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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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,


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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


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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.


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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,


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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


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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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