Diary of ten years eventful life of an early settler in Western Australia and also A descriptive vocabulary of the language of the aborigines/The colony (10)
Perth, September, 1834.
September 28th.—Rather a fine day externally. Only two visitors—Mr. Robert Brockman and Mr. Mellersh. The latter has only lately arrived here; he is now apprenticed to Mr. Brockman.
Monday 29th.—Busy sheep-shearing. Three men are employed at it, J—, Dodd the shepherd, and a man called Morley, who shears at 5s. a score. He has clipped 27, J— 22, and Dodd 18. I have a man folding them up. The plan for laying fleeces on top of one another would require at least one extra hand, and I think is objectionable in some respects. The wool is assorted according to the quality. I have coarse wool, merino wool, and merino with a cross of pure Saxon, which appears very fine; and I have a few pure Saxon fleeces.
Wednesday, 1st Oct.—One man shore 30 sheep to-day. Another such day will finish them, for I have about 233 grown sheep, and I do not intend to shear the lambs at present, of which I have about 130. A man came here yesterday looking for work; he said he had had nothing to eat on the previous day but a few sow thistles. I scarcely believe him; but it required some little starvation to bring the servants to their senses again.
Tuesday, Oct. 7th.—I went to Perth on Friday last, and stayed there till Saturday night. Two vessels had come in—the Jolly Rambler from Java, and the Jessie from Mauritius. The latter is loaded with rum and sugar, and some flour, but the captain will not break bulk unless at £40 a ton for sugar and flour, and 6s. a gallon for rum. So we are not much the better for them yet. A vessel called the Monkey (Captain Pace) has also arrived—the same which was sent to Sharks Bay to look for the survivors of a wreck supposed to have taken place there. No traces, however, were discovered of such a thing having occurred. The natives there are described as being very big men; out of 30 of them who were measured, five or six were 6ft. 5in., or 6ft. 6in., while twenty of them were 6ft., and not a man under 5ft. 7in. or 5ft. 8in. They were not very familiar, and not a word of their language was understood, so that no information was gained. Dirk Hartog's Island is described as a mere heap of rock, shells, and sand, and the coast of the bay mere sand and salt swamp. No fresh water is to be found; neither tree nor land bird, nor land animal to be seen, but fish in great numbers, and plenty of little oysters and shell fish. Abundance of whales also were seen, and quantities of valuable shells got. That is about the sum of the whole expedition.
Oct. 11th.—Natives about here in great numbers to-day. I made the whole work at carrying and burning "blackboy," and gave them wheat in return. I have two men grubbing "blackboy" at £2 10s. an acre. I put down an acre of Caffre corn in drills at six feet asunder, and am sheepfolding the ground.
Sunday, 12th.—A circumstance has occurred here lately which has created quite a sensation. A Mr. James McDermott loaded a little vessel of his own to go down to Port Augusta, and a storm came on shortly after, and the vessel has not since been heard of. This was about six weeks ago. It is almost certain the vessel is swamped. He was married to a Miss Turner. During my absence to-day the dog "Carlo" killed a kangaroo of 60 lbs. weight, without the assistance of any other dog. This has been a relief in the article of housekeeping. Many persons have supported their establishments as far as meat is concerned upon kangaroo this season. Some have killed several thousand pounds weight.
A most amusing scene of tragic romance was enacted the other day at Mr. Brockman's between two of his servants J—— G——, a redheaded cow boy of 18, and Sally Cook, a nurse of 14. J—— got into a fit of jealous love, and she, in a fit of despair, took poison. He, in his agony, was desirous that another should shoot him, and, not succeeding in his wishes, he took poison also. Things looked alarming, and the doctor was sent for, who, after long examination, thought there was too much acting to be natural. However, he administered pretty strong emetics to both. This brought on an opening and relieving of the mind as well as the stomach, when the young lady very quaintly said to her dying swain "D'ye think I'd be such a fool as take poison? I'm sure I never thought you'd be such a fool either." The swain soon relieved himself from the stigma of such folly also; so the whole ended in their having a night's suffering under the operation of unsparing emetic, and being discharged from their services in the morning.
Oct. 15th.—Walked back to the hills to-day with the shepherd to look out for fresh pasture for the sheep. The natives are the chief terror, but there is fine feed. Have got home my iron plough, which has been at the blacksmith's to be mended; it is far superior to what I used in its place, though it wants some alteration. I shall have three or four acres fallowing for crop next year. I have two men out grubbing grass trees at £2 10s. an acre. These I burn and spread. I feel every day more reluctant to leave the farm. There is great talk just now of persons going over the hills to settle down with flocks—when they can get them. One man who went over there with a small flock in a small way, is now an independent man (all within three years). I drove down to Mr. Yule's yesterday with 62 lambs to have them weaned. He sends up as many to my place. This is the way we manage it.
Oct. 16th.—There are about 30 natives here. They sleep near this, and are about to have some spearing account to settle among themselves to-morrow. They manage these matters something like a duel. One man of his tribe having wounded in the arm a woman of another tribe, her friends come and demand satisfaction. Several shots are exchanged, generally without execution, as they, by fair activity, avoid them, and so the affair ends. A deadly feud is conducted in a different way. The injured party devotes himself to revenge, steals on his enemy at night, or unawares, and kills him.
Oct. 18th.—I was in Perth yesterday; in the meantime numbers of natives were here, and made a great "corrobery" near the house at night, to which they came down to invite my people. I do not hear of any mischief having been done as yet either among themselves or towards us. * * * I sold a two-year-old steer yesterday to a butcher at Perth for £23. It weighed about 400 lbs. I had reared this one at home myself. He was of a small breed and sluggish, so as not to promise well for work. I think I must get rid of my wether sheep and wether lambs, as I am short of pasture for so large a flock. To send them away frustrates one main intention of mine, which is to get up a flock of Saxon breed.
Oct. 20th.—Winat (one of the natives) came past this to-day, with a double-barrelled gun on his shoulder and two black cockatoos in his hand, which he had killed with one shot. He was sent with a letter from Guildford to Mr. Bull and he executed his office well, brought back an answer, called here on his way back, and did not make any unnecessary delay. I sent a message to Mr. Turner by him. We are advancing with them. I made an offer to-day to Mr. Dring, near this, for his wool off about 40 sheep, but he wants to send it home himself. His flock of about forty grown sheep and forty lambs is now offered for sale. He asks £200, but may sell them cheaper.
Tuesday, 21st.—I sent my flock this morning back to the hills in care of a man and a boy, who are now encamped there (as far as a bush hut can deserve the title). The situation is very picturesque, on the slope of small hills, with a stream running at the foot. The pasture is excellent. I trust they may thrive there, free from natives or disease.
Wednesday, 22nd.—It appears that the Messrs. Burgess went to see a "corrobery" some nights ago, and some symptoms of hostility were exhibited, so that they felt alarmed. Captain Ellis and four of the new police came up last night in consequence. In the meantime Sam told me that two natives had met him on his way to Perth, and they asked him for bread, and one of them threatened to spear white man if he did not give it. This man was "Guerip"—one of the most active in murdering the soldier at the Murray river. An expedition was to have been made on Monday last to the Murray, for the purpose of endeavouring to apprehend the perpetrators of that murder, and it appears strange that on that very day he should come here. It confirms me in an opinion that some one betrays every movement of ours to them. I mentioned to Captain Ellis that "Guerip" was here. Numbers of strange natives have arrived at their heed-quarters near here this evening, and we have heard their voices very loud, as if they were fighting among themselves. Friend Tomghin has told me that he and several others have concerted a plan to throw a certain native off his guard and spear him to death. Amiable creatures!
Thursday, Oct. 23rd.—Rode down to Perth to-day, and told the Governor all I knew about the natives. He wished me to return again and take charge of a military party to hover about them so long as they should remain in force in the neighbourhood. I returned and found that the Gueriss who was here is not the Murray river native, but one of the same name. * * * In the morning early, James heard the dog Carlo barking at a distance. It turned out that he had been with the shepherd all night and had brought a large kangaroo to bay, and had a desperate battle with him. The shepherd came to the rescue and shot the kangaroo, when the dog was nearly exhausted, being cut and bruised severely. The singularity is that the barking of the dog was heard distinctly here, the distance not being much less than four miles.
Friday (24th).—The soldiers made their way here late last night. I got straw shaken in the kitchen for them, and this morning despatched them to patrol, with instructions to call on the settlers and ascertain the movements of the natives. All was quiet, they having proceeded below Guildford. This little display of force and watchfulness on our part may have a good effect upon them. * * * Mr. and Mrs. Tanner called here to-day. They now talk of going to India, and thence overland to England. * * * I watch with great interest every day the progress of two of my vines which have some fruit in progress; two fig trees also, none of them being as yet more than 20 inches high, and this but the second year of their growth.
Saturday (25th).—It is provoking that, after having supported my two workmen all through the time of scarcity of provisions, and labour, and giving them high wages—40s. a month during all that time, they both give me warning now that they will leave me in a month, just at the commencement of harvest, unless I raise their wages. This is gratitude and honour. Fortunately I have just hired another at 40s. a month for the two ensuing months,—a quiet-looking handy man who has been living with our friend M— for eighteen months. * * * The natives have all dispersed to-day, and gone off again, for what reason I know not, but suspect they did not like the appearance of the police and soldiers visiting them. Tomghin says they will go away for four months, but this is too good news to be true. * * * I have just finished roofing a frame of a house, 40 feet long by 12 wide, part of which will serve for a barn, the rest for cow-house or other purposes.
Oct. 26th.—The Governor has gone to the Murray River District to see about establishing Mr. Peel in a new settlement there. I suppose he will not return for eight or ten days; he is endeavouring to induce people to settle between this and King George's Souud.
Tuesday, Oct. 28th.—H.M.S. the Hyacinth has arrived here from Madras, having been sent first to look out for the wreck of the Mercury, formerly bound for this place, filled with passengers and lading, but now missing; next, he (Captain Blackwood) has orders to go on to Van Dieman's Land and Sydney. The schooner Eagle having also arrived from Mauritius, we may have sugar, rum and flour cheaper.
Wednesday.—Got a large mahogany tree cut down and put on a pit for sawing into boards for flooring, &c. Tree is about three feet through; had great trouble in dragging it to the pit on wood by oxen by means of "cant hooks," &c. A native came from the hills to Dodd the shepherd, who appeared quite timid and alarmed. It was "Moily Mayget," the prisoner whom I had charge of at first. He seems to be in banishment from his tribe for some reason.
Thursday.—A strange rumour has reached us here that the party who went to the Murray River have fallen in with the natives there, and killed 35 of them, Captain Ellis being slightly wounded, and a soldier grazed by a spear. This is important if true. * * * I went up to Mr. Bull's this day and took tea. A party there had been out kangaroo-hunting—Captain B., Dr. Johnston, Mr. Brown, Mr. Leonard, and Nat Shaw.
Saturday, 1st Nov.—Went to Perth yesterday, and got from the Governor an account of the battle of Pinjarra. They came upon the offending tribe in a position which I dare say the natives thought was most favourable for their manœuvres, but which was turned into a complete trap for them. In the first onset, three out of five of the small party which went to reconnoitre them were unhorsed, two being wounded. The Governor himself came up with a reinforcement just in time to prevent the natives rushing in upon and slaughtering that party. The natives then fled to cross at a ford, but were met and driven back by a party which had been detached for that purpose. They tried to cross at another ford, but were met there also, when they took to the river, lying hid under the overhanging banks, and seeking opportunities of casting their spears, but they were soon placed between two fires and punished severely. The women and children were protected, and it is consolatory to know that none suffered but the daring fighting men of the very tribe that had been most hostile. The destruction of European lives and property committed by that tribe was such that they considered themselves quite our masters, and had become so emboldened that either that part of the settlement must have been abandoned or a severe example made of them. It was a painful but urgent necessity, and likely to be the most humane policy in the end. The Governor narrowly escaped a spear. Captain Ellis was struck in the temple and unhorsed. Being stunned by the blow he fell.
Monday, 3rd Nov.—A very warm day. John Mackie was here. * * * I was back at the hills with the flock; they are improving now rapidly. The natives in this neighbourhood got a fright last night. Some women had been stealing Mr. Shaw's potatoes, and he had applied to the soldiers, who went to Mr. Bull; the natives got information of this, and ran from their fires, thinking the soldiers were in pursuit of them. They called on me late last night to know what was to be done, and this morning by sunrise they were with me again on the subject. They are, I think, alarmed for themselves from what has occurred at the Murray, though they seem glad that that tribe has suffered. Mr. Tanner was here to-day. There is to be a show of cattle, or any other thing worth showing, on Friday, at our agricultural meeting. The Governor will dine there. I thought of showing some wool, but will defer it till next year.
Tuesday, 4th.—A busy morning with sheep, &c. The lambs which had been with Mr. Yule's flock to be weaned, were brought back this morning. Those of his which I had were brought from the hills; those which were with Edwards were also removed, as he does not wish to keep them longer, so that I sent back to the hills 112 lambs. All these changes were effected by the middle of the day.
Saturday-night.—Went to Perth on Thursday to attend a Council. . . . Friday was our agricultural meeting, and first attempt at a cattle show. We had a very full meeting, and a good deal of business done. There were several horses, cattle and sheep exhibited. Great speechifying at the dinner. Several strangers were there; among others is Mr. Taylor, who had gone as a settler to K. G. Sound, but does not seem contented there, and wishes to see whether he would like this place better, which I have no doubt he will do. . . . There has been rain for two days past, occasional showers; these are perhaps the last we may have for some time. . . . I had to wait to escort some others home last night, and did not arrive here till near 12, cold and tired. . . . . Shepherd wants higher wages. I am now paying at the rate of £103 a year for wages, besides feeding the people, and on 1st January I must commence to give Letty wages also, £15 or perhaps £18 a year.
Sunday.—The flour I paid so dear for turns out to be sour, and we take very badly to it, after our own good sweet wheat. Burgess and Bull had to go back to the hills to-day again, Flocks looking better every day. The Governor has gone over to York with Captain Blackwood to see the country. The natives have disappeared from this. I think they have discovered we have not much to give them until after harvest.
Tuesday.—A rainy morning, very favourable for our crops, &c. Got my cart broken by carrying boards from the saw pit, which is 1½ miles away. Mean to have a barn floor of mahogany boards two inches thick. Weather has been very cool—almost cold; it rains now at eleven o'clock, night.
Tuesday night.—Poor Captain Ellis has died in consequence of the injury he received at the time of the conflict with the natives; but it is supposed that it was from the concussion of the brain by the fall from his horse, rather than by the wound from the spear (which was very trifling), that he died. The natives here are uneasy, thinking that we mean to take more lives in revenge. . . . You, perhaps, are curious to know what business I do now in Perth. Give legal advice, and draw leases and other documents for Government and attend Councils . . . . Lady Stirling has brought out some new novels and other works. I read "Eugene Aram" the other day, and this day I walked from Perth and read on the way two volumes of Arlington. Our minds are in danger of becoming rusted for want of the polish of the literature of the day. Met the native, "Mundy," on the road to-day; we stopped and chatted and told each other all the news we could. His wife and a girl were with him Sitting in my bachelor state after dinner, I had a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Bull. Walking to convoy them a little, I met on my return a tribe of natives at their fires, and had a friendly greeting.
Appended is a more detailed report of the encounter with the natives in the Pinjarrah District, to which I briefly referred the other day. I was not one of that party.
The party consisted of His Excellency Sir Jas. Stirling, Mr. Roe, Capt. Meares, and his son (Seymour), Mr. Peel, Capt. Ellis, Mr. Norcott, with five of the mounted police (one sick), Mr. Surveyor Smythe, a soldier to lead a pack horse, Mr. Peel's servant, two corporals and eight privates of H.M.'s 21st Regiment (to leave at Pinjarra)—in all, 25 persons. On the night of the 27th of October, the party bivouacked at a place called by the natives "Jimjam," about ten or eleven miles in a direct line E.N.E. from the mouth of the Murray, where is abundance of most luxurious feed for cattle, at a broad and deep reach of the river flowing to the N.W., and at this time perfectly fresh. After an early breakfast, the whole encampment was in motion at ten minutes before six the next morning. Steered South Eastward for Pinjarra—another place of resort for the natives of the district, and situated a little below the first ford across the river, where it was intended to establish a town on a site reserved for the purpose, and to leave half of the party, including the military, for the protection of Mr. Peel and such other settlers as that gentleman might induce to resort thither.
Crossing the ford, where the river had an average depth of 2½ feet, and was running about 1½ miles an hour to the north, an Easterly course was taken for the purpose of looking at the adjoining country, but the party had not proceeded more than a quarter of a mile over the undulating surface of the richest description, covered with nutritious food for cattle, when the voices of many natives were heard on the left. This being a neighbourhood much frequented by the native tribe of Kalyute, which had long been indulging in almost unchecked commission of numerous outrages and atrocious murders on the white people resident in the district, and which had hitherto succeeded in eluding the pursuit of the parties that had been searching for them since their treacherous murder of Private Nesbitt of the 21st Regiment, and the spearing of Mr. Barron only a few weeks ago—the moment was considered propitiously favorable for punishing the perpetrators of such and other diabolical acts of a similar nature, should this prove to be the offending tribe. For the purpose of ascertaining that point, His Excellency rode forward 200 or 300 yards with Messrs. Peel and Norcott, who were acquainted both with the persons of the natives and with their language, and commenced calling out and talking to them for the purpose of bringing on an interview. Their own noise was, however, so loud and clamorous, that all other sounds appeared lost on them, or as mere echoes.
No answer being returned, Captain Ellis, in charge of the mounted police, with Mr. Norcott, his assistant, and the remaining available men of his party, amounting to three in number were despatched across the ford again to the left bank, where the natives were posted, to bring on the interview required. The instant the police were observed approaching at about 200 yards distance, the natives, to the number of about 70, started on their feet, the men seized their numerous and recently made spears, and showed a formidable front, but finding their visitors still approached, they seemed unable to stand a charge, and sullenly retreated, gradually quickening their pace until the word "forward" from the leader of the gallant little party brought the horsemen in about half a minute dashing into the midst of them, the same moment having discovered the well-known features of some of the most atrocious offenders of the obnoxious tribe. One of these, celebrated for his audacity and outrage, was the first to be recognised at the distance of five or six yards from Mr. Norcott, who knew him well, and immediately called out, "These are the fellows we want, for here's that old rascal Noonar,"—on which the savage turned round and cried with peculiar ferocity and emphasis, "Yes, Noonar me," and was in the act of hurling his spear at Norcott, in token of requital for the recognition, when the latter shot him dead.
The identity of the tribe being now clearly established, and the natives turning to assail their pursuers, the firing continued, and was returned by the former with spears as they retreated to the river. The first shot, and the loud shouts and yells of the natives, were sufficient signal to the party who had halted a quarter of a mile above, who immediately followed Sir James Stirling, at full speed, and arrived opposite Captain Ellis' party just as some of the natives had crossed and others were in the river. It was just the critical moment for them. Five or six rushed up the right bank, but were utterly confounded at meeting a second party of assailants, who immediately drove back those who escaped the firing. Being thus exposed to a cross fire, and having no time to rally their forces, they adopted the alternative of taking to the river, and secreting themselves amongst the roots and branches and holes on the banks, or by immersing themselves with the face only uncovered, and ready with a spear under water, to take advantage of any one who approached within reach. Those who were sufficiently hardy or desperate to expose themselves on the offensive, or to attempt breaking through the assailants, were soon cleared off, and the remainder were gradually picked out of their concealment by the cross fire from both banks, until between 25 and 30 were left dead on the field and in the river. The others had either escaped up and down the river, or had secreted themselves too closely to be discovered except in the persons of eight women and some children, who emerged from their hiding places (where, in fact, the creatures were not concealed), on being assured of personal safety, and were detained prisoners until the determination of the fray. It is, however, very probable that more men were killed in the river, and floated down with the stream.
Notwithstanding the care which was taken not to injure the women during the skirmish, it cannot appear surprising that one and several children were killed, and one woman amongst the prisoners had received a ball through the thigh. On finding the women were spared, and understanding the orders repeatedly issued to that effect, many of the men cried out they were of the other sex; but evidence to the contrary was too strong to admit the plea. As it appeared by this time that sufficient punishment had been inflicted on this warlike and sanguinary tribe by the destruction of about half its male population, and amongst whom were recognised, on personal examination, fifteen very old and desperate offenders, the bugle sounded to cease firing, and the divided party reassembled at the ford, where the baggage had been left in. charge of four soldiers, who were also to maintain the post. Here Captain Ellis had arrived, badly wounded in the right temple, by a spear at three or four yards distance, which knocked him off his horse, and P. Heffron, a constable of the police, had received a bad spear wound above the right elbow. No surgical aid being at hand, it was not without some little difficulty the spear was extracted, and it then proved to be barbed at the distance of five inches from the point.
Having recrossed the river in good order with the baggage on three horses, the whole party formed a junction on the left bank, fully expecting the natives would return in stronger force, but in this were disappointed. After a consultation over the prisoners, it was resolved to set them free, for the purpose of fully explaining to the remnant of the tribe the cause of the chastisement which had been inflicted, and to bear a message to the effect that, if they again offered to spear white men or their cattle, or to revenge in any way the punishment which had just been inflicted on these for their numerous murders and outrages, four times the present number of men would proceed amongst them and destroy every man, woman, and child. This was perfectly understood by the captives, and they were glad to depart even under such an assurance; nor did several of their number, who were the widows, mothers and daughters of notorious offenders shot that day, evince any stronger feeling on the occasion than what arose out of their anxiety to keep themselves warm.
[At this stage of Mr. Moore's Diary we find a copy of the third annual report of the Directors of the first Agricultural Society established in the colony, which we think may prove interesting to many of our readers, indicating as it does the condition which agriculture had attained in the colony at that early period of its history. The report is addressed to Sir James Stirling, the then Governor].
"In laying before your Excellency our third agricultural report of the colony we cannot but remark, that though the total amount of live stock in the colony may appear small, and though a great many farmers have as yet been able to procure but a very limited supply, yet when we reflect, that only the fifth year of our existence as a community has passed, and look at the same period of any colony on record, it will be found that we stand very fair before them in this respect, as well as in the extent of land in cultivation. And when we look at the same state of importance to which other colonies have arrived (Sydney, for instance, almost even within our own knowledge and experience), we think we have reason to congratulate ourselves.
"From our own observations we can state that within the last twelve months, the increase of stock has been very considerable, the holders having acted more judiciously of late in withholding the breeding stock from the butcher, however tempting the price, whereas formerly they thought merely of the present, by killing ewes, &c., whenever the condition of the animal or great demand for meat gave present profit. We believe the number of head of live stock has never before been given, so as to enable us to state with precision what the increase has been within any given time; but, by as careful a means as could be adopted, we find the present numbers, and the quantity of land in cultivation, to be as follows:—Horses, 84; mares, 78; cows, 307; working cattle, 96; bulls and steers, 97; sheep, 3,545; goats, 492; pigs, 374. Number of acres of wheat, 564; barley, 100; oats, 116; Kaffre corn and maize, 29; potatoes, 15; other crops, 94; fallow, 118. Vines, half an acre.
"Amongst the horses we must remark that, we have your own thoroughbred stock, namely, 'Grey Leg' and 'Chateau Margaux,' and four mares, and your 'Napoleon;' the two cart horses of Mr. Bull and Mr. J. W. Hardey, and Mr. Peel's 'Punch.' Of cart mares, we have Mr. Brockman's two; Mr. Bull's one, Mr. Lennard's two; Mr. Lewis's two; Mr. Phillips's one; Major Nairn's two; also Mr. Smith's fine half-bred mare. Of cows and bulls we possess a good many of the fine English breeds—Devon short-horned, Yorkshire, Durham, Alderney, Ayrshire, &c. Of sheep we have the fine ewes and rams imported from Saxony by Mr. McDermott at a great expense, with their descendants, and the pure merinos from the flocks of the late Mr. Trimmer and others. It is gratifying to know that the good breeds of the stock above mentioned bear such a proportion to the inferior that have been and may be imported from the neighbouring colonies, that we have within ourselves the foundation for an unlimited number of first-rate horses, cattle, and sheep.
"Of wool, the small quantity hitherto exported has been, of course, of a very mixed description, and much of it very dirty and badly packed, from obvious causes. It appears not to have fetched in the London market more than 2s. 2d. per lb. The present season may be rated at about 5,884lbs., and we are happy to say that a large proportion of it is fine, and that much more pains have been taken with it than formerly.
"Since making our last report, explorations that have been made by individuals have not only confirmed our opinions of the extent of the pastoral districts in the interior, but have added some not before known. Added to which the increased experience of those settlers on the only located district of this description, more than confirm the opinions formerly entertained of it for the breeding of fine-woolled sheep. On this subject, Mr. Bland, one of the largest flockmasters in the colony, says: 'With regard to the land in this district, my opinion is, that it is as healthy a sheep run as can be found. We have resided here with a flock of sheep for nearly three years, and have not had any disease amongst them, excepting the foot rot, which had been brought up from the Swan. Both sheep and lambs require clipping early in spring, to prevent a grass seed with a curled point from working into the skin. We find the grass certainly increase where it has been most fed off. As to the comparative expense of keeping a flock here and on the Swan, I am scarcely able to say, not having kept one at the latter place myself, but two men can keep from 700 to 1000, with an extra hand in lambing time, and two or three at clipping time. I think the country on the average will keep about one sheep to three acres. But as the feed increases by feeding, a larger proportion may be kept hereafter.'
"We are sorry to say that the disease mentioned in our last report as having proved so serious a drawback to keeping flocks on the Swan, has not yielded so entirely as we had hoped it would, to the medicines employed; nor, with all the care of the owner and shepherd, has it been kept off so long as the sheep have remained in those districts of the Swan in which it had before prevailed. But this has hastened the flockmasters here in sending them to the Avon, to which river three individuals have lately removed their sheep, and where there are now no less than eight flocks. It is the intention of more of the principal settlers to send their stock over the hills, when the Government shall have so far improved the roads as to enable them to take over supplies, which for the present, must be taken from their farms on the Swan and the Canning. It is very gratifying to be able to state, that of some of the merino lambs from the Avon, only six months old, killed at Perth, the carcases have weighed upwards of 10 lbs. a quarter, and this after having been driven over in two days.
"As to the number of acres in wheat showing so small an increase on that of last year, we would remark, that the great scarcity of seed prevented more being got in; had it not been for this cause, we can venture to say that it would have been very much greater. Nearly the whole of the land now fallow would have been in wheat, besides a great deal of new land, had seed been procurable. Kaffre-corn appears to be almost entirely superseding maize, the former being found not only productive, but answering well on inferior soils; whereas the latter does not succeed well in this country, without a great deal of manure, except on soils that are moist in summer. During the present season oat hay has been made, for the first time in the colony, and with complete success, the crop being four or five times as great as that on the natural pastures.
"From the great increase in the number of working bullocks within the last year or two, we may reasonably calculate on a very considerable increase in the extent of land under cultivation next year, if the periodical scarcity which has usually visited us be averted so that we be not obliged to use for food the wheat intended for seed. We deem it right to make one observation on the wheat crop, to prevent an erroneous, opinion being formed as to its produce,—that though the quantity sown is considerable, and is generally looking well, there are many acres that are sown on inferior land without sufficient tillage, or sown too late, that cannot be counted on."
"Amongst the plants introduced since our last report, we noticed one of some importance which is now established, namely, the hop. The white mulberry, of which there are a great number in the colony, grows most luxuriantly. We have now growing in the colony, plants of nearly every kind of European fruit, tree, and shrub, all of which appear to thrive well, as do such of the tropical fruits as have had a fair trial, as the date and banana. Of the fig and the vine, the fruit appear to be as good as that grown in any part of the world. Of the vine one settler has half an acre planted. Indeed this and other fruit trees and plants are becoming very generally cultivated throughout the settlement, especially the fig, vine and peach, which here grow to a certainty from cuttings. The olive, although regular plantations have not been made, grows remarkably fast, and there is one plant in Perth now in fruit. Although garden vegetables cannot be grown in perfection during every month in the year on dry soils, yet in moist grounds every description of vegetables can be grown at any season, and our supply of them is certainly very superior with common culture to what can be obtained in England, without artificial heat and the greatest care. Of the various kinds of timber trees, and shrubs from Europe, Africa., &c., that have been tried here, all appear to grow remarkably well. Bees have been landed at King George's Sound since our last report.
"We are happy to state that four flour mills are now in operation, and two others are now in the course of erection; also, that brewing is becoming more general; and, notwithstanding the scarcity of money that continues to be felt, we have ascertained that upwards of two thousand pounds (£2000) are ready to be laid out in the purchase of sheep (including some already sent for), to be sent to the fine pastures on the Avon and the Hotham. It has been ascertained that on upland two, and on moist soils three, crops of potatoes can be produced in the year."
Perth, Dec. 12th.—I was obliged to close my last letter yesterday very hastily and abruptly, having been occupied by public business almost up to the moment of setting out for this. * * * Two things I was disappointed about; the first is that from your letters I expected a bale of some material for packing wool in, as I had omitted to buy some when it was to be had, in expectation of your bale. That which was here was very poor, and selling at 1s. 6d. a yard. I know that it can be had with you at 3d. or 4d. a yard. There is not a yard of any sort to be had now, and I have nothing to pack my wool in, so that it must lie for some other opportunity. Some sent their wool to Van Diemen's Land by this ship (the Adam) in casks, under a promise from the captain that it would be packed in cloth. I did not much like this plan. The next point in which I was disappointed is, that your last letters gave me to understand that you were sending out a crate of delf, and I was looking out for it most anxiously. There was no letter with the packages which came from England, except that containing the bill of lading. We conjecture, however, that they came from you. They consist of a box of soap and starch, a box of axes and wedges, and a dozen of spades. The soap was most seasonable, as I was just about buying some. The spades seem excellent. The wedges also will be very serviceable, though to be most effective they should be in progressive sizes. These remarks may be serviceable as hints to others. I am pretty well supplied now, for we can now get them made here, at a dear rate.
There is a plan now in progress for attempting to civilize some of the natives by putting them under the friendly superintendence of Mr. Armstrong, who has gained their entire confidence, and acquired a thorough knowledge of their language. The principle is that they shall procure their own subsistence—but of this more anon. The natives, after a long absence from this neighbourhood, have returned. They have been a long way to the North. Tomghin has been giving me a great account of excursions which he and Weeip made. He says the men are very big, that they eat each other, that they wanted to come here to see the white people, but he discouraged them, saying that they would steal and we would be angry. I give no guess how far he had gone: to the North, but think he must have been 100 miles. He says he asked about money or white men, but there is no such thing, and that black fellows "tell a lie plenty." (This was in reference to the rumours we had some time since of a shipwreck). He was describing to me his ideas of a future state. Some, he said, when they died went down far into the earth and walked "far away" ; others went up and walked above where the snake and the emu stay (perhaps they are hunting grounds hereafter). He also talked of something which I take to be a spirit (good or bad) called "Boylya," but I do not understand this. I know there is not much reliance to be placed in some of their tales, but he says now that Calynte, the leader of the Murray river tribe, has collected all his forces, and the assistance of other distant tribes, and is coming to make regular battle with us, and do whatever mischief he can. This will satisfy the term "systematic attack" which some of the despatches use as the only thing to justify any military aid.
December 16.—Mr. Peel has now got the fee simple of his 250,000 acres, and is in treaty with some company for 100,000 acres at 2s. 6d. an acre. The company wants 1,000,000 acres. It strikes me as a great omission hitherto on our part that we have not have made it generally known that land may be had here from settlers at a low rate perhaps from 4d. an acre upwards, taking a large quantity. At Southern Australia, I see they charge 12s. as a minimum price. How can they expect to get that sum in a new colony, when land may be had so much cheaper in one partly established? Depend on it, the place will not succeed.
December 25th.—I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year. The gap from the 16th to this day has occurred by my being much in Perth since on business. I hardly know how to fill it up, except with a report of meetings of the Executive Council, examination of roads, bridges, canals, &c., as commissioner of roads, and drawing up reports thereon. In examining the "flats" one very warm day, we (Mr. Roe and I) walked about through the water with our trousers tucked up and legs exposed to the sun for some time, so that the skin was greatly burned and all but peeled off. We saw a fight among the natives there. When I was walking along with them, expecting to see the hostile party advancing from an opposite quarter, and just as I was endeavouring to make one of them explain, I heard a sudden "thwack," and, turning round, beheld a great spear sticking out of a certain very fleshy part of a man who was near me. It seems the quarrel was among themselves, and this was the way of settling it. Another got a spear through his leg about the same time; but they seem to think nothing of these things. The wounded men got the spears pulled out, and continued along with the rest, as if nothing were the matter. In short, it looked more like a set of mischievous boys playing at high romps, or having a row, than any deadly business. When one of them is angry, another holds him till the passion is off, and some appear very willing to be held, and only struggle a little "to save their honour."
Walked up here on Saturday morning last with John Mackie, and rode down on Tuesday on my young filly called "Kate." She carried me very well; it is one of my own rearing. Attended Executive Council on Tuesday, and Legislative Council yesterday, when two Bills were read, which I had previously prepared—one to "regulate the sale of spirits, &c.," and one to establish and regulate a Post Office. Our Legislative Council is now open to the public, and we are directed to conform to the rules of the British Parliament in our proceedings, so that actually you may regard me as a member of Parliament here. A deputation of inhabitants had waited on the Governor, relative to some improvements in the town, on the same day, so that it was quite a show day. The room in which our Legislative Council sits is a large sized room, with a space railed off for the public. We are required to appear in full dress there, so that I have now an opportunity of wearing the coat and waistcoat you sent, but I confess I have not had the courage to put it on yet. The Governor appears in full dress (naval uniform), Captain Daniel in full military dress, Messrs. Broun and Roe in blue coats, with red collars and Crown buttons, i.e., buttons with a Crown on them. (All civil officers wear these buttons.) To-day I paid a duty of £6 6s. for forty-two gallons of rum, and £14 14s. as the price of it. Think of this poured down the throats of the servants! Oh, for the establishment here of a temperance society.
There is an expedition going off to explore the Hotham and William rivers. It is an interesting but very toilsome expedition in this very hot weather. I should like to have gone myself, but cannot be permitted, as Mr. Roe is going by land. The Governor and Mackie are going by sea to King George's Sound. * * * Mr. Norcott and the police have just returned from looking after natives at the Murray. They saw nothing of them, but traced their fires for thirty or forty miles on the Serpentine, which falls into the estuary of the Murray. They also saw many cattle tracks. I got a letter of yours yesterday, which was written more than a year ago (7th Dec. 1834.) It came by the Cleopatra to Van Diemen's Land, where it has lain ever since. I need not advert to it now. I have pulled up arrears, and must now make up for lost time, and hurry off to Mr. Tanner's to be in time for our plum pudding.
December 26th.—Got some smart showers of rain going down. There were present there Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, Dora and Sam, the three Messrs. Burgess and myself. The day was oppressively sultry, with a steaming damp heat, which put me in mind of some of the hot wet summer days at home. Got back at twelve at night. Found the men all looking "seedy" after yesterday's doings, but all had passed off quietly for a wonder. Rain came on so heavily to-day that I was obliged to cease bringing oats to the stack, as they were too wet. I have got one famous large rick of wheat, one of barley, and one of green oats and hay. I have just paid a servant to-night the sum of £16. He is going to Perth in the morning. This to my indoor servants. * * * Mr. and Mrs. Tanner talk of going home in a vessel that has just arrived here from Van Diemen's Land. * * * I think of packing my wool in some of the sheets which you sent some time ago. I know not what else to do with it. Next year my flock will be a fine young flock, as I parted with the old ones when I could. I wish I had yours renewed.