These beds are generally five or six feet above high-water mark. The process of making lime from them is extremely simple and expeditious. They are first dug up and sifted, and then piled over large heaps of dry wood, which are set fire to, and speedily convert the superincumbent mass into excellent lime. When thus made it is shipped for Sydney, and sold at one shilling per bushel.
The timber procured on the banks of this river is chiefly cedar and rose wood. The cedar, however, is becoming scarce in consequence of the immense quantities that have been already cut down, and cannot be any longer obtained without going at least a hundred and fifty miles up the river. At this distance, however, it is still to be had in considerable abundance, and is easily floated down to the town in rafts. The government dispose of this wood in the same manner as the coals, at the price of L3 for each thousand square feet, intended for home consumption, and L6 for the same quantity if exported.
This settlement is placed under the direction of a commandant, who is selected out of the officers of the regiment stationed in the colony, and is allowed, as has been noticed, about fifty fire-locks to maintain his authority. He is always appointed to the magistracy previously to his obtaining this command, and is entrusted with the entire controul of the prisoners, whom he punishes or rewards as their conduct may appear to him to merit.
The harbour at the mouth of this river is tolerably secure and spacious, and contains sufficient depth of water for vessels of three hundred tons burden. The river itself, however, is only navigable for small craft of thirty or forty tons burden, and this only for about fifty miles above the town. Just beyond this distance there are numerous flats and shallows, which only admit of the passage of boats over them. This river has three branches; they are called the upper, the lower, and the middle branch: the two former are navigable for boats for about a hundred and twenty miles, the latter for upwards of two hundred miles. The banks of all these branches are liable to inundations equally terrific with those at the Hawkesbury, and from the same causes; because they are receptacles for the rain that is collected by the Blue Mountains, which form the western boundary of this district, and divide it as well as the districts of Port Jackson, from the great western wilderness. The low lands within the reach of these inundations is if possible of still greater exuberancy than the banks of the Hawkesbury and Nepean, and of four times the extent. The high-land, or to give it the colonial appellation, the forest land, is very thinly studded with timber, and equal for all the purposes of agriculture and grazing to the best districts of Port Jackson. The climate too is equally salubrious, and on the upper banks of the middle branch, it is generally believed, that the summer heats are sufficient for the production of cotton; the cultivation of which would become an inexhaustible source of wealth to the growers, and would afford a valuable article of export to the colony.
In fact, under every point of view this district contains the strongest inducements to colonization. It possesses a navigable river, by which its produce may be conveyed to market at a trifling expence, and the inhabitants of its most remote parts may receive such articles of foreign or domestic growth and manufacture as they may need, at a moderate advance: it surpasses Port Jackson in the general fertility of its soil, and at least rivals it in the salubrity of its climate: it contains in the greatest abundance coal, lime, and many varieties of valuable timber which are not found elsewhere, and promise to become articles of considerable export: it has already established in an eligible position, a small nucleus of settlers to which others may adhere, and thus both communicate and receive the advantages of society and protection; and it has a town which affords a considerable market for agricultural produce, and of which the commanding localities must rapidly increase the extent and population.
COUNTRY WEST OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS.
The country to the westward of the Blue Mountains ranks next in contiguity to Sydney, and claims pre-eminence not so much from any superiority of soil in those parts of it which have been explored, as from its amazing extent, and great diversity of climate. These mountains, where the road has been made over them, are fifty-eight miles in breadth; and as the distance from Sydney to Emu Ford, at which place this road may be said to commence, is about forty miles, the beginning of the vast tract of country to the westward of them, it will be seen, is ninety-eight miles distant from the capital.
The road which thus traverses these mountains is by no means difficult for waggons, until you arrive at the pass which forms the descent into the low country. There it is excessively steep and dangerous; yet carts and waggons go up and down it continually: nor do I believe that any serious accident has yet occurred in performing this very formidable undertaking.
Still the discovery of a safer and more practicable pass would certainly be attended with a very beneficial influence on the future progress of colonization in this great western wilderness. Every attempt, however, to find such a one has hitherto proved abortive; and should the future efforts which may be made with this view prove equally so, there can be little doubt, that the communication between the eastern and western country will be principally maintained by means of horses and mules with packs and panniers.
The elevation of these mountains above the level of the sea, has not yet been determined; but I should imagine that it cannot exceed four thousand feet. For the first ten or twelve miles they are tolerably well clothed with timber, and produce occasionally some middling pasture; but beyond this they are excessively barren, and are covered generally with a thick brush, interspersed here and there with a few miserable stunted gums. They bear, in fact, a striking similarity, both in respect to their soil and productions, to the barren wastes on the coast of Port Jackson. They are very rocky, but they want granite, the distinguishing characteristic of primitive mountains. Sandstone thickly studded with quartz and a little freestone, are the only varieties which they offer; a circumstance the more singular, as the moment you descend into the low country beyond them, granite is the only sort of stone that is to be met with for upwards of two hundred miles.
For the whole of this distance to the westward of these mountains, the country abounds with the richest herbage, and is upon the whole tolerably well supplied with running water. In the immediate vicinity of them there is a profusion of rivulets, which discharge themselves into the western river; or, as it is termed by the natives, the Warragambia, the main branch, as I have before observed, of the Hawkesbury. From the moment, however, that the streams begin to take a western course, the want of water becomes more perceptible, and increases as you proceed into the interior, particularly in a south-west direction.
This large and fertile tract of country, is in general perfectly free from underwood; and in many places, is without any timber at all. Bathurst Plains, for instance, where there is a commandant, a military depot, and some few settlers established, have been found by actual admeasurement, to contain upwards of sixty thousand acres, upon which there is scarcely a tree. The whole of this western country, indeed, is much more open and free from timber than the best districts to the eastward of the Blue Mountains.
The depot at Bathurst Plains, is 180 miles distant from Sydney; and the road to it presents no impediment to waggons, but the descent from the mountains into the low country; and even this does not prevent the inhabitants from maintaining a regular intercourse with that town, and receiving from it all the supplies which they require. The difficulty, however, of thus communicating with the capital, is such as to preclude this vast tract of country from assuming an agricultural character; except in as far as the raising of grain for a scanty population of shepherds and herdsmen, may entitle it to this denomination; since there are no navigable rivers, at all events for many hundred miles into the interior, and the difficulty and expence of a land-carriage across the Blue Mountains, will always prevent the inhabitants of that part of this vast western wilderness, which is at present explored, from entering into a competition with the colonists in the immediate vicinity of Port Jackson. By way, however, of set-off against the anifest superiority, which the districts to the eastward of the mountains possess in this respect over the country to the westward of them; this latter is certainly much better adapted for all the purposes of grazing and rearing cattle. The herbage is sweeter and more nutritive, and there is an unlimited range for stock, without any danger of their committing trespass. There is besides, for the first two hundred miles, a constant succession of hill and dale, admirably suited for the pasture of sheep, the wool of which will without doubt eventually become the principal export of this colony, and may be conveyed across these mountains at an inconsiderable expense.
The discovery of this vast and as yet imperfectly known tract of country, was made in the year 1814, and will doubtless be hereafter productive of the most important results. It has indeed already given a new aspect to the colony, and will form at some future day, a memorable era in its history. Nothing is now wanting to render this great western wilderness the seat of a powerful community, but the discovery of a navigable river communicating with the western coast. That such exists, although the search for it has hitherto proved ineffectual, there can be no doubt, if we may be allowed to judge from analogy; since in the whole compass of the earth, there is no single instance of so large a country as New Holland, not possessing at least one great navigable river. To ascertain this point has been one of the leading objects of Governor Macquarie's administration, ever since the discovery of the pass across the mountains. Several unsuccessful expeditions have been fitted out with this view from Sydney, both by sea and land. The last of which we have learned the result, was conducted by Mr. Oxley, the surveyor-general, and is most worthy of notice, as well from the extent of country which he traversed, as from the probability that the river which he discovered, discharges itself into the ocean on some part of the western coast. The summary of this journey is contained in the following letter, addressed by him to the governor on his return from this expedition to Bathurst Plains.
Bathurst, 30th August, 1817.
I have the honour to acquaint your Excellency with my arrival at this place last evening, with the persons comprising the expedition to the westward, which your Excellency was pleased to place under my direction.
Your Excellency is already informed of my proceedings up to the 30th of April. The limits of a letter will not permit me to enter at large into the occurrences of nineteen weeks; and as I shall have the honour of waiting on your Excellency in a few days, I trust you will have the goodness to excuse the summary account I now offer to your Excellency.
I proceeded down the Lachlan in company with the boats until the 12th of May, the country rapidly descending until the waters of the river rose to a level with it, and dividing into numerous branches, inundated the country to the west and north-west, and prevented any further progress in that direction, the river itself being lost among marshes: up to this point it had received no accession of waters from either side, but on the contrary was constantly dissipating in lagoons and swamps.
The impossibility of proceeding further in conjunction with the boats being evident, I determined upon maturer deliberation, to haul them up, and divesting ourselves of everything, that could possibly be spared, proceed with the horses loaded with the additional provisions from the boats, in such a course towards the coast as would intersect any stream that might arise from the divided waters of the Lachlan.
In pursuance of this plan, I quitted the river on the 11th May, taking a south-west course towards Cape Northumberland, as the best one to answer my intended purpose. I will not here detail the difficulties and privations we experienced in passing through a barren and desolate country, without any water but such rain water as was found remaining in holes and the crevices of rocks. I continued this course until the 9th of June, when having lost two horses through fatigue and want, and the others in a deplorable condition, I changed our course to north, along a range of lofty hills, running in that direction, as they afforded the only means of procuring water until we should fall in with some running stream. On this course I continued until the 23d of June, when we again fell in with a stream, which we had at first some difficulty to recognise as the Lachlan, it being little larger than one of the marshes of it, where it was quitted on the 17th of May.
I did not hesitate a moment to pursue this course; not that the nature of the country, or its own appearance in any manner indicated that it would become navigable, or was even permanent; but I was unwilling that the smallest doubt should remain of any navigable waters falling westward into the sca, between the limits pointed out in my instructions.
I continued along the banks of the stream until the 8th of July, it having taken during this period a westerly direction, and passing through a perfectly level country, barren in the extreme, and being evidently at periods entirely under water. To this point it had been gradually diminishing, and spreading its waters over stagnated lagoons and morasses, without receiving any stream that we knew of during the whole extent of its course. The banks were not more than three feet high, and the marks of flood in the shrubs and bushes, shewed that at times it rose between two and three feet higher, causing the whole country to become a marsh, and altogether uninhabitable.
Further progress westward, had it been possible, was now useless, as there was neither hill nor rising ground of any kind within the compass of our view, which was only bounded by the horizon in every quarter, entirely devoid of timber except a few diminutive gums on the very edge of the stream, might be so termed. The water in the bed of the lagoon, as it might now be properly denominated, was stagnant; its breadth about twenty feet, and the heads of grass growing in it, shewed it to be about three feet deep.
This originally unlooked for and truly singular termination of a river, which we had anxiously hoped and reasonably expected would have led to a far different conclusion, filled us with the most painful sensations. We were full five hundred miles west of Sydney, and nearly in its latitude; and it had taken us ten weeks of unremitted exertion to proceed so far. The nearest part of the coast about Cape Bernouilli, had it been accessible, was distant about a hundred and fifty miles. We had demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt, that no river whatever could fall into the sea, between Cape Otway and Spencer's Gulph; at least none deriving their waters from the eastern coast, and that the country south of the parallel of 34 degrees, and west of the meridian of 147 degrees 30' East, was uninhabitable and useless for all the purposes of civilized man.
It now became my duty to make our remaining resources as extensively useful to the colony as our circumstances would allow: these were much diminished: an accident to one of the boats, in the outset of the expedition, had deprived us of one-third of our dry provisions, of which we had originally but eighteen weeks; and we had been in consequence for some time on a reduced ration of two quarts of flour per man, per week. To return to the depot by the route we had come, would have been as useless as impossible; and seriously considering the spirit of your Excellency's instructions, I determined upon the most mature deliberation, to take such a route on our return, as would, I hope, best comport with your Excellency's views, had our present situation ever been contemplated.
Returning down the Lachlan, I re-commenced the survey of it from the point in which it was made, the 23d of June; intending to continue up its banks until its connection with the marshes, where we quitted it on the 17th May, was satisfactorily established, as also to ascertain if any streams might have escaped our research. The connection with all the points of the survey previously ascertained, was completed between the 19th of July and the 3d of August. In the space passed over within that period, the river had divided into various branches, and formed three fine lakes, which, with one near the determination of our journey westward, were the only considerable pieces of water we had yet seen; and I now estimated that the river, from the place where first made by Mr. Evans, had run a course, taking all its windings, of upwards of twelve hundred miles; a length of course altogether unprecedented, when the single nature of the river is considered, and that its original is its only supply of water during that distance.
Crossing at this point it was my intention to take a north-east course, to intersect the country, and if possible ascertain what had become of the Macquarie river, which it was clear had never joined the Lachlan. This course led us through a country to the full as bad as any we had yet seen, and equally devoid of water, the want of which again much distressed us. On the 7th of August the scene began to change, and the country to assume a very different aspect: we were now quitting the neighbourhood of the Lachlan, and had passed to the north-east of the high range of hills, which on this parallel bounds the low country to the north of that river. To the north-west and north, the country was high and open, with good forest land; and on the 10th we had the satisfaction to fall in with the first stream running northerly. This renewed our hopes of soon falling in with the Macquarie, and we continued upon the same course, occasionally inclining to the eastward, until the 19th passing through a fine luxuriant country, well watered, crossing in that space of time nine streams, having a northerly course through rich vallies; the country in every direction being moderately high and open, and generally as fine as can be imagined.
No doubt remained upon our minds that those streams fell into the Macquarie, and to view it before it received such an accession, was our first wish. On the 19th we were gratified by falling in with a river running through a most beautiful country, and which I would have been well contented to have believed the river we were in search of. Accident led us down this stream about a mile, when we were surprised by its junction with a river coming from the south, of such width and magnitude, as to dispel all doubts as to this last being the river we had so long anxiously looked for. Short as our resources were, we could not resist the temptation this beautiful country offered us, to remain two days on the junction of the river, for the purpose of examining the vicinity to as great an extent as possible.
Our examination increased the satisfaction we had previously felt: as far as the eye could reach in every direction, a rich and picturesque country extended, abounding in limestone, slate, good timber, and every other requisite that could render an uncultivated country desirable. The soil cannot be excelled, whilst a noble river of the first magnitude affords the means of conveying its productions from one part to the other. Where I quitted it its course was northerly, and we were then north of the parallel of Port Stevens, being in latitude 32 degrees 45' South, and 148 degrees 58' East longitude.
It appeared to me that the Macquarie had taken a north north-west course from Bathurst, and that it must have received immense accessions of water in its course from that place. We viewed it at a period best calculated to form an accurate judgment of its importance, when it was neither swelled by floods beyond its natural and usual height, nor contracted within its limits by summer droughts: of its magnitude when it should have received the streams we had crossed, independent of any it may receive from the east, which from the boldness and height of the country, I presume, must be at least as many, some idea may be formed, when at this point it exceeded in breadth and apparent depth, the Hawkesbury at Windsor. Many of the branches were of grander and more extended proportion than the admired one on the Nepean River from the Warragambia to Emu Plains.
Resolving to keep as near the river as possible during the remainder of our course to Bathurst, and endeavour to ascertain at least on the west side, what waters fell into it, on the 22d we proceeded up the river, and between the point quitted and Bathurst, crossed the sources of numberless streams, all running into the Macquarie; two of them were nearly as large as that river itself at Bathurst. The country from whence all these streams derive their source, was mountainous and irregular, and appeared equally so on the east side of the Macquarie. This description of country extended to the immediate vicinity of Bathurst; but to the west of those lofty ranges, the country was broken into low grassy hills, and fine valleys watered by rivulets rising on the west side of the mountains, which on their eastern side pour their waters directly into the Macquarie.
These westerly streams appeared to me to join that which I had at first sight taken for the Macquarie; and when united fall into it at the point at which it was first discovered, on the 19th inst.
We reached this place last evening, without a single accident having occurred during the whole progress of the expedition, which from this point has encircled within the parallels of 34 degrees 30' South, and 32 degrees South, and between the meridians of 149 degrees 43' and 143 degrees 40' East, a space of nearly one thousand miles.
I shall hasten to lay before your Excellency the journals, charts, and drawings, explanatory of the various occurrences of our diversified route; infinitely gratified if our exertions should appear to your Excellency commensurate with your expectations, and the ample means which your care and liberality placed at my disposal.
I feel the most particular pleasure in informing your Excellency of the obligations I am under to Mr. Evans, the Deputy Surveyor, for his able advice and cordial co-operation throughout the expedition, and as far as his previous researches had extended, the accuracy and fidelity of his narration was fully exemplified.
It would perhaps appear presuming in me to hazard an opinion upon the merits of persons engaged in a pursuit of which I have little knowledge; the extensive and valuable collection of plants formed by Mr. A. Cunningham, the king's botanist, and Mr. C. Frazer, the colonial botanist, will best evince to your Excellency the unwearied industry and zeal bestowed on the collection and preservation of them: in every other respect they also merit the highest praise.
From the nature of the greater part of the country passed over, our mineralogical collection is but small. Mr. S. Parr did as much as could be done in that branch, and throughout endeavoured to render himself as useful as possible.
Of the men on whom the chief care of the horses and baggage devolved, it is impossible to speak in too high terms. Their conduct in periods of considerable privation, was such as must redound to their credit; and their orderly, regular, and obedient behaviour, could not be exceeded. It may be principally attributed to their care and attention that we lost only three horses; and that, with the exception of the loss of the dry provisions already mentioned, no other accident happened during the course of it. I most respectfully beg leave to recommend them to your Excellency's favourable notice.
I trust your Excellency will have the goodness to excuse any omissions or inaccuracies that may appear in this letter; the messenger setting out immediately will not allow me to revise or correct it.
I have the honour, etc.
J. OXLEY, Surveyor-Gen.
To his Excellency Lachlan Macquarie, Esq.
The course and direction of this river is the object of two expeditions, of which we may shortly expect to learn the result. One is by land, and conducted by the same gentleman; the other by sea, and under the command of Lieutenant King, R.N.; whose father, Captain King, was formerly Lieutenant Governor of Norfolk Island, and afterwards Governor in Chief of New South Wales.
If the sanguine hopes to which the discovery of this river has given birth, should be realized, and it should be found to empty itself into the ocean, on the north-west coast, which is the only part of this vast island that has not been accurately surveyed, in what mighty conceptions of the future greatness and power of this colony, may we not reasonably indulge? The nearest distance from the point at which Mr. Oxley left off, to any part of the western coast, is very little short of two thousand miles. If this river, therefore, be already of the size of the Hawkesbury at Windsor, which is not less than two hundred and fifty yards in breadth, and of sufficient depth to float a seventy-four gun-ship, it is not difficult to imagine what must be its magnitude at its confluence with the ocean; before it can arrive at which it has to traverse a country nearly two thousand miles in extent. If it possess the usual sinuosities of rivers, its course to the sea cannot be less than from five to six thousand miles, and the endless accession of tributary streams which it must receive in its passage through so great an extent of country, will without doubt enable it to vie in point of magnitude with any river in the world. In this event its influence in promoting the progress of population in this fifth continent, will be prodigious, and in all probability before the expiration of many years, give an entirely new impulse to the tide of population: and here it may not be altogether irrelevant, to enter into a short disquisition on the natural superiority possessed by those countries which are most abundantly intersected with navigable rivers. That such are most favourable for all the purposes of civilized man, the history of the world affords the most satisfactory proof There is not, in fact, a single instance on record of any remarkable degree of wealth and power having been attained by any nation which has not possessed facilities for commerce, either in the number or size of its rivers, or in the spaciousness of its harbours, and the general contiguity of its provinces to the sea. The Mediterranean has given rise to so many great and powerful nations, only from the superior advantages which it afforded for commerce during the long infancy of navigation. The number and fertility of its islands, the serenity of its climate, the smoothness of its waters, the smallness of its entrance, which although of itself sufficient to indicate to the skilful pilot the proximity of the ocean, is still more clearly defined by the Pillars of Hercules, towering on each side of it, and forming land-marks not to be mistaken by the timid, the inexperienced, or the bewildered. Such are the main causes why the Mediterranean continued until the discovery and application of the properties of the magnet, the seat of successive empires so superior to the rest of the world in affluence and power. It is indeed almost impossible to conceive, how any considerable degree of wealth and civilization can be acquired without the aid of navigation. From the moment savages abandon the hunter state, and resign themselves to the settled pursuits of agriculture, the march of population must inevitably follow the direction of navigable waters; since in the infancy of societies these furnish the only means of indulging that spirit of barter which is co-existent with association, is the main spring of industry, and the ultimate cause of all civilization and refinement. In such situations the rude canoe abundantly suffices to maintain the first necessary interchanges of the superfluities of one individual for those of another. Roads, waggons, etc. are refinements entirely unknown in the incipient stages of society. They are the gradual results of civilization, and consequent only on the accumulation of wealth and the attainment of a certain point of maturity. Canals are a still later result of civilization, and are undoubtedly the greatest efforts for the encouragement of barter, and the developement of industry, to which human power and ingenuity have yet given birth. But after all, what are these artificial channels of communication, these ne plus ultras of human contrivance, compared with those natural mediums of intercourse, those mighty rivers which pervade every quarter of the globe? What are they to the Danube, the Nile, the Ganges, the Mississippi, or the Amazon? What are they, in fact, compared even with those infinite minor navigable streams, of which scarcely any country, however circumscribed, is entirely destitute? What! but mere pigmy imitations of nature, which wherever there is a sufficient number of rivers, will never be resorted to, unless it be for the purpose of connecting them together, or of avoiding those long and tedious sinuosities to which they are all more or less subject.
Viewing therefore this newly discovered river only in the light of a river of the first magnitude, it must be evident that this important discovery will have an incalculable influence on the future progress of colonization; but to be enabled fully to estimate the beneficial consequences of which it will be productive; it is essential to take into the estimate, the probable direction of its course, and the point of its confluence with the ocean. This I have already stated is with good reason imagined to be on the north-west coast; since every other part of this vast island has been so accurately surveyed, as scarcely to admit of the possibility of so large a river falling into the sea in any other position. Assuming, therefore, that the source of this river is in the direction thus generally supposed, it will be seen that it will surpass all the rivers in the world in variety of climate; since reckoning merely from the spot where Mr. Oxley discovered it to its conjectural embouchure, there will be a difference of latitude of twenty degrees. Even omitting, then, to take into computation the probable length of its course from the place where it first becomes navigable, to the point where that gentleman fell in with it, (and it was there running from the south, and must have already been navigable for a considerable distance, if we may judge from its size,) the world does not afford any parallel of a river traversing so great a diversity of climate. The majority indeed of the rivers, which may be termed "rivers of the first magnitude," run from west to east, or from east to west, and consequently vary their climate only in proportion to their distance from the sea, to the elevation of their beds, and to the extent of country traversed by such of their branches as run at right angles with them. Of this sort are the St. Lawrence, in North America, the Oronoko and Amazon, in South America; the Niger, Senegal and Gambia, in Africa; the Danube and Elbe, in Europe; and the Hoang Ho, and Kiang Keou in Asia. It must indeed be admitted, that every quarter of the globe furnishes some striking exceptions to this rule, such as the Mississippi and River Plate in America; the Nile, in Africa; the Rhine, the Dniester, the Don, and the Volga, in Europe; and the Indus and Ganges, in Asia; all of which certainly run from north to south, or south to north, and consequently command a great variety of climate.
In this respect, however, none of them will be worthy of comparison with this newly discovered river, if the point of its confluence with the ocean should happily be where it is conjectured. And yet we find that all the countries through which the above-named rivers pass, either have been, or promise to be, the seats of much more wealthy and powerful nations than the countries through which those rivers pass whose course is east or west. The cause of this superiority of one over the other, is to be traced to the greater diversity of productions, which will necessarily be raised on the banks and in the vicinity of those rivers whose course is north or south, a circumstance that is alone sufficient to ensure the possessors of them, under Governments equally favourable to the extension of industry, a much greater share of commerce and wealth than can possibly belong to the inhabitants of these rivers whose course is in a contrary direction: and this for the simplest reason; because rivers of the former description contain within themselves, many of those productions which the latter can only obtain from abroad. In the one, therefore, there is not only a necessity for having recourse to foreign supply, which does not exist in the other, but also a great prevention to internal navigation, arising from the sameness of produce, and the consequent impediment to barter, which must prevail in a country where all have the same commodities to dispose of, where all wish to sell and none to buy. To this manifest superiority which rivers runningon a meridian claim over those running on a parallel, there is no counterpoise, since they both contain equal facilities for exporting their surplus productions, and receiving in exchange the superfluities of other countries. It may, indeed, here be urged, that there is, upon the whole, no surplus produce in the world; and that, as the surplus, whatever may be its extent, of one country, may be always exchanged for that of another, as great a variety of luxuries may be thus obtained by the inhabitants of rivers that run in an eastern or western direction as can possibly be raised by the inhabitants of rivers that run in a northern or southern; and that consequently the same stimulus to an inland navigation will be created by the eventual distribution of the various commodities procured by foreign commerce, as if they had been the products of the country itself. To this it may be replied, that although a much greater variety of products may undoubtedly be imported from foreign countries, than can possibly be raised within the compass of any one navigable river, such products cannot afterwards be sold at so cheap a rate. In all countries, therefore, where such products are imported from abroad, the increase in their price must occasion a proportionate diminution in their consumption, and in so far inevitably operate as a check to internal navigation.
This variety of production, and the additional encouragement thus afforded by it, to what is well known to be one of the main sources of national wealth, is sufficient to account for the superior degree of civilization, affluence, and power, which have in general characterized those countries whose rivers take a northern or southern course. Some few nations, indeed, which do not possess such great natural advantages, have supplied the want of them by their own skill and industry, and have in the end triumphed over the efforts of nature to check their progress. Of a people who have thus overstepped these natural barriers opposed to their advancement, and in spite of them attained the summit of wealth and civilization, China perhaps furnishes the most remarkable example. The two principal rivers of that country, the Hoang Ho, or Yellow River, and the Kiang Keou, or Great River, runs from west to east; yet by means of what is termed by way of eminence, "The Great Canal," the Chinese have not only joined these two mighty streams together, but have also extended the communication to the northward, as far as the main branch of the Pei Ho, and to the southward as far as the mouth of the Ningapo: thus establishing by the intervention of this stupendous monument of human industry and perseverance, and the various branches of the four rivers which it connects, an inland navigation between the great cities of Peking and Nanking, and affording every facility for the transport of the infinite products raised within the compass of a country containing from twelve to fifteen degrees difference of latitude, and about the same difference of longitude; or, in other words, a surface of about five hundred and eighteen thousand four hundred square miles.
This instance, however, of equal or superior civilization thus attained by a nation, notwithstanding the principal rivers of their country run from west to east, does not at all militate against the natural superiority which has been conceded to those countries whose rivers run in a contrary direction: it only shews what may be effected by a wise and politic government averse to the miseries of war, and steadily bent on the arts of peace. The very attempts, indeed, of this enlightened people to supply the natural deficiencies of their country by canals, are the strongest commendations that can be urged in favour of a country where no such artificial substitutes are necessary; where nature, of her own lavish bounty has created facilities for the progress of industry and civilization, which it would require the labour and maturity of ages imperfectly to imitate.
How far, indeed, these mighty contrivances of the all-bounteous Creator, for the promotion and developement of industry, outstrip all human imitation, the occurrences of the passing hour furnish the most satisfactory and conclusive evidence. The vast tide of emigration which is incessantly rolling along the banks of the Mississippi, and of its tributary streams, and the numberless cities, towns, and settlements, that have sprung up as if it were by the agency of magic, in what but a few years back was one boundless and uninterrupted wilderness, speak a language not to be mistaken by the most ignorant or prejudiced. The western territory, which though a province but of yesterday, soon promises to rival the richest and most powerful members of the American union, affords an instance of rapid colonization, of which, the history of the world cannot produce a parallel, and offers an incontestable proof of the natural superiority which countries, whose rivers run in a northern or southern course, possess over all others.
But this fact is not merely established by the experience of the present day, it is equally authenticated by the testimony of past ages. What was the reason why Egypt was for so many centuries the seat of affluence and power, but the Nile? that India is still rich and populous, but the Indus and Ganges? These countries, indeed, are no longer the great and powerful empires they were, although the natural advantages of their situations are still unchanged. But what mighty ravages will not a blood-thirsty and overwhelming despotism effect? What health and vigor can belong to that body politic which is forced to inhale the nauseous effluvia of tyranny? Prosperity is a plant that can only flourish in an atmosphere fauned by the wholesome breath of freedom. The highest fertility of soil, the greatest benignity of climate, the most commanding superiority of position, will otherwise be unavailing. Freedom may in the end convert the most barren and inhospitable waste into a paradise; but the inevitable result of tyranny is desolation.
The probable course of this newly discovered river, being thus in every respect so decidedly favourable for the foundation of a rich and powerful community, there can be little doubt that the government of this country will immediately avail itself of the advantages which it presents, and establish a settlement at its mouth. What a sublime spectacle will it then be for the philosopher to mark the gradual progress of population from the two extremities of this river; to behold the two tides of colonization flowing in opposite directions, and constantly hastening to that junction, of which the combined waters shall overspread the whole of this fifth continent!
What a cheering prospect for the philanthropist to behold what is now one vast and mournful wilderness, becoming the smiling seat of industry and the social arts; to see its hills and dales covered with bleating flocks, lowing herds, and waving corn; to hear the joyful notes of the shepherd, and the enlivening cries of the husbandman, instead of the appalling yell of the savage, and the plaintive howl of the wolf; and to witness a country which nature seems to have designed as her master-piece, at length fulfilling the gracious intentions of its all-bounteous Author, by administering to the wants and contributing to the happiness of millions.
What a proud sight for the Briton to view his country pouring forth her teeming millions to people new hives, to see her forming in the most remote parts of the earth new establishments which may hereafter rival her old; and to behold thousands who would perish from want within her immediate limits, procuring an easy and comfortable subsistence in those which are more remote; and instead of weakening her power and diminishing her resources, effectually contributing to the augmentation of both, and forming monuments which may descend to the latest posterity, indestructible records of her greatness and glory.
SYSTEM OF AGRICULTURE.
The system of agriculture pursued in this colony, does not materially differ from that which prevails in this country. During the earlier stages of these settlements, the hoe-husbandry was a necessary evil; but the great increase in the stock of horses and cattle, has at last almost completely superseded it; and the plough-husbandry is now, and has been for many years past, in general practice. In new lands, indeed, the hoe is still unavoidably used during the first year of their cultivation, on account of the numerous roots and other impediments to the plough, with which lands in a state of nature invariably abound; but excepting these occasions, and the instances of settlers who are unable to purchase horses or oxen, and consequently adhere to the original mode of cultivation from necessity, the hoe-husbandry is completely exploded. Until the year 1803, eighteen years after the foundation of this colony, the plough-husbandry was confined to a few of the richest cultivators, from the exorbitant price of cattle. At that period, however, the government herds had so considerably multiplied, that the then governor (King) recommended the adoption of the plough-husbandry in general orders, and tendered oxen at L28 per head, to be paid either in produce or money, at the end of three years, to all such settlers as were inclined to purchase them. This custom has been followed by all his successors; but as no abatement has been made in the price of them, and as they can be obtained at one-third the amount elsewhere, such only of the colonists now avail themselves of this indulgence, as have no ready means of purchase, and are allured by the length of the credit.
Wheat, maize, barley, oats, and rye, are all grown in this colony; but the two former are most cultivated. The climate appears to be rather too warm for the common species of barley and oats; but the poorer soils produce them of a tolerably good quality. The skinless barley, or as it is termed by some, the Siberian wheat, arrives at very great perfection, and is in every respect much superior to the common species of barley; but the culture of this grain is limited to the demand which is created for it by the colonial breweries; the Indian corn, or maize, being much better adapted for the food of horses, oxen, pigs, and poultry. The produce too is much more abundant than that of barley and oats; and the season for planting it being two months later than for any other sort of grain, the settler has every motive for giving it the preference. Wheat may be sown any time from February to July, and even as late as August, if that month happens to be moist; but the best months are April, May, and June. The creeping wheat, however, may be sown in the commencement of February; as should it become too rank, it can easily be kept down by sheep, which are found to do this sort of wheat no manner of injury. To the farmer, therefore, who keeps large flocks of sheep, the cultivation of the creeping wheat is highly advantageous; since in addition to its yielding as great a crop as any other species of wheat, it supersedes the necessity of growing turnips or other artificial food for the support of his stock during the severity of the winter, when the natural grasses become scanty and parched up by the frost. The red and white lammas, and the Cape or bearded wheat, are the species generally cultivated. June is the best month for sowing barley and oats, but they may be sown till the middle of August with a fair prospect of a good crop. Indian corn or maize may be planted from the end of September to the middle of December; but October is the best month. It is, however, a very common practice among the settlers on the fertile banks of the Hawkesbury and Nepean, to plant what is called stubble corn; that is, to plant it among the wheat, barley, and oat stubbles, as soon as the harvest is over, without ploughing or breaking up the ground. Maize is frequently planted in this way until the middle of January, and if the season proves sufficiently moist, yields a very abundant crop. The usual manner of planting it is in holes about six feet apart: five grains are generally put in each of these holes. The average produce of this grain on rich flooded lands, is from eighty to a hundred bushels per acre. Wheat in the same situations yields from thirty to forty bushels; and barley and oats, about fifty bushels an acre. On forest lands, however, the crops are not so productive, unless the ground be well manured; but the wheat, barley and oats, grown on this land, are much heavier and superior in quality. The difference of the weight of wheat grown in forest and flooded lands, is upon an average not less than 8 lbs. per bushel. The former sort weighing 64 lbs. and the latter only 56 lbs.
The wheat harvest commences partially about the middle of November, and is generally over by Christmas. The maize, however, is not ripe until the end of March, and the gathering is not complete throughout the colony before the middle of May.
Potatoes*, cabbages, carrots, parsnips, turnips, pease, beans, cauliflowers, brocoli, asparagus, lettuces, onions, and in fact every species of vegetables known in this country, are produced in this colony; many of them attain a much superior degree of perfection, but a few also degenerate. To the former class belong the cauliflower and brocoli, and the different varieties of the pea; to the latter the bean and potatoe. For the bean, in particular, the climate appears too hot, and it is only to be obtained in the stiffest clays and the dampest situations. The potatoe, however, is produced on all soils in the greatest abundance, but the quality is not nearly as good as in this country. In this respect, however, much depends on the nature of the soil. In stiff clays the potatoes are invariably watery and waxy, but in light sands and loams, they are tolerably dry and mealy. Manure also deteriorates their quality, and in general they are best when grown on new lands. Potatoes are in consequence very commonly planted in the fields, as a first crop, and are found to pulverize land just brought from a state of nature into cultivation more than other root. An abundant crop of wheat, barley, or oats, may be safely calculated to succeed them; more particularly if a light covering of manure be applied at the time of their planting.
[* For the Colonial Garden, see Appendix.]
The colony is justly famed for the goodness and variety of its fruits: Peaches, apricots, nectarines, oranges, grapes, pears, plums, figs, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, and melons of all sorts, attain the highest degree of maturity in the open air; and even the pineapple may be produced merely by the aid of the common forcing glass. The climate, however, of Port Jackson, is not altogether congenial to the growth of the apple, currant, and gooseberry; although the whole of these fruits are produced there, and the apple, in particular, in very great abundance; but it is decidedly inferior in quality to the apple of this country. These fruits, however, arrive at the greatest perfection in every part of Van Diemen's Land; and as the climate of the country to the westward of the Blue Mountains, is equally cold, they will without doubt attain there an equal degree of perfection; but the short period which has elapsed since the establishment of a settlement beyond these mountains, has not allowed the nltramontanians to make the experiment.
Of all the fruits which I have thus enumerated as being produced in this colony, the peach is the most abundant and the most useful. The different varieties which have been already introduced, succeed one another in uninterrupted succession from the middle of November to the latter end of March: thus filling up an interval of more than four months, and affording a wholesome and nutritious article of food during one-third of the year. This fruit grows spontaneously in every situation, on the richest soils, as on the most barren; and its growth is so rapid that if you plant a stone, it will in three years afterwards bear an abundant crop of fruit. Peaches are, in consequence, so plentiful throughout the colony, that they are every where given as food to hogs; and when thrown into heaps, and allowed to undergo a proper degree of fermentation, are found to fatten them very rapidly. Cider also is made in great quantities from this fruit, and when of sufficient age, affords a very pleasant and wholesome beverage. The lees, too, after the extraction of the juice, possess the same fattening properties, and are equally calculated as food for hogs.
REARING OF CATTLE, ETC.
The system of rearing and fattening stock in this colony is simple and economical. Horses, in consequence of their rambling nature, are almost invariably kept in enclosures. In the districts immediately contiguous to Port Jackson, horned cattle are followed by a herdsman during the day, in order to prevent them from trespassing on the numerous uninclosed tracts of land that are in a state of tillage, and they are confined during the night in yards or paddocks. In the remoter districts, however, which are altogether devoid of cultivation, horned cattle are subjected to no such restraints, but are permitted to range about the country at all times. The herds too are generally larger; and although a herdsman is still required as well to prevent them from separating into straggling parties, as to protect them from depredation, the expence of keeping them in this manner is comparatively trifling, and the advantages of allowing them this uncontrouled liberty to range, very great; since they are found during the heat of summer to feed more in the night than in the day. This, therefore, is the system which the great stockholders almost invariably pursue. Few of them possess sufficient land for the support of their cattle; and as their estates too, however remote the situation in which they may have been selected, have for the most part become surrounded by small cultivators, who seldom or ever inclose their crops, they generally recede with their herds from the approach of colonization, and form new establishments, where the liability to trespass does not exist. They thus become the gradual explorers of the country, and it is to their efforts to avoid the contact of agriculture, that the discovery of the best districts yet known in the colony is ascribable.
The management of sheep is in some respects different. They are never permitted to roam during the night, on account of the native dog, which is a great enemy to them, and sometimes during the day, makes great ravages among them, even under the eye of the shepherd. In every part of the country, therefore, they are kept by night either in folds or yards. In the former case the shepherd sleeps in a small moveable box, which is shifted with the folds, and with his faithful dog, affords a sufficient protection for his flock, against the attempts of these midnight depredators. In the latter the paling of the yards is always made so high, that the native dog cannot surmount it; and the safety of the flock is still further ensured by the contiguity of the shepherd's house, and the numerous dogs with which he is always provided.
The natural grasses of the colony are sufficiently good and nutritious at all seasons of the year, for the support of every description of stock, where there is an adequate tract of country for them to range over. But in consequence of the complete occupation of the districts which are in the more immediate vicinity of Port Jackson, and from the settlers in general possessing more stock than their lands are capable of maintaining, the raising of artificial food for the winter months, has of late years become very general among such of them as are unwilling to send their flocks and herds into the uninhabited parts in the interior. This is a practice which must necessarily gain ground; since it has been observed, that the coldness of the climate keeps pace with the progress of agriculture. In the more contiguous and cultivated districts, the natural grass becomes consequently every year more affected by the influence of frost, and the necessity of raising some artificial substitute for the support of stock, during the suspension of vegetation, more pressing and incumbent. It is from this increase in the severity of the winters, that the custom of making hay has begun to be adopted; and should the future augmentation of cold be, as there is every reason to believe, proportionate to the past, this custom will, before the expiration of many years, become generally prevalent. It is indeed, rather a matter of surprise than otherwise, that so salutary a precaution has been so long in disuse; since such is the luxuriance of the natural grass during the summer, that it is the general practice after the seeds wither away, to set fire to it, and thus improvidently consume what, if mown and made into hay, would afford the farmer a sufficiency of nutritious food for his stock during the winter, and altogether supersede the subsequent necessity for his having recourse to artificial means of remedying so palpable a neglect of the bounteous gifts of nature.
This custom of setting fire to the grass, is most prevalent during the months of August and January, i.e. just before the commencement of spring and autumn, when vegetation is on the eve of starting from the slumber which it experiences alike during the extremes of the winter's cold as of the summer's heat. If a fall of rain happily succeed these fires, the country soon presents the appearance of a field of young wheat; and however repugnant this practice may appear to the English farmer, it is absolutely unavoidable in those districts which are not sufficiently stocked; since cattle of every description refuse to taste the grass the moment it becomes withered.
The artificial food principally cultivated in the colony are turnips, tares, and Cape barley; and for those settlers in particular who have flocks of breeding sheep, the cultivation of them is highly necessary, and contributes materially to the growth and strength of the lambs. On those also who keep dairies, this practice of raising artificial food, is equally incumbent; the natural grasses being quite insufficient to keep milch cows in good heart during the winter, when there is the greatest demand for butter. Good meat, too, is then only to be had with difficulty, and this difficulty is increasing every year. There cannot, therefore, be any doubt that it would answer the purposes even of the grazier to have recourse to artificial means of fattening his stock at that season; since it is then that he would be enabled to obtain the readiest and highest price for his fat cattle.
PRICE OF CATTLE, ETC.
The price of all manner of stock is almost incredibly moderate, considering the short period which has elapsed since the foundation of the colony. A very good horse for the cart or plough may be had from L10 to L15, and a better saddle or gig horse, from L20 to L30, than could be obtained in this country for double the money. Very good milch-cows may be bought from L5 to L10; working oxen for about the same price; and fine young breeding ewes from L1 to L3, according to the quality of their fleece. Low as these prices may appear they are in a great measure fictitious; since there is confessedly more stock of all sorts in the colony, than is necessary for its population. It accordingly frequently happens, particularly at sales by public auction, that stock are to be bought for one-half, and even one-third of the above prices; and there is every probability that before the expiration of ten years, their value will be still more considerably diminished. To be convinced of the truth of this conjecture, we have only to look back a little into the annals of the colony, and see how prodigiously cattle of every description have multiplied. By a census taken at the end of the year 1800, (twelve years after the institution of the colony) the number of horses and mares was only 163; of horned cattle, 1024; and of sheep, 6124. At the end of 1813, the horses and mares had increased to 1891; the horned cattle to 21,513, and the sheep to 65,121: and in the month of November, 1817, the last year of which we have received the census, the numbers were as follow: horses and mares, 3072; horned cattle, 44,753; sheep, 170,420. Thus it will be perceived, that in the space of seventeen years, the stock of horses and mares has increased from 163, their highest number for the first twelve years, to 3072; the stock of horned cattle, from 1044 to 44,753; and the stock of sheep from 6124 to 170,920. This is of itself an increase great beyond all ordinary computation; and it would appear still more surprising if we could add to it the immense numbers of cattle and sheep that have been slaughtered in the same period, for the supply of the king's stores, and for general consumption.
From the foregoing statement is will be evident, that the future increase in the stock will be still more prodigious, and still more considerably outstrip the advance of population. The price therefore of cattle, great and rapid as has been its past declension, must annually experience a still further diminution. Of what will be their probable value in ten years more, it may enable us to form no very inaccurate estimate, by referring to what it was ten years back. In 1808, a cow and calf were sold by public auction for L105, and the price of middling cattle was from L80 to L100. A breeding mare was at the same period worth from 150 to 200 guineas, and ewes from L10 to L20.
These immense prices, however, were the result of monopoly, and consequently in a great measure fictitious; for in 1810, two years after this, a herd of fine cattle were sold for L13 per head. This almost incredible reduction in the value of cattle in so short a period, was occasioned by the supercession of this monopoly by the governor, who in the year 1808, was induced, from the considerable increase that had taken place in the public herds, to issue cows at L28 per head, payable in agricultural produce, to all indiscriminately who chose to purchase them. Hundreds of them, therefore, at this epoch, were distributed among the settlers, and their extreme value insured that degree of care and attention from their owners, which was naturally followed by a rapid increase, and produced in the short lapse of two years, that declension of price which would at first sight appear so astonishing.
Thus it may be perceived, that within the last ten years, stock of all sorts have decreased in price, from L700 to L1,000 per cent. and it is not unreasonable to conclude, that in ten years hence, they will have experienced at least a similar reduction. Should this conjecture be verified, they will be of as little value in the remote parts of the colony, as the horses and cattle on the plains of Buenos Ayres, where any person may make what use he pleases of the carcase, provided he leaves behind him the hide.
PRICE OF LABOUR.
The price of labour is at present very low, and is still further declining in consequence of the demand for it not equalling the supply. Upon the establishment of the Colonial Bank, and the consequent suppression of that vile medium of circulation, termed the colonial currency, between which and British sterling there used to be a difference of value of from L50 to L100 per cent. the price of labour was fixed at the rates contained in the following general order, dated the 7th of December, 1816:
"In consequence of the recent abolition of all colonial currency, and the introduction and establishment of a sterling circulation and consideration in all payments, dealings, transactions, contracts, and agreements, within this territory and its dependencies, his Excellency the Governor having deemed it expedient to take into consideration the general rates and prices of labour and wages within the same, as affected by the alteration of the mode of payments at a sterling rate, or value, and of the degree, measure, and sterling amount of the same, upon a fair and equitable proportion and modus; and having also adopted such measures in that respect as seemed best calculated to fix and make known the same, is pleased hereby to declare, order, and direct, that in addition to the rations according to and equal with the government allowance, the sum of ten pounds sterling per annum to a man convict, and seven pounds sterling to a woman convict, as including the value of the slops allowed, and the sum of seven pounds or five pounds ten shillings exclusive of such slops; computed at three pounds per man, and one pound ten shillings per woman, shall be allowed, claimed, or demandable, or such part or proportion of such sum or sums as shall be equal and according to the period and continuance of actual service, and no more in respect of yearly wages, and in the same manner as yearly wages for the extra work and service of any such male or female convict respectively, duly assigned to any person or persons, by or upon the authority of Government.
"His Excellency is also pleased further to declare, order and direct, that in consideration of the premises, the undermentioned sums, amounts, and charges, and no more with regard to and upon the various denominations of work, labour and services, described and set forth, shall be allowed, claimed, or demandable within this territory and its dependencies in respect thereof".
L s. d.
For falling forest timber, per acre, 0 8 0 Burning off ditto, per ditto, 1 0 0 Rooting out, and burning stumps on forest ground, per ditto, 1 10 0 Falling timber on brush ground, per ditto, 0 12 0 Burning off ditto, per ditto, 1 10 0 Rooting out and burning stumps on ditto, per ditto, 1 17 6 Breaking up new ground, per ditto, 1 0 0 Breaking up stubble in corn ground, per ditto, 0 10 0 Chipping in wheat, per ditto, 0 6 0 Reaping ditto, per ditto, 0 10 0 Threshing and cleaning wheat, per bushel, 0 0 8 Holeing and planting corn, per acre, 0 5 0 Chipping and shelling corn, per ditto, 0 6 8 Pulling and husking ditto, per bushel, 0 0 4 Splitting pales, (six feet long) per hundred, 0 3 0 Ditto, (five feet long) per ditto, 0 2 6 Shingle splitting, per thousand, 0 7 6 Preparing and putting up morticed railing, five bars, with two pannels to a rod, and posts sunk two feet in the ground,0 3 0 Ditto, ditto, ditto, four bars, 0 2 6 Ditto, ditto, ditto, three bars, 0 2 0 Ditto, ditto, ditto, two bars, 0 1 9
The rates limited in this order are pretty well proportioned to the present state of the colony; but the attempt to reduce the value of labour to a permanent standard, further than regards the convicts, must evidently be abortive; since labour, like merchandize, will rise and fall with the demand which may exist for it in the market where it is disposable;—and although the above order might prevent the labourer from recovering in the colonial courts, a greater price for his labour than is stipulated in the foregoing schedule, still the moment it becomes the interest of the employer to give higher wages, he will do so, and the discredit attached to the non-performance of a deliberate contract will always prevent him from having recourse to the courts for avoiding the fulfilment of it. The above rates, it will be seen, only refer to the various species of labour immediately attached to agriculture. The wages of artificers, particularly of such as are most useful in infant societies, are considerably higher: a circumstance which is principally to be attributed to the practice of selecting from among the convicts all the best mechanics for the government works. Carpenters, stone-masons, brick-layers, wheel and plough-wrights, black-smiths, coopers, harness-makers, sawyers, shoe-makers, cabinet-makers; and in fact all the most useful descriptions of handicrafts, are consequently in very great demand, and can easily earn from eight to ten shillings per day.
The price of land is entirely regulated by its situation and quality. So long as four years back, a hundred and fifty acres of very indifferent ground, about thre equarters of a mile from Sydney, were sold by virtue of an execution, in lots of twelve acres each, and averaged L14 per acre. This, however, is the highest price that has yet been given for land not situated in a town. The general value of unimproved forest land, when it is not heightened by some advantageous locality, as proximity to a town or navigable river, cannot be estimated at more than five shillings per acre. Flooded land will fetch double that sum. But on the banks of the Hawkesbury, as far as that river is navigable, the value of land is considerably greater; that which is in a state of nature being worth from L3 to L5 per acre, and that which is in a state of cultivation, from L8 to L10. The latter description rents for twenty and thirty shillings an acre.
The price of provisions, particularly of agricultural produce, is subject to great fluctuations, and will unavoidably continue so until proper measures are taken to counteract the calamitous scarcities at present consequent on the inundations of the Hawkesbury and Nepean. In the year 1806, the epoch of the great flood, the old and new stacks on the banks of those rivers were all swept away; and before the commencement of the following harvest, wheat and maize attained an equal value, and were sold at L5 and L6 per bushel. Even after the last overflow of these rivers, in the month of March, 1817, wheat rose towards the close of the year, to 31s. per bushel, and maize to 20s., and potatoes to 32s. 6d. per cwt. although a very considerable supply (about 20,000 bushels) was immediately furnished by the Derwent and Port Dalrymple. But for this speedy and salutary succour, the price of grain would have been very little short of what it was in the year 1806; since the whole stock on hand appears, from the muster taken between the 6th of October and the 25th of November, to have only been as follows: wheat, 2405 bushels; maize, 1506. This was all the grain that remained in the various settlements of New South Wales and its dependencies, about a month before any part of the produce of the harvest could be brought to market; and when it is considered that this was to administer to the support of 20,379 souls during that period, it will appear truly astonishing that the prices continued so moderate.
By way, however, of counterpoise to these lamentable scarcities, which in general follow the inundations of the principal agricultural settlements, provisions are very abundant and cheap in years when the crops have not suffered from flood or drought. In such seasons, wheat upon an average sells for 9s. per bushel; maize for 3s. 6d.; barley for 5s.; oats for 4s. 6d. and potatoes for 6s. per cwt.
The price of meat is not influenced by the same causes, but is on the contrary experiencing a gradual and certain diminution. By the last accounts received from the colony, good mutton and beef were to be had for 6d. per pound, veal for 8d. and pork for 9d. Wheat was selling in the market at 8s. 8d. per bushel; oats at 4s.; barley at 5s.; maize at 5s. 6d.; potatoes at 8s. per cwt.; fowls at 4s. 6d. per couple; ducks at 6s. per ditto; geese at 5s. each; turkies at 7s. 6d. each; eggs at 2s. 6d. per dozen; and butter at 2s. 6d. per pound. The price of the best wheaten bread was fixed by the assize at 51/4d. for the loaf, weighing 2 lbs.
The progress which this colony has made in manufactures has perhaps never been equalled by any community of such recent origin. It already contains extensive manufactories of coarse woollen cloths, hats, earthenware and pipes, salt, candles, and soap. There are also extensive breweries, and tanneries, wheel and plough-wrights, gig-makers, black-smiths, nail-makers, tinmen, rope-makers, saddle and harness-makers, cabinet-makers, and indeed all sorts of mechanics and artificers that could be required in an infant society, where objects of utility are naturally in greater demand than articles of luxury. Many of these have considerable capitals embarked in their several departments, and manufacture to a considerable extent. Of the precise amount, however, of capital invested in the whole of the colonial manufactories, I can give no authentic account; but I should imagine it cannot be far short of L50,000.
The colonists carry on a considerable commerce with this country, the East Indies, and China; but they have scarcely any article of export to offer in return for the various commodities supplied by those countries. The money expended by the government for the support of the convicts, and the pay and subsistence of the civil and military establishments, are the main sources from which they derive the means of procuring those articles of foreign growth and manufacture which are indispensable to civilized life. They have, however, at last a staple export, which is rapidly increasing, and promises in a few years to suffice for all their wants, and to render them quite independent of the miserable pittance which is thus afforded them by the expenditure of the government: I mean the fleeces of their flocks, the best of which are found to combine all the qualities that constitute the excellence of the Saxon and Spanish wools. The sheep-holders in general have at length become sensible of the advantage of directing their attention to the improvement of their flocks; and if their exertions be properly seconded by the countenance and encouragement of the local government, there can be no doubt that the supply of fine wool, which the parent country will before long receive from the colony, will amply repay her for the care and expence she has bestowed on it during the protracted period of its helpless infancy. The exportation of this highly valuable raw material, is as yet but very limited: last year it only amounted to about L8000; but when it is considered that in the year 1817, there were 170,420 sheep in the colony and its dependent settlements on Van Diemen's Land, and that the majority of the sheep-holders are actively employed in crossing their flocks with tups of the best Merino breed, it may easily be conceived what an extensive exportation of fine wool may be effected in a few years.
The whole annual income of the colonists inhabiting the various settlements in New Holland, cannot be estimated at more than L125,000, and the following sub-divisions of it may be taken as a very close approximation to the truth:
Money expended by the government for the pay and subsistence of the civil and military establishments, and for the support of such of the convicts as are victualled from the king's stores, L 80,000 Money expended by shipping not belonging to the colonial merchants, L 12,000 Various articles of export collected from the adjacent seas and islands, by the colonial craft, consisting principally of seal skins, right whale, and elephant oils, and sandal wood, L 15,000 Wool grown in the colony, L 8,000 Sundries, L 20,000 ———— Total L125,000 ————
The imports levied by the authority of the local government form two distinct funds, one of which, as has been already casually mentioned, is called the "Orphan Fund," and the other "the Police Fund." The former, it has been seen, contains one-eighth of the colonial revenue, and is devoted solely to the promotion of education among the youth of the colony; the latter contains the other seven-eighths, and is appropriated to various purposes of internal economy; such as the construction and repair of roads and bridges, the erection of public edifices, the maintenance of the police, the cost of criminal prosecutions, and the pay of various officers, principally in subordinate capacities, who are not borne on the parliamentary estimate of the civil establishment. These two funds amounted in the year 1817 to the sum of L20,272 6s. 21/2d. which was derived from the following sources:
*Duties collected by the naval officer, 17,240 0 71/4 Market, toll, and slaughtering duties, 872 5 71/4 67 Spirit Licences, 2,010 0 0 10 Beer ditto, 50 0 0 4 Brewing ditto, 100 0 0
Total L20,272 6 21/2
[* For a list of these Duties, see the Appendix.]
If we add to this L907 6s. 91/4d. which is the amount of the naval officer's commission on the duties collected by him, we have a grand total of L21,179 12s. 113/4d.; or, in other words, about one-sixth of the whole income of the colony, absorbed by an illegal taxation. This is an enormous sum to be levied in such an infant community; and it will appear the more so if it be recollected that nineteen-twentieths of it are collected from the duty which has been imposed on spirituous liquors, and from licences to keep public-houses for the retail of them.
STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF THE SETTLEMENTS IN VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.
Van Diemen's Land is situated between 40 degrees 42', and 43 degrees 43' of south latitude, and between 145 degrees 31' and 148 degrees 22' of east longitude. The honour of the discovery of this island also belongs to the Dutch; but the survey of it has been principally effected by the English.
The aborigines of this country are, if possible, still more barbarous and uncivilised than those of New Holland. They subsist entirely by hunting, and have no knowledge whatever of the art of fishing. Even the rude bark canoe which their neighbours possess, is quite unknown to them; and whenever they want to pass any sheet of water, they are compelled to construct a rude raft for the occasion. Their arms and hunting implements also indicate an inferior degree of civilization. The womera, or throwing stick, which enables the natives of Port Jackson to cast their spears with such amazing force and precision, is not used by them. Their spears, too, instead of being made with the bulrush, and only pointed with hard wood, are composed entirely of it, and are consequently more ponderous. In using them they grasp the center; but they neither throw them so far nor so dexterously as the natives of the parent colony. This circumstance is the more fortunate, as they maintain the most rancorous and inflexible hatred and hostility towards the colonists. This deep rooted enmity, however, does not arise so much from the ferocious nature of these savages, as from the inconsiderate and unpardonable conduct of our countrymen shortly after the foundation of the settlement on the river Derwent. At first the natives evinced the most friendly disposition towards the new comers; and would probably have been actuated by the same amicable feeling to this day, had not the military officer entrusted with the command, directed a discharge of grape and canister shot to be made among a large body who were approaching, as he imagined, with hostile designs; but as it has since been believed with much greater probability, merely from motives of curiosity and friendship. The havoc occasioned among them by this murderous discharge, was dreadful; and since then all communication with them has ceased, and the spirit of animosity and revenge, which this unmerited and atrocious act of barbarity has engendered, has been fostered and aggravated to the highest pitch by the incessant rencontres which have subsequently taken place between them and the settlers. These, wherever and whenever an occasion offers, destroy as many of them as possible, and they in their turn never let slip an opportunity of retaliating on their blood-thirsty butchers. Fortunately, however, for the colonists, they have seldom or never been known to act on the offensive, except when they have met some of their persecutors singly. Two persons armed with muskets may traverse the island from one end to the other in the most perfect safety.
Van Diemen's Land has not so discouraging and repulsive an appearance from the coast as New Holland. Many fine tracts of land are found on the very borders of the sea, and the interior is almost invariably possessed of a soil admirably adapted to all the purposes of civilized man. This island is upon the whole mountainous, and consequently abounds in streams. On the summits of many of the mountains there are large lakes, some of which are the sources of considerable rivers. Of these the Derwent, Huon, and Tamar, rank in the first class.
There is perhaps no island in the world of the same size which can boast of so many fine harbours: the best are the Derwent, Port Davy, Macquarie Harbour, Port Dalrymple, and Oyster Bay: the first is on its southern side, the second and third on its western, the fourth on its northern, and the fifth on its eastern, so that it has excellent harbours in every direction. This circumstance cannot fail to be productive of the most beneficial effects, and will most materially assist the future march of colonization.
There is almost a perfect resemblance between the animal and vegetable kingdoms of this island and of New Holland. In their animal kingdoms in particular, there is scarcely any variation. The native dog, indeed, is unknown here; but there is an animal of the panther tribe in its stead, which, though not found in such numbers as the native dog is in New Holland, commits dreadful havoc among the flocks. It is true that its ravages are not so frequent; but when they happen they are more extensive. This animal is of considerable size, and has been known in some few instances, to measure six feet and a half from the tip of the nose to the extremity of the tail; still it is cowardly, and by no means formidable to man: unless, indeed, when taken by surprise, it invariably flies his approach.
In the feathered tribes of the two islands, there is scarcely any diversity; of this the wattle bird, which is about the size of a snipe, and considered a very great delicacy, is the only instance which I can cite.
Like New Holland it has many varieties of poisonous reptiles, but they are neither so venomous nor so numerous as in that island.
Its rivers and seas too, abound with the same species of fish. Oysters are found in much greater perfection, though not in greater abundance. The rocks that border the coasts and harbours are literally covered with muscles, as the rocks at Port Jackson are with oysters.
There is not so perfect a resemblance in the vegetable kingdoms of the two islands; but still the dissimilarity, where it exists, is chiefly confined to their minor productions. In the trees of the forest there is scarcely any difference. Van Diemen's Land wants the cedar, mahogany, and rose wood; but it has very good substitutes for them in the black wood and Huon pine, which is a species of the yew tree, and remarkable for its strong odoriferous scent and extreme durability.
The principal mineralogical productions of this island are, iron, copper, alum, coals, slate, limestone, asbestus, and basaltes; all of which, with the exception of copper, are to be had in the greatest abundance.
Hobart Town, which is the seat of the Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land, stands nine miles up the river Derwent. It was founded only fifteen years since, and indeed the rudeness of its appearance sufficiently indicates the recency of its origin. The houses are in general of the meanest description, seldom exceeding one story in height, and being for the most part weather-boarded without, and lathed and plastered within. Even the government house is of very bad construction. The residences, indeed, of many individuals far surpass it. The population may be estimated at about one thousand souls.
This town is built principally on two hills, between which there is a fine stream of excellent water, that issues from the Table Mountain, and falls into Sullivan's Cove. On this stream a flour mill has been erected, and there is sufficient fall in it for the erection of two or three more. There are also within a short distance of the town, several other streams which originate in the same mountain, and are equally well adapted to similar purposes. This is an advantage not possessed by the inhabitants of Port Jackson; since there is not in any of the cultivated districts to the eastward of the Blue Mountains a single run of water which can be pronounced in every respect eligible for the erection of mills. Windmills are in consequence almost exclusively used for grinding corn in Sydney; but in the inland towns and districts, the colonists are in a great measure obliged to have recourse to hand mills, as the winds during the greater part of the year, are not of sufficient force to penetrate the forest and set mills in motion.
The elevation of the Table Mountain, which is so called from the great resemblance it bears to the mountain of the same name at the Cape of Good Hope, has not been determined; but it is generally estimated at about six thousand feet above the level of the sea. During three-fourths of the year it is covered with snow, and the same violent gusts of wind blow from it as from this, its mountain name-sake; but no gathering clouds on its summit give notice of the approaching storm. The fiery appearance, however, of the heavens, affords a sufficient warning to the inhabitants of the country. These blasts are happily confined to the precincts of the mountain, and seldom last above three hours; but nothing can exceed their violence for the time. In the year 1810, I happened to be on board of a vessel which was bound to Hobart Town: in consequence of the winds proving scanty, we were obliged to anchor during the night in D'Entrecasteaux's Channel. The following morning we got under weigh, expecting that the sea breeze would set in by the time the anchor was hove up. The seamen had no sooner effected this and set all sail, than we were assailed with one of these mountain hurricanes. In an instant the vessel was on her beam-ends, and in another, had not all the sheets and halyards been let go, she would either have upset or carried away her masts. The moment the sails were clued up we brought to again; and as we were in a harbour perfectly land-locked and very narrow, the vessel easily rode out this blast. It only lasted about two hours; but the sea breeze did not succeed it that day. The next morning, however, it set in as usual.
During the continuance of this mountain tornado, the waters of the harbour were terribly agitated, and taken up in the same manner as dust is collected by what are called whirlwinds in this country. So great indeed was its fury, that it required us to hold on by the ropes with all our force, in order to enable us to keep our footing.
The harbour at and conducting to the river Derwent, yields to none in the world; perhaps surpasses every other. There are two entrances to this river, which are separated by Pitt's Island; one is termed D'Entrecasteaux's Channel, the other, Storm Bay. D'Entrecasteaux's Channel, from Point Collins up to Hobart Town, a distance, following the course of the water, of thirty-seven miles, is one continued harbour, varying in breadth from eight to two miles, and in depth from thirty to four fathoms. The river Derwent itself has three fathoms water for eleven miles above the town, and is consequently navigable thus far for vessels of the largest burthen. Reckoning therefore from Point Collins, there is a line of harbour in D'Entrecasteaux's Channel and the Derwent, together of forty-eight miles, completely land-locked, and affording the best anchorage the whole way.
The entrance, however, by Storm Bay, does not offer the same advantages; for it is twenty-two miles broad from Maria's Islands to Penguin Island, and completely exposed to the winds from south to south-east. This bay consequently does not afford the same excellent anchorage as D'Entrecasteaux's Channel. It contains, however, some few nooks, in which vessels may take shelter in case of necessity. The best of these is Adventure Bay, which is shut in from any winds that can blow directly from the ocean, but is nevertheless exposed to the north-east winds, which have a reach of twenty miles from the opposite side of the bay. There is consequently, when these winds prevail, a considerable swell here; but the force of the sea is in a great measure broken by Penguin Island; and vessels having good anchors and cables have nothing to fear.
Storm Bay, besides thus forming one of the entrances to the river Derwent, leads to another very good harbour, called North Bay. This harbour is about sixteen miles long, and in some places six miles and a half broad. The greater part of it is perfectly land-locked, and affords excellent anchorage in from two to fifteen fathoms water. That part in particular called Norfolk Bay, forms a very spacious harbour of itself, being about three miles in breadth and nine in length. This bay, besides being better sheltered than the rest of the harbours, contains the greatest depth of water, having in no place less than four fathoms.
All the bays and harbours which have been just described, abound with right whale at a particular season of the year. These leviathans of the deep quit the boisterous ocean, and seek the more tranquil waters of these harbours, when they are on the point of calving. This happens in November, and they remain there with their young between two and three months. During this period there are generally every year a few of the colonial craft employed in the whale fishery; but the duties which are levied in this country on all oils procured in vessels not having a British register, amount to a prohibition, and completely prevent the colonists from prosecuting this fishery further than is necessary for their own consumption, and for the supply of the East India market. Between two and three hundred tons annually suffice for both these purposes.
The whales frequently go up the river Derwent as far as the town; and it is no uncommon sight for its inhabitants to behold the whole method of taking them, from the moment they are harpooned until they are finally killed by the frequent application of the lance. This sight indeed has been occasionally witnessed by the inhabitants of Sydney; since it has sometimes occurred that a stray fish has entered the harbour of Port Jackson, while some of the South Sea whalers have been lying there, and that these have lowered their boats and killed it.
All the bays and harbours in Van Diemen's Land, and most of those likewise which are in Bass's Straits, and on the southern coast of New Holland, abound with these fish at the same season. If the colonists, therefore, were not thus restricted from this fishery, it would soon become an immense source of wealth to them; and I have no doubt that they would be enabled to export many thousand tons of oil annually to this country. But it is in vain that nature has been thus lavish of her bounties to them; in vain do their seas and harbours invite them to embark in these inexhaustible channels of wealth and enterprize. Their government, that government which ought to be the foremost in developing their nascent efforts, and fostering them to maturity, is itself the first to check their growth and impede their advancement. What a miserly system of legislation is it, which thus locks up from its own subjects, a fund of riches that might administer to the wants, and contribute to the happiness of thousands! What barbarous tantalization to compel them to thirst in the midst of the waters of abundance!