The State and Position of Western Australia/Chapter 1

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Introduction—Motives of the Writer—Sources of Information—Description of the Country, Soil, Climate, Natural Productions, Pasturage, Seasons—Favourable Reports of the Interior—Fisheries—Harbours—Political and Commercial Advantages—Table of Sailing Distances, &c.

The purpose of the following pages is to lay before persons desirous of emigrating a short, but impartial, statement of the condition of the colony of Western Australia, commonly called the Swan River Settlement. The object of the writer is not to exalt its advantages above those of other colonies. His statements are put forward neither from motives of private interest, nor to forward the views of any party or associated body whatever; and he trusts that, however brief, his statement will be found throughout essentially correct.

That the subject of colonization is an important one, not only to the legislator, but to the simple citizen, no one in the present state of our population will be inclined to question. That it is felt to be so, the state of the press fully demonstrates. The published accounts of colonial resources and expectations held out to the emigrant form, at present, a considerable branch of our periodical literature, and are sought after with avidity. It is to be feared, however, that much of what is thus communicated to the public has no better authority than the expectations of the sanguine, or the prejudice caused by failures that arise from the absence of those qualifications which all emigrants, especially those to a new colony, should more or less bring with them; as their undertaking, even under the most favourable circumstances, is an arduous one, requiring judgment, perseverance, and fortitude.

The author writes for the enterprizing, but rational and sober-minded, emigrant. If the account he has to give of the resources of Western Australia present unexpected attractions, he has no explanation to offer. He only relates what he believes to be true. The task in which he engages he has undertaken with reluctance, literary composition being foreign to his habits; but since his return to England early in the past year, its urgency has been impressed upon him, from conversations he has had with persons of all classes (including well-informed individuals in and out of Parliament) who feel an interest in the settlement. He has found that the general impression on their minds is, that no satisfactory conclusion could be arrived at respecting that colony, the existing accounts of it being so contradictory; and that families in different parts of the kingdom are still in uncertainty, after having long since commenced arrangements for emigrating thither.

The information of the author respecting Western Australia has been acquired during a residence there of from four to five years. He proceeded thither in command of the troops with the expedition that founded the colony in 1829; and, on Sir James Stirling’s return to England in August 1832, the government devolved upon him, which he continued to administer for upwards of a twelvemonth, leaving the colony the latter end of September, in the following year. In the course of his official duties, he visited more than once King George’s Sound, and the other stations on the coast, and in the interior. It may also be well to mention that he has held an arable farm for several years on the Swan, and has been a director of the Agricultural Society established in the colony: he is, consequently, enabled to speak on the subject of farming there, from some experience of his own. And lastly, since his return home, he has had, through both public and private channels, regular accounts of the progress of the settlement up to the latest arrivals.

Swan River district is situated in about 32° south latitude, and 116° east longitude. It resembles in temperature (to speak from the author’s recollections of his residence in those countries) the south of Italy, parts of Spain and Portugal, and the Cape of Good Hope.

A register of the weather on the Swan[1] is furnished in the concluding pages of this pamphlet, and shows the extremes of temperature during a year. In that instance the thermometer was kept in a hut, and ranged fifteen degrees above the highest point it attained in a brick-house, which was 91°. It there appears that rain was plentiful for six months successively, and that partial showers fell throughout the remainder of the year, except in January. It is here to be remarked, that in the wet season the rains seldom last longer than three days at a time; and that there are intervals of beautiful weather, frequently for ten days in continuance. King George’s Sound, in about 35° south latitude, and 118° east longitude, is remarkable for the mildness of its climate, and for having rains every month. By an extract from a meteorological journal,[2] kept for a year at that place, the weather appears to be cooler in summer, and warmer in winter, than at Swan River. But, although it has the advantage of a more even temperature, the author himself decidedly prefers the climate of Swan River, which is drier. In this preference, it is probable that most persons who have resided in India and other tropical climates, would coincide. At Swan River, although the heat is generally great from three to four months, for several hours in the day, the air, even then, is refreshed by the sea breeze, and the remainder of the day and night is sufficiently cool and agreeable. During the rest of the year, such is the weather, that few would desire any alteration in it.

It is well known that a high temperature is more or less tolerable, in proportion to the degree of moisture in the atmosphere; and this has enabled the author to account for the fact, that he suffered little comparative inconvenience from the heat at Swan River, when the thermometer there indicated a temperature several degrees higher than it had done at Bombay at times when he had felt the heat at the latter place very oppressive.

In point of salubrity, Western Australia is equal to any country the author has visited or heard of. The health of the troops was put to a severe trial there, especially the first year. Being few in number, they had frequently harassing duties to perform: often, after marching throughout the day under a powerful sun, they have lain down to rest, exposed to the deleterious influences of the night air; and, at other times, subjected to all the inclemencies of the winter season. Such service would have invalided many men in most other countries; but after being four years in that climate, the troops continued in good health, with the exception of those who suffered from their intemperate habits.

Of the settlers, some who declared they could not live in England from asthma, or other complaints, have enjoyed such robust health, that they have performed exploring excursions on foot, for several days successively, carrying their provisions, and sleeping under trees. The annexed reports of two physicians,[3] who have practised several years in the colony, will be found corroborative of this statement.

The country near the coast generally presents either an open forest, plains covered with short brushwood mixed with grass, or open downs. Numerous lakes, fresh and salt, extend along the coast, as do also hills and ridges of recent calcareous formation. A peculiar feature of this coast is a succession of estuaries, each a receptacle of several rivers, and connected with the sea by a narrow mouth.

A great variety of flowering shrubs cover the country in many parts, and, occasionally, lofty trees with wide-spreading branches embellish its surface. But, however it may please the lover of nature, the aspect of the coast districts is not generally inviting to the farmer, the soil being of a light sandy character, and mostly unfit for agriculture. That in the vicinity of the rivers and lakes, however, is of a different description, being alluvial, and generally covered, in a state of nature, with rich pasture. When under cultivation, it bears heavy crops of wheat and other grain.

The higher ranges of hills are of primitive formation, occasionally showing the bare granite rock. On these hills, and between the ranges, where the country is from 500 to 1000 feet above sea level, the soil is mostly of the red marl formation, and generally good, bearing fine forests of native mahogany and other timber. There is feed for sheep on the hills next the coast district, and rich pasture of wild vetch and other herbage for cattle in the ravines. Some land between the ranges seems, but for the lofty timber it bears, wholly sterile: so forbidding is its aspect, from the ironstone with which it abounds, that it resembles districts the author has seen in Sicily, that were overspread with cinders from Mount Etna.

The banks of the rivers, especially of the Swan, present scenery much admired by all who have visited the country. In some parts both borders exhibit extensive meadows, ornamented with trees and flowering shrubs. Elsewhere, high precipitous banks look down on grassy plains on the opposite side. These banks are enamelled with a profusion of the amaranthine tribe of plants (the everlasting flower), and crowned with noble mahogany and other lofty trees.

The most valuable tracts of land are in the interior, to the east of the Darling Range of mountains; and similar tracts approach to within twenty-five miles of the coast, in the south-east parts of the colony, between Cape Leeuwin and King George’s Sound. The best land of these tracts is not confined to the vicinity of lakes, rivers, or hills, as is mostly the case on the west side of the mountains, where the principal body of the settlers are at present located.

The only district occupied beyond the Darling Range is called York, and is from fifty to sixty miles from the sea coast. The same name has been given to the projected chief town, the site of which is laid out on the river Avon. This river, flowing from the south, has a north-westerly direction in passing York, and has been lately found to wind through one of the vallies of the Darling Range, and to be identical with the Swan. The Avon varies greatly in width. In some parts, where there are fine reaches of one or two miles in length, it is sixty and seventy paces broad, with high banks. Like the Swan and some other rivers on the coast, it is, in the dry season and towards its source, but a chain of pools, until filled by the winter torrents.

The climate of York is reckoned cooler than that of the Swan. There have been established in this district, for the space of several years, arable and grazing farms; and the proprietors find the country well suited for both, although the crops raised there are not equal in quantity to the produce of the rich alluvial plains of the Swan, Canning, and other rivers in the coast districts.

The fine condition of the herds, the last time the writer visited the district, showed the pasture to be good. Indeed, so very nutritious is the herbage, that a farmer there assured him, he gave no other food than the hay of that country to a team of English horses, which appeared in excellent condition, although employed in drawing heavy loads across the Darling Range.

But the interior of Western Australia is particularly valuable for its sheep pastures. These are extensive tracts of undulating surface, covered with a short sweet grass, and are found to be admirably suited for Merino flocks. Those of Messrs. Bland and Trimmer, which have been there some years, fully justify this assertion, from their rapid increase and healthy condition. Sheep are there exempt from a disease (supposed to originate from feeding in marshy pastures), from which several flocks to the west of the range have suffered severely. In a report printed in the Colonial Gazette of August last, we find Dr. Harris, a physician who is settled on the Swan, and has ably written on the disease alluded to, thus addresses the Agricultural Society of the colony:—“No country in the world can boast of grounds more favourable for sheep than the York district of this colony (only about fifty miles from the coast), where some flocks have been for some time established with such success, as to dispel every doubt, and cheer the prospects of the settlers at large.”

The scenery of the interior districts is in many parts beautiful—the undulations of hill and dale, ornamented with clumps of trees and shrubs, present a rich and cheerful aspect. On one occasion, when riding over a tract of this description, of which he particularly wished to gain an accurate knowledge, the author was accompanied by an experienced and intelligent English farmer; and, after an attentive examination of it during a whole day, which they devoted to that object, the farmer coincided with him in opinion, that the tract was well adapted for agricultural or pastoral purposes, but especially for sheep. In accordance with the observation before made, that the quality of the soil to the east of the range does not depend on the neighbourhood of rivers &c., they found the land between three and four miles from the river superior to that on its banks.

In the interior, alternating with the fertile districts, are to be found extensive tracts of inferior land. They are either clayey soil on which the water lodges in winter, or sandy, or soils impregnated with salt. These lands afford little herbage, and generally bear forest trees thinly distributed over the surface. The banks of the salt pools are mostly covered with samphire.

The seed time is long and favourable, and lasts from early in May to the end of August. The writer has had, indeed, a good crop of wheat sown so late as the 15th of September; but it grew on alluvial soil—and land should be of this description, or in good condition, to admit of seed being put in so late even as August. Experience, however, has proved that the earlier the seed is sown the better.

Showers commence in March, and increase in duration and heaviness till August; from which period to November they gradually diminish. In September there is heavy rain, and fine showers fall in October and November. By December the grain is ripe, and therefore suffers nothing from lack of moisture.

There is little or no rain in December, January, and February; but in these months the dews are heavy. The grain (which sheds little) may, consequently, be left without injury a long time in the fields, to suit the convenience of the farmer.

Hay is cut in November, and may be made up six hours after cutting, without risk of its heating in the stack.

It is apparent, from what has been said, that the farmer is highly favoured in both seasons—in seed time and in harvest.

Although the grass is much burnt up in the summer, live stock keep in good condition upon it; and young cattle are remarked to be as large at nine months old as they would be in England at twelve: this is attributed to their being enabled to graze all the year without penning up.

The wheat of the colony is a fine grain, and samples of it, sent to England, have been highly approved of, and preserved for seed there. It averages from 62 lbs. to 65 lbs. the bushel, and some of it has weighed 68 lbs.

The average of the crops by the acre has not been great. It has been computed at twenty-five bushels the English acre; but the calculation has not been made with accuracy. The imperfect mode of cultivation should here be borne in mind, as the probable cause of so moderate a produce, compared with instances, hereinafter adduced, of the fertility of the soil. The following is an experiment, made two years in succession.

A piece of alluvial land, measured with exactness, and sown with wheat, gave, the first year, a produce at the rate of forty-three bushels; and the second year, of very nearly sixty-one bushels to the English acre, without the aid of manure. The latter is a return which farmers consider equal to that of the best land in England, under the most improved culture. Some oats, being the second crop raised from the same description of land, cultivated two years in succession, were, by an experienced farmer, judged by the eye to yield from ten to twelve quarters the English acre. The barley grown in the colony is mostly Cape barley—a large four-sided grain, giving a heavy produce. It makes fine malt, as has been ascertained: for, from a bushel and a half of it (dried in the sun) and one pound of hops, twenty gallons of good ale and fifteen of small beer have been brewed.

Turnips, particularly the Swedish, give a weighty and sure crop. Potatoes produce very fair crops, and, in the alluvial soils, good ones, without manure.

The sandy lands, which have more or less of loam in them, are becoming more valued every year, and heavy crops of wheat and barley have been had from them with the aid of very little manure. Some of the land which gave this return, bore, when in a state of nature, the grass-tree only, and was cultivated solely from its being near the farmer’s residence.

The productive powers of even inferior sandy soils are often extraordinary, and show what the combination of heat and moisture effects in this country. At Perth and Fremantle, vegetables and fruits of fine size and flavour have been produced in sand, without manure. In the former town a radish, growing in sand, was exhibited in 1833, which measured, round the root, more than four feet; and a plant of mangel wurzel, in sandy soil of a better quality, on the Upper Swan, was six feet in circumference.

It ought to be noticed here, that the country has not yet been visited by a drought; and, from its situation on the west coast of the great continent of New Holland, it seems secured from such a calamity; as the westerly winds, which prevail during the winter, bring with them from the sea an abundant supply of rain, at the most seasonable time of the year.—The great advantage the colonists derive from their position in this particular, will be more apparent, if we refer to what the settlement at Algoa Bay, in South Africa, suffered in its infancy, and does still suffer occasionally, from want of rain. The author is the more impressed with the great advantage that Western Australia derives from its situation by having, about three years ago, seen letters from Sydney, on the opposite side of the continent, written by a large landed proprietor in New South Wales, which stated that, from a succession of droughts for several years previous, much distress had been occasioned there, and that the settlers did not know where to find pasture for their numerous flocks and herds.

The following circumstance, showing the increasing extent of that colony, was mentioned by a settler in New South Wales, who visited Swan River last year, with a view, as was understood, of ascertaining on what terms land there could be purchased:—in order to pasture on unappropriated lands his flocks (amounting to from 30,000 to 40,000 sheep), he had, a short time previous, been obliged to take up his abode in the interior, four hundred miles from Sydney.

As vegetation in Western Australia continues throughout the year, a succession of crops of potatoes and other vegetables may always be had wherever irrigation can be secured.

The following vegetables grow in the open air (if only common pains be taken), namely, tomatos, pumpkins, gourds, vegetable marrow, chillies, egg-plants; also every English vegetable, and the following fruits:—melons, bananas, almonds, figs, grapes, peaches, strawberries, and Cape gooseberries, all of which have come to perfection. The olive, pomegranate, apricot, plum, mango, lemon, and orange; the mulberry, apple, nectarine, pear, and various other trees, have not yet had time to bear fruit, but are growing well. Fig-cuttings produce fruit the first year, and vines frequently do so the second year. Oaks, and other timber trees from England, are likewise thriving.

Mr. Drummond, the Government botanist—for several years in charge of the public garden at Perth, says, in a report on its progress:—“The vines planted in May 1831 have made shoots, in what is past of this season, sixteen feet long, and the strongest and finest wood I have ever seen; the olives brought out by Captain Mangles, R. N., have been laid, and produced 150 plants; all the other plants in the garden thrive as well as the best friends of the colony can wish.”

The same gentleman has expressed his opinion, as the result of his experience, that the climate of Swan River is peculiarly adapted for the growth of the vine, the olive, and the silk mulberry.

The forests afford abundance of timber suitable for house and ship building, cartwright’s work, and cabinet-making. The mahogany of the country is in great plenty. With this wood principally, the Success frigate was repaired in Cockburn Sound; and when she was afterwards overhauled at Portsmouth, the officers of the dock-yard found this timber answering so well, and in such perfect preservation, that, on their report, the Lords of the Admiralty instructed Sir James Stirling to send a quantity of it to England, at a price exceeding, by more than fifty per cent., that allowed for African oak: specimens of it (taken out of the Success, when she was overhauled on the above occasion) are preserved in the model room of the Surveyor General of the Navy, at Somerset House.

The blue gum tree (which, in the south-east parts of the colony, grows to a gigantic height, and to which it will be necessary again to advert) has been estimated by an eminent ship-builder in England, to be equal, if not superior, to teak, for ship-building.

The opinion of the colonists themselves respecting the quality of the soil, as expressed in one of their addresses to the Governor on his return to Swan River in August last, is thus reported in the Colonial Gazette: “The experience of the interval between your departure and return has been of the greatest utility in establishing from facts (without the necessity of resorting any further to theories), the fertility of a large portion of the soil of this colony, when under proper cultivation; and the peculiar adaptation of the great mass of land beyond the Darling Range, in soil, herbage, and climate, to the pasturage and rearing of sheep.”

The following extract from the report of an overland expedition from Swan River to King George’s Sound (a distance of from two hundred to three hundred miles) is here given, in order to show the little probability of good land becoming scarce in the settlement for many years to come. It is written by the conductor of the expedition, Captain Bannister, an intelligent settler, who had travelled in Greece, and other European countries resembling Western Australia in climate.

He thus writes—“From the 23rd” of December “to the 5th of January, we pursued a south-by-east course, for eighty or ninety miles of actual distance, through, in many tracts, a country which surpassed our most sanguine expectations. A very great proportion of this tract was land of the finest description, fit for the plough, sheep, or cattle. The beauty of the scenery, near to and distant from the rivers which we crossed, is equal to any I have seen in the most cultivated timber country in those parts of Europe which I have happened to pass through.”

Brevity renders it necessary to omit Captain Bannister’s description of rich scenery, and fertile soil, which he gives in other parts of his report; but the following is an account of what may be deemed one of the most magnificent productions of nature in the vegetable kingdom.

Referring to the country passed over on the 6th and the 9th of January, this officer says,—“The trees were principally the blue gum; and, if others had not seen them, I should be afraid to speak of their magnitude. I measured one; it was, breast-high, forty-two feet in circumference, and in height before a branch, 140 or 150, we thought, at least; and as straight as the barrel of a gun: from the immense growth of these trees, I formed an opinion that the land upon which they grew could not be bad; what little we did see was a brown loam, capable of any cultivation, and, where the underwood was not remarkably thick, grass and herbage grew luxuriantly.”

It should be observed that no other expedition has explored the country described by Captain Bannister; and that as he travelled in the summer or dry season, it must have appeared, from the effects of the sun, to great disadvantage.

The country in the south-east parts of the settlement is described by an enterprising traveller, Dr. J. B. Wilson, R. N. After an excursion of ten days, which he made from King George’s Sound, this gentleman (who is a large landed proprietor in New South Wales) thus speaks of the country he observed on the eighth day:—“I have seen many far-famed views in the four ancient divisions of the globe, and have no hesitation in saying that this of the fifth (if it did not surpass) fell but little short of any of them.” Elsewhere he says,—“The timber, principally blue gum, is the finest I ever saw.” At the close of his journal, he gives this opinion of the country he had explored:—“I do not hesitate in saying, without fear of future contradiction, that the area passed over contained as much, perhaps more land fit for all rural purposes, than any portion of equal extent (at least as far as I know) in New South Wales.”[4]

Among those to whose enterprize and exertions the colonists are indebted for very valuable information respecting their territory, it would be injustice to omit the name of Lieut. Dale, of the 63rd regiment, who has been engaged, perhaps more than any other person, in exploring the interior at Swan River and King George’s Sound.[5]

To this officer the colonists are indebted for the discovery, in August 1830, of the country to the eastward of the Darling Range, by far the finest district yet occupied. His services in the Survey Department, to which he was attached for several years, were deemed so important, that the Governor more than once expressed his sense of them, in his dispatches to the Secretary of State.

On the early state of the Swan River Settlement a short memoir will be found in the first number of the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, by Sir John Barrow, whose knowledge and judgment on all subjects connected with newly-explored countries, render any information from him on these points peculiarly valuable. To this is annexed an interesting paper by that most eminent botanist, Mr. Robert Brown; and a description of the natives of King George’s Sound. This last paper goes fully into all the details of the habits and character of these people, and is drawn up with great perspicuity by Scott Nind, Esq., who accompanied, as a medical officer, the first detachment from Sydney stationed there. A valuable work on the natural history of the colony may also be expected (should the delicate state of his health permit) from Mr. Collie, the colonial surgeon, already known for his able and scientific researches made during a voyage round the world in his Majesty’s ship Blossom, to which expedition he was attached as naturalist.

There is a plentiful supply of white fish on the coast, including the snapper, and many others not known in Europe. Some of them are well flavoured, and similar to the cod, haddock, &c. Fish have been taken in large quantities off Rottnest Island (outside Gage’s Roads), in Cockburn Sound, at the Murray River, and elsewhere. Some samples sent to foreign markets have brought good prices; and there is no doubt but that when capital and enterprise are employed in this speculation, it will prove a fruitful source of wealth to the colony—having such markets near as are afforded by Java, and the other Malay isles, the Mauritius, India, and China. As salt is found in the colony, and especially in Rottnest Island, the means for curing are at hand.

A whale fishery would also yield a rich return for the employment of capital and skill. There is, it is believed, no frequented coast where whales are not found in greater numbers. When at Port Leschenault, the writer was told by the officer commanding there, that be had counted fourteen in the bay at once. During a voyage of the Sulphur down the coast, three hundred are said to have been seen. Some of these fish were declared to be sperm, by men of the ship who had been whalers; but it is chiefly the black whale that frequents the coast.

Soon after the Sulphur’s arrival, at an early period of the settlement, her crew, with that of the Challenger frigate, were engaged in fishing; and on one occasion, they caught so vast a quantity of a species called the King fish, that the net they were using broke, and the fish were literally driven on shore. After filling three large boats with them, a considerable heap was left on the beach. Upwards of three hundred people were amply supplied on this occasion, including the civil and military establishments then on Garden Island; and also the crews of the above ships and the Parmelia transport. Close to Garden Island, is a bank on which the finest whiting are caught in great quantities; they are larger than those taken on the English coast, and equal to them in flavour. Mr. D. H. Macleod, late of the 63rd Regt., and Government Resident at King George’s Sound, informed the writer, that he was along with the crew of the colonial schooner Ellen, when they caught on the Five Fathom Bank, outside of that island, a place greatly frequented by the snapper—in less than two hours, and with half a dozen hooks and lines—fish of that description, to an extent exceeding five cwt. Some of them weighed from 20 to 40 lbs. each.

In the Swan River there is a great abundance of fish of the herring tribe, of a flatter description, and broader than those in the English seas. Some of these, along with the Snapper, were cured, and taken to Java by Mr. Sholl, the purser of the Sulphur, acting as the agent of the local government, and were pronounced by the Malays, at Sourabaya, to be well adapted for the Java market.

Erroneous impressions have been prevalent respecting the harbours of Western Australia; and these impressions, for a time, raised considerably the rate of insurance at Lloyd’s. Accurate information, however, on this head having now been had, the injurious effect has ceased. As an instance of this, a vessel, which has just sailed for Swan River and King George’s Sound, has been insured at as low a rate as vessels which are bound for the neighbouring colonies.

In the Appendix[6] will be found a particular description of the harbours of the colony, which has been kindly furnished by Captain Preston, R. N. This intelligent officer was lieutenant of the Success frigate, at the time Sir James Stirling was dispatched to explore the coast in 1827; and, on his recommendation to the Admiralty, was appointed first lieutenant of the Sulphur; in which sloop, and in command of a colonial vessel, he was, for several years, employed on the station.

From Captain Preston’s report it will be seen that Owen’s Anchorage, two miles and a quarter from the jetty at Fremantle, is a good and safe station for ships in the blowing season; and that they may remain in Gage’s Roads, opposite the town, even during that season, except in a gale, the approach of which is always indicated by the barometer; when they may run into Owen’s Anchorage. The directions given by that officer, for vessels entering the harbours, will be found to correspond with those laid down by Sir James Stirling, and the Surveyor General, Mr. Roe.[7]

The importance of having a secure harbour at Swan River, where vessels can refit, as well as lie in security in the winter season, is considerable in a political, as well as a commercial point of view. This, at present, may chance to be disregarded or overlooked; but, if an enemy were ever to get possession of the place, and fortify it, so as to render it a secure resort, from whence his privateers might annoy our trade in the Eastern seas, the British Government would have cause to regret the not having secured possession by requisite fortifications. The harbour at Cockburn Sound, which fully answers to the above description, is so capacious that vessels could lie in it without being annoyed by batteries from the shore; and it will be seen, by reference to Captain Preston’s report, that when vessels require to be hove down, Port Royal, within its limits, is well adapted for that purpose.

The great advantages for commerce which Western Australia derives from its position, will be obvious from a glance at a map of the world; but persons acquainted with the coasts of New Holland, and the monsoons that blow in the Indian seas, will be better able to appreciate how much it is favoured as to situation. As the north-west winds prevail from March till September, during that season vessels from the eastward rarely succeed in getting up the west coast of Australia; but, most frequently, after beating about for several weeks off Cape Leeuwin, they have been forced to put about, and go round the east coast, and through the dangerous straits of Torres, to get to India and the westward.[8] Swan River, on the contrary, is so much to windward of that formidable Cape, that the passage to and from the Mauritius is favourable throughout the year.

The following is a table of the distances, in the favourable season, from Swan River to the undermentioned countries. The passage, however, to Ceylon and Madras has occasionally been performed in much shorter time.

Distance. Time.
To Timor 1,500 miles 12 days.
Java 1,700 15
Madras 3,400 25
Ceylon 3,100 23
Mauritius 3,400 21
Cape of Good Hope 5,000 31
Van Diemen’s Land 2,200 12
Sydney 2,600 16

The season most propitious for making a voyage from the colony to India, is from the beginning of April to the beginning of September. By leaving Swan River during that period, a vessel immediately gets into the south-east trade-wind, which carries her across the line, when she meets with the south-west monsoon, that takes her at once to Madras. At this season, fine weather may be reckoned upon for the whole of the way. The Merope, under Capt. Pollock, which conveyed a detachment of the 63rd Regt. from Swan River to Madras, arrived in the roads at the latter place on the 16th of May 1834, after a voyage of nineteen days.

In his voyage from England to the colony, and in returning home, the author was, on each occasion, at sea about three months and a half. The passage out and home, at the proper seasons, is both safe and agreeable. With a view to fine weather while passing the Cape, and on his arrival on the coast, it is desirable that the emigrant should not arrive at those places during the winter season, which answers to our summer.

If, after what has now been stated, anything can still be considered wanting to establish the position that Western Australia is well calculated for colonization, it is furnished in the following extract from an authority the most disinterested and unbiassed that, for this particular purpose, can well be appealed to: viz., a work drawn up under the sanction of the committee of the South Australian Association,[9] who have for their chairman Mr. W. Wolryche Whitmore, the late member for Wolverhampton, a gentleman who has displayed extensive knowledge on the subject of colonization:—“For fear that these remarks should be attributed to a disposition, which is common amongst colonists, to praise their own settlement at the expense of other settlements, this opportunity is taken to express an opinion, that Western Australia is, as respects soil and climate, one of the finest countries in the world, and one of the most fit for supporting a prosperous colony. That the colony there settled is not prosperous, is, we believe, owing not at all to any defects of climate or soil, but entirely to a bad system of colonization, which may be reformed; or rather to the want of a good system, which may be supplied.”

  1. See Appendix, No 1.
  2. See Appendix, No. 2.
  3. See Appendix, No. 3.
  4. The statements of these two travellers have been taken from a work published in 1833, by J. Cross, 18 Holborn, entitled “Journals of several expeditions made in Western Australia, during the years 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1832, under the sanction of the Governor, Sir James Stirling.” In the Appendix to that work is contained much interesting and useful information, and from it are taken the journals of the weather at Perth, and at King George’s Sound; and also the reports of the two physicians adverted to under the head of climate.
  5. This officer has executed, with remarkable fidelity, a Panoramic View of King George’s Sound and the adjacent country.
  6. See Appendix, No. 4; where also will be found inserted a paper extracted from the Perth Gazette, on the subject of the buoys in Cockburn Sound, and which has already appeared in the Nautical Magazine. This paper, which has been furnished by the Surveyor-General, Mr. Roe, is particularly important, as containing a description of Lambert Channel, a valuable outlet to sea or to Cockburn Sound, from Owen’s Anchorage or Gage’s Roads, without passing round Rottnest Island, which, during strong northerly winds may be considered almost impracticable. The channel was named after Capt. Lambert, of H. M. ship Alligator, which was last year sent from India for the purpose of replacing the buoys and beacons at the entrance of the harbours.
  7. See a chart of the Harbours, published in 1833, by J. Arrowsmith, 33 East-street, Red Lion-square; who has also furnished, from documents supplied by the Colonial Office, a valuable map of the colony, which every person going out ought to possess.
  8. In the work on South Australia, where the sailing distances are given from Port Lincoln, the wind is said to he favourable, at all seasons, from that port to Timor, Java, Madras, Ceylon, Mauritius, and Cape of Good Hope. As South Australia, however, lies considerably to the south-east of these ports, it is clear that this cannot be the case while the north-west winds prevail. The error is palpable.
  9. The publication is entitled “The New British Province of South Australia,” and the passage is quoted from a note inserted at page 19 of it.