56 NATURAL FEATURES OF
— soil that is the pure accumulation of vegetable matter, and is as black as ebony. If its hundreds of thousands of acres were practically available, I should not hesitate to pronounce it one of the richest spots of equal extent on earth, and highly favoured in other respects. How far it is available* remains to be proved; and an opinion upon either side would be hazardous, although that of its liability to flood would, most probably, be nearest the truth. It is, however, certain, that any part of the valley would require much labour before it could be brought under cultivation, and that even its most available spots would require almost as much trouble to clear them as the forest tract, for nothing is more difficult to destroy than reeds. Breaking the sod would naturally raise the level of the ground, and lateral drains would most probably carry off all floods; but then the latter at least is the operation of an advanced stage of husbandry only. I would, however, observe, that there are many parts of the valley decidedly above the reach of floods. I have, in the above observations, been more particularly alluding to the lowest and broadest portions of it. I trust I shall be understood as not wishing to overrate this discovery on the one hand, or, on the other, to include its whole extent in one sweeping clause of condemnation."
Page 229. — "We were borne over its ruffled and agitated surface (Lake Alexandrina) with such rapidity, that I had scarcely time to view it as we passed; but cursory as my glance was, I could not but think I was leaving behind me the fullest reward of our toil, in a country that would ultimately render our discoveries valuable, and benefit the colony for whose interests we
- "Available" means here, available under the circumstance of dispersed and divided labour. In the time of Alfred, a surveyor might have doubted whether the rich garden grounds near Fulham, or the marsh of the Isle of Dogs, was "available." Captain Sturt had lived in a colony where pains have been taken to disperse and divide the settlers.