Page:The new British province of South Australia.djvu/31

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rility of a spot close to the sea, that the unknown land beyond it is otherwise than fertile. On the contrary, if any conclusion may be drawn from the sterility of some part of the coast line, it is that, probably, as in so many known cases, there is land of a superior quality not far off; and more especially if there be any range of high land in the neighbourhood.

4. In thickly-peopled countries, deep alluvial land on the banks of rivers, which when in a state of nature was liable to floods, is considered the most fertile.

But in the settled parts of Australia, such land, unless in a most favourable position with respect to markets, is not highly esteemed. In many cases it is despised, and is entirely neglected for land of far less natural fertility. For this there are two reasons.

First, in the present scattered state of the population, no measures can be taken to confine a river within its ordinary channel; so that, during floods, nearly all rich alluvial land becomes morass, as happened in the time of Alfred with tens of thousands of acres on the banks of the Thames, which are now eminently productive. Secondly, flooded land, being for the most part heavily timbered, or covered with strong reeds, requires before it can be used for production a quantity of labour such as no settler in New South Wales can readily command. Most of the deep alluvial soils, which are neglected in the Australian settlements, would be highly prized in Europe. We may say, therefore, that, up to a certain point, the soil of Australia will become more fit to support a dense population as her population shall become more dense.

5. This conclusion from the present impossibility