in Western Australia,” you published a note from me describing a peculiar, loud detonation heard by my companions and myself while on the Strelley River, in the north-west of Australia. In reading Captain Sturt's “Two Expeditions into the Interior of Southern Australia during the Years 1828, 1829, 1830, and 1831,” I find that, when camped on the newly discovered Darling River, near what is now the town of Bourke, in New South Wales, in February, 1829, a very similar sound was heard by the explorers. Sturt's words are as follows:—“About 3 p.m. on the 7th Mr. Hume and I were occupied tracing the chart upon the ground. The day had been remarkably fine, not a cloud was there in the heavens, nor a breath of air to be felt. On a sudden we heard what seemed to be the report of a gun fired at the distance of between five and six miles. It was not the hollow sound of an earthly explosion, or the sharp cracking noise of falling timber, but in every way resembled a discharge of a heavy piece of ordnance. On this all were agreed, but no one was certain whence the sound proceeded. Both Mr. Hume and myself had been too attentive to our occupation to form a satisfactory opinion; but we both thought it came from the N.W. I sent one of the men immediately up a tree, but he could observe nothing unusual. The country around him appeared to be equally flat on all sides, and to be thickly wooded: whatever occasioned the report, it made a strong impression on all of us; and to this day, the singularity of such a sound, in such a situation, is a matter of mystery to me” (2nd edition, 1834, vol. i., p. 98).

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  1. Bureau of Microbiology, Sydney, New South Wales, June 19.



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