Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/26

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6
State of the Swan River Colony 1st Jan., 1830.

grass and twigs, very small, and resembling in shape the half of a bee-hive cut vertically. The men and children were naked: their women did not appear. They seemed to be a good-humoured, inoffensive people. In several of the valleys are poo!s and rills of water. The fifth and last variety of soil is that which is found on the banks of the rivers and streamlets. It is alluvial, and genera!ly very rich, being spontaneously good native flax, many edible roots, and thirty or forty species of grasses. This description of the country applies more particularly to the extent of about forty miles to the southward of Swan River. Further south, the sandy tract disappears, and the rocky ground is less protruding; the climate is cooler, and the surface seems to indicate the fall of more frequent showers.

From the little inconvenience which a large portion of settlers suffered from want of dwellings, and exposure to the night air for weeks together, the opinion is universal that the climate favourable to health in a very uncommon degree. Captain Stirling says, that for two or three of the summer months it was deemed prudent that the workmen should not work exposed to the sun between the hours of ten and three; but that great exertion at other times produced no constituent lassitude: and he adds that, with the exception of ten or eleven days, the summer heat had been tempered by southern breezes, and thereby rendered very agreeable. Rain had not fallen for about three months; but this drought fortunately occurs at the season proper for harvest. And though the grasses and other herbage are at this time much injured by the great and glowing heat of the sun, it is worthy of remark, that on sandy soils the plants sustain the heat much better than on the clay. None of those whose roots are near the surface can escape from the effects of the baking which this later kind of soil sustains.

Captain Stirling speaks with great caution on the productive power of the soils, and how far they may be modified by climate. ' The most skilful of the farmers who have come from England.' he observes, ' profess themselves at a loss to form a judgment
' here, as proceesses in vegetation are going forward before their
' eyes, even on mere sands, which are wholly irreconcilable to
' their pre-existing notions and modes of judging. I think, however,' he continues, ' I am safe in stating that the sandy soils on
' the coast produce a shrubby herbage, on which horned cattle,
' horses, and sheep have lived now throughout the hottest and the
' coldest parts of the year; that there is, between the hills and the
' sea, a breadth of red loamy soil, on which grain and artificial
' grasses may be produced; that the banks of the rivers and nu-
' merous streams offer the richest alluvial loam; and that the hills
' themselves, although occasionally very rugged, are capable of