Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/188

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174
THE IRISH IN AUSTRALIA.

accompanied by several officers, set out in boats to examine the coast to the north. This boating expedition resulted in the discovery of a harbour, whose praises have since been sounded in every land, and which continues to be the pride and the joy of the Australian native-born population. Entering between two rocky headlands a vision of surpassing beauty burst upon the gaze of the astonished mariners. A noble harbour, dotted with islands, and encompassed by verdant hills, expanded before them, its waters basking in the delights of southern sunshine. As they advanced, each succeeding stroke of the oar opened up new scenes of loveliness and fresh successions of charming inlets all around them. On the shores of this delightful bay they determined to build their little town, which they christened Sydney, in honour of the nobleman already mentioned. The picturesque harbour they called Port Jackson.

For many years the place suffered all the horrors inseparable from a penal settlement under an irresponsible régime. Military rule was paramount, and the early annals of the colony literally reek with vice, debauchery and immorality of every conceivable kind. The infant settlement, relying on receiving supplies from the mother country, was once almost annihilated by famine, and an infamous system of traffic in rum, which soon became the recognised currency, was inaugurated. The wholesale saturnalia and indiscriminate intoxication that followed on this miserable state of affairs may be easily imagined. But in process of time these terrible diseases in the body politic found a remedy. As the resources of the colony became generally and better known in the Old World, a gradually increasing stream of immigration began to flow towards the settlement, and this