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Part I: New South Wales.




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Statistical Account of the Settlements in New Holland.

THE colony of New South Wales is situated on the eastern coast of New Holland. This island, which was first discovered by the Dutch in 1616, lies between the 9° and 39° of south latitude, and the 108° and 153° of east longitude; and from its immense size, seems rather to merit the appellation of continent, which many geographers have bestowed on it. Since that period it has been visited and examined by a galaxy of celebrated navigators, among whom Cook and Flinders rank the most conspicuous. Still the survey of this large portion of the world cannot, by any means, be deemed complete; since not one of all the navigators who have laid down the various parts of its coasts,


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has discovered the mouth of any considerable river; and it is hardly within the scope of possible belief, that a country of such vast extent does not possess at least one river, which may deserve to be ranked in the class of “rivers of the first magnitude.”

If a judgment were formed of this island from the general aspect of the country bordering the sea, it would be pronounced one of the most barren spots on the face of the globe. Experience, however, has proved that such an opinion would be exactly the reverse of truth; since, as far as the interior has been explored, its general fertility amply compensates for the extreme sterility of the coast.

The greater part of this country is covered with timber of a gigantic growth, but of an entirely different description from the timber of Europe. It is, however, very durable, and well adapted to all the purposes of human industry.

The only metal yet discovered is iron. It abounds in every part of the country, and is in some places purer than in any other part of the world. Coals are found in many places of the best quality. There is also abundance of slate, limestone and granite, though not in


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the immediate vicinity of Port Jackson. Sand-stone, quartz, and freestone are found every where.

The rivers and seas teem with excellent fish; but the eel and smelt, the mullet, whiting, mackarel, sole, skate, and John Dory are, I believe, the only sorts known in this country.

The animals are, the kangaroo, native dog, (which is a smaller species of the wolf,) the wombat, bandicoot, kangaroo rat, opossum, flying squirrel, flying fox, &c. &c. There are none of those animals or birds which go by the name of “game” in this country, except the heron. The hare, pheasant and partridge are quite unknown; but there are wild ducks, widgeon, teal, quail, pigeons, plovers, snipes, &c. &c., with emus, black swans, cockatoos, parrots, parroquets, and an infinite variety of smaller birds, which are not found in any other country. In fact, both its animal and vegetable kingdoms are in a great measure peculiar to itself.

There are many poisonous reptiles in this country, but few accidents happen either to the aborigines, or the colonists from their bite. Of these the centipede, tarantula, scorpion, slow-worm, and the snake, are the most to be dreaded; particularly the latter, since there are, I believe,


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at least thirty varieties of them, of which all but one are venomous in the highest degree.

The aborigines of this country occupy the lowest place in the gradatory scale of the human species. They have neither houses nor clothing; they are entirely unacquainted with the arts of agriculture; and even the arms which the several tribes have, to protect themselves from the aggressions of their neighbours, and the hunting and fishing implements with which they administer to their support, are of the rudest contrivance and workmanship.

Thirty years intercourse with Europeans has not effected the slightest change in their habits; and even those who have most intermixed with the colonists, have never been prevailed upon to practise one of the arts of civilized life. Disdaining all restraint, their happiness is still centered in their original pursuits; and they seem to consider the superior enjoyments to be derived from civilization, (for they are very far from being insensible to them) but a poor compensation for the sacrifice of any portion of their natural liberty. The colour of these people is a dark chocolate; their features bear a strong resemblance to the African negro; they have the same flat nose, large nostrils, wide mouth and thick lips; but their hair is not woolly, except


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in Van Dieman's Land, where they have this further characteristic of the negro.

These people bear no resemblance to any of the inhabitants of the surrounding islands, except to those of New Guinea, which is only separated from New Holland by a narrow strait. One of these islands, therefore, has evidently been peopled by the other; but from whence the original stock was derived is one of those geographical problems, which in all probability will never be satisfactorily solved.

Rude and barbarous as are the aborigines of this country, they have still some confused notions of a Supreme Being and of a future state. It would, however, be foreign to the purposes to which I have limited myself, to enter into a detail of their customs and manners; nor would it, indeed, be the means of increasing the fund of public knowledge: since, whoever may be anxious to be informed on these topics, will find a faithful and minute account of them in the work of Mr. Collins.

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, is situated in 33° 55' of south latitude, and 151° 25' of east longitude. It is about seven miles distant from the heads of Port Jackson, and stands principally on two hilly necks of land and the intervening valley, which together form Sydney


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Cove. The western side of the town extends to the water's edge, and occupies with the exception of the small space reserved around Dawe's Battery, the whole of the neck of land which separates Sydney Cove from Lane Cove, and extends a considerable distance back into the country besides.

This part of the town, it may therefore be perceived, forms a little peninsula; and what is of still greater importance the water is in general of sufficient depth in both these coves, to allow the approach of vessels of the largest burden to the very sides of the rocks.

On the eastern neck of land, the extension of the town has been stopped by the Government House, and the adjoining domain, which occupies the whole of Bennilong's Point, a circumstance the more to be regretted, as the water all along this point is of still greater depth than on the western side of the Cove, and consequently affords still greater facilities for the erection of warehouses and the various important purposes of commerce.

The appearance of the town is rude and irregular. Until the administration of Governor Macquarie, little or no attention had been paid to the laying out of the streets, and each proprietor was left to build on his lease,


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where and how his caprice inclined him. He, however, has at length succeeded in establishing a perfect regularity in most of the streets, and has reduced to a degree of uniformity, that would have been deemed absolutely impracticable, even the most confused portion of that chaos of building, which is still known by the name of “the rocks;” and which, from the ruggedness of its surface, the difficulty of access to it, and the total absence of order in its houses, was for many years more like the abode of a horde of savages than the residence of a civilized community. The town upon the whole may be now pronounced to be tolerably regular; and, as in all future additions that may be made to it, the proprietors of leases will not be allowed to deviate from the lines marked out by the surveyor general, the new part will of course be free from the faults and inconveniences of the old.

This town covers a considerable extent of ground, and would at first sight induce the belief of a much greater population than it actually contains. This is attributable to two circumstances, the largeness of the leases, which in most instances possess sufficient space for a garden, and the smallness of the houses erected in them, which in general do not exceed one story. From these two causes it happens, that


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this town does not contain above seven thousand souls, whereas one that covered the same extent of ground in this country would possess a population of at least twenty thousand. But although the houses are for the most part small, and of mean appearance, there are many public buildings, as well as houses of individuals, which would not disgrace the best parts of this great metropolis. Of the former class, the public stores, the general hospital, and the barracks, are perhaps the most conspicuous; of the latter the houses of Messrs. Lord, Riley, Howe, Underwood and Nichols.

The value of land in this town is in many places half as great as in the best situations in London, and is daily increasing. Rents are in consequence exorbitantly high. It is very far from a commodious house that can be had for a hundred a year, unfurnished.

Here is a very good market, although it is of very recent date. It was established by Governor Macquarie, in the year 1813, and is very well supplied with grain, vegetables, poultry, butter, eggs and fruit. It is, however, only held three times a week; viz. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It is a large oblong enclosure, and there are stores erected in it by the Governor, for the reception of all such


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provisions as remain unsold at the close of the market, which lasts from six o'clock in the morning in summer, and seven o'clock in winter, until three o'clock in the evening. The vender pays in return a small duty to the clerk of the market, who accounts quarterly for the amount to the treasurer of the police fund. The annual amount of these duties is about £ 130.note

Here also is a Bank, called “The Bank of New South Wales,” which was established in the year 1817, and promises to be of great and permanent benefit to the colony in general. Its capital is £ 20,000, divided into two hundred shares. It has a regular charter of incorporation, and is under the controul of a notepresident and six directors, who are annually chosen by the proprietors. The paper of this bank is now the principal circulating medium of this colony. They discount bills of a short date, and also advance money on mortgage securities. They are allowed to receive in return an interest of 10 per cent. per annum.

This town also contains two very good public schools, for the education of children of both sexes. One is a day school for boys, and is of course only intended to impart gratuitous instruction:—the


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other is designed both for the education and support of poor and helpless female orphans. This institution was founded by Governor King, as long back as the year 1800, and contains about sixty children, who are taught reading, writing, arithmetic, sewing, and the various arts of domestic economy. When their education is complete, they are either married to free persons of good character, or are assigned as servants to such respectable families as may apply for them. At the time of the establishment of this school there was a large tract of land (15,000 acres,) attached to it; and a considerable stock of horses, cattle, and sheep, were also transferred to it from the government herds. The profits of these stock go towards defraying the expences of this school, and a certain portion, fifty or a hundred acres of this land, with a proportionate number of them, are given in dower with each female who marries with the consent of the committee intrusted with the management of this institution.

Besides these two public schools in the town of Sydney, which together contained, by the last accounts received from the colony, two hundred and twenty-four children, there are establishments for the gratuitous diffusion of education in every populous district throughout


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the colony. The masters of these schools are allowed stipulated salaries from the Orphan Fund. Formerly particular duties, those on coals and timber, which still go by the name of “The Orphan Dues,” were allotted for the support of these schools; but they were found to be insufficient, and afterwards one-fourth, and more recently one-eighth, of the whole revenue of the colony was appropriated to this purpose. This latter portion of the colonial revenue may be estimated at about £2500, which it must be admitted could not be devoted to the promotion of any object of equal public utility.

Independent of these laudable institutions thus supported at the expence of the government, there are two private ones intended for the dissemination of religious knowledge, which are wholly maintained by voluntary contribution. One is termed “The Auxiliary Bible Society of New South Wales,” and its object is to cooperate with the British and Foreign Bible Society, and to distribute the holy Scriptures either at prime cost, or gratis, to needy and deserving applicants.

The other is called “The New South Wales Sunday School Institution,” and was established with a view to teach well disposed persons of all ages how to read the sacred volume. These


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societies were instituted in the year 1817, and are under the direction of a general committee, aided by a secretary and treasurer.

There are in this town and other parts of the colony, several good private seminaries for the board and education of the children of opulent parents. The best is in the district of Castlereagh, which is about forty miles distant, and is kept by the clergyman of that district, the Rev. Henry Fulton, a gentleman peculiarly qualified both from his character and acquirements for conducting so responsible and important an undertaking. The boys in this seminary receive a regular classical education, and the terms are as reasonable as those of similar establishments in this country.

The harbour of Port Jackson is perhaps exceeded by none in the world except the Derwent in point of size and safety; and in this latter particular, I rather think it has the advantage. It is navigable for vessels of any burden for about seven miles above the town, i.e. about fifteen from the entrance. It possesses the best anchorage the whole way, and is perfectly sheltered from every wind that can blow. It is said, and I believe with truth, to have a hundred coves, and is capable of containing all the shipping in the world. There can be no doubt,


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therefore, that in the course of a few years, the town of Sydney, from the excellence of its situation alone, must become a place of considerable importance.

The views from the heights of the town are bold, varied and beautiful. The strange irregular appearance of the town itself, the numerous coves and islets both above and below it, the towering forests and projecting rocks, combined with the infinite diversity of hill and dale on each side of the harbour, form altogether a coup d'œil, of which it may be safely asserted that few towns can boast a parallel.

The neighbouring scenery is still more diversified and romantic, particularly the different prospects which open upon you from the hills on the south head road, immediately contiguous to the town. Looking towards the coast you behold at one glance the greater part of the numerous bays and islands which lie between the town and the heads, with the succession of barren, but bold and commanding hills, that bound the harbour, and are abruptly terminated by the water. Further north, the eye ranges over the long chain of lofty rugged cliffs that stretch away in the direction of the coal river, and distinctly mark the bearing of the coast, until they are lost in the dimness of vision.


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Wheeling round to the south you behold at the distance of seven or eight miles, that spacious though less eligible harbour, called “Botany Bay,” from the prodigious variety of new plants which Sir Joseph Banks found in its vicinity, when it was first discovered and surveyed by Captain Cook. To the southward again of this magnificent sheet of water, where it will be recollected it was the original intention, though afterwards judiciously abandoned, to found the capital of this colony, you behold the high bluff range of hills that stretch away towards the five islands, and likewise indicate the trending of the coast in that direction.

If you afterwards suddenly face about to the westward, you see before you one vast forest, uninterrupted except by the cultivated openings which have been made by the axe on the summits of some of the loftiest hills, and which tend considerably to diminish those melancholy sensations its gloomy monotony would otherwise inspire. The innumerable undulations in this vast expanse of forest, forcibly remind you of the ocean when convulsed by tempests; save that the billows of the one slumber in a fixed and leaden stillness, and want that motion which constitutes the diversity, beauty, and sublimity of the other. Continuing the view, you arrive at that majestic and commanding


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chain of mountains called “the Blue Mountains,” whose stately and o'ertopping grandeur forms a most imposing boundary to the prospective.

If you proceed on the south head road, until you arrive at the eminence called “Belle Vue,” the scenery is still more picturesque and grand; since, in addition to the striking objects already described, you behold, as it were at your feet, although still more than a mile distant from you, the vast and foaming Pacific. In boisterous weather the surges that break in mountains on the shore beneath you, form a sublime contrast to the still, placid waters of the harbour, which in this spot is only separated from the sea by a low sandy neck of land not more than half a mile in breadth; yet is so completely sheltered, that no tempests can ruffle its tranquil surface.

The town of Parramatta is situated at the head of Port Jackson Harbour, at the distance of about eighteen miles by water, and fifteen by land, from Sydney. The river for the last seven or eight miles, is only navigable for boats of twelve or fifteen tons burden. This town is built along a small fresh water stream, which falls into the river. It consists principally of one street about a mile in length. It is surrounded


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on the south side by a chain of moderately high hills; and as you approach it by the Sydney road, it breaks suddenly on the view when you have reached the summit of them, and produces a very pleasing effect. The adjacent country has been a good deal cleared; and the gay mimosas, which have sprung up in the openings, form a very agreeable contrast to the dismal gloom of the forest that surrounds and o'ertops them.

The town itself is far behind Sydney in respect of its buildings; but it nevertheless contains many of a good and substantial construction. These, with the church, the government house, the new Orphan House, and some gentlemen's seats, which are situated on the surrounding eminences, give it, upon the whole, a very respectable appearance. There are two very good inns, where a traveller may meet with all the comfort and accommodation that are to be found in similar establishments in the country towns of this kingdom. The charges too are by no means unreasonable.

The population is principally composed of inferior traders, publicans, artificers, and labourers, and may be estimated, inclusive of a company which is always stationed there, on a rough calculation, at about twelve hundred souls.




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There are two fairs held half yearly, one in March and the other in September; they were instituted about five years since by the present governor, and already begin to be very numerously and respectably attended. They are chiefly intended for the sale of stock, for which there are stalls, pens, and every other convenience, erected at the expence of the government; for the use of these pens, &c. and to keep them in repair, a moderate scale of dutiesnote is paid by the vender.

This town has for many years past made but a very inconsiderable progress compared with Sydney. The value of land has consequently not kept pace in the two places, and is at least £200 per cent. less in the one than in the other. As the former, however, is in a central situation between the rapidly increasing settlements on the banks of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers, and the latter the great mart for colonial produce, landed property there and in the neighbourhood, will, without doubt, experience a gradual rise.

The public institutions are an Hospital, a Female Orphan House, into which it is intended to remove the orphans from Sydney,


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and a factory, in which such of the female convicts as misconduct themselves, and those also who upon their arrival in the colony are not immediately assigned as servants to families, are employed in manufacturing coarse cloth. There are upon an average about one hundred and sixty women employed in this institution, which is placed under the direction of a superintendant, who receives wool from the settlers, and gives them a certain portion of the manufactured article in exchange: what is reserved is only a fair equivalent for the expence of making it, and is used in clothing the gaol gang, the reconvicted culprits who are sent to the coal river, and I believe the inmates of the factory itself.

There is also another public institution in this town, well worthy the notice of the philanthropist. It is a school for the education and civilization of the aborigines of the country. It was founded by the present governor three years since, and by the last accounts from the colony, it contained eighteen native children, who had been voluntarily placed there by their parents, and were making equal progress in their studies with European children of the same age. The following extract from the Sydney Gazette, of January 4, 1817, may enable the reader to form some opinion of the


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beneficial consequences that are likely to result from this institution, and how far they may realize the benevolent intentions which actuated its philanthropic founder.

“On Saturday last, the 28th ult. the town of Parramatta exhibited a novel and very interesting spectacle, by the assembling of the native tribes there, pursuant to the governor's gracious invitation. At ten in the morning the market place was thrown open, and some gentlemen who were appointed on the occasion, took the management of the ceremonials. The natives having seated themselves on the ground in a large circle, the chiefs were placed on chairs a little advanced in front, and to the right of their respective tribes. In the centre of the circle thus formed, were placed large tables groaning under the weight of roast beef, potatoes, bread, &c. and a large cask of grog lent its exhilarating aid to promote the general festivity and good humour which so conspicuously shone through the sable visages of this delighted congress. The governor, attended by all the membersnote of the native institution, and by several of the magistrates and gentlemen in the neighbourhood, proceeded


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at half past ten to the meeting, and having entered the circle, passed round the whole of them, inquiring after, and making himself acquainted with the several tribes, their respective leaders and residences. His Excellency then assembled the chiefs by themselves, and confirmed them in the ranks of chieftains, to which their own tribes had exalted them, and conferred upon them badges of distinction; whereon were engraved their names as chiefs, and those of their tribes. He afterwards conferred badges of merit on some individuals, in acknowledgment of their steady and loyal conduct in the assistance they rendered the military party, when lately sent out in pursuit of the refractory natives to the west and south of the Nepean river. By the time this ceremony was over, Mrs. Macquarie arrived, and the children belonging to, and under the care of the native institution, fifteen in number, preceded by their teacher, entered the circle, and walked round it; the children appearing very clean, well clothed and happy. The chiefs were then again called together to observe the examination of the children as to their progress in learning and the civilized habits of life. Several of the little ones read; and it was grateful to the bosom of sensibility to trace the degrees of pleasure which the


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chiefs manifested on this occasion. Some clapped the children on the head; and one in particular turning round towards the governor with extraordinary emotion, exclaimed, Governor, that will make a good settler,—that's my Pickaninny! (meaning his child). And some of the females were observed to shed tears of sympathetic affection, at seeing the infant and helpless off-spring of their deceased friends, so happily sheltered and protected by British benevolence. The examinations being finished, the children returned to the institution, under the guidance of their venerable tutor; whose assiduity and attention to them, merit every commendation”.

“The feasting then commenced, and the governor retired amidst the long and reiterated acclamations and shouts of his sable and grateful congress. The number of the visitants, (exclusive of the fifteen children) amounted to one hundred and seventy-nine, viz. one hundred and five men, fifty-three women, and twenty-one children. It is worthy of observation that three of the latter mentioned number of children, (and the son of the memorable Bemni-long, was one of them) were placed in the native institution, immediately after the breaking up of the congress, on


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Saturday last, making the number of children now in that establishment, altogether eighteen; and we may reasonably trust that in a few years this benevolent institution will amply reward the hopes and expectations of its liberal patrons and supporters, and answer the grand object intended, by providing a seminary for the helpless off-spring of the natives of this country, and opening the path to their future civilization and improvement.”

Windsor.

The town of Windsor, (or as it was formerly called, the Green Hills), is thirty-five miles distant from Sydney, and is situated near the confluence of the South Creek with the river Hawkesbury. It stands on a hill, whose elevation is about one hundred feet above the level of the river, at low water. The buildings here are much of the same cast as at Parramatta, being in general weather boarded without, and lathed and plastered within.

The public buildings are a church, government house, hospital, barracks, court-house, store-house, and gaol, none of which are worthy of notice. The inn lately established by Mr. Fitzgerald, is by far the best building in


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the town, and may be pronounced upon the whole, the most splendid establishment of the kind in the colony.

The bulk of the population is composed of settlers, who have farms in the neighbourhood, and of their servants. There are besides a few inferior traders, publicans and artificers. The town contains in the whole about six hundred souls.

The Hawkesbury here is of considerable size, and navigable for vessels of one hundred tons burden, for about four miles above the town. A little higher up, it is joined by, or rather is called the Nepean river, and has several shallows; but with the help of two or three ferries, it might still be rendered navigable for boats of twelve or fifteen tons burden, for about twenty miles further. This substitution of water for land carriage, would be of great advantage to the numerous settlers who inhabit its highly fertile banks, and would also considerably promote the extension of agriculture throughout the adjacent districts.

Following the sinuosities of the river the distance of Windsor from the sea is about one hundred and forty miles; whereas in a straight line it is not more than thirty-five. The rise


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of the tide is about four feet, and the water is fresh for forty miles below the town.

Land is about ten per cent. higher than at Parramatta, and is advancing rapidly in price. This circumstance is chiefly attributable to the small quantity of land that is to be had perfectly free from the reach of the inundations, to which the Hawkesbury is so frequently subject. These inundations often rise seventy or eighty feet above low water mark; and in the instance of what is still emphatically termed “the great flood,” attained an elevation of ninety-three feet. The chaos of confusion and distress that presents itself on these occasions, cannot be easily conceived by any one who has not been a witness of its horrors. An immense expanse of water, of which the eye cannot in many directions discover the limits, every where interspersed with growing timber, and crowded with poultry, pigs, horses, cattle, stacks and houses, having frequently men, women, and children, clinging to them for protection, and shrieking out in an agony of despair for assistance:—such are the principal objects by which these scenes of death and devastation are characterized.

These inundations are not periodical, but they most generally happen in the month of


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March. Within the last two years there have been no fewer than four of them, one of which was nearly as high as the great flood. In the six years precedings there had not been one. Since the establishment of the colony they have happened upon an average, about once in three years.

The principal cause of them is the contiguity of this river to the Blue Mountains. The Grose and Warraganbia rivers, from which two sources it derives its principal supply, issue direct from these mountains; and the Nepean river, the other principal branch of it, runs along the base of them for fifty or sixty miles; and receives in its progress, from the innumerable mountain torrents connected with it, the whole of the rain which these mountains collect in that great extent. That this is the principal cause of these calamitous inundations has been fully proved; for shortly after the plantation of this colony, the Hawkesbury overflowed its banks, (which are in general about thirty feet in height), in the midst of harvest, when not a single drop of rain had fallen on the Port Jackson side of the mountains. Another great cause of the inundations, which take place in this and the other rivers in the colony, is the small fall that is in them, and the consequent slowness of their currents. The current in the


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Hawkesbury, even when the tide is in full ebb, does not exceed two miles an hour. The water, therefore, which during the rains, rushes in torrents from the mountains cannot escape with sufficient rapidity; and from its immense accumulation, soon overtops the banks of the river, and covers the whole of the low country.

Liverpool.

The town of Liverpool is situated on the banks of Geoge's river, at the distance of eighteen miles from Sydney. It was founded by Governor Macquarie, and is now of about six years standing. Its population may amount to about two hundred souls, and is composed of a small detachment of military, of cultivators, and a few artificers, traders, publicans, and labourers.

The public buildings are a church (not yet I believe completed) a school house and stores for the reception and issue of provisions to such of the settlers in the adjacent districts as are victualled at the expense of the government. These buildings, however, as might naturally be expected from the very recent establishment of this town, are but little superior in their appearance to the rude dwellings of its inhabitants.




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The river is about half the size of the Hawkesbury, and is navigable for boats of twenty tons burden as high up as the town. It empties itself into Botany Bay, which is about fourteen miles to the southward of the heads of Port Jackson. It is subject to the same sort of inundations as the Hawkesbury; but they are not in general of so violent and destructive a nature. The tide rises about the same height as in that river, and the current is, I believe, nearly of the same velocity.

The position of this town is all that can be urged in support of the probability of its future progress; the land in its vicinity being in general of a very indifferent quality. It is in a central situation, between Sydney and the fertile districts of Bringelly, Arids, Appin, Bunpury Curran, Cabramatta, and the Seven Islands, to which last place the tide of colonization is at present principally directing itself. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the town of Liverpool will, in a few years, become a place of considerable size and importance. Land there is as yet of very trifling value; and a lease may be obtained by any free person from the government, on the simple condition of erecting a house on it.

Society is upon a much better footing


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throughout the colony, in general than might naturally be imagined, considering the ingredients of which it is composed. In Sydney the civil and military officers with their families form a circle at once select and extended, without including the numerous highly respectable families of merchants and settlers who reside there. Unfortunately, however, this town is not free from those divisions which are so prevalent in all small communities. Scandal appears to be the favourite amusement to which idlers resort to kill time and prevent ennui; and consequently, the same families are eternally changing from friendship to hostility, and from hostility back again to friendship.

In the other towns these dissensions are not so common, because the circle of society is more circumscribed; and in the districts where there are no towns at all, they are still more rare; because in such situations people have too much need of one another's intercourse and assistance to propagate reports injurious to their neighbour's character, unless on grave occasions, and where their assertions are founded on truth.

Generally speaking, the state of society in these settlements is much the same, as among


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an equal population in the country parts of this kingdom. Of the number of respectable persons that they contain, some estimate may be formed if we refer to the parties which are given on particular days at the Government House. It appears from the Sydney Gazette of the 24th January, 1818, that one hundred and sixty ladies and gentlemen were present at a ball and supper which was given there on the 18th of that month, in celebration of her late majesty's birth-day.

There are at present no public amusements in this colony. Many years since, there was a theatre, and more latterly, annual races; but it was found that the society was not sufficiently mature for such establishments. Dinner and supper parties are very frequent in Sydney; and it generally happens that a few subscription balls take place in the course of the year. Upon the whole it may be safely asserted, that the natural disposition of the people to sociality has not only been in no wise impaired by their change of scene, but that all classes of the colonists are more hospitable than persons of similar means in this country.

There are four courts in this colony, established by charter, viz. the Court of Admiralty,


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the Court of Criminal Judicature, the Governor's Court, the Supreme Court, and the High Court of Appeals.

The Court of Vice Admiralty consists of the Judge Advocate, and takes cognizance of captures, salvages, and such other matters of dispute as arise on the high seas; but it has no criminal jurisdiction.

The Court of Criminal Judicature, consists of the Judge Advocate and six officers of His Majesty's sea and land forces, or of either, appointed by the governor. This court takes cognizance of all treasons, felonies, misdemeanors, and in fact of all criminal offences whatsoever; and afterwards adjudges death or such other punishment as the law of England may have affixed to the respective crimes of which the prisoners may be found guilty.

The Governor's Court consists of the Judge Advocate and two inhabitants of the colony, appointed by precept from the governor, and takes cognizance of all pleas where the amount sued for does not exceed £50 sterling, (except such pleas as may arise between party and party at Van Dieman's Land) and from its decisions there is no appeal.




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The Supreme Court is composed of the judge of this court and two magistrates, appointed by precept from the governor; and its jurisdiction extends to all pleas where the matter in dispute exceeds £50 sterling. From its judgments, however, appeals lie to the High Court of Appeals.

This latter court is presided by the governor himself, assisted by the Judge Advocate; and its decisions are final in all cases where the amount sued for does not exceed three thousand pounds; but where the sum at issue exceeds this amount, an appeal lies in the last instance to the king in council.

These courts regulate their decisions by the law of England, and take no notice whatever of the laws and regulations which have been made at various times by the local government. The enforcement of these is left entirely to the magistracy, who assemble weekly in the different towns throughout the colony, and take cognizance of all infractions, as well of the colonial as of the criminal code. The courts thus formed by the magistrates, go by the name of “Benches of Magistrates,” and answer pretty nearly to the “courts of general quarter sessions for the peace,” held in the respective counties of this kingdom; and, generally


  ― 32 ―
speaking, they exercise a jurisdiction perfectly similar.

The roads and bridges which have been made to every part of the colony, are truly surprising, considering the short period that has elapsed since its foundation. All these are either the work of, or have been improved by, the present governor; who has even caused a road to be constructed over the western mountains, as far as the depot at Bathurst Plains, which is upwards of 180 miles from Sydney. The colonists, therefore, are now provided with every facility for the conveyance of their produce to market; a circumstance which cannot fail to have the most beneficial influence in the progress of agriculture. In return for these great public accommodations, and to help to keep them in repair, the Governor has established toll-gatesnote in all the principal roads. These are farmed out to the highest bidder, and were let during the year 1817, for the sum of £257.

The military force stationed in the colony consists ofseven companies of the forty-eighth regiment, and the Royal Veteran Company; which, form an effective body of about seven hundred firelocks. These have to garrison the


  ― 33 ―
two principal settlements at Van Diemen's Land, to provide a company for the establishment at the Coal River, and to furnish parties for the various towns and outposts of the extended territory of Port Jackson: so that very few troops remain at head quarters. The colony is consequently considered to be greatly in need of a further accession of military strength. Much anxiety is felt on this subject by the generality of the inhabitants, who have not yet forgotten the insurrection which took place when the whole population was not nearly so great as the present amount of the convicts, although the military force was of equal magnitude. That insurrection indeed was easily quelled; but the result of another, under existing circumstances, would in all probability, be very different.

An equal degree of anxiety is felt, and more particularly by the mercantile part of the community, that a sloop of war, or a king's vessel of some description, should be stationed in the harbour, both as a protection against the easy possibility of outward assault, and to frustrate the numerous combinations which the convicts are constantly forming, and often too successfully, to carry away the colonial craft, to the certain destruction of their own and the crew's lives, and to the ruin of the unfortunate owners


  ― 34 ―
Not fewer than three piratical seizures of this nature have been effected within the last three years. On all of these occasions the vessels so seized were run ashore on the uninhabited parts of the coast, and all hands on board, the innocent crews, as well as the abandoned pirates, either perished from hunger, or were immolated by the spears and waddies of the ferocious savages.

When Governor Macquarie assumed the command in 1810, the population was only half its present number; and yet a sloop of war was stationed at Port Jackson, and the military force also was on a much more extended scale. Why a diminution has thus been made in the means of protection and defence, when there appear to be such strong grounds for their augmentation, merely with reference to the internal state of the colony, it is no easy matter to conjecture.

The expediency also of putting the colony in a better posture to repel outward attack, is not less obvious; for although we are now at peace with the whole world, it would be absurd to overlook the possibility of future wars. The only battery of any strength is called, “Dawe's Battery;” and is, as I have already casually noticed, situated in the extremity of that neck of


  ― 35 ―
land, on which the western part of the town of Sydney is built. This battery, if I remember right, mounts fourteen long eighteen-pounders, but the carriages of the guns are in a bad state of repair, and the embrasures are so low, that a single broadside of grape would sweep off all who had the courage or temerity to defend it.

Fort Philip stands on the highest part of the same neck of land, and nearly in the centre of that part of the town which goes by the name of “the Rocks.” This fort was erected by Governor King, immediately after the insurrection, to which I have alluded. It is a regular hexagon, but it never was quite finished, and there are no guns yet mounted on it. The glacis, in fact, is not sufficiently levelled to allow a proper range for artillery, and the circumjacent ground is so irregular and rocky, that an enemy might at once erect batteries at fifty yards distance. Besides, this fort is so completely hemmed in with houses, that a great part of the town would be inevitably destroyed by the fire from it. Its situation, therefore, is in every point of view objectionable, and succeeding governors have evinced their good sense, in not perfecting a work which would be attended with a very considerable expense, and could never become of any utility.




  ― 36 ―

A new battery has lately been commenced on Bennilong's Point; but this and Dawe's Battery are both too near the town to protect it from the most insignificant naval force. It is indeed a matter of surprise, that during the last American war, not one of the numberless privateers of that nation, attempted to lay the town of Sydney under contribution, or to plunder it. A vessel of ten guns might have effected this enterprise with the greatest ease and safety; and that the inhabitants were not subjected to such an insulting humiliation, could only have arisen from the enemy's ignorance of the insufficiency of their means of defence.

The climate of the colony, particularly in the inland districts, is highly salubrious, although the heats in summer are sometimes excessive, the thermometer frequently rising in the shade to ninety, and even to a hundred degrees and upwards of Fahrenheit. This, however, happens only during the hot winds; and these do not prevail upon an average, more than eight or ten days in the year. The mean heat during the three summer months, December, January, and February, is about 80° at noon. This, it must be admitted, is a degree of heat that would be highly oppressive to Europeans, were it not that the sea breeze sets in regularly about nine o'clock in the morning, and blows with considerable


  ― 37 ―
force from the N. E. till about six or seven o'clock in the evening. It is succeeded during the night by the land breeze from the mountains, which varies from W. S. W. to W. In very hot days the sea breeze often veersround to the North and blows a gale. In this case it continues with great violence, frequently for a day or two, and is then succeeded not by the regularland breeze, but by a cold southerly squall. The hot winds blow from the N. W. and doubtless imbibe their heat from the immense tract of country which they traverse. While they prevail the sea and land breezes entirely cease. They seldom, however, continue for more than two days at a time, and are always superseded by a cold southerly gale, generally accompanied with rain. The thermometer then sinks sometimes as low as 60°, and a variation of temperature of from 30° to 40° takes place in half an hour. These southerly gales usually last at this season from twelve to twenty-four hours, and then give way to the regular sea and land breezes.

During these three months violent storms of thunder and lightning are very frequent, and the heavy falls of rain which take place on these occasions, tend considerably to refresh the country, of which the verdure in all but low moist situations entirely disappears. At this season the most unpleasant part of the day is the


  ― 38 ―
interval which elapses between the cessation of the land breeze and the setting in of the sea. This happens generally between six and eight o'clock in the morning, when the thermometer is upon an average at about 72°. During this interval the sea is as smooth as glass, and not a zephyr is found to disport even among the topmost boughs of the loftiest trees.

The three autumn months are March, April, and May. The weather in March is generally very unsettled. This month, in fact, may be considered the rainy season, and has been more fertile in floods than any other of the year. The thermometer varies during the day about 15°, being at day-light as low as from 55° to 60°, and at noon as high as from 70° to 75°. The sea and land breezes at this time become very feeble, although they occasionally prevail during the whole year. The usual winds from the end of March to the beginning of September, are from S. to S. W.

The weather in the commencement of April is frequently showery, but towards the middle it gradually becomes more settled, and towards the conclusion perfectly clear and serene. The thermometer at the beginning of the month varies from 72° to 74° at noon, and from the middle to the end gradually declines to 66° and


  ― 39 ―
sometimes to 60°. In the mornings it is as low as 52°, and fires become in consequence general throughout the colony.

The weather in the month of May is truly delightful. The atmosphere is perfectly cloudless, and the mornings and evenings become with the advance of the month more chilly, and render a good fire a highly comfortable and cheering guest. Even during the middle of the day the most violent exercise may be taken without inconvenience. The thermometer at sun-rise is under 50°, and seldom above 60° at noon.

The three winter months are June, July, and August. During this interval the mornings and evenings are very chilly, and the nights excessively cold. Hoar frosts are frequent, and become more severe the further you advance into the interior. Ice half an inch thick is found at the distance of twenty miles from the coast. Very little rain falls at this season, but the dews are very heavy when it does not freeze, and tend considerably to preserve the young crops from the effects of drought. Fogs too are frequent and dense in low damp situations, and on the banks of the rivers. The mean temperature at day-light is from 40° to 45°, and at noon from 55° to 60°.




  ― 40 ―

The spring months are September, October, and November. In the beginning of September the fogs still continue; the nights are cold, but the days clear and pleasant. Towards the close of this month the cold begins very sensibly to moderate. Light showers occasionally prevail, accompanied with thunder and lightning. The thermometer at the beginning of the month is seldom above 60° at noon, but towards the end frequently rises to 70°.

In October there are also occasional showers, but the weather upon the whole is clear and pleasant. The days gradually become warmer, and the blighting north-west winds are to be apprehended. The sea and land breezes again resume their full sway. The thermometer at sun-rise varies from 60° to 65°, and at noon is frequently up to 80°.

In November the weather may be again called hot. Dry parching winds prevail as the month advances, and squalls of thunder and lightning with rain or hail. The thermometer at day-light is seldom under 65°, and frequently at noon rises to 80°, 84°, and even 90°.

Such is the temperature throughout the year at Port Jackson. In the inland districts to the eastward of the mountains, the thermometer is


  ― 41 ―
upon an average 5° lower in the morning, and the same number of degrees higher at noon throughout the winter season, but during the summer months it is 5° higher at all hours of the day. On the mountains themselves, and in the country to the westward of them, the climate, in consequence of their superior elevation, is much more temperate. Heavy falls of snow take place during the winter, and remain sometimes for many days on the summits of the loftiest hills; but in the valleys the snow immediately dissolves. The frosts too are much more severe, and the winters are of longer duration. All the seasons indeed are more distinctly marked to the westward of the mountains, and bear a much stronger resemblance to the corresponding ones in this country.

From the foregoing account of the state of the weather and temperature during the various seasons of the year, it will be seen that the climate of the colony is upon the whole highly salubrious and delightful. If the summers are occasionally a little too hot for the European constitution, it will be remembered that the extreme heats which I have noticed as happening during the north-west winds, are of but short continuance; and that the sea and land breezes, which prevail at this season in an almost uninterrupted succession, moderate the temperature


  ― 42 ―
so effectually, that even new comers are but little incommoded by it, and the old residents experience no inconvenience from it whatever. The sea breeze indeed is not so sensibly felt in the interior as on the coast, by reason of the great extent of forest which it has to traverse before the inhabitants of the inland districts can receive the benefit of it. This circumstance not only diminishes its force, but also deprives it in a great measure of that refreshing coolness which it imparts when inhaled fresh from the bosom of the ocean. The heat consequently in the interior, particularly in low situations, is much more intense than on the coast; but by way of compensation for the advantage which in this respect the districts in the vicinity of the sea possess over the inland ones, these latter are from the same causes that impede the approach of the sea breeze, exempt from the sudden and violent variations of temperature, which are occasioned by the southerly winds, and are without doubt the reason why pulmonic affections are so much more prevalent in Sydney than in the interior. The hot season, however, which is undoubtedly the most unhealthy part of the year, does not, as will have been perceived, continue above four months. The remaining eight possess a temperature so highly moderate and congenial to the human constitution, that the climate of this colony would upon the


  ― 43 ―
whole, appear to justify the glowing enthusiasm of those who have ventured to call it the Montpellier of the world.

Abdominal and pulmonic complains are the two prevalent diseases. The abdominal complaints are confined principally to dysentery. This disorder is most common among the poorer classes and new comers. In these it is generally intimately connected with scurvy, and in both cases it is for the most part greatly aggravated by the excessive use of spirituous liquors, to which the mass of the colonists are unfortunately addicted.

The pulmonic affections are generally contracted at an early period by the youth of both sexes, and are occasioned by the great and sudden variations of temperature already noticed. They are not, however, accompanied with that violent inflammatory action which distinguishes them in this country; but proceed slowly and gradually, till from neglect they terminate in phthisis. They are said to bear a strong affinity to the complaint of the same nature which prevails at the Island of Madeira; and it is remarkable, that in both these colonies a change of air affords the only chance of restoration to the natives; whereas foreigners labouring under phthisis upon their arrival in either of these places, find almost instantaneous relief.




  ― 44 ―

There are no infantile diseases whatever. The measles, hooping cough, and small pox, are entirely unknown. Some few years, indeed, before the foundation of this colony, the small pox committed the most dreadful ravages among the aborigines. This exterminating scourge is said to have been introduced by Captain Cook, and many of the contemporaries of those who fell victims to it, are still living; and the deep furrows which remain in some of their countenances, shew how narrowly they escaped the same premature destiny. The recollection of this dreadful malady will long survive in the traditionary songs of this simple people. The consternation which it excited is still as fresh in their minds as if it had been but an occurrence of yesterday, although the generation which witnessed its horrors, has almost past away. The moment one of them was seized with it, it was the signal for abandoning him to his fate. Brothers deserted their brothers, children their parents, and parents their children; and in some of the caves on the coast, heaps of decayed bones still indicate the spots where the helpless sufferers were left to expire, not so much perhaps from the violence of the disease as from the want of sustenance.

This fatal instance of the inveteracy of this disorder, when once introduced into the colony,


  ― 45 ―
has not been without its counterpoising benefit. It has induced the local government to adopt proper measures for avoiding the propagation of a similar contagion among the colonists. The vaccine matter was introduced with this view many years back; but as all the children in the colony were immediately inoculated, it was again lost from the want of a sufficient number of subjects to afford a supply of fresh virus; and for many years afterwards, every effort that was made for its re-introduction proved abortive. Through the indefatigable exertions, however, of Doctor Burke, of the Mauritius, the colonists are again in possession of this inestimable blessing; and there can be no doubt that proper precautions will be taken to prevent them from being again deprived of it.

The colony of New South Wales possesses every variety of soil, from the sandy heath, and the cold hungry clay, to the fertile loam and the deep vegetable mould. For the distance of five or six miles from the coast, the land is in general extremely barren, being a poor hungry sand, thickly studded with rocks. A few miserable stunted gums, and a dwarf underwood, are the richest productions of the best part of it; while the rest never gives birth to a tree at all, and is only covered with low flowering shrubs, whose infinite diversity, however, and extraordinary


  ― 46 ―
beauty, render this wild heath the most interesting part of the country for the botanist, and make even the less scientific beholder forget the nakedness and sterility of the scene.

Beyond this barren waste, which thus forms a girdle to the coast, the country suddenly begins to improve. The soil changes to a thin layer of vegetable mould, resting on a stratum of yellow clay, which is again supported by a deep bed of schistus. The trees of the forest are here of the most stately dimensions. Full sized gums and iron barks, along side of which the loftiest trees in this country would appear as pigmies, with the beefwood tree, or as it is generally termed, the forest oak, which is of much humbler growth, are the usual timber. The forest is extremely thick, but there is little or no underwood. A poor sour grass, which is too effectually sheltered from the rays of the sun, to be possessed of any nutritive and fattening properties, shoots up in the intervals. This description of country, with a few exceptions, however, which deserve not to be particularly noticed, forms another girdle of about ten miles in breadth: so that, generally speaking, the colony for about sixteen miles into the interior, may be said to possess a soil, which has naturally no claim to fertility, and will require all the


  ― 47 ―
skill and industry of its owners to render it even tolerably productive.

At this distance, however, the aspect of the country begins rapidly to improve. The forest is less thick, and the trees in general are of another description; the iron barks, yellow gums, and forest oaks disappearing, and the stringy barks, blue gums, and box trees, generally usurping their stead. When you have advanced about four miles further into the interior, you are at length gratified with the appearance of a country truly beautiful. An endless variety of hill and dale, clothed in the most luxuriant herbage, and covered with bleating flocks and lowing herds, at length indicate that you are in regions fit to be inhabited by civilized man. The soil has no longer the stamp of barrenness. A rich loam resting on a substratum of fat red clay, several feet in depth, is found even on the tops of the highest hills, which in general do not yield in fertility to the vallies. The timber, strange as it may appear, is of inferior size, though still of the same nature, i. e. blue gum, box, and stringy bark. There is no underwood, and the number of trees upon an acre do not upon an average exceed thirty. They are, in fact, so thin, that a person may gallop without difficulty in every direction. Coursing the kangaroo


  ― 48 ―
is the favourite amusement of the colonists, who generally pursue this animal at full speed on horseback, and frequently manage, notwithstanding its extraordinary swiftness, to be up at the death; so trifling are the impediments occasioned by the forest.

The above general description may be applied with tolerable accuracy, to the whole tract of country which lies between this space and the Nepean River. The plains, however, on the banks of this river, which are in many places of considerable extent, are of far greater fertility, being a rich vegetable mould, many feet in depth, and have without doubt, been gradually formed by depositions from it during the periods of its inundations. These plains gradually enlarge themselves until you arrive at the junction of the Nepean with the Hawkesbury, on each side of which they are commonly from a mile to a mile and a half in breadth. The banks of this latter river are of still greater fertility than the banks of the former, and may vie in this respect with the far-famed banks of the Nile. The same acre of land there has been known to produce in the course of one year, fifty bushels of wheat and a hundred of maize. The settlers have never any occasion for manure, since the slimy depositions from the river, effectually counteract the exhaustion that would


  ― 49 ―
otherwise be produced by incessant crops. The timber on the banks of these rivers is for the most part apple tree, which is very beautiful, and bears in its foliage and shape a striking resemblance to the oak of this country. Its wood, however, is of no value except for firing, and for the immense quantity of pot-ash which might be made from it. The blue gum and stringy bark are also very common on these flooded lands, and of the best description. The banks of the Hawkesbury formerly produced cedar, but it has long since entirely disappeared.

The banks of these rivers, and indeed the whole tract of country, (generally speaking) which I have described, with the exception of the barren waste in the vicinity of the coast, are, to use the colonial term, located, i. e. either granted away to individuals, or attached as commons to the cultivated districts. It may not, therefore, be unacceptable to many of my readers, to learn the particulars of those unappropriated tracts of land within the immediate precincts of Port Jackson, which are best adapted to the purposes of colonization

Cow Pastures.

Of these “the cow pastures” rank first in


  ― 50 ―
point of proximity. This tract of land has hitherto been reserved for the use of the wild cattle; although these animals have for some time past disappeared, either from having found an outlet into the interior, through the surrounding mountains, or what is a still more probable conjecture, from the exterminating incursions of the numerous poor settlers, who have farms in the neighbourhood, and who, considering their general poverty, it is easy to believe, would not suffer the want of animal food, so long as they could take their dogs and guns, and kill a cow or calf at their option. These wild cattle were the progeny of a few tame ones, which strayed away from the settlement shortly after the period of its foundation, and were not discovered till about fifteen years afterwards, when they had multiplied to several thousands. On their discovery they immediately attracted the attention of his majesty's ministers, and orders were dispatched from this country, prohibiting the governor and his successors from granting away the land, on which they had fixed themselves. This they soon overspread, and on the occasion of the severe droughts that were experienced in the colony in the years 1813, 1814, and 1815, great numbers of them perished from the want of water and pasturage. Where thousands then existed, there are scarcely hundreds to be found at


  ― 51 ―
present, and these chiefly consist of bulls. A cow or calf can very rarely be met with. There can consequently be very little doubt that they have disappeared in the manner I have conjectured, and that their numbers have been thus considerably reduced by the depredations of the poorer settlers, which it was for a long time thought beyond the power of the colonial courts to restrain; since, although it was notorious that these wild cattle were originally purchased by the crown, still the cattle of individuals had subsequently, at various times, intermixed with them, and prevented that identification of property, which the late judge advocate considered essential to the conviction of the offenders. His opinion, however, has been overruled by his successor, and several persons have been lately tried for and found guilty of this offence; and although they were not punished capitally for it, there can be no doubt that their conviction will greatly diminish such depredations for the future. Not that I consider the preservation of these wild herds will be attended with any advantages to the colony. On the contrary, it is my belief, that their total destruction ought to be effected; since the increase of them is of mere negative importance, compared with the positive disadvantage that attends their occupation of one of the most fertile districts in the colony, which it is to be hoped will be soon


  ― 52 ―
covered with numerous flocks of fine wooled sheep, for the pasture of which the greater part of it is so admirably adapted. This tract of land is about thirty miles distant from Sydney: it is bounded on the east by the river Nepean, on the west by the Blue Mountains, of which this river, on the north side of the cow pastures washes the base, so that they together form the northern boundary, and on the south by a thick barren brush of about ten miles in breadth, which these cattle have never been able to penetrate. This fine tract of country is thus surrounded by natural boundaries, which form it into an enclosure somewhat in the shape of an oblong spheroid. It contains about one hundred thousand acres of good land, a considerable portion of which is flooded, and equal to any on the banks of the Hawkesbury.

Five Islands.

The next considerable tract of unappropriated land is the district called the Five Islands. It commences at the distance of about forty miles to the southward of Sydney, and extends to Shoal Haven river. This tract of land lies between the coast and a high range of hills which terminate at the north side abruptly in the sea, and form its northern and western boundary: the ocean is its eastern boundary,


  ― 53 ―
and Shoal Haven river its southern. The range that surrounds this district on the north and west is a branch of the Blue Mountains; and the only road at present known to it, is down a pass so remarkably steep, that unless a better be discovered, the communication between it and the capital by land, will always be difficult and dangerous for waggons. This circumstance is a material counterpoise to its extraordinary fertility, and is the reason why it is at present unoccupied by any but large stockholders. Those parts, however, which are situated near Shoal Haven river, are highly eligible for agricultural purposes; since this river is navigable for about twenty miles into the country for vessels of seventy or eighty tons burden; a circumstance which holds out to future colonists the greatest facilities for the cheap and expeditious conveyance of their produce to market. The land on the banks of this river is of the same nature, and possesses equal fertility with the banks of the Hawkesbury. There are several streams in different parts of this district, which issue from the mountain behind, and afford an abundant supply of pure water. In many places there are large prairies of unparalleled richness, entirely free from timber, and consequently prepared by the hand of nature for the immediate reception of the ploughshare. These advantages, combined with its proximity to


  ― 54 ―
Sydney, have already begun to attract the tide of colonization to it, and will no doubt render it in a few years one of the most populous, productive, and valuable of all the districts. The soil is in general a deep fat vegetable mould. The surface of the country is thinly timbered, with the exception of the mountain which boundsit to the Northward and Westward. This is covered with a thick brush, but is nevertheless extremely fertile up to the very summit, and peculiarly adapted both from its eastern aspect and mild climate for the cultivation of the vine. This large tract of country was only discovered about four years since, and has not yet been accurately surveyed. Its extent, therefore, is not precisely known; but it without doubt contains several hundred thousand acres, including the banks of the Shoal Haven river. These produce a great abundance of fine cedar, and other highly valuable timber, for which there is an extensive and increasing demand at Port Jackson.

Coal River

The next tract of unappropriated country which I shall describe, is the district of the Coal River. The town of Newcastle is situated at the mouth of this river, and is about sixty miles to the northward of Port Jackson. Its population


  ― 55 ―
by the last census forwarded to this country, was five hundred and fifty souls. These, with the exception of a few free settlers, established on the upper banks of this river, amounting with their families perhaps to thirty souls, and about fifty troops, are all incorrigible offenders, who have been convicted either before a bench of magistrates, or the Court of Criminal Judicature, and afterwards re-transported to this place, where they are worked in chains from sunrise to sunset, and profitably employed in burning lime and procuring coals and timber, as well for carrying on the public works at Port Jackson, as for the private purposes of individuals, who pay the government stipulated prices for these different articles. This settlement was, in fact, established with the two-fold view of supplying the public works with these necessary articles, and providing a separate place of punishment for all who might be convicted of crimes in the colonial courts.

The coal mines here are considerably elevated above the level of the sea, and are of the richest description. The veins are visible on the abrupt face of the cliff, which borders the harbour, and are worked by adits or openings, which serve both to carry off the water and to wheel away the coals. The quantity procured in this easy manner is very great, and might be increased to


  ― 56 ―
any extent. So much more coals indeed are thus obtained than are required for the purposes of the government, that they are glad to dispose of them to all persons who are willing to purchase, requiring in return a duty of two shillings and six pence per ton, for such as are intended for home consumption, and five shillings for such as are for exportation.

The lime procured at this settlement is made from oyster shells, which are found in prodigious abundance. These shells lie close to the banks of the river, in beds of amazing size and depth. How they came there has long been a matter of surprise and speculation to the colonists. Some are of opinion that they have been gradually deposited by the natives in those periodical feasts of shell fish, for the celebration of which they still assemble at stated seasons in large bodies: others have contended, and I think with more probability, that they were originally large natural beds of oysters, and that the river has on some occasion or other, either changed its course or contracted its limits, and thus deserted them.

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


  ― 57 ―
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 £3 for each thousand square feet, intended for home consumption, and £6 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


  ― 58 ―
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


  ― 59 ―
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;


  ― 60 ―
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


  ― 61 ―
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


  ― 62 ―
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 depôt, and some few settlers established, have been found by actual


  ― 63 ―
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 depôt 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


  ― 64 ―
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


  ― 65 ―
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.

SIR,”

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


  ― 66 ―
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


  ― 67 ―
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.




  ― 68 ―

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


  ― 69 ―
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°, and west of the meridian of 147° 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 depôt by the route we had come, would


  ― 70 ―
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


  ― 71 ―
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


  ― 72 ―
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.


  ― 73 ―
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° 45' South, and 148° 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


  ― 74 ―
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° 30' South, and 32° South, and between the


  ― 75 ―
meridians of 149° 43' and 143° 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.




  ― 76 ―

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, &c.

J. OXLEY, Surveyor-Gen.”

To his Excellency Lachlan Macquarie, Esq.




  ― 77 ―

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


  ― 78 ―
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,


  ― 79 ―
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, &c. are refinements entirely unknown in the incipient stages of society. They are the gradual results of civilization,


  ― 80 ―
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


  ― 81 ―
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


  ― 82 ―
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


  ― 83 ―
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


  ― 84 ―
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,


  ― 85 ―
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.




  ― 86 ―

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


  ― 87 ―
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


  ― 88 ―
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


  ― 89 ―
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


  ― 90 ―
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 £28 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


  ― 91 ―
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,


  ― 92 ―
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.


  ― 93 ―
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.

notePotatoes, 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,


  ― 94 ―
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.

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;


  ― 95 ―
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


  ― 96 ―
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, &c.

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


  ― 97 ―
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


  ― 98 ―
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


  ― 99 ―
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


  ― 100 ―
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.




  ― 101 ―

Price of Cattle, &c.

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 £10 to £15, and a better saddle or gig horse, from £20 to £30, than could be obtained in this country for double the money. Very good milch-cows may be bought from £5 to £10; working oxen for about the same price; and fine young breeding ewes from £1 to £3, 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;


  ― 102 ―
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,


  ― 103 ―
by referring to what it was ten years back. In 1808, a cow and calf were sold by public auction for £105, and the price of middling cattle was from £80 to £100. A breeding mare was at the same period worth from 150 to 200 guineas, and ewes from £10 to £20.

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 £13 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 £28 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


  ― 104 ―
in price, from £700 to £1,000 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 £50 to £100 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


  ― 105 ―
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


  ― 106 ―
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”.

                                     


  ― 107 ―
     
£  s d
For falling forest timber, per acre, 
Burning off ditto, per ditto, 
Rooting out, and burning stumpson forest ground, per ditto,  10 
Falling timber on brush ground, per ditto,  12 
Burning off ditto, per ditto,  10 
Rooting out and burning stumps on ditto, per ditto,  17 
Breaking up new ground, per ditto, 
Breaking up stubble in corn ground, per ditto,  10 
Chipping in wheat, per ditto, 
Reaping ditto, per ditto,  10 
Threshing and cleaning wheat, per bushel, 
Holeing and planting corn, per acre, 
Chipping and shelling corn, per ditto, 
Pulling and husking ditto, per bushel, 
Splitting pales, (six feet long) per hundred, 
Ditto, (five feet long) per ditto, 
Shingle splitting, per thousand, 
Preparing and putting up morticed railing, five bars, with two pannels to a rod, and posts sunk two feet in the ground, 
Ditto, ditto, ditto, four bars, 
Ditto, ditto, ditto, three bars, 
Ditto, ditto, ditto, two bars,  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,


  ― 108 ―
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 £14 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 £3 to £5 per acre, and that which is in a state of cultivation, from £8 to £10. The latter description rents for twenty and thirty shillings an acre.

The price of provisions, particularly of agricultural produce, is subject to great fluctuations,


  ― 109 ―
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 £5 and £6 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.




  ― 110 ―

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 5¼d. 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


  ― 111 ―
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 £50,000.

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


  ― 112 ―
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 £8000; 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


  ― 113 ―
inhabiting the various settlements in New Holland, cannot be estimated at more than £125,000, and the following sub-divisions of it may be taken as a very close approximation to the truth:

             
£  s d
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,  80,000 
Money expended by shipping not belonging to the colonial merchants,  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,  15,000 
Wool grown in the colony,  8,000 
Sundries,  20,000 
Total  £125,000 

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


  ― 114 ―
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 £20,272 6s. 2½d. which was derived from the following sources:

             
£  s.   d.  
noteDuties collected by the naval officer,  17,240  7¼ 
Market, toll, and slaughtering duties,  872  7¼ 
67 Spirit Licences,  2,010 
10 Beer ditto,  50 
4 Brewing ditto,  100 
Total  £20,272  2½ 

If we add to this £907 6s. 9¼d. which is the amount of the naval officer's commission on the duties collected by him, we have a grand total of £21,179 12s. 11¾d.; or, in other words, about


  ― 115 ―
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° 42', and 43° 43' of south latitude, and between 145° 31' and 148° 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


  ― 116 ―
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


  ― 117 ―
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


  ― 118 ―
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


  ― 119 ―
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


  ― 120 ―
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.

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


  ― 121 ―
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


  ― 122 ―
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


  ― 123 ―
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


  ― 124 ―
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


  ― 125 ―
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


  ― 126 ―
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


  ― 127 ―
to thirst in the midst of the waters of abundance!

Port Dalrymple.

This port, which was discovered by Flinders, in 1798, lies thirty degrees E. S. E. of Three Hammock Island. The town of Launceston stands about thirty miles from its entrance, at the junction of the North Esk, and the South with the river Tamar. It is little more than an inconsiderable village, the houses in general being of the humblest description. Its population is between three and four hundred souls. The tide reaches nine or ten miles up the river Esk, and the produce of the farms within that distance, may be sent down to the town in boats. But the North Esk descends from a range of mountains, by a cataract immediately into the river Tamar, and is consequently altogether inaccessible to navigation.

The Tamar has sufficient depth of water as far as Launceston, for vessels of a hundred and fifty tons burthen; but the navigation of this river is very intricate, by reason of the banks and shallows with which it abounds, and it has been at length prudently resolved to remove the seat of government nearer the entrance of Port Dalrymple. A town called


  ― 128 ―
George Town, has been for the last three years in a state of active preparation; and it is probable that the commandant, and indeed the entire civil and military establishmentsnote of this settlement, have by this time removed to it. In this case the greater part of the population of Launceston will soon follow. This desertion of its inhabitants will considerably diminish the value of landed property in that town, and consequently be productive of great loss to them; but there can be no doubt that the change of the seat of government will in the event materially contribute to the prosperity of the settlement in general. This abandonment, therefore, or rather intended abandonment of the old town, has been dictated by the soundest principles of policy and justice; but although the equity of the maxim that the interests of the few should cede to the good of the many, is incontrovertible, it is nevertheless to be hoped, that some means will be contrived of indemnifying the inhabitants of Launceston for the great injury which they will suffer from the removal of the seat of government to George Town.

Within a few miles of Launceston, there is the most amazing abundance of iron. Literally


  ― 129 ―
speaking, there are whole mountains of this ore, which is so remarkably rich, that it has been found to yield seventy per cent. of pure metal. These mines have not yet been worked; the population, indeed, of the settlement would not allow it; but there can be no doubt that they will at no very remote period become a source of considerable wealth to its inhabitants.

There is a communication by land between Launceston and Hobart Town, which are about one hundred and thirty miles distant from each other in a straight line, and about one hundred and sixty, following the windings of the route at present frequented. No regular road has been constructed between these towns, but the numerous carts and droves of cattle and sheep, which are constantly passing from one to the other, have rendered the track sufficiently distinct and plain. In fact, the making a road is a matter of very great ease, both here and in Port Jackson. The person whoever he may be that wants to establish a cart-road to any place, marks the trees in the direction he wishes it to take, and these marks serve as a guide to all such as require to travel on it. In a very short time the tracks of the horses and carts that have passed along it become visible, the grass is gradually trod down, and finally


  ― 130 ―
disappears, and thus a road is formed; not, indeed, so good as one of the usual construction, but which answers all the purposes of those who have occasion to make use of it. Wherever there happens to be a stream, or river that is not fordable, it is customary to cut down two or three trees in some spot on its banks, where it is seen that they will reach to the other side of it. Across these, the boughs that are lopped off themselves, or smaller trees felled for the purpose, are laid close together, and over all a sufficient covering of earth.

Of this description are all the roads and bridges in Van Diemen's Land, and many of them, even in Port Jackson; but in this respect it will be recollected that the latter is much in advance of the former. The reason why the settlements on this island are so much behind the parent colony, is not to be traced so much to the greater recency of their origin, as to the circumstance of their inhabitants being for the most part established along the banks of navigable waters. At Port Dalrymple, the majority of the settlers have fixed themselves on the banks of the North Esk, within the navigable reach of that river. The Derwent too, it has been seen, is navigable for vessels of the largest burden for twenty miles from its entrance. A little higher up, indeed, there are


  ― 131 ―
falls in it which interrupt its navigation; but it is hardly yet colonized beyond these falls, and whenever that shall be the case, it may be easily rendered navigable for boats by the help of ferries for a considerable distance further. Such of the agriculturists as have not settled on the banks of this river, have selected their farms in the district of Pitt Water; which extends along the northern side of that spacious harbour, called “North Bay.” These have consequently the same facilities as those on the banks of the Derwent for sending their produce to market by water, and they naturally prefer this, the cheapest mode of conveyance. It may, therefore, be perceived that the superior advantages which are thus presented by an inland navigation, are the main causes why the construction of regular roads has been so much neglected in these settlements. So far, indeed, is this want of roads from being an inconvenience to the inhabitants of them, that the facilities afforded by this inland navigation for the transport of all sorts of agricultural produce to market, is the principal point of superiority which they can claim over their brethren at Port Jackson.

Administration of Justice.

In the two settlements on this island, there is


  ― 132 ―
but one court of justice established by charter. This is termed the Lieutenant-Governor's Court, and consists of the deputy judge advocate, and two of the respectable inhabitants appointed from time to time by the lieutenant-governor. The jurisdiction of this court is purely civil, and only extends to pleas where the sum at issue does not exceed £50; but no appeal lies from its decisions. All causes for a higher amount, and all criminal offences beyond the cognizance of the bench of magistrates, are removed, the former before the Supreme Court, and the latter before the Court of Criminal Judicature at Port Jackson.

State of Defence, &c.

These settlements are in a very bad state of defence, having but two companies of troops for the garrison and protection of them both. They have consequently been infested for many years past, by a banditti of run-away convicts, who have endangered the person and property of every one that has evinced himself hostile to their enormities. These wretches, who are known in the colony by the name of bush-rangers, even went so far as to write threatening letters to the lieutenant-governor and the magistracy. In this horrible state of anarchy a simultaneous feeling of insecurity and dread,


  ― 133 ―
naturally pervaded the whole of the inhabitants; and the most respectable part of the agricultural body with one accord betook themselves to the towns, as the only certain means of preserving their lives, gladly abandoning their property to prevent the much greater sacrifice with which the defence of it would have been attended. There is no species of outrage and atrocity, in which these marauders did not indulge: murders, incendiaries, and robberies were their ordinary amusements, and have been for many years past the leading events in the annals of these unfortunate settlements. Every measure that could be devised was taken for the capture and punishment of these wretches. They were repeatedly outlawed, and the most alluring rewards were set upon their heads; but the insufficiency of the military force, the extent of the island, their superior local knowledge, and the abundance of game, which enabled them to find an easy subsistence, and rendered them independent, except for an occasional supply of ammunition, with which some unknown persons were base enough to furnish them in exchange for their ill acquired booty; all these circumstances conspired to baffle for many years every attempt that was made for their apprehension. This long impunity served only to increase their cruelty and temerity; and it was at last deemed expedient by Lieutenant


  ― 134 ―
Governor Davy to declare the whole island under the operation of martial law. This vigorous exertion of authority was zealously seconded by the respectable inhabitants, many of whom joined the military in the pursuit of these miscreants, and fortunately succeeded by their joint exertions in apprehending the most daring of their ringleaders, who were instantly tried by a court martial and hanged in chains. This terrible, though necessary example, was followed by a proclamation offering a general amnesty to all the rest of these delinquents who should surrender themselves before a certain day; excepting, however, such of them as had been guilty of murder. The proclamation had the desired effect: all who were not excluded by their crimes availed themselves of the pardon thus offered them. But strange to say, they were allowed to remain in the island; and whether they were enamoured of the licentious life they had been so long leading, or whether they distrusted the sincerity of the oblivion promised them, and became apprehensive of eventual punishment, in a few months afterwards they again betook themselves to the woods, and rejoined those who had been excluded from the amnesty. After this, they rivalled their former atrocities, and a general feeling of consternation was again excited among the well disposed part of the community.


  ― 135 ―
And here, as it may not be uninteresting to many of my readers to be acquainted with some of the specific outrages of these monsters, I subjoin the following extracts from the Sydney Gazette of the 25th Jan. 1817.

The accounts of robberies by the banditti of bush-rangers on Van Diemen's Land, presents a melancholy picture of the distresses to which the more respectable classes of inhabitants are constantly exposed from the daring acts of those infamous marauders, who are divided into small parties, and are designated by the name of the principal ruffian at their head, of whom one Michael Howe appears to be the most alert in depredation. The accounts received by the Kangaroo, which commence from the beginning of November, state that on the 7th of that month, the house and premises of Mr. David Rose at Port Dalrymple, were attacked and plundered of a considerable property, by Peter Sefton and his gang. The delinquents were pursued by the commandant at the head of a strong detachment of the 46th regiment; but returned after a five days hunt through the woods, without being able to discover the villains, among whom is stated to have been a free man, named Denis M'Caig, who


  ― 136 ―
went from hence to Port Dalrymple in the Brothers.

On the night of the 17th of November, the premises of Mr. Thomas Hayes, at Bagdad, were attacked at a time when Mr. Stocker and wife, and Mr. Andrew Whitehead (the former on their route from Hobart Town to Port Dalrymple, with a cart containing a large and valuable property) had unfortunately put up at the house for the night. Michael Howe was the chief of this banditti, which consisted of eight others. The property of which they plundered Mr. and Mrs. Stocker on this occasion, was upwards of £300 value, among which were two kegs of spirits. One of these, a member of the gang wantonly wasted, by firing a pistol-ball through the head of the keg, which contained eleven gallons. They set their watches by Mr. Whitehead's, which they afterwards returned; but took Mr. Stocker's away with their other plunder. Mr. Wade, chief constable of Hobart Town, had stopped with the others at Mr. Hayes's; but hearing a noise, which he considered to denote the approach of bush-rangers, he prudently attended to the admonition, and escaped their fury, which it was concluded would have fallen heavily


  ― 137 ―
upon him, as they are at variance with all conditions in life that are inimical to their crimes. On the morning of the 2d instant, Mr. William Maum, of Hobart Town, sustained the loss of three stacks of wheat by fire at his farm at Clarence Plains, owing to the act of an incendiary.

On the 14th of November a large body, consisting of fourteen men and two women, were unwelcomely fallen in with by a single man on horseback, at Scantling's Plains. Howe and Geary were the most conspicuous: they compelled him to bear testimony to the swearing in of their whole party, to abide by some resolutions dictated in a written paper, which one of them finished writing in the traveller's presence. After a detention of about three quarters of an hour, he was suffered to proceed under strong injunctions to declare what he had been an eye-witness of; and to desire Mr. Humphrey, the magistrate, and Mr. Wade, the chief constable, to take care of themselves, as they were bent on taking their lives, as well as to prevent them from growing grain, or keeping goods of any kind. And by the information of a person upon oath, it appears that they had about the same period, forced away two government servants from their habitations, to


  ― 138 ―
a distant place, on which the crimes of these wretches have stamped the appellation of murderer's plains, (by themselves facetiously called the tallow-chandler's shop) where they kept them to work three days in rendering down beef-fat. How they could afterwards appropriate so great a quantity of rendered fat and suet, is truly a question worthy to be demanded; for it is far more likely it should be taken off their hands by persons in or near the settlements, who are leagued with them, in the way of bartering one commodity for another, than that the bush-rangers should either keep it for their own use, or bestow so much trouble on the preparation of an article that would soon spoil in their hands. The caftle that were in this instance so devoted, were the property of Stones and Tray, who declare that out of three hundred head, one hundred and forty have lately disappeared”.

All the outrages above enumerated, it will be seen, were perpetrated within the short period of ten days; and these settlements continued the scene of similar enormities until the July following, an interval of nearly eight months. On the serious injury which the industrious and deserving of all classes, must have experienced in that time, from the inability of the government to afford them protection, it would be


  ― 139 ―
useless here to dilate. It must be evident, that such extremes of anarchy could not be of any long duration; and that one or other of these two events became inevitable; either that the exertions and enterprizes of the colonists should be brought to a stand, or that these disturbers of the general tranquillity, should suffer condign punishment. Fortunately the cause of public justice triumphed, and the majority of these monsters either fell victims to common distrust, or to the violated laws of their country. And here, after detailing some few of their excesses, I cannot refrain from giving in turn the account of the measures that led to their discomfiture and apprehension, as extracted from the Sydney Gazette of the 4th October, 1817.

“A meeting of public officers and principal inhabitants and settlers, was convened at Hobart Town, by sanction of his honour, Lieutenant-Governor Sorrel, (the successor of Colonel Davy) on the 5th of July, for the purpose of considering the most effectual measures for suppressing the banditti; when the utmost alacrity manifested itself to support the views of government in promoting that desirable object, and a liberal subscription was immediately entered into for the purpose. The following proclamation was


  ― 140 ―
immediately afterwards issued by the Lieutenant-Governor.

Whereas, the armed banditti, who have for a considerable time infested the interior of this island, did on the 10th ultimo, make an attack upon the store at George Town, which being left unprotected, they plundered, taking away two boats, which they afterwards cast ashore at the entrance of Port Dalrymple; and whereas, the principal leader in the outrages which have been committed by this band of robbers, is Peter Geary, a deserter from his Majesty's 73d regiment, charged also with murder and various other offences; and whereas, the undermentioned offenders have been concerned with the said Peter Geary in most of these enormities; the following rewards will be paid to any person or persons, who shall apprehend these offenders, or any of them:”

             
“ Peter Geary,  One Hundred Guineas. 
“ Peter Septon, 
“ John Jones,  Eighty Guineas each. 
“ Richard Collyer, 
“ Thomas Coine, 
“ Brown, or Brune,  Fifty Guineas each. 
“ a Frenchman, 




  ― 141 ―

“ And whereas, George Watts, a prisoner, who absented himself from the Coal River, previous to the expiration of his sentence, and who stands charged with various robberies and crimes, is now at large: it is hereby declared, that a reward of eighty guineas will be paid to any person or persons, who shall apprehend the said George Watts”.

“ And all magistrates and commanders of military stations, and parties, and all constables and others of his majesty's subjects, are enjoined to use their utmost efforts to apprehend the criminals above named”.

“ On the 10th of July, a division of the banditti proceeded to George Town, and seizing upon the government boats, induced five of the working people to abscond with them; upon representation whereof to the Lieutenant-Governor, a proclamation was issued requiring the return of those persons, under the assurance of forgiveness, if so returning within twenty days, from the consideration that the settlement of George Town had been for some days without command or controul; the causes of which will be found in our supplement of this day; wherein Mr. Superintendent Leith, has, in his testimony upon the murder of the chief constable of the settlement,


  ― 142 ―
declared his necessary absence to Launceston at that express period.”

“ The gang of bush-rangers appeared in the vicinity of Black Brush on Saturday, and were tracked on the following morning by Serjeant M'Carthy, of the 46th, with his party. On Monday the bush-rangers were at a house at Tea-tree Brush, where they had dined, and about three o'clock Serjeant M'Carthy with his party came up. The bush-rangers ran out of the house into the woods, and being eleven in number, and well covered by timber and ground, the eight soldiers could not close with them. After a good deal of firing, Geary the leader was wounded, and fell; two others were also wounded. The knapsacks of the whole and their dogs were taken. Geary died the same night, and his corpse was brought into town on Tuesday, as were the two wounded men.

“The remaining eight bush-rangers were seen in the neighbourhood of the Coal River on Wednesday; but, as they must have been destitute of provisions and ammunition, sanguine hopes were entertained of their speedy fall.

Dennis Currie and Matthew Kiegan, two


  ― 143 ―
of the original bush-rangers, surrendered on the Monday following”.

On Wednesday, a coroner's inquest was held on the body of James Geary, who died of the wound received in the affair at Tea-tree Brush. Verdict, Homicide in furtherance of public justice”.

Jones, a principal of the banditti, was shot in the beginning of August, in the neighbourhood of Swanport, which is on the eastern shore. For some days they had not been heard of; but by the extraordinary exertions of Serjeant M'Carthy and his party of the 46th regiment, were tracked and overtaken at the above place; on which occasion Jones was killed on the spot by a ball through the head. A prisoner of the name of Holmes was by the bush-ranger's fire, wounded in two places, but we do not hear mortally”.

On the Sunday evening after the above affair, some of the villains effected a robbery at Clarence Plains; but became so excessively intemperate from intoxication as to quarrel among themselves; the consequence was, that another of the gang of the name of Rollards, having been most severely


  ― 144 ―
bruised and beaten by his associates fell into the hands of a settler, and was by him taken a prisoner into Hobart Town. White and Johnson, two others of the gang, were apprehended by Serjeant M'Carthy's party, on Thursday the 14th of August, being conducted to their haunts by a native woman, distinguished by the name of Black Mary, and another girl”.

After the above successes in reducing the number of these persons, some of them still continued out, on the 16th of August, as appears from a report published: of the old bush-rangers, Septon, Collyer, Coine, and Brune, also Watts, who kept separate from the rest, and Michael Howe, who had before delivered himself up, and after remaining some weeks in Hobart Town, took again to the woods, from a dread, as was imagined, of ultimately being called to answer for his former offences. At this period also, there were two absentees from George Town, Port Dalrymple; a number of the working hands having gone from that settlement shortly before, all of whom had returned to their duty but these two. White, Rollards, and Peck, were about this time under a reward of sixty guineas for their apprehension, for an attempt to commit a robbery at


  ― 145 ―
Clarence Plains: Peck was a freeman, the other two prisoners.”

By the 6th of September, nearly the whole of the absentees of whatever description had either surrendered or been apprehended; and upon this day a proclamation was issued offering the following rewards: for the apprehension of Michael Howe, one hundred guineas; for George Watts, eighty guineas; and for Brune, the Frenchman, fifty guineas; and in consequence of these prompt and efficacious arrangements, additional captures had been made, which placed it nearly beyond a doubt that Howe is almost, if not the only individual of the desperate gangs now at large.”

This latter assertion, however, does not appear to have been correct; for in a Sydney Gazette of the 25th of October, of the same year, we have the following account of the apprehension and surrender of some others of this banditti, and of an unsuccessful attempt to take Michael Howe, which will tend to elucidate the desperate character of this ruffian.

“Several persons have arrived as witnesses on the prosecution of offenders transmitted


  ― 146 ―
for trial by the Pilot; two of whom are charged with wilful murder, viz. Richard Collyer, as a principal in the atrocious murder of the late William Carlisle and James O'Berne, who were shot by a banditti of bush-rangers at the settlement of New Norfolk, on the 24th of April, 1815; the particulars whereof were published in the Sydney Gazette of the 20th of the following May. The other prisoner for murder is John Hilliard, who was also one of the banditti of bush-rangers; but being desirous of giving himself up, determined previously by force or guile, to achieve some exploit, that might place the sincerity of his contrition beyond doubt. Accident soon brought the above Collyer, together with Peter Septon, another of the banditti, within his power. He attacked and killed Septon, and wounded Collyer, who nevertheless got away, but was soon apprehended. It is for the killing of Septon, he is therefore to be tried. Four of the prisoners sent by this vessel are for sheep stealing. Another of the late banditti, George Watts, is come up also, but under no criminal charge, as we are informed, he having been desperately wounded by Michael Howe, in an attempt assisted by William Drew, to take him into Hobart Town a prisoner; but in


  ― 147 ―
which exertion Drew was shot dead by that desperate offender, and the survivor Watts nearly killed also.”

I have been thus copious in extracts from the Sydney Gazette, to shew the lamentable state of danger and anarchy in which the colonists on Van Diemen's Land have been kept by an inconsiderable banditti; who, from the imbecility of the local government, have been enabled to continue for many years in a triumphant career of violence and impunity. This iniquitous and formidable association may, indeed, be considered as crushed for the moment, although the most desperate member of it is still at large. But what pledge have the well disposed part of the inhabitants, that a band equally atrocious will not again spring up, and endanger the general peace and security? What guarantee, in fact, have they that this very ruffian, the soul and center of the late combination, will not serve as a rallying point to the profligate, and again collect around him a circle of robbers and murderers as desperate and bloody as the miscreants who have been annihilated? And can the pursuits of industry quietly proceed under the harassing dread which this constant liability to outrage and depredation must inspire? There is no principle less controvertible than that the subject has the same claims on the


  ― 148 ―
government for support and protection, as they have on him, for obedience and fidelity. The compact is as binding on the one party, as on the other; and it is really discreditable to the established character of this country, that any part of its dominions should have continued for so long a period, the scene of such flagrant enormities, merely from the want of a sufficient military force to ensure the due administration of the laws, and to maintain the public tranquillity.

Climate, &c.

The climate of this island is equally healthy, and much more congenial to the European constitution, than that of Port Jackson. The north-west winds, which are there productive of such violent variations of temperature, are here unknown; and neither the summers, nor winters, are subject to any great extremes of heat, or cold. The frosts, indeed, are much more severe, and of much longer duration; and the mountains with which this island abounds, are covered with snow during the greater part of the year; but in the vallies it never lingers on the ground more than a few hours. Upon an average, the mean difference of temperature, between these settlements and those on New Holland, (I speak of such as are


  ― 149 ―
to the eastward of the Blue Mountains; for the country to the westward of them, it has been already stated, is equally cold with any part of Van Diemen's Land,) may be estimated at ten degrees of Fahrenheit, at all seasons of the year.

The prevailing diseases are the same as at Port Jackson: i. e. phthisis, and dysentery; but the former is not so common. Rheumatic complaints, however, which are scarcely known there, exist here to a considerable extent.

Soil, &c.

In this island, as in New Holland, there is every diversity of soil, but certainly in proportion to the surface of the two countries, this contains, comparatively, much less of an indifferent quality. Large tracts of land perfectly free from timber or underwood, and covered with the most luxuriant herbage, are to be found in all directions; but more particularly in the environs of Port Dalrymple. This sort of land is invariably of the very best description, and millions of acres still remain unappropriated, which are capable of being instantly converted to all the purposes of husbandry. There the colonist has no expence to incur


  ― 150 ―
in clearing his farm: he is not compelled to a great preliminary out-lay of capital, before he can expect a considerable return; he has only to set fire to the grass, to prepare his land for the immediate reception of the plough-share; so that, if he but possess a good team of horses, or oxen, with a set of harness, and a couple of substantial ploughs, he has the main requisites for commencing an agricultural establishment, and for ensuring a comfortable subsistence for himself and family
.

To this great superiority which these southern settlements may claim over the parent colony, may be superadded two other items of distinction, which are perhaps of equal magnitude and importance. First, The rivers here have sufficient fall in them to prevent any excessive accumulation of water, from violent or continued rains; and are consequently free from those awful and destructive inundations to which all its rivers are perpetually subject. Here, therefore, the industrious colonist may settle on the banks of a navigable river, and enjoy all the advantages of sending his produce to market by water, without running the constant hazard of having the fruits of his labour, the golden promise of the year, swept away in an hour by a capricious and domineering element. Secondly, The seasons are more


  ― 151 ―
regular and defined, and those great droughts which have been so frequent at Port Jackson, are altogether unknown. In the years 1813, 1814, and 1815, when the whole face of the country there was literally burnt up, and vegetation completely at a stand still from the want of rain, an abundant supply of it fell here, and the harvests, in consequence, were never more productive. Indeed, since these settlements were first established, a period of fifteen years, the crops have never sustained any serious detriment from an insufficiency of rain; whereas, in the parent colony, there have been in the thirty-one years that have elapsed since its foundation, I may venture to say, half a dozen dearths, occasioned by drought, and at least as many arising from floods.

The circumstance, therefore, of Van Diemen's Land being thus exempt from those calamitous consequences, which are so frequent in New Holland, from a superabundance of rain in the one instance, and a deficiency of it in the other, is a most important point of consideration, for all such as hesitate in their choice betwixt the two countries; and is well worthy the most serious attention of those who are desirous of emigrating to one or the other of


  ― 152 ―
them, with a view to become mere agriculturists.

In the system of agriculture pursued in the two colonies, there is no difference, save that the Indian corn, or maize, is not cultivated here, because the climate is too cold to bring this grain to maturity. Barley and oats, however, arrive at much greater perfection, and afford the inhabitants a substitute, although by no means an equivalent, for this highly valuable product. The wheat, too, which is raised here, is of much superior description to the wheat grown in any of the districts at Port Jackson, and will always command in the Sydney market, a difference of price sufficiently great to pay for the additional cost of transport. The average produce, also, of land here, is greater, although it does not exceed, perhaps not equal the produce of the rich flooded lands on the banks of the Hawkesbury and Nepean. A gentleman who resided many years at Port Dalrymple, estimates the average produce of the crops at that settlement as follows: Wheat, thirty bushels per acre; barley, forty-five bushels per ditto; oats, he does not know, but say sixty bushels per ditto. This estimate is not at all calculated to impress the English farmer with as favourable an opinion of the fertility of this settlement as it merits; but


  ― 153 ―
if he only witnessed the slovenly mode of tillage which is practised there, he would be surprised not that the average produce of the crops is so small, but that it is so great. If the same land had the benefit of the system of agriculture that prevails throughout the county of Norfolk, it may be safely asserted that its produce would be doubled. The land on the upper banks of the river Derwent and at Pitt-water, is equally fertile; but the average produce of the crops on the whole of the cultivated districts belonging to this settlement, is at least one-fifth less than at Port Dalrymple.

These settlements do not contain either such a variety or abundance of fruit as the parent colony. The superior coldness of their climate sufficiently accounts for the former deficiency, and the greater recency of their establishment for the latter. The orange, citron, guava, loquet, pomegranate, and many other fruits which attain the greatest perfection at Port Jackson, cannot be produced here at all without having recourse to artificial means; while many more, as the peach, nectarine, grape, &c. only arrive at a very inferior degree of maturity. On the other hand, as has been already noticed, the apple, currant, gooseberry, and indeed all those fruits for which the climate of the parent colony is too warm, are raised here without difficulty.




  ― 154 ―

The system of rearing and fattening cattle is perfectly analogous to that which is pursued at Port Jackson. The natural grasses afford an abundance of pasturage at all seasons of the year, and no provision of winter provender, in the shape either of hay or artificial food, is made by the settler for his cattle; yet, notwithstanding this palpable omission, and the greater length and severity of the winters, all manner of stock attain there a much larger size than at Port Jackson. Oxen from three to four years old average here about 700 lbs. and wethers from two to three years old, from 80 to 90 lbs.; while there oxen of the same age, do not average more than 500 lbs. and wethers not more than 40 lbs. At Port Dalrymple it is no uncommon occurrence for yearly lambs to weigh from 100 to 120 lbs. and for three year old wethers to weigh 150 lbs. and upwards; but this great disproportion of weight arises in some measure from the greater part of the sheep at this settlement, having become, from constant crossing, nearly of the pure Teeswater breed. Still the superior richness of the natural pastures in these southern settlements, is without doubt the main cause of the increased weight at which both sheep and cattle arrive; since there is both a kindlier and larger breed of cattle at Port Jackson, which nevertheless, neither weighs as heavy, nor affords as much suet as the


  ― 155 ―
cattle there. This is an incontrovertible proof that the natural grasses possess much more nutritive and fattening qualities in this colony than in the other; and the superior clearness of the country is quite sufficient to account for this circumstance, without taking into the estimate the additional fact, that up to a certain parallel of latitude, to which neither the one nor the other of the countries in question extends, the superior adaptation of the colder climate for the rearing and fattening of stock, is quite unquestionable.

The price of provisions is about on a par in the two colonies, or if there be any difference, it is somewhat lower here. Horses three or four years back were considerably dearer than at Port Jackson; but large importations of them have been made in consequence, and it is probable that their value is before this time completely equalized.

The wages of ordinary labourers are at least thirty per cent. higher, and of mechanics, fifty per cent. higher than in the parent colony; a disproportion solely attributable to the very unequal and injudicious distribution that has been made of the convicts.

The progress made by these settlements in manufactures,


  ― 156 ―
is too inconsiderable to deserve notice, further than as it affords a striking proof in how much more flourishing and prosperous a condition they are than the parent colony.

The commerce carried on by the colonists is of the same nature as that which is maintained by their brethren at Port Jackson. Like these, they have no staple export to offer in exchange for the various commodities which they import from foreign countries, and are obliged principally to rely on the expenditure of the government for the means of procuring them. Their annual income may be taken as follows:

             
£  s d
Money expended by the government for the pay and subsistence of the civil and military, and for the support of such of the convicts as are victualled from the king's stores,  £30,000 
Money expended by foreign shipping,  3,000 
Wheat, &c. exported to Port Jackson,  4,000 
Exports collected by the merchants of the settlement,  5,000 
Sundries,  2,000 
Total,  £44,000 




  ― 157 ―

The duties collected in these southern settlements, are exactly on the same scale as at Port Jackson, and amount to about £5,000 annually, inclusive of the per centage allowed the collectors of them.




  ― 158 ―

A general Statement of the Land in Cultivation, &c. the Quantities of Stock, &c. as accounted for at the General Muster in New South Wales, taken by His Excellency Governor Macquarie, and Deputy Commissary General Allan, commencing the 6th October, and finally closing the 25th November, 1817, inclusive; with an exact Account of the same at Van Diemen's Land.

     
Acres in  Bushels of 
Wheat.  Ground prepared for Maize.  Barley.  Oats.  Pease and Beans.  Potatoes.  Garden and Orchard.  Cleared ground.  Total   Horses.  Horned cattle.  Sheep.  Hogs.  Wheat.  Maize. 
Total  18,462  11,714  856½  156¾  204¼  559  863  47,564¼  235,003¼  3,072  44,753  170,920  17,842  24,05  1506 

N. B. Total Number of Inhabitants in the Colony, including Van Diemen's Land, 20,379.

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