Pottery, common to Malays and Papuans, the bows and arrows of the latter, and the elaborate canoes of all three races, are unknown to the Australians.
Again, while they differ physically from neighbouring races, while there is practically nothing in common between them and the Malays, the Polynesians, or the Papuan Melanesians, they agree in type so closely among themselves that they must be regarded as forming one race.
The Malays, also, would seem to have been acquainted with the northern coast; while Marco Polo, who visited the East at the close of the 13th century, makes reference to the reputed existence of a great southern continent.
Only an insignificant fraction of these forests has ever been visited by human beings, the Malays and even the aboriginal tribe having their homes on the banks of the rivers, and never, even when travelling from one part of the country to another, leaving the banks of a stream except for a short time when passing from one river-system to another.
The rivers on the east coast are practically the only highways, the Malays always travelling by boat in preference to walking, but they serve their purpose very indifferently, and their great beauty is their chief claim to distinction.