Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/21

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
7
A SURVEY OF THE SOUTH.

Victoria occupies the south-eastern corner of Australia, and comprises that small but rich strip of territory lying between the 34th and 39th parallels of south latitude, and the 141st and 150th degrees of east longitude, embracing an area of 88,198 square miles, or 56,446,720 acres. The noble Murray River is the northern boundary that separates young Victoria from old New South Wales; the boisterous Bass Straits lie on the south between the "tight little island" of Tasmania and the mainland,whilst on the western side. South Australia—the granary of the antipodes— displays her exuberant treasures. The first attempt to plant a settlement in this quarter of Australia was made in 1803, when Colonel Collins, a British officer, was placed in command of an expedition to found a new penal colony. Three hundred and sixty- seven male convicts were placed on board the "Ocean" transport, and, escorted by the "Calcutta" man-of-war, 18 guns and 170 men, were despatched from England in May, 1803. After a tedious voyage of six months, Colonel Collins landed his party on a point at the eastern entrance to Port Phillip Bay, the site of the present Sorrento, a fashionable sea-side resort in the summer months. Happily for the future of Victoria, the attempt to plant a penal settlement proved a complete failure, and the premier colony was spared the odium of ever having given a permanent abode to the scum of the English prisons. The reasons that induced Colonel Collins to abandon the settlement have never been satisfactorily explained, though the general opinion is that his inability to discover a permanent supply of fresh water was the principal cause. He could not have made a very diligent search for the precious fluid; for had he done so, it would have been found in abundance not many miles from his camp. However, after a stay of three months, orders