Page:History of West Australia.djvu/67

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49
WEST AUSTRALIA.


settlers, stock, and provisions. The number of passengers that now began to pour into the country from Great Britain was astonishing, and showed what effect the fulsome reports of a beautiful rich new country had on the minds of those who pined for colonial experience, or wished to be away from the old-time cobwebs, which had been accumulating for centuries, and had enmeshed them and their ancestors. These voluntary exiles stepped upon the sandy shore-line, and went up into the woods among the jarrah and banksia and sheoak, in twos and threes, and in bands. Those who invested in stock applied for, and finally received, their grants; the servants worked for them.

Of these nine ships the first to arrive was the Georgiana, on the 5th October. Next day came the Lotus, bearing 60 men, women, and children, a general cargo, three horses, seven head of cattle, and 48 sheep. Then followed, on the 9th, the Ephemina, with twelve more settlers, tea and sundries, four horses, five cows, 155 sheep, and fowls; on the 12th, the Orelie, with 11 men, women, and children, a general cargo, three horses, 17 cows, and 127 sheep; on the same day the Caroline with 66 passengers, a general cargo, 12 horses, nine cows, one bull, 182 sheep, and 24 pigs; also on the 12th, the Cumberland, with four pioneers, and wheat; on the 17th the Governor Phillips, with Government stores, and two working bullocks; on the 19th the Atwick, with 72 men, women, and children, a general cargo, five horses, four cows, 37 sheep, and 20 goats, and on the 22nd the Admiral Gifford, containing a cargo of spirits and corn.

Two vessels came into port in November, and two in December. The Lion anchored on the 11th November, and had on board a general cargo, 15 cows, and 400 sheep. The Dragon ranged alongside on 14th November, and sent on shore 200 sheep and four pigs, while on 15th of December the Gilmore disembarked 182 passengers, a general cargo, three horses, four cows, three calves, pigs, and fowls. The arrival of the pioneer, H.M.S. Success, in December, completed the total for the year.

The Gilmore contained the enterprising Mr. Thomas Peel, with his emigrants. By not arriving within the stipulated period—November—this father of the establishment forfeited the land on the Swan and Canning Rivers reserved for him, and it was therefore thrown open to other settlers. The amount of property he introduced to the colony is variously estimated, but what with his stores, implements for cultivation purposes, and this band of settlers—probably 182 men, women, and children—he had the right of making an extensive selection of land. He was not able to choose a selection in 1829, and after disembarking his people, and storing his goods, he examined the country preparatory to selecting.

Considerable progress was made by the administration in 1829, and at the end of the year a comfortable little camp was established on the Swan slopes. Offices had been erected for the different departments of Government, and the officers daily attended them and transacted their business. There was much hustle in the camp then, for the incoming people generally merged to the administrative centre, otherwise they secured shelter where they could on the seaboard, on the banks of the Swan, in the woods. At Perth several cottages were going up, mostly built of wood and clay, or stone and bricks, with mud for mortar. As the workmen went to and fro in the process of building, or cut down the shrubs and trees to make room for structures, the scene was instinctive of activity. In August the first clergyman—the Rev. J. B. Wittenoom—arrived, and he had to brave and bear with the others. He conducted Divine service at first in the open, but quickly sought to build a modest temple. In the erection of a cottage for himself, and a church for his people, he planned and wrought, carried wood and stones, and laboured daily. Some difficulty was found in getting artisans, and as a result the inexperienced and inefficient had to do work that they previously had little conception of. The Governor was able to erect a gubernational cottage near the present site of the Legislative Council buildings in St. George's Terrace, and he had the offices of the civil departments gathered round him. Some order thus began to reign in Perth, and the progress made was most satisfactory considering the great obstacles which had to be overstepped in June. The first white child was born in Western Australia on 25th December. This was a daughter of Lieutenant Roe, now the wife of Mr. S. P. Phillips, of Culham. A child was born by the wife of a soldier at about the same time.

But from a productive point of view little advance was evident. Those who had received their grants of land forthwith started to build homes, generally a room at a time, adding more as opportunity would allow. This took many weeks to perform, so that beyond the planting of vegetables the soil was untried. In December the passengers up the Swan were relieved by the sight here and there of modest residences near the banks among the trees, and as they sailed or rowed up sylvan solitudes they were delighted occasionally to hear the distant work of carpenters and woodmen.

At the end of the year Captain Stirling wrote his despatches, detailing the progress since establishment. In these he evidences great caution, and while incidentally mentioning the hardships endured, quickly turns to the subjects of resources and the present state of the settlement. Owing to the time of their arrival little knowledge had been gained of the peculiar conditions of the soil, and he did not desire to yet give any definite opinions, but he was still convinced of their favourable position with reference to the trade of the eastern seas. This has been shown, he observes in a later despatch, "in some measure by the arrival of the ships from various parts of the world, to the number of more than thirty, in the seven months of the first year of the establishment of the colony."

His Excellency drew up statistics dealing with the condition of the Swan River Settlement at the end of 1829, which were as follow:-

"Number of residents, 850; non-residents, 440; value of property giving claim to grants of land, £41,550; lands actually allotted, 525,000 acres; locations actually effected, 39; number of cattle, 204, of horses, 57, of sheep, 1,096, of hogs, 106; number of ships that arrived between June and 8th December, 25."

The area of land granted as shown by these figures does not agree with the records, and suggests that Captain Stirling includes the grants allowed to himself, Mr. Peel, and the civil and military officers. The figures throughout are large, and, if all the settlers had been capable of pioneer work, exhibit a splendid basis for future productive prosperity.

The arrivals were so numerous that Captain Stirling in the latter months found it necessary to explore the country to a greater extent than had hitherto been done, and he sent out parties in different directions, until by the end of the year he recorded that he obtained a knowledge "relative to the coast 70 miles to the northward of Rottnest, and 90 miles to the southward." Nothing remarkable was observed north of the Swan, but excellent country was discovered to the south.

On the 17th November, Lieut. Preston, R.N., of the Sulphur,