The Boy Travellers in Australasia/Chapter 21
THE RACE FOR THE MELBOURNE CUP.—POPULARITY OF HORSE-RACING IN AUSTRALIA.—CRICKET AND OTHER SPORTS.—SUMMER RETREATS AMONG THE MOUNTAINS OVERLOOKING MELBOURNE.—"A SOUTHERLY BURSTER."—ITS PECULIARITIES.—RAPID FALL OF THE THERMOMETER.—FLOODING THE STREETS OF MELBOURNE.—CHILDREN DROWNED IN THE GUTTERS.—BALLARAT AND THE GOLD-MINES.—HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD IN AUSTRALIA.—THE RUSH TO BALLARAT AND BENDIGO.—SANDHURST.—ITS PRESENT APPEARANCE.—REMARKABLE YIELD OF THE BALLARAT MINES.—"THE WELCOME NUGGET."—WESTERN DISTRICT OF VICTORIA.—LAKE SCENERY.—AUSTRALIA'S POTATO FIELD.—GIPPSLAND.—FROM MELBOURNE TO TASMANIA.—LAUNCESTON.—A CHAPTER OF TASMANIAN HISTORY.—MEMORIES OF CONVICT DAYS.—CORRA LINN AND OTHER SHOW PLACES.
WE'RE sorry you are not to be here for the Cup Race," was remarked to our friends by half the acquaintances they made in Melbourne. "It's the greatest day in the southern hemisphere," said one of them, "and is to Australia what the Derby Day is to England. Banks, stores, courts, legislative councils, and all other places of business are closed on that occasion, and the whole population takes a holiday."
The race for the Melbourne Cup is the sporting sensation of Australia, and it is said that nearly two hundred thousand people assemble to witness it. The city and suburbs furnish a large part of the attendance, and the rest is made up from the country regions, from the other colonies of the continent, and not a few visitors from New Zealand and Tasmania. For weeks—and, one may say, for months—preceding the event it is the principal topic of conversation, and the stranger is often surprised at the prevalence of "horse talk" in the best social circles. For a week before the memorable day the city is crowded with strangers, and the oft-repeated question, "Which horse will win the cup?" is heard everywhere and from every lip.The first Tuesday of November is Cup Day, and the race may be considered one of the harbingers of spring. Every available conveyance is in requisition, vehicles of all kinds rent for high prices, the railways run frequent trains, and many thousands of spectators go and
THE RACE FOR THE MELBOURNE CUP.
Horses from all the colonies may compete for the cup. It is a curious circumstance that of all the competitors for the Melbourne Cup in 1887 not one was bred in the colony of Victoria.
HEAD OF A WINNER.
A CRICKET MATCH.
The "larrikin" of Australia, mentioned in the preceding paragraph, is the equivalent for the "street arab" of New York and the "young hoodlum" of San Francisco—a youth who is subject to no parental restraint, and all too often is without any place he can call home. Under these circumstances he is very apt to drift into vicious ways, and gives the police a good deal of trouble. When Frank first heard the word "larrikin," and heard its meaning, he naturally asked for its origin.
"Nobody knows positively," was the reply. "The story goes that years ago a policeman arrested a boy whom he had caught in some violation of the law. When called to testify against the young culprit the policeman, who was a native of Dublin, gravely said,
"'I caught him, yer honor, a larrikin (larking) around and making a dale of noise.'
"From that time to this, so the story goes, the turbulent youth of Australian cities and towns have been known as 'larrikins.' Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and all other large places in the colonies are plentifully supplied with them."
"Melbourne was determined, as I've said before," wrote Frank, "not to be outdone by Sydney in hospitality, and it certainly wasn't. We have had invitations that would require weeks and months to accept them. Everybody has made us welcome, not only to their houses here but at the sea-side and up-country. Doctor Bronson received cards for all the clubs, and in a good many ways we have had 'the freedom of the city.' There are several fine clubs here—among them the Athenæum, the Australian, the Melbourne, and the Yorick, the last being semi-professional in its character, like the Lotos of New York. In fact, it has an exchange with the Lotos, members of either club having the privileges of the other without charge for a period of three months.
"Many of the private houses have ball-rooms attached, and dancing-parties are very common in fashionable life. A favorite social amusement is lawn-tennis, and I don't think there is any place in the world where it has greater popularity. It is played by old and young of both sexes, and many of the young ladies in society devote three or four hours daily to the sport. We were invited one day to accompany a gentleman on a round of afternoon calls. The calls amounted to visiting six or eight tennis-courts in succession, and in each court we found a goodly-sized party, some of the ladies and gentlemen playing as though their lives depended on winning, and the rest drinking tea, chatting, and looking on.
"When the heat of summer comes on those who have country-houses, either by the sea or on the mountains, retire there, just as New Yorkers run away to Long Branch, Newport, or the White Mountains. Some of the owners of country-houses keep them open throughout the year, and are never contented unless they have a party of guests to accept their hospitality. We were invited to several of these houses, but time prevented our accepting all the invitations. We ran up for a few days to a rural retreat on the southern slope of one of the mountains that looks upon Melbourne from a distance of forty or fifty miles. The place and all its appointments were delightful.
"The house stands in a broad clearing in the gum forest, and in a position commanding an extensive view. To the rear and on each side the wood-covered slopes rise above it, but in front there is a view along the gently descending plains to Melbourne and the ocean beyond. Though the city is nearly fifty miles away we can clearly make out its position on a fine day, so great is the purity of the atmosphere. When the air is a trifle murky we see in place of Melbourne a cloud of smoke, which the winds bear away, sometimes to the north and sometimes to the south or east. Port Phillip Bay shines between the city and the ocean, and with a glass we can trace the course of the steamers as they enter or leave the great haven or creep along the coast.
SUMMER RETREAT IN THE MOUNTAINS.
"Immediately in front of the house the lawn sweeps down to a pretty pond or tiny lake, and around it is a garden in which all the flowers of two hemispheres seem to have made their home. We have been reminded over and over again, and on nearly every day of our stay in Australia, of the welcome which the climate gives to the flowers of other lands, and nowhere is the reminder more forcible than in the gardens of these country-houses near Melbourne. Every description of ornamental tree and flowering shrub is to be found there, and exotics vie with the native flowers of Australia in covering the ground with all the colors known to the artist. Not only is the ground carpeted with them, but the trunks of the trees, the posts that support the houses, and even the fronts and roofs of the buildings themselves, are so covered with creeping and flowering plants that scarcely any of the original wood or other material is visible.
"Evidently Melbourne knew that we had been treated to a brickfielder in Sydney, and was therefore determined to give us a taste of its climatic peculiarities before our departure. To offset the hot wind of Sydney we had a 'southerly burster' in Melbourne, and also two or three showers of rain that came down with such vigor as to fill the gutters of the lower streets to a depth of two or three feet. Most of the crossings are bridged, so that one can walk over the temporary rivers in safety, but in former times accidents were not infrequent. 'Another Child Drowned in the Gutters Yesterday' was by no means an unusual heading in the Melbourne papers, and sometimes full-grown men fell victims to the streams that flowed like mill-races while they lasted.
"A gentleman says that quite recently he saw a man try to jump across a gutter, but he made a miscalculation and fell into it. Instantly the stream took him off his feet and carried him partly under a low bridge, where he would have been drowned had not the spectators pulled him out by the heels. Melbourne streets are very muddy in wet weather and very dusty in dry times. The mud in winter is said to be something almost surpassing belief, unless one has actually seen and tested it. Most of the streets are macadamized with a basaltic rock which breaks up into a very irritating and disagreeable dust that is said to be trying to the eyes of a good many people.
"But about the burster, which I had forgotten for the moment. The weather was fine and warm, with a north-east breeze and not a cloud in the sky. In the morning Doctor Bronson remarked that the barometer was falling, and during the forenoon it continued to go down with considerable rapidity.
"We were going on an excursion, but the gentleman who had invited us came around to suggest a postponement, as we were about to have a burster. 'We always expect it,' said he, 'when the barometer falls rapidly in the forenoon, as it is doing now.'
"So we stayed in and watched for the storm. There was an appearance as if a thin sheet of cloud was being rolled up before the advancing wind; in fact it was not unlike the beginning of the brickfielder in Sydney. Then came a high wind which brought clouds of dust, and then the breeze chopped suddenly to the south and blew with great violence. It was thirty miles an hour at the start, but before it got through with its performance it was sixty or seventy miles. It has been known to go to ninety or a hundred miles, and on one occasion it reached one hundred and fifty miles an hour, and did a great deal of damage.
CAUGHT IN A "BURSTER" ON THE AUSTRALIAN COAST.
"The thermometer fell more rapidly than the barometer had done. In the morning about nine o'clock the mercury was at 89° Fahrenheit, and it remained about that figure until the wind went around to the south a little past noon. In less than an hour it had fallen twenty degrees, and in another hour twenty more. These sudden changes are the trying features of the Australian climate, but the people say nobody suffers from them except in discomfort.
"They tell us that the mercury has been known to drop thirty degrees in half an hour, and the readings of the thermometer at noon and midnight sometimes show a variation of ninety-nine degrees. William Howitt mentions experiencing a temperature of 139° in the shade, and it is no uncommon thing for the mercury to mount to 130°. There is an official record of 179° in the sun and 111° in the shade in South Melbourne, and at the inland town of Deniliquin of 121° in the shade.
"The burster ended towards evening with a heavy fall of rain that filled all the gutters to their fullest capacity, and but for the bridges at the crossings would have made them navigable for small boats. Thunder and lightning accompanied the rain, and while it lasted the shower was
SEEKING SHELTER. as tropical as one could have wished. Nowhere else in the world have we seen heavier or more drenching rain than in Australia.
"If you want to know how fast rain can fall here, look at these figures:
"On February 25, 1873, nearly nine inches of rain fell in as many hours. At Newcastle, March 18, 1871, they had the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in Australia; ten and a half inches fell in two and a half hours, accompanied by a terrific squall of thunder and lightning. During the whole storm, which lasted twenty-two hours, more than twenty inches of rain fell."
Our friends went to Ballarat, one hundred miles from Melbourne, and once an important gold-mining centre. It is still heavily interested in gold-mining, but the alluvial diggings in its neighborhood were exhausted long ago, and the operations at present are confined to the reefs or ledges of rock. The mines are in the suburbs, and as our friends entered the city and passed along the wide avenue called Sturt Street, with shade-trees along its centre, they could hardly believe they were in a mining town. There is hardly a trace of the usual features of a mining region; the public buildings are substantial, there are numerous churches, the streets are wide, well shaded with trees, and the town boasts of a botanical garden on the shores of a lake where there are numerous pleasure-boats! Who would dream of finding these things in a town devoted to taking gold from the earth?
This was the scene of the great rush in 1851, after the discovery of gold became known. Some of the earlier diggers obtained from twenty to fifty pounds of gold daily; the precious metal lay almost on the surface, and in several instances large nuggets were turned up by the wheels of bullock-carts, or were found shining in the sun after a heavy shower.
"They told us," said Frank in giving the account of his visit to the gold-mines, "that a man one day sat down to rest at the foot of a tree in the scrub. Wishing to sharpen his knife, he proceeded to rub it upon a large stone that lay half imbedded between the roots. As he rubbed away on the supposed stone, what was his surprise to see it turn to gold! With his knife he dug around it, gashed it in several places, and found he had unearthed a nugget larger than he could carry. Here was a fortune, and all gained by accident!
"What to do he did not know. He could not carry the nugget, and he dared not go away to obtain aid, lest it might be discovered in his absence, and also for fear he might not find his way back to it. If he dug a hole and concealed it, some one might observe him, and would know at once what he was about; and he could not wait where he was, as he might be there for days without being seen, and he had no provisions with him. Besides, his first visitors might be bush-rangers, who would appropriate his treasure to their own use, and quite likely knock him in the head to get rid of a disagreeable witness against them.
"He did the best thing he could under the circumstances. He covered his treasure with earth and leaves, then tied his shirt to a neighboring tree to mark the spot, and, half naked, went as quickly as possible to the Gold Commissioner of the district and obtained an escort to accompany him to the place and secure the prize. Luckily no one had been there in his absence, and the great nugget was borne safely to the commissioner's tent.
MAP OF THE GOLD-FIELDS OF VICTORIA TWENTY YEARS AGO.
"According to Australian history, gold was discovered at Lewis Pond Creek, in New South Wales, in February, 1851, by Edward Hargreaves; and at Clunes, sixteen miles from Ballarat, Victoria, in July of the same year, by a miner named Esmond. Both Hargreaves and Esmond were rewarded by the Government for their discoveries; they had been gold-miners in California, and were led to search where they did through the similarity of the ground. There is a report that gold was really found by a shepherd near Clunes at least two years before the discovery by Esmond; and there is another report that gold was found in 1814 by convicts who were building a road over the Blue Mountains, but the Government kept the discovery secret.
"No gold-mining region in the world ever gave up so much of the precious metal in the same time as did Ballarat in the early days.
EDWARD HARGREAVES, THE GOLD DISCOVERER.Claims eight feet square and the same in depth yielded from fifty thousand to sixty thousand dollars each; at the Prince Regent mine men made eighty thousand dollars each in a few months' time; at one claim a tubful of earth washed out nearly ten thousand dollars; one nugget, the 'Welcome,' was sold for fifty-two thousand five hundred dollars; and a claim that had been abandoned on the supposition that it was worked out, gave to the fortunate two men who then took possession no less than forty thousand dollars in less than two weeks. I could fill a volume with stories such as these and then shouldn't be at the end. The total yield of the Australian gold-mines up to the present time is said to be very nearly one billion seven hundred million dollars.
"Just before gold was discovered in Victoria the colony had seventy-seven thousand inhabitants; in a single year eighty thousand were added to the population, and three years after the gold discovery there were two hundred and thirty-six thousand inhabitants there. The number has increased ever since with more or less steadiness, and now exceeds a million. In 1854 there were fifty-one females to every one hundred males; now the proportions are eighty-eight to one hundred."
THE RUSH TO BALLARAT.
"We went from Ballarat to Sandhurst, another mining city," said Fred in his journal. "It was formerly known as Bendigo, and in old times was the scene of a rush much like that to Ballarat. It has had about the same history as Ballarat, having been wonderfully rich in alluvial diggings, then almost deserted, and finally doing a fine business in quartz mining. In one respect, to-day, it differs from Ballarat; at the latter place the mines are in the suburbs, while here they are right in the city. There is a mine in nearly every backyard; gold is sometimes—so they say—picked up in the street, and is even in the bricks of the houses. The first brick house built in Sandhurst was pulled down and crushed, and the crushing yielded three ounces of gold to the ton; at any rate, that's what they tell us, and they're very earnest about it too.
"A strange feature of the lakes of this region is that they are alternately salt and fresh. Almost at our feet, as we sat on the summit of the hill, were five lakes, two fresh and three salt, and they were separated by very narrow strips of land. The salt is said to come from the drainage of the rocks, the water being evaporated faster than it flows in. In summer the lakes fall below their winter level, and leave great quantities of salt on the banks, where it is gathered by the people.
"We all agree that we have never seen prettier lake scenery anywhere in the world than in this famous western district of Victoria. The lakes are at various levels, the larger ones studded with islands, and the shores of the salt lakes glistening with snowy crystals. In the landscape are plains, undulating areas, and mountains. The plains are dotted with trees, there are flocks of sheep and herds of cattle scattered over them, and here and there we can make out the houses of the prosperous farmers, and trace the fences that enclose fields of grain. Most of the smaller lakes are in the craters of extinct volcanoes, and there is abundant evidence that this region was once the scene of great convulsions of nature.
"Australia Felix, and it certainly deserved the title."and Belfast are the ports of this district, and they supply the markets of Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide, as well as the nearer one of Melbourne, with potatoes. The people claim that their potatoes are without competitors, quality and quantity being of the highest class. The maximum yields are from twenty to thirty tons an acre; land sells for four hundred dollars an acre for growing potatoes, and one happy land-owner lets out two square miles of ground for twenty-five dollars an acre annually! This is the part of the country that was originally named
"Where will we go next?" queried one of the youths, as the party was returning from Colac to Melbourne.
"Where do you wish to go?" said the Doctor, answering one question by asking another.
"According to what they tell us," responded the original questioner, "there is still a great deal to be seen—at least from a resident's point of view.
"We are urged to visit cattle and sheep stations in the interior, but there can hardly be anything especially new about them after what we have seen in New South Wales and Queensland; so I vote against any more pastoral visits."
The other members of the party assented to his opinion, and it was decided that time did not permit them to stay longer among sheep and cattle.
For a similar reason it was concluded to decline an invitation to spend a few days in Gippsland, which was named after one of the former governors and is famous for its mountain scenery, its lakes, rivers, and other natural features. Some portions of it are too rough for agriculture, but a considerable part is peculiarly rich and fertile, and produces abundantly when brought under cultivation. A large proportion of the cattle sold in the Melbourne market comes from Gippsland; and the region has great resources in minerals, which are as yet but slightly developed.
Tourists with a love for fishing and shooting generally find time to visit Gippsland, as these sports can be had there to the fullest extent. The forests of this region are very dense, and consequently the clearing of the land is attended with considerable expense. Frank thought, with a sigh, of the trout in the streams of this fertile district; he had hoped to be the captor of some of them, but his hopes were dashed when it
A GIPPSLAND SETTLER.was decided to give the go-by to Gippsland.
"And now," said the Doctor, "I'll tell you my plan." The youths listened attentively as he continued:
"To-day is Tuesday. There's a steamer twice a week (Monday and Thursday) for Launceston, in Tasmania. We are due at Melbourne at 3.41 this afternoon; we will devote this evening and tomorrow to saying good-by to our friends, and leave by the steamer on Thursday for Launceston. How will that do?"
The youths promptly assented, as they always did when the Doctor told them his plans, and it was at once agreed that the scheme would be carried out. Arrangements were made accordingly, the farewell calls were made in the time prescribed by social rules, and the steamer started at noon on the appointed day. She carried the party across Bass's Strait during the night, and on the next morning they were at the entrance of the Tamar River, on their way to Launceston, forty miles up the stream, and two hundred and sixty-seven from Melbourne.
Frank wondered why the name of the island was changed from Van Dieman's Land to Tasmania. He received the following explanation:
"It was discovered by the Dutch navigator Abel Jans Tasman, in 1642, and by him was named Van Dieman's Land, in honor of the then governor of the Dutch East Indies. Tasman was in love with the Governor's daughter, Maria, and gave her name to one of the smaller islands. Van Dieman's Land was first permanently occupied in 1803, when the British Government established a convict-station there, and soon followed it by other convict-stations. It was a penal colony from its settlement until 1853, when transportation was discontinued; during this half century many thousands of convicts were sent there, and the name of Van Dieman's Land was inseparably connected with the horrors of the system of English deportation and the crimes which led to it.
"Consequently many of the colonists sought a change of name for their country; and on the first of January, 1856, it was made, in reply to an address of the Legislative Council, in which it was represented that the 'letters patent of the bishop were for the diocese of Tasmania, that the colonists used the title generally, and it was preferred to Van Dieman's Land by the colonists and by this council.' It is to be hoped that the history of transportation will eventually be as much a thing of the past as is the former name of this beautiful island."
Our friends found the scenery of the Tamar interesting; and as the steamer slowly stemmed the current, they were treated to a constantly changing and never wearying panorama. The island is the smallest of the Australian colonies; it is about the size of Scotland, and resembles it in being full of fine scenery. It is a land of mountains, lakes, and rivers; its climate is a little warmer than that of England, and a little more dry, and everything that grows in the British Islands will grow in Tasmania. The banks of the Tamar reminded our friends of those of the Thames, save that they were not as well peopled, and the mountain ranges which formed the background on either side were lofty and picturesque.
As the vessel neared her destination, Frank and Fred were informed that they were at the head of the Tamar, or would be when they reached Launceston. "The North Esk and the South Esk," said their informant, "come together at Launceston, and their union forms the Tamar. The North Esk comes tumbling down from a rocky region, while the South Esk flows through a rich agricultural district closely resembling some of the best farming country of England."
And so they found it when on the following day they made an excursion into the region under consideration. The resemblance to England was heightened by the hedges that separated the fields from one another, and were a most agreeable change from the rail and wire fences to which they had become accustomed during their travels in Australia. The soil appeared to be of unusual fertility, and they readily accepted the statement of one of the residents that Tasmania was the garden of the world. "Everything that grows in England grows here," said he, "and grows better. The fruits are larger and of finer flavor; the yield of grain is more to the acre; and as to quality, there is nothing that can surpass that of our products. Our great drawbacks are distance from markets, the high price of labor, and the lack of suitable means for bringing the products of the farms to the seaports. We could supply the whole of Victoria with jam made from our fruits; but as she grows fruit herself, she has a protective tariff that practically excludes us."
THE PEACH HARVEST.
They found Launceston a pretty little city of about seventeen thousand inhabitants, and picturesquely situated. It has the usual public buildings and parks, and in its vicinity are several show-places, which they visited in the afternoon. In a carriage they went to Corra Linn, six miles from Launceston, where the North Esk pours through a gateway of basaltic rock, and dashes over a bed of bowlders that break the water into a mass of foam; then it changes suddenly into a quiet stream which reflects the rocks and foliage bending over it; then changes again into tumbling rapids, and afterwards becomes the calm stream that unites with the South Esk to form the Tamar.
"After Corra Linn," said Frank, "we saw the Cataract Gorge and the Punch Bowl, which are favorite places of resort of the citizens, and are certainly very pretty and interesting. Then we walked in the Town Park, and saw the Garden Crescent, which is a popular recreation ground and much frequented. In the evening we had an interesting conversation with a gentleman whom we met at the hotel, or rather on the steamer which brought us from Melbourne. We asked to be permitted to take notes of what he said; he readily consented, and here it is as Fred and I jotted it down:
COTTAGE IN THE SUBURBS OF LAUNCESTON.
"'We have about one hundred and thirty thousand inhabitants in the island, which is divided into eighteen counties, and these are again subdivided into parishes, for administrative purposes. We have self-government on the same general plan as the other Australian colonies, and have been self-governing since 1856. Our climate is remarkable for its mildness, being removed from the extremes of heat and cold; the summers are never unpleasantly hot, and woollen clothing may be worn throughout the year; while the winters are not severe enough, even in the table-lands of the interior, to stop work in the fields. Snow covers the tops of the mountains in winter, but rarely falls on the lowlands; and when it does come it doesn't stay long.
"'We love England, and have named most of our counties after those of the old country; and in religion we are English. Out of our whole population more than half are adherents of the English Church; then come the Catholics with 30,000, Methodists 10,000, Church of Scotland 9000, and Independents 5000. Other religions are not numerous in their following, but we have a good deal of variety, as we have Mohammedans and Pagans in addition to Israelites and several smaller sects of Christians. We are a law-abiding people generally; and when you remember that the country was for so long the receptacle of convicts, you will admit that our proportion of crime is very small.
AN OLD SETTLER.
"'The people of Australia sometimes call us Van Demonians in derision; but we don't mind it, though we would like to have the name of Van Dieman's Land forgotten, as it has so many unpleasant associations. But however glad we are that we ceased to be a convict colony, there is no getting over the fact that the most prosperous days of the
AT BAY IN THE BUSH.island were when transportation was in existence.'
"Doctor Bronson asked him to explain this, which he did.
"'The prosperity,' he continued, 'was due to several causes. In the first place, the Government sent its convicts here, and it maintained a large military and police force to take care of them. This meant an expenditure of money; the annual outlay of the Government in Tasmania was £350,000, and of course we lost this when transportation stopped. Then, too, the free colonists that came out here received grants of land, and also assignments of convicts to work the land, the size of the grants being proportioned to the number of convicts that a colonist would receive.
"'It was a good thing for the squatter, and he was not slow to take advantage of it. It was like negro slavery, with the addition that the slaves cost nothing to the owner. If a man died, the squatter could get another for nothing; if a man ran away, he was generally recaptured at once if he did not starve in the bush; and if he misbehaved himself in any way, the squatter sent him to the nearest magistrate to be flogged.'
"'Were the squatters not allowed to administer punishment?" queried Doctor Bronson.
"'No, they were not,' was the reply; 'but the magistrate usually applied the lash without taking the trouble to inquire into the case. It was no uncommon thing for a convict employed on a squatter's station to be sent with a note to the magistrate, in which the latter was requested to give the man two or three dozen lashes, as the case might be. He received them and was sent home; if he ran away, either before or after the flogging, notice was given at once, and the police were speedily after him. In the bush he could easily elude the police, but the necessity for food generally drove him to surrender or led to his capture. No one was allowed to give food to a runaway; and as the general safety depended on the suppression of bush-ranging, no one was inclined to do so.'
"'But didn't men sometimes make their escape and live in the bush?'
A CAMP IN THE BUSH.
"'Only in a few instances. One runaway managed to hide himself for seven years, building a hut and raising a few vegetables in a spot where he was not discovered. He kept a goat and a few sheep, and came occasionally in the night to the nearest station to steal a few articles that he needed. But at length the solitude was too much for him, and he came to the very station that he had plundered, and gave himself up. The squatter's wife was alone with her children when the man appeared, with his hair long and tangled, a few sheepskins stitched together for his clothing, and his whole appearance denoting destitution and despair.'
"'What was done with him?'
"'The squatter was a gentleman of influence; he realized that the convict could easily have murdered his wife and children, and in gratitude for his forbearance he became interested in the man's case, and obtained his pardon. The man afterwards became a prosperous farmer, and led a strictly honest life.
"'Not only were the convicts valuable as servants or laborers for the squatters and employers generally,' continued the gentleman, 'but they were also useful for the public works that are needed in a new country. There is a fine wagon-road from Launceston to Hobart, one hundred and twenty miles, which was built by gangs of convicts working under overseers and guards. There isn't a better road in Europe than this; and the same may be said of other roads that were built by convict labor in the early days of the colony. Before the railway was built, the stage-coaches used to run through from one place to the other in thirteen hours, or at the rate of nine miles an hour.
"'When you reach Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, you will find a handsome town of twenty thousand inhabitants, with good streets and substantial buildings, the Government House being one of the best belonging to a British colony anywhere. Hobart was largely built by convict labor; and so, you see, we have many things to remind us that transportation was not by any means a detriment to the country.'"