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.

  ― 27 ―

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

  ― 28 ―
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

  ― 29 ―
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,

  ― 30 ―
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.

  ― 31 ―

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