The State and Position of Western Australia/Chapter 4

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First difficulties of the Colony surmounted—Fremantle—Perth—Guildford—Land and Water communication—Canal—Principal Farms on the Swam River—The Canning—York District—Murray River—Port Leschcnault—Vasse’s Inlet—Port Augusta—The Blackwood River—King George’s Sound.

It may now be desirable to take a view of the present condition of the settlement, and to enlarge a little on its prospects. The colony maybe considered as having already surmounted the most trying stage of its existence. An emigrant now arriving at Swan River will find that society there has passed through its primary state, and will be likely to witness with surprise the progress it has actually made.

On approaching Fremantle from the sea, the site of the town is indicated by a handsome octagonal building of white cut stone, erected near the edge of a precipice which overhangs the mouth of the river. On landing, the stranger has the pleasure of entering a small but neat town, with wide streets, some of which have been macadamized. The streets are laid out at right angles with each other, and the houses are constructed either of white stone, or of wood that is painted over. As there is abundance of fine limestone on the spot, it is probable that this will be the material chiefly resorted to for building there in future. Fremantle contains several hotels, where travellers may partake of excellent accommodation and a good table. The principal one is equal in appearance and comfort to a good English country inn. Invalids from India, accustomed to every luxury, have been thoroughly satisfied with their entertainment there, and have written to their friends in India to that effect. The shops and stores are provided with almost every thing the settlers are likely to require.

If the traveller wishes to proceed to Perth, the seat of Government, he may easily procure good horses or boats on hire. There are also regular passage-boats, by which the distance is accomplished within a couple of hours. The water communication between Fremantle and Perth is by means of an estuary, extending ten miles into the interior, and to which the general name of the Swan is given; but the river of that name enters it near Perth. The estuary has for several miles a winding course through pleasing and romantic scenery, and is from two furlongs to more than a mile across. The banks are studded with rocks of grotesque and singular shapes; some, half concealed by shrubs and trees, while others are naked and precipitous. The passage is rendered circuitous by long spits of sand, to avoid which the boats have often to go a considerable way round to keep in deep water. After clearing these, the traveller enters Melville Water, which is some six miles in length, and four in width, having in the distance a fine view of the Darling Range. Proceeding on his course, he leaves the mouth of the Canning about four miles on his right; and, passing through a narrow strait at the foot of Mount Eliza, a richly wooded hill on his left, discovers the town of Perth, beautifully situated on one of its declivities, and extending along the shore of a somewhat circular bay.

In going by land from Fremantle to Perth, the traveller follows the road to Preston Point, which is a mile and a half higher up on the estuary; where he finds a horse-ferry to take him across to the opposite bank, from whence there is a road leading directly to Perth. This road is through a sandy tract, generally loose, and mostly an open forest. Midway there is a good hotel, built of stone, and two stories high.

The town of Perth is much more scattered than that of Fremantle, and is partially concealed by some fine trees which have been left standing. The main street extends about a mile along a ridge which runs parallel with the water’s edge. Most of the houses are of wood, but some good ones of brick have been erected; and as bricks are made on the spot, and stone can be brought by barges from Mount Eliza, it is not likely that any more wooden houses will be built. It may be here well to caution emigrants against bringing out wooden houses from England. They are very uncomfortable dwellings in such a climate, for not only are they liable to warp and shrink, and thus to admit too freely the external air; but, if constructed with ever such well-seasoned materials, they are rarely a sufficient protection from heat and cold. In a wooden house with a thatched roof, situated at Fremantle, Fahrenheit’s thermometer stood 16° higher in the hot season than it did in a stone house close by. The appearance of the town of Perth is considerably enhanced by the officers’ barracks, and those of the private soldiers; the other public buildings are, the jail, and an extensive commissariat store. In this town are several comfortable inns. One of them is kept by George Hodges, a discharged soldier of the 63rd regiment. This settler owes his prosperity in the colony chiefly to the prudence and good management of his wife. Having a knowledge of baking, she commenced in a very small way at Perth; and, being noted for her steady conduct and integrity, merchants and masters of vessels entrusted her with considerable quantities of flour, for which she paid with punctuality. From her success in this, and other undertakings, her husband has now the principal bakery and inn, besides a general shop. Equally successful is Edward Barron, the proprietor of another inn there, who had also been in the 63rd regiment, Sergeant-Major of the detachment. His wife, whose dairy is one of the most extensive in the colony, principally supplies the town with milk and butter.

Perth contains several good shops, and merchants’ stores. Horses and boats can be obtained here, as at Fremantle, on hire. The church is the only one in the colony. It is a temporary building, erected a few months after the establishment of the town in 1829, under the direction of Archdeacon Scott, who, on his way to England from New South Wales, happened to arrive in the colony at that period in H. M. ship Success; and to whose gratuitous and zealous services, as an officiating clergyman, for several months prior to the arrival of Mr. Wittenoom, the colonial chaplain, the colonists were deeply indebted. Mr. Wittenoom is, up to this time, the only minister of the gospel, of any denomination, in the settlement.

Leaving Perth, the Swan winds considerably towards Guildford, a village on its left bank. The distance between these places by water, following the channel of the river, is about twelve miles; but, during summer, considerable difficulty is at present experienced in crossing the “Flats,” which are shoals a little above Perth, and extend about a mile. To remedy this, the Government has cut a canal, about a quarter of a mile long; and so serpentine is the river in that part, that the undertaking, when completed, will shorten the distance about three miles. The engineer’s plan involves the damming up of the river, in order to turn its waters into the canal, which at present is but partially filled.

The distance by land from Perth to Guildford is but seven miles. The road is on the right bank of the river, and having bridges over the brooks and ravines, there is communication for carriages, but from the sandy nature of the ground the travelling is heavy. As there is a stiff soil on the opposite side, it is intended to take advantage of the proposed dam, and carrying the road across there, to continue it from thence along the left bank.

Between Perth and Guildford, on both banks of the river, there are several good farms. The land is confessedly inferior to that above Guildford, but here is seen what steadiness, perseverance, and skill, can accomplish even under disadvantages. Among those who have farms in this quarter, are, the Messrs. Hardy, farmers from Lincolnshire, and the Messrs. Clarkson, from Yorkshire. These settlers have arable as well as grazing farms, and so early as 1833, had reared a race of tall handsome horses from a large breed they brought out with them, and crossed with Cape mares.

In visiting the location of Mr. Joseph Hardy, the writer was struck with the comfort and neatness exhibited in his dwelling and out-buildings, as well as with the excellent arrangement of his farm altogether; but, more particularly, when Mr. Hardy informed him that it was all the work of his own hands, with the occasional aid of a farm servant. His house seemed to have no sawn timber in it, except the doors and windows. The walls were constructed of stakes driven into the ground, and interlaced with wattles, the space within being filled with mud-mortar, and the whole plastered so as to present a smooth surface. The roof was constructed without nails, except those which fastened the rafters; the lathing was secured by rope-yarn. The covering was thatch, made of a fine sort of rush, that lies more compact than straw, and when clipped, has a very neat appearance. Many of the farm houses are of this description, and are erected at a trifling expense; they are every way preferable, both in summer and winter, to wooden houses.

The following is an extract from a letter, dated Peninsula Farm, 14th July 1832, and addressed to the author, by this praiseworthy settler. The document has already appeared in one of Mr. Cross’s publications, and is quoted here for the excellent spirit and qualities it exhibits; and also, as showing the success which may generally be expected to result from that union of judgment, perseverance, and fortitude, the importance of which has been, in the early pages of this pamphlet, pointed out to the emigrant.

“February 3, 1830, arrived at Swan River, in the brig Tranby, from Hull, and found many of the emigrants in their tents at Fremantle, generally dissatisfied, and full of complaints respecting the colony, and some of them ready for going away. The flats up the Swan, the badness of the soil, the heat of the weather, with many other things of the same kind, appeared to be subjects of general conversation, when worshipping at the shrine of Bacchus; and, after being assailed on every hand by such miserable comforters, I found it necessary to leave them, and go to look for myself; and after reaching the Peninsula (where I now reside), was convinced that the land was of a useful character, and might be made to suit the general purposes of agriculture, although inferior to much of the land higher up the Swan. The first three or four months were taken up by house and boat-building, getting up the goods from Fremantle to the Peninsula, &c., &c. In June we began to clear the land, and plough for wheat, barley, oats, rye, &c., all of which came up well; but the fences not being sufficiently good, the cattle broke in, and destroyed a great part of the crop—that which escaped their ravages came to maturity, and was of a very good description. The last year, 1831, has convinced me that when the land can have tillage, and proper management, it will grow wheat, barley, oats, rye, potatoes, and turnips, in great abundance: very good specimens of the aforesaid articles were produced the last year—the average weight of wheat from 62 lbs. to 65 lbs. the bushel. * * * * * * As it respects the colony at large, there is little doubt but it will succeed, and well, if it receive that encouragement and support which all colonies need in their infancy. We have already seen the wilderness become a fruitful field, bending beneath the gentle breeze, and are looking forward to the time when every diligent man shall be surrounded with peace and plenty.”

At the date of this letter, Mr. Hardy purchased from the Governor, then about to return to England, some cows of Colonel Arbuthnot’s famous short-horned breed. For these he gave forty pounds a piece, and, as the author was told, paid for them out of the produce of the preceding harvest.

At Guildford the town-grants amount to from two to four acres each. Here are some industrious small farmers (principally brought out by Mr. Peel). As soon as these men had built cottages and performed the location duties on their first grants, others were assigned them by the Government. This village has a very interesting appearance, and covers a considerable space of ground. Each cottage is surrounded by its garden, and has fields neatly fenced contiguous.

The Helena river, flowing from the east, joins the Swan at Guildford. It takes its rise in an elevated plain, within the Darling range, and pursues a course of from fifty to sixty miles through a valley which is in many parts rocky, and singularly beautiful and romantic. As this river approaches the Swan, its banks present some of the richest alluvial soil hitherto found in the country. Here Sir James Stirling has a farm, extending across from one river to the other, and which has been highly improved. Woodbridge, his country residence, is a cottage ornée, beautifully placed on a high bank, which overhangs the Swan, and commanding a view of two fine reaches of the river. On the opposite bank is the residence of Mr. Walcot, whose farm, garden, and establishment, are such as a traveller would be pleased to find even at the Cape, but much more so in a recent settlement: the same observation applies to a number of other farms in the colony. In this vicinity, and within a distance of three miles, are the residences of the following gentlemen:—Messrs. Tanner, M‘Dermott, Ridley, Whitfield, Thompson, Trimmer (two), Wells, Lewis, Boyd, Brown, Drummond, and Captain Meares, late of the Life Guards.—Mr. Tanner is one of the most scientific and extensive farmers in the colony, and has directed his attention both to sheep farming and tillage. He possesses one of the best grants at the head of the river; and which, after considerably improving and erecting thereon a house and offices, he has let. He now rents the Governor’s farm (on which he resides), and another in the neighbourhood; besides occupying a third there, which is his own property.—Mr. M‘Dermott, after many years spent in the service of his country as a military officer, is now distinguished by his activity and unwearied devotedness to his new avocations.—Captain Meares, as a settler, still retains the energy and activity which he displayed while a cavalry officer. With a view to the comfort of his numerous and amiable family, he is residing at present near Guildford, but his principal grant is on the Murray.—Lieut. Roe, R. N., the Surveyor-General, has a fine grant in this neighbourhood, to the improvement of which, he has not yet been able to turn his attention: his professional duties are laborious, and greatly occupy his time. This gentleman was for several years employed in surveying the coast of New Holland, under Captain Philip King, R. N., and owes his present appointment to the peculiar talent he displayed on that service.

As the traveller continues ascending the river, he passes the farm of Dr. Harris, and those of Messrs. Andrews and Yule. The establishment of the latter gentleman is one of the most complete. His people are Scotch; and, by their trust-worthiness and sobriety, added to industry and skill in their occupations, and, above all, their attention to their children’s education, and their observance of the sabbath, they uphold the high character generally acceded to the Scottish peasant both at home and abroad.—Further on is the establishment of Mr. Lennard; and nearly opposite to it, on the left bank, is that of Mr. Brockman. These gentlemen are among the most extensive and successful farmers and graziers in the colony, and practise the improved modes of culture adopted in Essex and Kent, from which counties they respectively come. Above these are several smaller farmers, and some grants of non-resident proprietors.

Still higher up the river, and extending beyond where it is navigable, the following proprietors have estates:—Messrs. Moore, Tanner, Shaw, Brown, Burgess (three), Bull, Leake, Mackie, and several others. The settlers here are deserving of distinguished notice. Mr. Moore (the Advocate-General) possesses a considerable flock of sheep, and, in the intervals of his official occupations, takes great interest in his farm and garden.—Mr. Shaw, who was an officer in the Rifle brigade, is also a sheep-farmer, and is most laborious and indefatigable in prosecuting his agricultural pursuits.—Mr. Brown (the Colonial Secretary) has one of the best farms in this part, which, with a comfortable house and offices upon it, is let to another settler. This gentleman has also one of the most improved farms in the neighbourhood of Guildford.—The three Messrs. Burgess, who are brothers, rival Mr. Shaw in the spirit with which they follow up their occupations. In addition to their own, they rent the farm of Mr. Tanner in this vicinity, and likewise carry on a brewery.—Mr. Leake, who is one of the first merchants in the colony, and Government Resident at Fremantle, is connected with Mr. Bull in his farming speculations, in which they have been remarkably successful.—Henley Park, so named by Sir James Stirling, when he explored the country in 1827, from its resemblance to the estate of a relation of his in Surrey,—is the joint property of Mr. Mackie, the colonial judge, and of the writer; and it is chiefly to their steward, Richard Edwards (already noticed as a settler brought out by Mr. Peel), that they are indebted for the high state of cultivation to which the farm and garden have been brought.

With a view of showing what can be done by a single energetic mind, it may be useful to give a slight sketch of what Edwards has accomplished. One of the first things he set about was, to prepare materials for a substantial house, for which purpose he made and burnt bricks and tiles out of the clay required to be removed to clear the foundation of the house, thereby saving the expense and labour of carriage. He had to explore the country to ascertain where the best lime could be procured. This he found, at the time, no nearer than in one of the bays of Melville Water, below Perth; whence, after burning, he brought it up in boats. The timber, which was mahogany, cut down on the estate, was sawn and prepared by his son, the carpenter, with the assistance of another man; while he himself was the bricklayer and builder. The house is double, consisting of two stories, and is one of the largest in the colony.

In the farm-yard he has many ingenious contrivances to meet the wants and habits of its various tribes. His geese and ducks are provided with ample ponds, in the sides of which he has constructed dwellings suitable to them, where they find protection from the heat, and security from the native dog, the only animal they have to fear. His cattle and pigs are kept in fine order.

In the improvement of the gardens he takes peculiar delight, and is very successful; having a good knowledge of horticulture, acquired by serving an apprenticeship to a market gardener. The spot he fixed upon for his first one was a somewhat elevated morass, on sloping ground, separated from the house by a ravine, and covered with rank vegetation, owing to latent springs. These, after burning off the surface, he dug out, and formed into circular wells of close and substantial brick-work, rising several layers above the surface: from these wells, at different elevations, he is enabled to conduct the water in channels to almost every part of the garden. When the last accounts left, he was constructing earthen pipes for the purpose of completing his plans of irrigation, and also for conveying water across the ravine to the height on which the house is situated. In this garden, and in another larger one, hereafter to be noticed, almost every kind of vegetable, and as many sorts of fruit-trees as have been introduced from tropical and extra-tropical countries, are found to flourish. Among the former was the mangel-wurzel, already mentioned as having a root six feet in circumference; the tomato grows here luxuriantly, weighed down with the load of its beautiful fruit, which gives so fine a flavour to sauces, soups, &c. Among the fruit-trees, he has raised many hundred almonds and Cape-gooseberries, the latter a delicious fruit, producing every month; and also figs and vines in abundance, the latter bearing grapes of a fine and rich flavour.

In front of the house are about two hundred acres of rich meadow, encircled nearly by the river. The situation of a part of this meadow attracted his notice, from its being inclosed between the river, and a natural moat of a semicircular form. This moat he dug out, to a considerable depth and breadth, throwing the soil on the inner banks of the inclosure, which he faced with a firm wall of green turf, and made to slope down gradually on the inner side. Along the whole extent of this sloping bank, which is of the finest alluvial soil, are planted in profusion vegetables and fruit-trees. The bank shelves down to a walk made all round within the inclosure, an area of about thirty acres. Most of the interior is now under cultivation, bearing crops of wheat, oats, and barley. He intends, both here and in the garden before mentioned, to shelter some of the walks from the sun by trellised vines. There is also, adjoining this latter garden, and separated from the house by the ravine fore alluded to, a small rocky hill, favourable for vines, and which he has marked out for a vineyard. In addition to the above, is laid out—in front of the house, and on the slope of the hill, where there are no springs—a winter garden, in which he has displayed considerable ingenuity and taste. His two smaller gardens are from one to two acres each.

In his agricultural pursuits Edwards has been equally successful. He seems to have acquired his knowledge of farming, while following his trade of a master-brickmaker in Gloucestershire, in consequence of having purchased a few acres of the Forest of Dean, which he reclaimed and made into a farm. At times when the necessaries of life have been very scarce and dear in the colony, he has provided for his family in abundance; and has added to their comforts within the last two years by availing himself of his knowledge of malting and brewing. This indefatigable man has found time for performing the location duties on an adjoining estate, the half of which, amounting to from two to three thousand acres, he obtained as a return from the owner, himself a merchant at Fremantle. He also made the bricks, and constructed the walls, of a dwelling-house recently erected by Mr. Bull, who resides within a mile of him.—The writer has occupied a much larger space than he intended with these minute details, partly to do justice to a faithful and valuable servant, and principally with a view of conveying some useful instruction to those who may have yet to learn what are the requisites for a successful colonist.[1]

To return from this digression, it is impossible to leave this part of the colony without giving some account of the really splendid establishment of Mr. Bull. This gentleman is a Lieutenant in the Navy, and affords a striking proof how well qualified officers in his branch of the public service may be to become settlers, from the energy and fortitude to which their professional habits give rise. He had acquired some knowledge of farming during a residence in Bedfordshire. Mr. Bull appears to have had in his eye the solid comfort of the substantial English farmer of the olden time. His kitchen, which is lofty and spacious, and has a fire-place of corresponding dimensions, is well garnished with flitches of bacon and other tokens of good cheer. After sharing with his numerous servants in their various employments—often himself holding the plough—it was his custom to sit down with them, presiding at the head of a long table plentifully furnished with plain but excellent fare, chiefly the produce of his own farm; to which were added good beer and ale, from barley grown, malted, and brewed, on the premises. The quantity he raises of wheat and other grain, and also of hay, equals, if not exceeds, the produce of any other colonist. His mill, which was constructed under his own direction, and is worked by horses, not only grinds the flour which is used in his own establishment, but returns him a considerable profit, by what it grinds for other settlers. Among his numerous cattle, are some of the finest cows in the colony, the genuine produce of the Duke of Bedford’s famous breed, obtained directly from Woburn. This gentleman, after having, by his strenuous exertions, overcome the difficulties of establishing himself in a new country, and provided an excellent home, has completed his comforts by marrying a lady in the colony, whose management of his extensive dairy, and of those departments which are under her immediate superintendence, is equally admirable with that of her husband in his peculiar avocations. The butter and cheese from Mrs. Bull’s dairy are in great request in the market.—The writer cannot take leave of this fine establishment and its owners without bearing his testimony to the hospitality which reigns there; nor can he omit to mention that, by the settlers in general, this virtue is practised to an extent that he has not seen surpassed among the various civilized and barbarous nations that it has been his lot to visit, while on foreign service, or in the course of somewhat extensive travels when on leave of absence, from his youth upwards.

In proceeding by water from Perth to the Canning, the traveller has to pass through that part of the estuary called Melville Water, from which he enters the river in question. A short distance above its mouth, there are flats similar to those in the Swan, that impede the navigation, and over which it is necessary, in the dry season, to shove the boats about half a mile. The Canning is much narrower than the Swan, and navigable a less distance; but the principal farms on its banks are accessible by its means. From Perth to the mouth of the Canning it is about five miles, and the principal locations are situated about six or seven miles up the stream.

By land there are two roads by which this district may be reached; one of them sets out from the point opposite Mount Eliza, where there is a horse-ferry. This is a bush-road used by carts, and the distance to the chief farms is about ten miles from the point. The other road goes round by Guildford, from whence there is still eight miles further to cross to the Canning. The road is of a similar description to the other. There is a shallow lagoon midway from Guildford, but, having a hard bottom, it presents no serious obstacle to the traveller.

The principal proprietors on the Canning are, Major Nairne, Messrs. Phillips and Davis, Captains Bannister and Pegus, Messrs. Bull, Yule, Hester, Gregory, Bickley, Leroux, Drake, and Morgan. The most improved farm is that of Major Nairne, who furnishes a striking instance that officers, military as well as naval, are calculated by their professional habits to become efficient settlers in a new country. This gentleman, who had been in his Majesty’s 46th regiment nearly half a century, is not surpassed in energy and enterprise by any settler in the colony. Finding, on his arrival in 1831, that horses and other working stock were much in demand, he took the first opportunity to proceed to Van Diemen’s Land; and shortly after, returned with a cargo of horses and cattle of a very useful description, which he sold to advantage. Subsequently, the estate of which he is now in possession came into the market; when, finding the land was excellent, and had been much improved by its owner Mr. Phillips, who had also built on it a good house and offices, he purchased the whole, including some stock, for upwards of 2000 l., and commenced farming with vigour. On one occasion after harvest, not finding a ready sale for his crops, and knowing that in Madras he could sell his potatoes, which formed a considerable part of them, to great advantage, the Major purchased a vessel of about 70 tons burden, then lying in Gage’s Roads, in which he proceeded with his produce to Madras; and returned from thence with a cargo laid in there, after having disposed of his original one to good account.—Mr. Phillips has taken another grant, adjoining that which he sold to Major Nairne, where he has renewed his farming operations. Mr. P. is not only skilful in farming pursuits, but has a knowledge of mechanics, and has been his own engineer in the erection of a flour mill.—Some of those who have occupied the best cultivated farms in this district have let them to others, and removed to better or more extensive grants on the Swan, and in other parts. There is little natural meadow on the Canning; and, although some of the grants have a considerable proportion of good land, yet this is far from being generally the case.

Proceeding upwards, towards the source of the Canning, between four and five miles above Major Nairne’s farm, is the small village of Kelmscott (also a military post), situated on both banks of the river, where it issues, a narrow stream, from the gorge of hills that form part of the Darling Range. There is some excellent land in the neighbourhood, which induced several capitalists to settle there; but after establishing themselves, they removed; principally, it is believed, in consequence of the site being too sequestered, and remote from the markets. It is about three miles above the part where the river is navigable.

The town of York lies in a due east direction from Guildford. The road is, at present, circuitous, owing to rocks, trees, &c., which offer a temporary obstruction, and is about fifty-five miles in length. It passes for about six miles over a plain before it ascends the hills; and proceeding for a similar distance over the mountains, crosses a small stream, which is a branch of the Helena. The line of this stream has hitherto been nearly parallel to that of the road; but it here turns off to the south-east, in which direction the river has its source. Further on, and about midway between Guildford and York, is a farm, the owner of which has built a good house for an inn. Descending the hills, the site of the infant town of York is indicated by Mount Bakewell, a conical hill on the west bank of the Avon. The town locations are 50 acres each; and are laid out round the base of the hill, and along the river to the southward.

The situation is cheerful and open. Plains, resembling park scenery, and bearing fine pasture for sheep, slope down to the Avon. Mount Bakewell, and likewise some low hills on the east bank, are covered with good pasture, which, when turned yellow by the sun, has the appearance of rich crops; and, being contrasted with the evergreen shrubs and trees scattered over the surface, greatly enlivens the landscape. In summer, the bed of the river may be here crossed dry-shod, although above and below there are fine deep reaches of water a mile or two in length.

Among the settlers who have been the most prosperous in the colony, are Messrs. Bland, A. Trimmer, and Heale, who have been for several years located here. They have succeeded admirably with their flocks, herds, and crops. The two former gentlemen have now a flock of 1400 sheep.

The colonists seem now alive to the value of this fine district. The following is an extract from a letter of Sir James Stirling, dated the 3rd of December last, and addressed to Charles E. Mangles, Esq.:—“I have inspected the York district, Bland’s establishment, &c. They are in a most prosperous condition; and, undoubtedly, if Bland live, he will be a man of great wealth. Other flocks are now going over to that quarter, where there are one thousand square miles of the finest imaginable sheep land. Amongst others, Lady Stirling’s fine-woolled flock will cross the hills in a few days, and every exertion is making to procure sheep, it being evidently the best speculation in this country.” Sir James goes on to say, that he is straining every nerve to promote investments of money in sheep, in consequence of the extraordinary profit which sheep-farming there is expected to yield. Some of the colonists, actuated by similar expectations, have, as recent accounts state, formed themselves into a company for the purchase of sheep. Their proposal is to raise a fund by 100 l. shares, with a view to the profit arising from fine wool. They anticipate that much expense will be saved by keeping combined flocks, in preference to having smaller ones, each under a distinct shepherd. The plan will also furnish an opportunity to persons who live in the towns, and are not immediately engaged in farming pursuits, to participate in such speculations. Among the most active members of this association is Mr. Commissary Lewis, who is anxious to encourage any scheme calculated to promote the welfare of the settlement. He is possessed of a considerable grant in the York district, and has, for some time, been a sheep proprietor.

The writer will now briefly advert to the out-stations on the coast. Near the mouth of the estuary of the Murray River, forty miles south of Fremantle, are settled, Mr. Peel, Captain Byrne (late of the Rifle brigade), and Mr. Hall. There are also other grants on which the proprietors are not resident, principally owing to the feeling of insecurity that has existed, from the hostile character of the Murray tribe. Into this estuary, besides the Murray River, properly so called, two smaller streams empty themselves. The estuary varies from two to five miles in breadth, and its length from north to south is about sixteen. The interior in this direction is but imperfectly known; but it appears, from recent explorations, to include some very rich land; and, should a good understanding be now established with the natives there, it will probably prove a valuable district for tillage and grazing. That it is well adapted to the latter purpose, is indicated by the circumstance, that a considerable herd of wild cattle in fine condition has been seen in that quarter, which must have rapidly increased, being the produce of such as had strayed from the Government herds, and those of the settlers, at an early period of the colony.

Mr. Peel, though with a very reduced establishment, continues to prosecute his farming operations with great energy and perseverance; and has displayed singular fortitude, considering the severe losses he has sustained.—Capt. Byrne is also an active and enterprising colonist, but has not long been located on the Murray. He has a farm and house on the Swan, which is let to advantage, and a grant in the York district.—Mr. Hall is a man of singular firmness and intrepidity. He is residing, with his wife and children and his servants, on the left bank of the river, the other settlers being located on the opposite side. This gentleman had mingled more with the aborigines in that district, and obtained a greater influence over them, than any other settler. He has been known to pass several days together along with them in the bush, and has thus acquired a considerable knowledge of their habits and language. A favourite project of his, just before the author left the colony, was a fishery, which he had actually commenced with the assistance of the natives; and, on one occasion, he came to Fremantle, along the coast, in his boat manned and rowed by a party of them. The circumstance, while it shows the remarkable influence this settler had acquired, evinces also the docility and quickness of the natives. Mr. Hall is of a commanding appearance, and is generally habited in a singular costume, of which a conical hat, usually worn by Malays, forms not the least conspicuous part.

About fifty miles further to the south is Port Leschenault, or more correctly speaking Leschenault Inlet, a part of the coast much exposed, especially to the winds prevailing in winter. Here two rivers, the Preston and the Collie, fall into an estuary, which, like all the others on this coast, has a bar-mouth, with depth of water sufficient only for boats to enter. The best land in this neighbourhood is on the banks of the Collie, and on the hills; which last, however, are heavily timbered. The plain country resembles that of Swan River, but there are no settlers located on it. About twenty-five miles further down the coast is Vasse’s Inlet, which is likewise exposed to the winter winds. The country here is open, and considered well adapted for the plough, or the breeding of cattle.

Some five miles further, proceeding towards the Blackwood and Augusta, an iron-stone district is passed over, which is heavily timbered, and bears but scanty herbage. This description of country continues to within a couple of miles of the river, when the land changes to a red loam. The distance between the Vasse and the part of the river nearest it may be about twenty miles. The banks of the Blackwood are mostly covered with a dense forest; the soil is occasionally a good sandy loam, but generally of a lighter and inferior quality. There is much beautiful and romantic scenery in the neighbourhood of Augusta. The land even on the shore here is rich; but so thickly wooded, as to render its clearing very expensive, and discouraging to the settlers. Fine crops of wheat, barley, Indian corn, oats, and potatoes, are raised here. Augusta is peculiarly adapted for a whale-fishing establishment, as the whales frequent this part of the coast in great numbers; the beach also is well suited for cutting them up, and the bay sheltered from the prevailing winds in winter. The fur seal also abounds. Near Augusta there is a fine stream of fresh water, sufficient to turn a mill, and constant all the year round, which is rarely the case with the streams in that country. There are some enterprising settlers located here, especially Captain Molloy, on half-pay of the Rifle brigade; in which distinguished corps he served in the Peninsula, and at Waterloo, where he was severely wounded. This gentleman has a fine and productive garden, in which he takes great interest. He has been Government Resident at Augusta since the formation of the settlement.—There is likewise a Mr. Turner, who, after many years of successful occupation in London as a builder, has become an energetic settler here; also Messrs. Kellum, and others. About a dozen miles up the Blackwood are located a respectable and amiable family of the name of Bussell, consisting of a lady, the widow of a clergyman, and five sons and three daughters grown up. The eldest of the sons is a graduate of Oxford, and an accomplished scholar. These gentlemen do not neglect their literary pursuits, while they find time to attend to all the various occupations required from settlers. Several miles above where this family is situated, are the Messrs. Chapman. The population of this district, including a small detachment of military, is about a hundred souls. At this station, the settlers have had the happiness of living in almost uninterrupted friendship with the natives: some of the former have extensive grants at the Vasse (where there is an estuary with a river running into it), and are said to be on the point of removing thither, on account of its being much more eligible than the banks of the Blackwood, for fanning operations; the Messrs. Bussell are reported to have already partially located themselves there.

A lady who is a relative of a family residing at Augusta, feeling the great disadvantage which that sequestered settlement labours under, for want of a provision for public worship, has set on foot a subscription, limited to a very small sum, for the erection of a church and parsonage, which, it is hoped, will meet with encouragement. The plan will be found in the Appendix.[2]

Between Augusta and King George’s Sound no intercourse has yet been opened by land. The distance by sea is about 180 miles. This latter settlement had been occupied some years by the Sydney Government as a convict station; but was subsequently handed over to the Western Australian Government, and the convicts were withdrawn. The great attraction of King George’s Sound is its splendid harbour; it is also well situated for a whale and seal fishery station, both which kinds of fish abound on this coast.

Agriculture here has hitherto made but little progress. The land immediately adjoining the Sound is, in general, light and sandy, and, with the exception of a few patches, not at all calculated for the production of wheat. Settlers, therefore, who wish to possess arable farms, must go at least twenty-five miles into the country; and, as there is no water-communication with the interior of any description, no person should proceed thither at present, with a view to agricultural pursuits, who does not possess a sufficient stock of working bullocks or horses. Allusion has already been made to the circumstance that the land in the interior of King George’s Sound is considered equal to that of the York district; and so favourable an opinion does Sir James Stirling entertain of this south-east part of the colony, that he has chosen almost all his large grant there. Sir Richard Spencer, a Captain in the navy, who has been Government Resident at King George’s Sound for nearly two years, is a very active and enterprising colonist. He and several members of his large family have commenced, with considerable means, in agriculture and sheep-farming; and, some of them, with an intention, it is said, of combining therewith commercial pursuits. Mr. Cheyne is an old and highly respectable settler here, and has been joined from time to time by several of his relatives, who went out on his report. His views are understood to be chiefly commercial. It is a circumstance in favour of this part of the settlement, that uninterrupted amity with the natives has been maintained since it was transferred to the Western Australian Government. Recent letters from settlers among the latest arrivals there, complain of the high price of provisions and the failure of their crops of vegetables; but the accounts of some of the old-established settlers continue favourable.

Whatever difficulties this part of the colony may have hitherto presented, the writer ventures his opinion with some reluctance, that all has not been done by the settlers, with perhaps two or three exceptions, that might have been expected. Whether this has been occasioned chiefly by their limited means and the paucity of their numbers, or by a want of union and co-operation, in order to bring their actual strength and resources to bear upon particular points, and thus to avail themselves of the peculiar advantages which that station, even now, holds out, he will not venture, at this distance, to determine; but he cannot but fear there is much truth in the view which the Editor of the Western Australian Journal takes of this subject. The following extract is from an article in that paper, inserted in November last.

“By the Ellen, Government schooner, we have intelligence from King George’s Sound to the end of October, and, we lament to say, not altogether of a favourable nature, the settlers there remaining in a state of torpor, awaiting the enlivening influence of assistance from Government to open roads into the interior of the country, where they can find soil and pasturage adapted for agricultural purposes. That the settlers may reasonably require this assistance to a limited extent we are ready to admit, and have little doubt the subject has been under his Excellency the Governor’s consideration; but we would caution the settlers at the Sound against embarking too generally in agricultural pursuits, on a spot where their capital can be applied to much greater advantage to themselves and the community, in the fisheries or sealing. If strangers can make it answer their purpose to come to their harbours, and within a short distance of their doors, for these commodities, surely a little activity and enterprize, coupled with the means which we know the inhabitants possess, would soon place them in a state of positive independence, beyond any thing they can anticipate to realize after numerous years of toil and anxiety in the pursuits of agriculture. Some, from choice, their previous habits of life influencing their determination, will direct their attention to these pursuits, and they, from experience, may succeed; but the mere amateur agriculturist must inevitably fail. If wealth is required, or if it be the patriotic object of advancing the settlement (some having denied that they are in search of riches, but merely social ease and the ordinary enjoyments of life), the end can be most speedily attained by establishing a Whaling Company; to which enterprize, we are persuaded, increased activity would be given, by the ready co-operation of some of our monied neighbours.”

In the same number of that Journal appears a petition addressed to the Home Government, and signed by sixteen settlers at King George’s Sound, soliciting to have it made a convict station. This petition fully admits that the colony was originally founded on the principle of free labour; and that the general opinion of the settlers formerly was, that the presence of convicts would be objectionable. It acknowledges, that the settlement “possesses equal, if not superior advantages to either of the sister colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land;” but pleads for convicts on the ground of the difficulties they have to encounter in opening proper lines of communication.[3]

These few individuals, about half of whom appear to be among the recent arrivals, wish to get out of their temporary difficulties, by the adoption of a measure which cannot be too strongly deprecated. Once introduced to King George’s Sound, and the convicts would soon find their way, as bush-rangers, over the whole of the colony. Recent accounts state, that a party of settlers, attended by a Government Surveyor, had visited the Hotham, a river 100 miles south of the Swan. They are represented as having returned highly pleased with the country, more especially with that on the banks of the river. Mr. Tanner, it is added, had made arrangements to have his grant there located immediately. With a view of marking out a line of road through the interior, the Surveyor-General was to proceed, after some interval, to that neighbourhood, and from thence to King George’s Sound. The Governor himself bad just embarked for that port; and, as the opening of the inland communication is a subject he has long contemplated, its accomplishment may shortly be expected. The country the road will penetrate is reported to be abundantly supplied with water, and places suitable for good stock stations. It would appear from Captain Bannister’s statement, that a great deal of the country is open, where it would require but little labour for the formation of a road.

When once this line of communication, however imperfectly, is opened, King George’s Sound will become a station of great importance, it being but ten days’ sail from Van Diemen’s Land. It will, consequently, afford great facilities for the introduction of stock from that colony and Sydney, without exposure to the risk and loss that are often encountered in doubling Cape Leeuwin.

In the mean time, the monstrous project of making King George’s Sound a penal settlement, is not likely to gain many adherents in the colony. The following passages from Archbishop Whately’s First Letter to Earl Grey are presented to the reader, as calculated for ever to set that question at rest. After pointing out the results of the errors Great Britain has committed in her old colonies, and remarking that our new colonies are not yet out of our forming hands, the writer thus proceeds:—“There is one, especially, in the constitution of which we are bound to retrace, if possible, all our steps,—bound on every principle of expediency and national honour; nay, on a principle (if such principle there be) of national conscience. It will be readily understood that this one is the convict colony in New South Wales,—a colony founded and maintained on principles which, if acted on by an individual in private life, would expose him to the charge either of insanity or of shameless profligacy. Imagine the case of a household most carefully made up of picked specimens from all the idle, mischievous, and notoriously bad characters in the country! Surely the man who should he mad or wicked enough to bring together this monstrous family, and to keep up its numbers and character by continual fresh supplies, would be scouted from the society he so outraged—would be denounced as the author of a diabolical nuisance to his neighbours and his country, would be proclaimed infamous for setting at nought all morality and decency. What is it better, that, instead of a household, it is a whole people we have so brought together, and are so keeping up?—that it is the wide society of the whole world, and not of a single country, against which the nuisance is committed?” After explaining his views as to the remedies to be applied, the writer adds—“But these measures, if carried into effect at all, must be taken in hand soon. Time—no distant time, perhaps—may place this ‘foul disnatured’ progeny of ours out of our power for good or for harm. Let us count the years that have passed since we first scattered emigrants along the coast of America. It is but as yesterday—and look at the gigantic people that has arisen. Thank Heaven! that in morals and in civilization they are at this day what they are. But can we look forward without a shudder at the appalling spectacle which a few generations hence may be doomed to witness in Australia? Pass by as many years to come as it has taken the United States of America to attain to their present maturity, and here will be another new world with another new people, stretching out its population unchecked; rapid in its increase of wealth, and art, and power; taking its place in the congress of the mightiest nations; rivalling, perhaps ruling them; and then think what stuff this people will have been made of; and who it is that posterity will then curse for bringing this mildew on the social intercourse of the world; who it is that will be answerable for the injury done by it to human virtue and human happiness at a tribunal more distant, but more awful even than posterity.”[4]

How our transportation system appears in the eyes of Europe may be judged of, by the following extract from “Remarks of the French Commissioners on the American System of Secondary Punishments:”

“Society in Australia is divided into different classes, as distinct and inimical to each other as the different classes of the middle age. The criminal is exposed to the contempt of him who has obtained his liberty; he, to the outrage of his own son, born free; and all, to the pride of the colonist whose origin is without blemish. They resemble four hostile nations meeting on the same soil. We may judge of the feelings which animate these different members of the same people, by the following extract from the Report of Mr. Bigges:—‘As long as these sentiments of jealousy and enmity subsist,’ says he, ‘the introduction of trial by jury into the colony must not be thought of. In the actual state of things, a jury composed of former criminals cannot fail to combine against an accused person belonging to the class of free colonists; in the same manner, juries chosen from among free colonists, will always think they show the purity of their own class in condemning an old convict against whom a second accusation should be directed.’”[5]

  1. It ought to be mentioned, to the credit of this English yeoman, that when a project was started some time ago of supplying the religious wants of this part of the settlement, he expressed his desire to contribute by giving his gratuitous services, as a builder &c., towards the erection of a church.
  2. See Appendix, No. 6.
  3. It is curious to observe in connexion with the petition, that the Sydney Herald was, almost at the very same time, calling out for the withdrawal of convicts from that settlement, in consequence of the “rapid increase of crime.” “It must now be obvious to the colonists,” says this journal, “that if we place the convict system in one scale, and a free population in the other, the one is an abominable system of misrule and gross depravity, and the other is the only system by which this country (New South Wales) can gain a standing among the British colonies.” The writer concludes in these words, “Free labour will flourish in this country, as it has done in every free colony under the British crown.”

    The following passage is also extracted from an article in the same journal, written on occasion of the recent murder of Dr. Wardell:—“In no country is life so insecure as in this: the convict servants being, in numerous instances, the first to destroy it. Let us look back and witness the scenes of atrocious murders that have been perpetrated under such circumstances. We see the murder of Mr. Clements; of Mr. M‘Intyre, by his convict servant; of Captain Payne; of Mr. Campbell, at his own door; of Captain Waldron, by his female convicts; of Captain Logan, through the instrumentality of blacks, incited by runaway convicts; and many other individuals of a more lowly rank in life. Each instance of the kind proves that the convict system, with its attendant satellite the convict government, is bad, and must be speedily remedied.”
  4. Archbishop Whately’s Thoughts on Secondary Punishment, being a Letter addressed to Earl Grey, pp. 202, 3, 4.
  5. Archbishop Whately’s Second Letter to Earl Grey, p. 165.