£161. Potatoes were principally grown in the south-western districts. The acreage under wheat had considerably increased at Bunbury and Busselton in preceding years. The Sussex, Wellington, and Nelson Agricultural and Horticultural Society was established on 6th September, 1861. On 29th September, 1867, Mr. W. Forrest, an enterprising miller and farmer, of Leschenault, suffered a heavy loss by fire. His Leschenault flour mill, in which were stored several thousand bushels of wheat, was burnt; and the loss entailed to him was estimated to amount to from £3,000 to £4,000.
Sir James Stirling considered, a few months after founding the colony, that certain soils were suitable for growing cotton. No cotton was then produced, and it remained with Governor Kennedy, in March, 1861, to encourage such an industry by offering premiums to persons producing the article. In August of the same year the York Agricultural Society declared that it would give a prize of £5 to the person securing the largest quantity of cotton from a quarter-acre block in the district. At the same time the society offered £10 to any person growing 2 cwt. of tobacco. Unfortunately the efforts thus put forth were not particularly fruitful. A sample of cotton was produced in the Victoria district in 1862, and was reported to be of a very high quality. The sample was sent to England. We next hear of the attempted formation, in London, of a cotton company, with a capital of £20,000. It was said that influential cotton dealers supported the project, and that that sympathetic friend of the colony, Mr. F. Mangles, was chairman of the board of directors. Arrangements were entered into to purchase 5000 acres at £1 per acre in Geographe Bay, and it was proposed to introduce coolie labour. Owing to a hitch in the arrangements the scheme was not carried out. In 1862 the Blue Book states that cotton valued at £2 was exported, and in 1865, 370 lbs., valued at £46. Mr. Shenton and others offered liberal inducements to producers of tobacco. Samples were grown in the eastern districts and other places.
Notwithstanding a fluctuating market in sandalwood the industry was lucrative and large. In 1862 and in 1864 there were heavy supplies in Singapore and China, for which no buyers could be got for a few months. The returns were not affected to any extent. From a total export in 1850 of £1,220, the figures had grown to £26,045 in 1868. The export in 1861 was £24,945; in 1862, £21,541; in 1863, £25,265; in 1864, £24,520; in 1865, £13,490; in 1866, £23,722; in 1867, £18,442; and in 1868, £26,045.
The timber export was irregular and without a permanent market. A few shipments were sent to England, to India, the eastern colonies, and other places. Of course, large quantities of jarrah were now being used by the convict establishment in the erection of bridges and other public works, so that the export figures do not show the amount of industry devoted to the hard woods. Mr. Mason, at the Canning, and Mr. Yelverton, at the Vasse, had the largest timber mills. The annual export was;—In 1861, £2,497; in 1862, £7,151; in 1863, £2,963; in 1864, £5,508; in 1865, £13,490;in 1866, £6,849; in 1867, £4,541; and in 1868, £638. The export in 1865 was the largest up to that period.
Gum which had been exported since the thirties, continued to afford the gatherers a fair return. This was an industry in which old and young could share, and the natives were quick and successful in the occupation when they cared. The exudations of the trees, indeed, drew considerable capital to Western Australia at one time and another. In 1862 the export of gum was 35½ tons, valued at £710; in 1864, 47½ tons, at £968; in 1865, 829 cwt., at £980; in 1866, 30 tons, at £1,012; in 1867, 170 tons, at £8,516 and in 1868 the value was £6,067.
Exhibits of timber, gum, wheat, wine, raisins, shells, &c., were sent to the Exhibition in London, in 1862, and the Melbourne Exhibition of 1866, when medals and honourable mentions were obtained. The returns of mills and factories in 1868 were —Twenty-three steam, seven water, and eleven horse mills; four steam sawmills, and twelve factories, tanneries, &c. The rates of wages for mechanics were high, but for other servants low. The average rates in 1867 were:—Carpenters 8s., masons 7s., painters 8s., blacksmiths 9s., and boatbuilders 8s. per day; domestic servants, £12 to £40, and farm and pastoral servants £12 to £40 per annum.
Whaling was followed along the south and west coasts, but with hardly the success of former years. The waters exploited for a number of years were becoming deserted, therefore the north-west began to attract whalers. In 1861 the colony had four whale fisheries, with seventeen boats engaged, along the west and south coasts. American whalers still pursued a lucrative trade, and in February, 1861, there were ten American whalers at the Vasse port at one time taking in potatoes and other vegetables. The innkeepers found them to be good customers. In that year, also, six boats were engaged in snapper fishing. The year 1865 gave the best returns during the period. The annual export of whale oil and bone was:—1861, £938; 1862, £1,558; 1863, £1,108; 1864, £37l; 1865, £3,587; 1866, £2,460; 1867, £2,047; and 1868, £833. The export of fish (dried and salt) in 1862 was £577.
The coastal traffic was greatly increased by the opening up of north-west country and the inauguration of the pearl shell industry. In January, 1867, there were seventeen small vessels plying along the coast to and from the various ports. Their earning capacity was estimated to be £9,000 a year. As for outside trade, in 1868, 125 vessels entered Western Australian ports of 56,223 aggregate tonnage, employing 4,963 men as crews; 90 vessels cleared carrying 41,040 tons freight from the colony.While excellent returns were being received from the copper mines, some very disappointing circumstances crept in to cause the entire cessation of operations in several. It was recognised that the rich mineral deposits in the Victoria district held great inducements for the enterprise of wealthy capitalists. The percentages of copper were remarkably high, and showed no diminution in depth. It would appear, indeed, from many of the bulk assays that the district contained some of the richest deposits in the world. The several proprietaries worked while they could, but naturally the deeper they went the greater became the cost of production. Thus it came about that because of the lack of capital and the cost of raising and conveying the ore to market the owners were compelled to suspend operations, even where they had payable mines. The tract of mineral-bearing country was already proved to extend from the Irwin River to the Murchison, embracing, says one report, an area between four and five thousand square miles. The copper at the Yanganooka mine, south of Geraldine, was distributed in the form of a green carbonate through a matrix of soft felspathic rock. About three miles further south was the Wanerenooka mine, surrounding which centre, within a radius of a few miles, were the Gwalla, Gillirah, White Peak, Wheel Fortune, and Narra