Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/24

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

to retain its native name, whilst the third received its title from the reigning monarch, William IV. At His Excellency's departure, the entire population of the settlement—five hundred souls—assembled to give him a parting cheer. These five hundred settlers were possessed of 140,000 sheep, 2,500 head of cattle, and 150 horses—a very satisfactory state of progress. In this year (1837) the first government land sale in Melbourne took place, and the event is worthy of note as showing how enormously the value of land may increase by unforeseen circumstances. A small allotment in Collins Street (the aristocratic thoroughfare of Melbourne) purchased originally for £S5 was afterwards bought for £24,000, and, at the present time, the average price of land in the same locality is £900 per foot. A gentleman was considered very foolish for having paid what was then regarded as the excessive sum of £80 for half-an-acre, but after the lapse of two years the same land realized £5,000, and twelve years later it was sold for £40,000. These are only two examples out of many that might be recorded.

Mr. William Kelly, a contemporary eye-witness, states the following facts: "Innumerable small lots, making in their aggregate immense breadths of property, were sold at nominal prices in the early part of 1851, which, ere its close, were 'pearls beyond price,' translated into the seventh heaven of appreciation by the fortuitous discovery of the Ballarat shepherd. I know the particulars of numerous cases of constrained fortune. One I will relate which occurred in the person of an humble man from my native country, who accumulated a very modest competence in Melbourne under the old régime—first by manual labour and then by carting at the moderate rates of the day. He purchased a town lot in Swanston Street, and erected a wooden house upon it, in