Page:The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal 1(2).djvu/4

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ing farm on the North bank, above Perth, is called the "Yorkshire farm," from a number of Agriculturists, Natives of that County in England having congregated there, though I believe each man's property is separate and distinct. Here the soil may be said to assume quite a new character. The sand so much complained of by a parcel of prejudiced visitors, is but partially seen, and there were certainly as fine crops of Wheat and other Grain in the ground when I was there, as could be found in any part of the world—proceeding up the River you arrive at Captain Byrne's, Mr. Brown's, Captain Currie's of the Navy, Mr. Drummond's and various other properties below Guildford.

I regret to say that the names of the numerous proprietors have escaped my memory, but this I can say with perfect confidence, that they are all of them happy and flourishing, notwithstanding the squibs you have heard in India respecting their destitute condition &c. &c. Curries place does him the greatest credit—his garden is full of the very finest vegetables, and he has built a most comfortable little brick House, where I was much indebted both to Mrs. Currie and Himself, for comfort, kindness and hospitality, during my various voyages up and down the River. The township of Guildford on the South bank is fast assuming a very respectable appearance. The Governor has built a little Cottage Orné in it's immediate vicinity, and it is difficult to imagine a more beautiful situation.

The House is considerably elevated above the general level of the Country. The site is chosen at a turn of the River, commanding a view along two extensive reaches, and the land in front of it being all meadow land, very beautifully studded with forest trees, you may without much effort of imagination, conceive yourself placed in the midst of a Gentleman's park at home.

The breed of horned Cattle introduced into the Colony is I am told very valuable. I confess myself to be ignorant upon this subject; but the sixty head I saw at the Governor's Farm appeared to me splendid animals. The horses imported are also of the finest blood.

A splendid farm adjoins the Governor's Estate, the property of Sir James Hume, and the land as I proceeded up the River was as fine as any land in the world. I not only speak from my own observation but I speak from the testimony of a first rate Gentleman farmer Mr. Brockman, whose produce this year will fully justify the praise I am bestowing upon it. His fields of wheat, and indeed grain of every description, were as rich and productive as in any part of the world; and both the Mutton and Beef from his Estate were equal in my opinion to well fed Meat in England.

Captain Irwin possesses a location still higher on the Swan, which for variety and beauty of prospect, surpasses every thing I saw below it; but Mr Brown the Colonial Secretary (who is the most distant settler) from being nearer the Mountains, will I think bye and bye have more capabilities at his command.

We pursued our journey about six miles beyond the most distant farm—that of Mr. Brown already mentioned, until we reached the foot of the Darling range of Mountains, having passed over three or four miles of extensive meadowland, covered with the richest grass, and with scarcely a single tree to interrupt the prospect.

The pasture upon Mr. Brown's property is so exceedingly rich, that I am told his flocks were many of them getting blind from sheer fatness, and I beg it to be understood, that in stating this fact, I am stating nothing very marvellous, as such is the common result of overfeeding, and I can safely declare that in my life, I never tasted finer mutton than was produced from his grass.

The Natives of the Country offer the only interruption to the settlers perfect comfort, and they certainly have in many instances proved themselves exceedingly treacherous. Before however they are wholly condemned, for what may appear to us a vindictive and revengeful character, it should be stated that the better part of Society are ignorant what provocation these poor wretches receive. The lower orders on the Swan hold the life of a Native at no value, and there was one young man, the Son of a Gentleman, who shocked me by saying that he had been out all the morning and had had but one shot at a black!!—Governor Stirling is exerting ever power he possesses to correct this evil; but the Governor cannot be every where, and when these poor devils find that they are shot like wild beasts, it is natural to suppose that human beings in so savage a state will seek for some means of gratifying their revenge. Their ideas upon this subject are very peculiar—they attach criminality generally to the place where the injury has been received, and not to the individual who has inflicted it. This renders the atonement more distressing for they watch near the spot like a Cat for it's prey and the first person who may appear is quite certain of being assaulted—they thow one or two spears, and whether they kill wound or even miss their object I am told they consider the atonement sufficient, as I hear it has been satisfactorily proved that they seldom attempt any farther violence.

Their idea of personal property, must be also founded on very savage notions. They naturally consider us to be foreign intruders, and when they see their Kangaroos, upon which they chiefly depend for food, destroyed by our people, it will be difficult to imagine that the crime of helping themselves to a little of our Kangaroo (mutton) can be considered by them a very henious offence. They would certainly appear to have some redeeming qualities, in situations where they have not been treated with unkindness. They are sad thieves though and cannot be trusted, within arms length of food. Their tribes however, have been frequently met by our gentlemen, singly in the jungle, and upon these occasions they have been invariably civil and good natured. Two of the most eminent explorers in the country, had but recently returned from a very interesting excursion, into the interior, to trace the course of a River, beyond the Darling Range of mountains, and these Gentlemen, Mr. Moore and Ensign Dale informed me, that they were twice in the power of considerable tribes, and that once they even slept together on the same spot, without the slightest appearance of hostility having been evinced. On the contrary, they were extremely kind and good natured, and after having been together for twenty four hours, they parted the very best of friends.

It is difficult to imagine any race of Savages, more degraded in the scale of humanity than the wretched aborigines of Australia—they are hardly one remove from the brute creation, and appear to be totally destitute of any sort of fixed habitation. They live in tribes, and wander about the jungles in search of food, the supply of which it may be easily imagined, is both scanty and precarious. The only skill they display is in throwing their spears, and this they certainly do with suprising precision—hitting a very small object at the distance of eighty or a hundred yards—with this weapon they spear fish and Kangaroos, but snakes, lizards, and indeed every sort of reptile, is relished by them as excellent food, and when they fail to obtain this disgusting species of nourishment, they subsist on a sort of bulbus root, which is abundant in the forests, and which they find a tolerable substitute for keeping life and soul together. They are perfectly naked, and exhibit the most emaciated, and skeleton like appearance. Their speed and agility are very suprising—they mount like monkies to the tops of the highest trees, with no other assistance, than that which they derive, from small notches, cut as they ascend, with a rude stone hatchet, barely deep enough to admit the points of their toes. The difficulty of either learning their language, or of teaching them ours, is very considerable, and this difficulty arises out of a cause that is nearly ludicrous. Their powers of imitation are very extraordinary, and whatever question you address to them, they immediately repeat. If you say to them "what's the name of this," they instantly reply "what's a name a is"—if you repeat your enquiry, and hold up the article for inspection, they continue to echo every word you say, until you are literally driven out of all patience. They appear to have no system of religion whatever, tho' they are certainly very superstitious, and betray great reluctance to separate from their tribe during the night time. As well as I could understand, from the natives of King George's sound, they think they are haunted, by the ghosts of the dead. Mr Dale discovered something like a religious symbol, during one of his excursions into the interior, but this was the only instance of the kind that came to my knowledge during my stay in Australia—he described an extremely rude figure of the Sun, which was cut in the rocky part of a cave, I think somewhere, near the Town of York—like all Savages they are much addicted to theft, and appear to have no sense of gratitude for any favors that may be conferred upon them. Captain Irwin, who commands the detachment, endeavoured all in his power to attach them to his Soldiers, from a sense of obligation—he fed them liberally from his stores, and treated them with all possible kindness, but the nature of the animal defeated all his exertions, and they were at length dismissed after repeated robberies. Though apparently deficient in general intellect, they are certainly blessed with abundance of cunning—they have become thoroughly acquainted with the nature of our Fire Arms, and fully understand, that the piece must be reloaded, before it can do them a second injury—when they deliver their Spear, they endeavour to distract your attention from themselves, generally by calling out "Kangaroo," and then it is melancholy to say how frequently they succeed in slaying their victims. The men who are most exposed to injury are Shepherds attending their flocks, as they are necessarily alone and since the Savages have tested our Mutton, they are on the constant look out for stray Sheep. On the first formation of the Colony, they were much alarmed at our Dogs; but though they still hold them in great respect, they are not so terrified at them as formerly—if a Shepherd were to wear a sort of defensive Armour, such as a plate of tin, fashioned to the shape of his body, I am quite sure their spears would not penetrate the metal, and if once they found this shield was impervious, they would become less daring in their attacks upon property.

Providence appears to have decreed, that they shall gradually exterminate each other, for they invariably destroy some individual of a neighbouring Tribe, whenever a member of their own has paid the debt of Nature—this practice will of course double their bills of mortality. They bury their dead I understand, in a sort of sitting posture, and I am told they hold the graves of their friends, in the greatest veneration.

To be continued

Perth, January 2nd, 1833

Mr. Editor, Sir.

By inserting the following it will greatly oblige my Brother Colonists and myself, feeling fully confident some of the Gentlemen Officers of His Majesty's 63rd Reg. of Foot, either stationed here or otherwise, will give some Information why they allow or suffer a private of the above named Reg., to reside out of the Barracks, or Barrack Ground of Western Australia, and carry on a very extensive trade to the very great injury of the Settlers, who embarked their little all, left their Friends, and dear Native Country Old England, (not only to avoid the heavy Taxation levied on them there,) but to establish themselves here in some trade or business to gain an honest, industrious, and respectable livelihood for their wives and families in this Colony; but all this is frustrated by a portion of the Privates of the 63rd Reg., who not only reside out of their Barracks but trade in any way they think proper. One of the individuals alluded to drew his Rations of flour for himself, wife, and family, and then made it into Bread and sold it in his shop at the very extortionate price of six Shillings the four pound loaf, when most of the respectable as well as the labouring Settlers did not nor had not knowing the taste of Bread or flour for months, and at the time when starvation stared us full in the face Captain James Stirling was pleased to dispatch with all possible speed The Brig "Cornwallis," Captain Henderson, to the Cape of Good Hope for Provisions and flour on account of Government,—on her return here this very Private of the 63rd Reg. has fifteen tons of flour (independent of other articles) bought for him, and only ten tons for Government to distribute amongst the Settlers. This very Private is not only suffered to traffic in this extensive manner, but has a License granted him to Retail Spirituous Liquors, and (not mind you as a Canteen) but as a Public House, and is seen promenading the streets in the costume of a Settler, not as a private Soldier belonging to His Majesty's 63rd Reg. of Foot.

It may be answered thus, it is his wife that carries on the business and the License is granted,—but how is it possible when he is to be seen daily, selling articles and receiving the money, and his wife can neither read or write, and no Clerk or Shopman kept.

I appeal to any Gentleman of this Colony who is atall acquainted with military discipline if such things are suffered in any other British Colony. As for England we all know it dare not be done.

Fearing I am trespassing too much on your Space, I must beg to subscribe myself,

Your Obliged,
A Settler.

* "A Settler" is under a mistake as regards the Soldiers wives; they have relinquished their rations and consequently have every privilege of a Settler. We deny that starvation approached much less "stared us in the face. The Cornwallis brought 110 casks of flour for Government,—so much for facts!!—Editor.

Edited, Printed, and Published by CHARLES MACFAULL, at the Gazette Office, Perth

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