Page:Life and Adventures of William Buckley.djvu/211

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188
LIFE OF BUCKLEY.

notwithstanding at present and prospectively the great increase of demand.

Some apprehension appears to have been entertained in Britain, that in consequence of the attractions of the gold fields, the shipments of wool from these colonies would prove seriously deficient; and some advance in price had in consequence taken place. This has not proved the case, at least to any material extent. The sheep shearing has, however, in many instances, stood over too long, and the fleece has thus been exposed to admixture with burrs and grass seeds, and in other respects, the wool has been washed and got up with less than the usual care.

At the Gold Fields the want of water continues to be increasingly felt, and is a serious hindrance to the diggers: many continue digging on the chance of finding fragments visible to the eye in the dry earth: large pieces, or "Nuggets," of this sort are frequently discovered, and a few days ago a solid mass, apparently of pure gold, weighing 27 lbs. 8 ozs., was brought into town, where it was afterwards sold for £4 an ounce, and exhibited at a public house. This specimen must be regarded as the best of the kind hitherto discovered in Australia. The increasing numbers at the Mines keep up the supply of gold, but the average results must for the present be falling off. Sickness to some extent was prevailing, arising from the use of impure drinking water, and the laborious and exposed mode of life. Scenes of disorder were on the increase, and the Local Government had experienced difficulty in engaging men to act as police.

The Escort Returns for the month of January appear as follows:—

7th January 10,998 ounces
14th 14,398
21st 12,038
28th 16,087
Previously arrived 116,996
Total 170,517 ounces

The Export Returns for the same month give 160,472 ounces from the different Ports of the Colony, namely, from Melbourne 135,817: from Geelong 24,266: and from Portland 389 ounces. The total quantity of gold exported from Victoria, from the first discovery until 31st January, according to the Customs Records, is 305,607 ounces, which, at the moderate rate of £3 per ounce, gives the sum of £916,821. It may be observed that this enor-