1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Australia
AUSTRALIA, the only continent entirely in the southern hemisphere. It lies between 10° 39′ and 39° 11½’ S., and between 113° 5′ and 153° 16′ E. Its greatest length is 2400 m. from east to west, and the greatest breadth 1971 m. from north to south. The area is, approximately, 2,946,691 sq. m., with a coast line measuring about 8850 m. This is equal to 1 m. to each 333 sq. m. of land, the smallest proportion of coast shown by any of the continents.
Physiography.—The salient features of the Australian continent are its compact outline, the absence of navigable rivers communicating with the interior, the absence of active volcanoes or snow-capped mountains, its General character. isolation from other lands, and its antiquity. Some of the most profound changes that have taken place on this globe occurred in Mesozoic times, and a great portion of Australia was already dry land when vast tracts of Europe and Asia were submerged; in this sense, therefore, Australia has been rightly referred to as one of the oldest existing land surfaces. It has been described as at once the largest island and the smallest continent on the globe. The general contours exemplify the law of geographers in regard to continents, viz. as to their having a high border around a depressed interior, and the highest mountains on the side of the greatest ocean. On the N. Australia is bounded by the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea and Torres Strait; on the E. by the Pacific Ocean; on the S. by Bass Strait and the Southern Ocean; and on the W. by the Indian Ocean. It stands up from the ocean depths in three fairly well-marked terraces. The basal plain of these terraces is the bed of the ocean, which on the Pacific side has an average depth of 15,000 ft. From this profound foundation rise Australia, New Guinea and Melanesia, in varying slopes. The first ledge rising from the ocean floor has a depth averaging 8000 ft. below sea-level. The outer edge of this ledge is roughly parallel to the coast of Western Australia, and more than 150 m. from the land. Round the Australian Bight it continues parallel to the coast, until south of Spencer Gulf (the basal ledge still averaging 8000 ft. in depth) it sweeps southwards to lat. 55°, and forms a submarine promontory 1000 m. long. The edge of the abysmal area comes close to the eastern coasts of Tasmania and New South Wales, approaching to within 60 m. of Cape Howe. The terrace closest to the land, known as the continental shelf, has an average depth of 600 ft., and connects Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania in one unbroken sweep. Compared with other continents, the Australian continental shelf is extremely narrow, and there are points on the eastern coast where the land plunges down to oceanic depths with an abruptness rarely paralleled. Off the Queensland coast the shelf broadens, its outer edge being lined by the seaward face of the Great Barrier Reef. From Torres Strait to Dampier Land the shelf spreads out, and connects Australia with New Guinea and the Malay Archipelago. An elongation of the shelf to the south joins Tasmania with the mainland. The vertical relief of the land above the ocean is a very important factor in determining the climate as well as the distribution of the fauna and flora of a continent.
Climate.—The Australian continent, extending over 28° of latitude, might be expected to show a considerable diversity of climate. In reality, however, it experiences fewer climatic variations than the other great continents, owing to its distance (28°) from the Antarctic circle and (11°) from the equator. There is, besides, a powerful determining cause in the uniform character and undivided extent of its dry interior. The plains and steppes already described lie either within or close to the tropics. They present to the fierce play of the sun almost a level surface, so that during the day that surface becomes intensely heated and at night gives off its heat by radiation. Ordinarily the alternate expansion and contraction of the atmosphere which takes place under such circumstances would draw in a supply of moisture from the ocean, but the heated interior, covering some 900,000 sq. m., is so immense, that the moist air from the ocean does not come in sufficient supply, nor are there mountain chains to intercept the clouds which from time to time are formed; so that two-fifths of Australia, comprising a region stretching from the Australian Bight to 20° S. and from 117° to 142° E., receives less than an average of 10 in. of rain throughout the year, and a considerable portion of this region has less than 5 in. No part of Victoria and very little of Queensland and New South Wales lie within this area. The rest of the continent may be considered as well watered. The north-west coast, particularly the portions north of Cambridge Gulf and the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, are favoured with an annual visitation of the monsoon from December to March, penetrating as far as 500 m. into the continent, and sweeping sometimes across western and southern Queensland to the northern interior of New South Wales. It is this tropical downpour that fills and floods the rivers flowing into Lake Eyre and those falling into the Darling on its right bank. The whole of the east coast of the continent is well watered. From Cape York almost to the tropic of Capricorn the rainfall exceeds 50 in. and ranges to over 70 in. At Brisbane the fall is 50 in., and portions of the New South Wales coast receive a like quantity, but speaking generally the fall is from 30 in. to 40 in. The southern shores of the continent receive much less rain. From Cape Howe to Melbourne the fall may be taken at from 30 in. to 40 in., Melbourne itself having an average of 25.6 in. West of Port Phillip the fall is less, averaging 20 in. to 30 in., diminishing greatly away from the coast. Along the shores of Encounter Bay and St Vincent and Spencer Gulfs, the precipitation ranges from 10 to 20 in., the yearly rainfall at Adelaide is a little less than 21 in., while the head of Spencer Gulf is within the 5 to 10 in. district. The rest of the southern coast west as far as 124° E., with the exception of the southern projection of Eyre Peninsula, which receives from 10 to 20 in., belongs to the district with from 5 to 10 in. annual rainfall. The south-western angle of the continent, bounded by a line drawn diagonally from Jurien river to Cape Riche, has an average of from 30 to 40 in. annual rainfall, diminishing to about 20 to 30 in. in the country along the diagonal line. The remainder of the south and west coast from 124° E. to York Sound in the Kimberley district for a distance of some 150 m. inland has a fall ranging from 10 to 20 in. The 10 to 20 in. rainfall band circles across the continent through the middle of the Northern Territory, embraces the entire centre and south-west of Queensland, with the exception of the extreme south-western angle of the state, and includes the whole of the interior of New South Wales to a line about 200 m. from the coast, as well as the western and northern portions of Victoria and South Australia south of the Murray.
The area of Australia subject to a rainfall of from 10 to 20 in. is 843,000 sq. m. On the seaward side of this area in the north and east is the 20 to 30 in. annual rainfall area, and still nearer the sea are the exceptionally well-watered districts. The following table shows the area of the rainfall zones in square miles:—
in sq. m.
|Under 10 inches
10 to 20 ”
20 to 30 ”
30 to 40 ”
40 to 50 ”
50 to 60 ”
60 to 70 ”
Over 70 ”
The tropic of Capricorn divides Australia into two parts. Of these the northern or intertropical portion contains 1,145,000 sq. m., comprising half of Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the north-western divisions of Western Australia. The whole of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia proper, half of Queensland, and more than half of Western Australia, comprising 1,801,700 sq. m., are without the tropics. In a region so extensive very great varieties of climate are naturally to be expected, but it may be stated as a general law that the climate of Australia is milder than that of corresponding lands in the northern hemisphere. During July, which is the coldest month in southern latitudes, one-half of Australia has a mean temperature ranging from 45° to 61°, and the other half from 62° to 80°. The following are the areas subject to the various average temperatures during the month referred to:—
in sq. m.
The temperature in December ranges from 60° to above 95° Fahr., half of Australia having a mean temperature below 84°. Dividing the land into zones of average summer temperature, the following are the areas which would fall to each:—
in sq. m.
95° and over
Judging from the figures just given, it must be conceded that a considerable area of the continent is not adapted for colonization by European races. The region with a mean summer temperature in excess of 95° Fahr. is the interior of the Northern Territory north of the 20th parallel; and the whole of the country, excepting the seaboard, lying between the meridians of 120° and 140°, and north of the 25th parallel, has a mean temperature in excess of 90° Fahr.
The area of Australia is so large that the characteristics of its climate will not be understood without reference to the individual states. About one-half of the colony of Queensland lies in the tropics, the remaining area lying between the Queensland. tropic and 29° S. The temperature, however, has a daily range less than that of other countries under the same isothermal lines. This circumstance is due to the sea-breezes, which blow with great regularity, and temper what would otherwise be an excessive heat. The hot winds which prevail during the summer in some of the other colonies are unknown in Queensland. Of course, in a territory of such large extent there are many varieties of climate, and the heat is greater along the coast than on the elevated lands of the interior. In the northern parts of the colony the high temperature is very trying to persons of European descent. The mean temperature at Brisbane, during December, January and February, is about 76°, while during the months of June, July and August it averages about 60°. Brisbane, however, is situated near the extreme southern end of the colony, and its average temperature is considerably less than that of many of the towns farther north. Thus the winter in Rockhampton averages nearly 65°, while the summer heat rises almost to 85°; and at Townsville and Normanton the average temperature is still higher. The average rainfall along the coast is high, especially in the north, where it ranges from 60 to 70 in. per annum, and along a strip of country south from Cape Melville to Rockingham Bay the average rainfall exceeds 70 in. At Brisbane the rainfall is about 50 in., taking an average of forty years. A large area of the interior is watered to the extent of 20 to 30 in. per annum, but in the west and south, more remote than from 250 to 300 m., there is a rainfall of less than 20 in.
Climatically, New South Wales is divided into three marked divisions. The coastal region has an average summer temperature ranging from 78° in the north to 67° in the south, with a winter temperature of from 59° to 52°. Taking the New
Wales. district generally, the difference between the mean summer and mean winter temperatures may be set down as averaging not more than 20°, a range smaller than is found in most other parts of the world. Sydney, situated in latitude 33° 51′ S., has a mean temperature of 62.9° Fahr., which corresponds with that of Barcelona in Spain and of Toulon in France, the former of these being in latitude 41° 22′ N. and the latter in 43° 7′ N. At Sydney the mean summer temperature is 70.8° Fahr., and that of winter 53.9°. The range is thus 16.9° Fahr. At Naples, where the mean temperature for the year is about the same as at Sydney, the summer temperature reaches a mean of 74.4°, and the mean of winter is 47.6°, with a range 26.8°. The mean temperature of Sydney for a long series of years was spring 62°, summer 71°, autumn 64°, winter 54°.
Passing from the coast to the tableland, a distinct climatic region is entered. Cooma, with a mean summer temperature of 65.4°, and a mean winter temperature of 41.4°, may be taken as illustrative of the climate of the southern tableland, and Armidale of the northern. The yearly average temperature of the latter is scarcely 65.5°, while the summer only reaches 67.7°, and the winter falls to 44.4°.
The climatic conditions of the western districts of the state are entirely different from those of the other two regions. The summer is hot, but on the whole the climate is very healthy. The town of Bourke, lying on the upper Darling, may be taken as an example of many of the interior districts, and illustrates peculiarly well the defects as well as the excellencies of the climate of the whole region. Bourke has exactly the same latitude as Cairo, yet its mean summer temperature is 1.3° less, and its mean annual temperature 4° less than that of the Egyptian city. New Orleans, also on the same parallel, is 4° hotter in summer. As regards winter temperature Bourke leaves little to be desired. The mean winter reading of the thermometer is 54.7, and accompanied as this is by clear skies and an absence of snow, the season is both pleasant and invigorating. The rainfall of New South Wales ranges from an annual average of 64 in. at various points on the northern coast, and at Kiandra in the Monaro district, to 9 in. at Milparinka in the trans-Darling district. The coastal districts average about 42 in. per annum, the tablelands 32 in., and the western interior has an average as low as 20 in. At Sydney, the average rainfall, since observations were commenced, has been 50 in.
The climate of Victoria does not differ greatly from that of New South Wales. The heat, however, is generally less intense in summer, and the cold greater in winter. Melbourne, which stands in latitude 37° 50′ S., has a mean temperature of 57.3°, Victoria. and therefore corresponds with Washington in the United States, Madrid, Lisbon and Messina. The difference between summer and winter is, however, less at Melbourne than at any of the places mentioned, the result of a long series of observations being spring 57°, summer 65.3°, autumn 58.7°, and winter 49.2°. The highest recorded temperature in the shade at Melbourne is 110.7°, and the lowest 27°, but it is rare for the summer heat to exceed 85°, or for the winter temperature in the daytime to fall below 40°. Ballarat, the second city of Victoria, lies above 100 m. west from Melbourne at a height of 1400 ft. above sea-level. It has a minimum temperature of 29°, and a maximum of 104.5°, the average yearly mean being 54.1°. The rainfall of Melbourne averages 25.58 in., the mean number of rainy days being 131.
South Australia proper extends over 26 degrees of latitude, and naturally presents considerable variations of climate. The coldest months are June, July and August, during which the temperature is very agreeable, averaging 53.6°, 51.7°, South Australia. and 54° in those months respectively. On the plains slight frosts occur occasionally, and ice is sometimes seen on the highlands. In summer the sun has great power, and the temperature reaches 100° in the shade, with hot winds blowing from the interior. The weather on the whole is remarkably dry. At Adelaide there are on an average 120 rainy days per annum, with a mean rainfall of 20.88 in. The country is naturally very healthful, as evidence of which may be mentioned that no great epidemic has ever visited the state.
Western Australia has practically only two seasons, the winter or wet season, which commences in April and ends in October, and the summer or dry season, which comprises the remainder of the Year. During the wet season frequent and heavy Western
Australia. rains fall, and thunderstorms, with sharp showers, occur in the summer, especially on the north-west coast, which is sometimes visited by hurricanes of great violence. In the southern and early-settled parts of the state the mean temperature is about 64°, but in the more northern portions the heat is excessive, though the dryness of the atmosphere makes it preferable to moist tropical climates. The average rainfall at Perth is 33 in. per annum.
The climate of the Northern Territory is extremely not, except on the elevated tablelands; altogether, the temperature of this part of the continent is very similar to that of northern Queensland, and the climate is not favourable to Europeans. The rainfall in the extreme north, especially in January and February, is very heavy, and the annual average along the coast is about 63 in. The whole of the peninsula north of 15° S. has a rainfall considerably exceeding 40 in. This region is backed by a belt of about 100 m. wide, in which the rainfall is from 30 to 40 in., from which inwards the rainfall gradually declines until between Central Mount Stuart and Macdonnell ranges it falls to between 5 and 10 in.
Fauna and Flora.—The origin of the fauna and flora of Australia has attracted considerable attention. Much accumulated evidence, biological and geological, has pointed to a southern extension of India, an eastern extension of South Africa, and a western extension of Australia into the Indian Ocean. The comparative richness of proteaceous plants in Western Australia and South Africa first suggested a common source for these primitive types. Dr H. O. Forbes drew attention to a certain community amongst birds and other vertebrates, invertebrates, and amongst plants, on all the lands stretching towards the south pole. A theory was therefore propounded that these known types were all derived from a continent which has been named Antarctica. The supposed continent extended across the south pole, practically joining Australia and South America. Just as we have evidence of a former mild climate in the arctic regions, so a similar mild climate has been postulated for Antarctica. Modern naturalists consider that many of the problems of Australia’s remarkable fauna and flora can be best explained by the following hypothesis:—The region now covered by the antarctic ice-cap was in early Tertiary times favoured by a mild climate; here lay an antarctic continent or archipelago. From an area corresponding to what is now South America there entered a fauna and flora, which, after undergoing modification, passed by way of Tasmania to Australia. These immigrants then developed, with some exceptions, into the present Australian flora and fauna. This theory has advanced from the position of a disparaged heresy to acceptance by leading thinkers. The discovery as fossil, in South America, of primitive or ancestral forms of marsupials has given it much support. One of these, Prothylacinus, is regarded as the forerunner of the marsupial wolf of Tasmania. An interesting link between divergent marsupial families, still living in Ecuador, the Coenolestes, is another discovery of recent years. On the Australian side the fact that Tasmania is richest in marsupial types indicates the gate by which they entered. It is not to be supposed that this antarctic element, to which Professor Tate has applied the name Euronotian, entered a desert barren of all life. Previous to its arrival Australia doubtless possessed considerable vegetation and a scanty fauna, chiefly invertebrate. At a comparatively recent date Australia received its third and newest constituent. The islands of Torres Strait have been shown to be the denuded remnant of a former extension of Cape York peninsula in North Queensland. Previous to the existence of the strait, and across its site, there poured into Australia a wealth of Papuan forms. Along the Pacific slope of the Queensland Cordillera these found in soil and climate a congenial home. Among the plants the wild banana, pepper, orange and mangosteen, rhododendron, epiphytic orchids and the palm; among mammals the bats and rats; among birds the cassowary and rifle birds; and among reptiles the crocodile and tree snakes, characterize this element. The numerous facts, geological, geographical and biological, which when linked together lend great support to this theory, have been well worked out in Australia by Mr Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney.
The zoology of Australia and Tasmania presents a very conspicuous point of difference from that of other regions of the globe, in the prevalence of non-placental mammalia. The vast majority of the mammalia are provided with an organ in Fauna. the uterus, by which, before the birth of their young, a vascular connexion is maintained between the embryo and the parent animal. There are two orders, the Marsupialia and the Monotremata, which do not possess this organ; both these are found in Australia, to which region indeed they are not absolutely confined.
The geographical limits of the marsupials are very interesting. The opossums of America are marsupials, though not showing anomalies as great as kangaroos and bandicoots (in their feet), and Myrmecobius (in the number of teeth). Except the opossums, no single living marsupial is known outside the Australian zoological region. The forms of life characteristic of India and the Malay peninsula come down to the island of Bali. Bali is separated from Lombok by a strait not more than 15 m. wide. Yet this narrow belt of water is the boundary line between the Australasian and the Indian regions. The zoological boundary passing through the Bali Strait is called “Wallace’s line,” after the eminent naturalist who was its discoverer. He showed that not only as regards beasts, but also as regards birds, these regions are thus sharply limited. Australia, he pointed out, has no woodpeckers and no pheasants, which are widely-spread Indian birds. Instead of these it has mound-making turkeys, honey-suckers, cockatoos and brush-tongued lories, all of which are found nowhere else in the world.
The marsupials constitute two-thirds of all the Australian species of mammals. It is the well-known peculiarity of this order that the female has a pouch or fold of skin upon her abdomen, in which she can place the young for suckling within reach of her teats. The opossum of America is the only species out of Australasia which is thus provided. Australia is inhabited by at least 110 different species of marsupials, which is about two-thirds of the known species; these have been arranged in five tribes, according to the food they eat, viz., the grass-eaters (kangaroos), the root-eaters (wombats), the insect-eaters (bandicoots), the flesh-eaters (native cats and rats), and the fruit-eaters (phalangers).
The kangaroo (Macropus) lives in droves in the open grassy plains. Several smaller forms of the same general appearance are known as wallabies, and are common everywhere. The kangaroo and most of its congeners show an extraordinary disproportion of the hind limbs to the fore part of the body. The rock wallabies again have short tarsi of the hind legs, with a long pliable tail for climbing, like that of the tree kangaroo of New Guinea, or that of the jerboa. Of the larger kangaroos, which attain a weight of 200 ℔ and more, eight species are named, only one of which is found in Western Australia. Fossil bones of extinct kangaroo species are met with; these kangaroos must have been of enormous size, twice or thrice that of any species now living.
There are some twenty smaller species in Australia and Tasmania, besides the rock wallabies and the hare kangaroos; these last are wonderfully swift, making clear jumps 8 or 10 ft. high. Other terrestrial marsupials are the wombat (Phascolomys), a large, clumsy, burrowing animal, not unlike a pig, which attains a weight of from 60 to 100 ℔; the bandicoot (Perameles), a rat-like creature whose depredations annoy the agriculturist; the native cat (Dasyurus), noted robber of the poultry yard; the Tasmanian wolf (Thylacinus), which preys on large game; and the recently discovered Notoryctes, a small animal which burrows like a mole in the desert of the interior. Arboreal species include the well-known opossums (Phalanger); the extraordinary tree-kangaroo of the Queensland tropics; the flying squirrel, which expands a membrane between the legs and arms, and by its aid makes long sailing jumps from tree to tree; and the native bear (Phascolarctos), an animal with no affinities to the bear, and having a long soft fur and no tail.
The Myrmecobius of Western Australia is a bushy-tailed ant-eater about the size of a squirrel, and from its lineage and structure of more than passing interest. It is, Mivart remarks, a survival of a very ancient state of things. It had ancestors in a flourishing condition during the Secondary epoch. Its congeners even then lived in England, as is proved by the fact that their relics have been found in the Stonesfield oolitic rocks, the deposition of which is separated from that which gave rise to the Paris Tertiary strata by an abyss of past time which we cannot venture to express even in thousands of years.
We pass on to the other curious order of non-placental mammals, that of the Monotremata, so called from the structure of their organs of evacuation with a single orifice, as in birds. Their abdominal bones are like those of the marsupials; and they are furnished with pouches for their young, but have no teats, the milk being distilled into their pouches from the mammary glands. Australia and Tasmania possess two animals of this order—the echidna, or spiny ant-eater (hairy in Tasmania), and the Platypus anatinus, the duckbilled water mole, otherwise named the Ornithorhynchus paradoxus. This odd animal is provided with a bill or beak, which is not, like that of a bird, affixed to the skeleton, but is merely attached to the skin and muscles.
Australia has no apes, monkeys or baboons, and no ruminant beasts. The comparatively few indigenous placental mammals, besides the dingo or wild dog—which, however, may have come from the islands north of this continent—are of the bat tribe and of the rodent or rat tribe. There are four species of large fruit-eating bats, called flying foxes, twenty of insect-eating bats, above twenty of land-rats, and five of water-rats. The sea produces three different seals, which often ascend rivers from the coast, and can live in lagoons of fresh water; many cetaceans, besides the “right whale” and sperm whale; and the dugong, found on the northern shores, which yields a valuable medicinal oil.
The birds of Australia in their number and variety of species may be deemed some compensation for its poverty of mammals; yet it will not stand comparison in this respect with regions of Africa and South America in the same latitudes. The black swan was thought remarkable when discovered, as belying an old Latin proverb. There is also a white eagle. The vulture is wanting. Sixty species of parrots, some of them very handsome, are found in Australia. The emu corresponds with the African and Arabian ostrich, the rhea of South America, and the cassowary of the Moluccas and New Guinea. In New Zealand this group is represented by the apteryx, as it formerly was by the gigantic moa, the remains of which have been found likewise in Queensland. The graceful Menura superba, or lyre-bird, with its tail feathers spread in the shape of a lyre, is a very characteristic form. The mound-raising megapodes, the bower-building satin-birds, and several others, display peculiar habits. The honey-eaters present a great diversity of plumage. There are also many kinds of game birds, pigeons, ducks, geese, plovers and quails. The ornithology of New South Wales and Queensland is more varied and interesting than that of the other provinces.
As for reptiles, Australia has a few tortoises, all of one family, and not of great size. The “leathery turtle,” which is herbivorous, and yields abundance of oil, has been caught at sea off the Illawarra coast so large as 9 ft. in length. The saurians or lizards are numerous, chiefly on dry sandy or rocky ground in the tropical region. The great crocodile of Queensland has been known to attain a length of 30 ft.; there is a smaller one about 6 ft. in length to be met with in the shallow lagoons of the interior of the Northern Territory. Lizards occur in great profusion and variety. The monitor, or fork-tongued lizard, which burrows in the earth, climbs and swims, is said to grow to a length of 8 to 9 ft. This species and many others do not extend to Tasmania. The monitor is popularly known as the goanna, a name derived from the iguana, an entirely different animal. There are about twenty kinds of night-lizards, and many which hibernate. One species can utter a cry when pained or alarmed, and the tall-standing frilled lizard can lift its forelegs, and squat or hop like a kangaroo. There is also the Moloch horridus of South and Western Australia, covered with tubercles bearing large spines, which give it a very strange aspect. This and some other lizards have power to change their colour, not only from light to dark, but over some portions of their bodies, from yellow to grey or red. Frogs of many kinds are plentiful, the brilliant green frogs being especially conspicuous and noisy. Australia is rich in snakes, and has more than a hundred different kinds. Most of these are venomous, but all are not equally dreaded. Five rather common species are certainly deadly—the death adder, the brown, the black, the superb and the tiger snakes. During the colder months these reptiles remain in a torpid state. No certain cure has been or is likely to be discovered for their poison, but in less serious cases strychnine has been used with advantage. In tropical waters a sea snake is found, which, though very poisonous, rarely bites. Among the inoffensive species are counted the graceful green “tree snake,” which pursues frogs, birds and lizards to the topmost branches of the forest; also several species of pythons, the commonest of which is known as the carpet snake. These great reptiles may attain a length of 10 ft.; they feed on small animals which they crush to death in their folds.
The Australian seas are inhabited by many fishes of the same genera as exist in the southern parts of Asia and Africa. Of those peculiar to Australian waters may be mentioned the arripis, represented by what is called among the colonists a salmon trout. A very fine freshwater fish is the Murray cod, which sometimes weighs 100 ℔; and the golden perch, found in the same river, has rare beauty of colour. Among the sea fish, the schnapper is of great value as an article of food, and its weight comes up to 50 ℔ This is the Pagrus unicolor, of the family of Sparidae, which includes also the bream. Its colours are beautiful, pink and red with a silvery gloss; but the male as it grows old takes on a singular deformity of the head, with a swelling in the shape of a monstrous human-like nose. These fish frequent rocky shoals off the eastern coast and are caught in numbers outside Port Jackson for the Sydney market. Two species of mackerel, differing somewhat from the European species, are also caught on the coasts. The so-called red garnet, a pretty fish, with hues of carmine and blue stripes on its head, is much esteemed for the table. The Trigla polyommata, or flying garnet, is a greater beauty, with its body of crimson and silver, and its large pectoral fins, spread like wings, of a rich green, bordered with purple, and relieved by a black and white spot. Whiting, mullet, gar-fish, rock cod and many others known by local names, are in the lists of edible fishes belonging to New South Wales and Victoria. Oysters abound on the eastern coast, and on the shelving banks of a vast extent of the northern coast the pearl oyster is the source of a considerable industry.
Two existing fishes may be mentioned as ranking in interest with the Myrmecobius (ant-eater) in the eyes of the naturalist. These are the Ceratodus Forsteri and the Port Jackson shark. The “mud-fish” of Queensland (Ceratodus Forsteri) belongs to an ancient order of fishes—the Dipnoi, only a few species of which have survived from past geological periods. The Dipnoi show a distinct transition between fishes and amphibia. So far the mud-fish has been found only in the Mary and the Burnett rivers. Hardly of less scientific interest is the Port Jackson shark (Heterodontus). It is a harmless helmeted ground-shark, living on molluscs, and almost the sole survivor of a genus abundant in the Secondary rocks of Europe.
The eastern parts of Australia are very much richer both in their botany and in their zoology than any of the other parts. This is due in part to the different physical conditions there prevailing and in part to the invasion of the north-eastern Flora. portion of the continent by a number of plants characteristically Melanesian. This element was introduced via Torres Strait, and spread down the Queensland coast to portions of the New South Wales littoral, and also round the Gulf of Carpentaria, but has never been able to obtain a hold in the more arid interior. It has so completely obliterated the original flora, that a Queensland coast jungle is almost an exact replication of what may be seen on the opposite shores of the straits, in New Guinea. This wealth of plant life is confined to the littoral and the coastal valleys, but the central valleys and the plateaux have, if not a varied flora, a considerable wealth of timber trees in every way superior to the flora inland in the same latitudes. In the interior there is little change in the general aspect of the vegetation, from the Australian Bight to the region of Carpentaria, where the exotic element begins. Behind the luxuriant jungles of the sub-tropical coast, once over the main range, we find the purely Australian flora with its apparent sameness and sombre dulness. Physical surroundings rather than latitude determine the character of the flora. The contour lines showing the heights above sea-level are the directions along which species spread to form zones. Putting aside the exotic vegetation of the north and east coast-line, the Australian bush gains its peculiar character from the prevalence of the so-called gum-trees (Eucalyptus) and the acacias, of which last there are 300 species, but the eucalypts above all are everywhere. Dwarfed eucalypts fringe the tree-limit on Mount Kosciusco, and the soakages in the parched interior are indicated by a line of the same trees, stunted and straggling. Over the vast continent from Wilson’s Promontory to Cape York, north, south, east and west—where anything can grow—there will be found a gum-tree. The eucalypts are remarkable for the oil secreted in their leaves, and the large quantity of astringent resin of their bark. This resinous exudation (Kino) somewhat resembles gum, hence the name “gum” tree. It will not dissolve in water as gums do, but it is soluble in alcohol, as resin usually is. Many of the gum-trees throw off their bark, so that it hangs in long dry strips from the trunk and branches, a feature familiar in “bush” pictures. The bark, resin and “oils” of the eucalyptus are well known as commercial products. As early as 1866, tannic acid, gallic acid, wood spirit, acetic acid, essential oil and eucalyptol were produced from various species of eucalyptus, and researches made by Australian chemists, notably by Messrs. Baker and Smith of the Sydney Technical College, have brought to light many other valuable products likely to prove of commercial value. The genus Eucalyptus numbers more than 150 species, and provides some of the most durable timbers known. The iron-bark of the eastern coast uplands is well known (Eucalyptus sideroxylon), and is so called from the hardness of the wood, the bark not being remarkable except for its rugged and blackened aspect. Samples of this timber have been studied after forty-three years’ immersion in sea-water. Portions most liable to destruction, those parts between the tide marks, were found perfectly sound, and showed no signs of the ravages of marine organisms. Other valuable timber trees of the eastern portion of the continent are the blackbutt, tallow-wood, spotted gum, red gum, mahogany, and blue gum, eucalyptus; and the turpentine (Syncarpia laurifolia), which has proved to be more resistant to the attacks of teredo than any other timber and is largely used in wharf construction in infested waters. There are also several extremely valuable soft timbers, the principal being red cedar (Cedrela Toona), silky oak (Grevillea robusta), beech and a variety of teak, with several important species of pine. The red gum forests of the Murray valley and the pine forests bordering the Great Plains are important and valuable. In Western Australia there are extensive forests of hardwood, principally jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), a very durable timber; 14,000 sq. m. of country are covered with this species. Jarrah timber is nearly impervious to the attacks of the teredo, and there is good evidence to show that, exposed to wear and weather, or placed under the soil, or used as submarine piles, the wood remained intact after nearly fifty years’ trial. The following figures show the high density of Australian timber:—
The resistance to breaking or rupture of Australian timber is very high; grey iron-bark with a specific gravity of 1.18 has a modulus of rupture of 17,900 ℔ per sq. in. compared with 11,800 ℔ for British oak with a specific gravity of .69 to .99. No Australian timber in the foregoing list has a less modulus than 13,100 ℔ per sq. in.
Various “scrubs” characterize the interior, differing very widely from the coastal scrubs. “Mallee” scrub occupies large tracts of South Australia and Victoria, covering probably an extent of 16,000 sq. m. The mallee is a species of eucalyptus growing 12 to 14 ft. high. The tree breaks into thin stems close to the ground, and these branch again and again, the leaves being developed umbrella-fashion on the outer branches. The mallee scrub appears like a forest of dried osier, growing so close that it is not always easy to ride through it. Hardly a leaf is visible to the height of one’s head; but above, a crown of thick leather-like leaves shuts out the sunlight. The ground below is perfectly bare, and there is no water. Nothing could add to the sterility and the monotony of these mallee scrubs. “Mulga” scrub is a somewhat similar thicket, covering large areas. The tree in this instance is one of the acacias, a genus distributed through all parts of the continent. Some species have rather elegant blossoms, known to the settlers as “wattle.” They serve admirably to break the sombre and monotonous aspect of the Australian vegetation. Two species of acacia are remarkable for the delicate and violet-like perfume of their wood—myall and yarran. The majority of the species of Acacia are edible and serve as reserve fodder for sheep and cattle. In the alluvial portions of the interior salsolaceous plants—saltbush, bluebush, cottonbush—are invaluable to the pastoralist, and to their presence the pre-eminence of Australia as a wool-producing country is largely due.
Grasses and herbage in great variety constitute the most valuable element of Australian flora from the commercial point of view. The herbage for the most part grows with marvellous rapidity after a spring or autumn shower and forms a natural shelter for the more stable growth of nutritious grasses.
Under the system of grazing practised throughout Australia it is customary to allow sheep, cattle and horses to run at large all the year round within enormous enclosures and to depend entirely upon the natural growth of grass for their subsistence. Proteaceous plants, although not exclusively Australian, are exceedingly characteristic of Australian scenery, and are counted amongst the oldest flowering plants of the world. The order is easily distinguished by the hard, dry, woody texture of the leaves and the dehiscent fruits. They are found in New Zealand and also in New Caledonia, their greatest developments being on the south-west of the Australian continent. Proteaceae are found also in Tierra del Fuego and Chile. They are also abundant in South Africa, where the order forms the most conspicuous feature of vegetation. The range in species is very limited, no one being common to eastern and western Australia. The chief genera are banksia (honeysuckle), and hakea (needle bush).
The Moreton Bay pine (Araucaria Cunninghamii) is reckoned amongst the giants of the forest. The genus is associated with one long extinct in Europe. Moreton Bay pine is chiefly known by the utility of its wood. Another species, A. Bidwillii, or the bunya-bunya, afforded food in its nut-like seeds to the aborigines. A most remarkable form of vegetation in the north-west is the gouty-stemmed tree (Adansonia Gregorii), one of the Malvaceae. It is related closely to the famous baobab of tropical Africa. The “grass-tree” (Xanthorrhoea), of the uplands and coast regions, is peculiarly Australian in its aspect. It is seen as a clump of wire-like leaves, a few feet in diameter, surrounding a stem, hardly thicker than a walking-stick, rising to a height of 10 or 12 ft. This terminates in a long spike thickly studded with white blossoms. The grass-tree gives as distinct a character to an Australian picture as the agave and cactus do to the Mexican landscape. With these might be associated the gigantic lily of Queensland (Nymphaea gigantea), the leaves of which float on water, and are quite 18 in. across. There is also a gigantic lily (Doryanthes excelsa) which grows to a height of 15 feet. The “flame tree” is a most conspicuous feature of an Illawarra landscape, the largest racemes of crimson red suggesting the name. The waratah or native tulip, the magnificent flowering head of which, with the kangaroo, is symbolic of the country, is one of the Proteaceae. The natives were accustomed to suck its tubular flowers for the honey they contained. The “nardoo” seed, on which the aborigines sometimes contrived to exist, is a creeping plant, growing plentifully in swamps and shallow pools, and belongs to the natural order of Marsileaceae. The spore-cases remain after the plant is dried up and withered. These are collected by the natives, and are known over most of the continent as nardoo.
No speculation of hypothesis has been propounded to account satisfactorily for the origin of the Australian flora. As a step towards such hypothesis it has been noted that the Antarctic, the South African, and the Australian floras have many types in common. There is also to a limited extent a European element present. One thing is certain, that there is in Australia a flora that is a remnant of a vegetation once widely distributed. Heer has described such Australian genera as Banksia, Eucalyptus, Grevillea and Hakea from the Miocene of Switzerland. Another point agreed upon is that the Australian flora is one of vast antiquity. There are genera so far removed from every living genus that many connecting links must have become extinct. The region extending round the south-western extremity of the continent has a peculiarly characteristic assemblage of typical Australian forms, notably a great abundance of the Proteaceae. This flora, isolated by arid country from the rest of the continent, has evidently derived its plant life from an outside source, probably from lands no longer existing.
Political and Economic Conditions
Population.—The Australian people are mainly of British origin, only 3¼% of the population of European descent being of non-British race. It is certain that the aborigines (see the section on Aborigines below) are very much less numerous than when the country was first colonized, but their present numbers can be given for only a few of the states. At the census of 1901, 48,248 aborigines were enumerated, of whom 7434 were in New South Wales, 652 in Victoria, 27,123 in South Australia, and 6212 in Western Australia. The assertion by the Queensland authorities that there are 50,000 aborigines in that state is a crude estimate, and may be far wide of the truth. In South Australia and the Northern Territory a large number are outside the bounds of settlement, and it is probable that they are as numerous there as in Queensland. The census of Western Australia included only those aborigines in the employment of the colonists; and as a large part of this, the greatest of the Australian states, is as yet unexplored, it may be presumed that the aborigines enumerated were very far short of the whole number of persons of that race in the state. Taking all things into consideration, the aboriginal population of the continent may be set down at something like 180,000. Chinese, numbering about 30,000, are chiefly found in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and the Northern Territory. Of Japanese there were 3500, of Hindu and Sinhalese 4600, according to recent computation, but the policy of the Commonwealth is adverse to further immigration of other than whites. South Sea Islanders and other coloured races, numbering probably about 15,000, were in 1906 to be found principally in Queensland, but further immigration of Pacific Islanders to Australia is now restricted, and the majority of those in the country in 1906 were deported by the middle of 1907.
At the close of 1906 the population of Australia was approximately 4,120,000, exclusive of aborigines. The increase of population since 1871 was as follows: 1871, 1,668,377; 1881, 2,252,617; 1891, 3,183,237; 1901, 3,773,248. The expansion has been due mainly to the natural increase; that is, by reason of excess of births over deaths. Immigration to Australia has been very slight since 1891, owing originally to the stoppage of progress consequent on the bank crisis of 1893, and, subsequently, to the disinclination of several of the state governments towards immigration and their failure to provide for the welfare of immigrants on their arrival. During 1906 a more rational view of the value of immigration was adopted by the various state governments and by the federal government, and immigration to Australia is now systematically encouraged. Australia’s gain of population by immigration,—i.e. the excess of the inward over the outward movement of a population—since the discovery of gold in 1851, arranged in ten years periods, was
During the five years following the last year of the foregoing table, there was practically no increase in population by immigration.
The birth rate averages 26.28 per thousand of the population and the death rate 12.28, showing a net increase of 14 per thousand by reason of the excess of births over deaths. The marriage rate varies as in other countries from year to year according to the degree of prosperity prevailing. In the five years 1881-1888 the rate was 8.08 marriages (16.1 persons) per thousand of the population, declining to 6.51 in 1891-1895; in recent years there has been a considerable improvement, and the Australian marriage rate may be quoted as ranging between 6.75 and 7.25. The death rate of Australia is much below that of European countries and is steadily declining. During the twenty years preceding the census of 1901 there was a fall in the death rate of 3.4 per thousand, of which, however, 1 per thousand is attributable to the decline in the birth rate, the balance being attributable to improved sanitary conditions.
Territorial Divisions.—Australia is politically divided into five states, which with the island of Tasmania form the Commonwealth of Australia. The area of the various states is as follows:
New South Wales
To the area of the Commonwealth shown in the table might be added that of New Guinea, 90,000 sq. m.; this would bring the area of the territory controlled by the Commonwealth to 3,062,906 sq. m. The distribution of population at the close of 1906 (4,118,000) was New South Wales 1,530,000, Victoria 1,223,000, Queensland 534,000, South Australia 381,000, Western Australia 270,000, Tasmania 180,000. The rate of increase since the previous census was 1.5% per annum, varying from 0.31 in Victoria to 2.06 in New South Wales and 6.9 in Western Australia.
Australia contains four cities whose population exceeds 100,000, and fifteen with over 10,000. The principal cities and towns are Sydney (pop. 530,000), Newcastle, Broken Hill, Parramatta, Goulburn, Maitland, Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow, Tamworth, Grafton, Wagga and Albury, in New South Wales; Melbourne (pop. 511,900), Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Eaglehawk, Warrnambool, Castlemaine, and Stawell in Victoria; Brisbane (pop. 128,000), Rockhampton, Maryborough, Townsville, Gympie, Ipswich, and Toowoomba in Queensland; Adelaide (pop. about 175,000), Port Adelaide and Port Pirie in South Australia; Perth (pop. 56,000), Fremantle, and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia; and Hobart (pop. 35,500) and Launceston in Tasmania.
Defence.—Up to the end of the 19th century, little was thought of any locally-raised or locally-provided defensive forces, the mother-country being relied upon. But the Transvaal War of 1899-1902, to which Australia sent 6310 volunteers (principally mounted rifles), and the gradual increase of military sentiment, brought the question more to the front, and more and more attention was given to making Australian defence a matter of local concern. Naval defence in any case remained primarily a question for the Imperial navy, and by agreement (1903, for ten years) between the British government and the governments of the Commonwealth (contributing an annual subsidy of £200,000) and of New Zealand (£40,000), an efficient fleet patrolled the Australasian waters, Sydney, its headquarters, being ranked as a first-class naval station. Under the agreement a royal naval reserve was maintained, three of the Imperial vessels provided being utilized as drill ships for crews recruited from the Australian states. At the end of 1908 the strength of the naval forces under the Commonwealth defence department was: permanent, 217, naval militia, 1016; the estimated expenditure for 1908-1909 being £63,531. In 1908-1909 a movement began for the establishment by Australia of a local flotilla of torpedo-boat destroyers, to be controlled by the Commonwealth in peace time, but subject to the orders of the British admiralty in war time, though not to be removed from the Australian coast without the sanction of the Commonwealth; and by 1909 three such vessels had been ordered in England preparatory to building others in Australia. The military establishment at the beginning of 1909 was represented by a small permanent force of about 1400, a militia strength of about 17,000, and some 6000 volunteers, besides 50,000 members of rifle clubs and 30,000 cadets; the expenditure being (estimate, 1908-1909) £623,946. But a reorganization of the military forces, on the basis of obligatory national training, was already contemplated, though the first Bill introduced for this purpose by Mr Deakin’s government (Sept. 1908) was dropped, and in 1909 the subject was still under discussion.
Religion.—There is no state church in Australia, nor is the teaching of religion in any way subsidized by the state. The Church of England claims as adherents 39% of the population, and the Roman Catholic Church 22%; next in numerical strength are the Wesleyans and other Methodists, numbering 12%, the various branches of the Presbyterians 11%, Congregationalists 2%, and Baptists 2%. These proportions varied very little between 1881 and 1906, and may be taken as accurately representing the present strength of the various Christian denominations. Churches of all denominations are liberally supported throughout the states, and the residents of every settlement, however small, have their places of worship erected and maintained by their own contributions.
Instruction.—Education is very widely distributed, and in every state it is compulsory for children of school ages to attend school. The statutory ages differ in the various states; in New South Wales and Western Australia it is from 6 to 13 years inclusive, in Victoria 6 to 12 years, in Queensland 6 to 11 years, and in South Australia 7 to 12 years inclusive. Religious instruction is not imparted by the state-paid teachers in any state, though in certain states persons duly authorized by the religious organizations are allowed to give religious instruction to children of their own denomination where the parents’ consent has been obtained. According to the returns for 1905 there were 7292 state schools, with 15,628 teachers and 648,927 pupils, and the average attendance of scholars was 446,000. Besides state schools there were 2145 private schools, with 7825 teachers and 137,000 scholars, the average number of scholars in attendance being 120,000. The census of 1901 showed that about 83% of the whole population and more than 91% of the population over five years of age could read and write. There was, therefore, a residue of 9% of illiterates, most of whom were not born in Australia. The marriage registers furnish another test of education. In 1905 only ten persons in every thousand married were unable to sign their names, thus proving that the number of illiterate adults of Australian birth is very small.
Instruction at state schools is either free or at merely nominal cost, and high schools, technical colleges and agricultural colleges are maintained by appropriations from the general revenues of the states. There are also numerous grammar schools and other private schools. Universities have been established at Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart, and are well equipped and numerously attended; they are in part supported by grants from the public funds and in part by private endowments and the fees paid by students. The number of students attending lectures is about 2500 and the annual income a little over £100,000. The cost of public instruction in Australia averages about 11s. 4d. per inhabitant, and the cost per scholar in average attendance at state schools is £4 : 13 : 9.
Pastoral and Agricultural Industries.—The continent is essentially a pastoral one, and the products of the flocks and herds constitute the chief element in the wealth of Australia. Practically the whole of the territory between the 145° meridian and the Great Dividing Range, as well as extensive tracts in the south and west, are a natural sheep pasture with climatic conditions and indigenous vegetation pre-eminently adapted for the growth of wool of the highest quality. Numerically the flocks of Australia represent one-sixth of the world’s sheep, and in just over half a century (1851-1905) the exports of Australian wool alone reached the value of £650,000,000. During the same period, owing to the efforts of pastoralists to improve their flocks, there was a gradual increase in the weight of wool produced per sheep from 3¼ ℔ to an average of over 7 ℔ The cattle and horse-breeding industries are of minor importance as compared with wool-growing, but nevertheless represent a great source of wealth, with vast possibilities of expansion in the over-sea trade. The perfection of refrigeration in over-sea carriage, which has done so much to extend the markets for Australian beef and mutton, has also furthered the expansion of dairying, there being an annual output of over 160 million ℔ of butter, valued at £6,000,000; of this about 64 million ℔, valued at £2,500,000, is exported annually to British markets.
Next to the pastoral industry, agriculture is the principal source of Australian wealth. At the close of 1905 the area devoted to tillage was 9,365,000 acres, the area utilized for the production of breadstuffs being 6,270,000 acres or over two-thirds of the whole extent of cultivation. At first wheat was cultivated solely in the coastal country, but experience has shown that the staple cereal can be most successfully grown over almost any portion of the arable lands within the 20 to 40 in. rainfall areas. The value of Australian wheat and flour exported in 1905 was £5,500,000.
Other important crops grown are—maize, 324,000 acres; oats, 493,000 acres; other grains, 160,000 acres; hay, 1,367,000 acres; potatoes, 119,000 acres; sugar-cane, 141,000 acres; vines, 65,000 acres; and other crops, 422,000 acres. The chief wheat lands are in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales; the yield averages about 9 bushels to the acre; this low average is due to the endeavour of settlers on new lands to cultivate larger areas than their resources can effectively deal with; the introduction of scientific farming should almost double the yield. Maize and sugar-cane are grown in New South Wales and Queensland. The vine is cultivated in all the states, but chiefly in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Australia produces abundant quantities and nearly all varieties of fruits; but the kinds exported are chiefly oranges, pineapples, bananas and apples. Tobacco thrives well in New South Wales and Victoria, but kinds suitable for exportation are not largely grown. Compared with the principal countries of the world, Australia does not take a high position in regard to the gross value of the produce of its tillage, the standard of cultivation being for the most part low and without regard to maximum returns, but in value per inhabitant it compares fairly well; indeed, some of the states show averages which surpass those of many of the leading agricultural countries. For 1905 the total value of agricultural produce estimated at the place of production was £18,750,000 sterling, or about £4 : 13 : 4 per inhabitant.
Timber Industry.—Although the timbers of commercial value are confined practically to the eastern and a portion of the western coastal belt and a few inland tracts of Australia, they constitute an important national asset. The early settlement of heavily timbered country was characterized by wanton destruction of vast quantities of magnificent timber; but this waste is a thing of the past, and under the pressure of a demand for sound timber both for local use and for exportation, the various governments are doing much to conserve the state forests. In Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland there are many hundreds of well-equipped saw-mills affording employment to about 5000 men. The export of timber is in ordinary years valued at a million sterling and the total production at £2,250,000.
Fisheries.—Excellent fish of many varieties abound in the Australian seas and in many of the rivers. In several of the states, fish have been introduced successfully from other countries. Trout may now be taken in many of the mountain streams. At one time whaling was an important industry on the coasts of New South Wales and Tasmania, and afterwards on the Western Australian coasts. The industry gravitated to New Zealand, and finally died out, chiefly through the wasteful practice of killing the calves to secure the capture of the mothers. Of late years whaling has again attracted attention, and a small number of vessels prosecute the industry during the season. The only source of maritime wealth that is now being sufficiently exploited to be regarded as an industry is the gathering of pearl-oysters from the beds off the northern and north-western coasts of the continent. In Queensland waters there are about 300 vessels, and on the Western Australian coast about 450 licensed craft engaged in the industry, the annual value of pearl-shell and pearls raised being nearly half a million sterling. Owing to the depletion of some of the more accessible banks, and to difficulties in connexion with the employment of coloured crews, many of the vessels have now gone farther afield. As the pearl-oyster is remarkably prolific, it is considered by experts that within a few years of their abandonment by fishing fleets the denuded banks will become as abundantly stocked as ever.
Mineral Production.—Australia is one of the great gold producers of the world, and its yield in 1905 was about £16,000,000 sterling, or one-fourth of the gold output of the world; and the total value of its mineral production was Gold. approximately £25,000,000. Gold is found throughout Australia, and the present prosperity of the states is largely due to the discoveries of this metal, the development of other industries being, in a country of varied resources, a natural sequence to the acquisition of mineral treasure. From the date of its first discovery, up to the close of 1905, gold to the value of £460,000,000 sterling has been obtained in Australia. Victoria, in a period of fifty-four years, contributed about £273,000,000 to this total, and is still a large producer, its annual yield being about 800,000 oz., 29,000 men being engaged in the search for the precious metal. Queensland’s annual output is between 750,000 and 800,000 oz.; the number of men engaged in gold-mining is 10,000. In New South Wales the greatest production was in 1852, soon after the first discovery of the precious metal, when the output was valued at £2,660,946; the production in 1905 was about 270,000 oz., valued at £1,150,000. For many years Western Australia was considered to be destitute of mineral deposits of any value, but it is now known that a rich belt of mineral country extends from north to south. The first important discovery was made in 1882, when gold was found in the Kimberley district; but it was not until a few years later that this rich and extensive area was developed. In 1887 gold was found in Yilgarn, about 200 m. east of Perth. This was the first of the many rich discoveries in the same district which have made Western Australia the chief gold-producer of the Australian group. In 1907 there were eighteen goldfields in the state, and it was estimated that over 30,000 miners were actively engaged in the search for gold. In 1905 the production amounted to 1,983,000 oz., valued at £8,300,000. Tasmania is a gold producer to the extent of about 70,000 or 80,000 oz. a year, valued at £300,000; South Australia produces about 30,000 oz.
Gold is obtained chiefly from quartz reefs, but there are still some important alluvial deposits being worked. The greatest development of quartz reefing is found in Victoria, some of the mines being of great depth. There are eight mines in the Bendigo district over 3000 ft. deep, and fourteen over 2500 ft. deep. In the Victoria mine a depth of 3750 ft. has been reached, and in Lazarus mine 3424 ft. In the Ballarat district a depth of 2520 ft. has been reached in the South Star mine. In Queensland there is one mine 3156 ft. deep, and several others exceed 2000 ft. in depth. A considerable number of men are engaged in the various states on alluvial fields, in hydraulic sluicing, and dredging is now adopted for the winning of gold in river deposits. So far this form of winning is chiefly carried on in New South Wales, where there are about fifty gold-dredging plants in successful operation. Over 70,000 men are employed in the gold-mining industry, more than two-thirds of them being engaged in quartz mining.
Commerce.—The number of vessels engaged in the over-sea trade of Australia in 1905 was 2112, viz. 1050 steamers, with a tonnage of 2,629,000, and 1062 sailers, tonnage 1,090,000; the total of both classes was 3,719,000 tons. The nationality of the tonnage was, British 2,771,000, including Australian 288,000, and foreign 948,000. The destination of the shipping was, to British ports 2,360,000 tons, and to foreign ports 1,350,000 tons. The value of the external trade was £95,188,000, viz. £38,347,000 imports, and £56,841,000 exports. The imports represent £9:11:6 per inhabitant and the exports £14 : 4 : 2, with a total trade of £23 : 15 : 8. The import trade is divided between the United Kingdom and possessions and foreign countries as follows:—United Kingdom £23,074,000, British possessions £5,384,000, and foreign states £9,889,000, while the destination of the exports is, United Kingdom £26,703,000, British possessions £12,519,000, and foreign countries £17,619,000. The United Kingdom in 1905 sent 60% of the imports taken by Australia, compared with 26% from foreign countries, and 14% from British possessions; of Australian imports the United Kingdom takes 47%, foreign countries 31% and British possessions 22%. In normal years (that is to say, when there is no large movement of capital) the exports of Australia exceed the imports by some £15,300,000. This sum represents the interest payable on government loans placed outside Australia, mainly in England, and the income from British and other capital invested in the country; the former may be estimated at £7,300,000 and the latter £8,000,000 per annum. The principal items of export are wool, skins, tallow, frozen mutton, chilled beef, preserved meats, butter and other articles of pastoral produce, timber, wheat, flour and fruits, gold, silver, lead, copper, tin and other metals. In 1905 the value of the wool export regained the £20,000,000 level, and with the rapid recovery of the numerical strength of the flocks, great improvements in the quality and weight of fleeces, this item is likely to show permanent advancement. The exports of breadstuffs—chiefly to the United Kingdom—exceed six millions per annum, butter two and a half millions, and minerals of all kinds, except gold, six millions. Gold is exported in large quantities from Australia. The total gold production of the country is from £14,500,000 to £16,000,000, and as not more than three-quarters of a million are required to strengthen existing local stocks, the balance is usually available for export, and the average export of the precious metal during the ten years, 1896-1905, was £12,500,000 per annum. The chief articles of import are apparel and textiles, machinery and hardware, stimulants, narcotics, explosives, bags and sacks, books and paper, oils and tea.
Lines of steamers connect Australia with London and other British ports, with Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, China, India, San Francisco, Vancouver, New York and Montevideo, several important lines being subsidized by the countries to which they belong, notably Germany, France and Japan.
Railways.—Almost the whole of the railway lines in Australia are the property of the state governments, and have been constructed and equipped wholly by borrowed capital. There were on the 30th of June 1905, 15,000 m. open for traffic, upon which nearly £135,000,000 had been expended.
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The origin of the natives of Australia presents a difficult problem. The chief difficulty in deciding their ethnical relations is their remarkable physical difference from the neighbouring peoples. And if one turns from physical criteria to their manners and customs it is only to find fresh evidence of their isolation. While their neighbours, the Malays, Papuans and Polynesians, all cultivate the soil, and build substantial huts and houses, the Australian natives do neither. Pottery, common to Malays and Papuans, the bows and arrows of the latter, and the elaborate canoes of all three races, are unknown to the Australians. They then must be considered as representing an extremely primitive type of mankind, and it is necessary to look far afield for their prehistoric home.
Wherever they came from, there is abundant evidence that their first occupation of the Australian continent must have been at a time so remote as to permit of no traditions. No record, no folk tales, as in the case of the Maoris Origin. of New Zealand, of their migration, are preserved by the Australians. True, there are legends and tales of tribal migrations and early tribal history, but nothing, as A. W. Howitt points out, which can be twisted into referring even indirectly to their first arrival. It is almost incredible there should be none, if the date of their arrival is to be reckoned as only dating back some centuries. Again, while they differ physically from neighbouring races, while there is practically nothing in common between them and the Malays, the Polynesians, or the Papuan Melanesians, they agree in type so closely among themselves that they must be regarded as forming one race. Yet it is noteworthy that the languages of their several tribes are different. The occurrence of a large number of common roots proves them to be derived from one source, but the great variety of dialects—sometimes unintelligible between tribes separated by only a few miles—cannot be explained except by supposing a vast period to have elapsed since their first settlement. There is evidence in the languages, too, which supports the physical separation from their New Zealand neighbours and, therefore, from the Polynesian family of races. The numerals in use were limited. In some tribes there were only three in use, in most four. For the number “five” a word meaning “many” was employed. This linguistic poverty proves that the Australian tongue has no affinity to the Polynesian group of languages, where denary enumeration prevails: the nearest Polynesians, the Maoris, counting in thousands. Further evidence of the antiquity of Australian man is to be found in the strict observance of tribal boundaries, which would seem to show that the tribes must have been settled a long time in one place.
A further difficulty is created by a consideration of the Tasmanian people, extinct since 1876. For the Tasmanians in many ways closely approximated to the Papuan type. They had coarse, short, woolly hair and Papuan features. They clearly had no racial affinities with the Australians. They did not possess the boomerang or woomerah, and they had no boats. When they were discovered, a mere raft of reeds in which they could scarcely venture a mile from shore was their only means of navigation. Yet while the Tasmanians are so distinctly separated in physique and customs from the Australians, the fauna and flora of Tasmania and Australia prove that at one time the two formed one continent, and it would take an enormous time for the formation of Bass Strait. How did the Tasmanians with their Papuan affinities get so far south on a continent inhabited by a race so differing from Papuans? Did they get to Tasmania before or after its separation from the main continent? If before, why were they only found in the south? It would have been reasonable to expect to find them sporadically all over Australia. If after, how did they get there at all? For it is impossible to accept the theory of one writer that they sailed or rowed round the continent—a journey requiring enormous maritime skill, which, according to the theory, they must have promptly lost.
Four points are clear: (1) the Australians represent a distinct race; (2) they have no kinsfolk among the neighbouring races; (3) they have occupied the continent for a very long period; (4) it would seem that the Tasmanians must represent a still earlier occupation of Australia, perhaps before the Bass Strait existed.
Several theories have been propounded by ethnologists. An attempt has been made to show that the Australians have close affinities with the African negro peoples, and certain resemblances in language and in customs have been relied on. Sorcery, the scars raised on the body, the knocking out of teeth, circumcision and rules as to marriage have been quoted; but many such customs are found among savage peoples far distant from each other and entirely unrelated. The alleged language similarities have broken down on close examination. A.R. Wallace is of the opinion that the Australians “are really of Caucasian type and are more nearly allied to ourselves than to the civilized Japanese or the brave and intelligent Zulus.” He finds near kinsmen for them in the Ainus of Japan, the Khmers and Chams of Cambodia and among some of the Micronesian islanders who, in spite of much crossing, still exhibit marked Caucasic types. He regards the Australians as representing the lowest and most primitive examples of this primitive Caucasic type, and he urges that they must have arrived in Australia at a time when their ancestors had no pottery, knew no agriculture, domesticated no animals, had no houses and used no bows and arrows. This theory has been supported by the investigations of Dr Klaatsch, of the university of Heidelberg, who would, however, date Australian ancestry still farther back, for his studies on the spot have convinced him that the Australians are “a generalized, not a specialized, type of humanity—that is to say, they are a very primitive people, with more of the common undeveloped characteristics of man, and less of the qualities of the specialized races of civilization.” Dr Klaatsch’s view is that they are survivals of a primitive race which inhabited a vast Antarctic continent of which South America, South Africa and Australia once formed a part, as evidenced by the identity of many species of birds and fish. He urges that the similarities of some of the primitive races of India and Africa to the aborigines of Australia are indications that they were peopled from one common stock. This theory, plausible and attractive as it is, and fitting in, as it does, with the acknowledged primitive character of the Australian blackfellow, overlooks, nevertheless, the Tasmanian difficulty. Why should a Papuan type be found in what was certainly once a portion of the Australian continent? The theory which meets this difficulty is that which has in its favour the greatest weight of evidence, viz. that the continent was first inhabited by a Papuan type of man who made his way thither from Flores and Timor, New Guinea and the Coral Sea. That in days so remote as to be undateable, a Dravidian people driven from their primitive home in the hills of the Indian Deccan made their way south via Ceylon (where they may to-day be regarded as represented by the Veddahs) and eventually sailed and drifted in their bark boats to the western and north-western shores of Australia. It is difficult to believe that they at first arrived in such numbers as at once to overwhelm the Papuan population. There were probably several migrations. What seems certain, if this theory is adopted, is that they did at last accumulate to an extent which permitted of their mastering the former occupiers of the soil, who were probably in very scattered and defenceless communities.
In the slow process of time they drove them into the most southerly corner of Australia, just as the Saxons drove the Celts into Cornwall and the Welsh hills. Even if this Dravidian invasion is put subsequent to the Bass Strait forming, even if one allows the probability of much crossing between the two races at first, in time the hostilities would be renewed. With their earliest settlements on the north-north-west coasts, the Dravidians would probably tend to spread out north, north-east and east, and a southerly line of retreat would be the most natural one for the Papuans. When at last they were driven to the Strait they would drift over on rafts or in clumsy shallops; being thereafter left in peace to concentrate their race, then possibly only in an approximately pure state, in the island to which the Dravidians would not take the trouble to follow them, and where they would have centuries in which once more to fix their racial type and emphasize over again those differences, perhaps temporarily marred by crossing, which were found to exist on the arrival of the Whites.
This Indo-Aryan origin for the Australian blackfellows is borne out by their physique. In spite of their savagery they are admitted by those who have studied them to be far removed from the low or Simian type of man. Dr Charles Pickering (1805-1878), who studied the Australians on the spot, writes: “Strange as it may appear, I would refer to an Australian as the finest model of the human proportions I have ever met; in muscular development combining perfect symmetry, activity and strength, while his head might have compared with the antique bust of a philosopher.” Huxley concluded, from descriptions, that “the Deccan tribes are indistinguishable from the Australian races.” Sir W. W. Hunter states that the Dravidian tribes were driven southwards in Hindustan, and that the grammatical relations of their dialects are “expressed by suffixes,” which is true as to the Australian languages. He states that Bishop Caldwell, whom he calls “the great missionary scholar of the Dravidian tongue,” showed that the south and western Australian tribes use almost the same words for “I, thou, he, we, you, as the Dravidian fishermen on the Madras coast.” When in addition to all this it is found that physically the Dravidians resemble the Australians; that the boomerang is known among the wild tribes of the Deccan alone (with the doubtful exception of ancient Egypt) of all parts of the world except Australia, and that the Australian canoes are like those of the Dravidian coast tribes, it seems reasonable enough to assume that the Australian natives are Dravidians, exiled in remote times from Hindustan, though when their migration took place and how they traversed the Indian Ocean must remain questions to which, by their very nature, there can be no satisfactory answer.
The low stage of culture of the Australians when they reached their new home is thus accounted for, but their stagnation is remarkable, because they must have been frequently in contact with more civilized peoples. In the north of Australia there are traces of Malay and Papuan blood. That a far more advanced race had at one time a settlement on the north-west coast is indicated by the cave-paintings and sculptures discovered by Sir George Grey. In caves of the valley of the Glenelg river, north-west Australia, about 60 m. inland and 20 m. south of Prince Regent’s river, are representations of human heads and bodies, apparently of females clothed to the armpits, but all the faces are without any indication of mouths. The heads are surrounded with a kind of head-dress or halo and one wears a necklace. They are drawn in red, blue and yellow. The figures are almost life-size. Rough sculptures, too, were found, and two large square mounds formed of loose stones, and yet perfect parallelograms in outline, placed due east and west. In the same district Sir George Grey noticed among the blackfellows people he describes as “almost white.” On the Gascoyne river, too, were seen natives of an olive colour, quite good-looking; and in the neighbourhood of Sydney rock-carvings have been also found. All this points to a temporary occupation by a race at a far higher stage of culture than any known Australians, who were certainly never capable of executing even the crude works of art described.
Physically the typical Australian is the equal of the average European in height, but is inferior in muscular development, the legs and arms being of a leanness which is often emphasized by an abnormal corpulence. The bones Physique. are delicately formed, and there is the lack of calf usual in black races. The skull is abnormally thick and the cerebral capacity small. The head is long and somewhat narrow, the forehead broad and receding, with overhanging brows, the eyes sunken, large and black, the nose thick and very broad at the nostrils. The mouth is large and the lips thick but not protuberant. The teeth are large, white and strong. In old age they appear much ground down; particularly is this the case with women, who chew the different kinds of fibres, of which they make nets and bags. The lower jaw is heavy; the cheekbones somewhat high, and the chin small and receding. The neck is thicker and shorter than that of most Europeans. The colour of the skin is a deep copper or chocolate, never sooty black. When born, the Australian baby is of a much lighter colour than its parents and remains so for about a week. The hair is long, black or very dark auburn, wavy and sometimes curly, but never woolly, and the men have luxuriant beards and whiskers, often of an auburn tint, while the whole body inclines to hairiness. On the Balonne river, Queensland, Baron Mikluho Maclay found a group of hairless natives. The head hair is usually matted with grease and dirt, but when clean is fine and glossy. The skin gives out an objectionable odour, owing to the habit of anointing the body with fish-oils, but the true fetor of the negro is lacking in the Australian. The voices of the blackfellows are musical. Their mental faculties, though inferior to those of the Polynesian race, are not contemptible. They have much acuteness of perception for the relations of individual objects, but little power of generalization. No word exists in their language for such general terms as tree, bird or fish; yet they have invented a name for every species of vegetable and animal they know. The grammatical structure of some north Australian languages has a considerable degree of refinement. The verb presents a variety of conjugations, expressing nearly all the moods and tenses of the Greek. There is a dual, as well as a plural form in the declension of verbs, nouns, pronouns and adjectives. The distinction of genders is not marked, except in proper names of men and women. All parts of speech, except adverbs, are declined by terminational inflections. There are words for the elementary numbers, one, two, three; but “four” is usually expressed by “two-two.” They have no idea of decimals. The number and diversity of separate languages is bewildering.
In disposition the Australians are a bright, laughter-loving folk, but they are treacherous, untruthful and hold human life cheaply. They have no great physical courage. They are mentally in the condition of children. None of Character. them has an idea of what the West calls morality, except the simple one of right or wrong arising out of property. A wife will be beaten without mercy for unfaithfulness to her husband, but the same wife will have had to submit to the first-night promiscuity, a widespread revel which Roth shows is a regular custom in north-west-central Queensland. A husband claims his wife as his absolute property, but he has no scruple in handing her over for a time to another man. There is, however, no proof that anything like community of women or unlimited promiscuity exists anywhere. It would be wrong, however, to conclude that moral considerations have led up to this state of things. Of sexual morality, in the everyday sense of the word, there is none. In his treatment of women the aboriginal may be ranked lower than even the Fuegians. Yet the Australian is capable of strong affections, and the blind (of whom there have always been a great number) are cared for, and are often the best fed in a tribe.
The Australians when first discovered were found to be living in almost a prehistoric simplicity. Their food was the meat they killed in the chase, or seeds and roots, grubs or reptiles. They never, in any situation, Manners. cultivated the soil for any kind of food-crop. They never reared any kind of cattle, or kept any domesticated animal except the dog, which probably came over with them in their canoes. They nowhere built permanent dwellings, but contented themselves with mere hovels for temporary shelter. They neither manufactured nor possessed any chattels beyond such articles of clothing, weapons, ornaments and utensils as they might carry on their persons, or in the family store-bag for daily use. In most districts both sexes are entirely nude. Sometimes in the south during the cold season they wear a cloak of skin or matting, fastened with a skewer, but open on the right-hand side.
When going through the bush they sometimes wear an apron of skins, for protection merely. No headgear is worn, except sometimes a net to confine the hair, a bunch of feathers, or the tails of small animals. The breast or back, of both sexes, is usually tattooed, or rather, scored with rows of hideous raised scars, produced by deep gashes made at puberty. Their dwellings for the most part are either bowers, formed of the branches of trees, or hovels of piled logs, loosely covered with grass or bark, which they can erect in an hour, wherever they encamp. But some huts of a more substantial form were seen by Captain Matthew Flinders on the south-east coast in 1799, and by Captain King and Sir T. Mitchell on the north-east, where they no longer appear. The ingenuity of the race is mostly exhibited in the manufacture of their weapons of warfare and the chase. While the use of the bow and arrow does not seem to have occurred to them, the spear and axe are in general use, commonly made of hard-wood; the hatchets of stone, and the javelins pointed with stone or bone. The characteristic weapon of the Australian is the boomerang (q.v.). Their nets, made by women, either of the tendons of animals or the fibres of plants, will catch and hold the kangaroo or the emu, or the very large fish of Australian rivers. Canoes of bent bark, for the inland waters, are hastily prepared at need; but the inlets and straits of the north-eastern sea-coast are navigated by larger canoes and rafts of a better construction. As to food, they are omnivorous. In central Queensland and elsewhere, snakes, both venomous and harmless, are eaten, the head being first carefully smashed to pulp with a stone.
The tribal organization of the Australians was based on that of the family. There were no hereditary or formally elected chiefs, nor was there any vestige of monarchy. The affairs of a tribe were ruled by a council of men past Tribal organization. middle age. Each tribe occupied a recognized territory, averaging perhaps a dozen square miles, and used a common dialect. This district was subdivided between the chief heads of families. Each family, or family group, had a dual organization which has been termed (1) the Social, (2) the Local. The first was matriarchal, inheritance being reckoned through the mother. No territorial association was needed. All belonged to the same totem or totemic class, and might be scattered throughout the tribe, though subject to the same marriage laws. The second was patriarchal and of a strictly territorial nature. A family or group of families had the same hunting-ground, which was seldom changed, and descended through the males. Thus, the sons inherited their fathers’ hunting-ground, but bore their mothers’ name and therewith the right to certain women for wives. The Social or matriarchal took precedence of the Local or patriarchal organization. In many cases it arranged the assemblies and ceremonial of the tribe; it regulated marriage, descent and relationship; it ordered blood feuds, it prescribed the rites of hospitality and so on. Nevertheless the Local side of tribal life in time tended to overwhelm the Social and to organize the tribe irrespective of matriarchy, and inclined towards hereditary chieftainship.
The most intricate and stringent rules existed as to marriage within and without the totemic inter-marrying classes. There is said to be but one exception to the rule that marriage must be contracted outside the totem name. This exception was discovered by Messrs Spencer and Gillen among the Arunta of central Australia, some allied septs, and their nearest neighbours to the north, the Kaitish. This tribe may legally marry within the totem, but always avoids such unions. Even in casual amours these class laws were invariably observed, and the young man or woman who defied them was punished, he with death, she with spearing or beating. At the death of a man, his widows passed to his brother of the same totem class. Such a system gave to the elder men of a tribe a predominant position, and generally respect was shown to the aged. Laws and penalties in protection of property were enforced by the tribe. Thus, among some tribes of Western Australia the penalty for abducting another’s wife was to stand with leg extended while each male of the tribe stuck his spear into it. Laws, however, did not protect the women, who were the mere chattels of their lords. Stringent rules, too, governed the food of women and the youth of both sexes, and it was only after initiation that boys were allowed to eat of all the game the forest provided. In every case of death from disease or unknown causes sorcery was suspected and an inquest held, at which the corpse was asked by each relative in succession the name of the murderer. This formality having been gone through, the flight of the first bird which passed over the body was watched, the direction being regarded as that in which the sorcerer must be sought. Sometimes the nearest relative sleeps with his head on the corpse, in the belief that he will dream of the murderer. The most sacred duty an Australian had to perform was the avenging of the death of a kinsman, and he was the object of constant taunts and insults till he had done so. Cannibalism was almost universal, either in the case of enemies killed in battle or when animal food was scarce. In the Luritcha tribe it was customary when a child was in weak health to kill a younger and healthy one and feed the weakling on its flesh. Cannibalism seems also to have sometimes been in the nature of a funeral observance, in honour of the deceased, of whom the relatives reverently ate portions.
They had no special forms of religious worship, and no idols. The evidence on the question of whether they believed in a Supreme Being is very contradictory. Messrs Spencer and Gillen appear to think that such rudimentary idea Religion. of an All-Father as has, it is thought, been detected among the blackfellows is an exotic growth fostered by contact with missionaries. A. W. Howitt and Dr Roth appear to have satisfied themselves of a belief, common to most tribes, in a mythic being (he has different names in different tribes) having some of the attributes of a Supreme Deity. But Mr Howitt finds in this being “no trace of a divine nature, though under favourable conditions the beliefs might have developed into an actual religion.” Other authorities suggest that it is going much too far to deny the existence of religion altogether, and instance as proof of the divinity of the supra-normal anthropomorphic beings of the Baiame class, the fact that the Yuin and cognate tribes dance around the image of Daramulun (their equivalent of Baiame) and the medicine men “invocate his name.” A good deal perhaps depends on each observer’s view of what religion really is. The Australians believed in spirits, generally of an evil nature, and had vague notions of an after-life. The only idea of a god known to be entertained by them seems to be that of the Euahlayi and Kamilaori tribe, Baiame, a gigantic old man lying asleep for ages, with his head resting on his arm, which is deep in the sand. He is expected one day to awake and eat up the world. Researches go to show that Baiame has his counterpart in other tribes, the myth varying greatly in detail. But the Australians are distinguished by possessing elaborate initiatory ceremonies. Circumcision of one or two kinds was usual in the north and south, but not in Western Australia or on the Murray river. In South Australia boys had to undergo three stages of initiation in a place which women were forbidden to approach. At about ten they were covered with blood from head to foot, several elder men bleeding themselves for the purpose. At about twelve or fourteen circumcision took place and (or sometimes as an alternative on the east coast) a front tooth was knocked out, to the accompaniment of the booming of the bullroarer (q.v.). At the age of puberty the lad was tattooed or scarred with gashes cut in back, shoulders, arms and chest, and the septum of the nose was pierced. The gashes varied in patterns for the different tribes. Girls, too, were scarred at puberty and had teeth knocked out, &c. The ceremonies—known to the Whites under the native generic term for initiatory rites, Bora,—were much the same throughout Australia. Polygamy was rare, due possibly to the scarcity of women. Infanticide was universally recognized. The mode of disposing of the dead varied. Among some tribes a circular grave was dug and the body placed in it with its face towards the east, and a high mound covered with bark or thatch raised over it. In New South Wales the body is often burned and the ashes buried. On the Lower Murray the body is placed on a platform of sticks and left to decay. Young children are often not buried for months, but are carried about by their mothers. At the funeral of men there is much mourning, the female relatives cutting or tearing their hair off and plastering their faces with clay, but for women no public ceremonies took place.
The numbers of the native Australians are steadily diminishing. It was estimated that when first visited by Europeans the native population did not much exceed 200,000. A remnant of the race exists in each of the provinces, while a few tribes still wander over the interior.
1. The Discovery of Australia.
It is impossible to say who were the first discoverers of Australia, although there is evidence that the Chinese had some knowledge of the continent so far back as the 13th century. The Malays, also, would seem to have been acquainted with the northern coast; while Marco Polo, who visited the East at the close of the 13th century, makes reference to the reputed existence of a great southern continent. There is in existence a map, dedicated to Henry VIII. of England, on which a large southern land is shown, and the tradition of a Terra Australis appears to have been current for a long period before it enters into authentic history.
In 1503 a French navigator named Binot Paulmyer, sieur de Gonneville, was blown out of his course, and landed on a large island, which was claimed to be the great southern land of tradition, although Flinders and other authorities are inclined to think that it must have been Madagascar. Some French authorities confidently put forward a claim that Guillaume le Testu, of Provence, sighted the continent in 1531. The Portuguese also advance claims to be the first discoverers of Australia, but so far the evidence cannot be said to establish their pretensions. As early as 1597 the Dutch historian, Wytfliet, describes the Australis Terra as the most southern of all lands, and proceeds to give some circumstantial particulars respecting its geographical relation to New Guinea, venturing the opinion that, were it thoroughly explored, it would be regarded as a fifth part of the world.
Early in the 17th century Philip III. of Spain sent out an expedition from Callao, in Peru, for the purpose of searching for a southern continent. The little fleet comprised three vessels, with the Portuguese pilot, De Quiros, as De Torres. navigator, and De Torres as admiral or military commander. They left Callao on the 21st of December 1605, and in the following year discovered the island now known as Espiritu Santo, one of the New Hebrides group, which De Quiros, under the impression that it was indeed the land of which he was in search, named La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo. Sickness and discontent led to a mutiny on De Quiros’ vessel, and the crew, overpowering their officers during the night, forced the captain to navigate his ship to Mexico. Thus, abandoned by his consort, De Torres, compelled to bear up for the Philippines to refit, discovered and sailed through the strait that bears his name, and may even have caught a glimpse of the northern coast of the Australian continent. His discovery was not, however, made known until 1792, when Dalrymple rescued his name from oblivion, bestowing it upon the passage which separates New Guinea from Australia. De Quiros returned to Spain to re-engage in the work of petitioning the king to despatch an expedition for the purpose of prosecuting the discovery of the Terra Australis. He was finally successful in his petitions, but died before accomplishing his work, and was buried in an unknown grave in Panama, never being privileged to set his foot upon the continent the discovery of which was the inspiration of his life.
During the same year in which De Torres sailed through the strait destined to make him famous, a little Dutch vessel called the “Duyfken,” or “Dove,” set sail from Bantam, in Java, on a voyage of discovery. This ship entered Dutch discoverers. the Gulf of Carpentaria, and sailed south as far as Cape Keerweer, or Turn-again. Here some of the crew landed, but, being attacked by natives, made no attempt to explore the country. In 1616 Dirk Hartog discovered the island bearing his name. In 1622 the “Leeuwin,” or “Lioness,” made some discoveries on the south-west coast; and during the following year the yachts “Pera” and “Arnheim” explored the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Arnheim Land, a portion of the Northern Territory, still appears on many maps as a memento of this voyage. Among other early Dutch discoverers were Edel; Pool, in 1629, in the Gulf of Carpentaria; Nuyts, in the “Guide Zeepaard,” along the southern coast, which he called, after himself, Nuyts Land; De Witt; and Pelsaert, in the “Batavia.” Pelsaert was wrecked on Houtman’s Abrolhos; his crew mutinied, and he and his party suffered greatly from want of water. The record of his voyage is interesting from the fact that he was the first to carry back to Europe an authentic account of the western coast of Australia, which he described in any but favourable terms. It is to Dutch navigators in the early portion of the 17th century that we owe the first really authentic accounts of the western coast and adjacent islands, and in many instances the names given by these mariners to prominent physical features are still retained. By 1665 the Dutch possessed rough charts of almost the whole of the western littoral, while to the mainland itself they had given the name of New Holland. Of the Dutch discoverers, Pelsaert was the only one who made any detailed observations of the character of the country inland, and it may here be remarked that his journal contains the first notice and description of the kangaroo that has come down to us.
In 1642 Abel Janszoon Tasman sailed on a voyage of discovery from Batavia, the headquarters of the governor and council of the Dutch East Indies, under whose auspices the expedition was undertaken. He was furnished with a yacht, the “Heemskirk,” and a fly-boat, the “Zeehaen” (or “Sea Hen”), under the command of Captain Jerrit Jansen. He left Batavia on what has been designated by Dutch historians the “Happy Voyage,” on the 14th of August 1642. After a visit to the Mauritius, then a Dutch possession, Tasman bore away to the south-east, and on the 24th of November sighted the western coast of the land which he named Van Diemen’s Land, in honour of the governor under whose directions he was acting. The honour was later transferred to the discoverer himself, and the island is now known as Tasmania. Tasman doubled the southern extremity of Van Diemen’s Land and explored the east coast for some distance. The ceremony of hoisting a flag and taking possession of the country in the name of the government of the Netherlands was actually performed, but the description of the wildness of the country, and of the fabulous giants by which Tasman’s sailors believed it to be inhabited, deterred the Dutch from occupying the island, and by the international principle of “non-user” it passed from their hands. Resuming his voyage in an easterly direction, Tasman sighted the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand on the 13th of December of the same year, and describes the coast-line as consisting of “high mountainous country.”
The first English navigator to sight the Australian continent was William Dampier, who made a visit to these shores in 1688, as supercargo of the “Cygnet,” a trader whose crew had turned buccaneers. On his return to England he Dampier. published an account of his voyage, which resulted in his being sent out in the “Roebuck” in 1699 to prosecute his discoveries further. To him we owe the exploration of the coast for about 900 m.—from Shark’s Bay to Dampier’s Archipelago, and thence to Roebuck Bay. He appears to have landed in several places in search of water. His account of the country was quite as unfavourable as Pelsaert’s. He described it as barren and sterile, and almost devoid of animals, the only one of any importance somewhat resembling a raccoon—a strange creature, which advanced by great bounds or leaps instead of walking, using only its hind legs, and covering 12 or 15 ft. at a time. The reference is, of course, to the kangaroo, which Pelsaert had also remarked and quaintly described some sixty years previously.
During the interval elapsing between Dampier’s two voyages, an accident led to the closer examination of the coasts of Western Australia by the Dutch. In 1684 a vessel had sailed from Holland for the Dutch possessions in the East Indies, and after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, she was never again heard of. Some twelve years afterwards the East India Company fitted out an expedition under the leadership of Commander William de Vlamingh, with the object of searching for any traces of the lost vessel on the western shores of New Holland. Towards the close of the year 1696 this expedition reached the island of Rottnest, which was thoroughly explored, and early the following year a landing party discovered and named the Swan river. The vessels then proceeded northward without finding any traces of the object of their search, but, at the same time, making fairly accurate charts of the coast-line.
The great voyage of Captain James Cook, in 1769-1770, was primarily undertaken for the purposes of observing the transit of Venus, but he was also expressly commissioned to ascertain “whether the unexplored part of the Cook. southern hemisphere be only an immense mass of water, or contain another continent.” H.M.S. “Endeavour,” the vessel fitted out for the voyage, was a small craft of 370 tons, carrying twenty-two guns, and built originally for a collier, with a view rather to strength than to speed. Chosen by Cook himself, she was renamed the “Endeavour,” in allusion to the great work which her commander was setting out to achieve. Mr Charles Green was commissioned to conduct the astronomical observations, and Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Solander were appointed botanists to the expedition. After successfully observing the transit from the island of Tahiti, or Otaheite, as Cook wrote it, the “Endeavour’s” head was turned south, and then north-west, beating about the Pacific in search of the eastern coast of the great continent whose western shores had been so long known to the Dutch. On the 6th of October 1769 the coast of New Zealand was sighted, and two days later Cook cast anchor in Poverty Bay, so named from the inhospitality and hostility of the natives.
After voyaging westward for nearly three weeks, Cook, on the 19th of April 1770, sighted the eastern coast of Australia at a point which he named after his lieutenant, who discovered it, Point Hicks, and which modern geographers identify with Cape Everard.
The “Endeavour” then coasted northward, and after passing and naming Mount Dromedary, the Pigeon House, Point Upright, Cape St George and Red Point, Botany Bay was discovered on the 28th of April 1770, and as it appeared to offer a suitable anchorage, the “Endeavour” entered the bay and dropped anchor. The ship brought-to opposite a group of natives, who were cooking over a fire. The great navigator and his crew, unacquainted with the character of the Australian aborigines, were not a little astonished that these natives took no notice of them or their proceedings. Even the splash of the anchor in the water, and the noise of the cable running out through the hawse-hole, in no way disturbed them at their occupation, or caused them to evince the slightest curiosity. But as the captain of the “Endeavour” ordered out the pinnace and prepared to land, the natives threw off their nonchalance; for on the boat approaching the shore, two men, each armed with a bundle of spears, presented themselves on a projecting rock and made threatening signs to the strangers. It is interesting to note that the ingenious wommera, or throw-stick, which is peculiar to Australia, was first observed on this occasion. As the men were evidently determined to oppose any attempt at landing, a musket was discharged between them, in the hope that they would be frightened by the noise, but it produced no effect beyond causing one of them to drop his bundle of spears, of which, however, he immediately repossessed himself, and with his comrade resumed the same menacing attitude. At last one cast a stone towards the boat, which earned him a charge of small shot in the leg. Nothing daunted, the two ran back into the bush, and presently returned furnished with shields made of bark, with which to protect themselves from the firearms of the crew. Such intrepidity is certainly worthy of passing notice. Unlike the American Indians, who supposed Columbus and his crew to be supernatural beings, and their ships in some way endowed with life, and were thrown into convulsions of terror by the first discharge of firearms which they witnessed, these Australians were neither excited to wonder by the ship nor overawed by the superior number and unknown weapons of the strangers. Cook examined the bay in the pinnace, and landed several times; but by no endeavour could he induce the natives to hold any friendly communication with him. The well-known circumstance of the great variety of new plants here obtained, from which Botany Bay derives its name, should not be passed over. Before quitting the bay the ceremony was performed of hoisting the Union Jack, first on the south shore, and then near the north head, formal possession of the territory being thus taken for the British crown. During the sojourn in Botany Bay the crew had to perform the painful duty of burying a comrade—a seaman named Forby Sutherland, who was in all probability the first British subject whose body was committed to Australian soil.
After leaving Botany Bay, Cook sailed northward. He saw and named Port Jackson, but forbore to enter the finest natural harbour in Australia. Broken Bay and other inlets, and several headlands, were also seen and named, but the vessel did not come to an anchor till Moreton Bay was reached, although the wind prevented Cook from entering this harbour. Still sailing northward, taking notes as he proceeded for a rough chart of the coast, and landing at Bustard and Keppel Bays and the Bay of Inlets, Cook passed over 1300 m. without the occurrence of any event worthy of being chronicled, till suddenly one night at ten o’clock the water was found to shoal, without any sign of breakers or land. While Cook was speculating on the cause of this phenomenon, and was in the act of ordering out the boats to take soundings, the “Endeavour” struck heavily, and fell over so much that the guns, spare cables, and other heavy gear had at once to be thrown overboard to lighten the ship. As day broke, attempts were made to float the vessel off with the morning tide; but these were unsuccessful. The water was rising so rapidly in the hold that with four pumps constantly going the crew could hardly keep it in check. At length one of the midshipmen suggested the device of “fothering,” which he had seen practised in the West Indies. This consists of passing a sail, attached to cords, and charged with oakum, wool, and other materials, under the vessel’s keel, in such a manner that the suction of the leak may draw the canvas into the aperture, and thus partially stop the vent. This was performed with great success, and the vessel was floated off with the evening tide. The land was soon after made near the mouth of a small stream, which Cook called, after the ship, the Endeavour river. A headland close by he named Cape Tribulation. The ship was steered into the river, and there careened and thoroughly repaired. Cook having completed the survey of the east coast, to which he gave the name of New South Wales, sighted and named Cape York, the northernmost point of Australia, and took final possession of his discoveries northward from 38° S. to 10½° S., on a spot which he named Possession Island, thence returning to England by way of Torres Straits and the Indian Ocean.
The great navigator’s second voyage, undertaken in 1772, with the “Resolution” and the “Adventure,” is of less importance. The vessels became separated, and both at different times visited New Zealand. Captain Tobias Furneaux, in the “Adventure,” also found his way to Storm Bay in Tasmania. In 1777, while on his way to search for a north-east passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Cook again touched at the coast of Tasmania and New Zealand. On his first voyage, in 1770, Cook had some grounds for the belief that Van Diemen’s Land, as Tasmania was then called, was a separate island. The observations of Captain Furneaux, however, did not strengthen this belief, and when making his final voyage, the great navigator appears to have definitely concluded that it was part of the mainland of Australia. This continued to be the opinion of geographers until 1798, when Bass discovered the strait which bears his name. The next recorded expedition is a memorable one in the annals of Australian history—the despatch of a British colony to the shores of Botany Bay. The fleet sailed in May 1787, and arrived off the Australian coast early in the following January.
2. Inland Exploration.
For a period of twenty-five years after the first establishment of a British settlement in Australia, the colonists were only acquainted with the country along the coast extending northwards about 70 m. from Sydney and about a like distance to the south and shut in to the west by the Blue Mountain range, forming a narrow strip not more than 50 m. wide at its broadest part.
The Blue Mountains attain a height of between 3000 and 4000 ft. only, but they are intersected with precipitous ravines 1500 ft. deep, which baffled every effort to reach the interior until in 1813, when a summer of severe drought had made it of vital importance to find new pastures, three of the colonists, Messrs Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, more fortunate than their predecessors in exploration, after crossing the Nepean river at Emu Plains and ascending the Dividing Range, were able to reach a position enabling them to obtain a view of the grassy valley of the Fish river, which lies on the farther side of the Dividing Range. The western descent of the mountains appeared to the explorers comparatively easy, and they returned to report their discovery. A line of road was constructed across the mountains as far as the Macquarie river by the surveyor, Mr Evans, and the town of Bathurst laid out. This marks the beginning of the occupation of the interior of the continent. Some small expeditions were made from Bathurst, resulting in the discovery of the Lachlan, and in 1816 the first of the great exploration expeditions of Australia was fitted out Oxley. under Lieutenant Oxley, R.N. Oxley was accompanied by Mr Evans and Mr Allan Cunningham the botanist, and the object of his expedition was to trace the course of the Lachlan in a westerly direction. Oxley traced the river until it lost itself in the swamps east of 147° E., then crossing the river he traversed the country between the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee as far as 34° S. and 144° 30′ E. On his return journey Oxley again crossed the Lachlan about 160 m., measured along the river, below the point where he left it on his journey south. Continuing in a north-easterly direction Oxley struck the Macquarie river at a place he called Wellington, and from this place in the following year he organized a second expedition in hopes of discovering an inland sea. He was, however, disappointed in this, as after descending the course of the Macquarie below Mount Harris, he found that the river ended in an immense swamp overgrown with reeds. Oxley now turned aside—led by Mr Evans’s report of the country eastward—crossed the Arbuthnot range, and traversing the Liverpool Plains, and ascending the Peel and Cockburn rivers to the Blue Mountains, gained sight of the open sea, which he reached at Port Macquarie. A valuable extension of geographical knowledge had been gained by this circuitous journey of more than 800 m. Yet its result was a disappointment to those who had looked for means of inland navigation by the Macquarie river, and by its supposed issue in a mediterranean sea.
During the next two or three years public attention was occupied with Captain King’s maritime explorations of the north-west coast in three successive voyages, and by explorations of Western Australia in 1821. These steps were followed by the foundation of a settlement on Melville Island, in the extreme north, which, however, was soon abandoned. In 1823 Lieutenant Oxley proceeded to Moreton Bay and Port Curtis, the first place 500 m., the other 690 m. north of Sydney, to choose the site of a new penal establishment. From a shipwrecked English sailor he met with, who had lived with the savages, he heard of the river Brisbane. About the same time, in the opposite direction, south-west of Sydney, a large extent of the interior was revealed. Messrs Hamilton Hume and Hovell set out from Lake George, crossed the Murrumbidgee, and, after following the river for a short distance, struck south, skirting the foothills of what are now known as the Australian Alps until they reached a fine river, which was called the Hume after the leader’s father. Crossing the Murray at Albury, the explorers, bearing to the south-west, skirted the western shore of Port Philip and reached the sea-coast near where the town of Geelong now stands. In 1827 and the two following years, Cunningham prosecuted instructive explorations on both sides of the Liverpool range, between the upper waters of the Hunter and those of the Peel and other tributaries of the Brisbane north of New South Wales. Some of his discoveries, including those of Pandora’s Pass and the Darling Downs, were of great practical utility.
By this time much had thus been done to obtain an acquaintance with the eastern parts of the Australian continent, although the problem of what could become of the large rivers flowing north-west and south-west into the interior Darling. was still unsolved. With a view to determine this question, Governor Sir Ralph Darling, in the year 1828, sent out the expedition under Captain Charles Sturt, who, proceeding first to the marshes at the end of the Macquarie river, found his progress checked by the dense mass of reeds in that quarter. He therefore turned westward, and struck a large river, with many affluents, to which he gave the name of the Darling. This river, flowing from north-east to south-west, drains the marshes in which the Macquarie and other streams from the south appeared to be lost. The course of the Murrumbidgee, a deep and rapid river, was followed by the same eminent explorer in his second expedition in 1831 with a more satisfactory result. He travelled on this occasion nearly 2000 m., and discovered that both the Murrumbidgee, carrying with it the waters of the Lachlan morass, and likewise the Darling, from a more northerly region, finally joined another and larger river. This stream, the Murray, in the upper part of its course runs in a north-westerly direction, but afterwards turning southwards, almost at a right angle, expands into Lake Alexandrina on the south coast, about 60 m. south-east of the town of Adelaide, and finally enters the sea at Encounter Bay in E. long. 139°.
After gaining a practical solution of the problem of the destination of the westward-flowing rivers, Sir Thomas Mitchell, in 1833, led an expedition northward to the upper branches of the Darling; the party met with a sad disaster in Mitchell. the death of Richard Cunningham, brother of the eminent botanist, who was murdered by the blacks near the Bogan river. The expedition reached the Darling on the 25th of May 1833, and after establishing a depot at Fort Bourke, Mitchell traced the Darling southwards for 300 m. until he was certain the river was identical with that reported by Sturt as joining the Murray about 142° E.
Meantime, from the new colony of Adelaide, South Australia, on the shores of Gulf St Vincent, a series of adventurous journeys to the north and to the west was begun by Mr Eyre, who explored a country very difficult of access. In Eyre. 1840 he performed a feat of extraordinary personal daring, travelling all the way along the barren sea-coast of the Great Australian Bight, from Spencer Gulf to King George Sound. Eyre also explored the interior north of the head of Spencer Gulf, where he was misled, however, by appearances to form an erroneous theory about the water-surfaces named Lake Torrens. It was left to the veteran explorer, Sturt, to achieve the arduous enterprise of penetrating from the Darling northward to the very centre of the continent. This was in 1845, the route lying for the most part over a stony desert, where the heat (reaching 131° Fahr.), with scorching winds, caused much suffering to the party. The most northerly point reached by Sturt on this occasion was about S. lat. 24° 25′.
Among the performances of less renown, but of much practical utility in surveying and opening new paths through the country, we may mention that of Captain Banister, showing the way across the southern part of Western Australia, from Swan river to King George Sound, and that of Messrs Robinson and G. H. Haydon in 1844, making good the route from Port Phillip to Gipps’ Land with loaded drays, through a dense tangled scrub, which had been described by Strzelecki as his worst obstacle. Again, in Western Australia there were the explorations of the Arrowsmith, the Murchison, the Gascoyne, and the Ashburton rivers, by Captain Grey, Mr Roe, Governor Fitzgerald, Mr R. Austin, and the brothers Gregory, whose discoveries have great importance from a geographical point of view.
These local researches, and the more comprehensive attempts of Leichhardt and Mitchell to solve the chief problems of Australian geography, must yield in importance to the grand achievement of Mr Stuart in 1862. The first Stuart. of his tours independently performed, in 1858 and 1859, were around the South Australian lakes, namely, Lake Torrens, Lake Eyre and Lake Gairdner. These waters had been erroneously taken for parts of one vast horse-shoe or sickle shaped lake, only some 20 m. broad, believed to encircle a large portion of the inland country, with drainage at one end by a marsh into Spencer Gulf. The mistake, shown in all the old maps of Australia, had originated in a curious optical illusion. When Mr Eyre viewed the country from Mount Deception in 1840, looking between Lake Torrens and the lake which now bears his own name, the refraction of light from the glittering crust of salt that covers a large space of stony or sandy ground produced an appearance of water. The error was discovered, after eighteen years, by the explorations of Mr Babbage and Major Warburton in 1858, while Mr Stuart, about the same time, gained a more complete knowledge of the same district.
A reward of £10,000 having been offered by the legislature of South Australia to the first man who should traverse the whole continent from south to north, starting from the city of Adelaide, Mr Stuart resolved to make the attempt. He started in March 1860, passing Lake Torrens and Lake Eyre, beyond which he found a pleasant, fertile country till he crossed the Macdonnell range of mountains, just under the line of the tropic of Capricorn. On the 23rd of April he reached a mountain in S. lat. nearly 22°, and E. long. nearly 134°, which is the most central marked point of the Australian continent, and has been named Central Mount Stuart. Mr Stuart did not finish his task on this occasion, on account of indisposition and other causes. But the 18th degree of latitude had been reached, where the watershed divided the rivers of the Gulf of Carpentaria from the Victoria river, flowing towards the north-west coast. He had also proved that the interior of Australia was not a stony desert, like the region visited by Sturt in 1845. On the first day of the next year, 1861, Mr Stuart again started for a second attempt to cross the continent, which occupied him eight months. He failed, however, to advance farther than one geographical degree north of the point reached in 1860, his progress being arrested by dense scrubs and the want of water.
Meanwhile, in the province of Victoria, by means of a fund subscribed among the colonists and a grant by the legislature, the ill-fated expedition of Messrs Burke and Wills was started. It made for the Barcoo (Cooper’s Creek), Burke and Wills. with a view to reach the Gulf of Carpentaria by a northerly course midway between Sturt’s track to the west and Leichhardt’s to the east. The leading men of the party were Mr Robert O’Hara Burke, an officer of police, and Mr William John Wills, of the Melbourne observatory. Leaving the main body of his party at Menindie on the Darling under a man named Wright, Burke, with seven men, five horses and sixteen camels, pushed on for Cooper’s Creek, the understanding being that Wright should follow him in easy stages to the depot proposed to be there established. Wright frittered away his time in the district beyond the Darling and did not attempt to follow the party to Cooper’s Creek, and Burke, tired of waiting, determined to push on. Accordingly, dividing his party, leaving at the depot four men and taking with him Wills and two men, King and Gray, with a horse and six camels, he left Cooper’s Creek on the 16th of December and crossed the desert traversed by Sturt fifteen years before. They got on in spite of great difficulties, past the McKinlay range of mountains, S. lat. 21° and 22°, and then reached the Flinders river, which flows into the head of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Here, without actually standing on the sea-beach of the northern shore, they met the tidal waters of the sea. On the 23rd of February 1861 they commenced the return journey, having in effect accomplished the feat of crossing the Australian continent. Gray, who had fallen ill, died on the 16th of April. Five days later, Burke, Wills and King had repassed the desert to the place on Cooper’s Creek (the Barcoo, S. lat. 27° 40′, E. long. 140° 30′), where they had left the depot, with the rest of the expedition. Here they experienced a cruel disappointment. The depot was abandoned; the men in charge had quitted the place the same day, believing that Burke and those with him were lost. The men who had thus abandoned the depot rejoined the main body of the expedition under Wright, who at length moved to Cooper’s Creek, and, incredible to relate, neglected to search for the missing explorers. Burke, Wills and King, when they found themselves so fearfully left alone and unprovided in the wilderness, wandered about in that district till near the end of June. They subsisted miserably on the bounty of some natives, and partly by feeding on the seeds of a plant called nardoo. At last both Wills and Burke died of starvation. King, the sole survivor, was saved by meeting the friendly blacks, and was found alive in September by Mr A. W. Howitt’s party, sent on purpose to find and relieve that of Burke.
Four other parties, besides Howitt’s, were sent out that year from different Australian provinces. Three of them, respectively commanded by Mr Walker, Mr Landsborough, and Mr Norman, sailed to the north, where the latter two landed on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, while Mr Walker marched inland from Rockhampton. The fourth party, under Mr J. McKinlay, from Adelaide, made for the Barcoo by way of Lake Torrens. By these means, the unknown region of Mid Australia was simultaneously entered from the north, south, east and west, and important additions were made to geographical knowledge Landsborough crossed the entire continent from north to south, between February and June 1862; and McKinlay, from south to north, before the end of August in that year. The interior of New South Wales and Queensland, all that lies east of the 140th degree of longitude, was examined. The Barcoo or Cooper’s Creek and its tributary streams were traced from the Queensland mountains, holding a south-westerly course to Lake Eyre in South Australia; the Flinders, the Gilbert, the Gregory, and other northern rivers watering the country towards the Gulf of Carpentaria were also explored. These valuable additions to Australian geography were gained through humane efforts to relieve the lost explorers. The bodies of Burke and Wills were recovered and brought to Melbourne for a solemn public funeral, and a noble monument has been erected to their honour.
Mr Stuart, in 1862, made his third and final attempt to traverse the continent from Adelaide along a central line, which, inclining a little westward, reaches the north coast of Arnheim Land, opposite Melville Island. He started in January, and on the 7th of April reached the farthest northern point, near S. lat. 17°, where he had turned back in May of the preceding year. He then pushed on, through a very thick forest, with scarcely any water, till he came to the streams which supply the Roper, a river flowing into the western part of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Having crossed a table-land of sandstone which divides these streams from those running to the western shores of Arnheim Land, Mr Stuart, in the month of July, passed down what is called the Adelaide river of north Australia. Thus he came at length to stand on the verge of the Indian Ocean; “gazing upon it,” a writer has said, “with as much delight as Balboa, when he crossed the Isthmus of Darien from the Atlantic to the Pacific.” The line crossing Australia which was thus explored has since been occupied by the electric telegraph connecting Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and other Australian cities with London.
A third part, at least, of the interior of the whole continent, between the central line of Stuart and the known parts of Western Australia, from about 120° to 134° E. long., an extent of half a million square miles, still remained Gosse. a blank in the map. But the two expeditions of 1873, conducted by William Christie Gosse (1842-1881), afterwards deputy surveyor-general for South Australia, and Colonel (then Major) Egerton Warburton, made a beginning in the exploration of this terra incognita west of the central telegraph route. That line of more than 1800 m., having its southern extremity at the head of Spencer Gulf, its northern at Port Darwin, in Arnheim Land, passes Central Mount Stuart, in the middle of the continent, S. lat. 22°, E. long. 134°. Mr Gosse, with men and horses provided by the South Australian government, started on the 21st of April from the telegraph station 50 m. south of Central Mount Stuart, to strike into Western Australia. He passed the Reynolds range and Lake Amadeus in that direction, but was compelled to turn south, where he found a tract of well-watered grassy land. A singular rock of conglomerate, 2 m. long, 1 m. wide, and 1100 ft. high, with a spring of water in its centre, struck his attention. The country was mostly poor and barren, sandy hillocks, with scanty growth of spinifex. Mr Gosse, having travelled above 600 m., and getting to 26° 32′ S. and 127° E., two degrees within the Western Australian boundary, was forced to return. Meantime a more successful attempt to reach the Warburton. western coast from the centre of Australia was made by Major Warburton, with thirty camels, provided by Mr (afterwards Sir) T. Elder, of South Australia. Leaving the telegraph line at Alice Springs (23° 40′ S., 133° 14′ E.), 1120 m. north of Adelaide city, Warburton succeeded in making his way to the De Grey river, Western Australia. Overland routes had now been found possible, though scarcely convenient for traffic, between all the widely separated Australian provinces. In northern Queensland, also, there were several explorations about this period, with results of some interest. That performed by Mr W. Hann, with Messrs Warner, Tate and Taylor, in 1873, related to the country north of the Kirchner range, watered by the Lynd, the Mitchell, the Walsh and the Palmer rivers, on the east side of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The coasting expedition of Mr G. Elphinstone Dalrymple, with Messrs Hill and Johnstone, finishing in December 1873, effected a valuable survey of the inlets and navigable rivers in the Cape York Peninsula.
Of the several attempts to cross Western Australia, even Major Warburton’s expedition, the most successful, had failed in the important particular of determining the nature of the country through which it passed. Major Warburton had virtually raced across from the Macdonnell range in South Australia to the headwaters of the Oakover river on the north-west coast, without allowing himself sufficient time to note the characteristics of the country. The next important expedition Forrest. was differently conducted. John (afterwards Sir John) Forrest was despatched by the Perth government with general instructions to obtain information regarding the immense tract of country out of which flow the rivers falling into the sea on the northern and western shores of Western Australia. Leaving Yewin, a small settlement about lat. 28° S., long. 116° E., Forrest travelled north-east to the Murchison river, and followed the course of that river to the Robinson ranges; thence his course lay generally eastward along the 26th parallel. Forrest and his party safely crossed the entire extent of Western Australia, and entering South Australia struck the overland telegraph line at Peake station, and, after resting, journeyed south to Adelaide. Forrest traversed seventeen degrees of desert in five months, a very wonderful achievement, more especially as he was able to give a full report of the country through which he passed. His report destroyed all hope that pastoral settlement would extend to the spinifex region; and the main object of subsequent explorers was to determine the extent of the desert in the direction of north and south. Ernest Giles. Giles made several attempts to cross the Central Australian Desert, but it was not until his third attempt that he was successful. His journey ranks almost with Forrest’s in the importance of its results and the success with which the appalling difficulties of the journey were overcome. Through the generosity of Sir Thomas Elder, of Adelaide, Giles’s expedition was equipped with camels. It started on the 23rd of May 1875 from Port Augusta. Working westerly along the line of the 30th parallel, Giles reached Perth in about five months. After resting in Perth for a short time, he commenced the return journey, which was made for the most part between the 24th and 25th parallels, and again successfully traversed the desert, reaching the overland telegraph line in about seven months. Giles’s journeys added greatly to our knowledge of the characteristics of Western and South Australia, and he was able to bear out the common opinion that the interior of Australia west of 132° E. long, is a sandy and waterless waste, entirely unfit for settlement.
The list of explorers since 1875 is a long one; but after Forrest’s and Giles’s expeditions the main object ceased to be the discovery of pastoral country: a new zest had been added to the cause of exploration, and most of Recent explorers. the smaller expeditions concerned themselves with the search for gold. Amongst the more important explorations may be ranked those of Tietkins in 1889, of Lindsay in 1891, of Wells in 1896, of Hübbe in 1896, and of the Hon. David Carnegie in 1896-97. Lindsay’s expedition, which was fitted out by Sir Thomas Elder, the generous patron of Australian exploration, entered Western Australia about the 26th parallel south lat., on the line of route taken by Forrest in 1874. From this point the explorer worked in a south-westerly direction to Queen Victoria Springs, where he struck the track of Giles’s expedition of 1875. From the Springs the expedition went north-west and made a useful examination of the country lying between 119° and 115° meridians and between 26° and 28° S. lat. Wells’s expedition started from a base about 122° 20′ E. and 25° 54′ S., and worked northward to the Joanna Springs, situated on the tropic of Capricorn and near the 124th meridian. From the springs the journey was continued along the same meridian to the Fitzroy river. The country passed through was mostly of a forbidding character, except where the Kimberley district was entered, and the expedition suffered even more than the usual hardships. The establishment of the gold-fields, with their large population, caused great interest to be taken in the discovery of practicable stock routes, especially from South Australia in the east, and from Kimberley district in the north. Alive to the importance of the trade, the South Australian government despatched Hübbe from Oodnadatta to Coolgardie. He successfully accomplished his journey, but had to report that there was no practicable route for cattle between the two districts.
One of the most successful expeditions which traversed Western Australia was that led and equipped by the Hon. David Carnegie, which started in July 1896, and travelled north-easterly until it reached Alexander Spring; then turning northward, it traversed the country between Wells’s track of 1896 and the South Australian border. The expedition encountered very many hardships, but successfully reached Hall Creek in the Kimberley district. After a few months’ rest it started on the return journey, following Sturt Creek until its termination in Gregory’s Salt Sea, and then keeping parallel with the South Australian border as far as Lake Macdonald. Rounding that lake the expedition moved south-west and reached the settled districts in August 1897. The distance travelled was 5000 m., and the actual time employed was eight months. This expedition put an end to the hope, so long entertained, that it was possible to obtain a direct and practicable route for stock between Kimberley and Coolgardie gold-fields; and it also proved that, with the possible exception of small isolated patches, the desert traversed contained no auriferous country.
It may be said that exploration on a large scale is now at an end; there remain only the spaces, nowhere very extensive, between the tracks of the old explorers yet to be examined, and these are chiefly in the Northern Territory and in Western Australia north of the tropic of Capricorn. The search for gold and the quest for unoccupied pasturage daily diminish the extent of these areas.
3. Political History.
Of the six Australian states, New South Wales is the oldest. It was in 1788, eighteen years after Captain Cook explored the east coast, that Port Jackson was founded as a penal station for criminals from England; and Early colonization. the settlement retained that character, more or less, during the subsequent fifty years, transportation being virtually suspended in 1839. The colony, however, from 1821 had made a fair start in free industrial progress. By this time, too, several of the other provinces had come into existence. Van Diemen’s Land, now called Tasmania, had been occupied as early as 1803. It was an auxiliary penal station under New South Wales till in 1825 it became a separate government. From this island, ten years later, parties crossed Bass Strait to Port Phillip, where a new settlement was shortly established, forming till 1851 a part of New South Wales, but now the state of Victoria. In 1827 and 1829, an English company endeavoured to plant a settlement at the Swan river, and this, added to a small military station established in 1825 at King George Sound, constituted Western Australia. On the shores of the Gulf St Vincent, again, from 1835 to 1837, South Australia was created by another joint-stock company, as an experiment in the Wakefield scheme of colonization. Such were the political component parts of British Australia up to 1839. The early history, therefore, of New South Wales is peculiar to itself. Unlike the other mainland provinces, it was at first held and used chiefly for the reception of British convicts. When that system was abolished, the social conditions of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia became more equal. Previous to the gold discoveries of 1851 they may be included, from 1839, in a general summary view.
The first British governors at Sydney, from 1788, ruled with despotic power. They were naval or military officers in command of the garrison, the convicts and the few free settlers. The duty was performed by such men as Captain Arthur Phillip, Captain Hunter, and others. In the twelve years’ rule of General Macquarie, closing with 1821, the colony made a substantial advance. By means of bond labour roads and bridges were Rise of New South Wales. constructed, and a route opened into the interior beyond the Blue Mountains. A population of 30,000, three-fourths of them convicts, formed the infant commonwealth, whose attention was soon directed to the profitable trade of rearing fine wool sheep, first commenced by Captain John McArthur in 1803. During the next ten years, 1821-1831, Sir Thomas Brisbane and Sir Ralph Darling, two generals of the army, being successively governors, the colony increased, and eventually succeeded in obtaining the advantages of a representative institution, by means of a legislative council. Then came General Sir Richard Bourke, whose wise and liberal administration proved most beneficial. New South Wales became prosperous and attractive to emigrants with capital. Its enterprising ambition was encouraged by taking fresh country north and south. In the latter direction, explored by Mitchell in 1834 and 1836, lay Australia Felix, now Victoria, including the well-watered, thickly-wooded country of Gipps’ Land.
This district, then called Port Phillip, in the time of Governor Sir George Gipps, 1838-1846, was growing fast into a position claiming independence. Melbourne, which began with a few huts on the banks of the Yarra-Yarra in 1835, Growth of Victoria. was in 1840 a busy town of 6000 inhabitants, the population of the whole district, with the towns of Geelong and Portland, reaching 12,850; while its import trade amounted to £204,000, and its exports to £138,000. Such was the growth of infant Victoria in five years; that of Adelaide or South Australia, in the same period, was nearly equal to it. At Melbourne there was a deputy governor, Mr Latrobe, under Sir George-Gipps at Sydney. Adelaide had its own governors, first Captain Hindmarsh, next Colonel Gawler, and then Captain George Grey. Western Australia progressed but slowly, with less than 4000 inhabitants altogether, under Governors Stirling and Hutt.
The general advancement of Australia, to the era of the gold-mining, had been satisfactory, in spite of a severe commercial crisis, from 1841 to 1843, caused by extravagant land speculations and inflated prices. Victoria produced Discovery of gold. already more wool than New South Wales, the aggregate produce of Australia in 1852 being 45,000,000 ℔; and South Australia, between 1842 and this date, had opened most valuable mines of copper. The population of New South Wales in 1851 was 190,000; that of Victoria, 77,000; and that of South Australia about the same. At Summerhill Creek, 20 m. north of Bathurst, in the Macquarie plains, gold was discovered, in February 1851, by Mr E. Hargraves, a gold-miner from California. The intelligence was made known in April or May; and then began a rush of thousands,—men leaving their former employments in the bush or in the towns to search for the ore so greatly coveted in all ages. In August it was found at Andersen’s Creek, near Melbourne; a few weeks later the great Ballarat gold-field, 80 m. west of that city, was opened; and after that, Bendigo to the north. Not only in these lucky provinces, New South Wales and Victoria, where the auriferous deposits were revealed, but in every British colony of Australasia, all ordinary industry was left for the one exciting pursuit. The copper mines of South Australia were for the time deserted, while Tasmania and New Zealand lost many inhabitants, who emigrated to the more promising country. The disturbance of social, industrial and commercial affairs, during the first two or three years of the gold era, was very great. Immigrants from Europe, and to some extent from North America and China, poured into Melbourne, where the arrivals in 1852 averaged 2000 persons in a week. The population of Victoria was doubled in the first twelvemonth of the gold fever, and the value of imports and exports was multiplied tenfold between 1851 and 1853. The colony of Victoria was constituted a separate province in July 1851, Mr Latrobe being appointed governor, followed by Sir Charles Hotham and Sir Henry Barkly in succession.
The separation of the northern part of eastern Australia, under the name of Queensland, from the original province of New South Wales, took place in 1859. At that time the district contained about 25,000 inhabitants; and in the first six years Responsible government. its population was quadrupled and its trade trebled. At the beginning of 1860, when the excitement of the gold discoveries was wearing off, five of the states had received from the home government the boon of responsible government, and were in a position to work out the problem of their position without external interference; it was not, however, until 1890 that Western Australia was placed in a similar position. After the establishment of responsible government the main questions at issue were the secular as opposed to the religious system of public instruction, protection as opposed to a revenue tariff, vote by ballot, adult suffrage, abolition of transportation and assignment of convicts, and free selection of lands before survey; these, and indeed all the great questions upon which the country was divided, were settled within twenty years of the granting of self-government. With the disposal of these important problems, politics in Australia became a struggle for office between men whose political principles were very much alike, and the tenure of power enjoyed by the various governments did not depend upon the principles of administration so much as upon the personal fitness of the head of the ministry, and the acceptability of his ministry to the members of the more popular branch of the legislature.
The two most striking political events in the modern history of Australia, as a whole, apart from the readiness it has shown to remain a part of the British empire (q.v.), and to develop along Imperial lines, are the advent of the General Australian problems. Labour party and the establishment of federation. As regards the last mentioned it may be said that it was accomplished from within, there being no real external necessity for the union of the states. Leading politicians have in all the states felt the cramping effects of mere domestic legislation, albeit on the proper direction of such legislation depends the well-being of the people; and to this sense of the limitations of local politics was due, as much as to anything else, the movement towards federation.
Before coming, however, to the history of federation, and the evolution of the Labour party, we must refer briefly to some other questions which have been of general interest in Australia. Taking the states as a whole, agrarian Agrarian legislation. legislation has been the most important subject that has engrossed the attention of their parliaments, and every state has been more or less engaged in tinkering with its land laws. The main object of all such legislation is to secure the residence of the owners on the land. The object of settlers, however, in a great many, perhaps in the majority of instances, is to dispose of their holdings as soon as possible after the requirements of the law have been complied with, and to avoid permanent settlement. This has greatly facilitated the formation of large estates devoted chiefly to grazing purposes, contrary to the policy of the legislature, which has everywhere sought to encourage tillage, or tillage joined to stock-rearing, and to discourage large holdings. The importance of the land question is so great that it is hardly an exaggeration to say that it is usual for every parliament of Australia to have before it a proposal to alter or amend its land laws. Since 1870 there have been five radical changes made in New South Wales. In Victoria the law has been altered five times, and in Queensland and South Australia seven times.
The prevention or regulation of the immigration of coloured races has also claimed a great share of parliamentary attention. The agitation against the influx of Chinese commenced very soon after the gold discoveries, the European Immigration question. miners objecting strongly to the presence of these aliens upon the diggings. The allegations made concerning the Chinese really amounted to a charge of undue industry. The Chinese were hard-working and had the usual fortune attending those who work hard. They spent little on drink or with the storekeepers, and were, therefore, by no means popular. As early as 1860 there had been disturbances of a serious character, and the Chinese were chased off the goldfields of New South Wales, serious riots occurring at Lambing Flat, on the Burrangong goldfield. The Chinese difficulty, so far as the mining population was concerned, was solved by the exhaustion of the extensive alluvial deposits; the miners’ prejudice against the race, however, still exists, though they are no longer serious competitors, and the laws of some of the states forbid any Chinese to engage in mining without the express authority in writing of the minister of mines. The nearness of China to Australia has always appeared to the Australian democracy as a menace to the integrity of the white settlements; and at the many conferences of representatives from the various states, called to discuss matters of general concern, the Chinese question has always held a prominent place, but the absence of any federal authority had made common action difficult. In 1888 the last important conference on the Chinese question was held in Sydney and attended by delegates from all the states. Previously to the meeting of the conference there had been a great deal of discussion in regard to the influx of Chinese, and such influx was on all sides agreed to be a growing danger. The conference, therefore, merely expressed the public sentiment when it resolved that, although it was not advisable to prohibit altogether this class of immigration, it was necessary in the public interests that the number of Chinese privileged to land should be so limited as to prevent the people of that race from ever becoming an important element in the community. In conformity with this determination the various state legislatures enacted new laws or amended the existing laws to cope with the difficulty; these remained until they were in effect superseded by Commonwealth legislation. The objection to admitting immigrants was not only to the Chinese, but extended to all Asiatics; but as a large proportion of the persons whose entrance into the colonies it was desired to stop were British subjects, and the Imperial government refused to sanction any measure directly prohibiting in plain terms the movement of British subjects from one part of the empire to another, resort was made to indirect legislation; this was the more advisable, as the rise of the Japanese power in the East and the alliance of that country with Great Britain rendered it necessary to pay attention to the susceptibilities of a powerful nation whose subjects might be affected by restrictive laws. Eventually the difficulty was overcome by the device of an educational test based on the provisions of an act in operation in Natal. It was provided that a person was to be prohibited from landing in Australia who failed to write in any prescribed language fifty words dictated to him by the commonwealth officer supervising immigration. The efficacy of this legislation is in its administration, the language in which coloured aliens are usually tested being European. The agitation against the Chinese covered a space of over fifty years, a long period in the history of a young country, and was promoted and kept alive almost entirely by the trades unions, and the restriction acts were the first legislative triumph of the Labour party, albeit that party was not at the time directly represented in parliament.
One of the most notable events in the modern history of Australia occurred shortly after the great strike of 1890. This was what is ordinarily termed the bank crisis of 1893. Although this crisis followed on the great strike, the crisis of Bank crisis of 1893. two things had no real connexion, the crisis being the natural result of events long anterior to 1890. The effects of the crisis were mainly felt in the three eastern states, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia being affected chiefly by reason of the fact of their intimate financial connexion with the eastern states. The approach of the crisis was heralded by many signs. Deposits were shifted from bank to bank, there were small runs on several of the savings banks guaranteed by the government, mortgagees required additional security from their debtors, bankruptcies became frequent, and some of the banks began to accumulate gold against the evil day. The building societies and financial institutions in receipt of deposits, or so many of them as were on an unsound footing, failed at an early period of the depression, so also did the weaker banks. There was distrust in the minds of the depositors, especially those whose holdings were small, and most of the banks were, at a very early period, subjected to the strain of repaying a large proportion of their deposits as they fell due. For a time the money so withdrawn was hoarded, but after a while it found its way back again into the banks. The crisis was by no means a sudden crash, and even when the failures began to take place they were spread over a period of sixteen weeks.
The first noticeable effect of the crisis was a great scarcity of employment. Much capital was locked up in the failed banks, and was therefore not available for distribution amongst wage-earners. Wages fell precipitately, as also did rents. There was an almost entire cessation of building, and a large number of houses in the chief cities remained untenanted, the occupants moving to lodgings and more than one family living in a single house. Credit became greatly restricted, and all descriptions of speculative enterprise came to an end. The consuming power of the population was greatly diminished, and in the year following the crisis the imports into Australia from abroad diminished by four and three-quarter millions. In fact, everywhere the demand for goods, especially of those for domestic consumption, fell away; and there was a reduction in the average number of persons employed in the manufacturing industries to the extent of more than 20%. The lack of employment in factories naturally affected the coal mining industry, and indeed every industry in the states, except those connected with the export trade, was severely affected. During the crisis banks having a paid-up capital and reserves of £5,000,000 and deposits of £53,000,000 closed their doors. Most of these, however, reopened for business before many weeks. The crisis was felt in the large cities more keenly than in the country districts, and in Melbourne more severely than in any other capital. The change of fortune proved disastrous to many families, previously to all appearances in opulent circumstances, but by all classes alike their reverses were borne with the greatest bravery. In its ultimate effects the crisis was by no means evil. Its true meaning was not lost upon a business community that had had twenty years of almost unchecked prosperity. It required the chastening of adversity to teach it a salutary lesson, and a few years after, when the first effects of the crisis had passed away, business was on a much sounder footing than had been the case for very many years. One of the first results was to put trade on a sound basis and to abolish most of the abuses of the credit system, but the most striking effect of the crisis was the attention which was almost immediately directed to productive pursuits. Agriculture everywhere expanded, the mining industry revived, and, if it had not been for the low prices of staple products, the visible effects of the crisis would have passed away within a very few years.
Another matter which deserves attention was the great drought which culminated in the year 1902. For some years previously the pastoral industry had been declining and the number of sheep and cattle in Australia had Drought of 1902. greatly diminished, but the year 1902 was one of veritable drought. The failure of the crops was almost universal and large numbers of sheep and cattle perished for want of food. The truth is, pastoralists for the most part carried on their industry trusting very greatly to luck, not making any special provisions against the vicissitudes of the seasons. Enormous quantities of natural hay were allowed every year to rot or be destroyed by bush fires, and the bountiful provision made by nature to carry them over the seasons of dry weather absolutely neglected; so that when the destructive season of 1902 fell upon them, over a large area of territory there was no food for the stock. The year 1903 proved most bountiful, and in a few years all trace of the disastrous drought of 1902 passed away. But beyond this the pastoralist learnt most effectually the lesson that, in a country like Australia, provision must be made for the occasional season when the rainfall is entirely inadequate to the wants of the farmer and the pastoralist.
The question of federation was not lost sight of by the framers of the original constitution which was bestowed upon New South Wales. In the report of the committee of the legislative council appointed in 1852 to prepare a constitution Federation. for that colony, the following passage occurs:—“One of the most prominent legislative measures required by the colony, and the colonies of the Australian group generally, is the establishment at once of a general assembly, to make laws in relation to those intercolonial questions that have arisen or may hereafter arise among them. The questions which would claim the exercise of such a jurisdiction appear to be (1) intercolonial tariffs and the coasting trade; (2) railways, roads, canals, and other such works running through any two of the colonies; (3) beacons and lighthouses on the coast; (4) intercolonial gold regulations; (5) postage between the said colonies; (6) a general court of appeal from the courts of such colonies; (7) a power to legislate on all other subjects which may be submitted to them by addresses from the legislative councils and assemblies of the colonies, and to appropriate to any of the above-mentioned objects the necessary sums of money, to be raised by a percentage on the revenues of all the colonies interested.” This wise recommendation received very scant attention, and it was not until the necessities of the colonies forced them to it that an attempt was made to do what the framers of the original constitution suggested. Federation at no time actually dropped out of sight, but it was not until thirty-five years later that any practical steps were taken towards its accomplishment. Meanwhile a sort of makeshift was devised, and the Imperial parliament passed a measure permitting the formation of a federal council, to which any colony that felt inclined to join could send delegates. Of the seven colonies New South Wales and New Zealand stood aloof from the council, and from the beginning it was therefore shorn of a large share of the prestige that would have attached to a body speaking and acting on behalf of a united Australia. The council had also a fatal defect in its constitution. It was merely a deliberative body, having no executive functions and possessing no control of funds or other means to put its legislation in force. Its existence was well-nigh forgotten by the people of Australia until the occurrence of its biennial meetings, and even then but slight interest was taken in its proceedings. The council held eight meetings, at which many matters of intercolonial interest were discussed. The last occasion of its being called together was in 1899, when the council met in Melbourne. In 1889 an important step towards federation was taken by Sir Henry Parkes. The occasion was the report of Major-General Edwards on the defences of Australia, and Sir Henry addressed the other premiers on the desirability of a federal union for purposes of defence. The immediate result was a conference at Parliament House, Melbourne, of representatives from each of the seven colonies. This conference adopted an address to the queen expressing its loyalty and attachment, and submitting certain resolutions which affirmed the desirability of an early union, under the crown, of the Australasian colonies, on principles just to all, and provided that the remoter Australasian colonies should be entitled to admission upon terms to be afterwards agreed upon, and that steps should be taken for the appointment of delegates to a national Australasian convention, to consider and report upon an adequate scheme for a federal convention. In accordance with the understanding arrived at, the various Australasian parliaments appointed delegates to attend a national convention to be held in Sydney, and on the 2nd March 1891 the convention held its first meeting. Sir Henry Parkes was elected president, and he moved a series of resolutions embodying the principles necessary to establish, on an enduring foundation, the structure of a federal government. These resolutions were slightly altered by the conference, and were adopted in the following form:—
- 1. The powers and rights of existing colonies to remain intact, except as regards such powers as it may be necessary to hand over to the Federal government.
- 2. No alteration to be made in states without the consent of the legislatures of such states, as well as of the federal parliament.
- 3. Trade between the federated colonies to be absolutely free.
- 4. Power to impose customs and excise duties to be in the Federal government and parliament.
- 5. Military and naval defence forces to be under one command.
- 6. The federal constitution to make provision to enable each state to make amendments in the constitution if necessary for the purposes of federation.
Other formal resolutions were also agreed to, and on the 31st of March Sir Samuel Griffith, as chairman of the committee on constitutional machinery, brought up a draft Constitution Bill, which was carefully considered by the convention in committee of the whole and adopted on the 9th of April, when the convention was formally dissolved. The bill, however, fell absolutely dead, not because it was not a good bill, but because the movement out of which it arose had not popular initiative, and therefore failed to reach the popular imagination.
Although the bill drawn up by the convention of 1891 was not received by the people with any show of interest, the federation movement did not die out; on the contrary, it had many enthusiastic advocates, especially in the colony of Victoria. In 1894 an unofficial convention was held at Corowa, at which the cause of federation was strenuously advocated, but it was not until 1895 that the movement obtained new life, by reason of the proposals adopted at a meeting of premiers convened by Mr G. H. Reid of New South Wales. At this meeting all the colonies except New Zealand were represented, and it was agreed that the parliament of each colony should be asked to pass a bill enabling the people to choose ten persons to represent the colony on a federal convention; the work of such convention being the framing of a federal constitution to be submitted to the people for approval by means of the referendum. During the year 1896 Enabling Acts were passed by New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, and delegates were elected by popular vote in all the colonies named except Western Australia, where the delegates were chosen by parliament. The convention met in Adelaide on the 22nd of March 1897, and, after drafting a bill for the consideration of the various parliaments, adjourned until the 2nd of September. On that date the delegates reassembled in Sydney, and debated the bill in the light of the suggestions made by the legislatures of the federating colonies. In the course of the proceedings it was announced that Queensland desired to come within the proposed union; and in view of this development, and in order to give further opportunity for the consideration of the bill, the convention again adjourned. The third and final session was opened in Melbourne on the 20th of January 1898, but Queensland was still unrepresented; and, after further consideration, the draft bill was finally adopted on the 16th of March and remitted to the various colonies for submission to the people.
The constitution was accepted by Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania by popular acclamation, but in New South Wales very great opposition was shown, the main points of objection being the financial provisions, equal representation in the Senate, and the difficulty in the way of the larger states securing an amendment of the constitution in the event of a conflict with the smaller states. As far as the other colonies were concerned, it was evident that the bill was safe, and public attention throughout Australia was fixed on New South Wales, where a fierce political contest was raging, which it was recognized would decide the fate of the measure for the time being. The fear was as to whether the statutory number of 80,000 votes necessary for the acceptance of the bill would be reached. This fear proved to be well founded, for the result of the referendum in New South Wales showed 71,595 votes in favour of the bill and 66,228 against it, and it was accordingly lost. In Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, on the other hand, the bill was accepted by triumphant majorities. Western Australia did not put it to the vote, as the Enabling Act of that colony only provided for joining a federation of which New South Wales should form a part. The existence of such a strong opposition to the bill in the mother colony convinced even its most zealous advocates that some changes would have to be made in the constitution before it could be accepted by the people; consequently, although the general election in New South Wales, held six or seven weeks later, was fought on the federal issue, yet the opposing parties seemed to occupy somewhat the same ground, and the question narrowed itself down to one as to which party should be entrusted with the negotiations to be conducted on behalf of the colony, with a view to securing a modification of the objectionable features of the bill. The new parliament decided to adopt the procedure of again sending the premier, Mr Reid, into conference, armed with a series of resolutions affirming its desire to bring about the completion of federal union, but asking the other colonies to agree to the reconsideration of the provisions which were most generally objected to in New South Wales. The other colonies interested were anxious to bring the matter to a speedy termination, and readily agreed to this course of procedure. Accordingly a premiers’ conference was held in Melbourne at the end of January 1899, at which Queensland was for the first time represented. At this conference a compromise was effected, something was conceded to the claims of New South Wales, but the main principles of the bill remained intact. The bill as amended was submitted to the electors of each colony and again triumphantly carried in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. In New South Wales and Queensland there were still a large number of persons opposed to the measure, which was nevertheless carried in both colonies. New South Wales having decided in favour of federation, the way was clear for a decision on the part of Western Australia. The Enabling Bill passed the various stages in the parliament of that colony, and the question was then adopted by referendum.
In accordance with this general verdict of all the states, the colonial draft bill was submitted to the imperial government for legislation as an imperial act; and six delegates were sent to England to explain the measure and to pilot it through the cabinet and parliament. A bill was presented to the British parliament which embodied and established, with such variations as had been accepted on behalf of Australia by the delegates, the constitution agreed to at the premiers’ conference of 1899 and speedily became law. Under this act, which was dated the 9th of July 1900, a proclamation was issued on the 17th of September of the same year, declaring that, on and after the 1st of January 1901, the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia should be united in a federal commonwealth under the name of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The choice of governor-general of the new Commonwealth fell upon Lord Hopetoun (afterwards Lord Linlithgow), who had won golden opinions as governor of Victoria a few years before; Mr (afterwards Sir Edmund) Barton, who had taken the lead among the Australian delegates, became first prime minister; and the Commonwealth was inaugurated at the opening of 1901. The first parliament under the constitution was elected on the 29th and 30th of March 1901, and was opened by the prince of Wales on the 9th of May following. In October 1908 the Yass-Canberra district, near the town of Yass, N.S.W., was at length selected by both federal houses to contain the future federal capital.
The Labour movement in Australia may be traced back to the early days when transportation was in vogue, and the free immigrant and the time-expired convict objected to the competition of the bond labourer. The great Labour movement. object of these early struggles being attained, Labour directed its attention mainly to securing shorter hours. It was aided very materially by the dearth of workers consequent on the gold discoveries, when every man could command his own price. When the excitement consequent on the gold finds had subsided, there was a considerable reaction against the claims of Labour, and this was greatly helped by the congested state of the labour market; but the principle of an eight-hours day made progress, and was conceded in several trades. In the early years of the ’seventies the colonies entered upon an era of well-being, and for about twelve years every man, willing to work and capable of exerting himself, readily found employment. The Labour unions were able to secure in these years many concessions both as to hours and wages. In 1873 there was an important rise in wages, in the following year there was a further advance, and another in 1876; but in 1877 wages fell back a little, though not below the rate of 1874. In 1882 there was a very important advance in wages; carpenters received 11s. a day, bricklayers 12s. 6d., stone-masons 11s. 6d., plasterers 12s., painters 11s., blacksmiths 10s., and navvies and general labourers 8s., and work was very plentiful. For five years these high wages ruled; but in 1886 there was a sharp fall, though wages still remained very good. In 1888 there was an advance, and again in 1889. In 1890 matters were on the eve of a great change and wages fell, in most cases to a point 20% below the rates of 1885. During the whole period from 1873 onwards, prices, other than of labour, were steadily tending downwards, so that the cost of living in 1890 was much below that of 1873. Taking everything into consideration the reduction was, perhaps, not less than 20%, so that, though the nominal or money wages in 1873 and 1890 were the same, the actual wages were much higher in the latter year. Much of the improvement in the lot of the wage-earners has been due to the Labour organizations, yet so late as 1881 these organizations were of so little account, politically, that when the law relating to trades unions was passed in New South Wales, the English law was followed, and it was simply enacted that the purposes of any trades union shall not be deemed unlawful (so as to render a member liable to criminal prosecution for conspiracy or otherwise) merely by reason that they are in restraint of trade. After the year 1884 Labour troubles became very frequent, the New South Wales coal miners in particular being at war with the colliery owners during the greater part of the six years intervening between then and what is called the Great Strike. The strong downward tendency of prices made a reduction of wages imperative; but the labouring classes failed to recognize any such necessity, and strongly resented any reductions proposed by employers. It was hard indeed for a carter drawing coal to a gasworks to recognize the necessity which compelled a reduction in his wages because wool had fallen 20%. Nor were other labourers, more nearly connected with the producing interests, satisfied with a reduction of wages because produce had fallen in price all round. Up to 1889 wages held their ground, although work had become more difficult to obtain, and some industries The Great Strike of 1890. were being carried on without any profit. It was at such an inopportune time that the most extensive combination of Labour yet brought into action against capital formulated its demands. It is possible that the London dockers’ strike was not without its influence on the minds of the Australian Labour leaders. That strike had been liberally helped by the Australian unions, and it was confidently predicted that, as the Australian workers were more effectively organized than the English unions, a corresponding success would result from their course of action. A strike of the Newcastle miners, after lasting twenty-nine weeks, came to an end in January 1890, and throughout the rest of the year there was great unrest in Labour circles. On the 6th of September the silver mines closed down, and a week later a conference of employers issued a manifesto which was met next day by a counter-manifesto of the Intercolonial Labour Conference, and almost immediately afterwards by the calling out of 40,000 men. The time chosen for the strike was the height of the wool season, when a cessation of work would be attended with the maximum of inconvenience. Sydney was the centre of the disturbance, and the city was in a state of industrial siege, feeling running to dangerous extremes. Riotous scenes occurred both in Sydney and on the coal-fields, and a large number of special constables were sworn in by the government. Towards the end of October 20,000 shearers were called out, and many other trades, principally concerned with the handling or shipping of wool, joined the ranks of the strikers, with the result that the maritime and pastoral industries throughout the whole of Australia were most injuriously disturbed. The Great Strike terminated early in November 1890, the employers gaining a decisive victory. The colonies were, however, to have other and bitter experiences of strikes before Labour recognized that of all means for settling industrial disputes strikes are, on the whole, the most disastrous that it can adopt. The strikes of the years 1890 and 1892 are just as important on account of their political consequences as from the direct gains or losses involved.
As one result of the strike of 1890 a movement was set afoot by a number of enthusiasts, more visionary than practical, that has resulted in a measure of more or less disaster. This was the planting of a colony of communistic Political consequences. Australians in South America. After much negotiation the leader, Mr William Lane, a Brisbane journalist, decided on Paraguay, and he tramped across the continent, preaching a new crusade, and gathering in funds and recruits in his progress. On the 16th of July 1893 the first little army of “New Australians” left Sydney in the “Royal Tar,” which arrived at Montevideo on the 31st of August. Other consignments of intending settlers in “New Australia” followed; but though the settlement is still in existence it has completely failed to realize the impracticable ideals of its original members. The Queensland government assisted some of the disillusioned to escape from the paradise which proved a prison; some managed to get away on their own account; and those that have remained have split into as many settlements almost as there are settlers. Another effect of the Great Strike was in a more practical direction. New South Wales was the first country which endeavoured to settle its labour grievances through the ballot-box and to send a great party to parliament as the direct representation of Labour, pledged to obtain through legislation what it was unable to obtain by strikes and physical force. The principle of one-man one-vote had been persistently advocated without arousing any special parliamentary or public enthusiasm until the meeting of the Federal Convention in 1891. The convention was attended by Sir George Grey, who was publicly welcomed to the colony by New Zealanders resident in Sydney, and by other admirers, and his reception was an absolute ovation. He eloquently and persistently advocated the principle of one-man one-vote as the bed-rock of all democratic reform. This subsequently formed the first plank of the Labour platform. Several attempts had been made by individuals belonging to the Labour party to enter the New South Wales parliament, but it was not until 1891 that the occurrence of a general election gave the party the looked-for opportunity for concerted action. The results of the election came as a complete surprise to the majority of the community. The Labour party captured 35 seats out of a House of 125 members; and as the old parties almost equally divided the remaining seats, and a fusion was impossible, the Labour representatives dominated the situation. It was not long, however, before the party itself became divided on the fiscal question; and a Protectionist government coming into power, about half the Labour members gave it consistent support and enabled it to maintain office for about three years, the party as a political unit being thus destroyed. The events of these three years taught the Labour leaders that a parliamentary party was of little practical influence unless it was able to cast on all important occasions a solid vote, and to meet the case a new method was devised. The party therefore determined that they would refuse to support any person standing in the Labour interests who refused to pledge himself to vote on all occasions in such way as the majority of the party might decide to be expedient. This was called the “solidarity pledge,” and, united under its sanction, what was left of the Labour party contested the general election of 1894. The result was a defeat, their numbers being reduced from 35 to 19; but a signal triumph was won for solidarity. Very few of the members who refused to take the pledge were returned and the adherents of the united party were able to accomplish more with their reduced number than under the old conditions.
The movement towards forming a parliamentary Labour party was not confined to New South Wales; on the contrary, it was common to all the states, having its origin in the failure of the Great Strike of 1890. The experience Parliamentary Labour party. of the party was also much the same as in New South Wales, but its greatest triumphs were achieved in South Australia. The Labour party has been in power in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, and has, on many occasions, decided the fate of the government on a critical division in all the states except Tasmania and Victoria. Different ideals dominate the party in the different states. The one ideal which has just been described represents the Labour party from the New South Wales standpoint. The only qualification worth mentioning is the signing of the pledge of solidarity. The other ideal, typified by the South Australian party, differs from this in one important respect. To the Labour party in that state are admitted only persons who have worked for their living at manual labour, and this qualification of being an actual worker is one that was strongly insisted upon at the formation of the party and strictly adhered to, although the temptation to break away from it and accept as candidates persons of superior education and position has been very great. On the formation of the Commonwealth a Labour party was established in the federal houses. It comprises one-third of the representation in the House of Representatives, and perhaps a still larger proportion in the Senate. The party is, however, formed on a broader basis than the state parties, the solidarity pledge extends only to votes upon which the fate of a government depends. Naturally, however, as the ideals of the members of the party are the same, the members of the Labour party will be generally found voting together on all important divisions, the chief exception being with regard to free trade or protection. The Labour party held power in the Commonwealth for a short period, and has had the balance of power in its hands ever since the formation of the Commonwealth. (T. A. C.)
Australian legislation in the closing years of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th bore the most evident traces of the Labour party’s influence. In all the colonies a complete departure from principles laid down by the Recent legislation. leading political economists of the 19th century was made when acts were passed subjecting every branch of domestic industry to the control of specially constituted tribunals, which were empowered among other important functions to fix the minimum rate of wages to be paid to all grades of workmen. (See also the articles Arbitration and Conciliation; Trade Unions; Labour Legislation.)
An important work of the Commonwealth parliament was the passing of a uniform tariff to supersede the six separate tariffs in force at the establishment of the Commonwealth, but many other important measures were considered Tariff. and some passed into law. During the first six years of federation there were five ministries; the tenure of office under the three-yearly system was naturally uncertain, and this uncertainty was reflected in the proposals of whatever ministry was in office. The great task of adjusting the financial business of the Commonwealth on a permanent basis was one of very great difficulty, as the apparent interests of the states and of the Commonwealth were opposed. Up till 1908 it had been generally assumed that the constitution required the treasurer of the Commonwealth to hand over to the states month by month whatever surplus funds remained in his hands. But in July 1908 a Surplus Revenue Act was passed which was based on a different interpretation of the constitution. Under this act the appropriation of these surplus funds to certain trust purposes in the Federal treasury is held to be equivalent to payment to the states. The money thus obtained was appropriated in part to naval defence and harbours, and in part to the provision of old age pensions under the Federal Old Age Pension Act of 1908. The act was strongly opposed by the government of Queensland, and the question was raised as to whether it was based on a true interpretation of the constitution. The chief external interest, however, of the new financial policy of the Commonwealth lay in its relation towards the empire as a whole. At the Imperial Conference in London in 1907 Mr Deakin, the Commonwealth premier, was the leading advocate of colonial preference with a view to imperial commercial union; and though no reciprocal arrangement was favoured by the Liberal cabinet, who temporarily spoke for the United Kingdom, the colonial representatives were all agreed in urging such a policy, and found the Opposition (the Unionist party) in England prepared to adopt it as part of Mr Chamberlain’s tariff reform movement. In spite of the official rebuff received from the mother-country, the Australian ministry, in drawing up the new Federal tariff, gave a substantial preference to British imports, and thus showed their willingness to go farther. (See the article British Empire.) (R. J. M.)
- The literature of the geology of Australia is enumerated, to 1884, in the bibliography by Etheridge and Jack. A general summary of the stratigraphical geology was given by R. Tate, Rep. Austral. Assoc. Adv. Sci. vol. v. (1893), pp. 1-69. References to the chief sources of information regarding the states is given under each of them. A geological map of the whole continent, on the scale of 50 m. to the inch, was compiled by A. Everett, and issued in 1887 in six sheets, by the Geological Survey of Victoria.
- The statistical portion of this article includes Tasmania, which is a member of the Australian Commonwealth.
- In his Discoveries in Central Australia, E. T. Eyre has ingeniously attempted to reconstruct the routes taken by the Australians in their advance across the continent. He has relied, however, in his efforts to link the tribes together, too much on the prevalence or absence of such customs as circumcision—always very treacherous evidences—to allow of his hypothetical distribution being regarded very seriously. The migrations must have always been dependent upon physical difficulties, such as waterless tracts or mountain barriers. They were probably not definite massed movements, such as would permit of the survival of distinctive lines of custom between tribe and tribe; but rather spasmodic movements, sometimes of tribes or of groups, sometimes only of families or even couples, the first caused by tribal wars, the second to escape punishment for some offence against tribal law, such as the defiance of the rules as to clan-marriages.
- The Languages of India (1875).
- The existence of “Group Marriage” is a much-controverted point. This custom, which has been defined as the invasion of actual marriage by allotting permanent paramours, is confined to a special set of tribes.
- Australia, it may be noted, has woman’s suffrage in all the states (Victoria, the last, adopting it in November 1908), and for the federal assembly.