History of West Australia/Chapter 18
REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT; EXPLORATION.
1869 TO 1878.
ARRIVAL OF GOVERNOR WELD—DUKE OF EDINBURGH—WELD'S DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY—REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT AND MR. LEE-STEERE—PUBLIC MEETINGS—WELD'S VIEWS—PROVISIONS OF NEW CONSTITUTION—BILL INTRODUCED AND DEBATE IN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL—SECOND READING CARRIED BY SEVEN VOTES TO FIVE—IMPERIAL ASSENT—1ST JUNE—ELECTIONS—DEATHS OF ROE, G. F. STONE, AND BRUCE—MEETINGS OF NEW COUNCIL—TARIFF DIFFICULTY—DISAGREEMENT AND VETOES—DISSOLUTION AND ELECTIONS—TAX ON FLOUR, WHEAT, &C.—ATTACKS ON GOVERNOR WELD—PARTIES CLEARLY MARKED—AGITATION FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT—TWO NEW ELECTORATES—MOTION BY LEE-STEERE—BILL PROVIDING FOR AUTONOMY INTRODUCED—COUNCIL DISSOLVED—GOVERNOR ROBINSON ARRIVES—CARNARVON SENDS DISCOURAGING DESPATCH—RESOLUTIONS THEREON—FURTHER TARIFF REVISION—PROXY VOTING ABOLISHED—ARRIVAL OF GOVERNOR ORD—S. H. PARKER AND RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT—EXECUTIVE AND OFFICIAL CHANGES—EDUCATION BILL AND ROMAN CATHOLICS—LAND LAW REVISION—TORRENS ACT—NEW REGULATIONS IN 1878—IMMIGRATION AND GRANTS OF LAND—ASSISTED IMMIGRATION AND RESULTS—CHINESE AND JAVANESE—MUNICIPAL INSTITUTIONS ACT—PERTH FREMANTLE, AND OTHER MUNICIPALITIES PROCLAIMED, AND COUNCILLORS ELECTED—SANITATION—LOCAL ROAD BOARDS ACT—CONSTITUTION OF BOARDS—PUBLIC WORKS—TELEGRAPH LINE FROM PERTH TO FREMANTLE—TELEGRAPHS TO ALBANY, YORK, AND TOODYAY BUILT BY A COMPANY—LINES OPENED—A PRIVATE RAILWAY AT THE VASSE (1871)—ANOTHER PRIVATE LINE—A LOAN BILL—EASTERN RAILWAY PROPOSED—TELEGRAPHS PURCHASED—A SECOND LOAN—GERALDTON TO NORTHAMPTON RAILWAY BILL PASSED—AGITATIONS FOR OTHER RAILWAYS—FIRST SOD OF GERALDTON TO NORTHAMPTON RAILWAY TURNED (1874)—TELEGRAPH NEWCASTLE TO GERALDTON—A THIRD LOAN—TELEGRAPH TO EUCLA BUILT AND OPENED (1877)—FAULTY DESIGNS NORTHAMPTON RAILWAY, AND RESULTS; LINE OPENED (1879)—FREMANTLE, PERTH, GUILDFORD RAILWAY BILL CARRIED—A FOURTH LOAN—SWAN BAR—WELD'S DIFFICULTIES WITH FINANCES—REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE—PAUPERISM AMONG CONVICTS—CONVICT EXPENDITURE—LORDS OF THE TREASURY—EXPORT AND IMPORTS; IMPROVED POSITION—WOOL—NORTH-WEST; DROUGHT; COSSACK; TERRIBLE STORM AND FLOODS; LOSSES; LEASES, STOCK—AGRICULTURE; REGRETTABLE DECADENCE; SCOURGES OF RED RUST, AND BAD YEARS—HORTICULTURE-SANDALWOOD TRADE EXPANSION—HARDWOODS SUCCESSFULLY WORKED; MILLS; RAILWAYS; EXPORT TRADE—WHALING AND FISH—STOCK EXPORT-PEARLING EXCITEMENT; DISCOVERIES OF PEARLS; HURRICANES AND LOSS OF LIFE; TREATMENT OF NATIVE DIVERS; MURDERS; FLYING FOAM PASSAGE AND SHARKS BAY; MALAYS; CHINESE; ACCUSATIONS; WRECKS; RETURNS—GUANO EXPORT, AND LACAPEDE ISLANDS; AMERICAN CLAIMS—COPPER AND LEAD MINING—GOLD DISCOVERIES; BATTERIES; PARLIAMENTARY VOTE—MAILS—CONVICTS; REDUCTION IN NUMBERS; ESCAPES; FENIANS IN NEW ZEALAND; A CLEVER ESCAPE OF FENIANS, AND CHASE; THE COMPTROLLER-GENERAL AND THE MAN YOUNG; PARKER, STIRLING, AND SHENTON BEFORE JUDGE BURT; LEGAL DIFFICULTIES; IMPRISONMENT OF THE STIRLING BROTHERS AND SHENTON; DEATH OF A. SHENTON—NATIVES; A C0MMITTEE TAKE EVIDENCE—L. C. BURGES IMPRISONED; NATIVE PRISONERS; MURDERS—RELIGIOUS MATTERS—WELD CLUB—DEATH LIST—WRECKS AND STORMS; "GRACE DARLING"—APOTHEOSIS IN EXPLORATION; THE INTERIOR MYSTERIES; JOHN FORREST'S FIRST AND SECOND JOURNEYS; ALEX. FORREST'S FIRST TRIP; GILES'S TRIP; WARBURTON STRUGGLES ACROSS THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN DESERTS; GOSSE GOES OUT; GILES'S SECOND TRIP; ROSS; JOHN FORREST, AFTER TREMENDOUS DIFFICULTIES, REACHES OVERLAND TELEGRAPH LINE; GILES CROSSES THE DESERTS TWICE.
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BRUCE controlled the affairs of the colony from November, 1868, to September, 1869. It was at first supposed that Sir B. Pine would succeed Governor Hampton, but he went to the Leeward Islands instead. On 30th September, 1869, Mr. Frederick A. Weld arrived at Fremantle to take the reins of Government. Perth was gaily decorated, and the military and civic bodies affforded him a hearty welcome.
The period during which Colonel Bruce officiated was uneventful, except for a visit from the Duke of Edinburgh. The spirit of loyalty and patriotism had been frequently demonstrated in the colony. During the Indian Mutiny and on other notable occasions the people evinced an interest in British welfare as deep and subtle as could be found in any English centre, and great enthusiasm was aroused by news of the courageous exploits of the army. Nor have the succeeding years dulled the edge of national sentiment. It can be well imagined, therefore, that the welcome tendered the Duke of Edinburgh was warm and deep. He landed at Fremantle from the Galatea on 3rd February, 1869, and left the colony four days later. Fealty to the Throne was ardently testified in salutes, military and civic displays, addresses, banquets, and balls. The populace greeted the Duke with acclamation wherever he went, and sorrow was expressed that he did not remain longer in the colony. Prior to departing he placed in the hands of the Collector of Revenue £100 to be disbursed among the charities.
Governor Weld quietly associated himself with the aspiraticns of Western Australians. He was an appreciative supervisor of local interests, and speedily appraised the spirit pervading the community, and strove to lead it in what he esteemed the right direction. Enterprise of all kinds was promoted by him, and he eneouraged exploration with the earnestness of an enthusiast. Upon occasion he believed it his duty to deliver lectures to his people.
Before March, 1870, the new Governor had made a tour of about 2,100 miles to every settled portion of the colony except the north-west; he generally travelled on horseback. Some of his impressions were contained in a despatch written to Earl Granville, the then Secretary for the Colonies. His conclusions are interesting:—"The whole country from north to south, except the spots cleared for cultivation, may be described as one vast forest, in the sense of being heavily timbered; sometimes the traveller comes upon an open plain covered with shrubs and flowering plants in infinite and exquisite beauty; often in the north and east districts low scrubby trees and bushes fill the place of timber, but taking the word 'forest' in its widest sense—as wild woods and bushy country—Western Australia, so far as I have seen, is covered with one vast forest." He alludes to the various kinds of timber, and he considers the geological formation "such as would indicate the presence of gold." Vine-growing had not obtained the attention it deserved; moreover, "the Western Australian wines are rudely and unscientifically made, but they are likely to possess many of the characteristics of Spanish wines." Of the old complaint that the good land was patchy and scattered, he writes:— "This is perfectly true if reference is made only to corn-growing, or feeding stock on natural pastures, but nothing has struck me so forcibly as the fact that here almost any soil will grow something or other; thus the light sandy soil about Perth astonishes me by its abundant garden produce. The vine grows luxuriantly everywhere, even in the apparently sterile 'iron stone' ranges, and the flooded low lands; the brackish swamps would grow the New Zealand flax to perfection." There were some splendid wheat-growing districts producing corn of a fine quality, but the crops were generally light, "owing in a great degree to overcropping and slovenly farming." The roads were wonderfully good, and in no country he had ever seen were there "greater facilities for the construction of roads, railways, and lines of telegraph." The truth of this report has been demonstrated in more recent years, and Governor's Weld's description of the country is true of it even to-day.
Consonant with the assent given to Governor Hampton by the Secretary for the Colonies to a form of Representative Government, one of the first duties of Governor Weld was to inaugurate this privilege. Buckingham had said that if it were shown that the people wanted the form of government provided for in Act 13 and 14 Vic. he saw no reason why it should not be granted to them. His successor, Earl Granville, was similarly disposed, with the difference that he gave the matter more deliberate attention. Buckingham, at the end of an unusually busy and trying session, found the documents relating to the question in a Colonial Office pigeon-hole; he perused them hurriedly, and gave them the Imperial assent. His term of office was short, and Granville, with greater earnestness and more time, devoted himself to a thorough understanding of the position. Mr. Lee-Steere presented to the Legislative Council, in 1869, the petition of householders, containing 1,649 signatures, which had been carefully and systematically drawn up and furthered since the meeting of February, 1868. Governor Weld was at this time expected in the colony, and Acting Governor Bruce, therefore asked that the consideration of it be postponed. In this way the matter was shelved until the meeting of the Legislative Council in 1870. Colonel Bruce, however, had a Committee appointed to draft a measure, divide the colony into electoral districts, and make other recommendations, whose report he submitted to Earl Granville. Hence the path was already paved for the new Governor.
Both in speeches in the colony and in despatches to the Home Government Governor Weld showed his sympathy with the movement. He studied his people as well as his country, and recognised that Representative Government was inevitable. In a speech delivered at Bunbury on 15th February, 1870, he declared that the new system of government would be immediately introduced. In his opinion Act 13 and 14 Vic. was not theoretically perfect, but it was workable. He was no doctrinaire in regard to constitutions, and believed that a skeleton might do to be filled up with flesh and blood—to grow and be amended to suit the changing circumstances of the country. The colony was not ready for Responsible Government; not that such was bad in itself it was the apex and culminating point of Representative Government, and its perfection but he did not think the local politicians could give up their time and private affairs to take office on an uncertain and precarious tenure. He would unflinchingly perform his duty to the Home Government, and asserted that so long as large sums of money were expended in the colony from the Imperial Treasury so long ought the Home Government to have a strong voice in local affairs. Soon after his return to Government House, in Perth, Governor Weld, on 14th March, wrote Mr. Lee-Steere, stating hat he had received a confidential despatch from Earl Granville supporting the wishes of colonists. "It is unnecessary for me," concluded Governor Weld, "to say that I shall very cordially co-operate in the work that now lies before us, and I trust, with God's blessing, and the support of the people of this colony, to conduct it to a successful issue."
To give the projected bill more weight public meetings were held in various parts of the colony. Mr. Lee-Steere, speaking to a meeting at Bunbury on 29th March, said that soon after his arrival in Western Australia he was present at a meeting of the Legislative Council, and was shocked and indignant with the indifference shown to public opinion by the Executive; it was the arbitrary will of one man prevailing over a Council of cyphers in the machinery of government. Resolutions favouring Representative Government were carried. On 31st March a meeting was held at Fremantle, when similar resolutions were passed, after Mr. L. Samson had expressed his satisfaction with the attitude of Governor Weld. Public meetings were held at York, Northam, and other towns with like results. Governor Weld was nothing if not outspoken, but with all his frankness he was invariably a generous critic. On 1st March, 1870, he wrote Earl Granville:—"I see no reason to suppose that under the present system the colonists will ever become more fitted for self-government, and I greatly dread that if its introduction be long deferred they will become far less fitted. At present there are still men among them whose English education and English reminiscences would guide them in the almost forgotten path; the younger generation may grow up with less political education, and far less thought, I fear, of the real responsibilities of good citizens and loyal subjects. An almost primitive simplicity and kindliness of manners, very pleasing to see, strangely enough co-exists in the same country that holds a large proportion of the criminal class; and I should be unjust were I not to point out with gratification that it is not uncommon to find men formerly belonging to the latter class who have made good settlers and have raised themselves to a position of respectability and independence. An influx of population and riches, such a 'rush' as has heretofore taken place in almost every other portion of the Australian colonies, would, did it find us under the present system, result in an almost irresistible demand for universal suffrage and responsible Government at a time when such a concession would be unsafe and pregnant with disastrous consequences
Under the provisions of the Acts 13 and 14 Vic. c. 59, 5 and 6 Vic. c. 76, and 7 and 8 Vic. c. 74, which relate to the constitution of a Legislative Council, and under which a bill was now drawn up, the local Governor was empowered to establish, subject to the assent of the Home authorities, a new Legislative Council, on providing for such sums as were authorised by the Imperial Parliament for defraying the expenses of civil establishments. Any new constitution thus provided for would take effect immediately after the issue of the writs for the election. New electoral districts could be established from time to time, and the number of members might be increased, provided that the ratio of elected be not more than two thirds of the nominee and official members. Every man of the age of twenty-one years having property within the district in which he might be registered of the clear value of £100, or being a householder paying a year, or holding a depasturing license, would be entitled to a vote. No person could be elected a member of the Council unless he possessed lands or tenements to the yearly value of £100, or of the value of £2000 above all charges and incumbrances. The non-elective members were to be designated and appointed by the Queen, which power might be delegated to the Governor, and every non-elective member retained his seat for five years unless the Council were dissolved by the Governor. Members would forfeit their seats if absent for two successive sessions, or if they became insolvents or public defaulters. The Governor was empowered to name the time and place of meetings of the Council, and to prorogue or dissolve the same whenever he deemed it expedient. A session of Council must be held at least once in every year, and the Council was to be elected for five years; it could be dissolved at any time by the Governor. A member of the Council must be elected as Speaker before proceeding to the despatch of any business, which election required confirmation by the Governor's sanction. One-third of the members were necessary to constitute a quorum.
The Governor was required to transmit to the Council such bills as he desired to introduce for the consideration of its members. Every bill passed by the Council, as well as every law proposed by the Governor and passed by the Council, must be assented to by the Governor at his discretion, subject to the provisions of the Act and the instructions of the Home Government. It was not necessary for the Governor to reserve a bill for Her Majesty's pleasure; he might declare that he withheld Her Majesty's assent, and Her Majesty might disallow any bill assented to by the Governor. No bill reserved for Imperial sanction became law before the assent was proclaimed. The Governor was bound to act in obedience to the instructions of the Home Government. He might, with the consent of the Council, appropriate the revenues derived from taxes, duties, rates, and imposts, but could not make laws for the appropriation of Crown lands. District councils could be established, with power to levy assessments, rates, tolls, &c., in respect of public works. Customs duties could be imposed on any goods with the consent of the Governor. Finally, the Constitution might be remodelled by the Governor and Council, with the consent of the Imperial Parliament. These were the main provisions of the new Act.
The measure which Governor Weld introduced into the Legislative Council on 23rd May, 1870, went beyond even the old prayers of colonists, and instead of merely allowing for the election of members equal in number to the official, it gave a majority of six. There were to be in the Council only three persons holding office under the Government—the Colonial Secretary, Attorney-General, and Surveyor-General. Besides these, the new Chamber was to consist of three members nominated by the Governor, and twelve to be elected by the constituencies—eighteen members in all. The Governor was no longer to preside over legislative deliberations. Altogether, the Constitution was a distinct advance on the old system, but even now the Governor was almost as powerful as before. The elected members could command a majority, but the Governor could veto any measure they put forward. The official and nominee members might be supposed to represent the views of the Governor, to oppose whom the one weapon in the hands of the elected members was to attempt a deadlock, when the Governor could retort by dissolving the Council. In brief, it might be said that the Crown's prerogative was stronger than the People's rights. Mutual forbearance, and a conscientious consideration of the public weal by the Governor and the Councillors, were the necessary safeguards to prevent the new Constitution from being obstructive.
Colonists were not yet agreed as to the precise form of government which would be best for them. Some asked for Representative Government sufficient to ensure taxpayers a voice in the expenditure of their money, but the powers given to an autocratic governor would not assure them that in the new Constitution. Some wanted more definite control over the land laws, but the Imperial Government would not allow them that. Some cried out for Responsible Government, but the finances of the colony did not warrant such a concession. There were a few of the older settlers who did not desire any liberal form of representation whatever—men whose conservatism was, at least, singular, even in proposals which promised monetary advantage. As Governor Weld said at Bunbury, the bill was not perfect; it was open to criticism.
An animated debate took place in the Council—"undoubtedly the finest," says the Gazette, "that has ever taken place in a Western Australian Council Chamber. " Governor Weld told members that they had no power to deviate in any degree from the provisions of the Imperial Act, and must accept or reject them in their entirety. Extracts were read from despatches of Acting Governor Bruce and Governor Weld to the Secretary for the Colonies, and the bill passed its first reading without a dissentient voice. The second reading was considered on 25th May. Mr. Lee-Steere gave a retrospect of the circumstance which led up to the presentation of the householders' petition. Dealing with the existing constitution of the Council, he referred to the powerlessness of the non-official members, and said he had again and again quitted the Council with a feeling of shame at the paltry nature of all they had done. Then, getting more warm, he asserted that the Executive had never comprehended the meaning of the word "Government." Its members seemed to think that overlooking the administration of departments was Government; they knew nothing of legislation likely to further the development of the resources of the colony. Then Mr. Carr explained how measures were brought down to the House "cut and dried," and stigmatised the whole procedure as a sham. Colonel Bruce, as an official member, expounded the cause of the other side. An Assembly constituted as proposed would, he said, be paralysed by various elements of discord. No doubt, for a time, someone would be found to mount the whirlwind and direct the storm, but eventually the presiding chairman, whoever he might be, would sustain a disaster more serious, because more mischievous, than the aëronaut in Rasselas. Not only education and intelligence, but likewise independent means and leisure, were essential to enable men to devote their time to politics, and he doubted whether such would be found. Nor could he see that a Legislature such as was proposed would have more power for good than a Council of six members, while its power for evil would enable it to bring about responsible government through the instrumentality of a deadlock.
Mr.Newman—who succeeded Mr. Bateman (resigned) at Fremantle—cleverly combated the arguments of Colonel Bruce. He very properly asked if local legislators did not know how to conduct their own affairs, would they not have to wait for some heaven-born legislator to come and stay with them until they were sufficiently educated to the task? As well keep the tools from the man until he could use them, or a child from the water until he had learnt to swim. He did not anticipate that representative government would make the colony prosperous, but it would at least teach the people to be self-reliant and to act for themselves. The man who conducted his own affairs was best served, so was the man who sailed his own ship, or governed his own house; the colony that governed itself was likely to be best governed. Surveyor-General Roe thought the time for a change had not yet arrived. The step, once taken, was irrevocable, and he feared that responsible government, which he regarded as an unmitigated evil, stared them in the face. Mr. Barlee, the popular Colonial Secretary, was delighted that the time for representative government had come. He recalled the day when he stood by himself in the Council Chamber, the single advocate of that question, the triumph of which he hoped to see that night. During an earnest speech he espoused the cause of settlers, and finished by declaring that he did not believe the colony would be better prepared for the change five years hence; the people had much to learn, and the sooner they commenced the better. Mr. Phillips did not think the colony could afford representative government, and exclaimed that though the people clamoured for the change, they did not know what it meant. Mr. Lefroy, the Colonial Treasurer, opposed the Bill because he considered it a worse evil than the old system. The second reading was carried the same evening by seven votes to five. Those in favour were Governor Weld, Messrs. Barlee, Lee-Steere, Brockman, Newman, Carr, and Stone; against, Colonel Bruce, Captain Roe, Messrs. Lefroy, Phillips, and Hardey.
The whole consideration occupied only three sittings. On 1st June the third reading was taken, and Governor Weld immediately gave his assent in Her Majesty's name. On the same day, also, he formally opened the Perth Town Hall. Thus the 1st of June is memorable for several important events; firstly, the foundation of the colony; secondly, the arrival of the first convict ship; thirdly, the signing by Governor Weld of the ordinance establishing Representative Government; and fourthly, the opening of the Perth Town Hall. The Bishop, the Perth Council, Government officials, and leading citizens assembled to witness the last-named celebration, and a luncheon was subsequently held.
The old methods of agitating by public meetings and memorials were now largely obviated by the power which colonists had in their Representative Chamber. They could not with equal weight complain that their views and requests were just as well unuttered and unmade for all the attention they received. A few colonists prophesied disastrous results to representative government. There were many, however, who exultantly looked to a great epoch eventuating, who announced that the colony had too long slumbered under the paternal care of an autocratic government. One newspaper wrote:—"Western Australia has, it is well known, within herself the elements of wealth, which only require developing and the action of sincere, honest, and disinterested legislators to make her second to no other colony in the Australian group." Practical people considered the measure an excellent steppingstone.
The nominee Legislative Council was dissolved, and on the l8th July, 1870, writs were issued for the elections. The electoral divisions and representation under the Act were as follow:—Perth, two members; Fremantle, two members; and Geraldton, York, Toodyay, Swan, Greenough, Wellington, Vasse, and Albany, one member each. No extraordinary excitement was manifested on the inauguration of representative government. Western Australians had come to take almost everything in a "long-suffering" sort of spirit, and it was only occasionally that they were worked up to any great pitch of excitement; they held their first elections as if they had been used to the boon for generations.
The Perth elections were held on the 19th October. Business was suspended, and vans plied over the city conveying electors to the poll. Three of the candidates, with genuine goodwill, engaged the Volunteer Band to drive from street to street to add to the pleasure of the people. Another candidate engaged a private band to win electors to his interests The results at Perth were:—Messrs. J. G. C. Carr (235), L. S. Leake (205), Birch (160), Farrelly (95); at Fremantle, on 21st October, Messrs. E Newman (300), W. D. Moore (260), Marmion (128), Herbert (8); at Swan, on 26th October, Messrs. T. C. Gull (88), W. L. Brockman (58), Dr. A. Waylen (25); at Albany, on 18th October, Mr. John McKail (unopposed); at York, on 28th October, Messrs. J. H. Monger (125), S. E. Burges (72); at Champion Bay, on 10th October, Major Logue (69), Mr. H. Gray (30); at Greenough, on 12th October, Mr. G. Shenton (unopposed); at Toodyay, on 31st October, Mr. Jas. Drummond (108), Joseph Monger (22); at Vasse, on 26th October, Mr. J. G. Bussell defeated Mr. R. King by 13 votes; at Bunbury, on 8th November, Mr. J. G. Lee-Steere (191), R. Eadie (46).
The first Legislative Council under Representative Government was comprised of:
|J. G. C. Carr||M. Logue||George Shenton|
|L. S Locke||J.H. Monger||Jas. G. Lee-Steere|
|E. Newman||Jas Drummond||J.G. Bussell|
|W. D. Moore||T.C. Gull||John McKail.|
|Colonial Secretary ...||Fred. P. Barlee.|
|Attorney-General ...||R.J. Walcott.|
|Surveyor-General ...||M. Fraser.|
|S. P. Phillips|
|W. E. Marmion.|
Those two old and tried servants, Surveyor-General Roe and Attorney-General G. F. Stone, retired from office in December of this year. Neither gentleman long survived the rest from the cares of office which by faithful service each so amply deserved. The retirement of Lieutenant Roe from the Executive Council was commemorated in a laudatory resolution. Governor Weld moved at the meeting of that body on 19th December, 1870:— "that this Council takes this earliest occasion of expressing its deep sense of the zeal and devotion to the public service which has characterised the long official career of Commander John Septimus Roe, R.N., late Surveyor-General of this colony, and assures him that he carries into his retirement the warm good wishes of the Governor and his late colleagues in Executive Council." In November, 1871, it was proclaimed that the title and precedence of "Honourable" was conferred on Captain Roe. In 1868 he was promoted to the rank of Retired Commander. The hon. gentleman died on the 29th May, 1878, and his remains were tendered a public funeral, when all who were able did honour to probably the best public servant the colony ever possessed. Through the sturt and strife of the first years of settlement, with unwavering confidence in the resources of Western Australia, he helped by untiring energy to dispel the baneful infelicities which drugged the progress of the small community. During the succeeding years his conscientious and vigorous services conferred innumerable benefits on the colony. No figure stands out with greater historical prominence. In the voyages of Lieutenant King in the twenties he explored the huge coastline of New Holland, and when the English Government determined to establish a settlement at Swan River he was among the earliest to be approached by Captain Stirling to join the Civil Establishment, and his appointment as Surveyor-General dates from the 28th December, 1828. After his arrival in the Parmelia he accompanied Stirling, when the latter proceeded up the Swan to fix upon the site of an inland town, when Perth was founded. With a small staff, and under the most difficult circumstances, he made the pioneer surveys and rendered the suffering settlers assistance even beyond what was required by his duties. He as a member of the first official board, and of the first Legislative Council, holding the latter position for nearly forty years. To public movements, whether of mining, horticulture, or any other industries, he rendered all the assistance in his power, and stood as a bulwark to the weakly people. He made numerous and arduous explorations, and gave valuable instructions to the many explorers who went out into the unknown country. His scientific attainments were rewarded with fellowships in the Linnæan and Geographical Societies. He compiled charts of the coast; in brief, was navigator, engineer, surveyor, mining director, timber expert, littérateur, explorer, legislator, and universal adviser to the colony.
Two years before, on 18th August, 1875, Mr. George F. Stone died, at the age of sixty-three years. Mr. Stone arrived in the colony as a mere youth, and his life is interwoven with its history. In 1834 he was appointed Sheriff, and subsequently filled such positions as Registrar-General, Crown Solicitor, and Attorney-General. His simple modesty and large-hearted disposition made him an amiable companion in social circles. He was held in estimation as a lawyer.
Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce did not even survive to witness the inauguration of the new form of government. On 11th November, 1870, he died at Perth. He arrived in the colony in 1850, and in 1855 became Commandant of the local Military Forces and a member of the Legislative and Executive Councils. On two occasions he administered the affairs of Government. He was described as a conscientious and faithful public servant.
The first Legislative Council under Representative Government met on 5th December, 1870. Mr. Luke S. Leake was elected Speaker, and Mr. J. G. C. Carr Chairman of Committees. The session was a short one. Mr. M. Brown moved the Address in Reply, and Mr. Lee-Steere seconded. The newspapers complimented the new members on their common sense and evident intention to seek to rectify abuses, and Governor Weld, in careful and discreet terms, also tendered congratulations.
The second session was opened on 10th July, 1871, and lasted until 17th August. During these short sessions several bills important to the colony were considered. The chief interest and debate centred round the tariff question. The difficulty of harmonising opposing factions led to dissatisfaction with the constitution of the Council, and quickly brought out those features of it which were so cumbersome when the views of the elected members and the Governor were at variance. A new tariff bill was introduced. By the tariff of 1846 preferential duties were imposed: on live stock from all parts of the British Empire of 5 per cent., and from foreign countries 10 per cent; British goods and merchandise, 5 per cent, and foreign, 10 per cent.; British spirits, 6s. a gallon, and foreign 8s. and 10s. a gallon; British wine, 6d. a gallon, and foreign, 1s. 6d. a gallon; oats and other grains (without exception), 6d. a bushel; and tobacco, 1s. 6d. a lb. The basis was altered in 1848, when a duty was placed on all spirits of 12s. a gallon; on refined sugar of 4s. a cwt.; tea, 2d. a lb.; manufactured tobacco, 1s. 9d. a lb; and wine, 2s. a gallon; stock, grains, flour, and meal, agricultural implements and other machinery, and goods specially exempted by the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, were admitted free; all other goods were customed at 7 per cent. on the invoice value. In 1854 the free list was the same, and the duties on other goods were reduced to 6 per cent; spirits to 10s., refined sugars to 3s., and tobacco to 1s. Then in 1867 the duty on goods was raised to 7 per cent.; spirits to 15s., and tobacco to 1s. 9d.
The new Tariff Bill brought forward in 1871, except in a few cases, did not pretend to materially alter the 1867 basis. Spirits remained the same, but the impost on manufactured tobacco was raised to 2s. 6d. Wine, which in 1867 was admitted at 2s. a gallon, was now raised to 4s.; and beer, stout, cider, and perry, which in 1854 were charged at 3d. per gallon, and in 1867 at 4d., were raised to 6d. Cigars and snuff were also increased from 2s. 6d. a lb. in 1867 to 5s. in 1871. Bread and biscuit, corn and other grains, machinery of all kinds, sacks, wool bales, salt and preserved meats, and rice, were subject to a 7 per cent. tariff. Much of this increase was proposed because of a failing revenue, which, owing to bad seasons, lower prices obtained for exports, and a diminishing convict expenditure, fell considerably below the general expenditure. Several country members considered in 1870-1 that an import duty should also be imposed on flour. On 1st August, 1871, Mr. Logue moved, by resolution—"That it is the opinion of this Council that the items flour and meal be removed from the list of goods imported free." In his opinion a protective duty would not increase the price of the poor man's loaf, while it would certainly benefit the farmer, and tend to increase the revenue. Mr. Drummond heartily coincided with this view, but Mr. Barlee, on behalf of the Government, opposed it in a mild and conciliatory speech. If it could be proved to him, he said, that such a duty would benefit the farmer he would support it, but he was sure that it would be detrimental to the interests of the poor man, and would discourage immigration. Mr. Lee-Steere protested that though he was a free trader he was not inconsistent when he supported the motion; the producer must be protected. Mr. Walcott, the Attorney-General, did not see how a protective duty would benefit the farmer, as the money paid by the consumer would drift into the pockets of the importer, and, said he—"If the soil of this colony can grow wheat, our farmers ought to be in a position to compete with those in the eastern colonies; if the soil will not produce a crop of wheat the sooner our farmers cease growing it the better for their own sakes as well as that of their creditors." Mr. Logue carried his motion by nine votes to eight, a result heralded with loud cheers by the country members. On 4th August it was decided to impose a duty of 20s. per ton of 2,000 lbs. on flour. The debate on the whole question was long and somewhat excited.
A Free Trade League had been formed, and its members waited on Governor Weld on 14th August soliciting him to refuse his approval of the new tariff. Three days later the Governor vetoed the bill, and described the proposed impost on flour as a tax which pressed unduly upon the poorest classes, produced revenue utterly incommensurate with the tax laid upon the consumer, and benefited the speculator rather than the farmer. But probably as a salve to soften the irritation, he complimented members on their intelligence, saying:—" You have strengthened my trust that the introduction of free institutions is increasingly developing that capacity for self-government which, ever since my arrival in the colony, it has been my steady aim to foster."
In order to obtain the opinion of the country, Governor Weld dissolved the Council, and on 6th March, 1872, writs were issued for an election. The official members of the new Council were unaltered. The unofficial were—W.E. Marmion, A. P. Bussell, and W. Bickley; and the elected—M. Logue, G. Shenton, J. G. C. Carr, L. S. Leake, E. Newman, W. S. Pearse, W. L. Brockman, J. H. Monger, J. Drummond, T. C. Carey, J. G. Lee Steere, and A. Y. Hassell. On the opening of the Council on 30th July, 1872, Mr. Leake was re-elected Speaker, and Mr. Carr Chairman of Committees. The protectionist tariff, so far as agricultural products went, was made in some constituencies a test question, and several members were returned on that ticket. The Governor was anxious to lower the duties, and had representatives of the large towns with him, but most of the Councillors from the rural constituencies polled for protection. A new tariff bill was considered when the duties on general goods were raised to 10 per cent. But flour was placed on the free list, and corn and other grains, except rice, were subjected to an impost of 6d. a bushel; bran and pollard, 20s. a ton; butter (which prior to 1872 paid the ad valorem duty), 3d. a lb.; hay, 20s. a ton; meal, 20s. a ton; potatoes, 10s. a ton; dried fruits, 2d. a lb.; spirits, 14's. a gall.; beer, stout, cider, and perry, 9d. a gall.; sugar, 4s. a cwt.; tea, 4d. a lb.; tobacco, 2s. 6d. a lb.; cigars and snuff, 5s. a lb. The free list included live animals, bags, sacks, wool bales, blasting powder, coal, coke, flour, black-smiths' forges, gas pipes, whaling and agricultural implements, machinery for manufacturing purposes, fencing wire, &c. On the more important clauses the voting was very close; thus, the proposal to impose a tax of 20s. a ton on flour was negatived by nine votes to eight; the tax on hay was carried by nine to eight, and on potatoes by eleven to six.
The debate at times became heated, and Mr. Logue made the assertion that the Governor had asked the nominee members to pledge themselves to free trade before he finally appointed them, an action which Mr. Logue considered neither fair nor honest. Mr. Barlee, with his usual diplomacy, tried to conciliate members, but as to the reflections on the Governor he, in tones of admonition, told members that he had not thought they would so far forget themselves. The Governor had, indeed, submitted to the nominee members a broad outline of the policy of the Government, and asked them, prior to their nomination, if their views were in accord with the general principles of that policy. If not, "they were at liberty to decline the position offered to them;" therefore no member was pledged to vote against his conscience. Mr. Bussell indignantly denied the insinuation of Mr. Logue, and the other nominee members followed his example.
As a result of these differences on the tariff the position of parties became clearly marked. A strong opposition was apparent even in the first session. The Colonial Secretary was the leader of the House, and had on his side the two other official members, the nominee, and the more conservative among elective members. Mr. Lee-Steere was the leader of the Opposition or more radical section. Several propositions put forward by the latter body were rejected by the Council or were vetoed by the Governor. The Opposition was indignant, and lamented that the legislation of the elected members was a mere farce "to register the edicts of the Executive." They set about obtaining an amendment of the constitution. In the first session the Colonial Secretary introduced a bill which sought to remedy a defect in the wording of the Imperial Act, 13 and 14 Vic., under which the Legislative Council was constituted, excluding conditional-pardon men from the privilege of voting, which it was doubtless intended by that Act they should possess. It also proposed to amend the property qualification of members, which limited the choice of the electors to a very few individuals, and tended to create an oligarchy. The bill was referred to a Select Committee, whose members proposed that all persons convicted of treason, felony, or any other infamous offence should be excluded from membership in the Council. Other clauses dealing with representation and qualification were considered accepted by the Council, and the bill was passed on to the Governor, who returned it "for further consideration." In a frank minute he said that there were matters in the bill which should be separated altogether, and be embraced by a separate bill. The bill was dropped by the Council.
The experience of the elected members during the ensuing two sessions caused them to greatly change their opinions in regard to Representative Government, and they complained that it was not so good as they expected. Mr. Lee-Steere proposed to double the number of elected members, and he advocated his views at every opportunity. Many leading people censured the suggestion, and contended that the Governor should have a "guiding power" to prevent hasty legislation. Capital was made out of Governor Weld's opposition to protection. In order to compromise with members, and to obtain representation for all parts of the colony, he proposed in 1872 to create two new electorates, but took no action until 1873. On 9th July of the latter year Mr. Barlee introduced the Representation of the Peoples Bill, which embodied Governor Weld's proposals. The new constituencies were to include certain parts of the Geraldton district, to be known as the Northern district, and certain parts of the districts of Fremantle and Wellington, to be known as the Murray and Williams district. Each was to return one member, which would leave an additional member to be nominated by the Governor to preserve the ratio required by the Imperial Act. Another provision was introduced which required all candidates for election to give ten days' notice of their intention to the returning officer.
Mr. Lee-Steere moved that the Executive Council be altered to admit certain elected members, so as to secure a greater share of the public confidence, and to cause its actions to be more in harmony with the Legislature and public opinion; that all members of the Legislative Council, except four official members—Colonial Secretary, Attorney-General, Surveyor-General, and Colonial Treasurer—be elected by the people, that each electorate at present returning one member shall return an additional member, and that voting by proxy be regulated. By the acceptance of these proposals the whole constitution of the colony would be materially altered and liberalised. Mr. Lee-Steere confessed that Representative Government in its existing form had not worked well, and never could work well, and was "ill-suited for the requirements of this colony or any other." He continued—"This is rather a humiliating admission on my part, because at one time I was under the impression that our existing form of Government was well adapted to the Colony." At the same time he was doubtful of the wisdom of establishing Responsible Government, considering that it would carry with it expenditure which the colony was not prepared to meet. He wished to make the Executive a consultative Council, so as to be in a measure responsible to public opinion, and he desired to increase the membership of the Legislative Council to prevent close divisions, and to obtain a sufficient majority one way or other to set important questions at rest. Mr. Barlee, who followed, disagreed with Mr. Lee-Steere when he said that the existing constitution had been a failure, and instanced the progress made in the preceding three years as greater than that of any previous ten or fifteen years in the history of the colony. Mr. Lee-Steere finally withdrew all his proposals except that relating to proxy voting. Mr. Barlee's bill was passed, and Her Majesty's assent was proclaimed in January, 1874. The number of members of the Legislative Council was thus raised to twenty-one, seven of whom were nominated by the Governor. Late in 1871 a movement was set on foot to have that portion of the colony north and inclusive of Champion Bay separated from the remainder under a different Government. The proposal received temporary support, but was soon abandoned as impractical.
Agitators for Responsible Government were not idle, and many people who were previously opposed to the change now gave it their support. Such apparently satisfactory steps were made towards this object in 1874 that Representative Government was delightedly described as "tottering to its fall," and it was said that the "first record" on the "first page" of a "new Chapter" in local history had been made, and colonists began to prepare for the "funeral obsequies" of the dying constitution. Some of those gentlemen who were most hopeful of Representative Government were now the most heated Oppositionists. The different dissolutions, the difficulty of carrying cherished opinions, and the impossibility of obtaining a distinct and certain voice in local administration, made them change their minds; indeed, Representative Government was referred to as an "imposture." On 28th June, 1874, a meeting at Bunbury agreed with Mr. R. W. Clifton that this colony of British subjects should no longer be held in "leading strings;" that it was quite capable of governing itself. Mr. Lee-Steere was asked by resolution to support Responsible Government in and out of the Council, and that gentleman, who a few months before said he did not believe the time had come for such a radical change, owned that its advantages might preponderate over its disadvantages. The leader of the Opposition threw himself into the agitation with his usual heartiness. In the following month he moved a resolution in the Council affirming that a system of Responsible Government would tend to the future progress of the colony, and proposed that a Select Committee be formed to draw up a constitution. Mr. Crowther carried, without a division, an amendment, which, while affirming the integrity of the existing Government, asked the Governor to introduce a bill providing for autonomy, and to recommend Her Majesty's approval of the same. A further amendment, by Mr. Birch, that the existing constitution be merely amended so as to approximate to Responsible Government without its evils, was lost.
Governor Weld had throughout his administration acted in a mild and sympathetic spirit. He intimated in a message to the House that he would prepare a bill, and promised, if it were adopted, to recommend Her Majesty's acceptance of it, and to establish a system of ministerial responsibility without delay. On 3rd August Mr. Barlee introduced the bill in a long speech. It was proposed that the prospective constitution should consist of a Lower and an Upper House, the first to comprise twenty-five members elected by the people by ballot, and the second to be wholly nominated by the Governor-in-Council. The Lower House alone was to originate bills for appropriating any part of the revenue, or imposing, altering, or repealing rates and taxes. It was to be elected for five years, and any member accepting an office of profit from the Government would forfeit his seat; public contractors, judges, and ministers of religion were disqualified for either House. The bill provided compensation for those officers liable to loss of position:—By retiring allowance—Colonial Secretary, £800; Attorney-General, £333; Commissioner of Crown Lands, £400; Colonial Treasurer, £366; or by way of bonus—Colonial Secretary, £5,000 (seven years' salary); Attorney-General, £2,500 (five years'); Commissioner of Crown Lands, £3,000 (five years'); Colonial Treasurer, £2,750 (five years'). The Crown lands were, of course, to be surrendered to the Parliaments, but a civil list of £9,729 annually was to be attached thereto.
It was not an acceptable scheme; the constitution of the Upper House with nominee members alone was objectionable, particularly at that time. Mr. Lee-Steere was not favourably impressed, and asked the House to postpone consideration of the measure until the country had an opportunity of forming a calm, deliberate, and dispassionate opinion thereon. His motion was lost by twelve votes to five, but Mr. Lee-Steere's advice was taken. Next day (11th August) Governor Weld dissolved the Council "to give the country an opportunity of expressing its deliberate opinion." This course met with the hearty approval of colonists, and preparations were set in motion for a new election—the third within four years. Public meetings were held all over the colony, and the question of Responsible Government was canvassed with avidity. The first election was to be held at Albany on 23rd September, but Sir T. C. Campbell, Bart., who had just previously sat as a nominee member, was unopposed. In all the other districts the position of parties was comparatively unchanged, and the colony undoubtedly polled for Responsible Government. The Governor nominated three new members of the Council—S. Burr, G. Glyde, and C. E. Broadhurst.
The new Council met on 18th November of the same year, but merely to make provision for carrying on the public service. Governor Weld explained in his address that he would postpone the measure providing for Responsible Government because of the expected arrival of his successor, who, he said, no doubt had a knowledge, derived from recent personal communication, of the views of Her Majesty's Government thereon. This course was applauded by members; the Appropriation Bill and Estimates were carried, and the House adjourned on 21st November. This was the last appearance of Governor Weld in the Legislative Council, and in December he left Perth for Tasmania. It would not be true to say that he was generally a popular governor. His opposition to a protective tariff in any form had aroused the animosity of several country electorates; but, nevertheless, his administration was productive of great benefit to the colony, and his general views were in subsequent years often proved to be correct. It can be truly said that no more sympathetic and conciliatory governor had held the reins of Government since Stirling, and the assistance which he gave to the progressive movements for changes of Government was not appreciated so much as it should have been. In after years colonists began to recognise his good qualities, when similar requests were treated with much less consideration. Governor Weld was determined as well as conciliatory, and he was far-seeing. Demonstrations were held prior to his departure.
On 11th January, 1875, Governor W. C. F. Robinson arrived at Fremantle by the Georgette from Albany. His advent gave quite an unexpected turn to the agitation for Responsible Government. On 22nd January he opened the Council, and submitted a despatch from Lord Carnarvon, the new Secretary for the Colonies, on the subject. This suggested that the ex-Governor, in his desire to meet the wishes of colonists, had done more than the Home Government considered to be politic. As seen in previous years, Governor Weld had informed the Secretary for the Colonies that Western Australia was not ready for Responsible Government. The receipt, therefore, of the 1874 resolution of the Legislative Council startled Lord Carnarvon, and he mildly rebuked Governor Weld. He wrote under date of 18th November, 1874, a despatch that was at once conciliatory and uncompromising, and discouraged any attempt to obtain Responsible Government. After referring to Governor Weld's earlier despatch, he says:—" It is with some surprise and regret that I now learn that without any previous intimation that such a measure was contemplated, or any reference to the opinions of Her Majesty's Government, the Governor has publicly pledged himself that this most serious change shall be immediately made, and that a bill dealing with many questions of difficulty, in respect of which much care must in any case be required, has been considered by the Council. We are dealing with a colony of vast extent, at present inhabited by a population estimated at 26,000 persons, of whom it is stated that some 8,000 are adult males, and of these, as I understand, between 5,000 or 6,000 are persons formerly transported as convicts from this country." Continuing, he refers to the limited areas of productive lands in the colony which could not continuously keep a population equal to those of eastern colonies. He gravely doubts the prudence of at present resorting to a system of party government. Many important questions must be clearly understood, for under Responsible Government the colony must provide for an expenditure greatly in excess of the existing amount. Provision would have to be made for the future custody and supervision of the Imperial convicts serving their sentences in the colony, besides other forms of administrative expenditure. He had already informed Governor Weld that if the decided opinion of a clear majority of colonists proved favourable to the change (the expediency of which he doubted), he would give it careful consideration, and reserve his decision until he received more information. In conclusion, he writes:—"But on a calm review of its present circumstances and conditions, I cannot but question whether this great alteration is not somewhat premature, and I feel it my duty, though not a grateful one to me personally, to withhold any hasty consent, and to interpose such prudent delays as will secure a full and dispassionate consideration of a decision which is fraught with such important consequences to the colony."
Although they already had some difficulty in meeting the expenditure annually incurred, even with the sum of nearly £100,000 a year derived from the Imperial Government for the Convict Establishment, a portion of the people believed that a convenient arrangement could be made with the Home authorities, by which they could manage the increased expenses entailed by autonomy. And they also thought that under self-government the colony would so rapidly progress that they would speedily be able to meet any possible monetary contingencies. They were rather in the position of a young man, who wanted to set up housekeeping when he did not possess adequate funds; he trusted to the Paternal head of his family for support, and did not object to monetary assistance, but he would certainly resent any interference on the part of his parent. He also believed that when free from paternal restraint he could so successfully and rapidly accumulate wealth as to ensure him a glorified future. The condition of the finances of the colony during the past few years, perhaps, did not justify colonists making this request if the provisions of the 1850 Act of the Imperial Parliament were to be final. There was an annually diminishing vote from the Imperial Government on behalf of convicts, and a period of depression in the markets which received local products; the revenue had decreased in proportion to the diminution in the introduction of outside capital.
Notwithstanding these considerations, however, Mr. Lee-Steere, the champion of the elective members, at once moved a series of resolutions affirming the desirability and even the necessity of the immediate introduction of self-government. These resolutions were carried by fifteen votes to three. Responsible Government was believed to be inevitable sooner or later, and the Inquirer considered "sooner" would be the better. The conservative party advised the people to "rest and be thankful," but the agitators prophesied that such a policy would mean the stagnation of industry. The Secretary for the Colonies was uncompromising, and demanded as a contingency to Responsible Government that the Parliament must take over those expenditures hitherto borne by the British Government. He discouraged the agitation, and, beyond utterances at intervals, it slumbered for some time. Nor did Governor Robinson give it much support.
The question of Protection versus free trade was again brought forward in 1876, and Governor Robinson appointed a committee to report on the tariff with a view to its revision. Messrs. H. H. Hocking (Attorney-General), J. G. Lee-Steere, G. Shenton, and W. E. Marmion, who comprised this body, advised that corn, meal, flour, salt meat, and certain minor articles be placed on the free list. The old sting was gone, and the debate on the question was mild and uninteresting. The free traders substantially won their cause. Butter, hay, meal, bran, pollard, corn, and other grains (excepting rice), flour, and live stock were all placed on the free list. The general classes of goods were customed at 10 per cent., spirits at 14s. a gallon, wine 4s. a gallon, beer, stout, cider, and perry 1s. a gallon, dried fruits 2d. a lb., potatoes 10s. a ton, rice 1s. a cwt., salt 10s. a ton, sugar 3s. a cwt., tea 4d. a lb., and tobacco 2s. 6d. a lb. In 1876 the revenue from spirits was £28,564. Taxation was at this time reckoned to amount to £3 6s. 7¾d. per head.
In 1877 an Act was passed abolishing proxy voting in the election of members of the Legislative Council, and substituting voting by ballot as established in eastern colonies. The system of proxy voting had been repeatedly abused. Governor Robinson remained less than three years in the colony. During that period political affairs had been generally quiet, and nothing occurred to call forth any statesmanship or diplomacy. In 1877 he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, and on 3rd September he left Perth for the eastern colonies after receiving the usual addresses. Lieutenant-Colonel Harvest was Acting Governor for a few weeks, and on the 12th November the new Governor, Sir Harry St. George Ord, arrived at Perth and was duly sworn in.
The question of Responsible Government was revived in 1878. Mr. S. H. Parker, a newly elected member for Perth, moved in the Legislative Council in May, that a measure be introduced providing for a reconstruction of the Constitution. The debate lacked its old vitality. Mr. M. Brown and Sir T. C. Campbell proposed amendments that Responsible Government would be dangerous, but warned the Imperial Government that unless vexatious interference with local affairs were discontinued the demand for autonomy would increase. Mr. Marmion considered that it would be better to have Imperial expenditure than responsible ministers; the motion was lost.
There were several changes in the membership of both the Executive and Legislative Councils, and important alterations were made in the constitution of the former body in keeping with the institution of Representative Government. By an Order-in-Council of 3rd April, 1871, the Executive was remodelled, and the seats occupied by the Comptroller-General and Collector of Revenue were abolished. The views expressed by Mr. Lee-Steere in 1873, that the Executive should be made a Consultative Council, were not without effect.
On 4th July, 1878, the Governor was empowered by the Queen in Council "to appoint, in addition to the ex officio members, such persons as he may think fit to be Unofficial Members of our said Executive Council, but so that the number of such unofficial members shall never exceed the number of two." These appointments were subject to Royal approval, and could be revoked at any time by Royal Warrant. The unofficial members were awarded rank after the official members of the Executive, according to the order of their appointment. The Governor was directed to attend and preside at the meetings of the Council unless prevented by some reasonable cause, in which case the senior member present or some particular member appointed by the Governor must preside.
In 1871, Mr. O'Grady Lefroy, the Collector of Revenue, and Mr. H. Wakeford, the Comptroller General, retired from the Council, and were allowed to retain the prefix of "Honourable." Upon the death of Colonel Bruce, Major R. H. Crampton became Commandant of the Military Forces; that gentleman did not long survive the appointment, and in August, 1871, Captain Chas. Finnerty succeeded him. In 1872 Lieutenant Colonel E. D. Harvest superseded Captain Finnerty. When Surveyor-General Roe retired, Mr. Malcolm Fraser was appointed in his stead, and Mr. R. J. Walcott succeeded Mr. Stone as Attorney-General and member of the Executive; in March Mr. H. H. Hocking became Attorney-General. In July, 1875, Mr. F. P. Barlee, who for a lengthy period had performed the duties of Colonial Secretary with conspicuous success, went to England on leave of absence. Since the inauguration of Representative Government, Mr. Barlee had led the Legislative Council to the satisfaction of all the members. He did not return to the colony, and in 1877 resigned his post, and was succeeded by Mr. R. T. Goldsworthy, who arrived in Western Australia in August, 1877.
The personnel of the Legislative Council was also changed. Several bye elections were held, caused by resignations and deaths. The unofficial nominee members of the Council in 1877 were R. W. Hardey, S. Burt, G. Clyde, and S.S. Parker; and the elected members M. Brown, C. Crowther, G. Randell, Sir L. S. Leake, W. E. Marmion, W. S. Pearse, W. Padbury, J. H. Monger, G. Shenton, R. Gale, J. G. Lee-Steere, Sir T. C. Campbell, R. S. Hamersley, and T. Burges. In 1878 the following gentlemen were elected to fill vacancies:— S. H. Parker (Perth), E. R. Brockman (Swan), T. C. Carey (Vasse), and C. Harper (North District). In 1876, the Speaker of the Legislative Council, Luke S. Leake, was knighted, and a similar honour was conferred on Judge Burt in 1874.
Among the matters of historical importance considered by the Legislative Council in 1869-78 were those of education, land laws, municipalities, and public works. Members wasted no time in taking advantage ef the powers vested in them, and made earnest attempts to get level with advancement in the other colonies. In 1848 the Government schools were placed under the control of a committee, and in 1856 a General Board of Education was appointed, composed of the Colonial Secretary (chairman), the Bishop of Perth, and a clergyman from the Wesleyan, Congregational, and Roman Catholic bodies, with a paid secretary. The Roman Catholics, however, refused to co-operate, and difficulties arose similar to those experienced elsewhere. This general board was assisted by local committees in the principal districts; an inspector visited the schools periodically. The Government schools were free to necessitous persons, but a slight payment was required from those who could afford it. Numerous schools were established in the country districts, but according to Mr. W. H. Knight (Western Australia, 1870), the average standard of proficiency among the children was not high. Three causes led to this result:—(1) The difficulty of obtaining efficient masters and mistresses owing to the small salaries usually attached to the office; (2) the value of the labour of children to their parents, even at an early age, by which they were taken from school before they attained any great proficiency; and (3) a widely scattered population rendering regularity of attendance difficult. In the 1870 Government census there were 55 schools with 2,188 scholars in the colony.
An annual grant for educational purposes was made by the Government. The Catholic members of the community had for years been dissatisfied with the basis upon which this was allotted, and in August, 1869, petitioned the Legislative Council for a separate portion of the grant. The Council, after debating the question, rejected it. Two meetings were thereupon held at the Roman Catholic Cathedral, Perth, when a petition was drawn up for presentation to the Secretary of State, praying him to direct that a proportionate amount of the Educational Grant on the Estimates for the ensuing year be allotted for the maintenance of the schools of the petitioners. The Secretary of State preferred to leave this question to be determined by colonists, and at the first elections under Representative Government it was advocated and agitated with some degree of excitement. Indeed, the election of one or two members turned on the educational difficulty. It was among the first subjects of debate after the meeting of the House; the Colonial Secretary favoured a separate Educational Grant to the Roman Catholic schools, but a motion to that end was defeated by a two-thirds vote.
The subject was not allowed to drop. During ensuing months education, next to tariff reform, was the absorbing topic of conversation throughout the colony, whether on the platform or at the table, in the towns or on the country farms. So great was the interest that one might have thought that the destiny of the colony was hinged on the settlement of the education question. In the second session of the new Council (1871) the Elementary Education Act (35 Vic, No. 14) was passed. Under its provisions the Government schools confined their efforts to secular education, while the schools founded by voluntary efforts by religious denominations could be assisted by Government aid to the amount of the income derived from fees or other contributions. Instruction in the Government or "general" schools occupied four hours in the day, but religious training, for one hour, could be given at the beginning or end of the day's studies; any scholar had the privilege of attending this course or not, as he or she wished. The inspectors of schools were not to enquire into or examine the pupils in religious knowledge or in any religious subject or book. The Act defined the lines where secular instruction ended, and positively prohibited all interference of any one sect with the religious tenets of another in the schoolroom during the time the children were recipients of the instruction afforded by the State. All children between the ages of six and fourteen years were required to attend school, unless residing beyond three miles from the school. The constitution of the Central Board was altered; the Colonial Secretary still remained the chairman, but the other four members were laymen appointed by the Governor for three years, no two of whom being of the same religious denomination. This board had supervision over all schools receiving Government aid (in secular instruction only), and generally administered the executive functions of the Act. Local boards were established and made subject to its control, and consisted of five members elected for three years by the inhabitants of the different districts. The sum of £6,181 was placed on the Estimates of 1871 for educational purposes.
This measure gave general satisfaction, and beyond slight amendments continued in force until 1895. The curriculum was not of a high standard, a fact which, probably, could not possibly be helped by colonists, considering the numerous calls upon a limited exchequer. The Bishop's School languished for want of sufficient support, and in 1876 a bill was passed, and a grant made by the Legislative Council, for the establishment of a High School. Under the Act a council was appointed to organise this institution, which was opened at Perth on 1st March, 1878. Mr. Richard Davies, B.A., was the first head master, and Mr. E. W. Haynes, assistant master. In 1878 there were twenty-one assisted schools in the colony—eighteen of the Roman Catholic Church, and three of the Church of England.
The old debateable subject of land laws was considered by the representative Council early in its history. New regulations were submitted in 1871, which provided that all land fit for agricultural purposes be reserved for sale as agricultural areas. The price of agricultural lands was fixed at 8s., payable in annual instalments of 1s. per acre under conditions of improvement and occupation by purchaser, tenant, or agent. Councillors would have reduced the sum, but were dissuaded by Governor Weld, who thought Earl Kimberley, the Secretary for the Colonies, would object. By Regulation 28 the area of ordinary rural sections was fixed at 100 acres, but smaller lots of from 5 to 100 acres could, under special conditions, be granted for garden purposes. All other unreserved lands could be sold at a less price under special circumstances. Pastoral lands were leased out for twenty-one years at low rents, and encouragement was given to the lessees to improve them. For clearing and fencing poison lands an ultimate right of fee-simple was offered. New regulations were issued for mineral lands. There were parts of these regulations which did not give general satisfaction, but councillors seemed to consider them a decided advance. The Governor submitted them to the Secretary for The Colonies, who, generally, approved of them. In agricultural areas he thought it inexpedient to refuse to sell less than 100 acres. But addressing himself to the broad question of land settlement Earl Kimberley showed himself to possess many of the characteristics of his predecessors. For instance, evidently not appreciating the conditions in the colony, he deprecated any effort being made by the Government to entice people to take up land far beyond the settled districts, as the Government would be liable to a heavy expense in maintaining schools, police, courts of justice, &c., in distant places. In brief, he seemed to consider that settlement should be kept within certain limits, and that the courageous efforts being made to bring remote parts of the country into use should be discouraged. He refused to allow the Governor in Council to alter or amend any of the regulations because such a course would involve the surrender by the Crown of its control over waste lands.
A bill was passed in 1874 inaugurating what is known as the "Torrens system," and became law in July, 1875. Lands granted after the latter month were made amenable to its provisions, while all lands previously alienated were entitled to its advantages on the application of persons who were able to show a good title. By means of this Act the conveyancing of land was reduced to the simplest and cheapest form; investigation of titles by a purchaser or mortgagee became unnecessary as the certificate itself disclosed any subsisting encumbrance; fraudulent conveyances were prevented, because the act of registration passed the property; forms of transfer and mortgage were concise; and heaps of cumbrous documents were obviated by having everything "concentrated into one plain and portable compass." With the introduction of this system a successful attempt was made to revise the whole land laws, and new regulations were arranged in 1876-7, approved of by Earl Carnarvon, and published in 1878.
In 1875 the Surveyor-General submitted a memorandum to a Committee of the Legislative Council relative to a modification of the land laws as affecting the small farmer. The committee recommended that any person holding a special occupation license be entitled during the continuance of such license, or after he had obtained the fee-simple, to depasture on adjoining Crown lands four head of stock for every 100 acres held, and to depasture in like manner one head of stock for every seven acres of land cultivated; the stock in no case to exceed twenty head.
This recommendation was considered by the Government when drawing up the regulations submitted to the Secretary for the Colonies. Influenced, no doubt, by the progress of events in other colonies, the Imperial Government were now much more willing to accede to amendments and revisions of the land laws. A more liberal policy was necessary where representative institutions were conceded, and the whole spirit of repression was gradually dying out. Besides, the increasing wealth and importance of British dependencies called for a more liberal treatment from the authorities in Downing Street, and brought forth a fuller intelligence in the dependencies themselves. The broadening conditions of colonial energy were teaching lessons even to English statesmen.
The new regulations, under which the Surveyor-General received the title of Commissioner of Crown Lands, divided the colony into four districts—the Central, the Northern, the Central Eastern, and the South-Eastern—in which the lands were classified as town, suburban, rural, and mineral. All rural lands in the central district were open for sale in sections of not less than forty acres, at 10s. per acre; and in the other districts the minimum section was fixed at 400 acres, to be sold at 5s. per acre; pastoral lands were reduced from three to two Classes—first and second. First-class lands comprehended all pastoral Crown lands bounded as follows:—"On the south and west by the sea coast, on the north by the Murchison River, and on the east by lines from the summit of Bompas Range on the great north bend of the said river through the summit of Wongan Hill and Mount Stirling to the mouth of the Fitzgerald River on the south coast."
The second class comprehended all other pastoral lands in the colony. Those waste lands in this class which were unoccupied were open for leasing for a term not exceeding fourteen years in blocks of not less than 20,000 acres, at a rental of 5s. for the first seven years, and 10s. for the remainder of the lease, for each thousand acres, or part of a thousand acres, contained therein. Within twelve months of the date of issue of these regulations, in the case of existing leases or licenses, the lessee was able to select from his run all such land as he might deem advisable to hold under an unconditional pre-emptive right to purchase, on the following terms:—(1) The unconditional pre-emptive right to be for the term of the lease; (2) the selections to be in blocks of not less than 1,000 acres; (3) the rent to be £5 for each 1,000 acres, paid in advance, annually; and (4) all such rights to be redeemed in fee in the northern district, if within the first seven years of lease, by payment of 5s., and during the balance of the term of 10s. for each acre redeemed; in the central, east, and south-east districts, if within the first seven years, by payment of 2s. 6d., and during the remainder of the term, of 5s. for each acre redeemed. First-class lands were open to license annually, in blocks of not less than 3,000 acres, but where other boundaries interfered a lesser quantity could be taken up, but no license was issued for less than 20s. Blocks of 10,000 acres could be leased on the same terms for fourteen years.
The fees for timber lands were, for any area not exceeding 640 acres, £20; and not exceeding 1,280 acres, £40; but such license did not permit the cutting, hewing, and removing of logs and piles. To fell, hew, or remove timber in baulk or for piles, the fees were, for each man per month £3, or in the case of a pair being engaged £5; and for each sawyer, cutter, or splitter of fencing, firewood, or shingles, 5s. per month; and to cut sandalwood (not less than six inches in diameter at the butt), wattle or other bark, per man 2s. 6d. Special licenses could be granted for cutting timber for a period of fourteen years.
Regulations were issued dealing with poison lands, by which a Crown grant could be obtained by performing certain improvements. Special grants were assigned to members of the Volunteer Force who had served continuously for two years, and immigrants were also awarded privileges. The regulations for volunteers were first issued in 1873. In mineral lands, on payment of a registration fee of 2s. 6d., any person could obtain a two years' license to prospect on any Crown lands, except on town or suburban lands, tillage leases, special occupation leases, gardens, and buildings. By paying £1 any person could obtain the right to mine for twelve months on a block of 200 acres, the position of which he must clearly define, but he could not remove more than five tons of ore for purposes of testing. Leases of portions of land not exceeding 200 acres, nor less than 20 acres, were granted for mining purposes (excepting precious metals) at a rent of 5s. an acre per annum. Under certain conditions any person or company could purchase the land at £3 per acre.
It was found that as the leasing system was popularised by liberal regulations, the revenue derived from the sale of Crown lands decreased. But Mr. Fraser, the Commissioner of Crown Lands, viewed this fact with equanimity, believing that if bona-fide settlement were obtained the general advantages more than counterbalanced the loss in revenue by sale. Yet he apprehended that under the liberal opportunities offered, there would be a scramble for the pick of the country, in which case the thrifty landholders would acquire large quantities of ground, and after complying with the necessary conditions, could hold the country locked up in their hands. The cost of locating the selections was considerable, and entailed great energy and expense on the Survey Department. Mr. Fraser estimated in 1876 that the accruing claims of pensioners, volunteers, and immigrants would nearly amount to 70,000 acres, which, with other claims, produced the large area of 200,000 acres of Crown lands pledged in the future.
The census of 1870 disclosed that there were 3,283 grants, representing 1,454,108½ acres, in the colony, and 15,160,310 acres held under lease from the Crown. In 1869 the sum of £8,412 was received from the sale of land, and in 1876 £8,460, but the revenue derived from licenses, leases, &c., was £15,077 in the former year, and £23,706 in the latter. The leases and licenses in 1878 represented 24,043,423 acres, and the area granted and sold 2,048,774 acres. The total revenue from lands in that year was £31,850.
Included in these new land laws were certain regulations designed to encourage immigration. The question, as old as the colony, of how to attract population still confronted Western Australians, and though their export trade was yearly growing, the percentage of voluntary immigration was very small. During and since the convict epoch the population had jumped from something over 5,000 to more than 20,000 persons, but, unfortunately, a considerable portion of the people was of the convict class, or was associated with convicts in some way. Industry would languish if dependence were placed on voluntary immigration and nothing else. Only a few isolated people had come to whom substantial attractions had not been held out. Inducements had been successfully offered by sister colonies.
For some years after the cessation of transportation people waited, seemingly in expectation that with the changed character of the colony a precious stream of new people would merge hither, but they waited in vain. The expansion of industries called for greater energy and power to keep them in progress, and as the influx of felonry had ceased more labour had to be obtained. It was also desired to attract people of small means, whose capital and bodily vigour were sure to be advantageous. In 1873 proposals were made to appropriate sums of money for the introduction of labourers. Emigration from Europe was at this time large, but America and the other colonies absorbed the whole stream. There were some colonists who insisted that to "import men and women to order" was a faulty principle, in that pauper immigration was valueless; unless a man came of his own free will, prepared to buckle to and take the consequences of his own act, he was said to be useless. During the 1874 session of the Legislative Council the question was debated with some earnestness, and a vote of £10,000 was passed for immigration purposes, £1,000 of which was to be used in introducing Chinese or Javanese coolies. The Government immediately sent to England, and in May, 1875, the Lady Elizabeth reached Fremantle with 147 Government and Nominated immigrants on board; in August the Daylight arrived with 184. In that year the sum of £1,690 was expended in this way; in 1876, £9,991 and in 1877, £7,000. The total immigration in 1875 numbered 262 males and 156 females; in 1876, 515 males and 212 females. These people comprised mechanics, agricultural labourers, shepherds, grooms, gardeners, domestic servants, &c.
To attract and hold immigrants the Government offered special inducements in the land regulations, and in this policy they were heartily supported by councillors. In 1875 it was proclaimed that each adult of the labouring class, introduced wholly or partially at the expense of the Imperial or Colonial Government, could, after two years' residence, select a lot not exceeding fifty acres from any unimproved Crown lands open to selection, and each immigrant between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one could select twenty-five acres, provided that the quantity of land so selected did not exceed 150 acres in any one family. The grants were allotted under occupation certificates, which could be exchanged at the end of three years for grants in fee-simple on certain conditions of improvement.
But the difficulties were not ended when the people were landed and the Government had paid their passages and offered to present them with grants of land. In view of the wider popularity and more apparent progress of the eastern colonies, many of them left Western Australia within a year of their arrival. Such ingratitude naturally gave offence, and Governor Robinson, in his address to the Council in 1876, confessed that numbers of immigrants had come hither at Government expense merely as a means of proceeding eastwards. To prevent this, at his suggestion all future immigrants were required to enter into an agreement to remain in the colony for three years, failing which they must repay to the Government the full cost of their passages.
The Inquirer in January, 1876, largely blamed the settlers for this emigration. In a lengthy diatribe it first adverts to "the miserably unsocial relations which exist, in too many cases, between the settler and his men, and the thoroughly demoralised condition of the latter." There was no wonder that the rural labouring classes degenerated; they were herded together in huts, far from the ameliorating influences of civilisation, religious services, instruction, or even of family ties. Their own improvidence often completed their debasement: "Every few months of this half-savage kind of life it is their regular custom to leave service and hasten to the nearest publichouse to spend every penny of their wages in drink." Finally, the Inquirer asserted that property had its duties as well as its rights, that its duties were not all performed by the mere payment of wages, and that until the labouring classes were better treated they could not be expected to remain in the colony.
From January to July, 1877, nearly 200 immigrants were introduced under the new system, at a cost of £19 15s. per head. The expenditure during the year was £6,724. The standard of these people satisfied neither Government nor Councillors, and it was decided in 1878 to admit only nominated immigrants. The proposal was made to obtain Germans, and Chinese or coolie labour. A vote of £2,500 was passed for the former class, and £4,500 for the latter. Highly complimentary references were made by country members to the excellence of Chinese labour, but the town representatives deprecated such an introduction. The proposal was not allowed to pass without outside opposition. On 22nd July 1878, Mr. S.H. Parker presided over a large meeting of citizens held in the Perth Town Hall. Resolutions inimical to the introduction of Chinese and coolies were passed, and it was decided that Sir Luke S. Leake and Mr. S.H. Parker, members for Perth, should lead a deputation to the Governor. Sir Harry Ord informed the members of the deputation that the fears of the meeting were "purely imaginary," lectured them on the industry and morality of the Chinese, and somewhat illogically concluded his address by saying that "the total revenue of the Straits Settlement in 1876 was about £320,000, of which the Chinese paid by their consumption of opium and spirits at least one-half."
The Government introduced Chinese and coolies under a three years' contract, but not to the extent proposed. Late in 1878 the migration of able-bodied colonists from Western Australia to the east was serious. The sum spent in immigration in that year was £1,721. In the revised land regulations of 1878 children under fourteen years of age who had arrived in the colony with their parents (immigrants) were promised twelve and a half acres of land. Governor Ord informed the Legislative Council in 1878 that mechanics or special workmen arriving as immigrants would be allowed to select one town allotment each in lieu of the grant o[ fifty acres of country land. At the taking of the Government census in 1870 the population of the colony was given as 24,785, comprising 15,375 males and 9,410 females; the population in 1878 was 28,166, an increase of about 300 on the previous year (1877). The number of births in 1878 was 871; deaths, 394; arrivals, 322; and departures, 471—so that the increase was wholly due to the birth rate.
In January, 1871, a Municipal Institutions Act (34 Vic. No. 6) was passed, giving local government to Perth, Fremantle, and other centres. An Amending Act was carried in 1876. Any person owning or occupying land, a house, or tenement within the limits of any municipality was given the right of voting for the Council, provided that he had paid all municipal rates and assessments, and had not received public relief during the year. Property rated below £25 qualified for one vote, above £25 and under £50 for two, above £50 and under £75 for three, and above the last amount for four. Any person who held a vote could also become a councillor, but the chairman must be qualified to serve on the Grand Jury under the Jury Act of 1871 (35 Vic. No. 8). The municipal councils were given power over roads, drains, wharves, public buildings, pounds, boundaries, fences, sanitation and rating, and to borrow money for such purposes. No fewer than eight municipalities were proclaimed in 1871:—2nd January, Perth; 20th February, Fremantle, Guildford, Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, and Geraldton; and on 4th March, York. On 28th September, 1877, Newcastle was proclaimed. The population of Perth in 1871 was 4,500. Under the Act of 1876 the city was divided into four wards, each to elect three burgesses. Mention has already been made to the opening of the Town Hall on 1st June, 1870. This building, which cost (exclusive of convict labour) £4,507, was handed over to the municipality on that occasion, so that the new body possessed a substantial structure wherein to hold its meetings. On 8th March the first councillors were elected, as follow:—J.B. Roe, W. Adkinson, and B. Smith, for East Ward; J. Dyer, J. Dyson, and G. Randell, for West Ward; and J. Snowball, M. Smith, and B. Randford, for Central Ward. Mr. G. Glyde, who for some years was chairman of Town Trustees under the old Act, was elected chairman without opposition. He continued to hold that position for three successive years. In 1874 Mr. G. Randell became chairman; in 1875-6-7 Mr. George Shenton, and in 1878-9 Mr. S.H. Parker. In October, 1878, the Government handed over to the council the public lands and public buildings (including the Claisebrook mulberry plantation) within the municipality; on 30th May, 1870, the Town Hall clock was illuminated for the first time.
The municipal elections at Fremantle were held on 27th February, 1871, with the following results:—Chairman, W.S. Pearse. Councillors: North Ward—D. Francisco, J. Chester, and W. E. Marmion. West Ward—G. Pearse, H. Dixon, and G. Davies. South Ward—W. Hayes, L.A. Armstrong, and W. Jose. At Geraldton the municipal elections were held on 2nd April, and resulted as follow:—Chairman, D.H. Scott. Councillors—Messrs. Crowther, C.H. Eliot, W. Osborne, M. Hosken, W. Trigg, and W. Pead.
Complaints were repeatedly made at this time of the insanitary condition of Perth and Fremantle. In 1876 Dr. Barnett, Fremantle, wrote a valuable pamphlet suggesting improvements. Numerous references to various nuisances were published in the newspapers. Says one in 1878:—"A stranger visiting the metropolis, though he could not fail to admire the beauty of its position and surroundings, yet would equally regret the many drawbacks and deformities in what might otherwise constitute a really picturesque city. It has immense natural advantages, both as regards an ornamental and a sanitary point of view. Other towns not blessed with equal gifts from nature have at vast expenditure been made comfortable and habitable. Perth requires no costly effort; a slight assistance to nature and to ordinary sanitation is all that is required to place her among the most pleasant and healthy cities in the world." In 1876 there were 801 houses in Perth, and a population 4,606 persons. The other centres of more than fifty houses were:—
|Fremantle ...||588 ...||3,303|
|Albany ...||247 ...||840|
|York ...||139 ...||820|
|Guildford ...||106 ...||518|
|Geraldon ...||86 ...||748|
|Newcastle ...||57 ...||215|
|Busselton ...||51 ...||209|
Roads Boards were established in 1871 for the rest of the colony. Under the Local Road Boards Act (34 Vic. No. 26), which was also amended in 1876, these bodies were given the care of repairing and making roads and raising money for such purposes. Those persons were eligible to vote in the election of Road Boards who possessed rateable property within each proclaimed district to the value of £5 and under £10, one vote; above £10 and under £25, two votes; above £25 and under £50, three votes; and for £50 and upwards four votes.
Western Australia was still the skeleton of a colony: Her vast expanse was practically uninhabited; lines of roads led to a few people here, a few there. Concurrent with the attempts made to attract population were the serious proposals to build telegraph and railway lines by means of loans. Hitherto no telegraphic or railway system had been established; the methods of internal communication remained the same as those of 1840. It is a surprising fact, and earnest of the long stagnation, that the year 1869 should have been reached before these supreme achievements of civilisation were introduced. The old administration would not take upon itself the necessary expenditure, and finally it remained with two enterprising private gentlemen to found what might be termed the epoch of telegraph and other scientific conveniences in the colony.
During the sixties articles were published regretting the backwardness of Western Australia in connecting her chief centres with the electric telegraph system. The Government made no move in this direction, and Messrs. Edmund Stirling and Cumming, two enterprising colonists, determined to take the matter up. They erected, on their own responsibility, a telegraph system connecting Perth with Fremantle. In February, 1869, the first post was fixed by the Colonial Secretary, Mr. F. P. Barlee, at the request of the proprietors, and on the 21st June of the same year the line was opened. Colonel Bruce, the Acting Governor, transmitted the first message to Mr. Newman, chairman of the Fremantle Town Trust; and Mr. G. Clyde, as chairman of the Perth Council, the second, also to Mr. Newman. Then the line was thrown open to the public. Colonel Bruce complimented the adventurous proprietors in his address on opening the Legislative Council in June, 1869, and said that the establishment of this system was a memorable event in the history of the colony.
The public-spirited example had an immediate effect. Communication by telegraph and railway was advocated by the more advanced colonists; there were some who considered any expense in these directions was not justified, and opposed the innovation with fervid energy. In June, 1869, proposals were made to build railways and tramways to the eastern and Canning districts. A Commission was appointed to decide on the most practicable route to the eastern districts, and in July reported in favour of a line along the Helena River. In May, 1870, the Colonial Secretary carried a resolution in the Legislative Council authorising the construction of telegraph lines from Perth to Albany, Bunbury, York, and Newcastle (Toodyay). The work was to be done by an Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Company, and in June the prospectus was issued. The capital asked for was £12,000; the Government guaranteed interest at six or eight per cent., according to receipts. The Company was formed, with Major Crampton (chairman), Messrs. Leake, Carr, Shenton, Birch, Clyde, Moore, King, McKail, Clifton, Steere, and Monger as directors, and Mr. A. J. Hillman as secretary. A second company soon followed, but both were amalgamated in 1871. Tenders were invited for the construction of the lines to Albany and York in November, 1870, and others in 1871. The first posts of the eastern districts line were erected by Governor Weld at Perth on 13th February, 1871, at York on 14th March, and at Northam on 18th March. Telegraphic communication was opened with Guildford on 23rd December in that year, and with Newcastle on 3rd January, 1872. Early in 1871, and in 1874, proposals were laid before the Victorian and Western Australian Governments by a rich syndicate, offering on certain conditions to connect Cape Otway with King George's Sound, and Cape Cuvier with Java Head, by cable, so as to unite Europe to Australia. Other schemes were then drawing towards completion, and the offer was not accepted.
The year 1871 witnessed the opening of the first railway in the colony. About the middle of that year the Western Australian Timber Company opened a short line at the Vasse, Lockville, connecting their jetty with the jarrah forests. The line passed over bridges spanning the creeks, and large earthworks in the valleys. All the ironwork was made at the Victoria Foundry, Ballarat, Vic. A short line was in course of construction at Rockingham, and a tramway from the Canning to the ranges. In December Governor Weld, Colonial Secretary Barlee, and other gentlemen proceeded to the Vasse and enjoyed the unique privilege of riding on a line of railway in Western Australia. The train comprised a small locomotive and three trucks. There were no springs on the carriages, and the members of the vice-regal party were treated to a severe shaking. The length of line was twelve miles, and the train travelled at an average speed of fifteen miles an hour. It was a day of rejoicing. The tramway from the Canning to the forests on the Darling Range was opened by Governor Weld on 8th February, 1872. Messrs. Mason, Bird, and Co. owned the property, which was about nine miles long, and was built at a cost of about £300 per mile. The locomotive "Governor Weld," for the Rockingham Timber Company's railway, arrived in the colony from Ballarat in January, 1872.
Representative Government was soon celebrated by the Legislative Council in asking for a loan bill—a thing that seemed impossible in former years. In 1871 members authorised the raising of a loan of £100,000 to be used on public works. The bill was submitted to the Secretary for the Colonies for his approval, Governor Weld explaining in his despatch that as the Council had made liberal provisions to meet the liabilities incurred, he expected no difficulty in obtaining the required sum on favourable terms. After much haggling, and a pledge being given that the interest could be met, Earl Kimberley reduced the sum asked for to £35,000, which was obtained. This amount was raised by debentures at 6 per cent., and appropriated in 1872 in such varied works as:—telegraph stations, £1,870; purchase of telegraph shares, £12,000; railway surveys, Geraldton, £1,675; moorings in Gage's Roads, £1,000; improving Swan River, £2,330; jetties—Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, and Geraldton, £3,340; lighthouses, Champion Bay and Irwin, £2,500; Mandurah Estuary, £400; Albany Gaol, £885; coast surveys (joint cost of Imperial and Colonial Governments), £3,000; and Fremantle jetty extension,£1,675. In 1871 a committee was appointed by the Legislative Council, comprising the Surveyor-General, Mr. Drummond, and Mr. Gull, to report on the subject of a railway to the eastern districts, but nothing definite was arranged. Public meetings and newspapers advocated railways, not only to York and Northam, but to the mines in from Champion Bay as well. Transport, they argued, must be cheapened, both from the mines and from the colony's granaries. In July the Governor informed the Legislative Council that a private firm had offered to construct a line of railway to the mines. In December it was decided to accept the preferred services of a Melbourne engineer to survey railway lines, particularly one to run from Geraldton to Northampton, a town tapping the mining district.
With money obtained by loan, the Government in 1872 purchased the various lines of telegraph opened in the colony, and in December the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Company was wound up. The line to Albany was opened on the 28th of the same month. In 1873 a telegraph line from Newcastle to Geraldton was placed under construction. The loan of 1872 was soon absorbed,, and on 20th November,1873, Governor Weld called a special session of the Legislative Council to make legal provisions for another loan of £100,000 passed by the Council in July, which the Home Government had already sanctioned. This was required especially for the construction of a system of railway and telegraph from Geraldton to Northampton. With the exploration by Mr. John Forrest of the country so disastrously crossed by Eyre, the feasability of constructing a telegraph line connecting South Australia and Western Australia was proved. The Government of the former colony first took the matter up, affirming the advantage of having the continent connected by telegraph from east to west, as well as from south to north. Mr. Barlee moved and carried a resolution in the November session authorising the Government to make estimates, &c., and to lay definite proposals before the Council at its next session. In the July session of 1873 it was vainly proposed to construct a railway line from Perth to Fremantle. Strong opposition was shown by some members; such a large work, it was said, would bring disaster, there was no call or justification for it, and so forth.
The first moiety of the £100,000 loan, bearing 5 per cent. interest, was floated in Melbourne in January, 1874, through the National Bank of Australasia. The remainder was obtained without difficulty. The Geraldton-Northampton Railway line could now be proceeded with. Preparations were set forward, and on 22nd October, 1874, the first sod was turned at Geraldton by Governor Weld. Colonists congregated there from various parts of the country, and the work was projected with speeches and a banquet. The telegraph line from Geraldton to Newcastle was opened on 5th June, 1874. All the first operators were females; one was a half-caste native (trained and educated at the New Norcia Mission), who managed the code with ease. It was now decided to build a telegraph line to Eucla, and in December the Government accepted tenders. On 1st January, 1875, the first pole was erected by Governor Weld. Work on the pioneer railway was pushed on with as much expedition as possible, but at best it was slow. A large staff was engaged on the Eucla telegraph system, and the accounts of the explorations of Eyre and Forrest enable one to appreciate the difficulties met with. In those barren regions, amid great natural difficulties, the surveyors and contractors and their men suffered serious hardship, and several were lost in the dreary sea of scrub and desolation. It required resourceful bushcraft to obtain water in the barren places. Considering the obstacles, the work was done most expeditiously; in August, 1875, the Governor informed the Legislative Council that the wiring was completed to within a few miles of Esperance Bay, and posts were placed for a distance of 150 miles beyond that point.
The question of building a line of railway from Fremantle to Perth and Guildford, and another to York, was agitated during 1875 with more earnestness. Public meetings were held in different centres by the supporters of the railways, and were invariably attended by some who decried their advisability. Loans were proposed, and Governor Robinson communicated with the Imperial Government. It was deemed best to wait for some time. In April, 1877, a third loan—£26,000, at 5 per cent.—was raised, again in Melbourne, chiefly for the completion of the Geraldton-Northampton Railway. Mr. Price and his surveyors, and the contractors, accomplished their arduous duties on the Eucla telegraph line in 1877. On 9th December of that year telegraphic communication with South Australia, and, practically, the world, was established. England and South Australia were already connected, and Governor Ord sent congratulatory messages to the Secretary of State in Great Britain, and the various Governors of the Australian Colonies, of Ceylon, and the Straits Settlements. It was truly a new epoch. By the erection of those few thousands of posts communication between Perth and London, which in earlier days took months to complete, was the matter of less hours than previously there were months. Official administration was thus simplified and commerce facilitated. The estimated cost of the line was £32,000; but the actual cost was nearly £42,000. The total length was 748 miles 28 chains. A line from York to Beverley was opened two days earlier.
Mr. James Palmer was the contractor for the Geraldton-Northampton Railway. The distance traversed was set down as 33 miles 66 chains, and the cost £50,000. The plans, drawn up by Mr. Major, the engineer, were considered by the Surveyor-General to be narrow and unsafe. Mr. Palmer contracted for the works as laid down by Mr. Major, but upon the latter's death Mr. Lovell (South Australia) was engaged in his place, and he also condemned the plans. The rails sent out by the Crown agents were of a defective character. The position in regard to Mr. Major's designs became awkward; it had to be decided whether to follow him or Mr. Lovell. In the latter event the work must be stopped pending further advice and legislation, thus entailing loss by litigation and in time. Mr. Lovell estimated that the additional cost to the contractor would amount to £2,700, at which price Mr. Palmer would undertake the work, added to £500 per month for three months on account of the terms of the contract being prolonged. Mr. Victor, one of the superintending engineers, eventually agreed with Messrs. Lovell and Palmer that the original estimate for the construction of the line would have to be increased by £15,000, or about £500 more per mile. At a meeting of the Executive Council in September, 1875, it was decided to strengthen and improve the bridges and culverts at a cost of £1,900. Originally the gauge was fixed at 3 feet, but the Administration altered this in 1874 to a 3 feet 6 inch gauge. A Select Committee of the Legislative Council, consisting of Messrs. Lee-Steere, Randell, Shenton, Burges, and Brown, while favourable to the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge, hesitated in advising the increased expenditure that would be entailed by an alteration of the designs. The wider guage was used, and in 1877 a new loan was floated to meet the additional expenditure. On 26th July, 1879, the whole line was thrown open to traffic. The total cost, including the telegraph line and rolling stock, was £147,217 or £4,312 per mile. The gross earnings up to 30th June, 1880, represented £2,575, and the working expenses £3,999. Numerous conferences and voluminous correspondence took place between the contractor and the Government as to the settlement, and ultimately the whole subject was referred to arbitrators—Messrs. W. D. Moore and J. G. Lee-Steere—who found in favour of the contractor for £3,466 7s. 6d. and costs—£6,000 in all.
The question of constructing the Fremantle-Perth-Guildford Railway was also determined. It was first proposed that a joint stock company should build the line under a guarantee from the Government, for a certain term of years, of 6 per cent. on the capital expended. Lord Carnarvon did not like the scheme because such works sometimes fell into the hands of the Government, and entailed considerable pecuniary sacrifice. Direct Government action was preferable in his opinion, and he promised that if satisfactory evidence were given him of the necessity of the line and its probable cost, he would authorise the flotation of a loan. Governor Robinson replied that Mr. J. H. Thomas, the Director of Public Works (a new department), had prepared elaborate plans. That gentleman estimated that the cost of a line along the south banks of the river would be £99,121, and along the north side £87,098, and that the traffic would show, after paying interest and working expenses, a balance of £12,616 per annum. Memorials were prepared in the Fremantle districts praying that the southern route be followed; and in York, Beverley, Toodyay, and Northam, asking that the line be commenced at Guildford. The route on the north bank was fixed upon. On 21st April, 1879, the contract was awarded to Mr. John Robb, of Adelaide, for £74,591, and on 3rd June the first sod was turned by Governor Ord. A Loan Bill for £200,000 was sanctioned. By these works and others, advantageous as they were, the Representative Council had for the first time initiated a public debt. In the years 1872 to 1876 the debt had risen from nothing to £161,000. Since the voyage of the Success in 1827, when the officers reported on the opportunities existing for obtaining a secure harbour in the Swan River by cutting through the bar, numerous attempts had been made by various engineers to perform that work, and many proposals were formulated to make Fremantle a secure harbour. In 1870 Mr. Doyne, C.E., and in 1873 Mr. Wardell, reported on these questions. It was finally considered impracticable to seek to burst the mouth of the Swan. In 1870 Surveyor Cowle and Captain Croke took soundings in Gage's Roads. A few years later the various plans for harbour improvements were submitted to Sir John Coode, the eminent expert. Various public works, besides those mentioned, were put in hand in 1869-78.
Governor Weld, early in his term of office, experienced some difficulty in balancing revenue and expenditure, and upon occasion had to announce a deficit. Notwithstanding the loans, representative institutions, and an export trade—which was doubled during the ten years 1869-78—bad seasons and diminishing convict expenditure greatly curtailed the revenue. Governor Hampton left a balance in the colonial chest of £22,475, and Acting Governor Bruce increased this amount to £25,052. In 1870 the pastoral industry suffered extensively from a drought, which caused considerable death in stock and a decrease in the wool yield. Agriculturists were also keenly affected, and in the Victoria and eastern districts particularly their losses were great. After the red rust scourge of 1868 these low returns in the Victoria district occasioned general distress. Thus in his first year of office Governor Weld was seriously assailed by monetary difficulties. While the colonial revenue in 1869 was £88,651, in 1870 it had fallen to £82,960; in the same years the expenditure had risen from £103,124 to £113,046. The Imperial grant-in-aid of about £15,000 did not make up the deficiency. The occasion called for retrenchment on the part of the Governor—a very unpopular necessity. At the same time pauperism became most serious, especially among the thriftless convict class which had been freed. In 1871 the colonial revenue was £1,000 lower than in 1870, but the expenditure was now reduced to £107,147. The Imperial convict expenditure fell from £107,023 in 1869 to £92,473 in 1871. Nor was the condition of the Victoria district improved; red rust was succeeded by drought, which was followed again by red rust, and consummated in February, 1872, by a hurricane and rains and floods, damaging property, as well of the Government as private people.
The decreasing numbers of convicts under the Convict Establishment caused Governor Weld in 1872 to close the country depots and call in to Fremantle nearly all the men on public works. The outcry concerning this order was loud in the districts affected, and the Governor was accused of being the tool of the Secretary for the Colonies, and was twitted with having as his special mission the reduction of imperial expenditure. An aftermath of convictism was being felt, and when the glamour of an increasing population and of the introduction of outside capital was disappearing, the sores became only too apparent. In 1871 there were estimated to be between 700 and 800 aged ex-convicts in Western Australia who were a charge on the public purse, and £3,711 was disbursed in charitable allowances to them. A pitiful and even disgusting poverty was to be observed among these people. A public meeting held in Perth on 17th April, 1872, considered that Her Majesty's Government should "relieve a young and struggling community" from the keep of these infirm paupers, and asked that provision be made for their maintenance. In 1872 the maintenance of hospitals, gaols, and poor houses absorbed nearly nine per cent. of the revenue.
In that year, despite another visitation of red rust in the Victoria district, and other losses, the revenue more than balanced the expenditure. By economy the Governor had reduced the expenditure to £98,248, while the colonial revenue had increased to £89,976, which, with the Imperial grant-in-aid of £15,324, made a total of £105,300—a surplus of seven thousand odd pounds. The position in 1873 was still better. In his address to the Legislative Council in June, 1873, Governor Weld thus hopefully referred to the position:—"I am able to tell you that the revenue of this colony is in a very flourishing condition, that the exports and imports are now greater than at any period of its existence, that the financial position of the mercantile community is sound, that the value of land in many places has greatly risen, that the amount on deposit in the Savings Bank is on the increase; and that these results are the true tests of progress, for they have gone side by side with a large reduction in Imperial expenditure, and in despite of the general failure of the wheat crop from red rust, a calamity by which very heavy loss has fallen on the colony and much hardship has been entailed upon individuals, especially in the Victoria district—drawbacks which far outweigh the impulse which has been afforded by the expenditure of a small loan for public works."
The revenue in 1873, with the grant in aid of £14,107, was £134,831, and the expenditure £114,269. For this increase in revenue the Customs were chiefly answerable, aggregating £69,329, against £45,876 in 1871. A protective tariff to some extent caused the inflation. In 1874 the revenue with the Imperial grant reached £148,072; in 1875, £157,775; in 1876, £162,189; in 1877, £165,412; and in 1878, £163,343. Among other direct sources of revenue was the control which the Government held of the guano deposits, which in 1877 returned £7,534, and in 1878, £13,869. But the expenditure in these later years increased out of proportion to the revenue, the main reason being the application of fairly large sums out of the revenue to public works, in addition to the loan fund moneys so used. From 1875 to 1878, the expenditure outbalanced the revenue—in 1875, by £11,455; in 1876, by £17,295; in 1877, by £17,547; and in 1878, by £34,839. Add to these amounts the sum averaging about £15,000 received from the British Parliamentary grant, and the disparity will look still more serious, and the demands of colonists for Responsible Government in view of the necessary contingencies imposed by the Imperial Government will bear a different light. A cry of depression was again heard through the colony.
All this while the Imperial expenditure in the convict department had been falling off. In 1869 it was £107,023; in 1875, £78,759; and in 1878 only £57,210—a drop of nearly £50,000. Indeed, to this diminution of Imperial expenditure was largely due the increase in colonial expenditure; the calls for a large Government outlay to foster and facilitate expanding industries and protect a heterogenous population necessarily increased annually. From 1850 to 1870 the Imperial Government spent £1,932,850 9s. 2d. in the colony. The total Imperial and colonial expenditure in 1869 was £210,147, and in 1878 £255,453. The increase is not so great as the expansion and state calls demanded, and consequently depression was the more keen, because by the scattered nature of the community its varied interests required a heavier expenditure than even a larger population within accessible distances. The progressive decrease in convict expenditure necessitated a proportionate increase in colonial expenditure, therefore the constant withdrawal of so much outside capital was bound to cause distress—the convict expenditure of £100,000 a year was better than a loan; it demanded no interest and the people did not hypothecate their property.
A vexed question between the Imperial Government and colonists was the proportion which the Imperial authorities should pay towards the maintenance of the police and magistrates. In 1853 it was arranged that the Imperial Government should make an annual grant of £1,000 for the salaries of magistrates and pay two-thirds of the gross expenditure of the colony upon its police, exclusive of a small force in the north. This agreement held good for a number of years, although one Secretary for the Colonies, Mr. Labouchere, objected to what he considered the enormous cost of police maintenance. The question was opened up in 1854, when the Lords of the Treasury proposed to reduce the Imperial proportion to half the gross expenditure, but their Lordships decided, as transportation was to cease in 1867, to postpone making any arrangements. When 1867 arrived, the matter escaped their attention, and the payment went on as usual. During the latter years the cost of police on the two-thirds basis to England, averaged over £15,000 annually, or more than double the amount of 1853, or 22 per cent. more than that of 1867. Governor Robinson proposed that the grant should continue at £15,000 for 1877-8, and thereafter sink by slow degrees until 1893, with which year it would wholly expire. Assistant Comptroller-General Thompson, however, recommended an immediate drop to £10,000, and a future annual reduction of £1,000, in which event it would expire in 1886-7.
The Lords of the Treasury, on 28th November, 1877, sent a despatch to Governor Robinson requesting the adoption of the following scale:—The grant for 1877-8 to be £14,000, and then to sink by £1000 per annum until 1883-4, and thenceforth by £2,000 per annum until 1887-8, when, twenty years after the cessation of transportation, it would cease altogether. An important and gratuitously annoying alternative, however, was appended:—"My Lords have only to add, with regard to both these grants in aid for magistrates, police, and chaplains, that payment of them will depend absolutely upon the colony not being given .... Responsible Government. If such form of government be insisted upon, all payments will cease." They first proposed to disband the pensioner force, not believing it necessary to guard convicts inside the Fremantle prison; but they decided that it might be expedient to maintain some description of armed force in addition to police and volunteers. They therefore expressed their willingness to support the pensioner force out of Imperial funds for a period not extending under any circumstances beyond March 31, 1887. After some demur arrangements were come to, and the English grant to these funds was gradually reduced as proposed.
The expansion, of export and trade to some extent acted as a counterpoise to the diminution of expenditure of outside capital. Whereas in 1869 colonists drew to themselves £205,502 by export, in 1878 they obtained £488,491, and the balance of imports and exports changed sides. In 1869 the imports totalled £256,729 and in 1878 £379,049 (including £22,040 in specie)—that is, in 1869 the imports were £51,227 larger than the exports, and in 1878 the ports were £49,442 larger than the imports. Had it not been for the small yields of wheat in the bad seasons the difference would have been greater. In 1878 (in addition to £22,040 for specie), grain, flour, potatoes, and butter, valued at £54,785 were imported. Wool, timber, guano, lead, pearls, pearl shell, and sandalwood principally served to swell the exports. The colony had now become an exporting instead of an importing one—a sure indication of progress, and (had it not been for the reduction in outside expenditure)of prosperity. Various causes tended to give an impulse to production. The year 1874 was the best, because of wool, sandalwood, and pearls; the year 1878 next, because of timber, guano, lead, and pearls. The balance for the ten years is on the side of exports. The annual returns (Blue Book) are:
|1869 ...||£256,729 ...||£205,502|
|1870 ...||213,258 ...||200,984|
|1871 ...||198,010 ...||199,120|
|1872 ...||226,656 ...||209,196|
|1873 ...||297,327 ...||265,217|
|1874 ...||364,262 ...||428,836|
|1875 ...||349,840 ...||391,217|
|1876 ...||386,036 ...||397,292|
|1877 ...||362,706 ...||373,351|
|1878 ...||379,049 ...||428,49l|
The yield of wool varied with the seasons; lean years produced lean returns. In 1874 the wool export was £215,624, in 1877 £199,624 and in 1878 £150,952. In 1869 there were 648,683 sheep in the colony, and in 1878, 869,325 sheep, a reduction of the number in 1876 by over thirty thousand. Wool continued to hold first place in the export. The drought of 1869-70 was so severe that the wild horses, which had congregated in great numbers in the east of the Avon River, died in dozens, and their carcases were strewn round the dried up pools and swamps. The lambing season was fatal and the clip of wool small. In 1871 a more favourable autumn and spring afforded some compensation for the drought, and the clip exceeded that of 1870 by about 20 per cent., while the prices were about 20 per cent. higher. In 1875-6 the price of wool declined and reduced the profits of pastoralists, who from bad seasons and other causes suffered during the succeeding years. The Plantagenet District gained a great increase in stock. The North-West district did not progress in proportion to its rise in previous years. The stock statistics show a considerable increase, but north-west runs were not selected with the eagerness evinced during the three or four years after the settlement was formed. The pioneers had overcome many of their difficulties, and more regular communication was established with Perth. Settlement was not materially extended, but many of those station-holders who had selected good areas of land were obtaining substantial returns. Proposals were made at Roebourne in 1869 to open a trade in sheep and cattle with Singapore. A slight small-pox visitation took place in 1870. The native difficulty seriously hampered the enterprise of several pastoralists. In 1869 a shepherd in the employ of Mr. Hooley on the Ashburton River was killed; he was surrounded by the natives on a plain, and after shooting two of them he was speared and stoned to death. A few days later the same natives challenged two other white men to a fight. A party went out to punish the murderers, and met with stronger opposition than has occurred in the history of warfare between whites and blacks in the colony. It seems that the natives fought with unyielding spirit, but superior weapons soon told on their numbers. Next day, however, they tried to spear other shepherds, who consequently refused to remain in the neighbourhood, Mr. Hooley was compelled to abandon his run and remove to the Fortescue River. On this river at that time were the flocks of Messrs. Grant and Anderson, who in an attempt to pass overland to Champion Bay were driven back by the drought and lost numbers of their sheep.
A new town—Cossack—was declared in the north-west, but as Roebourne was the official centre it did not gain many inhabitants. In 1878 a Court of Quarter-Sessions was established at Roebourne. Several hurricanes had already visited the north country during the period of settlement, but none equal to that of March, 1872. For many days the weather had been oppressive, close, and moist. The barometer remained for nineteen days at 29.83. During the 20th March rain fell, reported Mr. Sholl, in cataracts, and the wind increased in velocity until at night it developed into a cyclone, "In the course of a few minutes," said Mr. Sholl, "the building was unroofed, and we had to flee. I was scarcely outside when I was driven before the wind, knocked over, and rolled along, the roof of the building falling about me and small pieces striking me. Here I must have been struck heavily, but do not recollect it. When I recovered consciousness I was lying on my face with my fingers dug into the ground. While attempting to get to the bush, in the haze, with the rain beating in my face, I went in the wrong direction, and was finally blown back. While rolling along before the gate, I caught hold of a rock and with difficulty got under the leeward of it."
Within half-an-hour all the buildings in Roebourne, excepting two outhouses, were levelled. Many persons were injured, but none killed, although there were some very narrow escapes. The rain continued to pour down, and soon the rivers, or flood channels, overflowed, and the waters submerged the low country, sweeping away stock and damaging property. At Cossack houses were blown down and the high seas destroyed considerable property. Had the storm occurred at springtide all the buildings not on the sandy ridge would have been carried away. The rails and floors of the upper jetty were torn off, leaving nothing standing but the piles and caps. As on previous occasions,the cyclone had circumscribed limits and did not extend westerly beyond Maitland, nor did it reach the De Grey in the east. A pearling fleet was in great danger on the 16th March, but the wind moderated before any serious damage was done. Mr. Venn, at Nickol River, had a disheartening experience; upwards of 2,000 sheep were carried away by the floods, besides five horses, a cart, rations, &c; very few sheep were saved. Mr. R. Mackay lost about 1,500 sheep, and his house and its contents were swept on in the course of the flood. At East Harding Mr. Withnell lost 600 sheep, and some horses nearer Roebourne. A thousand sheep were destroyed on the Pyramid Station. Mr. Viveash's new house was blown down, as also was Messrs. McRae's wool and shearing shed—300 sheep were killed. Messrs. Hicks, A. Howlett, J. Lockyer, Hancock, and others also lost stock and property. Naturally such a terrible visitation retarded the progress of the districts mentioned; in a few days the increase and wealth of years were blown and washed away. This, culminating on a serious drought, caused considerable suffering; but upon the ruin of their homes the north-west people built new abodes, and rehabilitated their fortunes in defiance of the elements. They were of that pugnacious stuff which will not recognise defeat. The succeeding years were more fruitful, but the excitement which encompassed other industries allowed north-west settlement to fall in favour, an attracted enterprise into different channels. In 1878 Mr. John Forrest, Deputy Surveyor-General, made a trigonometrical survey of the whole of the settled portions of the north-west.
The Dempsters were joined by other settlers at Esperance Bay. In 1878 there were nine free runs, aggregating 760,000 acres, in the Eastern district. In the North district there were twenty-nine free runs, aggregating 2,663,000 acres, while in 1869 there were forty-two free runs, representing 4,159,000 acres. In 1874 there were 90,480 sheep, 1,380 cattle, 1,253 horses and 286 goats in the north-west. In 1878 there were 32,170 horses, 56,158 cattle, 4,924 goats and 16,762 pigs in the colony.
Unfortunately, the agricultural interests suffered during the years 1869-78 and a falling-off in acreage under crop took place. A few bad seasons disheartened the farmers, and they left their ploughs to exploit the forest for timber and the coast for pearls. No more disastrous decadence could take place; people got to think that wheat-growing was too risky, and, even in good seasons did not return the profits to be gleaned in other industries. For a few years they had begun to export wheat and flour, but plagues of red rust and dry years broke their faith in the resources of local soils, and thenceforth they allowed the wilderness to reclaim its own. Fields which with great trouble and expense they had cleared of bush and timber were abandoned, and bush and timber were only too eager to usurp their primeval place. The industry and enterprise which recent successful years had stimulated, had a short and sorry existence; so that they might raise enough corn to subsist themselves numerous farmers were content. Too many of them at this time showed a lamentable lack of the virility and persistency which so distinguish Britishers all over the world. The profits to be obtained in other channels of energy, although affording some excuse, do not justify the stagnation which took hold of members of this class. While they still continued to live upon their farms, they showed little of the energy of the brave man. From about 50,000 acres under cultivation in 1868, the area fell in 1878 to 23,008 acres in wheat, 8,377 in other grains, 341 in potatoes, and 614 in vines. With several thousand more people in the colony the difference should have been the other way.
There is no doubt that primitive processes of husbandry had beggared some farms, and caused a falling-off in the yields. Large tracts of land were reduced by inefficient cultivation and overcropping; the results to the owners were melancholy and sad. The system of farming was likened to that of the ancient Romans in its exhaustive consequences—the more the soil was worked the poorer it became. There was no restitution, and in obedience to nature's law, exhaustion begot sterility. Life in the farming districts, except in the best and among the large farmers, was not all that could be desired. The farmers were miserably housed; they had forgotten what the term luxury meant, and lost much of the desire to secure a competence. Some of the small centres began to resemble the village of Goldsmith's poem. Trade was largely carried on by barter—an obnoxious and even pernicious system that was fatal to wholesome competition or to the desire for acquiring wealth. A flock of sheep, half a dozen bullocks, a few horses, a shaded plot of land, are worth nothing more in the eyes of their owner than what they represent in specie; when they merely represent other stock and land a vital impulse is lost. The farmer sold his wheat for flour and household goods, the gardener exchanged with the storekeeper, the woodcutter was content to gain credit at the store for his load, however heavy the labour to obtain it may have been. It is no wonder that the agricultural districts stagnated—with good land calling for tillage the consequences to the future of Western Australia are not easily appraised. The barter system was joined to another, equally obnoxious—the credit system—by which the storekeepers furnished their customers with cheque books to draw orders on themselves. The Inquirer said the results were "morally and pecuniarily bad. "A flight of paper kites pervaded the regions of traffic; specie and bank notes almost disappeared from the rural districts, and their places were taken by scraps of dirty paper known as "orders."
In 1869-70 red rust and drought disheartened farmers, but only temporarily. Colonel Bruce spent £3,064 in 1869 in distributing seed wheat to the most distressed in the Victoria district under a bond providing for repayment after harvest. In 1871 lower prices for sandalwood caused the people to return to their ploughs, and they placed more land under fallow than in any previous season. In the Champion Bay and Irwin districts, however, red rust again scourged the land. The rest of the colony fared better, and though prices for flour and wheat were lower than in previous years, there was an export of 321 tons of flour, valued at £4,822. There was a still more severe visitation of red rust in the Victoria district in 1872. The returns in the Geraldton district were one bushel per acre, and in the Irwin and Greenough districts only half a bushel. A considerable portion of the population was made up of small farmers, and their suffering and poverty were extreme. The store-keepers did what they could to help, and they lost heavily. Flour valued at £2,430 and grain at £812 were exported in 1872. There was a decrease of nearly 7,000 acres in the area planted in wheat in 1873; bad farming and red rust precipitated the evil. The protective tariff had an effect opposite to that expected. In that year the imports of flour represented £15,241. The area was decreased by a further 2,000 acres in 1874, and flour valued at £14,605 was imported. Another decrease in area cultivated in 1875 necessitated the importation of hay, potatoes, dried fruits, butter, grain, flour, and meal. In 1876 only 18,769 acres were under wheat, and though the season was a fair one, large quantities of wheat and flour had to be imported. In 1877 flour representing £31,913, bran and pollard £3,858, and potatoes £998, were introduced. A bag of flour sold at 48s. The cost of living was enormous, and pauperism became still more general. Notwithstanding the efforts to import labour, there were some hundreds of unemployed in Perth—the large sums sent out of the colony for the necessaries of life were bound to cause these sad results. The 1877-8 harvest was slightly better, and flour in February, 1878, sold at 21s. a bag and wheat at 4s. 6d. per bushel. The market was said to be glutted, and the farmer complained that he could not grow wheat for 4s. 6d., and was compelled to take his axe and go to the sandalwood trees. The absence of enterprise in wheat and vine and vegetable production were the great regrettable features of this period. A market was in 1872 established under the Town Hall, Perth. In 1874 wine valued at £120 was exported.
In 1876 silk cocoons were produced at the Government Garden at Claisebrook, and in 1877 a piece of golden coloured satin, fifty yards long, made entirely from the local production, was received from Europe. In 1878 silk cocoons valued at £64 were exported. Sugar-cane was grown with some success in different parts of Western Australia, and in 1874 Mr. Padbury imported a sugar-mill for his Yatheroo Estate, where he had several acres under sugar-cane. The Government offered a bonus of £250 for the first five tons of marketable sugar produced in the colony.
With better prices and improved transport more energy was devoted to the sandalwood tracts, especially by the disappointed farmers. The trade now reached its highest point in local history. As usual the value of exports, and number of people engaged in sandalwood cutting, varied with the prices at Singapore and elsewhere. At times piles of the wood lay strewn about the country; at others insufficient could be obtained to meet the demands. An export duty of 5s. per ton was levied. The annual exports of sandalwood were:—In 1869, £32,998; in 1870, £48,890; in 1871, £26,926; in 1872, £31,536; in 1873, £62,916; in 1874, £70,572; in 1875, £66,456; in 1876, £65,772; in 1877, £31,850(lower prices); and in 1878, £35,064.
The hardwoods had more attention, and substantial amounts were received from export. In 1878 there were timber companies at work, some with trains and trams, at the Canning, at Rockingham, on the east and west sides of Geographe Bay, and at Torbay, near Albany. Six steam saw mills and three water saw mills were engaged in these different places. Several companies were formed, in and out of the colony, and large orders were received for jarrah sleepers. Acting Governor Bruce informed the Legislative Council in June, 1869, that he believed £100,000 worth of orders for jarrah from India bad been refused during the preceding six mouths through the difficulty of conveying the timber from the forests to the seaboard. He advocated trams and railways. Renewed energy was therefrom noticeable in the mills, and in 1870 orders were held that could not be fulfilled for months ahead. In 1871 Mr. G. Simpson, for a timber company formed in Victoria, began operations at Wonnerup, near Vasse Inlet. In 1872 a notification was received by the Government that Western Australian jarrah was rated by Lloyd's in Table A line No. 3 for shipbuilding, and in 1873 karri was placed in the same grade. In 1872-3 the export was small, but in 1874 it jumped ahead, and in 1877-8 was enormously above any previous years. The returns best exhibit the revival:—In 1869, £14,274; in 1870, £17,571; in 1871, £15,304; in 1872, £2,590; in 1873, £4,770; in 1874, £24,194; in 1875, £23,965; in 1876, £23,743; in 1877, £36,979; and in 1878, £63,901.
Whaling on the north-west coast and in the south-west and south was regular, but not particularly significant. The returns were:—1870—oil, £3,142; bone, £455; 1871—oil, £3,840. 1872—oil, £l,408. In 1873—oil, £1,872; bone, £187. 1876 oil, £6,673. In 1877—oil, £6,344; and 1878—oil, £5,212. A valuable oil from the dugong, found on the north-west coast, was exported. The Mandurah Fishing Company began operations in 1878. The export of horses was maintained. Mr. Maitland Brown at Neumarracarra, eighteen miles east of Geraldton, made horse-rearing a speciality, and he possessed an excellent stud. The exports of horses, cattle, and sheep were:—In 1869, 967 horses valued at £12,272; in 1870, 284 horses, £4,544; in 1871, 554 horses, £6,648; in 1872, 427 horses, with 1,132 sheep and 33 cows, £6,487; in 1873, 296 horses, £4,396, and 370 sheep, £370; in 1874, 400 horses, £5,600; in 1875, 197 horses, £2,758; in 1876, 733 horses, £10,822; in 1877, 630 horses, £7,900, 125 cows, £875; and in 1878, 761 horses, £9,937, and 243 cows, £1,701. It will be seen that cattle and sheep were for the first time exported. Quantities of gum and leather were also exported. An export duty of ls. per head on horses was imposed in 1874.
The wealthy pearl beds on the north-west coast were exploited with increasing success. Numerous fortunes were made in the industry in a few years, and many lives were lost in the exciting search. Owing to the gales and hurricanes known to recur in the north-west a strong spice of danger was attached to pearling; the industry had a potent attraction for the adventurous. In some respects pearling resembled gold digging; at any moment a pearl of peerless lustre might be found that meant a fortune to the lucky discoverer. Beneath the north-west waters numbers of high priced pearls were come upon, and, with guano, that part of the coast proved a great source of wealth to Western Australia. Local people who knew little of the vagaries of the sea and less of the management of sailing craft purchased boats and went up the coast. The young sons of old colonists gained more wealth in a couple of years from pearls, than their fathers had garnered on the land during all their colonial experience.
Mention was made in the last chapter of the developments in pearling in 1868. Early in 1869 a handsome pearl, the size and shape of a marble, was sent to England and sold for £260. No stronger stimulant to enterprise could have been found, and a rush was made for the pearl beds. That pearl was as valuable as a sixty-four ounce nugget of gold, and the dreams of mammoth stores of submarine treasures knew no end. At the same time the market price of pearl shell rose to £180 per ton. The number of boats engaged was doubled during that and the succeeding year, and it was feared that the beds would soon be worked out. This seemed very probable, for only fifty-four tons of pearl shell were gathered in 1869, but in May, 1870, a discovery was announced which gave a fillip to the industry. For several preceding months pearlers had moved from place to place getting only small returns, but a reef was come upon which was thought to extend for sixty miles along the coast. Every time the natives dived they brought up with them three or four pairs of shells, and in a fortnight the finds exceeded all expectation. The Messrs. Grant found some beautiful pear-shaped pearls of large size and unsullied lustre. The catch of thirty pearlers (excluding natives) for the year was eighty tons. A hurricane burst upon a little fleet in Nickol Bay on 25th December, 1870, and wrecked two or three boats; two lives were lost, and damage was done to buildings at Roebourne. In 1871 there were twenty-two vessels and boats engaged in the pearl fisheries, and 150 tons of shells were gathered. During the hurricane at Roebourne in March, 1872, several pearling boats were driven ashore, and one, the Nellie, with two men on board, disappeared, and, with her two men, was not seen again. The attention devoted to the quest in this year exceeded that of any previous period. Thirty-two vessels and forty-five boats were engaged.
It would appear that the treatment of the natives employed by the pearlers was not all it should have been. Strange statements were published in the different newspapers concerning affrays and diseases, and some people sought to justify the murder of white men by natives on the principle of the law of retaliation. The natives were engaged as divers, and the native women were preferred for this work to the men. The moral aspect of the question was sometimes inferentially referred to, and it was announced that horrible diseases were rapidly killing off the coastal tribes. The Legislative Council passed a measure prohibiting the employment of women as divers. Several pearlers were murdered by the natives.
Dismal and gruesome stories were published in 1873 which did not reflect credit on the honour and propriety of certain pearlers. In January R. Shea and Samuel Miller left their camp on the coast near the De Grey to search for natives who had deserted. They did not return, and in February their remains were found—Shea's head and legs in a pool, and Miller's body buried in the sand. They were murdered in their sleep. Miller, it was explained, would not have been attacked, but was mistaken for a certain well-known settler who had given the natives cause for enmity. At the trial of three natives, who were acquitted, for the murder, it was disclosed that molestation of native women was the incentive to the crime. The Inquirer, commenting on the affair, says:—"The north-west natives are evidently courageous savages, but it should be proved that the white men are not unjustifiably the aggressors before the fiat is sent forth to shoot them down like wild beasts, as, alas, whether by authority or not, has too often been the case in this colony. . . . Unless the natives are protected in their domestic relations, there seems no prospect of putting an end to their natural instinct for revenge." Sixteen other natives were tried for the same murder some months later; five were found guilty and sentenced to death.
A horrible murder was perpetrated on a pearler some years earlier. In 1869 Captain Gascoigne purchased a boat in Sydney for the local pearling trade. He sailed for this colony via Torres Straits, and nothing more was heard of him for some time. Finally, passing mariners noticed a wreck on one of the islands in the straits, and upon examining it they discovered evidence that it had been plundered by natives. The men then visited native huts on the shore, and found Captain Gascoigne's log book and other of his papers. Several natives were captured and taken to Cape York, where their examination tended to show that Captain Gascoigne and all the members of his crew (nine) were murdered, and that their bodies furnished a meal to the cannibals.
The year 1873, when eighty-three boats were scattered along the north-west coast, was distinguished for the number of pearls of high quality that were secured. One, a magnificent specimen, estimated to be worth £2,500, was found near Nickol Bay by Captain Black. A new bank was discovered early in the year in Flying Foam Passage, west of Port Walcott, which yielded large quantities of shell and pure pearls. In places the bank was from six to eight feet thick, yielding pearls of a more brilliant lustre than any hitherto discovered. One boat secured half a ton of shells in a day, and another 800 pairs of shells. A large fleet was soon congregated around the bank; a pearl found in February was valued at £300. The bank was located in water sixty feet and more deep, and difficulty was experienced in getting good divers; when opportunities occurred the natives ran away.
Sharks Bay was also a favourite resort of the pearlers, but the shells obtained from there were rather smaller than those further north. In August, 1873, the Dawn arrived at Fremantle with 60 tons of shells and 300 ounces of pearls gathered in the bay. There were in July between thirty and forty boats in Sharks Bay, employing about 200 persons. Shells were collected principally for the pearls, and along the shore of the bay there were about 1,000 tons of shells which were considered valueless. The large boats worked all the year round; the smaller ones only part of the year. When anchored on the beds they cast out their dredges of triangular shape, somewhat resembling a bell cut through the centre, with an eye at the tapered end for the handle; the frame was made of iron, and over it was loosely spread a strong net fastened to a scraper at the bottom. When filled, the dredge was hauled into the boat and discharged. The shells were taken to the beach, and placed in pits and casks until the mollusc died, and then the search for pearls began. This was carried on by the natives. In the summer the water receded and the shells were gathered by hands or toes in the shallow water.
Numbers of Malays were now being engaged. In the off season the vessels proceeded to the islands to recruit. The industry rapidly became the most remunerative in Western Australia, and the returns for 1873 were valued at about £35,000. Mr. Broadburst is said in one month to have obtained 100 ozs. of pearls, valued at £2,500; the value of these for the year was set down at £6,000, but the estimates are unreliable, for the compilers of the Blue Book, in all their figures of export, reckoned on what they considered the average price of any article during the year. The banks in Sharks Bay in 1874 were said to be almost worked out, and an exodus of pearlers took place to other parts of the coast. Chinamen were declared to be doing a thriving trade in the bay. Dropping a little Joss into a live oyster, which they placed in the water in a net made for the purpose, the Celestials watched and waited until the joss was covered with mother-o'-pearl. These excellent imitations sometimes brought good prices; the same process was occasionally followed to produce additional brilliancy and lustre in defective pearls. At Roebourne about 500 Malay and native divers were employed during 1874, and the take was declared to be between 260 and 270 tons, valued at £45,000. In shallow water the Australian natives were more successful than the Malays, but the latter were the most expert in the deeper banks. So pleased were the pearlers that they now purchased larger decked boats with which to pursue the quest in the deep water channels. The total value of pearls and shells obtained along the coast in 1874 was set down at nearly £75,000.
The industry in 1875 was exceedingly lucrative. and magnificent pearls were discovered. The conditions of life among the Malays and natives were not conducive to good health, and one report says that there were forty deaths from scurvy among the Malays on four boats in 1874-5. Regulations were framed by the Dutch Government at Timor, designed to protect the Malays, and secure their better treatment. The authorities there were informed that the treatment meted out to the divers was harsh and brutal. There is no doubt that exaggerated reports were circulated, but there were phases of pearling which would not bear publication. This is not true of the whole fleet, but certain disreputable members placed no value on human life; so long as they might get good returns they cared nothing for the suffering of the ignorant divers, and the slave driver himself was not more inhuman. A special correspondent of the Inquirer, in April, 1875, wrote: "Does the local Government accept any responsibility—moral—concerning the life of the Malay diver? If so, why not publish statistics of mortality amongst these degraded creatures? I apprehend such a list of casualties would appear, even at this last season, as would appal every right-minded man. The thirst for shells, for pearls, for success, in fact, brutalises and unchristianises the pearling speculator or diver. No day is respected. No dark man's life is valued in the economising of that life, but the utmost amount of diving must be sucked out of the man, kill him or not; for who knows who will be his owner next season?"
Of the employment of Australian natives, the same writer speaks still more plainly. He declares that deeds were done in the dark which were worse than those in the slave states of America. In the latter place the slaves cost dollars; in the north-west they cost nothing, except a little flour. No clothes or comforts were given them, and no pay but the flour. Under the Act, the native was bound over to work for a year, and the pearler kept him to work sometimes with open brutality. One prominent resident locked his natives up "in a kind of second Calcutta black hole," so that they might not run away. If the Act were carried out in its integrity, the writer declared, such a state of things could not stand. An effort was made by an Amending Pearl Fishery Act, passed in 1875, to prevent this objectionable traffic, but the exigencies of pearling were such that no Acts of Parliament could possibly protect the divers when in the employ of cruel masters. Towards 1880 the engagement of Malays became unpopular because of the difference in expense between them and the Australian natives.
Ninety-three vessels and boats comprised the Western Australian pearl fleet in 1876, and pearls and shells of over £80,000 in value were exported. The year was ushered in disastrously. On 29th December, 1875, a violent gale broke upon a pearling fleet in Exmouth Gulf, and continued until midnight on 1st January, 1876. Within that time 61 lives were known to be lost. As the gale increased in intensity the Wild Wave parted her chains, and was driven on the rocks where she sank immediately. There were 4 white men and 27 natives on board; all, with the exception of one white man, were drowned. He, and the owner of the craft, Mr. Charles Gill, clung to the mast head for several hours, and at last Gill, finding his strength failing, shook hands with his companion, and dropped into the waves out of sight. Kennington (the other man) was picked up on the beach next morning, and passed three days in delirium. The Lily of the Lake ran for shelter to the Bay of Rest, where she capsized and went down, head foremost, with all on hoard. Her crew numbered 4 whites and about 25 Malays, and all perished. The Blossom was swamped, and her crew lost; the Subahain was driven ashore and her crew saved. Several people watched the catastrophe from the shore, but the storm was so terrific that they could render no assistance. Captain J.S. Roe received a letter from one of them, who, on 2nd January wrote—"We have had nothing but dead bodies floating about our vessel for the last two days, with enormous sharks devouring them. I took on shore the body of Gill, and gave it Christian burial."
What with discoveries of valuable pearls, the treatment of divers, and wrecks during storms, pearling was not devoid of startling incidents. Pearls and pearl shell declined in price in 1876, but good profits could still be made. In 1877-8, owing to the small quantities gleaned, the value of export greatly decreased. This was due to some extent to lower prices ruling in England, and to the older banks yielding less shell. An export duty of £4 per ton on the best shell was charged in 1878, and on Sharks Bay shell of £1 per ton. The annual returns as valued by the compilers of the Blue Book were:—
Not reckoned in these figures were returns from Sharks Bay shells which were of less value. In 1873, £126; in 1874, £562; in 1875, 380 tons, £3,800; in 1876, 288 tons, £1,150; and in 1878, 340 tons, £1,352. Tortoise shell collected on the north-west coast supplied fair profits to the gatherers. In 1869, 643 lbs., £482; in 1870, £270; in 1872, 600 lbs., £450; and 1873, 340 lbs., £255.
Since the hurried and unsuccessful exploitation of the guano deposits on the north-west coast in 1850 and subsequent years, interest in the trade had quite lapsed. Little was heard of guano until 1876, when a somewhat amusing difficulty arose. In June of that year Mr. Roberts, an American, landed from the French barque Forca de la Roquette on the Lacapede Islands, north-west coast, and planted the American flag, considering that as the islands were more than a league from the Australian coast they could not be claimed as British territory. Some little time previously rich guano deposits had been found on the islands, and the Western Australian Government had allowed a Melbourne firm, Messrs. Poole, Picken, and Co., represented by Mr. Geddes, to load, charging a royalty of 10s. a ton. Mr. Roberts, on the authority of the American consul in Melbourne, laid claim to the cargoes of these vessels being loaded by Mr. Geddes, a claim which the latter would not recognise. Mr. Geddes proceeded to Roebourne, laid a complaint before the Government Resident, was sworn in as a special constable, and returning attached the French vessel chartered by Mr. Roberts. The latter now publicly proclaimed American rights to the islands, and claimed £30,000 as compensation for wrongful appropriation and damages sustained. Mr. Sholl, the Government Resident at Roebourne, did not see the matter in the same light as Mr. Roberts, and fined him £100, and ordered the captain of the barque to pay the costs. The captain was discreet and proceeded to Fremantle, paid the royalty of 10s. on the guano which he had loaded, and went over to Mauritius to discharge his cargo.
In Melbourne the Emily, a vessel of Messrs. Poole, Picken, and Co., was put in check by the American consul, who seized the cargo on behalf of his Government, and, it is said, sent instructions to Mauritius to attach the cargo of the Forca de la Roquette, which the captain claimed as his property. Mr. Lord (the American consul), now journeyed to Perth and interviewed the Government regarding the claim for compensation, which he based upon the assumption that the islands were not within the waters of the colony. Work on the islands themselves proceeded vigorously. Mr. Roberts called for tenders to supply certain plant for working the guano deposits, on such portions of the islands as he might be permitted by the local Government, promising to pay the 10s. royally, pending the decision of the imperial authorities. Messrs. Poole, Picken, and Co. despatched several vessels to load for them. The Government obtained £1,372 in royalty, and private persons, who considered they had a right to a share of the deposits, exported to the value of £367. The Government submitted a measure to the Legislative Council which imposed heavy fines on trespassers on Crown lands. The Bill was submitted to the Secretary for the Colonies, and he, in 1877, gave it his approval. At the same time he considered the provisions relating to "ships illegally engaged in collecting guano" were "very severe." Earl Carnarvon communicated with the United States Government, who rejected the claims advanced by Mr. Lord and Mr. Roberts to the proprietorship of the islands. But the fuss aroused by these proceedings was beneficial to the colony, for by advertising the Lacapede Islands it gained substantially in revenue and export. The Government conceded to Poole, Picken, and Co. the exclusive right to remove guano for a definite period. The revenue for 1877 was £7,534, and the export of guano represented £6,060. The revenue from the same source in 1878 was £13,869, and the export rose to the large sum of £66,095. In February, 1877, there were ten vessels loading at the Lacapede Islands, and seven of them were wrecked during a hurricane. Six lives were lost, and ships and cargoes, valued at £20,000, were said to have been destroyed.
The conditions which affected copper mining in the preceding decade still existed, but the Legislative Council, recognising the value of the copper and lead fields, sought to promote their development by building to them the first Government railway in the colony. Copper deposits were intermittently worked, but with moderate success. Lead continued to supply the chief mining profits, and the Narra Tarra and Wheel of Fortune mines were particularly lucrative. In 1873 about 60 tons of copper ore were taken from a shaft near Roebourne, and lead deposits were discovered seven miles from that centre, which were considered as rich as any on the Murchison. In 1878 the Blue Book gives the number of lead mines in the Victoria district as twenty-five, of which thirteen were at work. Mr. Brown, the Government Geologist, appointed in 1870, in his report of 1872, mentions the depths attained in the following mines:—
|Wheel of Fortune ...||300|
The Blue Book returns of export gave:—
|Year.||Lead Ore.||Copper Ore.|
|1869 ...||699||tons,||£8,394 ...||155||tons,||£2,325|
|1870 ...||1,209||"||14,514 ...||6||"||90|
|1871 ...||420||"||5,040 ...||—||"||—|
|1872 ...||364||"||4,368 ...||—||"||—|
|1873 ...||965||"||11,586 ...||56||"||847|
|1874 ...||2,143||"||25,725 ...||66||"||998|
|1875 ...||2,289||"||27,468 ...||204||"||3,071|
|1876 ...||2,191||"||26,298 ...||279||"||4,185|
|1877 ...||3,955||"||47,466 ...||53||"||802|
|1878 ...||3,617||"||43,410 ...||9||"||135|
Under the land regulations seventy-eight mining leases and licenses, representing 10,876 acres, were held in the Victoria district in 1878. The hopes of Western Australians of obtaining a goldfield were not easily dismissed. Some large sums of money were spent in prospecting and testing. Early in 1869 the Darling Ranges were systematically scanned, and the Government extended the radius within which they offered £5,000 for the discovery of a payable goldfield, now fixing the limit at 300 miles from any declared port of the colony. Indications of gold were found at North Dandalup, and in October Jas. Christie and Henry Morton applied for the reward, explaining that they sank three holes 200 or 300 yards apart, in each of which they got gold. The reef, they attested, was sixty feet wide, and had been traced for half a mile. A public subscription to develop the property was opened, but was not liberally contributed to, and the Dandalup works were abandoned. Next, in January, 1870, came the report of a gold discovery at the Blackwood. It was believed that gold existed on the Murchison, and in the same month Mr. W.H. Knight left Geraldton and went east to Mount Tallering and discovered "an enormous quantity of highly crystalline quartz," and in many places "extensive" quartz reefs. Because the unfavourable appearance of the quartz, be did not think gold would be obtained there. About twenty-five miles east of Mount Tallering he sank two shafts on water-worn quartz, and struck coal shale in both. [Several gold claims are now being worked twenty-five miles south-east of Mount Tallering.] In July, 1870, Mr. R.B. Pearson showed at Geraldton specimens of "stream gold" found on the Upper Irwin, eighty or ninety miles inland. The discoverer, an old digger, named Brelsford, believed he could make from 15s. to 20s. per day on the field. The locality was one of the dryest and hottest in the colony; there was no shelter, no water, not even a stick with which to make a fire. Mr. Piesse went out to the place in August, dug thirteen holes, and said he found gold in eight of them; in one hole forty two grains of gold were obtained from two dishes. The Rev. C.G. Nicolay and Mr. Simpson had previously asserted that the district was auriferous in character. Several persons went thither, but in November all had left, convinced that there was gold there, but not in payable quantities. In 1870, the Secretary for the Colonies intimated that the Government waived all rights to minerals on Crown lands.
In 1873 samples of surface quartz, gathered at Kelmscott, Newcastle, and near Baylup, were assayed at the Sydney Mint, and said to contain gold. The Rockingham Bay Mining Company, formed in this year, struck gold on the Serpentine. Mr. Brown recommended prospecting in various parts of the colony. In 1873 a sum of money was voted by the Legislative Council, and the Government introduced sixteen Ballarat miners to prospect. Prospecting by private persons was carried on near Albany, and quartz discovered at Kendenup, forty miles away, was sent to Melbourne, and reported to give 1 oz. 4 dwts. 4 grs. of gold to the ton. The Standard Gold Mining Company, with a capital of £3,000, was formed to work the property, and purchased a quartz-crushing plant, but its efforts to obtain payable gold were fruitless. With the parliamentary vote a quartz-crushing battery was erected at Fremantle and began work on 16th October, 1874. It, too, took the colony no nearer to a payable goldfield. Discoveries of gold were announced from such widely separated parts as Preston, Blackwood, and Roebourne during 1874-5. In 1877 Roebourne quartz was said to average over 5 ozs. of gold to the ton, but, notwithstanding momentary enthusiasm, colonists were still disappointed.
Boring for coal on the Darling Ranges was prosecuted in 1871-2. A depth of 170 feet was attained, whereupon, owing to the shaft being flooded, work was abandoned. Mr. E. Gray reported discovering a coal-bed in the Champion Bay district in 1870. In 1878 Mr. H. E. Parry arrived in the colony to establish gas works at Perth and Fremantle.
A bi-monthly mail service between London and Western Australia was now firmly established. The mails were carried overland from Perth twice a month, and a passenger van ran once a month between the capital and Albany. Mails were taken to and from Geraldton once a week, and to the Avon Valley and Bunbury twice a week. A coastal steamer carried mails and passengers from Albany to Vasse, Bunbury, Fremantle, and Geraldton monthly. The intercolonlal steamer, the Rob Roy (Lilly and Co.) was subsidised by the Government to the extent of £4,200 per annum.
Reference has already been made to the poverty among infirm convicts. With each successive year the number of felons directly under the control of the Establishment decreased. Men were being sent out on ticket of leave, and sentences were annually expiring. Thus in 1869 the number of convicts on public works was 1,300; in hospitals, 74; in lunatic asylums, 35; on ticket of leave, 1,270, which with conditional releases, 158, made a total of 2,836 men who could still be termed convicts—expiree men were no longer reckoned as felons. The grand total in 1878 was only 608, made up of 181 on public works (138 at Fremantle, at Perth, and 2 in other districts), 385 on ticket of leave and conditional releases, 30 in hospitals, and 1 in the lunatic asylum. Out of 9,721 landed in the colony between 1850 and 1868 only 608 were not free men in 1878. The crime statistics, although not so serious as in previous years, were still large, and several men were hanged. The barbarous practice of allowing the public to witness this last penalty was abolished in 1871. There were several desperate attempts to escape. One man crawled into a tub on an outgoing ship. The vessel proceeded to Adelaide, and after many days of starvation and exposure the convict emerged from his tub more dead than alive, only to be immediately arrested, sent back to Western Australia, and imprisoned. Another man in 1875 walked to Esperance, boarded a ship there, and was taken to Adelaide. He was arrested, and in Western Australia was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. In 1878 several Imperial buildings, at Guildford and elsewhere, were handed over to the local Government. Because of the diminishing numbers of convicts, they were no longer of value to the Convict Establishment.
In 1869-7 Fenians with conditional-pardon or release tickets were allowed to leave the colony. In this, however, they had some difficulty, for the P. and O. Company at Albany resolutely refused to give them passage on any terms. When some of them managed to get away on a steamer proceeding to New Zealand their troubles had only begun. It was their intention to proceed to the United States. After landing in New Zealand to await the departure of a Californian steamer, the Government had them arrested and imprisoned for transgressing a special enactment making it illegal and penal for conditional-pardon holders to land in the colony. The Fenians pleaded ignorance of the law, and protested that they were only in transit to America. At first the New Zealand Government intended to return them to Western Australia, but when the Californian steamer arrived a fortnight later the men were allowed to board her under surveillance, and so they continued their voyage.
The New Zealand authorities resented the action of the Western Australian Government, and disdainfully addressed them, expressing their indignation for what they termed a breach of good faith, in letting these men embark for that colony. At the same time they despatched a complaint to the Secretary of State on the subject. The Western Australian Government retorted that they bad never been officially advised of an Act passed by the New Zealand legislature eight years before, prohibiting the arrival of conditional-pardon men. In 1872 the Secretary for the Colonies instructed Governor Weld to "insert in all conditional-pardon certificates that the holders of them are excluded from going to any of the Australian colonies." By this regulation, which, although in force years before, had been to some extent suspended, numerous convicts who proposed to leave Western Australia were compelled to remain.
No doubt, largely at the instance of these departed Fenians, a daring and clever rescue was made of six prisoners in 1876. The whole affair was planned by an American named John Collins, who was assisted by Captain Antony of the American whaler Catalpa. On 16th November, 1875, Collins arrived at Fremantle, and, to avert suspicion, obtained employment in a carriage factory. His first move in a brilliant game was to make the acquaintance of an expiree Fenian prisoner named Foley, who resided at Fremantle. Through the medium of this man, news was conveyed to James Wilson, a Fenian convict, that Collins had arrived, and wished to arrange with him methods of communication, so that he and several other Fenians might be rescued. The object was quickly attained, and Collins made himself master of the prison rules, and of the nature of the surrounding country. About the middle of December, with two companions, he visited the Establishment, and was shown over the mysterious place by the superintendent, Mr. Doonan. He hired buggies, and went for long drives in the country to the south, and was studiously careful to let the public see that he was in the habit of hiring vehicles. By 1st January, 1876, after several interviews with Wilson, he had arranged a definite plan of escape, but he had to watch and wait for some months before the Catalpa put into Western Australian waters.
The six prisoners—James Wilson, Robt. Cranston, Michael Harrington, Thomas Darragh, Thos. Hassett, and Martin Hogan—were conspicuous for their excellent conduct, and they had thus won the confidence of the prison authorities, who relaxed the strict surveillance kept over many other prisoners. They were generally employed on works outside the gaol, where it was often inconvenient for warders to be constantly watching them. This confidence was the opportunity for Collins. Towards the end of March he saw by the Post Office bulletin that the Catalpa had arrived at Bunbury. He drove to the southern port, and on 31st March explained to Captain Antony his proposed plan. The captain agreed to perform his part of the scheme, and proceeded up the coast to take the escapees on board; Collins returned to Fremantle, and patiently watched for a suitable day to get the men off.
On Monday morning, the 18th April, Wilson and Harrington were employed near the Fremantle jetty; Cranston and Hassett were at work about the prison; Hogan was painting the Comptroller's house; and Darragh was acting as the prison clergyman's messenger, or orderly. Collins hired three buggies and a saddle horse, and stored the vehicles with weapons, cartridges, and provisions, including wine. About eight o'clock Cranston visited the party near the jetty, and informed the warder that Wilson and Harrington were wanted to assist in removing some furniture at Government House, Fremantle. The unsuspecting warder let them go, and all the men were soon in the buggies driving at full speed towards Rockingham.
Between nine and ten o'clock Hogan was missed at the Comptroller's house, and upon enquiries being made it was learned that the five other Fenians had also disappeared. Mounted troopers were at once sent in search of the runaways, and at about the same time information was given that three vehicles, attended by a man on horseback, had been seen going at a tremendous pace towards Rockingham. Within an hour and ten minutes the troopers covered the fourteen miles to that port, but all they found were three carriages, three prison hats, cartridges, a woollen gun cover, and a bottle of wine. At one o'clock a man named Bell arrived at Fremantle, and informed the authorities that at about nine o'clock a whale-boat, containing six coloured men, and a white man of American appearance, put alongside the Rockingham jetty. Two hours later a man on horseback, followed by several men in three buggies, pulled up by the jetty, and the men entered the boat and went out to sea. Before they started, Bell asked what was to be done with the vehicles, and one of the number gave him a sovereign, and told him to "let them go to h——." Bell rode the saddle hack to Fremantle with his news.
The adventure did not end here. The superintendent of water police at Fremantle sent the police boat in pursuit at 1.30. She went down by the South Passage, and at 7.30 was off Murray Head. She then steered out to sea, keeping a sharp look-out. As the American whaler Catalpa had left Bunbury on the previous Saturday, and no other vessel was known to be off the coast, it was concluded that the rescuing boat belonged to her. The police remained out at sea all night long, and early next morning returned to Murray Head without having seen the fugitives. After a short rest they put out again, and off Cape Bouvard sighted a vessel to the west, and while making for her, met the steamer Georgette, which had also been engaged to pursue the Catalpa. The officer on the Georgette informed them that he had spoken the Catalpa, that the felons were not on board, and that the mate had reported that he was waiting for the captain who had gone on shore. The Georgette returned to Fremantle, but the police kept two miles to leeward of the Catalpa, and watched her movements. Shortly after noon the vessel tacked and stood to the north; the police tacked also, and soon saw a whaleboat ahead and to leeward. Chase was at once given and the police boat was rapidly gaining on the other craft when the Catalpa bore down under all sail, picked up the whaleboat, and stood away. The police boat passed to leeward of the ship, within twenty yards, and recognised Collins and the Fenians; the Fenians apparently wished to fire upon the police, but were prevented by the captain. The police returned to Fremantle.
Governor Robinson was immediately apprised of the occurrence, and rapidly decided on a course of action. If the Catalpa could be caught within territorial waters she was subject to the jurisdiction of the colony; if not, nothing could be done. He caused Mr. John Stone, Superintendent of Water Police, who had charge of the party previously in the Georgette, to again take that steamer and intercept the Catalpa, and demand the surrender of the fugitives. The captain must be warned of the consequences of his act if he refused to give them up, but no force was to be used. A 12lb. artillery piece was fixed in the gangway, a detachment of enrolled pensioners, under Major Finnerty, was embarked, and by 11 o'clock on Tuesday night the Georgette went out a second time.
The excitement at Fremantle during these two days was tense. Business was almost suspended, and crowds of people congregated on the beach waiting for news. The imposing ceremony of laying the foundation-stone of a new Freemasons' Hall was almost forgotten, and attracted little, if any, attention. The Herald says:—"The predominant feeling among the majority was a hope that the prisoners had got clear away." The popular impression seemed to be that Fenians were political prisoners, convicted and punished for offences against a government, and not against society. When the sinister-looking preparations were being made for the second trip of the Georgette, the onlookers' excrement rose higher than before; not knowing international law, and the Governor's instructions, they thought the authorities intended resorting to force, and began to picture a naval battle on their coast, and no end of difficulties afterwards.
The Georgette was outside of Rottnest Island by early morning on Wednesday, and sighted the Catalpa bearing S.S.E. A gun was fired near her, and the pensioners, fully armed, stood in line; the Catalpa kept on her course and ran up the American flag. The Georgette, under full steam, gave chase, and when within a quarter of a mile of the sailing ship Superintendent Stone fired across her bow. Captain Antony now shortened sail and entered the quarter boat. When within hailing distance Superintendent Stone demanded the release of the prisoners, vaguely but sternly warning him of "consequences" if he refused. The captain was not to be browbeaten, and denied having prisoners on board, and when Superintendent Stone declared that he could see three of them on the ship, the captain replied that they were only seamen. Superintendent Stone, in a threatening manner, inferring all sorts of terrible results, then called out "I will give you fifteen minutes to consider what you will do," and stood off.
At the expiration of that period the Georgette again steamed alongside, and to another demand to release the Fenians, Captain Antony again denied having any on board. At this Superintendent Stone, going beyond his instructions, said, as he threateningly pointed to the twelve pounder—"If you don't give them up I will fire into you and sink you or disable you." The pensioners stood with their arms ready, and we are told that a man was dramatically stationed at the gun with a lighted match in his hand. Intimidation, however, had no effect on the phlegmatic sea rover, and, with equal dramatic effect, lifting his band towards the American flag, he cried—"I don't care what you do; I'm on the high seas, and that flag protects me." It was of no avail that the superintendent told him that the flag would not protect him where a misdemeanour had been committed against the laws of Western Australia; the captain was dogged. Finally, Mr. Stone asked to be allowed to board the Catalpa, a request which was refused in a determined tone. Then, as a parting shot, the superintendent emphatically said that the American Government would be communicated with, which called forth no other answer than "All right." The interview ended; the Georgette returned to Fremantle, and the Catalpa proceeded on her voyage.
Great irritation was aroused in Fremantle and Perth when the result of the interview was made known, and people who before sided with the fugitives were now indignant at the way their colony had been flouted. Governor Robinson, who had acted with commendable energy and prudence, placed all the facts of the case before the Imperial Government. After making an investigation the Secretary of State informed the local authorities that the Government did not deem it expedient to take any action, and so the matter dropped. It was not a question in which the United States Government was directly concerned, and the feeling between the two countries was not such as to encourage any lengthy diplomatic war. It might almost be said that Western Australia was well rid of such a class, and that America was welcome to the Fenians.
A few years before an important case, arising out of convict administration, created a deal of ill-feeling in the colony. While it proceeded the interest excited was intense and widespread and one result, at least, was regretted for many subsequent years. Since the inauguration of the convict system it was recognised, and widely subscribed to, that the Comptroller-General must have a powerful control over the felons in his charge. His authority was as supreme as that of the captain of a man-of-war. In 1870 a ticket-of-leave man named Young was returned to the Establishment under a warrant from the Comptroller-General, issued, it is believed, because of something Young had written reflecting on the management of the Fremantle Prison. Mr. S.H. Parker, solicitor, was instructed in October by the prisoner's wife to apply for a writ of habeas corpus to test the legality of the imprisonment. Mr. Parker had an interview with Young, who was disposed to await the result of an appeal for mercy to the Governor before taking proceedings. It was soon learned that the Governor did not intend releasing Young, and when he applied the Comptroller declined to allow Mr. Parker to visit the convict in prison, explaining that "inquiry had been made of the said H.W. Young, and that he declined" to see Mr. Parker. Mr. Parker visited the prison, but was refused access to the prisoner, whereupon he made the affidavit in his own person on which to found the application for the writ. The Comptroller-General complained, and Judge Burt, when the question was brought before him, adopted the complaint. Mr. Parker was accused of suppressing evidence; he omitted to set forth the Comptroller's statement that "inquiry had been made of the said H.W. Young," &c. In vain did Mr. Parker explain that he omitted the statement because he deemed it immaterial to the matter at issue, and declare that the only important fact for the Court was that be was refused access to Young, the reasons or motives of the Comptroller for making the order having nothing to do with the question. Judge Burt entered judgment against Mr. Parker, imputing malpractice and misconduct to him, and fined him.
Mr. Parker now wrote a letter, which was published in the Inquirer, quoting from Judge Burt's judgment and the statement of the Comptroller, and asking:—"Why was it that while I was censured for the introduction of what the judge called 'hearsay evidence,' the Comptroller-General's affidavit, which continued equally as much 'hearsay evidence,' was allowed to pass unchallenged?" Among other trenchant things it was averred that Mr. Parker was more earnest than the judge was impartial. The opposition paper, the Gazette, also espoused the advocate's cause, and scathingly animadverted on the judge and the Comptroller-General. Said the editor:—"It may be the law as regards convicts that they have not the rights of a free man, but it is nevertheless repugnant to the feelings of an Englishman that any man, whether convict or free, should be cast into prison without being first taken before a magistrate and heard in his defence, as was the case with Young. It was to procure the man that privilege that Mr. Parker first interfered, and we have not the slightest doubt in doing so that he had the good wishes of every right-thinking settler of all classes. No one will accuse us, we hope, of any desire to bring authority into contempt, although we do express an opinion that the Comptroller-General was badly advised in taking the action he did, and inducing the Government to sanction it .... Proceedings were taken, which rightly or wrongly are construed by the public into a desire to punish Mr. Parker for having done what he believed to be the duty of every honest citizen—his best to defend the first principles of liberty—the liberty of the subject and the protection of his property."
The more serious nature of the whole proceeding now began. Stirling Brothers, editors of the Inquirer, and Mr. A. Shenton, editor of the Gazette, were called before Judge Burt, upon his order, the first for publishing Mr. Parker's letter, which was characterised as libellous in its tendency, and grossly reflecting on the administration of justice in the Supreme Court; the second, for publishing a scandalous and libellous leader. Mr. G.F. Stone, solicitor, on behalf of the Messrs. Stirling, pleaded that his clients regretted their too hasty insertion of the letter, and that "they had no intention of inserting anything libellous, and must throw themselves on the merciful consideration of the Court." Mr. Shenton pleaded his own case. He failed to see where his article was either scandalous or libellous. He always understood that the actions of public men were open to fair and legitimate comment, as well as being subjects of public interest, and be was not aware that any exception was made in the case of a judge after sentence had been passed. He regretted what had occurred, and "must leave" himself in the judge's hands.
Judge Burt, in delivering judgment, said that his position might appear arbitrary and unusual—a judge sitting in judgment on a case in which he was personally attacked—but he had divested himself of all personal feelings. It was his duty to the sacred institutions of justice to exercise his power. "Sad indeed," he continued, "would the fate of the country be whose judges should administer justice under fear of the lash of the press." A judge's decisions were not likely to satisfy everybody, and the judgment seat must be protected against the attacks of newspaper editors and others. He believed that the Stirling Brothers had been led into their position by the influence of others, and moreover, they had given up the name of the writer of the letter. Nevertheless, the Court adjudged them guilty of high contempt, and sentenced them to imprisonment in the common gaol at Perth for thirty days. Mr. Shenton's offence, he decided, was of a graver nature, and he therefore administered a fine of £100, and sentenced him to imprisonment for two months in the common gaol. Mr. Parker was subsequently brought before the judge and fined £100.
Messrs. Stirling and Shenton went to gaol, but after much persuasion they consented to publish apologies in the Gazette, and were released. The Express, another and younger newspaper, adverting to the question, declared that the whole community was "seriously alarmed at the discovery of what a fearful engine the laws apparently provide and place in the hands of the sole judge." Upon his release Mr. Shenton petitioned the Governor praying for a remission of the fine; the Colonial Secretary wrote that His Excellency declined to interfere in the case. A second time Shenton petitioned, asking that the petition be laid before the Executive Council, but to no purpose. The Gazette now averted that the Chief Justice was seeking to crush the paper by insisting that the fine be paid, when he was aware that the editor could not meet the liability; a letter from Judge Burt was published threatening an attachment unless the amount was at once paid. Petitions against the judgments of the Chief Justice in the cases of Messrs. Parker and Shenton were forwarded to the Secretary of State, who declined "to take any steps in regard to them." Finally, weeks later Mr. Shenton's fine was remitted, but not before his death on 16th March, 1871. The imprisonment inflicted on this gentleman, who had so long and fearlessly edited the Gazette, so affected him as to hasten his death. For twenty-three years he had owned and edited the newspaper; during that period be had rendered many substantial services to the colony, and sincerely advocated its rights. He died at the age of fifty-five years. The Gazette said "It is right that the truth should be told, that these proceedings very materially affected Mr. Shenton, both in mind and body. He was deeply wounded at the unmerited punishment that had been inflicted on him, and was unable to recover from the sense of degradation that accompanied it, followed up, too, as it was, by the uncompromising rigour with which the payment of the £100 fine was insisted on by the authorities. His friends have at least the consolation of knowing that he died at his post, and that almost his last act was in defence of the proper privileges of the press, and the right to criticise the acts of public men."
During the course of years the natives in the old settled districts had been rapidly disappearing, and those which remained, in physical stature, hardihood, and intelligence, were not to be compared to their ancestors whom civilisation had elbowed out existence. In the north-west, however, they were still a force which had to be reckoned with—as well for the services they could render as the opposition they could show. In 1871 the Legislative Council appointed a Select Committee to devise means for the more systematic protection of the aborigines. The committee suggested that grants of land should be made to natives, where recommended by the Principal of any Native Industrial Institution, on condition that such grants should not be sold, transferred, or let without the consent of the Governor; and if not improved or cultivated for three consecutive years, that the Governor should resume the land. The evidence of several philanthropists was taken. Bishop Salvado, while declaring that natives were incapable of sustained physical or mental effort, said that he successfully taught natives at New Norcia such trades as tailoring, boot and harness making, as well as agriculture, &c. In 1871 four men at New Norcia reaped 190 bushels of their own corn. Father Garrido had reported that they were good shepherds, teamsters, stockmen, and shearers. Mrs. Camfield described their adaptability for domestic work. Sums were appropriated from time to time, and blankets, &c., were periodically distributed. Under the 1878 land regulations the Governor was empowered to make grants at land to the aborigines. Rottnest Island continued to afford returns from the work of the prisoners, but hardly sufficient to make the establishment self-supporting. Some serious complications arose out of the native question.
In June, 1872, Mr. L.C. Burges was charged before Messrs. E.W. Landor, P.M., W.L. Brockman, H. Ashton, and B.H. Burke, J's.P., at Perth with shooting at a native with intent to murder. Although similar offences had been committed often enough before (and have been since), Mr. Burges was made to suffer. It would appear that Mr. Burges (a magistrate) was driving a flock of sheep from Nickol Bay district to Champion Bay through country inhabited by natives who had occasionally proved themselves to be dangerous. When about three weeks' journey from Champion Bay, after being nearly three months making the trip, three natives entered his camp, ostensibly to return a dog which they had picked up; they left the camp before daybreak, taking Mr. Burges's saddle, which they cut to pieces. The settler, in company with a native in his employ, pursued the offenders on horseback. According to one report, Mr. Burges's companion said at the trial that "he found Mr. Burges surrounded by seven natives, who were hustling him and trying to pull him off his horse. Mr. Burges struck some of them with his fists and others with the barrel of his revolver, but made no attempt to shoot any of them." Seeing the native boy the seven took to their heels, but two were captured by Mr. Burges and his follower, and one, in attempting to escape, was shot at and killed by the settler.
Mr. Landor and the justices, after hearing the evidence preferred by the law officers of the Crown, finally reduced the charge to the minor offence of shooting with intent to do bodily harm. Governor Weld forthwith suspended Mr. Landor on the grounds of "want of capacity, or partiality, or both, in favour of the accused, a member of an influential family of long standing in the colony." The three justices at once identified themselves with Mr. Landor, and resigned, but Governor Weld informed them that he "drew a distinction between them and Mr. Landor, believing that they acted from an honourable desire to screen" the police magistrate. The justices refused to accept any distinction, and persisted in their attitude. On the 8th August, the correspondence having been laid on the table, Mr. Brockman moved in the Legislative Council what was tantamount to a vote of censure, objecting to the Governor's interference with decisions given from the bench. After a heated attack on the administration he withdrew his motion.
Governor Weld, in having this case brought to the Courts, was no doubt actuated by a desire to protect the natives. In one way and another he had evinced a lively interest in their welfare, and having heard of the conditions arising out of pearling and northwest settlement, deemed it advisable to project the strong arm of the law between the natives and the whites. The position taken up by the settlers years before, and still assumed by the squatters, deserves consideration. The black, given the opportunity, would often murder with impunity, and destroy stock with the abandon of a huntsman—for his delectation and amusement. Upon occasion the settler was probably compelled to shoot down blacks to protect himself and his property. Governor Weld had not had this experience, and was moved by the desire, laudable in itself, to prevent the murder of his black subjects. But if Mr. Burges was to suffer for this offence, hundreds more should have been punished before him, some even during the reign of Governor Weld himself. That the natives had been brutally and inhumanly treated our narrative has proved; that the position of the settlers was difficult is equally clear. It was all a problem which no previous administration had solved, and has not been solved in the colony to this day. What the public wondered was why a representative of one of their oldest families should be made a scapegoat, and they asked themselves, "Could Mr. Burges have done anything else than shoot? Would we not have done the same in his place?" Governor Weld must be acquitted of all personal motives in this case, and be credited with an undoubted desire to do his duty. Whether he took the best means is another question; that he startled certain people out of a complacent attitude towards the native question is certain.
Mr. Burges was tried at the Supreme Court on 4th September, and was sentenced by Judge Burt to five years' penal servitude. The material evidence against him was found in these words taken from his own journal:—"My friend screwed himself away, and ran towards the creek. He turned round and was going to throw his douack, so I fired and shot him." The severity of the sentence and the whole bearings of the case created a sensation. Newspapers published columns of leaders, and numerous letters from contributors; the Government and Judge Burt's character were variously criticised, and generally met with condemnation. Extraordinary ill-feeling was excited, which took some time to allay. A "Juror," writing to the Gazette, disclaimed all authority in the affair, and explained that Judge Burt, in his charge, instructed the jury to return a verdict of murder or manslaughter, depriving them of the option of finding a verdict of justifiable homicide. On this last point the whole controversy hinged. The Secretary of State directed Governor Weld to reinstate Mr. Landor, to the evident satisfaction or colonists, and Messrs. Brockman, Ashton, and Burke also had their names replaced on the Commission of the Peace. The sentence at Mr. Burges was reduced to one year's imprisonment. Early in 1873 a petition to the Secretary of State was largely signed, praying for total remission and an honourable release. This prayer, however, was not granted.
The obedience of the natives to their lex talionis principles, manifested in the north-west, has already been adverted to, and the crowded state of Rottnest prison too often showed the result. While this commotion concerning the trial of Mr. Burges was proceeding a brutal murder was committed by two natives in the Roebourne district. The subject, W. Ledger, was said to be the innocent victim for the offences of others. Mr. Ledger was particularly friendly with the blacks, but it was related in the evidence that a white man murdered a native, and two of the murdered man's friends—Dugald and Jemmy—retaliated by murdering the first white man which opportunity offered—-Ledger. The blacks were sentenced to death. A short time before, a pearler, Mr. S. Lazenby, was murdered under similar circumstances, and his murderers were hanged. A pathetic instance of the trial of three blacks was published in May, 1872:—"Not long since three weird-like figures, charged with murder, entered the dock; a few words passed, the interpreter was called to ask the prisoners whether they pleaded guilty or not guilty, and in less time than it takes to write it His Honour was informed that they pleaded guilty. His Honour proceeded to pass sentence of death, when the wretched men gathered themselves up for a spring out of the dock, evidently believing from the cheery look of the officials that they were acquitted and at liberty, when they were hustled out of the dock." That this method of trying native offenders at the same courts and by the same laws as white men is more humane than the callous shooting of them down, as was sometimes done, goes without saying; but there still seems to be something wanting, an insufficiency or inferential want of insight and grasp of justice, which is regrettable. It would suggest that a different tribunal, taking into consideration the peculiar conditions and exigencies of native life, would have been better.
Several other murders were perpetrated by the blacks, and saddest of all is that of another member of the Clarkson family. Messrs. Henry J. and Wm. W. Clarkson were engaged with others in driving sheep overland to Nickol Bay in 1875. At the last camp on the Murchison the brothers pushed ahead of the main party and proceeded to the Gascoyne. As they did not return within the time expected a search party was sent out. It was evident that the brothers had suffered great privations; finally their bodies were found. From a note which Henry had left it was learned that after a trying journey they were returning together to Hooley's Well, when William became so weak from thirst and exhaustion that Henry hurried on to the Well to obtain water. The latter's horse was unable to continue, and fourteen miles from the destination he left it with his watch and a note. He apparently reached the well on foot. No doubt providing himself with water he started back to meet his brother. These traces were found by the first search party. A second band, including Messrs. Edward and Robert Clarkson, now went out and found William's body about ten miles from the well. It appeared that he had lain down and died in his sleep. Henry's remains were discovered a few miles away, partly buried. He had been murdered by natives.
In August, 1877, John Eakin was speared by natives at Messrs. Wittenoom's station on the Murchison. Eakin had previously been charged with the murder of his white mate, to whom the blacks were much attached. He was acquitted, but the natives apparently took the law into their own hands, and Eakin fell a victim to their revenge. In the same year Mr. John Moir, a settler near Esperance Bay, was murdered by two natives whom he had arrested and chained up for some misconduct. The wives of the murderers entered Mr. Moir's house, stole the key of the padlock which bound their husbands, and released and enabled them to commit the murder. On the other hand, a man named Hickey, in the schooner Ada, abducted four natives on the north-west coast; while one of them was attempting to escape Hickey shot him. Hickey was tried and sentenced to five years' penal servitude.
The Government still paid annual sums for ecclesiastical purposes; in 1870 the amount was £2,540; in 1876, £3,464. The census in 1870 gave the numbers of representatives of religious denominations in the colony as:—Church of England, 14,619; Roman Catholics, 7,118; Wesleyans, 1,374; Congregationalists, 882; other Protestants, 583; and Jews, 209. In 1875 Bishop Hale resigned his episcopate, and was succeeded by Bishop Parry. The former had taken great interest in the native question, and removed an Anglican native school from Albany to Perth. Bishop Hale, indeed, preferred devoting his whole time to the natives. Prior to 1872 the Anglican Church was awarded a distinctive vote out of the revenue. In the estimates of that year the grants for church purposes were all placed under the one heading—"Ecclesiastical." The difference was an important one; the whole question of "Church and State" was involved, and thenceforth the chaplains, when their vested interests expired, were compelled to find pecuniary support within their church. Bishop Hale then founded the Sustentation and Endowment Fund. The retiring Bishop was translated to Brisbane. Before departing he received enthusiastic addresses from his own and other denominations. Mr. Henry Parry, for several years Coadjutor Bishop of Barbados, infused a deal of energy into church matters, and immediately obtained funds for improving the Cathedral.
The Roman Catholic Church was greatly strengthened, and in 1878 services were held regularly or periodically at Perth, Fremantle, Guildford, York, Newcastle, Northam, Irishtown, Bunbury, Dardanup, Vasse, Geraldton, Northampton, Greenough, Albany, and Kojonup. The Very Rev. Martin Griver was Apostolic Administrator at Perth. Improvements had taken place at the New Norcia Mission, and what with buildings, orchards, and stock, Bishop Salvado had realised his devoted ambition to found a "Native Village."
An imposing Wesleyan Church was opened in Hay Street, Perth, on 8th April, 1870. The building, including the organ, cost £5,000. The chapels at York, Geraldton, and Albany were in a flourishing state. In 1877 there were four Wesleyan ministers, five local preachers, ten churches and chapels, two manses, eight Sabbath schools, 625 scholars, and 69 teachers in the colony. In 1875 the foundation-stone of a new Congregational Church at Perth was laid, and the improved building was opened on 22nd July, 1877. The structure cost £1,600. The congregation comprised seventy families, and the Sunday school 260 scholars, with a staff of twenty-six teachers. Members of this denomination many years before formed a society at Australind, and Mr. John Allnutt held service every Sunday in a cottage which was converted into a chapel. Mr. Allnutt also conducted service in the workshop of Mr. Gibbs at Bunbury. Upon Mr. Allnutt's death the Rev. Andrew Buchanan officiated in these places, and also occasionally at Busselton and Quindalup. Upon Mr. Buchanan's removal to South Australia in the seventies, Mr. Gibbs took charge of the services at Bunbury for some time.
Governor Weld left a lasting memorial of his term of office in the Weld Club, which was founded in August, 1871. A building was formally opened for the use of members on 10th April, 1872. Like all pioneer bodies the club struggled for some years, but by the energy of its members, and the splendid and uniform good feeling pervading them, the institution got stronger with the years. In its excellent building overlooking a wide expanse of river, and backed by by well kept lawns, the Weld Club is now a noted feature in Perth life. Standing upon the site of the home of the pioneer clergyman, the Rev. J. B. Wittenoom, it is proper that much of the history of the colony should be made there. Its members comprise the leading people of Western Australia, and though not exclusive in the objectionable sense, the institution is select, and its proceedings are still characterised by all the courtesy and harmony which were exhibited at its inauguration.
In different parts of this chapter reference bas been made to the deaths of Captain Roe, Colonel Bruce, Mr. G.F. Stone, and Mr. A. Shenton, but besides them other links binding together the remote and recent history of the colony were lost. Most of these men had stood by the colony during all its years of tribulation, and notwithstanding the vicissitudes experienced lived to ripe old ages. On 1st January, 1869, Charles A. Manning (62 years), at Fremantle; on 28th February, Thos. Waters (75), on the Swan; and on 12th December, Samuel Craig (67), at York, headed the list of deaths. Each was among the first settlers. Mr. Waters arrived in October, 1829. Only one death of a well-known person is recorded in 1870. On 12th August the Very Rev. Father V. Garrido, Acting Superior of the Benedictine Monastery and Native Mission, died at New Norcia, aged 60 years. Mr. Solomon Cook (65) died at Perth 24th February, 1871. In 1872 three popular and prominent figures disappeared—all in November. On the 2nd of that mouth, the Rev. Chas. Harper (74) died at Newcastle; on 28th, William Locke Brockman (70), J.P., M.L.C., at Herne Hill; and on the 25th, Edward Newman (40), J.P., M.L.C., at Stake Hill, by a fall from a horse. The Rev. Harper arrived in Western Australia in 1837, and until 1859 followed a settler's life; in the latter year he was ordained. Both as a layman and a chaplain he was appreciated by all classes and denominations. Mr. Brockman has been so often mentioned in the historical narrative that it is almost unnecessary to refer to him here. As an early settler he underwent great and exhaustive trials; as a pastoralist he often led the way that others followed; as a magistrate for forty-two years he was upright and fearless; and as a private man his word, once given, was considered sacred. Mr. Newman was of a younger generation; he worked his way into positions of trust by his known intelligence. On 8th February, at Toodyay, died James Drummond (65), J.P., M.L.C. With his better known father he was a pioneer of the Parmelia, and like that distinguished botanist, he experienced all the troubles and hardships of pioneerdom; the Toodyay district rightly did him honour by electing him their first representative in the Legislative Council. A month later, on March 7, Alfred Hawes Stone (72), J.P., died at Perth. Mr. Stone occupied many important public positions, and was, besides, one of the best known pioneers. On 2nd April, 1873, Robert King (67), J.P., died at Fremantle; and on 23rd May, 1874, William Bartram (80), a well-known merchant, also of that town.
The year 1875 was fatal to the pioneers. On 10th January, in London, died Wm. Dixon (89); on 27th January, at Reading, W.H. Beverley (86); on 6th September, at Perth, Joseph Hardey, (61); on 17th September, at the Vasse, John Garret Bussell, J.P. (73); and on 7th December, at Newleynie, John Taylor Cooke (67). Mr. Beverley, who for some time occupied the position of Superintendent of Public Works, has his name perpetuated in the town of Beverley. Mr. Hardey, as representative of an old family, and an earnest supporter of religion, has been often mentioned in these pages. Mr. Bussell was a pioneer of Augusta and Busselton, where be was a leader in development and exploration works. Indeed, with his brother, mother, and sisters, Colonel Molloy, and Mr. Turner, be was practically the founder of healthy enterprise in those places. The year 1876 was no less fatal. On 30th January, died Wallace Bickley J.P. (66), a pioneer of 1829, at Fremantle; in April, Assistant Comptroller-General Ashton, J.P., at Perth; on 23rd April, William Knight, a native of the colony, and for many years connected with the Post Office Department, and for three years Sheriff at Perth; on 29th March, Robt. M. Habgood (63), at Synton, England, who arrived in Western Australia in 1833, and in more recent times established a line of vessels between the colony and London; on 15th November, Richard Jones (81), a pioneer of 1829, at Blackwood; on 29th November, Mr. Wm. Horatio Sholl, M.R.C.S.E., for many years on the editorial staff of the Inquirer, at Wallaroo (S.A.); and in the same mouth, Wm. Burges, at his residence, Fethard, Ireland. Mr. Burges was the pioneer of the Champion Bay district, and first resident Magistrate there. In 1860 he retired, and spent the remainder of his life in Ireland. A pioneer of Guildford, Abraham Jones, died on 5th September, 1877. He was best known as a lay preacher in the Congregational Church, at Guildford. Thos. Little, a pioneer of the south-west, died at Dardanup on 5th November, 1877, and on 13th November, Wm. R. Bunbury, J.P,, died at Busselton. Mr. Bunbury was a prominent pastoralist, magistrate, member of the local Roads Board, and of the Agricultural Society. Another prominent resident of Guildford, Thomas C. Gull, J.P., died on 5th January, 1878. That notable pioneer of the Calista (August, 1829), Lionel Samson (78) died at Fremantle on 15th March, 1878. Mr. Samson was foremost in mercantile pursuits and in advancing the interests of the colony in London. As a member of the Legislative Council for many years, he fearlessly advocated the rights of settlers. There were few better known names in Western Australia than that of Lionel Samson. The last in the list was Edward Wilson Landor, P.M. (67), who died at Perth on 24th October, 1878. Mr. Landor as a magistrate pursued his duties irrespective of the opinions of those above or below him. His descriptive Book on Western Australia presents an interesting picture of the colony in the forties.
What with cyclones and hurricanes the colony had been particularly unfortunate. Besides those already described as affecting particular industries, there were other storms and wrecks which caused considerable loss. On 1st January 1869, a waterspout formed in the river opposite Government House, and with an accompanying cyclone did much damage to the gardens on the banks. The Messrs. Hardey, on the Peninsula, were the chief sufferers. In June and July, 1872, the country on the Avon and Swan was visited by continuous rain for six weeks. On 22nd July the Swan rose even higher than during the flood of 1862. Damage was done to bridges, jetties, and gardens at Toodyay, Northam, York, Guildford, and Perth. Live stock was also washed away. At Gingin, an old settler named John Death was drowned. At Bunbury, the Twilight, laden with cargo, was driven ashore. In September, 1875, a heavy gale raged along the western coast. Small craft anchored at Fremantle were driven ashore, and among them the Robert Morrison; the jetty was damaged. A few weeks later the coastal steamer Georgette was wrecked on her maiden voyage from Albany to Fremantle. On 19th October she left Bunbury, and during the night struck on the Murray Beefs; the strong sea finally lifted her sheer over the rocks, and passengers and mails were saved. The vessel was repaired and resumed her running. Several vessels—the Wild Way, at Roebourne, and the Sea Ripple, Annie Beaton and Emilienne, at Fremantle were driven ashore in October. On 18th May, 1876, the cutter Gem suddenly foundered at Fremantle, and crew and passengers—ten persons—were drowned. The steamer Georgette had an unfortunate history. On the 30th November, 1876, while midway between Cape Naturaliste and Hamelin, she sprang a leak. After vainly working the pumps the captain made all speed for the shore, and the lifeboat was lowered and filled with passengers. The boat stove against the side of the steamer, and five persons were drowned. The vessel was run on a sand bank near the Margaret River. A member of the Bussell family, Miss Grace Bussell, performed such meritorious deeds during this wreck that in 1878 she was awarded the silver medal of the Royal Humane Society. When news reached her of the disaster she mounted a horse, dashed through the bush into the surf, and, at the risk of her own life, rescued several passengers. Her words of hope cheered many who were hard beset, and for a time, when her horse's legs became entangled in a rope, she was in danger of drowning. So many corageous deeds were done by this young lady that she was widely known as the Australian "Grace Darling."
What might be termed the consummation in Australian exploration was now drawing nigh. In 1856 A.C. Gregory penetrated a considerable portion of North Australia; and in 1862 John McD. Stuart, after a stern fight, reached the north coast from Adelaide, told the world what the centre of Australia contained, and made the overland telegraph line possible. Leichardt, Eyre, Mitchell, Kennedy, Burke and Wills, McKinley, Sturt, and others, had each succeeded in divesting the remote interior of Australia of many of its mysteries, but, except along the coasts, the prodigious stretch of country separating Stuart's route from the western coast was wholly unknown. When these seemingly impregnable areas were traversed, the main parts of Australia were practically explored.
Up to 1869 the interior of Western Australia and the borders of South Australia defied the strength and resolute wills of explorers. On every side whither these devoted men went they vainly looked out over huge prospects of sterile deserts, and they could but speculate as to whether these Saharas ran over the whole interior. Stuart saw dreary deserts bounding the east of South Australia; Eyre narrowly escaped immolation amid barren wildernesses the south; A.C. Gregory was stopped in his progress into North-Western Australia by wilds as forbidding as any man ever entered: and Hunt, Lefroy, the Gregorys, and others, so far as they had gone from the west, were forced back by the great desolation which ranged before them. Several men of hardy frames and unbending wills set themselves the task of traversing these withered tracts, and for some years exploring enterprise was centered on the Western Australian deserts. The stories of their journeys are stirring, so full are they of heroic suffering. John Forrest, in 1869, pushed closer to the heart of these regions than any previous explorer. He went out, primarily, to resolve some rumours as to the fate of Leichardt. In 1866 Messrs. Hunt and F. Roe, while sitting round their camp fire east of the Hampton Plains, were told by a native who had joined them a circumstantial story of white men lost still further east. These men, said the native, were killed at a place called Guidilbin, and their bones still lay under the brush that was thrown over them. The murderers retained the rugs, guns, and pannikins taken from the white men. Other blacks corroborated the ingenious narrative then unfolded. Mr. J.H. Monger, while east of York, was told by his native guide that he could point out the precise locality of the murder, and that he had even seen the bones near where the murder was committed—upon the shore of a large lake while the white men were making damper. Naturally, interest was excited, for the probabilities pointed to the murdered men being representatives of the Leichardt party, and hopes were entertained that a mystery which long years of patient search had not fathomed would at last be probed. Dr. Von Mueller, the ardent botanist who accompanied A.C. Gregory in 1856, proposed to the Government of Western Australia that a party be equipped to prove the native's story, and offered to become its leader. With laudable enterprise the Government agreed to a vote for such a purpose, but Dr. Von Mueller now found that his other engagements prevented his leaving Victoria. The command was given to John Forrest, a young officer in the local Survey Department. The Surveyor-General, Captain Roe, prepared a set of instructions concerning the route to be followed, and desiring Mr. Forrest examine the country for specimens in botany, geology, and zoology. Mr. George Monger, who accompanied Mr. J.H. Monger on his trip, was appointed second in command, Mr. Malcolm Hamersley, third, and the party was completed by David Morgan, a shoeing smith, and two natives, Tommy Windich and Jemmy Mungaro. Jemmy was the native guide who had accompanied Mr. Monger. Sixteen horses were taken.
On 15th April, 1869, Mr. Forrest left Perth; on the 19th he proceeded from Newcastle to Mombekine, and on the 26th he reached Yarraging, the most remote station to the eastward, the property of Messrs. Ward and Adams. Additional provisions were purchased from these gentlemen, and on the 27th, with three months' food supplies, the bounds of settlement were left. At intervals the explorers tapped points visited by Austin. Mr. Forrest usually preceded the main body, picking the route from one native well to another. The country was exceedingly barren, and only occasionally were patches of good grass met with. On 1st May Danjinning was reached, and there Forrest saw the tracks of Austin's horses, which were still distinct, though fifteen years had elapsed since that explorer had visited this spot. The route thence was forced through dense acacia and cypress thickets. The prospect was uninviting indeed; the ground was barren, and it was only where bare granite hills rose out of the lean land that sufficient grass was obtained. Hard by these rugged outcrops, water and feed were usually discovered. Nine native friends of Jemmy's were introduced to the explorers on 5th May; they had a story to tell. At a place called Bouincabbajibimar, they said, white men and horses had died a long time ago, and a gun and other relics were still to be found. Forrest pushed on, hoping that this might be the locality he wished to reach, but when he arrived at Curroning he feared that the remains must be those of nine of Austin's horses, poisoned at Poison Rock. Near Coorbedar he traversed rough low quartz hills covered with stunted acacia. The nine natives accompanied him until the 12th May, when twenty-five others were fallen in with near to a shallow lake. They were all friends, and, out on the lonely waste there, these desert children welcomed the explorers to their birthplace with a grand corroboree.
Upon questioning this main body of natives, Forrest was informed that the remains at Bouincabbajibimar were those of horses. As they pointed in the direction of Poison Rock, the leader was satisfied that they referred to Austin's horses, and he steered more eastwards, leaving the natives in the rear. For weary miles the way was lined with monotonous thickets of acacia and cypress, and an occasional granite outcrop. Presently, the party emerged upon immense lake, which Forrest named Lake Barlee, in compliment to the Colonial Secretary. From where he stood, he observed what he considered to be the opposite shore; on proceeding to cross, the horses got into a heavy bog. The loads were removed, and the men had to carry them to the supposed shore-line, which, however, turned out to be an island in the huge lake. They returned to their starting point the following day, the men again having to carry the baggage knee deep in bog through the worst part. The horses, weakened by their struggling, were given a rest. Mr. Forrest, while seeking to take angles from a neighbouring summit called Yeadie found the local attraction so great that the prismatic compass was useless. From his vantage point he saw that Lake Barlee was more vast than he supposed. Its surface was studded with numerous islands. The horizon was cut by low ranges of hills in every direction.
Further eastwards, beyond country covered with spinifex and pointed gums, the explorers found and named Mount Alexander. Jemmy's descriptions proved so incorrect that on the 29th May the leader despaired of finding the bones of Leichardt. On 31st May about 100 natives were come upon. They were evidently holding a corroboree, and mixed with the dreadful noise of their hallooing and shouting was the barking of their dogs. Jemmy was stripped, and sent to interview them, but as soon as they saw him they rushed at him, evidently bent on killing him with their douacks. Luckily, one of the natives remembered having seen Jeremy years before at Mount Elain, and at his instance the attack was stopped. But for this fortunate recognition Forrest apprehended that the whole party might have lost their lives. An interview took place with one of them, who was guarded by eight men with spears and douacks in readiness. It was not a pleasant interview; the explorers were discourteously advised to go right away, and not to return for fear of being killed and eaten. It being dark, they only partly took this candid advice; they camped without water five miles away, keeping watch all night long. Next day, however, they returned to the place, and discovered that the tribe had scattered. There were unmistakable signs that the blacks had been tracking the explorers. Suddenly Mr. Monger observed two of them following up their trail not fifty yards away. Guns were got in readiness, but it was found that the two men were the same as were friendly as the previous night. These aboriginals promised to lead them to the bones of horses, which they said were two days' journey to the north-west. Though it was arranged to meet next morning the natives never came. Forrest steered in the direction they bad indicated, but found no bones. Some days were spent in exploring the country thereabouts and searching for trees which Leichardt might have marked. A conical hill was discovered on 8th June, and named Mount Holmes. Mount Ida was discovered to the southward on 15th June, and Mount Leonora to the eastward on the 20th. The explorers were now entered upon country since made famous by gold discoveries. Passing Mount Leonora on 23rd June, they proceeded east by north and reached a table hill where Forrest took a round of angles. He named this point Mount Malcolm, after his friend and companion Mr. M. Hamersley. Next day Mount Flora was named, whence was observed, E.N.E., a high range, for which the party made. The highest peak was ascended on 25th June, and named Mount Margaret. An extensive view of a dry salt lake and low trap ranges was obtained from this eminence. A table hill discovered on 1st July was named Mount Weld, and on 2nd July the furthest point traversed to the east was reached by the leader and Tommy Windich. The country was covered with spinifex and large white gums, and here and there were some rough sandstone cliffs. Samphire fiats, fringed with gum and other trees, lay northwards. No water was found in this locality, and after marking a tree with the letter "F," John Forrest turned homewards, and varied his course to inspect new country.
Water was soon obtained, and the site named Windich Brook in honour of Tommy. For forty-eight hours the horses had neither eaten nor drunk, and they remained by this pond some little time. From the western end of Lake Barlee, the explorers traversed a more northerly route than that of the outward journey, and passed through considerable barren country. Newcastle was seen on 4th August, and Perth on 6th August. The expedition had been absent 113 days and travelled by computation, over 2,000 miles. In his report, Mr. Forrest, while stating that the country traversed was worthless for pastoral or agricultural purposes, believed that it was sufficiently mineralised to deserve a thorough examination by experienced geologists. A reward was tendered by the Government to each member of the expedition. The fate of Leichardt remained as mysterious as before.
Not long after his return home from this search, John Forrest, who had so successfully accomplished his first effort in Australian exploration, was chosen by Governor Weld to proceed on another and more dangerous journey. Mr. Von Mueller now suggested that Forrest be placed in charge of an expedition which should examine the country between the upper waters of the Murchison River and the Gulf of Carpentaria, but as sufficient funds were not immediately forthcoming the project was, for the time, set aside. Governor Weld was, however, anxious to obtain more information concerning the southern coast between Albany and Adelaide, as since the trying and tragical journey of John Eyre no one had traversed these regions. In 1860 Major Warburton pushed some eighty-five miles beyond the head of the Great Australian Bight from South Australian settlement. He found holes dug by the indomitable Eyre when in quest of water, but characterised the country as exceedingly dreary, and destitute of food and water. Delisser also just entered the colony from the South Australian border in 1865. The York Agricultural Society previously proposed that the local Government should equip a party to thoroughly explore the intervening country, but it was not until 1870 that this was done. Governor Weld then took the matter in hand, and the necessary funds were voted.
Prom previous experience the journey was known to be begirt with dangers, but, as the official instructions stated, the Governor confided in the "experience, ability, and discretion" of Mr. Forrest to overcome them. The schooner Adur was engaged to convey provisions to different points to be touched on, such as Esperance Bay, Israelite Bay (over 120 miles eastward), and Eucla. Thenceforward the Adur could be of no use, owing to there being no safe anchorage in the Bight. The party included Alexander Forrest, a surveyor, and brother of the leader; H. McLarty, a police constable; W. Osborne, a farrier and shoeing smith; Tommy Windich, the aboriginal member of the previous expedition, and a second native named Billy Noongale. On the afternoon of Wednesday, the 30th March, 1870, these men left Perth with fifteen horses. Governor Weld accompanied them for about three miles along the Albany Road. John Forrest and his companions were not discouraged by the grim narrative of terrible privations endured by Eyre on the same journey. The leaders were fully aware of the immense and dispiriting obstacles to be faced. They wound through the settled districts, past Kojonup, Etticup, Martinup, Nigalup, and Koorarkup, in the last of which their inconvenience for the want of water began. The Fitzgerald River was reached on 14th April, the Phillips River on 16th, and on the 17th Forrest obtained a view the of the sea from a steep summit of Eyre's Range—Annie's Peak, After traversing scrubby country, much of which was grassed, skirting salt lakes and marshes, and crossing brooks, the party reached Esperance Bay on Sunday, 24th April. Some privations were endured from want of water and exposure to storms, and horses and men welcomed a rest on the pioneer station of the Messrs. Dempster. Five days later the Adur put into Esperance, and the explorers were enabled to obtain supplies calculated to last them to the new meeting-place. They occupied themselves for some days in preparing for the journey over the desert, and on the morning of the 9th May a start was made, and some beautifully grassed lands were traversed near Esperance Bay. Then came scrubby, sandy country studded with bare granite hills, with Mounts Howe and Merivale in the distance. Numerous brackish streams were crossed, the homes of thousands of wild fowl. Travelling was necessarily slow, and it took the party ten days to reach Israelite Bay, where the Adur was found at anchor. The horses were in a reduced condition from scarcity of feed, and they were rested from the 18th to the 30th May.
Hitherto the journey had presented some difficulties, but not to be compared with what probably lay before. The record of Eyre's journey across this tract, which he made in a solitary and almost starved condition, was not likely to encourage the explorers; but had the effect of inspiring the leader with greater caution. The next meeting-place with the Adur was Eucla, 350 miles distant. The first fifteen miles gave a foretaste of what was to follow. Steering in a northerly direction the travellers passed over salt marshes and clay pans, with dense thickets intervening, destitute of grass. Sand hills, bare sand patches, samphire flats, and dense thickets succeeded each other with monotonous regularity. Water was secured by digging in the sand, and from morning until night the wanderers toiled over a route more awfully unblessed than most parts of the earth. Forrest generally kept within hail of the coast, but occasionally he struck inland, and climbed an eminence or some high tree to scan the ugly prospect about him. The natives proved splendid assistants; whether to track strayed horses, hunt game, or with their bushman's instinct, to search for water, they were indispensable. Patches of luxuriant grass were surveyed on 3rd June, and on the 4th the men struck the coast, where for scores of miles cliffs from 300 to 400 feet high fell abruptly into the sea. The picture of these possessed a terrific and forlorn grandeur, and after cautiously approaching the edge of a precipice the explorers "all ran back quite terror-stricken by the dreadful view," says Forrest in his journal.
Divine service was read by the leader on each Sunday, and where possible the party camped throughout that day. The journey through the waterless tract of 150 miles described by Eyre was begun on the 7th. For ninety-six hours the animals drank but two gallons each, and their distress was sad to look upon. The district rendered tragical by the murder of Eyre's overseer was reached on 13th June. Here was a scene of utter gloom; the cliffs had just left the sea. The unyielding waste and reluctant strata produced an abortive growth, and the sombre and unwelcome hue the landscape had, in its very awfulness and gloom, an almost appalling sublimity. To the westward lay Point Dover, and a bold view of grand precipitous cliffs, 200 and 300 feet high. Eastward Forrest believed he could descry the spot where the much-needed water was to be found. He went forward, and on the 14th the party set up camp, thankful for having safely passed over the dreary tract so disastrous to Eyre. Resting the horses on excellent feed for some days, John Forrest and one or other of the party made excursions inland discovering some well-grassed country.
Near the camp Tommy Windich found the shoulder-blade of a horse and two small pieces of leather, relics, almost certainly, of Eyre's expedition. While in this place that explorer was obliged to kill a horse for food, and in his journal he thus explains the compulsory deed:—"Early on the morning of the 16th April, 1841, I sent the overseer to kill the unfortunate horse, which was still alive but unable to rise from the ground, having never moved from the place where he had first been found lying yesterday morning. The miserable animal was in the most wretched state possible—thin and emaciated by long and continued suffering, and labouring under some complaint that in a very few hours, at the furthest, must have terminated its life." Forrest, upon his return to Perth, presented part of the shoulder-blade and the pieces of leather to Governor Weld.
The natives seen in these unattractive places were miserable specimens, every one circumcised and entirely naked; they made pillows of much other's bodies, writes Forrest, and more resembled swine than human beings. The Eucla sand hills were observed from a distance on 1st July, and, says Forrest:—"On my pointing them out, every heart was full of joy, and, being away some distance, heard the long and continued hurrahs from the party! Eucla was all the conversation! I never before remember witnessing such joy as was evinced on this occasion by all the party." A dangerous portion of the arid route had been traversed, and remarkable success had up till now crowned the efforts of the young commander. Some twelve miles further travelling brought him on the next day to the rendezvous, and there, riding at anchor in the harbour, was the Adur. A flag-staff was erected, and a copper plate nailed to it bearing the words "Western Australia. Erected by J. Forrest, 12th July, 1870." Beacons in the harbour were painted, and provisions were landed.
The country surveyed on this stage was generally valueless, but here and there were some splendidly grassed lands. "The country passed over between longitude 126° 24' east," wrote Forrest at Eucla to the Colonial Secretary at Perth, "as a grazing country far surpasses anything I have ever seen. There is nothing in the settled portions of Western Australia equal to it, either in extent or quality; but the absence of permanent water is the great drawback .... " A gap of 140 miles had still to be spanned before safety in South Australia could be said to be reached. On 14th July the party started for the head of the Bight. For nearly ninety hours the horses only tasted one gallon of water each, given them from water-drums, and when the extreme bead of the Bight was observed on 17th July the explorers, as will be conceived, experienced great relief. The horses, which four days before were strong and in good condition, were now thoroughly exhausted, and appeared only skeletons, with sunken eyes and dilated nostrils. Their condition bespoke the trials of that journey. Nor were the explorers in much better plight. For sixty hours the leader had but about five hours' sleep; and was in constant anxiety. Under his discreet generalship the men had suffered little from thirst, but they had to perform very severe journeys on foot. Toiling over such sandy and rocky ground required a frame of iron and a will not to be easily cast down. A cart track from Peelunabie to Fowler's Bay was struck on 18th July, and loud and continued hurrahs again broke from the solitary band as they beheld this sign of civilisation. Fowler's Bay was made, in easy stages, on 17th, July. The subsequent route to Adelaide lay over the Gawler Ranges, eastward, to Port Augusta, and thence southwards to the capital. A royal welcome was extended to them in many of the towns on the way, and they were publicly welcomed in Adelaide. Their exploits were themes for general conversation. The return journey was made by sea and Perth was reached on 27th September, after an absence of 182 days. A banquet was tendered to John Forrest, who recorded that throughout this long and trying exploration not one murmur of discontent was uttered by any of the party.
The sum of of £200 was voted by the Government to the explorers, and distributed as follows:—John Forrest £75, Alexander Forrest £50, H. McLarty and R. Osborne £25 each, and the two natives £12 10s. each. The leader was thanked in an official minute by Governor Weld, and the people of the colony were loud in their expressions of approval of the work done by the men.
The furthest point reached by Forrest in 1869, and the country seen on this last trip along the south coast, did not encourage much hope as to the fruitful nature of the interior. Alexander Forrest now took charge of a party, consisting of Geo. Monger, Richard Burges, Hector McLarty (police), James Sweeney (farrier), and two native assistants, with seventeen horses and three months' provisions. The band started from York on 11th August, 1871, and intended to make an effort to get through the waterless tracts east of the Hampton Plains, found by Hunt, and, if possible, reach the good country sighted near the border by John Forrest the year before. During the preceding trip Mr. Alexander Forrest had proved as hardy as his brother, and hence the command was entrusted to him. This was another effort to penetrate the interior deserts in the general desire of completing the main exploration of Australia. Mr. Forrest reached the Hampton Plains, already described, on 26th August, and following the example of Hunt set up a suitable camp as a base. He made several flying trips N.N.E., E.N.E., E.S.E., and on every occasion was beaten back by the want of water. Barren wilds greeted him on every side, and finally he was compelled to raise his camp, and, foiled in the eastern track, he made for the south coast. In this he and his companions were destined to endure hardship. The country was little better than that to the east, but finally, on 12th October, Mount Rugged was surveyed, and on the 18th Esperance. Mr. Forrest characterised the tracts traversed as worthless, except for one isolated patch of 20,000 acres, which, however, did not present the advantage of surface water. The balance of the land was covered with dense thickets, scrub, and spinifex.
The South Australian Government and liberal and enthusiastic private persons were now bent on sending parties out to push overland from Central South Australia to the west coast. The overland telegraph line supplied a base, and numerous and determined efforts were made to get over the sullen wastes which stretched from there. Giles, Warburton, and Gosse were entrusted with the command of these expeditions. Ernest Giles, an old digger and Government official, had long entertained the desire to exploit these regions, about which much speculation had existed, and in this he was encouraged by that enthusiastic student of geographical science, Dr. Von Mueller. Because Government or private subscriptions were not forthcoming these two gentlemen drew from their slender means and staked their little all on penetrating to the west. As proof of Giles' indomitable energy it is enough to say that between 1872-6 he made five journeys into the interior. He left the telegraph line on his first westward trip in August, 1872. His party, equipped at the expense of Baron Von Mueller and himself, consisted of Mr. Carmichael and A. Robinson, with fifteen horses. On 4th August be left Port Augusta, and on 22nd August turned his back on Chambers Pillar. First he went through Glen Edith to Gills Range, where was some excellent pastoral country. Lake Amadeus (named after King of Spain) stopped his western progress; it was composed of treacherous blue mud encrusted with salt, and from a distance made a fantastic picture. For the rest, the country was made up of barren sand hills, spinifex, mulga, and mallee scrub. Giles nearly reached longitude 130° east. After struggling over the bills and plains he started on his return to the telegraph line on 1st October, and he writes:"—I was only too thankful to get out this horrible region, and this frightful encampment into which fates had drawn me, alive ..... I might condemn this region as a useless desert. I can truly say it is dry, stony, scrubby, and barren." On 21st November he and his party reached the line at the Finke and Hugh Junction.
The first attempt of Giles was not encouraging, but the public and press urged the South Australian Government to persist having the interior explored from Central Mount Stuart to Perth. Mr. Thomas Elder (afterwards Sir Thomas), one of the most enterprising of Australian pastoralists, had recently introduced several camels, and he placed them at the disposal of the Government. The official arrangements, after advancing a few steps, broke down, but Mr. Elder, with a liberality which distinguished his whole career, determined that a trip should be made. Captain Walter H. Hughes joined him, and the two gentlemen organised a party, the leadership of which was entrusted to Major Warburton. The South Australian Government fitted up a second party in charge of a Government surveyor, William Gosse.
Major P.E. Warburton, H.E., I.C.S., was the first to go out. Although sixty years of age he did not flinch at the immense undertaking before him. He was born in Cheshire in 1818, entered the Navy in 1825; and retired with the rank of Major in 1853. Since the year 1856 he had held command of several exploring expeditions in South Australia. During this trip he was the first to use camels in Australian exploration. He had under him his son, E. Warburton, J.W. Lewis, Sahleh and Halleem (two Afghan camel-drivers), Dennis White (cook), and Charley, an intelligent native, with four riding, twelve baggage, and one spare camel, and six months' provisions. On 1st September, 1872, the courageous old man departed from Adelaide, and on 15th April, 1873, be left Alice Springs. The subsequent course was tortuous, marked by one disaster after another. Almost from the outset Warburton had difficulty in obtaining water, and varied his course, turned back, and went to the north and south, in his efforts to discover it. In this way his journey was agonisingly protracted, but with splendid courage, yet possibly with a want of discretion in bushcraft, he, though nearly dead, surmounted the deserts. From Alice Springs he turned in and out, past Burt Creek, Mount Hay, Dashwood Creek, Central Mount Wedge, to two beautiful glens, which he named Glen Elder and Glen Hughes. There one of his camels ran back towards civilisation, and so fleet was it that his men could not come up to it again. On 12th May he observed, in the midst of the desert, a total eclipse of the moon, and on 24h May, while surrounded by the silent monotony of parched cotton bush country, he drank in rum the health of the Queen, in honour of her birthday. Although beset with dangers, hushed in desolate wilderness which no white man had soon before, and thousands of miles from any town, the old naval officer and his companions drank the toast with unfeigned enthusiasm. On 5th June, after penetrating a scrubby region and trailing over dreary sand hills, the party first entered Western Australia—slightly north of latitude 22° south, near Mount Russell. But try as they would they could not pierce the waterless tract which stretched beyond, and Warburton had to recross the border to the last watering-place. Then some time was spent in sending out one or other of his men to search for a better route. One Afghan now became so seriously ill with scurvy that he delayed the others. On 20th June three camels ran away, and several days were vainly spent in trying to recover them. Hidden in a hole, on a hill-top, Warburton found two curious stone slabs, inscribed with strange characters, and he carried them away as precious relics, but when subsequently reduced to starvation and exhaustion, he was compelled to abandon ahem.
Exactly a month after first crossing the border Warburton again surveyed Western Australian territory. He now struck a north-west course in order to meet, if possible, the extreme south-western limit of A.C. Gregory's exploration in 1856. After traversing a frightful desert of burnt sand and dwarfed vegetation, he got within a few miles of Gregory's Mount Wilson. This was the waste which discouraged that successful man. Warburton came to fresh water lakes where he obtained ample water, and which were covered in flocks of ducks, pigeons, and parrots. Some keen sufferings had been experienced up to this; even in these tropical regions ice lay on the water a quarter of an inch thick in the mornings. But the chief difficulties had yet to come. After leaving the lakes the heat by day became unbearable, and the camels began to weary. The least breeze raised ridges in the baked sand, or brushed it against and burnt the faces of the wanderers. Natives were occasionally caught and ordered to lead them to fresh water. They were usually faithless guides, and, protesting willingness to show them springs, led them up and down heavy sand hills, until men and camels were so exhausted that they could hardly struggle on. A camel ate of a poison plant and was abandoned; a few days later two others were unable to go further, and were left. The provisions were soon reduced, and camels were killed and their flesh dried in the sun for food. What with heat and want of water, the explorers were reduced to a serious situation; roundabout was an endless series of sand hills, with spinifex growing in the valleys or on the sides of the slopes where its roots could take hold. Warburton held a council, and tents and clothing were thrown away to relieve the camels. Both heaven and earth seemed to burn, and a few miles journey in the heat of the day would take away the strength of men and beasts. On 22nd October Warburton wrote in his journal:—"Our condition is, indeed, becoming very serious, owing to our want of provisions. We are placed in a dilemma; if we press forward, we run the chance of losing more camels and dying of thirst; if we stand still, we can only hope to prolong our lives, as God may enable us, on sun-dried camel flesh." For months they had been hedged in with sand ridges and hollows, containing no grass, and clothed with spinifex, stunted vegetation, and melancholy scrub. From the top of one ridge the only view in advance was the top of the next, distant, perhaps, but a few hundred yards. Water could only be obtained from native wells, discovered by following the recent tracks of natives. From the sandy nature of the country the tracks often became suddenly obliterated, and left them in the position that they did not know whither to turn. Warburton wondered whether any traveller had ever crossed so desolate and forsaken a wilderness. Charley was his right hand; he found water, and procured rats and lizards and vegetables to eat. "To Charley," said Warburton afterwards, "they might say, under Divine Providence, their lives were due ..... There is no doubt that if it had not been for Charley they must have perished."
Other camels were abandoned or killed for food, and each week's end found them more exhausted and seriously situated. Warburton determined with what strength he had to push forward to the Oakover River, discovered by F.T. Gregory. It was futile to travel by day, and he forced his men and the remaining camels to travel evening and morning. For ten days on one stretch the animals were without water. A route was kept below lat. 20 south, eternally crossing the sand hills at right angles. The more dangerous their condition, the more useful Charley became. Going out alone, he would use all his keen senses to find water for his white companions. Once he was speared and had his skull fractured during an attack by natives while he was separated from the others, and once he was almost lost. A few minutes more, and be would have missed Warburton. Warburton, determined as he was, at last became so weak that he had to be strapped on to his camel. Thus travelling, he watched eagerly for the Oakover, and finally on 4th December, after nearly eight months' dispiriting striving, he reached a tributary of that river with only two camels. But the desert was defeated; the continent was bridged.
Even here Warburton was so weary that, as he wrote himself, he "would have been glad had his companions left him alone to die." They all "looked death close in the face," he continued, but by the faithfulness of each man they came off with their lives. Lewis and an Afghan were despatched to the De Grey Station, of Messrs. Grant, Harper, and Anderson, for assistance, and when they did not return within the period expected dismal forebodings assailed Warburton, and he feared that even yet his trouble might not be over. Day after day passed, and there was no sign of help, until the 29th December. Charley had climbed a tree, and Warburton was seated some distance away. The silence was suddenly disturbed by loud cries from Charley, and Warburton, fearing he had met with an accident, proceeded to help him; but through the trees some distance away he saw with intense delight Lewis, with several horses, approaching. On 11th January, 1874, Warburton reached the De Grey Station, where he was treated with unbounded hospitality by the proprietors. At Roebourne and in Perth an enthusiastic reception was tendered to the band, banquets were held, and the Government lent Warburton every assistance for his return journey by sea to Adelaide. Thus an old man had stormed the desert of mystery. For examples of bravery, fidelity, and endurance the expedition must be considered famous.
In the meantime W.G. Gosse had been striving to get across by a more southerly route. Mr. Elder supplied camels, and the party consisted of Gosse's brother and four other whites, three camel-drivers, and a native boy. Gosse had previously explored these regions, and well knew the difficulty of his task. On 23rd April, 1873, a few days after Warburton, he left Alice Springs, and for several months vainly tried to get through the inhospitable regions. On 19th July he discovered, in latitude 25° 21' S8" south, longitude 131° 4' 30" east, a singular granite rook, rising abruptly out of a plain, two miles in length from east to west, one mile wide, and 1,100 feet high. It was honey-combed with numerous caves and holes, which the natives used for habitations. The walls were covered with ingeniously drawn figures of snakes and animals, and "two hearts joined together. Beautiful springs of water were found on the sides of this wonderful hill, and Gosse considered that in the wet season it would "present a grand sight," with "waterfalls in every direction." He named it Ayers Rock after Sir Henry Ayers, of South Australia. Gosse got over the Western Australian border to longitude 129° 59' east in latitude 26° 21' south, discovered a vast area of new country, some of which contained good grass. On 16th December he returned to the Port Darwin telegraph line, in latitude 26° 39' 47" south.
Ernest Giles had hardly returned from his first trip when he made arrangements to again set out. Funds were supplied, principally by Victorian subscriptions, and on 4th August, 1873, while Warburton was wrestling with the desert further north, he left the telegraph line at the junction of the Stevenson and Alberga Creeks. In his party were—W.H. Tietkens, A. Gibson, and J. Andrews, with 24 horses. Giles, although not aware of it, kept close to the line of route of Gosse, who only preceded him by a few months. He was not destined to reach his goal on this occasion, for on 10th November, after getting beyond longitude 126°, slightly below latitude 26°, he was compelled to turn back. On the 9th he had made a short trip to the westward alone, but was quickly forced to retrace his steps. His horse was exceedingly thirsty, and Giles found a little water in a native well, which he describes as follows:—"I found the hole choked with rotten leaves, dead animals, birds, and all sorts of filth. On poking a stick down into it, seething bubbles aerated through the putrid mass, and yet the natives had evidently lived upon this water for some time. My horse was anxious to drink, but one bucket was all he could manage. Nearly all the country had been burnt, but not recently. I felt sure it would be necessary to travel 150 miles at least before a watering spot could be found." The sufferings of this band were severe. On another occasion Giles and a companion left camp on an excursion to penetrate the sand hills to the west, when his companion, to whom he had given his horse, became separated from him. Said Giles, in a speech at Perth, "I had to walk back with an empty water—keg on my back, over 100 miles in the heat of the summer, during which all I had to eat was eleven sticks of dried horse flesh, averaging 1½ ozs. each, and which I had to devour raw, having no water to boil them. My position at that time was certainly a precarious one. I was sixty miles from water, and eighty from food, with the thermometer at 90° in the shade. What made the matter worse—the ground I had to travel over was all stones, and, as my feet were very sore, I could only go at a snail's pace over them. On that occasion I picked up a small dying wallaby, whose mother had thrown it from her pouch. The instant I saw it I pounced upon it, like an eagle, and ate it raw, dying as it was—fur, skin, and all." The retreat was successfully made after he had been nearly twelve months in the field, but not until one of the party met his death on Gibson's desert. Giles named numerous features.
In March, 1874, Ross, his son, and another European, three Arabs, with fourteen horses and sixteen camels, left the line near the Peake Station in South Australia. He was unable to do more than his predecessors. But a Western Australian party, starting from the other end of the desert a little later, was successful. This was the crowning effort of John Forrest in exploration. And while his former feats were begirt with dangers enough, they in nowise compared with the risks now willingly met. Major Warburton, at the conclusion of his trip with camels, had expressed the opinion that it was impossible for horses to undertake the tremendous journey. Giles and others who employed horses were all beaten back, but Forrest determined to essay the task, and that over a longer area than Warburton traversed. As early as July, 1872, he wrote the Surveyor-General, offering to lead an expedition from Champion Bay, along the course of the Murchison River, through the interior to the South Australian telegraph line. The proposal was laid before Governor Weld, who gave it his grateful support, and recorded that the public-spirited desire of John Forrest would, if carried out, undoubtedly lead to great advantages to Western Australia, and to a material extension of geographical knowledge. The Legislative Council voted £400 towards defraying the cost of an expedition, and the public subscribed the remainder. Owing to the projected trips of the South Australian parties, the departure of the expedition was postponed until 1874. John Forrest's party consisted of Alexander Forrest (second in command), James Sweeney (farrier), James Kennedy (police constable), the tried aboriginal Tommy Windich, and a second native, Tommy Pierre, with twenty-one horses and eight months’ provisions. Perth was quitted 18th March, when Colonel Harvest, the Acting Governor, wished the pathfinders God-speed. The Surveyor-General accompanied them some distance along the road. On 31st March they were entertained at dinner in Geraldton, and the following day their serious work commenced. The horses not knowing what trials lay before them, started on their journey in a frolicsome spirit; they kicked and plunged and ran away, so that their obliviousness was quite pathetic, and their actions annoying. The route for some days lay through settled districts or localities known to travellers. Knockbrack was the first camping-place, and thence the party proceeded by way of Allen Nolba, Wandanoe, Kolonaday, North Spring, Tinderlong, Bilyera, Yuin, Beetinggnow, Poondarrie, Wallala, and Warrorang, north-east of Geraldton. The last-named place was reach on 20th April. The day before, Police-Constable Haydon carried letters to them from Champion Bay, and he was the last white man they were destined to see for nearly six months.
The serious conflict now began. Only three horses were used for riding purposes, so that half of the men were always walking. They arrived at the Murchison watershed, north of the Sandford River, on 22nd April, and the Barlomeery Peaks and the river itself early on the 24th. Holding to the river's course they passed well-grassed flats of good, loamy soil, adorned with white gum. Game abounded, and for some days the travellers were amply supplied with ducks, cockatoos, and emus. During this time they surveyed some beautifully grassed plains, over which the river spread for many miles. From 1st May a more easterly course was struck, but still along the banks of the river and Forrest spent part of Sunday, the 3rd May, on Mount Hale. After an hour's rough climbing he assailed the summit. The rocks were magnetic, and the compass useless. A view of extensive plains lay all around, broken east and south by ranges, about thirty miles distant. He could see small creeks joining with the course of the river, like the branches of a tree. On 6th May he conferred names on surrounding features, such as Mount Maitland, Robinson Range (after Governor Robinson), Mount Fraser (after the Surveyor-General), and Mount Padbury (after Mr. W. Padbury). White gums continued to line the more fertile banks of the watercourses, and showed from a distance whence they trailed, but owing to the numerous channels cutting the flats in different directions, the leader had some difficulty deciding which was the main channel. The attractions of the country, from a pastoral point of view, did not diminish, and occasional rich meadows were crossed. Even in these comparatively fructive localities Forrest was compelled to repeatedly turn out of his course, to right and left, for fresh water. The term river, as applied to a large part of the Murchison, was one of name only, for, as with most northern rivers, it was rather a channel to carry off storm waters. Then were named Glengarry Range (in honour of Mr. Maitland Brown), Negris Creek, a brook shaded by white gums, and draining some good country, Mount Bartle and Mount Russell (after the President and the Foreign Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society), and the Kimberley Range (after Lord Kimberley, a Secretary of State for the Colonies). At intervals, from 12th May, areas of miserable country were entered, covered with spinifex. For about 100 miles no permanent water was found; and days of travelling showed them little but low ranges, and level country of spinifex plains. Spinifex was, indeed, the primary feature of this tract; in the more hilly country the unattractive plant grew nearly to the hill-tops. Excellent water was found at the foot of a range; round it was a limited area of pasturage, hemmed in on every side by the ubiquitous spinifex. Beyond spinifex plains and sand ridges, the explorers named Sweeney Creek (in compliment to the farrier), Frere Ranges (after Sir Bartle Frere), Kennedy Creek (after the police constable), Windich Springs, Carnarvon Range (after a Secretary of State for the Colonies), Mount Salvado, Davis Hill (after Mr. J.S. Davis), and Pierre Spring. The Windich Springs supplied the best permanent water Forrest had ever seen. The pool was twenty chains long, and twelve feet deep, with a flag bed. In keeping with the sullen scene around was the discovery, on 1st June, of the charred skull of a native—the remains, apparently, of a ghoulish feast of the cannibals who inhabited these forsaken regions.
On 2nd June the travellers came to a most desirable camping-place in the desert. Swarms of birds led them to a gully containing an unlimited supply of clear fresh water and magnificent feed. A clump of ti-trees clustered near the spring. This delightful spot was the accustomed haunt of numerous kangaroos and emus, and in the evenings pigeons and other birds covered the water. Fresh food was therefore to be had in abundance. Forrest determined to take full advantage of this refuge, and he rested for some days, naming the place Weld Springs, in compliment to the Governor. He made excursions into neighbouring country, but found nothing of any importance; nothing but the eternal spinifex, a samphire flat, and undulating sand hills. One day a few natives came out of the desert, disappeared again, and were not seen for some time. They made their reappearance in a startling manner on the 13th June. While Alexander Forrest and Windich were out in the eastern country searching for water along a route the explorers wished to take into the interior, and Pierre and Kennedy had gone off to shoot game, John Forrest heard the loud voices of natives. He was perched in a small tree at the time, and, looking towards the ridge of a hill immediately above the camp, observed from forty to sixty natives. Decorated in war paint and armed with spears and shields they ran towards the camp. Forrest descended the tree, called on Pierre and Kennedy to return, and with Sweeney prepared to receive the warlike tribe. When the two huntsmen arrived the natives were within sixty yards of Forrest, where they halted. First one aboriginal advanced as if on a friendly errand, then a second came rushing forward, performed several manoeuvres, made many feints to throw spears, and finally gave a signal to his companions. The whole band shipping their spears rushed, shouting and yelling, towards the explorers, who stood firm and in line. When the natives were within thirty yards distance, at the order of Forrest, the little party fired simultaneously. Some of the blacks appeared to be wounded, and at the report all ran back to the hill-top, where they angrily declaimed and harangued.
Meanwhile Forrest's men reloaded their guns ready for another oncoming, which was not long protracted. The leader did not allow the natives to draw so near on this occasion, for while they were descending the hill he fired his rifle at about 150 yards' distance, and brought one man to the ground. At this the whole tribe withdrew, assisting their wounded companion away. Forrest anxiously awaited another attack, which was not, however, made. That night Alexander Forrest and Windich returned from a journey of over fifty miles E.S.E, without finding a drop of water, and horses and travellers had been thirty hours without a drink. This was the only serious brush John Forrest had with natives in all his extensive explorations. During the next two days the explorers erected a stone hut, and on 16th June John Forrest and his old companion Tommy Windich went eastwards in search of water where they might camp on their subsequent journey. They pushed seventy miles into the desert, and searched along the foot of ranges in vain. While in one camp the night was made hideous in the hollow vastnesses by the dolorous howling and barking of hundreds of wild dogs—fit company in such a situation. The flats at the base of the ranges contained a 1ittle feed, and there kangaroos browsed. Water sufficient to last the whole party for a week was discovered in clay holes eleven miles on the homeward track; at the same time threatening clouds formed over the gloomy scene. Forrest hoped for rain, and wrote:—"It is in circumstances such as I am at present placed that we are sure to implore help and assistance from the hand of the Creator; but when we have received all we desire, how often we forget to give Him praise!" A little rain fell that night, but did no good, and Forrest and Windich went back to Weld Springs. From Mount Bartle to Weld Springs the explorers had pursued a north-north-east course; thenceforth they went east, with a slight trending south, but amid innumerable deviations in search of water. The camp was fixed at Weld Springs from 2nd June to the 20th, when they started out again. The excursions along this route enabled them to make some estimate of the coming trials. In comparison with the immense block of wilderness before them their efforts seemed but those of tiny ants; the death-like silence in so vast a theatre had its appalling side. The water previously found was reached on 21st June. John Forrest and Tommy Pierre pushed on to spy out the further route. Water was discovered in a few clay holes on a grassy flat some miles away, from which they went to a hill rising in the east. This was named Mount Moore, after Mr. W.D. Moore, of Fremantle; a range southwards was called Timperley Range, in compliment to Mr. W.H. Timperley, Inspector of Police at Geraldton; a remarkable peak, with a reddish top, was named Mount Hosken, after Mr. M. Hosken, of Geraldton, and a salt lake was designated Lake Augusta. More good water was found in the environs of Lake Augusta, and returning to the party Forrest led them thither in slow stages. Game was occasionally secured, and numbers of natives were observed. Late in June spinifex wastes again confronted the men, difficulties accumulated, and a serious situation was faced. As usual, the leader and Windich bad preceded the main party, and when a long distance out in dreary country their horses became exhausted. For days they struggled on, and the determined explorer was compelled to almost drag the poor animals after him, or laboriously drive them before him. At last he himself became as exhausted as his equine companions. After painful crawling he obtained a little water, and there Forrest determined to await the main body. The rations were finished, and the two had to subsist on wurrungs and opossums which chance and much searching enabled them to capture. Forrest was not even yet disheartened, although the outlook was most unpromising. There was nothing but ugly waste before him; scarcely any water and no feed for seventy miles in the rear. This predicament occurred on 4th July when he was camped about 200 miles from the point reached by Gosse in his journey from South Australia. In this cheerless situation he waited with anxiety for his companions, when he would decide, from the condition of their horses, whether to advance or retreat. Near by were stone sandstone ranges, and Forrest remarks in his map:—"From the ranges to the north and east, the horizon was as level and uniform as that of the sea; apparently spinifex everywhere; no hills or ranges for over thirty miles; most wretched desert."
On Sunday, 5h July, Alexander Forrest and the remainder of the party arrived at the camp. They had not passed this dreary tract without difficulty; two horses were abandoned some miles back, and the others, while in fair condition, were hungry and tired. Next day the whole party retreated fourteen miles to the south-west, where was sufficient water to last for nearly two days. On that and the following day John Forrest and Pierre, and Alexander Forrest and Windich, went out in different directions to search for water, for in the event of non-success, retreat was inevitable. Alexander Forrest and Windich found sufficient on the second day to last for two or three weeks. It was an encouraging and fortunate discovery. But there was a disheartening absence of feed. Because of this Alexander Forrest and Pierre started on a flying trip next day, the 9th, to find better country. They traversed clear open sand plains and red sand hills covered with spinifex. But though they found more water they did not see any grass, and turned disconsolately back towards the party. Just when their hopes were lowest, and their horses exhausted, they joyfully surveyed, on the 11th, a beautiful patch of grazing country—the first, for 130 miles. Upon going to the largest gully in this locality they beheld abundance of water. On the 13th horses and men were camped at this place, and the spring was named Alexander Spring, in honour of its discoverer. A cairn was placed on a flat-topped hill—named Mount Allot, after the Mayor of Adelaide—about fifty chains from the camp, and a neighbouring hill was named Mount Worsnop, in compliment to the town clerk of Adelaide. John Forrest and Windich left the party on 16th July to find water ahead. After traversing spinifex sand hills and salt marsh flats, and passing sandstone cliffs, from which many creeks trailed out into sombre spinifex plains, they came upon water on the 17th in gorges of the cliffs. Next day enough water was found to last for a month, and the site was named Blyth Creek, after the Chief Secretary of South Australia. The party joined them on the 20th. They were now about 100 miles from Gosse's limit. But the country between the two points was some of the worst and most terrible they had yet met, and, indeed, was that which caused Gosse to retreat. By searching on the rocky eminences in the spinifex they had been able to secure small supplies of water here and there. But now many days of close searching could not discover sufficient to sustain horses on the march. Several flying trips were made in vain from Blyth Creek, and the leaders became troubled in mind. They were 1,000 miles from Western Australian settlement, and after going so far it seemed discouraging that they should turn back. John Forrest writes in his journal of 2nd August:—"The thought of having to return, however, brought every feeling of energy and determination to my rescue, and I felt that, with God's help, I would even now succeed." He gave instructions that the party should be allowanced so that the stores might last four months, and prepared "for a last desperate struggle."
The day after writing this the indomitable leader, whose faculties and experience were now so greatly required, and the faithful Tommy Windich left camp for the north-east, with instructions to Alexander Forrest to follow two days later. Some twenty miles away their good fortune led them to rock holes filled with water. Slight rain had fallen, and helped to save them in their extremity. By the 8th August they were in regions traversed by Gosse, and were gladly entered upon granite country again, where on the same date they discovered water by which the whole party might camp. Thus "when everything looked at its worst, then all seemed to change," wrote Forrest. The explorers were here able to wash themselves, for as a rule washing the body and brushing the hair were out of the question. Indeed, Forrest says he was now dirty and ragged. The whole party rested at this place on the 11th. John Forrest and Windich again went forward on the 12th, and by following emu tracks next day they entered a gully and found a fine spring of fresh water. The desolate tract was traversed, and on that day the leader announced publicly to his companions that they were now in safety, although some weeks of travelling from the telegraph line. He remarks in his journal:—"I need not add how pleased all were at having at last bridged over that awful, desolate spinifex desert."
The succeeding country was already known, but the dangers and sufferings of the Forrest expedition were by no means ended. Tracks of horses had previously been seen, and additional ones were now surveyed, and Forrest, knowing that the latter could not be those of Gosse, conceived that they must have been made by Giles. Finally, on Sunday, 16th August, Windich found a gum tree marked
Oct. 7, '73
Again, on the same day, they came upon the tracks of a cart, which must have belonged to Gosse. Beaten tracks were observed a few miles away leading into a gully, and recognising that they were made by horses daily going to water, they followed them, and found the camp of previous explorers, where there was a beautiful spring running a quarter of a mile down the gully. A large bush hut and stock-yard had been built there, and a garden made. This spring was named Fort Mueller by Mr. Giles. On the 16th a large number of armed natives followed the main party for some distance and the explorers were finally compelled to fire on them—not killing any.
Springs were found on the border line between the two colonies just when they were in need of water, and named Elder Springs, after Mr. Thomas Elder, of South Australia. The horses were reduced to mere skeletons by their intense privations, and it was wonderful how they had kept up so long. Only four were abandoned. Natives were numerous in the country between the border and the telegraph line, and on 3rd September Forrest and Windich surprised 100 camped in a flat and feasting on kangaroos. Many of the blacks rushed towards them hurling spears, but the firing of revolvers frightened them away. The last long stretch of waterless country was surmounted by 4th September, and thenceforward the route lay through a better class of land, where water was obtained at easy intervals.
That desirable stage in this tremendous journey—the trans-continental telegraph line—was sighted on rounding a clump of trees on Sunday, 27th September. Long and continued cheers broke from the solitary band when they first saw this proof of the success of their energy, and the leader recorded in his journal:—"I felt rejoiced and relieved from anxiety, and on reflecting on the long line of travel we had performed through an unknown country, almost a wilderness, felt very thankful to that good Providence that had guarded and guided us so safely through it." They rested by the line, making the 104th camp from Geraldton. Thenceforth the explorers travelled down the telegraph line, and on 30th September reached the settled district of Peak, where they were received with great hospitality by the owner of the station, Mr. Bagot, and by Mr. and Mrs. Blood, of the telegraph station. Telegrams were sent to the Governor of South Australia and other persons, and congratulatory messages were received in reply. Forrest and his companions arrived at Beltana on 18th October, and in towns on the way down to Adelaide received the warm plaudits of admiring crowds. Dinners and banquets were given in their honour. A number of the inhabitants of the little town of Salisbury, a few miles from Adelaide, escorted them on the road on 3rd November after banqueting them, and the pageant to the capital was impressive and elaborate. The mayors and town clerks of metropolitan corporations joined in the long procession, and numbers of members of various exploring expeditions went out to greet the conquerors of the deserts. Balconies and housetops along the streets of Adelaide were thronged with people eager to catch a glimpse of the heroes; flags, decorations, and inscriptions of welcome adorned the route; bells rang out merry peals, and the day was observed as a general holiday. R.E. Warburton, William and Harry Gosse, and Ernest Giles formed part of the procession. The explorers were mounted on the horses which had served them so well, and wore the dilapidated garments which clothed them as they crossed the desert. When the town hall was reached, leading officials and politicians received them and addresses were presented. Banquets were given, and no more hearty and enthusiastic greeting could have been accorded one of Royal blood than was tendered these hardy pathfinders. Perth was reached early in December, when local residents vied with South Australians to do honour to them.
The speech of Tommy Pierre to the welcoming crowds in Perth on the day of reception, couched in homely language, gives a native's idea of the journey. He said:—"Well, gentlemen, I am very thankful to come back to Swan River, and Bunbury, Fremantle, and Perth. I thought we was never to get back. (Laughter.) Many a time I go into camp in the morning going through desert place, and swear and curse, and say—'Master, where the deuce are you going to take us?' I say to him—'I'll give you a pound to take us back.' (Cheers and laughter.) Master say 'Hush! what are you talking about? I will take you all right through to Adelaide,' and I always obey him. Gentlemen, I am thankful to you that I am in the Town Hall. That's all I got to say." (Cheers.) The much-travelled Tommy Windich, when called upon, could not say a word.
Forrest with his horses had accomplished what Giles and Gosse could not do, and made his journey in much shorter time and with greater ease than Warburton with his camels. By his discreet leadership he minimised the dangers of the undertaking. Numbers of honours were showered upon him from different parts of the world. He gratefully recorded his indebtedness to his companions. It would not be out of place to mention that his faithful companion in all his expeditions—Tommy Windich—died at Esperance Bay in February, 1876. Not only did he accompany John Forrest, but he was a member of the parties led by Alexander Forrest and C.C. Hunt over the Hampton Plains. John Forrest recorded when he heard of his death:—"I am sure he was the most experienced and best bushman in the colony. The tidings of his death are especially sad to me, and I feel that I have lost an old and well-tried companion and friend."
Ernest Giles had already stamped himself as worthy to be reckoned among Australia's greatest explorers. His unyielding character where obstacles in travel were concerned took him out again after the brilliant achievements of John Forrest. Mr. Thomas Elder, the patron of almost all Australian explorations of his time, supplied the funds. The party consisted of W.H. Tietkens (second), J. Young (observer), A. Ross, P. Nicholls, Salah (an Afghan), and Tommy (native), with nineteen camels and eighteen months' provisions. On this occasion Giles seems to have staked his life on getting through. He chose a much more southerly course than Warburton and Forrest. After making preliminary excursions to choose a route, he set out from Ouldabinna on 24th August, 1875. Seldom has an expedition had greater difficulties to encounter; every day's march revealed the utter inhospitality of the regions traversed. Indeed, it would seem that the further the explorers penetrated into the deserts the more certain death became, and it was the amazing endurance of the camels, with the inflexible wills of the men, which brought them out of their dangers.
Ouldabinna stood in lat. 29° 7' 4" and long. 131° 15' 4", and after crossing spinifex sand hills, passing salt lakes and marshes, and getting through stretches of mulga, mallet, and (occasional) casuarina wastes, they reached the border, and just beyond it, in long. 128° 38' 16", came to what was named the Boundary Dam. This point was gained on 3rd September, and Giles halted for a week taking advantage of its fair supply of good water. Then came the incomprehensible part of the journey. Taking a course west by south, Giles found himself launched on a limitless ocean-desert. Hardly changing his course a mile, he got further and further into an arid waste, but even then, said Giles afterwards, "not a soul thought of retreating." The desert was majestic in its melancholy and desolation. Through scrub, by salt lagoons, and over spinifex plains, they proceeded day after day without obtaining water of any kind. In this way, by 25th September, they were 323 miles from the Boundary Dam, with no signs of an improvement. The situation had become extremely critical, and the native (Tommy) was sent ahead to search for water. Tommy caught sight of an emu, and he followed it to the top of a ridge, whence he saw on the other side an open grassy tract adorned by a cluster of pine trees. Still following the emu, he descended the hill, and in the hollow found a lake of pure water. The camels had gone 325 miles without water, and the relief from anxiety and the joy of Giles and his companions can be well imagined when Tommy made known to them his discovery. A camp was fixed, and for twelve days Giles rested there; for the first time for seventeen days he washed himself. This oasis probably saved the expedition, and Giles thankfully dedicated it Queen Victoria Spring (lat. 30° 25' 30", long. 123° 21' 13").
The explorers were now north-east of Hampton Plains, and about fifty miles from the furthest point north of A. Forrest's track in 1871. A west by north course was then taken, north of Lake Roe, Broad Arrow, and Siberia. A further waterless tract of 180 miles was crossed to granite hills, where difficulty was experienced with natives. Ullarring was passed, and Mount Churchman, near settlement, was reached, over scrubby land with occasional water; the eggs of the lowan supplied food. On 6th November Giles reached Mr. Clarke's station, near the Wongan Hills, Victoria Plains. From that time the progress of the party was a series of ovations; the gathering in Perth on 18th November was about the largest seen up to that date. At a banquet extended to the explorers Mr. Giles declared:—"If on our departure we leave among you a name worthy to be ranked among your own explorers, we shall be amply repaid for all the weariness and anxiety of our journey." He described the country traversed as an undulating bed of dense scrub, except between the 125° and 127° long., near lat. 30°, where the track was crossed by an arm of the great southern plain, which, though grassy, was quite waterless.
Not yet satiated, Giles returned to South Australia overland by another route. On 13th January, 1876, he departed from Perth, pushed north to the Ashburton, thence passed through the desert to Rawlinson Range. His course was north of that of Forrest, and considerably south of Warburton's. Water was obtained in native wells, and no serious difficulties were experienced. The camels proved invaluable agents in exploration. Mr. Young, the astronomer and naturalist to the party, furnished considerable information respecting the regions traversed. He reported that there is a large tract of country extending from the Great Australian Bight to Jeffry's Bay in the north-east entirely covered by tertiaries. This tract, he believed, was probably the bed of an ocean which at one period separated Western Australia from the rest of the continent. The land seen by the party was of little interest to the pastoralist, but the knowledge obtained was of the highest possible value from a scientific point of view. Thus the sullen central deserts had been penetrated in four different places and the old problems of inland seas and the nature of the interior were solved. The men who first accomplished this task must rank among the illustrious in history.