Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/72

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ing themselves into exploring parties, with the object of ascertaining the capabilities of the back country. Such a party was organised by Mr. D'Arcy, an Irish surveyor, very soon after the settlement of Melbourne. With five kindred spirits he started to explore the country to the west. On the verge of the horizon they saw a solitary peak. Mount Buninyong, towards which they directed their steps. Ascending it, they gazed with delight on the splendid expanse of pastoral country all around them, little dreaming that they were looking on what was destined to be the greatest goldfield of the age, and the site of the future prosperous city of Ballarat. It would appear that the members of this expedition became separated in some manner, and only succeeded in reaching the coast after much danger and privation. But the intelligence they brought was too valuable to be overlooked. Several parties set out with the object of making a permanent settlement, and the rich natural pastures of the district were soon taken up by these early squatters, most of whom became immensely wealthy in later years through the discovery of gold on their lands. But, on their first occupation of the country, they dwelt in primeval simplicity, in the midst of their flocks and herds, without a thought of the golden treasures beneath their feet. A little township sprang into existence at the base of Mount Buninyong, and became the recognised centre of the district. Six miles to the west was the site of the present city of Ballarat, town of Ballarat East, and borough of Sebastopol, described by those who viewed the scene at the time as a "pleasantly-picturesque pastoral country. Mount and range, and table-land, gullies and creeks and grassy slopes, here black and dense forest, there only sprinkled with trees, and yonder showing clear reaches of grass, made up the general