Australia, from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay/Preface

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In consequence of the unexampled depression which has now for so long a time paralysed the colony of New South Wales, in common with the other Australian settlements, and the melancholy truth that few occupations can now be profitably carried on there; many persons in England have arrived at the conclusion that the state of Australia is quite hopeless.

Having made a visit to my native country, after a residence of five years in New South Wales, during which time I had been engaged, either in surveying for the Government a district beyond the limits of location, in the north-eastern part of the territory, or in farming pursuits, I found that many of my friends, who took an interest in the colony, were very desirous of knowing whether there was any truth in the statement, that the natural resources of that part of Australia, were not of a nature to admit of the colonists advantageously competing with other countries, in any one article of production.

As this notion seemed to be very prevalent among those who have suffered from their connection with New South Wales, I have been induced to write the following pages during my limited stay in England, in the hope that they might not prove altogether useless to those persons who desire to know the present state of that colony, and how far her natural resources will be henceforth available for the production of articles of export.

As the north-eastern part of the territory of New South Wales, from Port Macquarie northward, as far as the country has been explored past Moreton Bay, is of a very different character to the other parts of the colony, with regard to its geological structure, soil, vegetable productions, and climate, I have given a description of it; partly with a view of shewing its adaptation for the culture of many of the productions of tropical countries, and partly to endeavour to rectify the prevailing opinion of many persons, that all parts of New Holland are distinguished by a scantiness of vegetation, and aridity of soil, exceeding that in any other country.

The only central part of New South Wales, which bears any resemblance to the north-eastern part of the territory, is the isolated district of Illawarra, which has always astonished those who have visited it, by the wonderful luxuriance and tropical aspect of its vegetation. The cause of this unusual aspect is entirely attributable to the vicinity of high ranges near the coast, and their peculiar geological formation. The rich soil, covered by luxuriant jungles, of the north-eastern part of the territory, is also more owing to analogous causes, than to the warmer climate. Although the dense vegetation which covers the rich soil in this part of the colony, entirely precludes all possibility of its ever being made use of for the ordinary colonial productions, yet the time might arrive, in some future generation, when much of this kind of land might be checquered with plantations of rice, tobacco, indigo, cotton, sugar-cane, and mulberry trees.

I have divided this work into four parts. The first contains a description of the MacLeay river, and two smaller rivers, between that stream and the Clarence; these rivers being included in the district I was ordered to survey, I have been rather prolix in my details concerning the geological formation of the surrounding country, and its influence on the climate, soil, indigenous vegetation, and objects of culture, which I was able to see displayed, as I possessed a share in a station on the banks of the MacLeay, where we successfully cultivated a large tract of land for some years.

In the second part, I have described the river Hastings, and the Port Macquarie district, the Clarence, Richmond, and Tweed rivers, and the country in the vicinity of Moreton Bay and the Brisbane river.

The third part contains an inquiry into the causes of the depression, and monetary panic, which have so long afflicted the colony of New South Wales. I have also examined whether any future profit will attend the investment of capital in flocks and herds, when considered as only valuable for the exportable articles of tallow, wool, or hides; and have annexed some calculations on the subject. Agriculture, carried on for the production of wheat, maize, &c.—and the cultivation of the vine, with a view to the production of wine and brandy, are next analysed in the same manner, in order to ascertain whether these occupations can be profitably carried on with a view to the exportation of their products, independent of any colonial demand for them.

The last part contains a few desultory observations on Australian field-sports, and the incidents of a bush life, with anecdotes of the Aborigines, &c. &c.

In offering to the public this work, which will not be published until I am again traversing the ocean on my return to Sydney, I must crave the reader's indulgence for the defects which it may contain; for being engaged in many other affairs during my limited stay in England, I have not been able to find time to render it as complete as I could have wished.