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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


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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


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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


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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


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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.




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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


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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,


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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 




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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.




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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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