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Cow Pastures.

Of these “the cow pastures” rank first in


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


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


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

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