[Originally published as part of the ‘Narrative of an expedition into Central Australia’.]
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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Duties of an explorer — geographical position of South Australia — description of its coast line — sea mouth of the Murray — entered by Mr. Pullen — risk of the attempt — beaching — Rosetta Harbour — Victor Harbour — Nepean Bay — Kangaroo Island — Kingscote — Capt. Lee’s instructions for Port Adelaide — Port Adelaide — removal to the North Arm — Harbour Master’s report — Yorke’s Peninsula — Port Lincoln — Capt. Lee’s instructions — Boston Island — Boston Bay — Coffin’s Bay — Mr. Cameron sent along the coast — his report — position of Port Adelaide.
Plains of Adelaide — bridges over the Torrens — site of Adelaide — government house buildings and churches — schools — police — roads — the Gawler — Barossa range — the Murray belt — Moorundi — natives on the Murray — distant stock stations — Mount Gambier district — its richness — ascent to Mount Lofty — Mount Barker district — scene in Hindmarsh Valley — proportion of soil in the province — pastoral and agricultural — Port Lincoln — climate of South Australia — range of the thermometer — salubrity.
Seasons — cause why South Australia has fine grain — extent of cultivation — amount of stock — the Burra-Burra mine — its magnitude — abundance of minerals — absence of coal — smelting ore — immense profits of the Burra-Burra — effect of the mines on the labour market — reluctance of the lower orders to emigrate — difference between Canada and Australia — the Australian colonies — state of society — the middle classes — the squatters — the Germans — the natives — author’s interviews with them — instances of just feeling — their bad qualities — personal appearance — young settlers on the Murray — conclusion.
Duties of an explorer — geographical position of South Australia — description of its coast line — sea mouth of the Murray — entered by Mr. Pullen — risk of the attempt — beaching — Rosetta Harbour — Victor Harbour — Nepean Bay — Kangaroo Island — Kingscote — Capt. Lee’s instructions for Port Adelaide — Port Adelaide — removal to the North Arm — Harbour Master’s report — Yorke’s Peninsula — Port Lincoln — Capt. Lee’s instructions — Boston Island — Boston Bay — Coffin’s Bay — Mr. Cameron sent along the coast — his report — position of Port Adelaide.
No mariner ever shook the reefs from his sails, on the abatement of the storm, under the fury of which his vessel had been labouring, with more grateful feelings than those with which I turn from the dreary and monotonous wastes I have been describing, to the contemplation of fairer and more varied scenes. My weary task has been performed, and however uninteresting my narrative may have proved to the general reader, I would yet hope, that those who shall hereafter enter the field of Australian discovery, will profit from my experience, and be spared many of the inconveniences and sufferings to which I was unavoidably exposed. They may rest assured, that it is only by steady perseverance and unceasing attention, by due precaution and a mild discipline, that they will succeed in such an undertaking as that in which I was engaged. That unless they are fortunate enough to secure such an assistant as I had in Mr. Browne, their single eye must be over every thing, to study the features of the country through which they are passing, to keep their horses and cattle always within view, to prevent disputes in their camp, and to husband their provisions with the utmost care, to ascertain from time to time the quantity they may have on hand, and to regulate their consumption accordingly. Few difficulties present themselves to the explorer in journeying down a river, for that way is smooth before him; it is when he quits its banks, and traverses a country, on the parched surface of which little or no water is to be found, that his trials commence, and he finds himself obliged to undergo that personal toil, which sooner or later will lay him prostrate. Strictly speaking, my work should close here. I am not, however, unmindful of the suggestion I made in my Preface, that a short notice of South Australia at the close of my journal would not be out of place.
In the following pages, therefore, it is proposed to give some account of that province, from whence, as the reader is aware, I took my departure, before commencing my recent labours. Its circumstances and prospects have, I know, of late, been frequently brought before the public, but, I trust, nevertheless, that my observations will carry something of novelty, if not of interest, and utility with them.
South Australia, then, the youngest of the colonies that have been established round the shores of the Australian Continent, is situate, as its name would imply, upon its southern coast. It extends from the 132nd to the 141st degree of longitude east from Greenwich, and runs up northwards into the interior to the 26th parallel of latitude. The district of Port Phillip bounds it on the east, for which reason, the fixing of the eastern boundary line between those two fine provinces has of late been a point of great interest and importance. Mr. Tyers, an able and intelligent officer, was employed by the Government of New South Wales, primarily to determine the longitude of the mouth of the Glenelg, and from his triangulations and observations it would appear that the 141st meridian falls on the coast about a mile and a half to the eastward of it. Subsequent observations, taken by Captain Stokes, in command of Her Majesty’s surveying ship, the Beagle, differ slightly from the result of Mr. Tyers’ observations, but they prove beyond doubt, the care and accuracy with which the latter officer carried on his survey. The point, has since, I believe, been finally recognised by the governments of Sydney and Adelaide, and the boundary line been marked to the distance of 123 miles from the coast. The party employed in this useful undertaking, however, was obliged to relinquish it for a time, in consequence of heavy rains; but it is not probable that any dispute will hereafter arise on the question. If the line could have been extended to the Murray river, it would have been as well, but the desert country beyond it is valueless to civilised man. Taking it for granted, then, that the S.E. angle of the province of South Australia has been fixed, we shall in the first instance proceed along its sea line, and notice any thing worthy of observation, before we enter into a detail as to the character of the country itself.
From the mouth of the Glenelg the coast of South Australia trends to the westward as far as Cape Northumberland in long. 140 degrees 37 minutes and in lat. 38 degrees;† from Cape Northumberland it turns to the N.N.W., keeping that general direction for more than 100 miles. Between the last mentioned Cape and Cape Morard des Galles in lat. 36 1/2 degrees, there are several bays, two only of which, Rivoli Bay, immediately to the north of Cape Lannes, and Guichen Bay, a little to the south of Cape Bernouilli, have more particularly drawn the attention of the local Government, rendered necessary in consequence of the rapid settlement of the back country. Recent surveys have enhanced the value of these two bays, and townships have been laid out at each. That at Rivoli bay being called Grey Town, that of Guichen bay Robe Town. At the latter, there is a resident magistrate and a party of mounted police. Many allotments have been sold in both towns, and although the bays offer but little protection to large vessels, they are of great importance to the colonial trade and to the settlers occupying the beautiful and fertile country in the neighbourhood of Mounts Gambier and Shanck. From Cape Morard des Galles, a low dreary and sandy beach extends for five leagues beyond the sea mouth of the Murray, a distance of more than 100 miles. This beach, which varies in breadth from one to three miles, conceals the waters of the Coorong, and the depressed and barren country beyond it is completely hid from view by the bright sand-hills on this long and narrow strip of land.
† The reader will be good enough to bear in mind that the Longitudes in this work are all east of Greenwich, and that the Latitudes are south.
The sea mouth of the Murray, famous for the tragical events that have occurred near it, and which give a melancholy interest to the spot, is in long. 138 degrees 56 minutes and in lat. 35 degrees 32 minutes. No one could, I am sure, look on the foaming waters of that wild line of sand-hills through which it has forced a channel, without deep feelings of awe and emotion. Directly open to the Southern Ocean, the swell that rolls into Encounter Bay, is of the heaviest description. The breakers rise to the height of fifteen or eighteen feet before they burst in one unbroken line as far as the eye can see, and as the southerly is the most prevailing wind on that part of the Australian coast, it is only during the summer season, and after several days of northerly wind that the sea subsides, and the roar of breakers ceases for a time. The reader will perhaps bear in mind that the channel of the Goolwa connects Lake Victoria with Encounter Bay, the sea mouth of the Murray being the outlet through which its waters are discharged into the ocean.
The channel of the Goolwa (now called Port Pullen, in compliment to an officer of that name on the marine survey staff of the province, who succeeded, after several disappointments, in taking a small cutter through that narrow passage, and navigating her across the lake into the Murray River, as high as the settlement of Moorundi) is to the westward of the sea mouth as the Coorong is to the eastward. ‡
‡ The compliment thus paid to Mr. Pullen, who is now employed on the expedition to the North Pole, in search of Sir John Franklin, by Col. Gawler, the then Governor, was well merited, as a reward for the perseverance and patience he had shewn on the occasion — for those only who have been at the spot can form an idea of the disturbed and doubtful character of the place, and the risk there must have been in the attempt to enter such a passage for the first time.
But although Mr. Pullen succeeded in getting into the Goolwa, it was only under the most favourable circumstances, nor will the sea mouth of the Murray ever, I fear, be available for navigable purposes. How far it may be practicable to steamers, I would not hazard an opinion, nor is the subject at the present moment one of much importance, for the country to the eastward of the ranges is not yet sufficiently located to call for such a speculation.
The sea mouth of the Murray is about the third of a mile in breadth, and when the river is flooded a strong current runs out of it with such rapidity, that the tide setting in at the same time causes a short and bubbling sea. It took Captain Barker nine minutes and fifty-eight seconds to swim across it on the fatal occasion on which he lost his life — but he was obliged to go somewhat above the outlet, as the stream would otherwise have carried him amidst the breakers. The western shore is very low, but the eastern one is marked by a large sandhill, now called Barker’s Knoll, after that talented and amiable officer. From seaward, nothing but a wild line of sand-hills meets the view, such as few mariners would venture to approach, and through which fewer still could hope to find a passage into the calmer waters of Lake Victoria, so completely hidden is the entrance. It was only by patient watching indeed, that Mr. Pullen seized the opportunity by which he entered the Goolwa. He was not the first, however, who did so, as Captain Gill, the master of a small cutter that was unfortunately wrecked on the strand at some distance to the eastward of the outlet, was the first to come down the Coorong in his boat, in which he ultimately reached Victor Harbour, but he also had to remain three weeks under the sand-hills before he could venture forth. Some years prior to this, however, Sir John Jeffcott, the first judge of South Australia, and Captain Blenkensorf, the head of the fishery, both found a watery grave in attempting to pass from the Goolwa into Encounter Bay.
I speak more particularly on the point, however, because, in 1838, during my first visit to the province, I went with a party of hardy seamen, with the intention, if possible, of passing into the Goolwa from seaward. At Encounter Bay, Captain Hart, who had the superintendence of the fishery there, gave me his most experienced steersman, and a strong whale-boat. In this I left Victor harbour for Freeman’s Nob, a small rocky point in the very bight of Encounter Bay, where I remained until three a.m. of the next morning, when I started for the outlet under the most favourable auspices. A northerly wind had been blowing off the land for several days, and the sea was so tranquil that I had every hope of success. I had five leagues to pull, and keeping about a mile from the shore, swept rapidly along it. We were still about four miles from the inlet when the sun rose over it, as if encouraging us onwards. On approaching it at low water, I tried in vain to enter. The sea was breaking heavily right across the entrance from one side to the other, and after several ineffectual attempts to run in, I came to an anchor, close to the outer line of breakers, hoping that the sea would subside at high water and that we should then have less difficulty. We had not, however, been in this position more than half an hour, when a heavy southerly swell set in; from a deep blue the water became green, and the wind suddenly flew round to the S.W. Before we could weigh and stand out from the shore, several seas had broken outside of us, and in less than ten minutes the whole coast, to the distance of more than a mile from the shore, was white with foam, and it seemed clear that a gale was coming on. Under these circumstances I determined on returning to the little harbour from which we had started in the morning, but the wind being directly against us, we made very little head. “We shall never get to the Nob,” said Mr. Witch, who had the steer oar, to me; “it blows too hard, Sir.” “What are we to do, then?” said I. “Why, Sir,” he replied, “we must either beach or run out to sea,” “We will beach, then,” I said; “it is better to try that than to do any thing else.” Mr Witch evinced some surprise at my decision, but made no remark. “You had better select your place,” I observed, “and be careful to keep the boat’s head well on to the seas.” “You need not fear me, Sir,” said the hardy seaman; “I am accustomed to such work. It looks worse than it really is.” The sea, however, was now breaking full a mile and a half from the shore, and in looking towards it I observed a solitary horseman riding slowly along, as if watching our movements. At length Mr. Witch said that he thought we were opposite to a favourable spot, on which I directed him to put the boat’s head towards the shore, and to keep her end on as he went in. Round we flew, and in a moment after we were running at railway speed on the top of a heavy wave. “Steady, men,” said Mr. Witch: “Steady all,” and on we went; but looking round him a moment after —"Back, all. Back, all,” he cried. The men did as they were ordered, and the boat’s way was stopped. Her stern rose almost perpendicularly over the prow, and the next moment fell into the trough of the sea. The wave, transparent as bottle glass, rushed past us, and topping, as it is called, burst at our very bow, in a broad sheet of foam. “Give way, my lads,” was the next order of the watchful steersman, as he again cast his eyes behind him. “Give way, my lads. Give way, all.” “Steady, men,” he called, as if doubtful of the result of the coming wave. I thought I saw paleness on the face of the rowers, but they pulled regularly and well, and a thundering sound soon told us we had escaped the threatening sea that had come so rapidly up. I do not know if I am doing justice to the occurrence. There was more of apparent than real danger in it, and I myself was less nervous, because I had not long before been accustomed to the heavy surf of Norfolk Island. It was, however, a moment of great excitement. We had literally shot towards the shore, and were now within fifty yards of it, when Mr. Witch said to me, “Take care of yourself, Sir; we shall catch it at last.”
I turned round, and saw a large roller close upon us, just on the point of topping — I had scarcely time to stoop and give my back to it when it came upon us, and I never had such a thump in my life. The boat was filled in a moment and we were all thrown out — Mr. Witch, who had been standing, was hurled to a great distance, but the men were up in a moment, the water being about four feet deep, and with admirable dexterity ran her on the beach. I do not remember ever having been in so strong a breeze. The reader may form some idea of it when I assure him that the wind rolled the boat over and over as if she had been as light as a carpenter’s chip, and the sand and pebbles came with such violence in our faces, that we were obliged to retreat behind the sand hills until it moderated.
It was my friend Mr. Strangways who had accompanied me from Adelaide, whose figure we had seen on the beach, and he assured me that we seemed to fly as we approached him.
The wind having apparently flown permanently round to the south, and it being hopeless to expect that the sea would subside for many days, I hauled the boat over the sand hills, and launching her in the Goolwa, tried to row through the outlet to sea, but after remaining for eight days, and having my boat four times swamped, I was forced to give up the attempt as I had no time to spare. The distance between my outer and inner points might have been a cable’s length. In endeavouring to pass out I shoaled to a quarter less one, having kept the lead constantly going. I abandoned the task therefore under an impression that the outlet was not navigable, yet Mr. Pullen succeeded in taking a small cutter into the Goolwa with perfect safety. I cannot but conclude therefore that it has a shifting bar, and that it will present difficulties to regular navigation that will only be surmounted by a better knowledge of its locality, and in all probability by artificial means.
From Freeman’s Nob the coast line turns southwards to Rosetta Head, a bold and prominent conical hill, from the summit of which the whalers look for their game. Under the lea of Rosetta Head there is a small harbour called Rosetta Harbour. It is separated by a rocky island called Granite Island, and a reef that is visible at low water, and connects Granite Island with the main land from Victor Harbour, so called after H.M.’s ship Victor, when surveying in that quarter. Neither of these harbours however are considered secure, although they are protected from all but south-east winds.
It was in Rosetta Harbour, that during the early settlement of the Colony the South Australian Company’s ship South Australian, was driven on shore and lost. The John Pirie, a strongly built schooner, also belonging to the Company, had well nigh shared her fate. This little vessel was lying astern of the Australian when she went ashore, with the reef close astern of her. In this fearful position her anchors began to drag, and her destruction appeared inevitable, when her commander, Captain Martin, determined on attempting to take her over the reef, it being high water at the time. He accordingly cut his cable, set his sails, and ran his vessel on the rocks. Four times she struck and was heaved as often over them, until at length she floated in the deeper water of Victor Harbour, and found her safety under the lea of the very danger from which she expected destruction. It was a bold resolve and deserved the success that attended it. I always feel a pleasure in recording such events, not only from feelings of admiration, but because they are examples for men to follow when placed in equally hazardous circumstances, and shew that firmness and presence of mind are equal to almost every emergency. The anchorage in Victor Harbour is under the lea of Granite Island, but I believe it is foul and rocky, and until both it and Rosetta Harbour shall be better known, the seaman will enter them with caution. Encounter Bay indeed, is not a place into which the stranger should venture, as he would find it extremely difficult to beat out to sea with a contrary wind. Still no doubt vessels may find refuge at these places from strong west and south-west winds, but I have always understood that it is better for a ship encountering a gale at the entrance of Backstairs Passage rather to keep at sea, than seek shelter in any contiguous harbour.
There is room for two or three tolerably sized vessels in Victor Harbour, which is in longitude 138 [188 in published text] degrees 38 minutes 0 seconds and in latitude 35 degrees 32 minutes, and in certain seasons of the year it may be deemed secure, if it were not liable to other objections, but I have heard it stated by an experienced seaman, one whose intimate knowledge of this part of the coast of South Australia is indisputable, that there is anchorage under the lea of Freeman’s Nob, and a small island off it, sufficient for two or three vessels of 250 or 300 tons, altogether preferable to either of those I have mentioned, as being more sheltered, and having better holding ground — but we must not forget that it is deeper in the bay, and there would consequently be a greater difficulty in beating out; but the truth is that the importance and capabilities of these harbours will only be developed as the wants of the colonists render it necessary for them to have ports in this vicinity. When the country to the eastward of the mountains shall be more thickly peopled, and when the rich and fertile valleys of the Inman, the Hindmarsh and Currency Creek, and the available country between the two last, be more generally cultivated, and when the mines at the Reedy Creek and other places are at full work, the want of a harbour at Encounter Bay will be sufficiently apparent.
The principal whale fishery on the coast of South Australia is in Encounter Bay, and has, I believe, of late years proved as advantageous a speculation to those who have carried it on as could be expected; profits are of course dependent on contingencies, as the nature of the season and the number of whales that may visit the coast: but the fishery at Encounter Bay has certainly been as successful as any other on the coast, and would have been more so if the ground had not been intruded upon. As a source of colonial industry, and as a proof of commercial enterprise, I should regret to see this bold and hardy occupation abandoned. See Appendix.
From Rosetta Head the line of coast again trends for a short distance to the west, and forms, together with the opposite shore of Kangaroo Island, the Backstairs Passage, or eastern entrance into St. Vincent’s Gulf, of which Cape Jervis is the N.W. point. It is here that the more important navigation of the South Australian seas commences. The line of coast I have already described is not sufficiently known to be approached by the stranger without caution, nevertheless the several bays and harbours I have mentioned may offer better shelter and greater convenience than I am able to point out.
One of the first establishments, if not the very first, of the South Australian Company was on Kangaroo Island, on the shores of Nepean Bay. Here the town of Kingscote was laid out, and some very good houses built, which are now falling to dilapidation and decay, since it has been abandoned by the Company’s servants for some years. Nevertheless Kingscote is a very pretty sea-port town, and the harbour is undoubtedly good. The bay is large enough to hold a number of ships, and is secure from all winds, being almost completely land-locked. The water inside moreover is smooth, since the bay is protected by a long spit of sand, whereby the roughness of the outer sea does not affect it, and vessels consequently lie there during heavy weather without any apparent motion. It is to be regretted, that, with such advantages, Kingscote Harbour should have any drawback, but when we have given credit for its capabilities as a harbour, we have done all, and even as a harbour, sailors are divided in opinion, whether or not American River, or a small bay, five miles to the south-east of it, are not to be preferred. In Nepean Bay there is a deficiency of water, which is not the case in either of the last mentioned places. The soil is equally good in the neighbourhood of all three, but Kingscote having been occupied, the ground has been cleared of the dense brush that grew on it in a state of nature, and some of the most productive gardens in the Province are to be found there. It is astonishing what quantities of the finest onions are sent from Kingscote, with other produce, to Adelaide. The island is, however, so generally and so heavily covered with brushwood, that although the soil is good in many places, it has been found impracticable to clear. On the general character of Kangaroo Island, I would observe, that, from the reports of those best acquainted with it, nine-tenths of the surface is covered with dwarf gum-trees, or heavy low brush, that there are no plains of any consequence, no harbours excepting those I have already mentioned — that water is generally scarce, and the best land is most heavily wooded and perfectly impenetrable; but, if it is thus useless and unavailable for pastoral and agricultural purposes, Kingscote, being so short a distance from Adelaide, holds out every inducement as a watering-place to those who, desiring change of air and sea-bathing, would wish to leave the heated neighbourhood of the capital during the summer months. It is a disadvantage to them that there are few places on the shores of St. Vincent’s Gulf, on which bathing places could be established, but the change of air at Kingscote would be as great a benefit as sea-bathing itself, for hot winds are not felt there, but a cool and refreshing breeze is almost constantly blowing. As a watering-place therefore, it may, one day or other, be of importance, when the convenience of steam-boats shall render the passage from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island, like a trip across the Channel. But it is to be observed that whatever disadvantages the island may possess, its natural position is of the highest importance, since it lies as a breakwater at the bottom of St. Vincent’s Gulf, and prevents the effects of the heavy southerly seas from being felt in it. There is, perhaps, no gulf, whether it is entered by the eastern or western passage, the navigation of which is so easy as that of St. Vincent, and so clear of dangers, that it can only be by the most fortuitous circumstances, or the most culpable neglect, that any accident can befal a ship in its passage up to Adelaide.
Anxious to make this portion of my work as useful as possible, and feeling assured that the remarks I have hitherto made will only lead the seaman to adopt those measures of precaution in approaching any of the harbours and bays I have mentioned, our knowledge of which is still limited, I shall here quote a passage from a small book of Sailing Instructions for South Australia, published some years ago by Captain Lee, an experienced mariner, for the guidance of commanders of vessels bound to Port Adelaide. I shall only observe that, in running up the Gulf it is extremely difficult to recognise the peak of Mount Lofty; but a pile of stones has been erected upon it, which is easily visible through a good telescope, and that the pilot station spoken of by Captain Lee as being five miles from Glenelg has been abandoned, and the pilots now board ships from the light vessel moored off the bar.
“Vessels from England bound to Port Adelaide, should, after leaving the Cape of Good Hope, run to the eastward in 37 degrees or 38 degrees south latitude, until they arrive in longitude 132 degrees east, when they may haul to the northward, so as to get into latitude 36 degrees 25 minutes, in longitude 135 degrees 30 minutes; then steer to the north-east, and make Kangaroo Island, passing between which and a small island named Althorpe’s Island, they will enter Investigator’s Straits. These Straits form the western entrance to St Vincent’s Gulf, and are so free from danger, that it seems almost wonderful how any vessel can get on shore without gross negligence. The only danger that can possibly affect a vessel is the Troubridge Shoal, and this, by a little attention to the lead, may be easily avoided, as on the south side of the shoal the water deepens gradually from four to seventeen or eighteen fathoms. The shores on the side of Kangaroo Island are bold and rocky, whilst on the north side, on Yorke’s Peninsula, they are low and sandy. In working up in the night, stand no nearer to the north shore than nine fathoms, or to the southward than twelve fathoms. You will have from sixteen to twenty fathoms in the fair way — fine grey sand, mixed with small pieces of shell. In working up St. Vincent’s Gulf, you may stand to the eastward in six fathoms, and towards the Troubridge Shoal in nine fathoms. The prevailing winds are from the south-west to south-east, especially in the summer months, when the sea breeze sets in about nine o’clock. The strength of tide in the Gulf is very irregular, with a strong south-west wind, the flood runs up at the rate of about two miles an hour, whilst with a northerly wind it is scarcely perceptible. The anchorage in Holdfast Bay is hardly safe in the winter months, as it is quite open to north-west, west, and south-west winds, which, when blowing hard, raise a short tumbling sea. The ground is a fine sand, almost covered with weeds, so that when the anchor once starts, the weeds being raked up under the crown, will in a great measure prevent its again holding. In the summer months it may be considered a perfectly safe anchorage, if due caution is exercised in giving the vessel cable in time. The best anchorage for a large vessel is with the summit of Mount Lofty, bearing east in six fathoms. A small vessel will lay better close in, just allowing her depth of water sufficient to ride in.
“The pilot station for Port Adelaide is about five miles north of Holdfast Bay. In running up keep in five fathoms, until abreast of the flag-staff on the beach, when a pilot will come on board. It is always high water in Port Adelaide morning and evening, and consequently low water in the middle of the day. In the present state of the harbour, no vessel drawing more than sixteen feet water ought to go into the port. Several very serious accidents have befallen vessels in this port, for which the harbour itself ought certainly to be held blameless.”
“Vessels,” he adds, “from Sydney, or from the eastward, bound to Port Adelaide, having arrived at Cape Howe, should shape a course for Hogan’s Group in Bass’ Straits, when off which, with a northerly wind, the best passage through the Straits is between Redondo and Wilson’s Promontory, because should a gale of wind come on from the north-west, as it almost invariably does commence in that quarter, they would have more drift to the south-east than if they passed through near Kent’s Group or Sir R. Curtis’s Island. It is also a great saving in distance. Having arrived off King’s Island, with a north wind, stand well out to the west or south-west, so as to keep well to the southward of Cape Northumberland, as the heavy gales from the north-west seldom last more than forty-eight hours, when they veer to the south-west, and fine weather ensues. Being abreast of Cape Northumberland, a south-west wind will be a favourable wind to proceed to Adelaide. Steer directly for the east end of Kangaroo Island, which you may pass at a distance of one mile; and if the wind is from the south or south-east, you may then steer across Backstairs Passage to Cape Jarvis; having arrived off which, proceed as directed before: should the wind be strong from south-west or west-south-west, keep Kangaroo Island close on board until abreast of Cape Jarvis, when you will have the Gulf open. Should it be night time or thick weather, and you have sighted Cape Willoughby at the entrance after passing that Cape, steer north-west fifteen miles, and you may lay to or run up north-east by east under snug sail until daylight. There are four rocks at the entrance of this passage, called the Pages; with a beating wind, you may pass on either side of them, but with a leading wind there is no necessity to approach them at all, as it is best to pass close round Cape Willoughby. Should the wind be so strong that a vessel could not carry sufficient canvas to fetch through the passage, it would be better for a stranger to stand out to the southward, rather than attempt to run into Encounter Bay. The anchorage in Encounter Bay is close round Granite Island, where a vessel may lay sheltered from all winds, save from south-east. There are several good anchorages where a vessel may run to, should she be caught in a gale of wind in Bass’ Straits: one behind Wilson’s Promontory, the corner inlet of Flinders; another in Western Port; two under King’s Island, besides several on the Van Diemen’s Land side, as Circular Head, George Town, Preservation Island, &c., the whole of which may be attained by a proper consideration of the chart; but it is always better, provided a vessel has sufficient sea room, to keep at sea than to run for an anchorage, as the sea will seldom hurt a good ship properly managed, and she is always ready to take advantage of any change that may take place.
“Should a gale of wind come on when a vessel is far to the westward of King’s Island, she may run for Portland Bay. In going in, you pass to the eastward of the St. Lawrence Islands, and haul directly in for the land west-north-west; keep along the south shore of the bay, at a distance of one mile, until you see the flag-staff at Mr. Henty’s; bring that to bear west, and you will have six fathoms water about three-quarters of a mile from shore.”
From Cape Jarvis the coast line tends to the north along the eastern shore of St. Vincent’s Gulf. The scenery, as you turn the point, is extremely diversified. Dark cliffs and small sandy bays, with grassy slopes almost to the water’s edge, succeed each other, backed by moderate hills, sparingly covered with trees, and broken into numerous valleys. Thus you pass Yankelilla, Rapid Bay, and Aldingis; but from Brighton the shore becomes low and sandy, and is backed by sand hummocks, that conceal the nearer country from the view, and enable you to see the tops of the Mount Lofty Range at a distance of from eleven to twelve miles.
Port Adelaide, a bar harbour, is about nine miles from Glenelg, and situate on the eastern bank of a large creek, penetrating the mangrove swamp by which the shore of the Gulf is thereabouts fringed. This creek is from ten to eleven miles in length. Its course for about two miles after you cross the bar is nearly east and west, but at that distance it turns to the south, and runs parallel to the coast; and there is an advantage in the direction it thus takes, that would not be apparent to the reader unless explained. It is, that, as the land breeze blows off the shore in the evening, and the sea breeze sets in in the morning vessels can leave the harbour, or run up to it as they are inward or outward bound.
The landing-place of the early settlers was too high up the creek, and was not only the cause of great inconvenience to the shipping, but of severe loss in stores and baggage to the settlers; but at the close of the year 1839, Mr. McLaren, the then manager of the South Australian Company commenced and finished a road across the swamp to a section of land belonging to his employers, that was situated much lower down the creek, and on which the present Port now stands. The road, which is two miles in length, cost the Company 12,000 pounds. It has, however, been transferred to the local Government, in exchange for 12,000 acres of land, that were considered equivalent to the sum it cost.
The removal of the Port to this place was undoubtedly a great public benefit; and whatever perspective advantages might have influenced Mr. McLaren on the occasion, he merited all due praise for having undertaken such a work at a time when the Government itself was unable to do so. Both the wharf and the warehouse belonging to the Company are very creditable buildings, as is the Custom House and the line of sheds erected by the Government; but the wharf attached to them is defective, and liable to injury, from the chafing of the tide between the piers, which are not placed so as to prevent its action. Mr. Phillips’ iron store is also one of a substantial description; but there was not, when I left the province, another building of any material value at the Port. Numerous wooden houses existed in the shape of inns, stables, etc.; but the best of these were unfortunately burnt down by a fire a few days before I embarked for Europe. Whether it is that a misgiving on the minds of the public as to the permanency of the Port has been the cause of, and prevented the erection of more substantial and better houses at Port Adelaide, it is difficult to say; but any one might have foreseen, that as the colony progressed, and its commerce increased, the Port would necessarily have to be moved to some part of the creek where there was deeper and broader water, for the convenience of the shipping. I felt assured, indeed, that the removal of the Port would take place sooner than was generally supposed. The following extract from the South Australian Gazette of the 4th of December last, will prove that I judged truly:—
“NEW ROAD TO THE NORTH ARM. — This road was commenced last Tuesday week; and at the rate at which the work is progressing, will be completed (except as regards the subsequent metalling and ballasting) within four months from the present time. The line adopted is the one which was proposed by Mr. Lindsay in 1840, as requiring less outlay in the original construction than either of the other lines proposed. Taking Adelaide as the starting point, the course will be either along the present Port Road between Hindmarsh and Bowden as far as section No. 407, thence along the cross track between that section and section No. 419 (preliminary), as far as the southeast corner of Mr. Mildred’s section, No. 421; then in a straight line through the last named section and Mr. Gilles’s, No. 2072, after leaving which it passes through an opening in the sand-hills, and then winds along the highest ground between the creeks, leaving the South Australian Company’s road about a mile on the left, till it joins the main road or street running through section G. at the North Arm; or through North Adelaide and along the road at the back of Bowden, parallel with the main Port Road as far as Mr. Torrens’ residence, to the south-east corner of Mr. Mildred’s section, thence through that section as before. The soil of the so-termed swamp, or rather marsh, is of the most favourable description for embanking and draining operations, consisting at the part of the line where the work has been commenced, of a good loam for the first spit, and then clay to the depth of eighteen inches or two feet, resting upon a stratum composed for the most part of shells of numberless shapes and sizes, which extends to the bottoms of the drains (four feet), being the level of high water at spring tides, and at about the same above the low-water level. The shelly stratum continues below the bottoms of the drains to an uncertain depth. From the commencement of the ‘Swamp’ to the Great Square or public reserve at the junction of the North Arm with the main channel of the Creek, the distance along the line of road is 4800 yards, or nearly two miles and three-quarters. The breadth of the road between the ditches will be 114 feet, or between three and four times the breadth of the Company’s road.”
If there is anything more justly a subject of congratulation to the Province than another, it is the commencement of the work thus notified. The road is now, in all probability, finished, and that part of the creek rendered available where these permanent improvements may be made, without the fear of any future change; and when the shores of the North Arm shall be lined by wharfs, and the more elevated portions of Torrens’ Island shall be covered with houses, few harbours will be able to boast of more picturesque beauty. There was something dreary in sailing up the creek with its dense and dark mangroves on either side, and no other object visible beyond them save the distant mountains; but the approach to the new Port will not fail to excite those pleasurable feelings in the heart of the stranger which give a colouring to every other object.
The removal of the port to the proposed locality will bring it within three miles of the bar, and will be of incalculable advantage to the shipping, since there will no longer be any delay in their putting to sea. The following letter, addressed by Captain Lipson, the Harbour-master, to the Colonial Secretary, in reference to the improvements that have been effected at the bar, will best explain its present state, and the description of vessels it will admit into the Port.
“Port, 6th July, 1847.
“SIR — In answer to your letter of this day’s date, requesting that I would report to you, for the information of the Legislative Council, what beneficial effects have been produced by the use of the mud barge in deepening the bar at the entrance of Port Adelaide, since the commencement of its operation, in the year 1845, up to the present date, also what additional depth of water, if any, has been obtained by the work alluded to.
“I have the honour to state, that at the commencement of the colony, her Majesty’s storeship ‘Buffalo’ was brought out by the then governor, Captain Hindmarsh, to be detained here nine months for the protection and convenience of the colonists. It was, therefore, much wished to have her inside the bar; but after attending and carefully watching successive spring-tides, it was given up as impracticable, she drawing fifteen feet. The Governor then appointed a board to examine the bar, consisting of the masters of the ‘Buffalo,’ ‘John Renwick,’ and another, who, in their report, stated as their opinion, that no vessel above 300 tons ought to be brought into the harbour; however, last week two vessels exceeding 600 tons have been brought up to the wharf. But the most beneficial effect is now felt from a ship being able to cross the outer bar so much sooner on the tide than before, thereby having sufficient time to take her round the bar, and, if moderate, to beat up and anchor at the North Arm the same tide. Ships may now be brought in on the springs in winter, drawing seventeen or eighteen feet, as the time of high water is in the day, and the wind generally fair to beat in, but not so in going out, from the difficulty of reaching the bar at the time required, and the tide leaving so quickly after the ebb is made great care is required; and I find it unsafe to allow any vessel to load deeper than 15 or 16.6 inches at most. With a tug, there would be less difficulty and danger in loading to 18 feet than there now is to 15.
“There is now three feet more water on the bar than there was previous to its being deepened, and if the work be continued next summer, to enlarge a cut which has been made, there will be five feet.
“I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
“THOMAS LIPSON, Harbour Master.
“The Honourable Colonial Secretary.”
It is not clear to me, however, that the admission of larger class shipping into the Port will be of any great advantage. I am led to believe that ships of smaller tonnage than those drawing 16 to 17 feet, have been found to be most convenient for the ordinary purposes of commerce. However, it is evident, that if Captain Lipson continues the same praiseworthy exertions he has hitherto used, he will deepen the bar for vessels of any tonnage. Under existing circumstances, it may be as well to state that any ship arriving off the bar when there is not sufficient water on it for them to enter the port, will find good anchorage all round the lightship, particularly a little to the westward of it. The whole Gulf, indeed, from this point, may be considered as a safe and extensive roadstead. As regards Port Adelaide itself, I cannot imagine a securer or a more convenient harbour. Without having any broad expanse of water, it is of sufficient width for vessels to lie there in perfect safety, whether as regards the wind or the anchorage.
The head of St. Vincent’s Gulf is in latitude 34 1/2 degrees. Between that point and Port Adelaide, the shore is either lined by mangroves, or is low and sandy. There are, nevertheless, several inlets similar to, but much smaller than Port Adelaide, and other commodious anchorages for small craft along it. The principal of these is the inlet connected with the Gawler, of which I shall hereafter speak. York Peninsula forms the western shore of St. Vincent’s Gulf, and separates it from that of Spencer. It is a long, low tongue of land — Cape Spencer, its southern extremity, being in 35 degrees 17 minutes, and in long. 136 degrees 52 minutes. Though embracing a considerable area, the character of the Peninsula is unfavourable to the growth of nutritive herbage; the surface soil is a species of calcareous limestone, the rock formation of a tertiary description, although, at the lower extremity, granite and trap rock are known to exist. The surface of the country is undulating, covered in many places by scrub, and the trees being very short-lived, the whole is matted with dead timber, and difficult of access. A deficiency of water renders York Peninsula still more unfavourable for location; nevertheless, several sections of land have been purchased on that part which is immediately opposite to Port Adelaide, and it is said that indications of copper have been found there, a fact I should be inclined to doubt. In 1840, a company applied for a special survey on the shores of the Peninsula to the southward of Point Pearce, and gave the name of Victoria Harbour to the locality; but the survey was subsequently abandoned in consequence of the unfavourable character of the interior, from the great deficiency of water.
If we except the results of a survey made by the late Lieut.-Governor, Colonel Robe, of the upper part of Spencer’s Gulf, during which, as is the case in the same part of the neighbouring gulf, his Excellency found convenient bays and inlets, but little is known of the eastern shore of that splendid gulf, beyond this point. Double the size of St. Vincent’s Gulf, it runs up to the 32 1/2 parallel, and was at one time or other very probably connected with Lake Torrens. The higher part is backed by a range of mountains, the more prominent of which were named by Captain Flinders — Mount Remarkable, Mount Browne, and Mount Arden. On the first of these there were so many indications of copper, that a special survey of 20,000 acres was taken by a company for the purpose of working any lodes that might be found. The country round about Mount Remarkable is stated to be exceedingly picturesque and good; so that independently of any value it may possess as a mineral survey, it possesses both agricultural and pastoral advantages. After passing the Mount Remarkable Range, however, the country falls off in character. A dreary region extends round the head of the Gulf, and, it is to be feared, to a much greater distance. The description given by Mr. Eyre, and the reports of those who have endeavoured to penetrate to the westward of Lake Torrens both agree as to the sterile and inhospitable character of the remote interior. Little improvement takes place in it on following down the western shore of the Gulf. Several individuals, indeed, have perished in endeavouring to take stock round the head of the Gulf to Port Lincoln, either from the want of water, or from having wandered and lost themselves amidst the low brush with which it is covered. The whole of the country, indeed, lying to the westward of Spencer’s Gulf is, as far as I have been able to ascertain, of very inferior description. There are, it is true, isolated patches of good land, and a limited run for sheep, but the character of the country corresponds but little with the noble feature for which Spencer’s Gulf is so justly celebrated. In reference to this magnificent basin, Captain Lee, from whom I have already quoted, observes —
“The harbour of Port Lincoln, including Boston Bay, is situated near the extremity of the Peninsula, which forms the west side of Spencer’s Gulf in the Province of South Australia, and from its great extent, and the number of its safe anchorages, is capable of containing the largest fleets, and as a depot, is not, perhaps, to be surpassed by any port in the world. Vessels from England, bound to Port Lincoln, should run along in about 35 degrees 20 minutes south latitude, until they arrive in 135 degrees 20 minutes east longitude, when they may haul up to the north-east, and make Cape Catastrophe. After arriving near the Cape, they may then shape a course to pass between it and Williams’ Island. There are strong tide ripplings here, which, to a stranger, would present the appearance of reefs; but as the channel is perfectly clear, no danger need be apprehended. Having passed through the channel, should night be approaching, it would be advisable for a stranger to keep the main land aboard, leaving another Island (Smith’s Island), on the starboard hand, and bring up in Memory Cove, a perfectly safe anchorage, in about five fathoms, and wait for day-light. Proceeding then along shore to the northward, he will arrive at Taylor’s Island, which may be passed on either side; after which he may run along shore at a distance of one mile, until he arrives at Cape Donnington. This Cape may be known by its having a small islet laying about half a mile from the point. Rounding this islet, at half a cable’s length, in about nine-fathoms’ water, and hauling to the westward, he will open the magnificent harbour of Port Lincoln, stretching to the south-west as far as the eye can reach. Should the wind be fresh from the south or south-west, it would be better if bound to Boston Bay, to beat up between Boston Island and the promontory of Cape Donnington. The shores are steep on both sides, so that a vessel may stand close in on either tack. Should the wind be so strong as to prevent a vessel beating in, she may run up under easy sail to a bay on the north-east end of Boston Island, and bring up in seven fathoms opposite a white sandy beach, three-quarters of a mile off shore. There is also excellent anchorage at the entrance to Spalding Cove, bringing the western point of the promontory of Cape Donnington to bear north by east, and the northernmost of Bicker’s Island west by north, you will lay in seven fathoms, muddy bottom. Having arrived at Bicker’s Island and bound for Boston Bay, stand directly over to the westward, passing the south end of Boston Island, until you open the bay, when you may choose a berth according to circumstances, and in any depth from ten to four fathoms.
“The positions of the various points and islands are so correctly laid down on Flinders’ chart, that the skilful navigator will at once know his exact situation by cross-bearings.
“The anchorage in Port Lincoln itself is not so safe as in Boston Bay, and more difficult of access, especially in the winter months, when the winds are strong from the south-west, and in the summer months it is quite open to the north-east. In working up, a vessel may stand close in to the eastern shore, and to within half a mile of the western, but should not attempt to pass between the two Bicker’s Islands, as there is a reef running from the northernmost island nearly across to the other.
“Vessels from Adelaide, bound to Boston Bay, after arriving at Althorpe’s Island, should shape a course so as to pass between the Gambier Islands and Thistle’s Islands. There is a small island bearing west five miles from the south end of Wedge Island, the largest of the Gambier group, which is not laid down in Flinders, which should be left on the starboard hand. Bring the highest part of Thistle’s Island to bear west, distant about six miles, and in twenty-two fathoms water, and a north-west half-west course will carry you through midway between the Horse-shoe Reef and the rocks which lay off the north-west end of Thistle’s Island, and in the direct track for Cape Donnington. The passage between the reefs is about three miles wide, and ought not to be attempted in the night, as the tides set directly across the channel. There is very good anchorage on the north-east side of Thistle’s Island, well sheltered three-fourths of the year. Bring the rocks before-mentioned to bear north-north-west, and two remarkable sand hills south by west, and you will lay in five fathoms, one mile off shore — north end Thistle’s Island west by south. Should the wind be so strong from southwest or west-south-west, so that a vessel from the eastward cannot carry sail sufficient to fetch up to Cape Donnington, or under Thistle’s Island, it would be advisable to bear up for Hardwick Bay; passing to the eastward of Wedge Island, come no nearer to the shore of York’s Peninsula than two miles, until you arrive within five miles of Corny Point, when you may haul in for that point, rounding it a distance of half a mile, you may bring up in five fathoms, one mile from shore: Corny Point bearing west. Vessels from Sydney, bound to Port Lincoln, may pass through Backstairs Passage, and proceed according to the foregoing directions, or by keeping well to the southward, pass outside Kangaroo Island, until they arrive in longitude 136 degrees E., when they may shape a course either to pass between Gambier’s and Thistle’s Islands, or else for Cape Catastrophe, taking care to give the Neptune Islands a wide berth, and then proceed according to either of the foregoing directions.”
To this extract which refers exclusively to the navigation of Spencer’s Gulf, I may add, that Boston Island lies immediately opposite to the bay, and that there are two channels of entrance round the island, through which vessels of the largest size can pass with any wind or in any weather, for the harbour is so sheltered by the headlands forming the entrance, that the swell of the sea is broken before reaching it.
The high ground which almost surrounds Boston Bay, protects it in like manner from the winds, more especially those coming from the west and southwest, in which directions some of the hills attain the height of several hundred feet.
The depth of water in the central parts of the Bay is about twelve fathoms, varying from five to seven at the distance of less than a quarter of a mile from the shore all round; whilst at Boston Point, where the town of Boston has been laid out, there is a depth of two, three, and four fathoms, at about a boat’s length from the land. The bottom consists in some places of mud, in others of shells and sand, so that the anchorage is safe.
The tide sometimes rises seven feet, but that is considered a high tide, the ordinary rise not being more than five; this depends, however, on the outward state of the Gulf, and the quarter from which the wind may happen to be blowing.
In the summer season, the land and sea breezes blow very regularly, for three weeks or a month at a time. They are then succeeded by strong winds from the south-west, that last for three or four days, and are sometimes very violent. In winter these interruptions to the usual calm state of the weather are more frequent, but the harbour is little influenced by them; taking it altogether, indeed, as a harbour, it is unquestionably as safe and commodious as any in the world, and it is deeply to be regretted, that its position, of which I shall have to speak, and the nature of the country behind it, should be any drawbacks to its becoming one of the most important ports on the Australian Continent.
In the vicinity of Port Lincoln, the land is of very varied character. To the west and south-west it is poor and scrubby, covered with a diminutive growth of she oak (Casuarinae) or dwarf gumtrees (Eucalypti), or it is wholly destitute of timber; but along the line of hills, stretching to the north, at a short distance from the shores of the Gulf, there is an improvement in the soil. The pasture is well adapted for sheep, and there are isolated valleys in which the soil is very good and fit for cultivation; but this kind of country only occupies a narrow strip of about ten miles, and although tracts of available land have been found in the interior, and it has been ascertained that water is not deficient, it must still, I fear, be considered as a very inferior district. As regards Port Lincoln itself, the inhabitants procure their water from a spring, on the sea-shore, which is covered by every tide. This spring does not appear to undergo any sensible diminution, even in the height of summer, and is stated to be so copious, that it would yield a most abundant supply.
It has been reported, that strong indications of the presence of copper have been found in the neighbourhood of Port Lincoln, and this report may be correct. The discovery of mines there, would at once raise the harbour to importance, and make it the resort of shipping. Mines might be worked at Port Lincoln with more advantage perhaps to the province, than where they have been already in operation, for it admits of great doubt whether the benefit from the distribution of wealth from mining speculations, makes up for the interference of such speculations with other branches of industry. Unless some local advantage, of the kind to which I have alluded, should give this noble harbour an impulse however, it would appear to have but little prospect of becoming a place of importance, for although Spencer’s Gulf penetrates so deep into the northern interior, the country is altogether unprofitable, and although there is depth of water sufficient for the largest ships to the very head of the Gulf, yet, as far as our present knowledge extends, it is not probable that it will be the outlet of any export produce. It is to be remembered, however, that if there should be minerals in any abundance found on the Mount Remarkable special survey — the ore must necessarily be shipped, from some one of the little harbours examined by the Lieutenant-Governor during his survey of that part of Spencer’s Gulf — In such case, Port Lincoln will be brought more immediately into notice.
From Port Lincoln, the shore of the Gulf still trends to the south, as far as Cape Catastrophe, in lat. 35 degrees. It then turns with an irregular outline to the N.N.W., and several bays succeed each other. The first of these is Sleaford Bay, sometimes occupied as a whaling station, but of no other importance. Coffin’s Bay, almost immediately behind Port Lincoln, is rather an inlet than a bay, and runs so far into the interior, as to approach Boston Bay, to within 16 miles. Coffin’s Bay is exceedingly wide, and objectionable for many reasons, but as it is a whaling station of some importance, and visited by numerous whalers, I shall quote Captain Lee’s remarks upon it, and give his directions for going to it.
“This is a very large bay, perfectly secure from all winds, save from north to east, but unfortunately a great portion of it is rendered useless by the shallowness of the water. The best anchorage is with Point Sir Isaac, bearing north-north-west, about one mile and a half from the western shore in four or five fathoms. In working in with a southerly wind, you may stand to the eastward until you bring the above point to bear south-west by west, after which it would be better to make short tacks along the western shore. You must be careful to keep the lead going, as the water shoals from five and four fathoms to one and a half at a single cast. This bay seems well adapted for a fishing station. The inner part of the bay extends a long way back into the country, at least thirty miles from Point Sir Isaac, and contains two or three secure harbours and excellent anchorages, a new chart of which is in course of publication.
“Vessels from Sydney bound to Coffin’s Bay, should proceed as if bound to Port Lincoln until arrived off the Neptune Islands, when they should steer for Perforated Island, having passed which, steer for Point Whidbey, giving it a berth of at least two miles. In running along shore from Point Whidbey to Point Sir Isaac, come no nearer the shore than two miles, until you get the latter point to bear east-south-east as the rocks lay a long way from the shore. Having arrived at Point Sir Isaac proceed as directed before.
“Althorp’s Island is of moderate height, situated at the entrance of Investigator’s Straits; may be passed close to on the south side. Several other islands and reefs lay between it and York’s Peninsula, rendering that passage highly dangerous.
“Wedge Island, one of the Gambier Group, may easily be known by its wedge-like form, sloping from south-east to north-west. There are two peaked rocks off the south-east end, one mile off shore, also a small island, bearing west five miles from the south end, not laid down in Flinders’ charts.
“Thistle’s Island, is low at each end but high in the middle, it lays in a north-west and south-east direction. There are some rocks which lay off the northern point about three miles, which being connected with the island itself, forms a good anchorage behind, secure from all but north and east winds, another good place for a fishing party. See Port Lincoln directions.
“Neptune’s Islands are low, three in number, and having numerous rocks and reefs amongst them; ought not to be approached too closely, there being generally a strong swell from the south-west, the sea breaks over them with great violence.
“Liguanea Island is of moderate elevation, and may be passed on the south side at a distance of two miles.
“Perforated Island, as its name imports, may be known by its having a hole through it near the north end and close to the top of the island, it may be passed close on any side. FOUR HUMMOCKS may easily be known from their appearance answering to their name.
“Greenly Island, this is a peaked island, rather high, and may be seen ten leagues off. There is another island laying south and by west, seven miles, not laid down in Flinders’, and two other reefs between them, rendering the passage unsafe.
“Proceeding along shore to the northward you will fall in with Flinders’ Island. This is a large island, covered with wood, with plenty of fresh water, possessing a secure anchorage on the northern side, and is admirably adapted for a whaling station. In going on from the southward, keep outside the top Gallant [GALL’S in published text] Island, and steer directly for the north-east point, rounding which, you will open the anchorage, and as there is no danger, but may be seen, you may choose a berth according to circumstances.
“Waldegrave’s Island, close to the main land, has good anchorage on the northern side, secure from south-east and south-west winds.
“The shore, from Waldegrave’s Island to Point Weyland is low and sandy. There is a large body of water running in a direction parallel to the coast, all the way from Point Weyland to the northward of Cape Radstock, having an entrance at both points. It appears as if the action of the sea from the south-west, had broken through the coast range and filled up the valley immediately behind. Indeed the whole coast from Kangaroo Island to as far to the north-west as has been visited by the author, bears evident marks of the encroachments of the sea. In some places marked down as small islands in Flinders’, there are now only reefs, other places which were formerly points of land, are transformed to islands.”
In the year 1840, I was instructed by the then Governor of South Australia, to send an officer of the survey in a small vessel, with a supply of provisions for Mr. Eyre, who was at that time supposed to have reached Fowler’s Bay, during the first of his expeditions; I accordingly selected Mr. John Cannan, in whose zeal and ability I had every confidence. This officer left Port Adelaide the 9th September, 1840, with instructions from me, in addition to the immediate object he had in view, to survey such parts of the coast along which he was about to sail, as had only been partially examined by Captain Flinders. Unfortunately it was during the winter time, and the task I had assigned him would, I knew, be attended with considerable risk in beating along that dangerous and stormy coast. Mr. Cannan arrived at Streaky Bay on the 27th September, but was disappointed in finding Mr. Eyre, or a letter he had buried for him under Cape Bauer, he therefore proceeded to the examination of the coast, as I had instructed him to do; and the following extract from his report will not only enable the reader to judge how he performed that service, but will give him the best information as to the character of the several bays and inlets he examined.
“I send you a chart of Streaky, Smoky, and Denial Bays, by which you will be better able to judge of the capabilities of the harbours they contain, than by any description I can give. I may mention however, that the entrance to Smoky Bay, between the shoals of St. Peter’s and Eyre’s Islands, is dangerous, for with any swell on the sea breaks right across. In the inlet, on the west side of Denial Bay, there is a salt water creek with two fathoms of water; and adjoining some high sand-hills, among which we found fresh water by digging. Our vessel being the first, I believe, that ever entered Smoky Bay, on finding an island at its southern end, I named it after that enterprising traveller Mr. Eyre. I also found an island and reef not laid down by Flinders, to the southern of St. Francis Islands. There is also an island 10 miles west of the rocky group of Whidbey’s Isles, and about 12 miles from Greenly’s Isles. The captain of a French whaler also informed me, that a sunken rock lays 6 miles N.W., off Point Sir Isaac, on which the sea breaks in heavy weather.
“The desert country surrounding these bays has been sufficiently explored, and so correctly described by Mr. Eyre, as not to require to be mentioned. The absence of any rise that can be called a hill, from Mount Greenly to Mount Barren, the eternal limestone cliffs, the scarcity of water and grass, surely prove this coast to be the most miserable in the world, whilst the harbours are as good as could be wished for, and it must be owing to the deficiency of charts, that whalers do not frequent these bays, for there are generally two or three French or American vessels in the neighbourhood during the season. I found no bones or carcases of whales in Streaky, Denial, or Smoky Bays, but the shores of Fowler’s and Coffin’s Bays, I found strewed with their remains. In the latter place, Captain Rossiter, of the Mississippi shewed me his chart, and told me there was no shelter for a vessel on this side of the Bight, except at Fowler’s Bay, and that was indifferent. The great extent of smooth water at Denial and Streaky Bays, and a well of water on St. Peter’s, dug by a sealer who lived on it many months, afford more advantages for fishing, and more especially to a shore party, than are to be found any where else in the Province.
“From the general flatness of the country, it may be presumed that its character does not alter for a great distance inland. I observed nothing in the formation of the island, differing from the mainland, and I may mention that the rocks of the isles of St. Francis presented the same appearance as the Murray Cliffs.”
It will appear from the above, that Mr. Cannan did not proceed farther to the westward than Fowler’s Bay, and that he did not therefore prolong his survey to the western limits of the Colony, by a distance of about five leagues, since the 132 degrees meridian falls on that coast a little to the westward of Cape Adieu, and between 12 and 15 leagues from the bottom of the Great Australian Bight.
Although some of the bays and harbours I have described in running along its coast, are not so good as might be desired, yet it is evident that, as a maritime country, South Australia is particularly favoured, not only in having anchorage of the safest description, but also in possessing two or three known harbours, capable of containing ships in any number or any size, and as safe and capacious as any in the world. Looking indeed at Port Adelaide, one cannot but admire its appropriate and convenient position. Had such a harbour not existed there, the produce of that fertile portion of the Province would hardly have been available to the inhabitants in the shape of exports, so difficult would it have been to have found another harbour of equal security, or of equal size, for the commercial wants of the settlers. Added to this, it has the double advantage of being close to the capital, being so easy of access, and in so central a position, as to be able to communicate with the neighbouring colonies with the greatest ease.
It will be remembered that I stated in the former part of my work, that the remarkable wall forming the Great Australian Bight, was thrown up simultaneously with the great fossil bed of the Murray.
As the principal object of the Expedition into Central Australia was to ascertain the past and present structure of the Continent, I have been led to allude to the subject again, in consequence of two or three remarks in Mr. Cannan’s letter, which has been quoted above, bearing strongly upon it, and corroborative of the hypothesis I have entertained as proving a striking uniformity in the rock formation of those two localities. To those remarks I would beg to call the attention of my readers. They will be found at the commencement and termination of the last paragraph.
Plains of Adelaide — bridges over the Torrens — site of Adelaide — government house buildings and churches — schools — police — roads — the Gawler — Barossa range — the Murray belt — Moorundi — natives on the Murray — distant stock stations — Mount Gambier district — its richness — ascent to Mount Lofty — Mount Barker district — scene in Hindmarsh Valley — proportion of soil in the province — pastoral and agricultural — Port Lincoln — climate of South Australia — range of the thermometer — salubrity.
Having, in the preceding chapter, run along the coast of South Australia, and noticed such parts as have been sufficiently examined to justify our observations, it remains for me to give an account of its interior features, of its climate, soil, mineral, and other sources of wealth, and lastly of its fitness as a colony for the peculiar habits of an English population.
The city of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, stands on the eastern shore of St. Vincent’s Gulf, and is about six miles from the coast. Any one landing either at the old or new port, and proceeding to the capital for the first time, would perhaps be disappointed at the description of country through which he would pass. It consists indeed of extensive level plains, over the eastern extremity of which the Mount Lofty Range is visible. They are bounded southwards by a line of trees, marking the course of the river Torrens across them, but extend northwards for many miles without any visible termination. Their monotony however, is, at the present date, in some measure broken by belts of wood, and the numerous cottages that have been built upon them, with their adjoining corn-fields, have changed their aspect, and removed the appearance of loneliness which they first exhibited. Still neither the gloomy swamp over which the stranger has in the first instance to travel, on landing at the Port — or the character of the plains themselves, are calculated to raise his anticipations, as to the beauty or fertility of the interior. The first town through which he will pass after leaving the Port, is Albert Town, which has been laid out on the first available ground near the swamp. When I left the colony in May last, several tolerable buildings had been erected in Albert Town, but it was nevertheless a wretched looking and straggling place, and will never perhaps advance beyond its present state.
On his nearer approach to the capital the traveller will pass between the villages of Boden and Hindmarsh, in both of which he will observe numerous kilns of bricks. He will then enter on the Park Lands, by which North and South Adelaide are separated from each other. On this land the scene at once changes, and he will find himself riding through an open forest, shading rich, alluvial, and grassy flats; and, strictly speaking, will then be traversing the Valley of the Torrens. In May, 1847, there were four bridges over that little river. The Company’s bridge a little above the city. The Frome bridge, a light wooden structure, built by the sappers and miners, under the direction of Captain Frome, the Surveyor-General, after whom it was called. The City bridge, constructed of stone, but then incomplete, and a rude wooden bridge between Adelaide and Hindmarsh, erected by an innkeeper, with a view of drawing the traffic from the Port past his door. The City bridge, which was undertaken by contract, promised to grace the approach to Adelaide, and was intended to be the principal bridge to connect the north and south portions of the city, as well as to form the chief line to the Port and to the north. The occurrence of an unusual flood, however, in the latter part of the year 1847 deprived the good citizens of Adelaide of these necessary means of communication with the country on the right bank of the Torrens, by the injury it did to them. The Company’s bridge suffered less than any other, but was so shaken as to be impassable for several days. Aware, as I am, of the general character of the Australian streams, and seeing no reason why the Torrens should differ from others, taking into consideration, too, the reports of the natives as to the height to which the river had been known to rise in former years, and the fact that no rain had fallen since the establishment of the Colony to cause any very great or sudden flood, it appeared to me, that the place selected for the City bridge was too low. Ordinary floods so completely change the channel of the river, and make such devastation in its bed, that it is hardly to be recognised when the water subsides, so that unless the banks are high, and the soil of which they may be composed stiff enough to resist the impetuosity of the stream, I fear no bridge across the Torrens will be permanently safe.
The position and ground chosen by the first Surveyor-General of South Australia, as the site of its future capital is a remarkable instance of the quick intelligence of that officer. For although he had but little time to make his selection, a more intimate knowledge of the coast has proved that no more eligible point could have been found. Fault has, I am aware, been found with Colonel Light in this matter, but without just grounds, I think, for in no other locality could the same quantity of water have been found, or the same facility offered for the construction of those reservoirs and other works so necessary to the health and comfort of a large metropolis. A principal objection raised to the situation of Adelaide is its distance from the Port, but that we must remember is a disadvantage common to many other large and mercantile cities. The Surveyor-General seems to have been fully aware of the responsible duty that devolved upon him, and to have acted with great judgment. Port Lincoln, indeed, is a splendid harbour, one with which Port Adelaide, as far as size goes, cannot be compared, but having said this nothing farther can be advanced in its favour, for it is not only deficient in its supply of water, but the contiguous country is far from rich, whereas Adelaide is backed by one of undoubted fertility.
Established where it is, the city of Adelaide stands on the summit of the first elevated ground, between the coast and the mountain ranges.
It is separated, as the reader will have learnt, by the valley of the Torrens, and occupies the northern and southern slopes and brows of the hills on either side. The view to the westward from the more elevated parts of the city commands the whole of the plains of Adelaide, and St. Vincent’s Gulf; to the eastward, it extends over the rich and dark wooded valley of the river, the lighter wooded country at the base of the Mount Lofty Range, and the peaks and elevations of that beautiful mountain chain.
South Adelaide is on flat ground and twice the size of the northern part of the town. It has also been more extensively built upon, and is the established commercial division of the city. The Government House and all the public buildings and offices are in South Adelaide, and the streets in the vicinity of the North Terrace, have assumed a regularity and uniformity greater than any street in North Adelaide. Hindley and Rundle streets, indeed, would do no discredit to any secondary town in England. Every shop and store that is now built is of a substantial and ornamental character, and those general improvements are being made which are the best proofs of increasing prosperity and opulence.
There is scarcely any article of European produce that cannot be obtained in Adelaide, at a very little advance on home prices, nor is it necessary, or indeed advisable that Emigrants should overload themselves in going out to any of the Australian Colonies. Experience, the best monitor, leads me to give this advice, which, however, I am bound to say, I did not adopt when I went out to New South Wales; but the consequence was, that I purchased a great many things with which I could have dispensed, and that I should have found the money they cost much more useful than they proved.
King William Street divides Hindley from Rundle Street, and is immediately opposite to the gate of Government House, which is built on a portion of the Park lands, and is like a country gentleman’s house in England. It stands in an enclosure of about eight or ten acres; the grounds are neatly kept, and there is a shrubbery rapidly growing up around the House.
The Public Offices are at the corner of King William Street and Victoria Square, facing into the latter. The building is somewhat low, but a creditable edifice, to appearance at all events, although not large enough for the wants of the public service.
I am not aware that there is any other public building worthy of particular notice, if I except the gaol, which is a substantial erection occupying the north-west angle of the Park land, but is too low in its situation to be seen to advantage at any distance. Like Government House, it was built with a view to future addition, but fortunately for the colony, Government House is the first which seems to call for completion.
The number of Episcopalian Churches in Adelaide is limited to two, Trinity Church and St. John’s. The former was originally built of wood, and may be said to be coeval with the colony itself. It has of late however been wholly built of stone, and under the active and praiseworthy exertions of Mr. Farrell, the colonial chaplain, an excellent and commodious school-room has been attached to it.
Trinity Church stands on the North Terrace, and is a prominent object as you ascend from the Park lands. St. John’s is situated on the East Terrace at a greater distance, but it has a commanding view of the Mount Lofty Range, and the intervening plains. Perhaps considering that the city has not extended much in the direction of East Terrace, it may be a little too far for public convenience, but this is a question that admits of doubt. It is a neat and unostentatious brick building, at which the Rev. Mr. Woodcock performs service, whose exertions amongst the natives in the West Indies have stamped him both as a christian and a philanthropist. The two churches are calculated to hold about 1000 sittings, and the average attendance is about 900.
It may appear to the reader that the number of churches in Adelaide, where there is a population of between 8000 and 10,000 souls, is not sufficient, as is the case. Ere this however, a third church, to be called “Christ’s Church,” will have been erected in North Adelaide, where such a place of worship was much required. 500 pounds had been subscribed for the purpose in December last, and it was confidently anticipated that the further contributions of the colonists would enable the committee to commence and finish it. The arrival of the Bishop on the 24th of the above month, of which accounts have been received had given great satisfaction, and his Lordship was to begin his useful ministry on the following day (Christmas Day), by preaching at Trinity Church.
However few the Episcopalian churches in the capital of South Australia, we cannot accuse the Dissenters of a similar want of places of public worship, of which there are 9, the whole number throughout the province being 31; whilst the number of churches is 6. The Congregational chapels are calculated to accomodate 4700 communicants, the average attendance being about 2300, and are, generally speaking, good looking and ornamental buildings, and do no discredit to those who superintended their erection, and approved the places.
There is a Roman Catholic Bishop of South Australia, but he had, during the latter period of my residence in the province, been absent in Europe. The Catholic Church stands on the West Terrace, and is, perhaps, in one of the most healthy situations that could have been chosen. There is an excellent school attached to the church, which is equally open to all denominations of Christians, and is, I have understood, more numerously attended than any other in the capital. The total number of Sunday-schools in the province, in 1841, was 26, at which 617 boys and 582 girls attended. The average number of Sunday and other schools in 1845 was 55, at which 780 males and 670 female children attended.
In the year 1846, when His Excellency Colonel Robe laid the estimates on the table of the Legislative Council, its attention was drawn to the state of education and religion in the province, and after a long discussion on the subject, a grant of 2s. per head was voted to the different sects in aid of religion and education. It was left to the ministers of the Protestant Church, and to the proper officers of the other persuasions to appropriate the sum received by each, according to the last census, as they deemed best, for the promotion of one or the other of the above purposes, with the sole condition that they should render an account yearly to the Council of the manner in which the several sums had been appropriated. Yet this provision, which without interfering in the slightest degree with any religious sect, gave to the heads of each the greater power of doing good, caused very great dissatisfaction. All I can say is, that it was an instance of liberal and enlightened views of government, of which the Council of South Australia in having set the example ought to be proud.
The Legislative Council of New South Wales has since, I believe, followed its example, and I sincerely trust the good that is anticipated, will result from this proof on the part of both Governments to raise the moral and social character of the people.
In addition to the schools already noticed, there is a school for the natives on the Park lands. At this school there were in 1847, thirty-five boys and twenty-nine girls. The establishment being entirely under the superintendence of the Government, is kept in the very best order; the apartments are neat and clean, the master is patient and indulgent, and if we could hope for any improvement in the moral and social habits of the aborigines, it would be under circumstances so promising, but as I propose, in another place, to make some observations on the natives generally, it may not be necessary for me to add to the above remarks at the present moment.
Of other public buildings not under the immediate controul of the Government, the Bank of South Australia is certainly the first. It stands on the North Terrace and is a prominent and pleasing object from whatever point of view it is seen. There are, however, several other very creditable buildings in different parts of the city.
Had the city of Adelaide been laid out in the first instance on a smaller plan, it would now have been a compact and well-built town, but unfortunately it was planned on too large a scale, and it will necessarily have a straggling appearance for many years to come.
North and South Adelaide are, as I have already stated, separated from each other by the valley of the Torrens, than which nothing can be prettier. Its grassy flats are shaded by beautiful and umbrageous trees, and the scenery is such as one could not have expected in an unimproved state. The valley of the Torrens is a portion of the Park lands which run round the city to the breadth of half a mile. Nothing could have been more judicious than the appropriation of this open space for the amusement and convenience of the public, and for the establishment of those museums and institutions which tend so much to direct the taste, and promote the scientific improvement of a people.
Beyond the Park lands, the preliminary sections, of 134 acres each, extend to a certain distance — many of which have been laid out into smaller sections, and the city is surrounded by numerous villages, few of which add to its appearance. This certainly may be said of Thebarton, Hindmarsh, Boden, and several other villages, but those of Richmond, and Kensington, embosomed in trees, and picturesque in scenery, bear a strong resemblance to the quiet and secluded villages of England.
In Hindmarsh, Mr. Ridley, whose mechanical genius has been of such public utility, and whose enterprise is so well known, has established his steam flour-mill, which is the largest in the province. In addition to this, the South Australian Company has a steam-mill at the upper bridge; there are several of a smaller size in the city, and the total number of flour-mills in the Colony, including wind and water mills is twenty-two.
This general description of the capital of South Australia will perhaps suffice to shew its rapid growth during the eleven short years since the first wooden dwelling was erected upon its site.
It may be necessary for me to state that its peace and order are preserved by a body of police, whose vigilance and activity are as creditable to them as their own good conduct and cleanliness of appearance; and whilst the returns of the supreme court, and the general unfrequency of crime, prove the moral character of the working classes generally, the fewness of convictions for crimes of deeper shade amongst that class of the population from whose habit of idleness and drinking we should naturally look for a greater amount of crime, as undoubtedly proves the vigilance of the police. From the return of convictions before Mr. Cooper the Judge, it is clear that the majority of those who have been brought before him are men who have already suffered for former breach of the laws, and who, having escaped from the neighbouring Colonies, have vainly endeavoured to break themselves of former evil habits. The eyes of the police are however so steadily kept on such men, that they have little chance of escaping detection if they commit themselves, and they consequently level their aim at those who encourage them in vice, and who, in reality, are little better than themselves in morals, as knowing that, in many instances, they will not dare to bring them to punishment.
There are five principal roads leading from Adelaide; three into the interior, and two to the coast. Of the three first, one leads to the north, through Gawler Town, one as the Great Eastern Road leads to Mount Barker and the Murray, and the third running southwards, crosses the range to Encounter Bay. Of the roads leading to the coast, the one goes to the Port, the other to Glenelg. In endeavouring to give a description of the country, and enabling the reader to judge of it, I would propose to take him along each of these roads, and to point out the character and changes of the country on either side, for the one is peculiar and the others are diversified. My desire is to present such a view of the colony to the minds of my readers, as shall enable them to estimate its advantages and disadvantages. I would speak of both with equal impartiality and decision. The grounds of attachment I entertain for this colony rest not on any private stake I have in its pastoral or mineral interests, and I hope the reader will believe that my feelings towards it are such as would only lead me to speak as it really and truly should be spoken of. There is no country, however fair, that has not some drawback or other. There are no hopes, however promising, that may not be blighted; no prospects, however encouraging, that may not wither. Unfitness for the new field of enterprise on which a man may enter — unpropitious seasons, the designs of others, or unforeseen misfortunes; one or more of these may combine to bring about results very opposite from those we had anticipated. I would not therefore take upon myself the responsibility of giving advice, but enter upon a general description of the province of South Australia as a tourist, whose curiosity had led him to make inquiries into the capabilities of the country through which he had travelled, and who could therefore speak to other matters, besides the description of landscape or the smoothness of a road.
If we take our departure from Adelaide by the great Northern Road, we shall have to travel 25 miles over the plains, keeping the Mount Lofty Range at greater and less distances on our right, the plains extending in varying breadth to the westward, ere we can pull up at Calton’s Hotel in Gawler Town, where, nevertheless, we should find every necessary both for ourselves and our horses.
That township, the first and most promising on the Northern Road, is, as I have stated, 25 miles from Adelaide; and occupies the angle formed by the junction of the Little Para and the Gawler Rivers; the one coming from south-east, and the other from north-north-east; the traveller approaching from the south therefore, would have to cross the first of these little streams before he can enter the town.
Still, in its infancy, Gawler Town will eventually be a place of considerable importance. Through it all the traffic of the north must necessarily pass, and here, it appears to me, will be the great markets for the sale or purchase of stock. From its junction with the Little Para, the Gawler flows to the westward to the shores of St. Vincent’s Gulf. It has extensive and well wooded flats of deep alluvial soil along its banks, flanked by the plains of Adelaide — the river line of trees running across them, only with a broader belt of wood, just as the line of trees near Adelaide indicates the course of that river. If I except these features, and two or three open box-tree forests at no great distance from Albert Town, the plains are almost destitute of timber, and being very level, give an idea of extent they do not really possess, being succeeded by pine forests and low scrub to the north from Gawler Town.
The Gawler discharges itself into a deep channel or inlet, which, like the creek at Port Adelaide, has mangrove swamps on either side; still the inlet is capable of great improvement, and the anchorage at its mouth, so high up the gulf is safe, and if it were only for the shipment of goods, for tran-shipment at Port Adelaide, Port Gawler as it is called, would be of no mean utility, but it is probable that ships might take in cargo at once, in which case it would be to the interest of the northern settlers to establish a port there. Captain Allen and Mr. Ellis, two of the most independent settlers in the province, are the possessors of the land on both sides the Gawler, and I feel confident it is a property that will greatly increase in value. The alluvial flats along this little stream, are richer and more extensive than those of the Torrens, and they seem to me to be calculated for the production of many things that would be less successfully cultivated in any other part of the province. Apart, however, from any advantages Gawler Town may derive from the facilities of water communication, it will necessarily be in direct communication with Port Adelaide, as soon as a road is made between them. At present the drays conveying the ore and other exports are obliged to keep the great northern line to within a few miles of the city, before they turn off almost at a right angle to the Port; but there can be no doubt as to the formation of a direct line of communication with the Port from Gawler Town, if not of the establishment of a railway, ere many years shall elapse, for not only are the principal stock stations of the province, but the more valuable mines to the north of this town.
Up to this point the traveller does not quit the plains of Adelaide, the Mount Lofty Range being to the eastward of him and the plains, bounded by the mangrove swamps extending towards St. Vincent’s Gulf. Generally speaking, for their extent the soil is not good, but there are patches of alluvial soil, the deposits of creeks falling from the hills, that are rich and fertile. Yet, notwithstanding the quality of the soil, a great portion of the Adelaide plains have been purchased and are under cultivation. There is a great deficiency of surface water upon them, but it is procurable by digging wells; and Mr. Ellis I believe has rendered those parts of them contiguous to the Gawler available as sheep stations, by sinking wells for the convenience of his men and stock; neither can there be a doubt but that many other apparently unavailable parts of the province might be rendered available by the adoption of similar means, or by the construction of tanks in favourable situations.
This is a point it is impossible to urge too much on the attention of the Australian stock holder. There is generally speaking a deficiency of water in those Colonies, and large tracts of country favourable to stock are unoccupied in consequence, but the present liberal conditions on which leases of Crown lands are granted will make it worth the sheep farmer’s while to make those improvements which shall so conduce to his prosperity and comfort.
In proof of this, I would observe that I had several capacious tanks on my property at Varroville, near Sydney, for which I was indebted to Mr. Wells the former proprietor, and not only did they enable me to retain a large quantity of stock on my farm, when during a season of unmitigated drought my neighbours were obliged to drive their cattle to distant parts of the Colony — but I allowed several poor families to draw their supplies from, and to water some of their cattle at my reservoirs.
Beyond Gawler Town the country changes in character and appearance, whether you continue the northern road across the river, or turn more to the eastward, you leave the monotonous plain on which you have journeyed behind, and speedily advance into an undulating hilly country, lightly wooded withal, and containing many very rich, if not beautiful valleys. The Barossa Range and the districts round it are exceedingly pretty. Here, at Bethany, the Germans who have fled from the religious persecution to which they were exposed in their own country have settled, and given the names of several places in their Fatherland to the features around them. The Keizerstuhl rises the highest point in the Barossa Range, the outline of which is really beautiful, and the Rhine that issues from its deep and secluded valleys flows northwards through their lands.
In this neighbourhood Mr. Angas has a valuable property, as also the South Australian Company. Angas Park is a place of great picturesque beauty, and is capable of being made as ornamental as any nobleman’s estate in England. The direct road to the Murray River passes through Angas Park, but a more northerly course leads the traveller past the first of those valuable properties to which South Australia is mainly indebted for her present prosperous state. I mean the copper mines of Kapunda, the property of Captain Bagot, who, with Mr. Francis Dutton, became the discoverer and purchaser of the ground on which the principal lode has been ascertained to exist. There has been a large quantity of mineral land sold round this valuable locality, but although indications of copper are everywhere to be seen, no quantity sufficiently great to justify working had I believe been found up to the time I left the Colony. As however I shall have to give a more detailed account of the mines of South Aust ralia, it may not be necessary for me to speak of them at length in this place.
Captain Bagot is anxious to establish a township in the vicinity of Kapunda, and he will no doubt succeed, the very concourse of people round such a place being favourable to his views.
Beyond this point to the north the coast range of Mount Lofty, which thus far preserves a northerly direction, throws off a chain to the westward of that point, but the main range still continues to run up into the interior on its original bearing, rather increasing than decreasing in height. Upon it, the Razor Back Mount Brian, to the south of which is the great Burra Burra mine, and the Black Rock Hill, rise to the height of 2922, 3012 and 2750 respectively. On the more western branch of the chain, Mount Remarkable, Mount Brown, and Mount Arden, so named by Captain Flinders, form the principal features. This chain has been traced by Mr. Eyre to Mount Hopeless, in lat. 29 1/2, and has been found by him to terminate in the basin of Lake Torrens. The main range on the contrary has only been followed up to lat. 32 degrees 10 minutes, beyond which point it cannot extend to any great distance, as if it did, I should necessarily have seen something of it during my recent expedition. It is a remarkable fact that the further the northern ranges have been followed up, the more denuded of trees they have become. Immense tracts of land, through portions of which the Wakefield flows, rich in soil and abundant in pasture, have scarcely a tree upon them. The scenery round Mount Remarkable on the contrary is bold and picturesque, and much diversified by woodland.
Here again the indications of copper were so abundant, that 20,000 acres were taken as a special survey a short time before I left the Colony. The occupation of this land will necessarily extend the boundaries of location, but up to the period when the survey was taken, Mr. White, formerly a resident at Port Lincoln, was the most distant stockholder to the north.
Proceeding eastward from Angas Park, the road to the Murray river leads through a hilly country of an inferior description, portions only of it being occupied as sheep stations. From the brow of the last of these hills, the eye wanders over the dark and gloomy sea of scrub, known as the Murray belt, through which the traveller has to pass before he gains the bank of the river or the station at Moorundi. He descends direct upon the level plain over which he has to go, and after passing some pretty scenery on the banks of a creek close to which the road runs, and crossing an open interval, he enters the belt, through which it will take him four hours to penetrate. This singular feature is a broad line of wood, composed in the lower part of Eucalyptus dumosa, a straggling tree, growing to an inconsiderable height, rising at once from the ground with many slender stems, and affording but an imperfect shade. About the latitude of 34 degrees the character of the Murray belt changes — it becomes denser and more diversified. Pine trees on sandy ridges, Acacia, Hakea, Exocarpi, and many other shrubs form a thick wood, through which it is difficult to keep a correct course. Occasionally a low brush extends to the cliffs overlooking the valley of the Murray, but it may be said, that there is an open space varying in breadth from half a-mile to three miles between the Murray belt and the river. It is a flat table land about 250 or 300 feet above the level of the sea, the substratum being of the tertiary fossil formation. The surface is a mixture of red sand and clay, mixed with calcareous limestone in small rounded nodules. The very nature of this soil is heating, and the consequence is that it has little herbage at any one time. There is however a succession of vegetation, especially during the spring months, which, from the fact of the cattle being particularly fond of it, must I should imagine be both sweet and nutritious.
Any one who has ever been on the banks of the Murray will admit that it is a noble river. The description I have already given supersedes the necessity of my dwelling on it here. In another place I shall have to speak of it, not in a commercial point of view, but as a line of communication between two distant colonies, and the important part it has acted in the advancement of the province of South Australia. As a commercial river, I fear it will not be of practical utility. To prove this, it may be necessary for me to observe that the Murray runs for more than five degrees of latitude through a desert. That it is tortuous in its course, and is in many places encumbered with timber, and its depth entirely depends on the seasons. The difficulties, therefore, that present themselves to the navigation of the central Murray are such as to preclude the hope of its ever being made available for such a purpose, even admitting that its banks were located at every available point. Moorundi, the property of Mr. Eyre, the present Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand, is ninety miles from Adelaide, and twenty-six from the N.W. bend of the Murray. It is part of a special survey of four thousand acres taken by Mr. Eyre and Mr. Gilles on the banks of the river, and in consequence of its appropriate position, was selected by Captain Grey, the then Governor of South Australia, as a station for a Resident Magistrate and Protector of the Aborigines, to fill both which appointments he nominated Mr. Eyre. There can be no doubt, either as to the foresight which dictated the establishment of this post on the banks of the Murray, or the selection of Mr. Eyre as the Resident. At the time this measure was decided on, the feelings of the natives on the river were hostile to the settlers. The repeated collisions between them and the Overlanders had kindled a deep spirit of revenge in their breasts, and although they suffered severely in every contest, they would not allow any party with stock to pass along the line of the river without attempting to stop their progress; and there can be no doubt but that, in this frame of mind, they would have attacked the station next the river if they had been left to themselves, and with their stealthy habits and daring, would have been no mean enemy on the boundaries of location. The character and spirit of these people is entirely misunderstood and undervalued by the learned in England, and the degraded position in the scale of the human species into which they have been put, has, I feel assured, been in consequence of the little intercourse that had taken place between the first navigators and the aborigines of the Australian Continent. I have seen them under every variety of circumstances — have come suddenly upon them in a state of uncontrolled freedom — have passed tribe after tribe under the protection of envoys — have visited them in their huts — have mixed with them in their camps, and have seen them in their intercourse with Europeans, and I am, in candour, obliged to confess that the most unfavourable light in which I have seen them, has been when mixed up with Europeans.
That the natives of the interior have made frequent attacks on the stations of the settlers I have no doubt; very likely, in some instances, they have done so without any direct provocation, but we must not forget their position or the consequences of the extension of boundaries of location to the aborigines themselves. The more ground our flocks and herds occupy, the more circumscribed become the haunts of the savage. Not only is this the inevitable consequence, but he sees the intruder running down his game with dogs of unequalled strength and swiftness, and deplores the destruction of his means of subsistence. The cattle tread down the herbs which at one season of the year constituted his food. The gun, with its sharp report, drives the wild fowl from the creeks, and the unhappy aborigine is driven to despair. He has no country on which to fall back. The next tribe will not permit him to occupy their territory. In such a state what is he to do? Is it a matter of surprise that in the confidence of numbers he should seek to drive those who have intruded on him back again, and endeavour to recover possession of his lost domain? It might be that the parties concerned were not conscious of the injury they were inflicting, but even that fact would not lessen the fancied right of the native to repossess himself of his lost territory. Yet on the other hand we cannot condemn resistance on the part of the white man; for it would be unjust to overlook the fearful position in which they are placed, and the terrible appearance of a party of savages working themselves up to the perpetration of indiscriminate slaughter. No doubt many parties have gone to take up stations in the interior, with the honest intention of keeping on good terms with the natives, and who in accordance with such resolution have treated them with hospitality and consideration; but, it unfortunately happens that a prolonged intercourse with the Europeans weakens and at length destroys those feelings of awe and uncertainty with which they were at first regarded. The natives find that they are men like themselves, and that their intrusion is an injury, and they perhaps become the aggressors in provoking hostilities. In such a case resistance becomes a matter of personal defence, and however much such collisions may be regretted, the parties concerned can hardly be brought to account; but, it more frequently happens, that the men who are sent to form out-stations beyond the boundaries of location, are men of bold and unscrupulous dispositions, used to crime, accustomed to danger, and reckless as to whether they quarrel, or keep on terms with the natives who visit them. Thrown to such a distance in the wild, in some measure out of the pale of the law, without any of the opposite sex to restrain their passions, the encouragement these men give to their sable friends, is only for the gratification of their passions. The seizure of some of their women, and the refusal to give them up, provokes hostility and rouses resentment, but those who scruple not at the commission of one act of violence, most assuredly will not hesitate at another. Such cases are gene rally marked by some circumstances that betray its character, and naturally rouse the indignation of the Government. If the only consequence was the punishment of the guilty, we should rejoice in such retributive justice; but, unfortunately and too frequently, it happens, that the station belongs to a stockholder, who, both from feelings of interest and humanity, has treated the natives with every consideration, and discountenanced any ill-treatment of them on the part of his servants, but whose property is nevertheless sacrificed by their misconduct.
I have been unintentionally led into this subject, in the course of my remarks on the policy of Captain Grey, in establishing the post at Moorundi. The consequences have been equally beneficial to the settlers and aborigines. The eastern out-stations of the province have been unmolested, and parties with stock have passed down the Murray in perfect safety. If any act of violence or robbery has been committed by the natives, the perpetrators have been delivered up by the natives themselves, who have learnt that it is their interest to refrain from such acts; and instead of the Murray being the scene of conflict and slaughter, its whole line is now occupied by stock-stations, and tranquillity everywhere prevails.
About seventy [FIFTEEN in published text] miles below Moorundi is Wellington, where a ferry has been established across the Murray, that township being on the direct road from Adelaide to Mount Gambier, and Rivoli Bay. A little below Wellington, Lake Victoria receives the waters of the Murray, which eventually mingle with those of the ocean, through the sea mouth.
The country immediately to the eastward of the Murray affords, in some places, a scanty supply of grass for sheep, but, generally speaking, it is similar in its soil and rock formation, and consequently in its productions to the scrubby country to the westward. The line of granite I have mentioned, in the former part of my work, as traversing or crossing the Murray below Wellington, continues through the scrub, large blocks being frequent amongst the brushes on a somewhat lower level than the tertiary fossil limestone in its neighbourhood. Round these blocks of granite the soil is considerably better, and there is a coating of grass upon it, as far as the ground consists of the decomposed rock.
About sixty miles to the E.S.E. of Wellington is the Tatiara country, once celebrated for the ferocity and cannibalism of its inhabitants, but now occupied by the settlers, who have of late crossed the Murray in considerable numbers to form stations there. The distance from Wellington to the district of Mount Gambier, said to be the fairest portion of South Australia, whether as regards its climate or its soil, is more than 200 miles. The first portion of the road, to almost the above distance, is through a perfect desert, in which, excepting during the rainy season, water is scarcely to be found, so that the journey is not performed without its privation. After passing Lake Albert the traveller has to journey at no great distance from the Coorong over a low country, once covered by the waters of the ocean, the noise of whose billows he hears through the silence of the night. The first elevation he reaches is a continuation of the great fossil bed, through which the volcanic hills, where he will ultimately arrive, have been forced up. Mount Gambier, the principal of these, is about 40 miles from the Glenelg, and 50 from Rivoli Bay. The country from either of these points is low for many miles, but well grassed, of the richest soil, and in many places abundantly timbered. Mount Gambier is scarcely visible until you almost reach its base — nor even then is its outward appearance different from other hills. On reaching its summit, however, you find youself on the brink of a crater, standing indeed on a precipice, with a small sheet of water of about half-a-mile in circumference, two hundred feet below you; the water of which is as blue as indigo, and seems to be very deep; no bottom indeed has been found at 50 fathoms. The ground round the base of Mount Gambier is very open, and you may ride your horse along it unchecked for many miles. At the lower parts, and at some distance from it, the ground is moist, and many caverns have been found in which water of the very purest kind exists, no doubt deposited in the natural reservoirs by percolation from the higher ground. The whole formation of the district, these capacious caverns, and the numerous and extensive tea-tree swamps along the coast, plainly demonstrate that they are supplied by gradual filtration, or find their way through the interstices, or cells of the lava to the lower levels.
It is generally admitted that the greater part of the land in the neighbourhood of Mount Gambier is equal to the richest soil, whether of Van Diemen’s Land or of Port Phillip, the general character indeed of this district, and the fact of its being so much farther to the south than Adelaide, its perpetual verdure and moister climate would lead to the supposition that it is capable of producing grain of the very finest quality, and there can, I think, be but little doubt that it will rival the sister colonies in its agricultural productions, and considering the nature of the soil is similar to that round the volcanic peaks in the Mediterranean, it will also produce wine of a superior description. Settlers both from the province of South Australia and neighbouring colonies have vied with each other in securing stations in this fertile, but remote district, and it would appear from the number of allotments that have been purchased in the townships which have been established on the coast that settlers are fast flocking to it.
From what has been stated it would seem that the district of Mount Gambier is adapted rather for agricultural than pastoral pursuits, and that it is consequently favourable for occupation by a rural population. Tea-tree swamps (melaleuca) are a feature, I believe, peculiar to South Australia, and generally indicate the presence of springs, and always of moisture. The soil is of the very richest quality, and there is, perhaps, no ground in the world that is more suitable for gardens, and as these swamps are both numerous and extensive in the lower country, behind Rivoli and Guichen Bays, this portion of the province promises equally fair for the growth of those European fruits which are less advantageously cultivated in the more northern parts of the province.
Returning to Adelaide, and proceeding from thence to the eastward, along the great eastern or Mount Barker line, we cross, in the first instance, the remaining portion of the plains lying between the city and the hills, to the base of which the distance is about three miles, the whole is laid out in farms, and is extensively and carefully cultivated. As you approach the hills, the country becomes lightly wooded and undulating, affording numerous sites for villas, on which many have already been erected, both by settlers and the more opulent tradesmen. Individuals indeed, residing in England, can form but a faint idea of the comforts and conveniences they enjoy, at such a distance from their native country. Being at sufficient elevation to catch the sea breeze, which passes over the plains of Adelaide, without being felt, they have almost the advantage of living near the sea coast, and the cool winds that sweep down the valleys behind them, and constitute the land breeze, ensure to them cool and refreshing evenings, when those dwelling at a lower elevation are oppressed by heat. On the first rise of the mountains is the Glen Osmond Lead Mine, which will be noticed hereafter. The Mount Barker district being more numerously settled than most other parts of the province, and being one of its most important and fertile districts, more labour has been expended on the road leading into it, than on any other in the colony. From the level of the Glen Osmond Mine, it winds up a romantic valley, with steep hills of rounded form, generally covered with grass, and studded lightly with trees on either side, nor is it, until you attain the summit of the Mount Lofty range, that any change takes place in the character of the hills or the vegetation, you then find yourself travelling through a dense forest of stringy barks, the finest of which have been levelled to the ground, with the axe, for the purpose of being sawn into planks for building, or split into rails for fencing. From Crafer’s Inn, situated under the peak of Mount Lofty, the road to Mount Barker passes through a barren country for some miles, and crosses several steep valleys, in the centre of which there are rippling streams; the summit of the ranges still continues to be thickly wooded, the ground underneath being covered with shrubs and flowers of numberless kinds and varied beauty. In illustration of this, I may observe, that the first time I crossed the Mount Lofty range, I amused myself pulling the different kinds of flowers as I rode along, and on counting them when I reached Adelaide for the purpose of arranging them in a book, found that I had no less than ninety-three varieties. The majority of these, however, consisted of papilionaceous plants, and several beautiful varieties of Orchideae. On descending to a lower level, after crossing the Onkaparinga, the scenery and the country at once change, you find yourself upon rich alluvial flats, flanked by barren rocky hills, the air during the spring being perfumed by the scent of the Tetratheca, a beautiful hill flower, at that time in splendid blossom, and growing in profusion on the tops of the hills, mingled with the Chyranthera, with its light blue blossoms; both these plants it has always appeared, are well adapted for the edges of borders, but there are not many plants in Australia that would be fit for such a purpose.
It does not appear necessary, in a work like this, to trouble the reader with an account of every village or of every valley in the districts through which I lead him; my object is to give a general and faithful description of the country only, reserving the power of drawing attention to any thing I may deem worthy of notice. Taking the district of Mount Barker therefore in its full range, I would observe, that it is one of the finest agricultural districts in the province. It abounds in very many beautiful alluvial valleys, which, when I first crossed, had grass that rose above the horses middles as they walked through it, and looked luxuriant beyond description. These valleys are limited both in length and breadth, but are level and clear; their soil is a rich alluvial deposit, and the plough can be driven from one end to the other without meeting a single obstacle to check its progress. Independently of these valleys, there are other portions of good grazing land in the Mount Barker district, but there are, nevertheless, very many stony ranges that are entirely useless even to stock. The Mount Barker district may be said to extend from the village of Nairne to Strathalbyn, on the River Angas, the latter place being 15 miles from the shores of Lake Victoria. Within the range of this district, there are also the villages of Hahansdorf and Macclesfield, the former being a German village, at no great distance from Mount Barker. Immediately to the north of the village of Nairne is Mount Torrens, the river of that name has several branches to the north-east of it as high up as Mount Gould. The first of the Company’s special surveys, and perhaps some of the finest soil in the province is in this locality. The surveys on the sources and tributaries of the Torrens are splendid properties, and the Company may well consider them as amongst the most valuable of its acquisitions; beyond the heads of the Torrens the country is more hilly and less available. There are, nevertheless, isolated spots sufficiently large for the most comfortable homesteads. From this point, a west-south-west course will soon lead the traveller into the plains of Adelaide, and at less than 10 miles after entering upon them, he will again find himself in the metropolis. Again departing from it for the southern parts of the province, he will keep the Mount Lofty range upon his left, and will really find some difficulty in passing the numberless fences which now enclose the plains. The land indeed in this line of road is more fenced than in any other direction, a reason for this may be that the road runs nearer the base of the hills, and the land is consequently better than that on the lower ground. Many very excellent farms are to be found on the banks of the Sturt and the Onkaparinga, on the latter of which the village of Noorlunga has been established, at the point where the road crosses it. The Sturt has a tortuous course, somewhat to the northward of west, and falls into the gulf at Glenelg, after spreading over the flats behind the sand-hills at that place. The direction of the road is parallel to that of the ranges, or nearly south-south-west as far as the village of Noorlunga, when it turns more to the eastward of south, for Willunga, which is 28 miles distant from Adelaide. The banks of the Onkaparinga, above the crossing place, are extremely inaccessible, insomuch that stock can hardly be driven down to water for many miles above that point. The hills however are rounded in form, grassy, and clear of trees, consequently well adapted for grazing purposes. It was at Noorlunga, which is not more than two miles from the gulf, and can be approached in boats, as high as the bridge there, that Captain Barker first landed on the South Australian shore. The country between it and Willunga is generally good, portions of it are sandy and scrubby, but Morphett’s Vale is a rich and extensive piece of land, and I can well remember before it was settled seeing several large stacks of hay that had been cut, as it then lay in a state of nature. Willunga is close under the foot of the hills, which here, trending to the south-south-west, meet the coast line extremity of the Southern Aldinga plains. Close to this point is a hill, called Mount Terrible, almost of a conical shape, over the very summit of this, in the early stages of the colony, the road led to Encounter Bay; and I shall not forget the surprise I experienced, when going to that place, on finding I could not by any possibility avoid this formidable obstacle. On the other side of Mount Terrible the country is very scrubby for some miles, until, all at once, you burst upon the narrow, but beautiful valley of Mypunga. This beautiful valley, which had scarcely been trodden by the European when I first encamped upon it, was then covered with Orchideous plants of every colour, amidst a profusion of the richest vegetation. A sweet rippling stream passed within five yards of my tent-door, and found its way to the Gulf about a mile below me to the west. It was on the occasion of my going to the sea mouth of the Murray, that I first stopped at this spot. Amongst the boat’s crew I had brought with me from Adelaide a young lad, of not more than twenty-one, who had, for some weeks before, been leading a very hard life. At Mypunga he was seized with delirium tremens, and became so exceedingly outrageous, that I was obliged to have his feet and hands tied. In the morning he was still as frantic as ever, but the policeman, under whose charge I had placed him, having imprudently loosened the cord from his ankles, he suddenly started upon his feet, and gaining the scrub, through which we had descended into the valley, with incredible swiftness, secreted himself amongst it. Nor could we, by the utmost efforts during that and the succeeding day, discover his hiding place. I was accompanied by a man of the name of Foley, a bushranger of great notoriety, who had been captured by the Adelaide police, and was sent with my party in the hope that his knowledge of the coast would be of use to me, but neither could he discover the unfortunate runaway, who, there is no doubt, subsequently perished. Beyond Mypunga, to the south, are the valleys of Yankalilla and Rapid Bay, but very little, if in any respect inferior to the first mentioned place. The country between them is, however, extremely hilly, and contains some beautifully romantic spots of ground. The rock formation of this part of the ranges is very diversified; the upper part of Rapid valley is a fine grey limestone; a little to the southward veins both of copper and lead have been discovered, and I have good reason for supposing that quicksilver will one day or other be found in this part of the province. At Willunga there is a small stream, which issues from a valley close behind the township, and appears in former times to have laid many hundred acres of the flats below under water. Their soil is composed of the very richest alluvial deposit, and has produced some of the finest crops of wheat in the province. Aldinga plains lie to the south-west of Willunga, and are sufficiently extensive to feed numerous sheep, but unavailable in consequence of the deficiency of water upon them, and are an instance of a large tract of land lying in an unprofitable state, which might, with little trouble and expense, by sinking wells in different parts, be rendered extremely valuable. On ascending the hills above Willunga, in following up the southern line of road to Encounter Bay, it leads for several miles through a stringy-bark forest, and brings the traveller upon the great sandy basin, between Willunga and Currency Creek. This gloomy and sterile feature bears a strong contrast to the rich and fertile valleys I have described, and is really a most remarkable formation in the geology of the province. At an elevation of between 600 and 700 feet this basin is surrounded on all sides by rugged stony hills, excepting to the south and south-east, in which direc tion it falls into the valley of the Hindmarsh and Currency Creek respectively. Mount Magnificent, Mount Compass, and Mount Jagged, rise in isolated groups in different parts of the basin, the soil of which is pure sand, its surface is undulating, and in many parts covered with stunted banksias, through which it is difficult to force one’s way in riding along. The Finniss rises behind Mount Magnificent, and is joined by a smaller branch from Mount Compass, as it flows from the eastward. At about 25 miles from Willunga the traveller descends into the valley of Currency Creek, and finds the change from the barren tract over which he has been riding as sudden as when he entered upon it from the rich flats of Willunga. The valley of Currency Creek is not, however, the same as those I have already described in other parts of the colony; it is prettily wooded and grassy, but continues narrow for some distance after you have entered it; a small running stream, with a rocky bed, occupying the centre of the valley, which ultimately escapes from the hills by a kind of gorge, and discharges itself into an arm of the Goolwa. The extent of good land in Currency Creek is not very great, and is bounded both to the north and south by barren scrub. Due south, at the distance from 15 to 18 miles, is Encounter Bay, the country intervening between the two points to the shores of the Goolwa is very level, the soil is light but rich, and there appeared to me to be many thousand acres that were adapted for agricultural purposes, better adapted indeed than the richer soils. Whether that view be correct or not, the valleys of the Inman and Hindmarsh immediately behind Encounter Bay would fully make up for the want of agricultural land in this part of the province. Hindmarsh valley is not of any great extent, but the soil is good, and its scenery in my humble opinion surpasses any other I remember in South Australia. I shall never, indeed, forget the beautiful effect of sunset, on a fine bold mountain at the head of it, called the Black Hill. The glowing orb was fast descending behind it to the west, and the Black Hill was cast into deep shade, whilst the sun’s rays shooting down two valleys on either side gave the grass the appearance of young wheat. The extent of arable land in the valley of the Inman is very considerable, but in point of scenery bears no comparison with the first. I do not know whether I have made it sufficiently clear that there is a high range at the back of the coast hereabouts. If not, I would observe that it runs uninterruptedly from Mount Lofty to Cape Jarvis. Opposite to Encounter Bay it occupies nearly the centre of the promontory, and consequently forms a division of the eastern and western waters, there being a considerable breadth of barren stringy-bark forest between the heads of the opposite valleys, here as on the higher parts of the ranges near Mount Lofty, from the ascent of the great eastern road to the valley of the Onkerparinga.
It is a remarkable fact, but one that I believe I have already adverted to, that the farther north, towards the valley of the Wakefield, the more denuded of timber the country becomes, until at last not a tree of any kind can be seen. These extensive and open downs are, nevertheless, well grassed, and covered with a profusion of orchideous plants. Whether, however, there is any salt present in the soil, to check the growth of the trees, it is impossible to say. Undoubtedly many of the ponds in the Wakefield, as well as other parts of the province are brackish, but the same denuded state of the country exists not any where else. These districts are far too valuable to be overlooked, and are therefore extensively occupied by cattle and sheep. My most worthy friend, Mr. Charles Campbell, and my companion Mr. John Browne, and his brother, both occupy the most distant stations to the north. Mr. Campbell has one of the finest cattle runs in the province, and my comrade, I believe, is perfectly satisfied with his run. The condition of their cattle and sheep would at all events lead to the conclusion, that neither suffer from the nature of the water they drink or the pasture on which they feed.
As regards the general appearance of the wooded portion of the province, I would remark, that excepting on the tops of the ranges where the stringy-bark grows; in the pine forests, and where there are belts of scrub on barren or sandy ground, its character is that of open forest without the slightest undergrowth save grass. The trees are more or less numerous according to the locality, as well as more or less umbrageous, a character they generally have on river flats, but the habit of the eucalyptus is, generally speaking, straggling in its branches. In many places the trees are so sparingly, and I had almost said judiciously distributed as to resemble the park lands attached to a gentleman’s residence in England, and it only wants the edifice to complete the comparison.
The proportion of good to bad land in the province has generally been considered as divisible into three parts; that is to say, land entirely unavailable — land adapted for pastoral purposes only, and land of a superior quality. On due consideration, I am afraid this is not a correct estimate, but that unavailable country greatly preponderates over the other two. If, in truth, keeping the distant interior entirely out of view, and confining our observations to those portions of the colony into which the settlers have pushed in search for runs, we look to the great extent of unavailable country between the Murray and the Mount Gambier district, along the line of the Murray belt, and the extensive tracts at the head of the Gulfs, we shall find that South Australia, from the very nature of its formation, has an undue proportion of waste land. Those parts, however, which I have mentioned as being unavailable, were once covered by the sea, and could hardly be expected to be other than we now see them, and it may, therefore, be questioned how far they ought to be put into the scale. In this view of the matter, and taking the hilly country only into account, the proportion of unavailable and of pastoral land may be nearly equal; but that of the better description will still, I think, fall short of the other two. Taking South Australia in its length and breadth, the quantity of available land is, beyond doubt, very limited, but I regard it as exceedingly good, and believe that its capabilities have by no means been ascertained. I feel satisfied, indeed, that necessity will prove, not only, that the present pastoral districts are capable of maintaining a much greater number of stock upon them than they have hitherto borne, but that the province is also capable of bearing a very great amount of population; that it is peculiarly fitted for a rural peasantry, and that its agricultural products will be sufficient to support masses of the population employed either in its mining or manufactures. In this view of the subject it would appear that Providence has adapted the land to meet its new destinies, and that nothing we can say, either in praise or censure of its natural capabilities, will have the effect of concealing either the one or the other, as time shall glide on.
On the better soils the average crop of wheat is rather over than under twenty-five bushels to the acre. In many localities, and more especially when the ground is first cropped, it exceeds forty; and on some lands, once my own, in the Reed Beds, at the termination of the Torrens’ river, five acres, which I sold to Mr. Sparshott, averaged fifty-two bushels to the acre. The Reed Beds may be said to be on the plains of Adelaide, and their very nature will account to the reader for the richness of their soil; but the soil of the plains is not generally good, excepting in such places where torrents descending from the hills have spread over portions, and covered them with an alluvial deposit to a greater or less depth. The average crop of wheat on the plains does not exceed twelve or fifteen bushels to the acre, and depends on the time when the hot winds may set in. Barley on the light sandy soil of the plains is much heavier than wheat.
In the description I have thus endeavoured to give of South Australia, I have omitted any mention of the district of Port Lincoln, chiefly because sufficient was not known of it when I sailed for England to justify my hazarding any remark. Recent advices from the colony state that a practicable line of route from Adelaide has been discovered along the western shore of Spencer’s Gulf, and therefore, the disasters that overtook early explorers in that quarter, are not likely again to occur. It is farther said, that the number of sheep now depastured on the lands behind Port Lincoln, amounts to 70,000 — a proof of the utility, if not the richness of the country — as far, however, as I am aware, the soil must be considered of an inferior description — in other respects, the Port has advantages that will always render it an agreeable, if not altogether a desirable residence. It appears to be gradually improving, but the amount of its population is still low, not more than sixty. It is frequented by American and other whalers, but the duties collected add little to the revenues of the province. Port Lincoln, however, could hardly now be abandoned, since there are considerable interests at stake there. It has been stated that copper has been found in the interior, and I see no reason why it should not exist in the mountain formation of the Gawler Range, in such case an impulse will be given to the whole district, that would even change its prospects, and increase the mercantile operations of the province.
It does not appear to be the disposition of the English settlers to try experiments on the growth of intertropical productions. It must be admitted, however, that there are not many places in South Australia where they could be cultivated with advantage; for although both the plains of Adelaide and the valley of the Murray are warm in summer, the frosts, which are sufficient to blight potatoes, would necessarily injure, if they did not destroy, perennials, whilst in the hills the cold is adverse to any plants the growth of a tropical climate, if we except those which, as annuals, come to maturity in the course of a summer; but the true reason why the growth of extraneous productions is neglected in South Australia, is the expense consequent on the state of the labour market — for no doubt many pursuits might be followed there that would be remunerative. It is exceedingly difficult, however, to lead the pursuits of a community out of their ordinary course, and it is only where direct advantages are to be gained, that the spirit of enterprise and speculation breaks forth.
The climate of South Australia is admirably adapted for the growth of fruit trees of the hardier tropical kinds, for although the tenderer kinds grow there also, they do not arrive at perfection. The loquat, the guava, the orange, and the banana, are of slow growth, but the vine, the fig, the pomegranate, and others, flourish beyond description, as do English fruit trees of every kind. It is to be observed, that the climate of the plains of Adelaide and that of the hills are distinct. I have been in considerable heat in the former at noon, and on the hills have been in frost in the evening. The forest trees of Europe will grow in the ranges, but on the plains they languish; in the ranges also the gooseberry and the currant bear well, but in the gardens on the plains they are admitted only to say you have such fruits; the pomegranate will not mature in the open air, but melons of all kinds are weeds. Yet, such trees as are congenial to the climate arrive at maturity with incredible rapidity, and bear in the greatest abundance. The show of grapes in Mr. Stephenson’s garden in North Adelaide, and the show of apples and plums in Mr. Anstey’s garden on the hills are fine beyond description, and could not be surpassed in any part of the world — it may readily be imagined, therefore, that the intermediate fruit trees, such as the peach, the nectarine, the pear, the cherry, the greengage, and others, are of the most vigorous habits. All of them, indeed, are standards, and the wood they make during one season, is the best proof that can be given of their congeniality to the soil and climate of the province.
There are in South Australia two periods of the year which are equally deceptive to the stranger. The one is when the country is burnt up and suffering under the effects of summer heat — when the earth is almost herbless, and the ground swarms with grasshoppers — when a dry heat prevails in a calm still air. The other when vegetation is springing up under the early rains and every thing is green. Arriving at Adelaide during the first period, the stranger would hardly believe that the country, at any other season of the year, would be so clothed with herbage and look so fresh; arriving at the other, he would equally doubt the possibility of the vegetable kingdom being laid so completely prostrate, or that the country could assume so withered and parched an appearance; but these changes are common to every country under a similar latitude, and it would be unjust to set them down to its prejudice, or advantage.
The following mean of heat at 2 p.m. throughout the year, will give the reader a correct idea of the range of the thermometer. I have taken 2 p.m. as being the hottest period of the day, and, therefore, nearest the truth.
|March||77||103 1/2||68 1/2|
|April||67 1/2||85||55 1/2|
|September||61||72 1/2||55 1/2|
|October||68 1/2||94 1/2||55|
The west and south-west winds are the most prevalent, blowing for 130 or 140 days in the year. During the summer months the land and sea breezes prevail along the coast, but in the interior the wind generally commences at E.N.E., and going round with the sun settles at west in the afternoon.
I need not point out to the reader, that the above table only shews the mean of the thermometer during a certain hour of the day; the temperature during the night must necessarily be much lower; the coolness of the night, indeed, generally speaking, makes up for the mid-day heat. There are some days of the year when hot winds prevails, which are certainly very disagreeable, if not trying. Their occurrence, however, is not frequent, and will be easily accounted for from natural causes. They sometimes continue for three or more days, during which time clouds of dust fill the air, and whirlwinds cross the plains, but the dryness of the Australian atmosphere considerably influences the feelings on such occasions, and certainly produces a different effect upon the system from that which would be produced at a much lower temperature in a more humid climate; for, no doubt, it is to the united effects of heat and moisture, where they more or less exist, that the healthiness or unhealthiness of a country may be ascribed. In such countries, generally speaking, either teaming vapours, or malaria from dense woods or swamps naturally tries the constitution, but to its extreme dryness, and the absence of all vegetable decay, it appears to me that the general salubrity of South-east Australia is to be attributed. So rarified, indeed, is the atmosphere, that it causes an elasticity of spirits unknown in a heavier temperature. So the hot winds, of which I have been speaking, are not felt in the degree we should be led to suppose. Like the air the spirits are buoyant and light, and it is for its disagreeableness at the time, not any after effects that a hot wind is to be dreaded. It is hot, and that is all you can say; you have a reluctance to move, and may not rest so well as usual; but the spirits are in no way affected; nor indeed, in the ordinary transactions of business does a hot wind make the slightest difference. If there are three or four months of warm weather, there are eight or nine months of the year, during which the weather is splendid. Nothing can exceed the autumn, winter, and spring of that transparent region, where the firmament is as bright as it would appear from the summit of Mount Blanc. In the middle of winter you enjoy a fire, the evenings are cold, and occasionally the nights are frosty. It is then necessary to put on warmer clothing, and a good surtout, buttoned across the breast, is neither an uncomfortable nor unimportant addition. Having said thus much of the general salubrity of the climate of South Australia, I would observe, in reference to what may be said against it, that the changes of temperature are sudden and unexpected, the thermometer rising or falling 50 degrees in an hour or two. Whether it is owing to the properties I have ascribed, that the climate of this place as also of Sydney should be fatal to consumptive habits, I do not know, but in both places I have understood that such is the case, and in both I have had reason to regret instances. It has been said that influenza prevailed last year in Adelaide to a great extent, and that it carried off a great many children and elderly persons. An epidemic, similar in its symptoms, may have prevailed there, and been severe in its progress, but it hardly seems probable that the epidemic of this country should have been conveyed through constant change of air, the best cure for such a disease, to so distant a part of the world. With all its salubrity, indeed, I believe it may be said, that South Australia is subject to the more unimportant maladies like other countries, but that there are no indigenous disorders of a dangerous kind, and that it is a country which may strictly be called one of the healthiest in the world, and will, in all probability, continue so, as long as it shall be kept clear of European diseases.
Having thus endeavoured to give a description of the general character and climate of this limited but certainly beautiful portion of the Australian continent, without encumbering my description with any remark on the principal and particular sources of wealth it possesses, which not being usual, could not, or rather would not, have been considered applicable. I hope the object I have had in view will be sufficiently clear to the reader. I have endeavoured to point out with an impartial pen, the real capabilities of the province, and the nature of those productions which are most congenial to her soil. Without undue praise on the one hand, or unjust depreciation on the other, it has been my desire to present a faithful picture of her to my readers, and I hope it will appear from what I have said, as is really and truly the case, that both in climate and other respects it is a country peculiarly adapted to the pursuits and habits of my countrymen. That its climate so far approaches that of England, as to be subject to light and partial frosts, which render it unfit for the cultivation of tropical productions, but make it essentially an agricultural country, capable of yielding as fine cereal grain as any country in the world, of whatever kind it may be — that at the same time the greater mildness of the climate makes it favourable to the growth of a variety of fruits and vegetables, independently of European fruit trees and culinary herbs, which put it in the power of the settler to secure the enjoyment of greater luxuries and comforts, than he could possibly expect to have done in his own country, except at a great expense, and that as far as the two great desiderata go, on which I have been dwelling, it is a country to which an Englishman may migrate with the most cheerful anticipations.
Seasons — cause why South Australia has fine grain — extent of cultivation — amount of stock — the Burra-Burra mine — its magnitude — abundance of minerals — absence of coal — smelting ore — immense profits of the Burra-Burra — effect of the mines on the labour market — reluctance of the lower orders to emigrate — difference between Canada and Australia — the Australian colonies — state of society — the middle classes — the squatters — the Germans — the natives — author’s interviews with them — instances of just feeling — their bad qualities — personal appearance — young settlers on the Murray — conclusion.
It was my object in the last chapter, to confine my observations strictly to the agricultural and pastoral capabilities of the province of South Australia, which I thought I could not better do than by describing the nature of its climate and soil, for on these depend the producing powers of every country. In speaking of the climate, however, I merely adverted to its temperature, leaving its seasons out of question for the time, intending to close my remarks on these heads, by a short review of the state of the agricultural and pastoral interests of the colony at the present date.
It will be borne in mind that the seasons of Australia are the reverse of our own; that when in England the ground is covered with snow, there the sun is hottest, and that when summer heats are ripening our fruits, in Australia it is the coldest season of the year, December, January, February, and March being the summer months; June, July, August, and September the winter ones. An experience of ten years has shewn that the seasons of South Australia are exceedingly regular, that the rains set in within a few days of the same period each successive year, and that during the winter the ground gets abundantly saturated. This regularity of season may be attributed to the almost insular position of the promontory of Cape Jarvis, and may be said to be almost local, in elucidation of which, I may refer to what I have stated in the former part of my work, of the state of the weather in the valley of the Murray when the expedition was proceeding up its banks in the month of August, 1844. For some time before there had been heavy rains in the hills, and it was with some difficulty the drays crossed them. During our stay at Moorundi, the ranges were covered with heavy clouds, and the mountain streams were so swollen as to stop one of my messengers; but the sky over the valley of the Murray was as clear as crystal, morning mists it is true curled up at early dawn from the bosom of its waters, but they were soon dissipated, and a sharp frosty night was succeeded by a day of surpassing beauty.
The regularity, however, both in its commencement and in the quantity of moisture that falls during the rainy season in the colony, enables the agriculturist to calculate with certainty upon it, and the only anxiety of the farmer is to get his grain into the ground sufficiently early, if possible, to escape the first hot winds. In a region, portions of which are subject, it must be confessed, to long continued drought, this is no inconsiderable advantage, although South Australia is not singular in this respect, for the rainy seasons in the Port Phillip districts are, I believe, equally regular and more abundant, whilst the climate of Van Diemen’s Land almost approaches to that of England; neither, indeed, fairly speaking, is South Australia more favoured than those of her immediate neighbours in the quality of her soil. Van Diemen’s Land is the granary of the southern seas, and there is unquestionably a very great proportion of the very best soil in the Port Phillip district. Nevertheless that of South Australia has yielded a finer and a heavier grain than has ever been produced in those colonies, but the reason of this is, that with a naturally rich soil to work upon, the agriculturists of South Australia have spared no pains in cultivating their lands, but there can be no doubt that with equal care and attention both the Vandemonians and the settlers of Port Phillip would produce an equally fine sample. The farmers of South Australia have enhanced the value of their colony by their energy and skill in cultivating it, and can boast of having sent the finest sample of wheat to England that has ever been exhibited in her market.
South Australia, in its length and breadth, contains about 300,000 square miles, or in round numbers more than 190,000,000 acres. The limits of location, however, do not exceed 4000 miles, or 7,000,000 acres. In this area, however, a great portion of desert country is included, or such, at least, as at the present moment is considered so. Of the more available land, 470,000 acres have been purchased, but the extent of country occupied by sheep and cattle stations is not known.
It may be necessary here to observe, that the returns of the land under cultivation last year were published after I left the colony; but the comparison between the two previous years will shew the increase and decrease of the different grains, sufficiently to establish the progress of agricultural pursuits in the colony. In the year 1845, the number of acres of wheat sown was 18,848. In 1846 it was 26,135. Of barley, there were in the former year 4,342 acres, in the latter only 3,490. Of oats, there were 1,485 in the first year, which, in 1846, increased to 1,963. It would thus appear, that the increase of cultivated land in the course of one year amounted to between 6000 and 7000 acres, and that more than 400 agriculturists were added to the list of landed proprietors. The necessary consequence of such extensive farming operations is that the produce far exceeds the wants of the settlers, and that there is a considerable surplus for exportation; the price of the best flour being from 12 pounds to 13 pounds per ton, whereas for a short period in 1839 it was 120 pounds!!!
Whilst the agriculturists have been so earnest in the development of the productive powers of the colony, another class of its inhabitants were paying equal attention to its pastoral interests. The establishment of stock stations over its surface followed its occupation, and a mild climate and nutritive herbage equally contributed to the increase of cattle and sheep that had been introduced. In 1844 the number of sheep assessed was 355,700, in the following year that number had increased to 480,669, or an addition of 120,000. At the present moment there cannot be far short of a million of sheep in the province, with an increase of 200,000 annually, at a moderate computation. The number of other kinds of stock in the possession of the settlers, at the close of last year, was as follows:— of cattle, 70,000; 30,000 having been imported during the two previous years from New South Wales. The number of horses was estimated at 5000, and of other smaller stock, as pigs and goats, there were supposed to be more than 20,000.
It is impossible to contemplate such a prosperous state of things in a colony that has only just completed the eleventh year of its existence, without feeling satisfied that some unusually favourable circumstances had brought it about. Had South Australia been as distant from the older colonies on the continent as Swan River, the amount of stock she would have possessed in an equal length of time, could not have amounted to a tenth of what they now number. It is to the discovery of the Darling and the Murray that South Australia owes the superabundance of her flocks and herds, and in that superabundance the full and complete establishment of her pastoral interests. I stated in the course of my preliminary observations on the progress of Australian discovery, that when I was toiling down those rivers, with wide spread deserts on either side of me, I had little idea for what purposes my footsteps had been directed into the interior of the Australian Continent. If I ever entertained even a distant hope that the hilly country from which I turned back at the termination of the Murray, after having floated on its broad waters for eighty-eight days, might ever be occupied, I certainly never hoped that the discoveries I was then making would one day or other prove of advantage to many a friend, and that I was marking the way for thousands of herds and flocks, the surplus stock of New South Wales, to pass into the province of South Australia.
If then such consequences have resulted from enterprises, apparently of almost as hopeless a character as the one from which I have so recently returned, why, I would ask, should I despair, as to its one day or other being instrumental in benefiting my countrymen. There may yet be that in the womb of time which shall repay me for all I suffered in the performance of that dreary task — when I shall have it in my power to say, that I so far led the way across the continent as to make the remainder of easy attainment, and under the guidance and blessing of Providence have been mainly instrumental in establishing a line of communication between its northern and southern coasts. I see no reason why I should despair that such may one day be the case. The road to the point which may be termed my farthest north is clear before the explorer. That point gained, less probably than 200 miles — a week’s journey with horses less jaded than mine unfortunately were, and with strength less reduced — would place him beyond the limits of that fearful desert, and crown his labours with success. I believe that I could, on my old route, make the north coast of Australia, to the westward of the Gulf of Carpentaria, before any party from Moreton Bay. If it is asked what practical good I should expect to result from such an undertaking, I would observe, that nothing would sooner tend to establish an intercourse with the inhabitants of the Malay archipelago, than the barter of cattle and sheep, that in truth there is no knowing what the ultimate results would be. The Malays who visit the northern coasts of Australia to collect the sea slug, have little inducement to keep up an intercourse with our settlements in Torres Straits, but there can be no doubt of their readiness to enter into commercial intercourse with us, which, if Torres Straits are to be navigated by steamers, would be doubly important.
When the stock from New South Wales was first brought down the Murray, the journey occupied from three to four months. Latterly it did not take half that time. In less than fifty days, from the Murray, on his way to the north, the stock-holder would find that he had passed the centre, and an equal number of days from that point would, it appears to me, take him to his journey’s end. This, however, would depend on the nature of the country beyond where it is at present known, and the nature of the season during which it was undertaken, but experience alone, as in the instance of the journey down the Murray, would be the best guide and the best instructor.
In the early part of the year 1840, I had occasion to address a number of the colonists at the conclusion of a public entertainment and availed myself of the opportunity to state that whatever prospects of success the pastoral capabilities of the province appeared to hold out, I felt assured it was to the mountains, the colonists would have to look for their future wealth, for that no one who pretended to the eye of a geologist could cross them as I had done, without the conviction that they abounded in mineral veins. There is something, in truth, in the outline and form of the Mount Lofty chain that betrays its character. Rounded spurs, of very peculiar form, having deep valleys on either side, come down from the main range, the general outline of which bears a strong resemblance to that of the Ural chain.
In the year 1843, the first discovery of copper was made, but even this was scarcely sufficient to rouse the colonists to a full sense of its importance, and it was only by degrees, as other mines were successively discovered, that the spirit of speculation burst forth, and the energies of the settlers were turned for a time from their legitimate channels. A short time before this, their circumstances had been reduced to the lowest ebb. There was no sale for agricultural produce, no demand for labour, the goods in the shops of the tradesmen remained unsold, and the most painful sacrifices of property were daily made at the auction mart. The amount of distress indeed was very great and severe, but such a state of things was naturally to be expected from the change that had taken place in the monetary affairs of the province. It was a change however which few anticipated, and for which few therefore were prepared.
It is a painful task to advert to past scenes of difficulty and distress, such at least I feel it to be, more especially where there is no immediate object to be gained by a reference to them; let me therefore turn from any inquiry into the causes which plunged South Australia into difficulties that threatened to overwhelm her, to those which raised her from them.
Notwithstanding the spirit and firmness with which the colonists bore their reverses, there could not but be a gloom over the community where every thing seemed to be on the brink of ruin. Men’s minds became depressed when they saw no relief in the present, and no hope in the future. But Time, with a rapid wing, brought about changes that appear permanently to have altered the circumstances of the colony, and to have placed it at once as one of the most flourishing of the British possessions. The first circumstance, I have understood, which partially cheered the drooping spirits of the settlers, was a slight rise in the price of wool, in the year I have mentioned. The discovery of the mines following soon upon this, the sun of prosperity burst at once upon the province, and gladdened every heart. From this period, mine after mine of copper and lead continued to be discovered. Every valley and hill-top was searched for hidden treasures, and the whole energies of the colonists seemed to be turned to this new source of wealth. I was absent in the interior when the Burra Burra mine was secured, but the excitement it created had not subsided when I reached Adelaide.
I do not know whether the presence of mineral veins is indicated in other countries as in South Australia by means of surface deposits. The opinion I formed that ores would be discovered in the Mount Lofty ranges did not rest upon the discovery of any such deposit myself, but on the peculiar form of the hills, which appeared to me to have settled into their present state from one of extreme fusion. The direction of the ranges being from north to south, these deposits lie also in the same direction. Those of iron are greater than those of copper, and it is impossible to describe the appearance of the huge clean masses of which they are composed. They look indeed like immense blocks, that had only just passed from the forge. The deposits at the Burra Burra amounted, I believe, to some thousand tons, and led to the impression that where so great a quantity of surface ore existed, but little would be found beneath. In working this gigantic mine, however, it has proved otherwise. I was informed by one of the shareholders just before I left the colony, that it took three hours and three-quarters to go through the shafts and galleries of the mine. Some of the latter are cut through solid blocks of ore, which glitter like gold where the hammer or chisel has struck the rock, as you pass with a candle along them.
It would be out of place in me, nor indeed would it interest my readers, were I to enter into a statistical account of the profits of the Burra Burra mine. A general notice will convey every necessary information on that head, and enable the public to judge as well of its value and importance as if I entered into minuter details. It will give the reader some idea of the scene of bustle and activity the Burra mine and road must present, and the very great amount of labour it requires.
The quantity of ore sent weekly from the mine to the port is from 430 to 450 tons, employing from 150 to 160 drays, and more than double that number of men. The total quantity of ore received at the port in December last was 10,000 tons, the average value of which at 20 pounds per ton, amounts to 200,000 pounds, and the price of shares, originally of 5 pounds, had, by last advices, reached 160 pounds.
Considering the gigantic scale of the Burra Burra mine, it was supposed that few other mines would be found in the colony that would at all approach it, that indeed, it had been the principal deposit, and that whatever indications other mines might give, they would soon cease in working, or produce so little as to be valueless. I confess that such was my own opinion — surprised at the immense size of this magnificent mine, I hardly thought it possible that in mountains, after all of limited range, mines of great value would still be found, and that discoveries of new mines were frequently taking place, and that too in situations where no such feature would be supposed to exist. On York’s Peninsula for instance, immediately across St. Vincent’s Gulf, opposite to Port Adelaide, and directly on the sea shore, there are two sections, on which copper ore is abundant. The position of this mine can at once be determined by the reader, on a reference to the map. The land is very low, and the rock formation, tertiary fossil, but the various and anomalous positions in which copper is found in South Australia, baffles all ordinary calculations — as likely to exist in the valley, as on the hill — at the sea side as well as inland: there is not a locality in which it may not be looked for and found.
The whole of the mountain chain indeed, is a mass of ore from one end to the other, and it is impossible to say what quantity, or how many of the richer metals will ultimately be found in a country through which the baser metals are, without doubt, so abundantly diffused. The quantity of gold hitherto discovered has not been important, but it is reasonable to suppose, that where a small quantity has been found, large deposits must be at no great distance. This gold however, like the baser metals of South Australia, is very pure, there being few component parts mixed with it.
From the various examinations of the hills that have at different times been made, it would appear that precious stones, as well as metals, exist amongst them. Almost every stone, the diamond excepted, has already been discovered. The ruby, the amethyst, and the emerald, with beryl and others, so that the riches of this peculiar portion of the Australian continent may truly be said to be in their development only.
With such prospects before it, there can be but little doubt that the wealth of South Australia will, one day or other, be very great, neither can there be any doubt but that the discovery of the mines at the critical period, made a complete revolution in the affairs of that colony, and suddenly raised it from a state of extreme depression to one of independence, even as an individual is raised to affluence, from comparative poverty by the receipt of an unlooked-for legacy. The effect, however, which the discovery had on its present prospects, and the effect it must have on the future destinies of that colony, can hardly, it appears to me, be placed to the credit of any ordinary process of colonization. It has rather been in the shape of an unexpected auxiliary, that this immense and valuable supply of ore has been brought to bear upon its fortunes, for the condition to which the colony was reduced at one time, was such, that it would have taken many years to have acquired the appearance of returning prosperity, but the discovery of the mines was like the coming up of a rear-guard, to turn the tide of battle, when the main army had apparently been all but defeated. The assistance the colony received was complete and decisive, and has seemingly placed her beyond the hazard of failure or reverse: but, admitting the state of depression to which it was reduced, and the length of time it would have taken to bring about a healthy change, I yet believe, that the favourable position of the province as regards its connection with the other colonies, the character of its climate and soil, and the energies of its inhabitants, would have ensured its ultimate success. Before the depression in 1841, South Australia had become a pastoral country, in consequence of the number both of cattle and sheep that had been imported. In 1838, the city of Adelaide had scarcely been laid out, no portion of it had yet been sold, when flocks and herds were on their way to the new market, and from that period, even to the present, there has been no cessation to their ingress — first of all, as I have stated, the Murray, and then the Darling, became the high roads along which the superfluous stock of Port Phillip and New South Wales were driven to browse on South Australian pastures, and to increase the quantity and value of her exports.
However low therefore the price of wool might have kept, the natural increase of stock would still have gone on, and if we may judge from the unflinching energies of the agricultural portion of the community, their efforts to develop the productive powers of the soil, would rather have been stimulated than depressed by the misfortunes with which they were visited. I do them nothing more than justice when I assure the reader, that settlers in the province from the neighbouring colonies, could not help expressing their surprise at the state of cultivation, or their admiration of the unconquerable perseverance, that could have brought about so forward and creditable a state of things.
I have already stated that the general outline and form of the Mount Lofty chain, bears a strong resemblance to the outline and form of the Ural mountains. But it is of trifling elevation, running longitudinally from north to south, with a breadth of from 15 to 20 miles. The metalliferous veins crop out on the surface of the ground, preserving the same longitudinal directions as the ranges themselves, and the rock in which the ores are imbedded, generally speaking, is a compact slate. As the Mount Lofty ranges extend northwards, so does the Barrier or Stanley range, over which the recent expedition crossed on leaving the Darling; no copper ores were found amongst those hills, but an abundance of the finest ore of iron, running, as the out-croppings of the copper ores, from north to south, and occurring in depressed as well as elevated situations, the rock formation being very similar to that of the more western ranges.
If we are to judge from these facts, it is very evident that strong igneous action has influenced the whole, nor can I help thinking, from general appearances, that the continent of Australia has been subjected to a long subterranean process, by which it has been elevated to its present altitude, and it appears to me that that action, though considerably weakened, is still going on. The occurrence of two slight shocks of earthquake felt at Adelaide, since the establishment of the colony, would further strengthen this opinion.
The copper ores of South Australia fetch a higher price at the Swansea sales than those from any other part of the world, not only because they are intrinsically rich, but because they are generally composed of carbonates, which are necessary to facilitate the smelting of the ores of sulphuret of copper from Cuba and other places. The necessity for sending the ores from Adelaide to some foreign port to undergo the process of smelting, will probably exist for a considerable length of time; until such time, indeed, as the electric process shall be found to answer on a sufficiently large scale to be profitable, or, until smelting works are established; but, the great difficulty to be apprehended in carrying on such operations would be the want of fuel, which scarce even at the present moment, would soon be more so — for there is not sufficient wood in the vicinity of any of the mines to keep up the supply for such a consumption as that which would be required; besides which, the cartage of the wood, and the expenses attending its preparation for the furnace, would materially diminish any profits arising from the smelting of the ores. In such a view of the case I cannot but think that the establishment of works at the mines will be found to be as unprofitable to their proprietors as to the smelter, and that such works will only be remunerative when carried on under more favourable circumstances — for it would appear that coal is the only mineral South Australia does not possess, and I am apprehensive that no bed of it will ever be found in the colony. I have ever thought the geological formation of the country unfavourable to the presence of coal, but, still, it is said to exist as a submarine formation close to Aldingi Bay. The discovery of this mineral in the province would immediately give to it, within itself, the means of the most unbounded wealth, and would undoubtedly fill up the measure of its prosperity to the brim.
By a late report of the Directors of the Burra Burra mine, it would appear, that they had made several successful attempts to smelt the ore, but, that the cost, having exceeded that of cartage to the port, and freight, the process has been abandoned. Parties, however, had offered to enter into an engagement to smelt the whole of the ore from the mine at about Swansea prices; notwithstanding the unfavourable circumstances under which such smelting would necessarily be carried on.
As I understand the nature of this arrangement, the ore will be smelted at the mine, and the remuneration to the smelter will be between fifty and sixty shillings per ton perhaps, by way of “return charges”, or we will say between sixty and seventy shillings, which is a sum exactly equal to the cartage of the ore to the port. If then the Directors abandoned their intentions, because they found they could not smelt at so low a sum as the price of cartage and freight, how will the contractor make it pay under more unfavourable circumstances? No doubt, if he should find it remunerative, the shareholders of the Burra Burra would find it still more so, and it would be the interest of the proprietors of the larger mines to enter into similar engagements; but, on a due consideration of this important subject, I am led to believe that to make smelting works successful in South Australia, Companies must purchase the ore, and carry it off to localities suitable for the operation. Such an arrangement would still considerably increase the profits to the proprietors of the mine, nor would there be any difficulty in determining the value of the ore, by processes similar to those adopted at Swansea, by which the interests of both parties are equally protected.
In the South Australian Register of the 27th of November of last year, it is stated that a Mr. Hunt, one of the auctioneers in Sydney, offered for sale thirteen tons of pure copper ore of colonial manufacture, from ore the produce of the Burra Burra, in ingots weighing 80 lbs. each; the ore having been smelted by Mr. James at Mr. Smith’s foundry at Newtown. This copper was however bought in at 80 pounds, the limit being 85 pounds per ton.
It will give the reader some idea of the character of this prodigious mine, and of the profits arising from it, to know, that during the four months preceding the 23rd October, 1847, the directors declared and paid three dividends, amounting to 200 per cent. on the subscribed capital, and that the credits of the Association on the 30th September were 104,694 pounds 4 shillings 8 pence. The Burra Burra mine however is not the only one of importance. Several others have of late been discovered, and South Australia may be said to be a thriving country in every sense of the word, and one in which those profitable interests will rapidly increase.
We have hitherto been speaking of the mines of South Australia as the sources of wealth, and as the sudden, if not the remote cause of the prosperity of that province. It now becomes our duty to consider how far the discovery of the mines has benefited or interfered with the other branches of industry and sources of wealth; and as regards both these, it must be admitted that their discovery has had an injurious effect. The high rate of wages given by the proprietors of mines, not only to the miners, but to all whom they employ, draws the labourers from every other occupation to engage with them. The consequence has been a general want of labourers throughout the whole colony, still more severely felt by reason of the previous want of labour in the labour market. Every man who could obtain sufficient money to purchase a dray and team of bullocks, hurried to the mines for a load of ore to take to the port, and disdained any ordinary employment when by carting ore he could earn 6 or 7 pounds in a fortnight. The labourer was quite right in going where he received the best remuneration for his services; but the consequences were in many instances fatal to their former employers. Many farmers were unable to put in seed or to cultivate their land; many, after having done so, were unable to gather it, and had it not been for the use of Mr. Ridley’s machine, the loss in the crops would have been severely felt. Not only did the farmers suffer, but the stock-holders, and the colonists generally. The want of hands, indeed, was felt by all classes of the community, since the natural consequence of the high wages given by the mining proprietors to the men they employed, tended still more to depress the labour market, and to increase the demand upon it by leading many of the more frugal labourers to purchase land with the money they were enabled to save. As landed proprietors they not only withdrew their labour from the market, but in their turn became employers; but I feel called upon to say at the same time, that equal distress was felt in the neighbouring colonies for working hands, where no mines had been discovered, and where they could not therefore possibly have interfered.
From what has been said of the province of South Australia, and setting its mines entirely out of the question, the description that has been given of its pastoral and agricultural capabilities, of its climate, and of the prospects of success which present themselves to the intending emigrant, it will naturally be inferred that the impression I have intended to convey is, that, as a colony, it is most peculiarly adapted for a British population, whether rural or other. The state of the colony is now such, that the way of the emigrant in landing is straight before him, for with honesty, sobriety, and industry, he cannot lose it. When I stated, in a former part of my work, that I would not take upon myself to give advice, which if followed, and not successfully, might subject me to the reproach of any one, I referred to those who have similar means of acquiring information to myself, and whose stakes, being considerable, make the responsibility of giving advice the greater. With the lower orders — the working classes — the case is different. They have not the means of acquiring information on these matters, and it becomes the duty of those who can promote their welfare to do so. I am quite aware that there are many of my poor countrymen who would gladly seek a better home than they possess at this moment, but who, clinging to the spot where they were born, disheartened at the thought of abandoning their hearth, and bound by early recollections to their native country, cannot make up their minds to turn their backs on the companions of their youth, and the haunts of their childhood.
Such a feeling undoubtedly claims our sympathy and respect. It is that very feeling — the love of Home — the belief that they can no where be happier, which has been the strength of England, and has given her sons the heart to love, and the spirit to defend her. But the period however, when those feelings were so strong, has passed away — more general ones have taken their place, and the circumstances of the times have so changed, that neither hearth nor home have the same attractions; a restlessness pervades the community, and a desire to escape from those scenes, and that spot which they or their forefathers once thought the most hallowed upon earth. But two circumstances have militated against the migration of the rural population in this country, to the Australian colonies, at all events.
The one has been an apprehension as to the length and nature of the voyage; the other the expense, more especially to a family man. Had it not been for these causes, the Australian colonies would not have had to complain of the want of labour. The truth is, that the ignorance which prevails in the inland counties as to any matters connected with foreign parts, and the little means the labouring classes possess of defraying their own expenses, has kept them, except in a few instances, from seeking to go to that distant part of the world, which assuredly holds out to them the brightest prospect, and is most like their own home. They may however rest satisfied that the voyage to Australia is as safe as that to New York, that it is far more pleasant as regards the weather, and that little or no sickness has ever thinned the number of those who have embarked for the Australian colonies. The expense of the voyage is certainly greater than that of a passage to the Canadas, or to the United States, but it is to be hoped that the means of transport will soon be at their command. I would only in this place offer the remarks I conscientiously think the case requires, as one who, having witnessed the happiness of thousands in the land of which he is speaking, would gladly be instrumental in opening the way for thousands more of his countrvmen to the same happy destiny. Having been both to Canada and the Australian colonies, if I were asked which of the two I preferred, I should undoubtedly say the latter. I do not desire to disparage the Canadas by this assertion, for I know that they have advantages in their soil and in the magnificence of their rivers beyond comparison, but Australia, on the other hand, has advantages over our transatlantic possessions, such as her increased distance from England, cannot counterbalance. Her climate, in the first place, is surpassing fine. There the emigrant is spared the trouble of providing against the severities of a Canadian winter. That season passes over his head almost without his knowledge, and the ground, instead of being a broad sheet of snow, is covered with vegetation. Her lands, unencumbered by dense forests, are clear and open to the plough, or are so lightly wooded as to resemble a park, rather than a wild and untouched scene of nature. Instead of having to toil with the saw and the axe to clear his ground before he can cultivate it, and instead of consuming a year’s provisions before he can expect any return, he can there run the plough from one end to the other of his enclosures, without meeting a stone or a root to turn its point, and at once reap the produce of the soil. These surely are advantages of no ordinary kind, and, if the expense of a voyage to the Australian colonies is greater than that to America, I cannot but think that the contingent expenses to which the Canadian or Union emigrant is put, before he can consider himself as finally settled down, must necessarily exceed those of the Australian.
As before observed, the aspect of South Australia, and indeed of many parts of the neighbouring colonies, is essentially English. There, as in England, you see the white-washed cottage, and its little garden stocked with fruit trees of every kind, its outward show of cleanliness telling that peace and comfort are within. To sever oneself from our kindred, and to abandon the dwelling of our fathers, is a sacrifice of no imaginary magnitude, whether we are rich or poor, and the prospects of reward should be bright indeed to compensate for it. I conclude that it has been to combat the reluctance in the lower orders to leave their homes, that inducements too highly coloured in many instances, have been held out to them, the consequence of which has been that many, whose expectations were excited, suffered proportionate disappointment at the outset of their career as emigrants. Convinced of the injurious tendency of such a practice, and regarding it as a culpable and cruel mockery of misfortunes, which, having been unavoidable, claim our best sympathies, I should not have said so much as I have done on this important subject, had I not felt justified in so doing. The reader may rest assured that to the sober, the honest, and the industrious, the certainty of success in South Australia is beyond all doubt. An individual with these qualities may experience disappointment on landing, but he must recollect that this is always a period of anxiety, and the circumstances in which he first finds himself placed, may not come up to his expectations; his useful qualities and regular habits cannot be immediately known, and we seldom alter our condition, even for the better, without some trouble or vexation.
I have, in the course of my remarks, in my recommendation of the Australian colonies as being favourable to the views of emigrants, given a preference to South Australia. I have done so because I am better acquainted with its condition than with that of either of the other settlements. Of it I have spoken as to what I know; but, of the others, to a great extent, from hearsay. The character however of those colonies needs no recommendation from me. As far as its pastoral and agricultural capabilities go, I believe Port Phillip to be as fine a district as any in the world. The advantages indeed of the Australian colonies must be nearly equal, from the fact that the pursuits of their respective inhabitants are so nearly the same. Local circumstances may give some parts of the continent a preference over others, but, as points of emigration there is little choice. The southern portions are not subject to the withering droughts to which parts of the eastern coast are liable, and may be preferred on that account, but still there are districts in New South Wales as unexceptionable as any in Port Phillip or South Australia.
It now remains to make some observations on the present state of society in the last-mentioned colony; for it appears to me, that in order to give a correct picture of it, some notice on that head is required. I think too, I am the more called upon to do so, because many very mistaken notions are held of it. As in most of Her Majesty’s possessions, so in South Australia, the Government officers form a prominent, and I may say, distinct class. Colonel Robe, the late Governor of the province, made Government House the seat of the most unmeasured hospitality, which he exercised beyond the point to which there was any public call upon him. His table was covered with every delicacy the season could afford, his wines were of the very best, and there was a quiet but effective manner about him, which gained universal esteem. As a soldier, he was exceedingly particular in the order and appearance of his establishment, nor was there anything wanting to complete the comfort of it. The number of the colonists who assembled round him occasionally, was from 50 to 60; on more public festive occasions they exceeded 300, and I may add, that on both, the scene differed not in the slightest degree from that of similar parties in this country, save that there was less of formality in the interchange of friendly communications between the visitors. Except also in giving a tone to society, and setting an irreproachable example to the community, the officers of the Government are exceedingly retired, their salaries are too limited to enable them to follow the example of their chief.
They live quietly, and as gentlemen, are ever happy to see their friends, but public parties are seldom given by any of them. Prudence indeed calls upon them to refrain from those displays, which they cannot reasonably afford, and the consequence was, that a warmer intimacy existed in their quiet intercourse with each other, than could have sprung from more formal entertainments.
The truth is, the salaries of the Government officers, bear no proportion to the means of the majority of the settlers, who have risen into affluence from a combination of circumstances, that have been unprecedented in the history of colonization. There are few private individuals in the province, who have not, at one time or other, benefited by some speculation, but I am not aware that any one of the Government officers have any private interests in the colony, if I except the possession of a section or two of land, on which they have built and reside, nor do I know that any of them have allowed a spirit of speculation to interfere with public duties.
Amongst the leading or upper classes of society, there are many very estimable persons. I do not mention names, but my recollection will bear me back to the many happy days I have spent with them, and certainly any one not desiring an extended circle of acquaintance could no where, whether amongst gentlemen or the ladies, find individuals more worthy of his regard or friendship than in the still limited society of South Australia.
Many of the tradesmen having succeeded in business, or acquired an independence from their interests in the mines, have retired, and live in suburban residences, which they have built in well selected situations, and with considerable taste. Attached to the customs of Home, many of the citizens of Adelaide possess carriages of one kind or another, and are fond of devoting their Sunday evenings to visiting places in the neighbourhood. As regards the lower classes, I do not think there is in any of Her Majesty’s possessions, a greater amount of mechanical genius and enterprise than amongst the mechanics of South Australia. I speak confidently on this head, since I have had very many points referred to me, which have long satisfied me of this fact.
There are many societies in South Australia, of which the lower orders are members, all of them tending to promote social interests. The order of Odd Fellows is prominent amongst these, and spreads a feeling throughout all classes which cannot fail of doing good, for the charities of this order are extensive, and it supports a well-attended school. Taking then the lower orders of the province in the aggregate, they may be said to be thoroughly English, both in their habits and principles.
In speaking of the upper classes I did not notice a portion of them included under the denomination of the “Squatters”. It is a name that grates harshly on the ear, but it conceals much that is good behind it; they in truth are the stockholders of the province, those in whom its greatest interests would have been vested if the mines had not been discovered. Generally speaking, the squatters are young men who, rather than be a burthen on their families, have sought their fortunes in distant lands, and carried out with them almost to the Antipodes the finest principles and feelings of their forefathers. With hearts as warm as the climate in which they live, with a spirit to meet any danger, and an energy to carry them through any reverse of fortune, frank, generous, and hospitable, the squatters of the Australian colonies are undoubtedly at the head of their respective communities, and will in after days form the landed, as they do now the pastoral interests, from whom every thing will be expected that is usually required of an English country gentleman. Circumstanced as they are at the present moment, most of them leading a solitary life in the bush, and separated by such distances from each other as almost to preclude the possibility of intercourse, they are thus cut off as it were from society, which tends to give them feelings that are certainly prejudicial to their future social happiness, but I would fain hope that the time is coming round when these gentlemen will see that they have it very much in their own power to shorten the duration of many of the sacrifices they are now called upon to make, and that they will look to higher and to more important duties than those which at present engage their attention.
The views taken by the late Sir George Gipps of the state of society in the distant interior of New South Wales is perfectly correct, nor can there be any doubt but that it entails evils on the stock-holders themselves which, on an abstract view of the question, I cannot help thinking they have it in their power to lessen, or entirely to remove, when an influx of population shall take place; but, however regular their establishments may be, they cannot, as single men, have the same influence over those whom they employ, or the settlers around them, as if they were married; for it is certainly true, that the presence of females puts a restraint on the most vicious, and that wherever they are, especially in a responsible character, they must do good. I do not know anything, indeed, that would more conduce to the moral improvement of the settlers, and people around them, than that squatters should permanently fix themselves, and embrace that state in which they can alone expect their homes to have real attractions. That they will ultimately settle down to this state there cannot, I think, be a doubt, and however repugnant it may be to them at the present moment to rent lands, on the occupation of which any conditions of purchase is imposed, I feel assured that many of the squatters will hereafter have cause to thank the Secretary of State for having anticipated their future wants, and enabled them to secure permanent and valuable interests on such easy terms. Nothing, it appears to me, can be more convincing in proof of the real anxiety of Earl Grey for the well being of the Australian provinces than the late regulations for the occupation of crown lands.
I believe I am right in stating that every word of those regulations was penned by Earl Grey himself, and certainly, apart from local prejudices, I am sure a disinterested person would admit the care and thought they evince, and how calculated they are to promote the best interests of the squatters, and the future social and moral improvement of the people under their influence. There seems to me to run throughout the whole of these regulations an earnest desire to place the stockholder on a sure footing, and to remove all causes of anxiety arising from the precarious tenure upon which they formerly held property.
There is another division of the population of South Australia I have hitherto omitted to mention, I mean the German emigrants. They now number more than 2000, and therefore form no inconsiderable portion of the population of the province. These people have spread over various districts, but still live in communities, having built five or six villages.
The Germans of South Australia are quiet and inoffensive, frugal and industrious. They mix very little with the settlers, and, regarded as a portion of the community, are perhaps too exclusive, as not taking a due share in the common labour, or rendering their assistance on occasions when the united strength of the working classes is required to secure a general good — as the gathering in of the harvest, or such similar occasions. Their religious observances are superintended by different pastors, all of them very respectable persons. The oldest of these is Mr. Kavel, to whom the Germans look with great confidence, and hold in deserved esteem. Many of the Germans have been naturalized, and have acquired considerable property in various parts of the province, but very few have taken to business, or reside in Adelaide as shopkeepers. The women bring their market or farm produce into the city on their backs, generally at an early hour of the morning, and the loads some of them carry are no trifle. Here, however, as in their native country, the women work hard, and certainly bear their fair proportion of labour. The houses of the Germans are on the models of those of their native country, and are so different in appearance from the general style, as to form really picturesque objects. There is nowhere about Adelaide a prettier ride than through the village of Klemzig, on the right bank of the Torrens, that having been the first of the German settlements. The easy and unmolested circumstances of these people should make them happy, and lead them to rejoice that in flying from persecution at home they were guided to such a country as that in which they now dwell, and I have no doubt that as a moral and religious people, they are thankful for their good fortune, and duly appreciate the blessings of Providence.
My anxiety to raise the character of the natives of Australia, in the eyes of the civilized world, and to exhibit them in a more favourable light than that in which they are at present regarded, induces me, before I close these volumes, to adduce a few instances of just and correct feeling evinced by them towards myself, which ought, I think, to have this effect and to satisfy the unprejudiced mind that their general ideas of right and wrong are far from being erroneous, and that, whatever their customs may be, they should not, as a people, occupy so low a place in the scale of human society, as that which has been assigned to them. I am quite aware that there have been individual instances of brutality amongst them, that can hardly be palliated even in savage life — that they have disgusting customs — that they are revengeful and addicted to theft. Still I would say they have redeeming qualities; for the first, I would fain believe that the horrors of which they have been guilty, are local; for the last, I do not see that they are worse than other uncivilized races. Treachery and cunning are inherent in the breast of every savage. I question, indeed, if they are not considered by them as cardinal virtues; but, admitting the Australian native to have the most unbridled passions, instances can be adduced of their regard for truth and honesty, that ought to weigh in any general estimate we may form of their character. No European living, not even Mr. Eyre, has seen so many of the Aborigines of the Australian continent as myself; and that, too, under circumstances when strife might have been expected; and no man certainly has had less reason to complain of them. If my party has ever been menaced by these people, if we have ever had their spears raised in hundreds against us, it has been because they have been taken by surprise, and have acted under the influence of fear. If I had rushed on these poor people, I should have received their weapons, and have been obliged to raise my arm against them, but, by giving them time to recover from their surprise, allowing them to go through their wonted ceremonies, and, by pacific demonstrations, hostile collisions have been avoided. If I had desired a conflict, the inclination might have been indulged without the fear of censure, but I saw no credit, no honour to be gained by such a course, and I therefore refrained. I can look back to my intercourse with the Australian aborigines, under a consciousness that I never injured one of them, and that the cause of humanity has not suffered at my hands; — but, I am travelling out of my proper course, and beg the reader to excuse me, it is for him, I allow, not for me, to draw such conclusions.
I have said, that I thought I could adduce instances of a regard for justice and honesty that would weigh in favour of the Australian native. As one instance, let me ask, if anything could have been more just, than the feeling which prompted the native to return the blanket one of his tribe had stolen from the camp on the banks of the Castlereagh, as detailed in my former work, vol. i. page 141. The man who restored the lost property was apprehensive of danger, from the fact of his having come armed, and from his guarded and menacing attitude when the soldier approached to ascertain what he wanted. Had he been the father of the thief, we could only have said that it was a singular proof of honest pride by a single individual, but such was not the case, the whole tribe participated in the same feeling, for we learnt from them, that the thief had been punished and expelled their camp. Could anything have been more noble than the conduct of the native, who remained neuter, and separated himself from them, when the tribes attempted to surprise my camp on the Murrumbidgee, because I had made him presents as I went down that river, vol. ii. page 212. On the other hand, could anything have been more just than the punishment inflicted on the boy who stole my servant Davenport’s blanket at Fort Grey? as mentioned in the present work; or the decision of the two sons of the Boocolo of Williorara, as regarded the conveyance of our letter-bag to Lake Victoria? Here are broad instances of honesty that would do credit to any civilized nation. Surely men, who can so feel, should not be put lowest in the scale of the human race? It is true that all attempts to improve the social condition of the Australian native has failed, but where is the savage nation with which we have succeeded better? The natives of New Zealand will perhaps be the only instance, in modern times, of a barbarous race surviving the introduction of civilization amongst them. Without venturing to compare the natives of Australia, to a people so much superior, I would only claim for them a due share of consideration. All I can say is that they have submitted to our occupation of their country with a forbearance that commands our best sympathies.
It will be borne in mind, that I have not here spoken of their personal appearance. That that generally is against them, cannot be doubted. If there is any truth in phrenology, they must have their share of the brutal passions. The whole appearance of the cranium indeed, would lead to the conclusion that they possess few of the intellectual faculties; but, in a savage state, these are seldom called forth. They are, nevertheless, capable of strong attachment, are indulgent parents, and certainly evince a kindly feeling towards their relations, are improvident and generous, having no thought for the morrow. On the other hand, they are revengeful and crafty, and treat their wives with much harshness, imposing on them the burthen of almost everything: that man being considered the richest who has the greatest number, because he can sit in his hut, and send them out to procure food.
I think it is agreed on all hands that the natives of Australia are sprung from the same parent stock. Their personal appearance and customs, if not their dialects, shew this. From what race they originally sprang it is more difficult to determine, for there is not one of the great families into which the human race has been divided, with which they may properly be classed. With such features as they generally possess, in the flattened nose, thick lip, and overhanging brow, one can hardly fancy that they would be good looking, but I certainly have seen very good looking men amongst them — I may say tribes, indeed, on the Darling for instance, and on the Murrumbidgee, (see page 53, vol. ii. of my last work.) The men on Cooper’s Creek were fine rather than handsome. Generally speaking, the natives have beautiful teeth, and their eye, though deep sunk, is full of fire. Although their muscular development is bad, they must have a very remarkable strength of sinew, or they could not otherwise raise themselves, as they do, on so slender a footing in climbing up the trees, and in many other occupations. I have read in several authors that the natives of Australia have woolly hair. This is a mistake; their hair is as fine and as curly as that of an European, but its natural beauty is destroyed by filth and neglect. Nothing can prove its strength more than the growth of their beards, which project from their chins, and are exceedingly stiff.
In many places the natives have but a scanty and precarious subsistence, which may in some measure account for the paucity of their numbers in some localities. In many parts of the country in which I have been I feel satisfied they can seldom procure animal food, as they would not otherwise resort to the use of some things which no time could, I should imagine, make palateable. Their dexterity at the chase is very great, although in hunting the kangaroo they become so nervous that they frequently miss their mark. I have seen them sink under water and bring up a fish writhing on the short spear they use on such occasions, which they have struck either in the forehead, or under the lateral fin, with unerring precision. Still some of our people come pretty close to them in many of their exercises of the chase, and the young settlers on the Murray very often put them to the blush. At the head of them is Mr. Scott, Mr. Eyre’s companion, who has now succeeded him in the post at Moorundi. There is not a native on the river so expert in throwing the spear, in taking kangaroo or fish, or in the canoe, as he is. His spear is thrown with deadly precision, and he has so mixed with the natives, that he may be said to be one of themselves, having the most unbounded influence over them, and speaking their language as fluently as themselves. Mr. Scott is at the same time very firm and decided, and is exceedingly respected by the settlers on the Murray. Under such circumstances it is to be hoped he will emulate Mr. Eyre and effect much good among his sable friends. Their devotion and attachment to him is very remarkable, and every native on the Murray knows “Merrili”, as he is called.
One great cause of the deaths amongst the Aborigines is their liability to pulmonary diseases from being constantly in the water. They are much annoyed by rain, nor will any thing induce them to stir during wet weather, but they sit shivering in their huts even in the height of summer. There is no people in the world so unprovided against inclemency or extremes of weather as they are. They have literally nothing to cover them, to protect them from the summer heat or the winter’s cold; nor would any charity be greater than to supply these poor people with clothing. A few blankets, a few Guernsey shirts, and woollen trowsers, would be to them a boon of the first importance, and I would that my voice in their favour could induce the many who are humane and charitable here to devote a small portion of that which they bestow in works and purposes of charity to think of these children of the desert. It is only by accustoming them to comforts, and to implements which they cannot afterwards do without, to supersede as it were their former customs, that we can hope to draw them towards civilized man and civilization; for what inducement has the savage with his wild freedom and uncontrolled will, to submit to restraint, unless he reap some advantage?
The yearly and monthly distribution of blankets and of flour to the natives at Moorundi is duly appreciated. They now possess many things which they prefer to their own implements. The fish-hooks they procure from the Europeans are valued by them beyond measure, since they prevent the necessity of their being constantly in the water, and you now see the river, at the proper season, lined by black anglers, and the quantity of fish they take is really astonishing, and those too of the finest kinds. I once saw Mr. Scott secure a Murray cod, floating on the top of the water, that weighed 72lbs. This beautiful and excellent fish is figured in Mitchell’s first work. It is a species of perch, and is very abundant, as well as several others of its own genus, that are richer but smaller; the general size of the cod varying from 15lbs. to 25lbs.
The manners and customs of the natives have been so well and so faithfully recorded by Mr. Eyre that I need not dwell on them here. My views have been philanthropic, my object, to explain the manner in which I have succeeded in communicating with such of them as had never before seen Europeans, in order to ensure to the explorer, if possible, the peaceable results I myself have experienced. There are occasions when collisions with the natives are unavoidable, but I speak as to general intercourse. I feel assured no man can perform his duty as an explorer, who is under constant apprehension of hostility from the people through whose country he is passing.
The province of South Australia could never at any time have been thickly inhabited. There are some numerous tribes on the sea-coast at the head of the Gulfs and in Encounter Bay, as well as on the Murray River, but with the exception of a few scattered families on the northern hills, and in the scrub, the mountain ranges are, and it appears to me have been, almost uninhabited. There are no old or recent signs of natives having frequented the hills, no marks of tomahawks on the trees, or of digging on the flats. The Mount Lofty ranges, indeed, are singularly deficient of animal life, and seem to be incapable of affording much subsistence to the savage, however luxuriant and beneficial the harvest they now yield.
The Adelaide tribe is not numerous; they occupy a portion of the Park lands, called the native location, and every encouragement has been given them to establish themselves in comfort on it, but they prefer their wild roving habits to any fixed pursuit. Nevertheless, they are variously employed by the townspeople, in carrying burthens, in cutting up wood, in drawing water, and similar occupations; and, independently of any assistance they may receive from the Government, earn an immense quantity of food from the citizens. The natives properly belonging to the Adelaide tribe are all more or less clothed, nor are they permitted by the police to appear otherwise, and as far as their connection with the settlers goes, they are fast falling into habits of order, and understand that they cannot do any thing improper with impunity.
The Murray tribe, as well as the tribes from the south, frequently visit their friends near the capital, and on such occasions some scene of violence or dispute generally ensues. Frequently the abduction of a lubra, or of an unmarried female of another tribe, brings about a quarrel, and on such occasions some angry fighting is sure to follow; and so long as that custom remains, there is little hope of improvement amongst them. The subject of ameliorating their condition is, however, one of great difficulty, because it cannot be done without violating those principles of freedom and independence on which it is so objectionable to infringe; but when a great ultimate good is to be obtained, I cannot myself see any objection to those restraints, and that interference which should bring it about. There is nowhere, not even in Sydney, more attention paid to the native population than in South Australia, and if they stand a chance of improvement it is there. Whilst every kindness is shewn to the adult portion, the children are under the direct care of the Government. There is, as I have elsewhere stated, a school, at which from thirty to forty boys and girls attend. Nothing can be more regular or more comfortable than this institution. The children are kindly treated, and very much encouraged, and really to go into it as a visitor, one would be disposed to encourage the most sanguine expectations of success. As far as the elementary principles of education go, the native children are far from deficient. They read, write, and cypher as well as European children of their own age, and, generally speaking, are quiet and well behaved; but it is to be regretted that, as far as our experience goes, they can advance no farther; when their reason is taxed, they fail, and consequently appear to be destitute of those finer qualifications and principles on which both moral feeling and social order are based. It is however questionable with me whether this is not too severe a construction to put on their intellect, and whether, if the effect of ancient habits were counteracted, we should find the same mental defect.
At present, the native children have free intercourse with their parents, and with their tribe. The imaginations of the boys are inflamed by seeing all that passes in a native camp, and they long for that moment, when, like their countrymen, they will be free to go where they please, and to join in the hunt or the fray. The girls are told that they are betrothed, and that, at a certain age, they must join their tribe. The voice of Nature is stronger even than that of Reason. Why therefore should we be surprised at the desertion of the children from the native schools? But it will be asked — What is to be done? The question, as I have said, is involved in difficulty, because, in my humble opinion, the only remedy involves a violation, for a time at all events, of the natural affections, by obliging a complete separation of the child from its parents; but, I must confess, I do not think that any good will result from the utmost perseverance of philanthropy, until such is the case, that is, until the children are kept in such total ignorance of their forefathers, as to look upon them as Europeans do, with astonishment and sympathy. It may be argued that this experiment would require too great a sacrifice of feeling, but I doubt this. Besides which, it is a question whether it is not our duty to do that which shall conduce most to the benefit of posterity. The injury, admitting it to be so, can only be inflicted on the present generation, the benefit would be felt to all futurity. I have not, I hope, a disposition for the character of an inhuman man, and certainly have not written thus much without due consideration of the subject, but my own experience tells me we are often obliged to adopt a line of conduct we would willingly avoid to ensure a public good.
It will not then, I trust, be thought that I have ventured to intrude this opinion on the public, with any other views than those which true philanthropy dictates. I am really and sincerely interested in the fate of the Australian Aborigine, and throw out these suggestions, derived from long and deep practical experience, in the ardent hope that they may help to produce the permanent happiness of an inoffensive and harmless race.
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