The Bushman
Edward Wilson Landor

Part 5 out of 6

was scarcely a degree above the horizon. It looked like a fiery
messenger rushing headlong down from the very presence of GOD, bound
with dread tidings for some distant world. Beautiful, yet terrible
messenger, it seemed to leave its long, fiery trace behind it in its
passage through the heavens. The soul of the spectator was filled
with the sense of its beauty, whilst admiration was sublimed into
awe. Speaking to us strange and wonderful things of the hidden Holy
of Holies which it seemed to have left, it passed on its headlong
journey of billions and trillions of miles with the glad speed of a
love-inspired emanation from the Most High. It left us to wonder at
its transient visit, and to wish in vain for its return.*

[footnote] *This comet, having exactly the appearance I have
described, was visible nearly a week, gradually disappearing in the
northern heavens.

Whether it had or not any effect upon the season, I cannot say, but
the ensuing six months were the most unhealthy period ever known in
the colony. The natives, who were greatly alarmed by the sudden
appearance of the comet, declared that it would cause many people to
be mendik and die -- so universal is the belief in the portentous
and malign influence of these phenomena.

In general, as I have before observed, the climate is most
salubrious. "The Comparative Statement of Deaths to the Population"
proves the vast superiority of Western Australia in this respect, not
only over Great Britain, but over neighbouring colonies. I refer to
the able, interesting, and carefully-prepared Reports of G. F. Stone,
Esq. the Colonial Registrar-General of Births, Marriages, and Deaths.
Taking his data from the Parliamentary Reports of 1836, he deduces
the following:

Comparative Statement of Deaths to the Population.

Western Australia . . . . . . . . . .1 death in 94 21/41
Van Dieman's Land . . . . . . . . . .1 " 65 161/220
Cape of Good Hope . . . . . . . . . .1 " 60 1/3
England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 " 46 3/5
Mauritius . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 " 44 2/5

The opinions of medical men, published in different reports, a few of
which happen now to lie before me, may prove interesting to some
readers, and I therefore extract them briefly: --

J. M. Johnson, Esq. M.D. Surgeon of H.M.S. Sulphur: --
"During the three years that H.M.S. Sulphur was employed on that
station (Western Australia) not a single death, and very few
important cases of disease occurred, notwithstanding the very great
exposure of her men. When exploring the country for several days,
and sometimes weeks, they have been exposed to the sun; fatigued in
the evening after a day's excursion, slept in the open air, (and that
repeatedly in wet weather,) and suffered no inconvenience. I have no
hesitation in stating that such a life in any other climate would
have been productive of the most serious sickness."

William Milligen, Esq. M.D. Surgeon 6th Dragoons: --
"I have met with several individuals here, who, on leaving England,
were great sufferers from dyspepsia, and diseases of the digestive
organs, who have recovered their health in a wonderful degree since
their arrival. Children thrive remarkably well; and I may add that
every description of live stock, although collected from different
countries -- England, India, America, Africa, etc. -- find here a
congenial temperature."

Joseph Harris, Esq. Acting Government Surgeon: --
"Nothing can be more delightful than the climate generally; and its
invigorating influences on the human constitution, especially those
of Europeans, render it more fit for invalids than any other in the
world. Several persons arrived in the colony suffering from
pulmonary and bronchial affections, asthma, phthisis, haemoptysis, or
spitting of blood, hopeless of recovery in England, are now perfectly
restored, or living in comparative health -- measles and small-pox
are unknown."

W. H. Sholl, Esq. Government Surgeon, pro tempore: --
"From pulmonary complaints we are happily free; and even when these
have gone to some length in other countries, removal to this climate
has been of the highest possible benefit. Children are exempt from
the diseases common to them in England; -- small-pox, measles,
scarlet-fever, and hooping-cough, are unknown here."

W. P. Dineley, Esq. Surgeon of Fremantle Gaol: --
"We have almost a cloudless sky, a clear dry atmosphere, and a
climate unsurpassed by any in the world."

Dr. Ferguson, of Australind: --
"We have no fevers or epidemics here."

By the Registrar-General's Report for 1843, it appears that the
births in Western Australia are about 1 to 24 83/158, which is a very
high rate. Those readers who are fond of statistics will be pleased
to learn the following rather curious fact: -- In the year 1836,
males were in respect to females, as about five to three, but during
the following seven years, females increased 21 per cent. more than
males; and the continued preponderance of female births promises
speedily to adjust the balance of the sexes.

The Registrar-General in his Report for 1844, makes the following
interesting observations: --
"Supposing the whole population of the colony were now grown up and
unmarried, out of every 100 males, as many as 67 could find wives.

"Supposing the total population UNDER TWELVE were now of age, and
wished to marry; out of every 100 males 97 could find wives.

"Supposing the total population OF PERTH were now grown up, and
unmarried, 87 out of every 100 males could find wives.

"But supposing the population OF PERTH UNDER TWELVE were grown up,
and wished to marry, out of 100 FEMALES, only 85 could find husbands."

The temperature of the atmosphere is exceedingly dry, and therefore
the heat is not oppressive, though the thermometer may stand at a
high degree.

A rainy day in February or March is an extremely rare occurrence at
Perth, though not unusual at Australind, a hundred miles southward.

In the hottest weather, farm-labourers work all day in the open air,
and feel no more inconvenience than reapers do in England. This is
owing to the dryness and elasticity of the atmosphere.

I have no recorded observations of a late date, but the following
table is extracted from the journal of an obliging friend, Robert
Dale, Esq., who, when a Lieutenant in the 63d regiment, was stationed
some years in the colony.

The thermometer was kept in a cool house at Perth, from March, 1830
to June 1831.

March . . .28 . . 2 . . 1 . .88 . .71 . .58
April . . .23 . . 0 . . 7 . .87 . .70 1/2. .54
May . . . .17 . . 6 . . 8 . .84 . .64 1/2. .45 . .Fine weather at commence-
ment of this month.
June . . . 18 . . 5 . . 2 . .76 . .56 . .40 . .Five days not accounted
July . . . 14 . . 9 . . 8 . .65 . .49 1/2. .30
August . . 9 . . 8 . . 7 . .76 . .57 . .38 . .Seven days not accounted
September .17 . . 2 . . 4 . .80 . .62 . .44 . . Ditto ditto.
October . .19 . . 5 . . 6 . .78 . .62 . .46 . .One day not accounted for
November . 23 . . 3 . . 4 . .93 . .73 1/2. .54
December 26 . . - . . 5 . 103 . .82 1/2. .62 The thermometer was lower
than what is marked in
the minimum column.
January 28 . . - . . 3 . 106 . .87 . .68
February 26 . . 1 . . 1 . 102 . .82 . .62
March 30 . . - . . 1 . 96 . .78 . .60
April . . .28 . . - . . 2 . .98 . .73 . .48
May . . . .21 . . 2 . . 8 . .78 . .61 . .44 At this season frequently
a heavy dew during the
June . . . 14 . . 9 . . 7 . .70 . .52 . .38

A - No. of Fine Days.
B - No. of Rainy Days.
C - No. of Showers
D - Maximum Height of Thermometer
E - Medium Height of Thermometer
F - Minimum Height of Thermometer



Baron Hugel, Dr. Lindley, and Sir William Hooker, have published
lists of Western Australian shrubs and plants, but the most complete
and elaborate work on the botany of Western Australia is the series
of nineteen letters published in the "Inquirer," by Mr. Drummond, of
Hawthornden, in the colony, and from them we shall compile the
present chapter; but, interesting as they are in their fullest and
most minute details to botanists, it is possible that they may be TOO
descriptive and extend too much into detail for general readers, and
we shall therefore abstain from giving a catalogue of the various
indigenous plants, and confine our remarks to the more useful ones.*
The first to which Mr. Drummond alludes is the blackboy, of which
there are several varieties. The glaucus-leaved York blackboy is,
however, the most important, and grows thirty feet in height without
a branch. It is considered by the settlers the best material for
thatch, and the young and tender leaves are found to be an agreeable
vegetable, and also fodder for horses, goats, sheep, and cattle. The
natives are particularly fond of the blackboy, whilst its sound old
flower-stalks furnish them with the means of obtaining a light by
friction. The native yam, of the class Dioeceae, is stated by Mr.
Drummond to be the finest esculent vegetable the colony produces.
The fungi, or mushrooms, are also palatable to the Aborigines; one
species belonging to this order, and named the Boletus, is
remarkable for possessing the properties of German tinder, when well
dried, and for emitting a radiant light in its natural state.

[footnote] *This brief compilation is the work of Alexander Andrews,

There are seventy species of grasses. The genus stripa has several
varieties, of which the seeds are injurious to sheep, penetrating
into the wool, and sometimes into the carcase and causing death. By
adopting the precaution of shearing before the seeds are ripe, this
mischief is however obviated. Another description is distinguished
as elegantissima, from its beautiful appearance, and is used as a
decoration, and for ornamenting rooms.

The bulrush of Scripture is found here, and is used by coopers to
stanch their work. A large jointed rush has also been found of great
service, and introduced in the walls of houses to advantage, and some
varieties of the Restiaceae are useful in thatch work; and in his
sixth letter, Mr. Drummond mentions the buttack as very useful in
tyings. A climbing species of the Thysanotus, near the Moore
river, is much used by the natives as food. The Madge and the
Guardine are roots from which the natives extract nutritious food;
the pigs are also fond of them, and besides these there are other
white roots used as food by the natives.

The oak-leaved Chenopodium is supposed to contain essential oil; it
was formerly used by the settlers as a vegetable, and is proved to
contain carbonate of soda, so that, as Mr. Drummond suggests, "it
would be worth inquiry at what price we could afford barilla as an
export." The Erythraea Australis is, we are informed, a good
substitute, and is used as such, for hops; and one species of tobacco
is indigenous to the colony. The sow-thistle of Swan River was, in
the early days of the settlement, used as a vegetable, but is now
eaten only by the domestic animals, by whom it is much relished. As
a salad, it is said to be scarcely inferior to endive. The
Helicrysum, a biennial of the Vasse district, is a grateful fodder
for horses, and the Morna nitida for goats, sheep, and cattle, as
are also several species of Picris and other shrubs. There is also
a native celery, which forms a poor substitute for that of Europe;
two varieties of this species are mentioned -- the Conna, of which
the roots are eaten by the natives after being peeled, and the
Kukire, the foot of which resembles the carrot in appearance, with
the smell and colour of the parsnip. The wild carrot is also an
excellent vegetable, and from its root rich wine has been extracted.
The order Eryngo has a species of which the roots when candied have
great restorative powers. Of the Hederoma latifolia, Dr. Lindley
remarks, that its half-ripe fruits, if sent to Europe, would give
several original and valuable scents to the perfumer.

Of the sea-weeds, one particular species, supposed to be the Fucus
amylaeceus, thrown in great quantities upon the coast, is mentioned
as forming when boiled, sweetened, and spiced, a nutritious and
beautiful jelly of a fine rose colour; and as it appears that it may
be dried without injury and preserved for years, it would be of value
as an export.

The catalogue of indigenous fruits is not very extensive, but one
species, belonging to the order Epacrideae, is reported to bear
very palatable berries. The Vasse apple, of the size of a peach, is
stated when boiled with sugar to be an agreeable sweet-meat.

Another fruit, of the species Mesembryanthemum, is of a less
pleasing flavour; but one of the same species, resembling the English
gooseberry, is said to be delicious. Mr. Drummond also records the
discovery, southward of the Vasse, of a nondescript shrub of about
five feet in height, and bearing fruit as large as a middle-sized
plum, of a fine purple colour, covered with a rich bloom, and having
a stone similar to the plum. It is reported to have a pleasing
taste. This completes the list of fruits, which Mr. Drummond
acknowledges to be imperfect, as the cultivation of the vine, olive,
currant, and other imported fruits has withdrawn the attention of the
settlers from the native productions; and we shall now pass to the
smaller classes of the Eucalyptus tribe. The Doatta is a species
of this class, and the bark of its root is much relished by the
natives, having a sweet and pleasing taste, as is also the trunk of
the red-gum; and its leaves, washed in water, form an agreeable
beverage. They also collect a description of manna from the leaves
of the York gum, which yields a considerable quantity of saccharine
matter. The common green wattle of the genus of Acacia is found
plentifully on the alluvial flats of the Swan, and the bark is much
used for tanning; and the gum-wattle of the same order produces so
great a quantity of gum as to demand the attention of exporters.
Another shrub of this order is found in the Vasse district, and
produces galls similar to those of the oak, which might also be
collected for exportation. The gum of some of these species is used
by the natives as food, and the seeds, when ground, give them a
tolerable substitute for flour.

Instead of entering more at large into dry botanical details, I will
transfer to these pages a letter from my respected friend, Mr. James
Drummond, the botanist already alluded to, which perhaps will prove
more acceptable to the general reader.

This letter was published at the time in the local journals.

"Dear Sir, -- I send you a few extracts from a journal of observations
which I made in a journey to the north, in company with Mr. Gilbert,
the ornithologist.* My sons had heard from the natives that a
considerable river and lakes of fresh water were to be found about
two days' journey to the north of their station on the Moore River;
and in company with Captain Scully, the Government Resident of this
district, they determined to explore the country in that direction.
Mr. Phillips and some other gentlemen who were to be of the party, as
well as Mr. Gilbert and myself, arrived at the station too late; I
shall therefore principally confine my observations to Mr. Gilbert's
transactions and my own.

[footnote] * Mr. Gilbert, an enthusiastic naturalist, and an amiable
and highly respectable man, was treacherously murdered by natives to
the North-East of New Holland, whilst engaged upon a scientific

"We left Hawthornden on the 22d August, and slept at the residence of
Captain Scully, who had set out some days before to join the
exploring party. On the 23d we proceeded on our journey to the
north, and in about five or six miles we examined some remarkable
masses of granite rocks a little to the right of the road which is
formed by our carts and horses passing to and from the Moore River.
Mr. Gilbert found a small but curious fresh-water shell in some pools
of rain-water on the rocks, and I found two plants which I had not
seen before. In about eleven or twelve miles from Captain Scully's
we reached a permanent spring called Yoolgan, where there is
excellent grass, and where we stopped to dine and feed our horses.
Soon after leaving Yoolgan, we met with Mr. Phillips and Mr. John
Mackie returning; they had arrived at our station a day too late for
the party; we therefore knew that our hurrying on to join them was
useless. In ten or twelve miles from Yoolgan we reached Yeinart, a
tea-tree swamp, where there is grass and water to be had throughout
the year. The night threatened to rain, but we arrived too late to
do much in the house-making way; fortunately, the rain kept off until
daylight, when we soon covered our house with tea-tree bark, and
determined to stop for the day, which I consider the best way, as no
collections can be made when it is raining, and provisions and
everything get spoiled. It cleared up about ten o'clock, and we went
to visit a brushwood swamp, where my son Johnston had shot several
specimens of a beautiful species of kangaroo with a dark-coloured
fur, overtopped with silvery hairs, called Marnine by the natives:
we saw plenty of tracks of the animals, but could not see a single
specimen. On the top of a hill to the north of the swamp I succeeded
in finding two very distinct species of Dryandra, new to me. I
also found a fine species of Eucalyptus in flower, which is
distinguished from the Matilgarring of the natives, the
Eucalyptus macrocarpus of Sir W. T. Hooker, by having lengthened
recurved flower-stalks; the flowers are rose-coloured.

"On the 25th we proceeded on our journey. I observed two new species
of acacia near Yeinart. We mistook our road, and made our old
station at Badgee-badgee, where we stopped to dine and feed our
horses. I also found some curious aquatic plants in the pools of
water among the rocks at Badgee-badgee. After dinner we succeeded
with difficulty in tracing our road to our present station on the
Mouran pool, the cart tracks being nearly obliterated by the
trampling of the sheep. On arriving, we found that the exploring
party had returned, and that Captain Scully and my son James had
left, on their return, about half an hour before our arrival. The
mutilated specimens of plants brought home by the party, and the
accounts of some which were left behind, determined me to visit the
new river myself, after botanizing a day in the vicinity of the
station, where I found a fine glaucus-leaved Anadenia, and Mr.
Gilbert got specimens of the blue kangaroo, and several small new
quadrupeds -- one of them apparently a true rat, almost as large and
mischievous as the Norway rat. Having got two natives, one of whom
(Cabbinger) had been with the party to the north, we started on the
27th, and slept at a spring called Boorbarna. On the way I found a
species of the common poison which I had not seen before, and a
beautiful Conospermum, with pannicles of blue flowers varying to
white. I was informed, by my son Johnston, that a plant like
horehound, but with scarlet flowers, in tubes about an inch long,
grew on the top of a stony hill to the north of the spring; I went
and found the plant, which belongs to Scrophularinae; I also found
a Manglesia, allied to Tridentifera, but having the leaves more
divided; I also found a beautiful blue climbing plant, a species of
Pronaya, on the top of the same hill. On the 28th, soon after
setting out on our journey, I found two splendid species of
everlasting flower, of which my son Johnston had been the original
discoverer; one, with golden-yellow flowers varying to white, has the
flowers in heads different from anything of the sort I have seen
before, and will, I think, form a new genus of Compositae; and the
other with pink flowers, growing two feet high, something like
Lawrencella rosea, or Rhodanthe Manglesii, but if possible finer
than either. In nine or ten miles to the north of Boorbarna, we
crossed a curious tract of country, covered with what I considered a
variety of quartz, which breaks with a conchoidal fracture, but it
has very much the appearance of flint; in many places the pieces were
large, with sharp angles; my sons complained that it injured their
horses' feet, but by alighting, and leading our horses over the worse
parts, I did not perceive any bad effects from it. This tract of
country produces some interesting plants; a splendid Calathamnus,
with leaves nine inches long, and showy scarlet flowers, was found by
my youngest son, and I got plenty of specimens.

"With regard to a new Banksia, allied to Aquifolia, which he
found here, I was not so fortunate, and he brought home no specimens.
After crossing several miles of this quartz formation, we came upon
an extensive flat of strong clay, covered with Eucalyptus, and some
curious species of acacia; we crossed a considerable river, or brook,
running strong to the west, and about two miles, after crossing this
brook, we made the river we were in quest of at a place called
Murarino by the natives. Near the river I found a splendid plant,
which had been first observed by my son Johnston; he took it for a
Lasiopetalum, but I expect it will prove to be a species of
Solanum; it grows two or three feet high, with large purple
flowers, with calyxes like brown velvet; the leaves are irregularly
shaped, acuminate, about two inches long, and an inch and a half wide
at their broadest parts; the stems are prickly, and all the leaves
covered with a down as in Lasiopetalum. I am uncertain about the
genus, not having seen the seed-vessels, but whatever that may be, it
is of our finest Australian plants.

"We stopped to dine on the river, and in about four miles farther to
the north, we reached two fresh-water lakes called Dalarn and
Maradine. Ducks of various sorts were here in thousands, and the
water-hens, or gallinules, which visited the settlements on the Swan
some years ago, were plentiful. Mr. Gilbert shot three or four at a
shot. I found a fine Baechia, which had been first found by my son
James, and a curious new plant belonging to Compositae, but not yet
in flower. The appearance of the country about these lakes, of which
there are several besides those I have named, and the plants which
grow about them, which are generally met with at no great distance
from the sea, seem to prove that the lakes are at no great distance
from it, and that the Darling Range does not extend so far to the
north. No hills of any description appeared to the west; from the
top of a hill to the east, two remarkable hills appeared, apparently
about thirty miles to the north; one of them was observed by my son
to have a remarkable peaked top, and they supposed they might be
Mount Heathcote and Wizard Peak. We saw, as we came along, a high
hill, which the natives called Wangan Catta; they said it was three
days' walk to it; it lay due east of our course.

"On the 29th, we returned on our track for about seven miles, until
we reached the first running river we met on our journey to the
north. Our guides agreed to take us back by a different route, and
to take us to a hill where a curious species of kangaroo called
Damar by them, would be met with. My son Johnston has shot several
of these animals about a day's walk to the east of our station on the
Moore River. We therefore ascended this river in a course S.E. by E.,
and soon after we were upon its banks, we came upon a grassy country;
three or four miles up we stopped to dine and feed the horses, at a
place called Nugadrine; several pairs of beautiful falcons, the
Falco Nypolencus of Gould, were flying over us, and Mr. Gilbert
succeeded in shooting one of them. After dinner, we proceeded in the
same direction for nine or ten miles; we soon crossed the tracks of
Captain Scully and my sons on their return; they had gone up the main
or northern branch of the river, and had found but little grass while
they followed its banks; but they had passed over a great deal of
grassy land in crossing the country from it to the Moore River.

"We travelled for ten or eleven miles through a splendid grassy
country, and met with a large tribe of natives, several of whom had
never seen white men before; they were very friendly, and offered us
some of their favourite root, the wyrang, which grows abundantly
among these grassy hills. They made so much noise, that we wished to
get some distance from them to sleep, but they all followed us and
encamped near, many of the single men sleeping by our fire. In the
morning of the 30th I went to the top of a hill, near our bivouac,
while Mr. Gilbert was superintending the preparations for breakfast,
and clipping the beards of some of our new friends. After breakfast,
we started direct for our station on the Moore River; the natives who
were with us as guides considering our stock of flour insufficient to
proceed any farther in the direction of the hill where they expected
to find the Damars. For almost the whole of this day we travelled
over the most splendid grassy country I have ever seen in Australia;
the hill-sides, as far as we could see in every direction, were
covered with beautiful grass, and of a golden colour, from the
flowers of the beautiful yellow everlasting flower which I have
described in a former part of this letter, which is only to be found
in the richest soil. After reaching our station, I was a day or two
employed in drying my specimens of plants. My son Johnston pointed
out a most beautiful new Dryandra, which he had discovered on the
top of a hill near the Mouran-pool; I have named the species
Dryandra floribunda, from its numerous blossoms, which almost hide
the leaves; it grows twelve or fifteen feet high, and in such
abundance, that the side of the hill on which it grows actually
appears of a golden colour for several miles. I consider it the most
beautiful species of the genus yet known for cultivation.

"I am, Sir,
"Your obedient servant,
"James Drummond.

"P.S. -- Our course generally by compass from Hawthornden to these
lakes has been several points to the west of north. The natives
informed us, when at the lakes, that they could reach the sea-coast
long before sunset.

"Hawthornden Farm, Toodyay Valley."



Many causes have unhappily united to keep Western Australia from
rising into notice and importance with that rapidity which has marked
the career of the other Australian colonies. The misfortunes of the
first settlers, attributable in a great measure to flagrant
mismanagement, deterred intending emigrants from tempting the like
fate. The man who had the largest grant in the colony allotted to
him -- a monster grant of 250,000 acres -- made so ill an use of the
means at his command, that nothing but misery and misfortune has ever
attended his steps. The funds with which he was intrusted might have
been applied with the happiest effect, both for the advancement of
the colony and of his own personal fortunes. The people whom he
brought out, chiefly mechanics and labourers, to the number of four
hundred or upwards, were sufficient to have formed a settlement of
their own. By an unhappy fatality, the early settlers were landed on
a part of the coast the most unfavourable in the world for their
purposes. The whole country around them was a mere limestone rock.
Here, however, the town-site of Clarence was fixed upon, but scarcely
a yard of land was to be found that afforded space for a garden. No
attempt was made to sow grain, or plant potatoes, to provide for the
wants of the following year.

The people lived upon the provisions they had brought out with them.
The four hundred workmen being left by their principal without
direction or employment, soon consumed in riotous living the abundant
stores left at their disposal, and too soon found that destitution is
the inevitable consequence of idleness and folly. Many perished
miserably of want and sickness, and many others effected their escape
to Van Dieman's Land, where they gave a melancholy account of the
wretchedness of those who were unable to flee from the scene of their

The active intelligence, and unremitting exertions of the Governor,
Sir James Stirling, at length ameliorated the condition of the
unfortunate settlers. He removed the seat of Government to Perth,
and explored the neighbouring country in every direction in the hope
of finding tracts of land sufficient for the support of the people
under his charge. The flats of the Swan River afforded all the
facilities he required; but the settlers were greatly intimidated by
the treacherous attacks of the natives, and were very reluctant to
separate from the main body. In consequence of these fears, many
consumed their capital in their present support, instead of applying
it in the formation of farms, and laying the ground-work of future
prosperity. Provisions being all imported, were sold at high rates,
and the hesitating colonists became unavoidably subservient to the
cupidity of the traders.

In addition to these misfortunes, no man liked to lay out his money
in building a house upon land which might not eventually be allotted
to him. He lived therefore, with his wife, children, and servants,
miserably under a tent, until the surveyor-general should be able to
point out to him the land which had fallen to his share, in the
general lottery of the Government. In many cases this was not done
for one or two years after the formation of the colony, in
consequence of the lamentably inefficient force placed at the
disposal of the able and indefatigable surveyor-general; and even
then, the boundaries of the different allotments were not permanently
defined. This state of incertitude had the most fatal effect, not
only upon the fortunes, but upon the moral condition of the settlers.
Those who had come out resolutely bent upon cultivating their own
land, and supporting themselves and families by their manual labour,
refused to make the necessary exertions upon property which might
eventually belong to others for whom they had no desire to toil.
Waiting, therefore, in their tents on the shore, until the Government
should determine their respective locations, they passed the time in
idleness, or in drinking and riotous living; and when at length they
obtained their Letters of Allocation, they found themselves without
money or any means of subsistence, except by hiring out their manual
labour to others more prudent, or more fortunate.

Other accidental circumstances have combined to retard the progress
of the colony. From ignorance of the seasons, many lost their crops,
and were obliged consequently to expend the last remains of their
capital in procuring necessary supplies. From the same cause,
vessels which brought emigrants to the colony were not secured during
the winter season in the safest anchorages, and being exposed to the
fury of the north-west gales, were in too many instances, driven
ashore and completely wrecked.

Again, too, there has always existed a strong desire on the part of
Western Australia to connect herself with India, conscious that there
are great facilities of communication between the countries, from
favourable trade-winds, and that her own climate is perhaps better
suited to invalids than even that of the Cape. This desire has been
met by several influential gentleman of Calcutta, and on two
occasions, vessels were freighted and despatched from that city to
the colony, in the hope of establishing a mutually advantageous
connexion, and on both occasions the vessels were lost on the voyage.
At length a small establishment was effected near Australind, by the
agents of Mr. W. H. Prinsep, for the purpose of breeding horses for
the Indian market; and we most sincerely hope success will ultimately
attend the enterprising effort. Indian officers have occasionally
visited the colony; but they have naturally received unfavourable
impressions, from being unable to find those accommodations and
luxuries to which they had been accustomed.

The settlers will not build houses and lay out their money on the
mere speculation of gaining advantage by the visits of Indian
officers, but if once there appeared a reasonable prospect of early
remuneration, every convenience would be provided, and every comfort
ensured to visitors. Living is now extremely cheap, and there is a
profusion of vegetables and fruits of every kind. There are plenty
of good horses and pleasure-boats, and there are the amusements of
fishing, and hunting the Kangaroo and Emu.

The misconduct of some, and the misfortunes of others of the early
settlers, tended to bring about calamities which were echoed
throughout Great Britain, and for many years had the effect of
turning the stream of emigration away from these shores. Other
causes have also contributed to this end. The Government plan of
giving grants of land to emigrants, proportioned to the capital which
they introduced into the colony, was good to a certain extent, but
the object was perverted, and the boon abused. In almost all
instances, men received a much greater quantity of land than they
were justly entitled to. Every article of provisions, furniture, and
household effects, and even wearing apparel, were taken into account.
The valuations were made by friends and neighbours, who accommodated
one another, and rated the property of the applicant at a most
astounding price. The consequence has been, that large grants of
land have fallen into the hands of those who have never lived upon
them, or spent anything upon their improvement, beyond a fictitious
amount which they were required to specify to the Government before
they could obtain possession of their deeds of grant. These original
grantees have clung to their lands with desperate tenacity, in the
hope that some day their value will be more than nominal. The idea
that all the best portions of the colony are in the hands of a few
great unimproving proprietors, has been one reason why emigrants have
turned away from it.

But the provision, which has so long been an evil to the colony, may
now be looked upon, thanks to the narrow-minded policy of the Home
Government, as an advantage. These original grants, which have
proved so little beneficial to the owner, and so highly detrimental
to the community, are now far more easily obtainable by the emigrant
than the surrounding crown-lands. The policy of the Government has
entirely changed with regard to the disposal of waste lands in the
Australian colonies; instead of giving them away with a lavish hand,
it has for some years been the practice to throw every obstacle in
the way of intending purchasers.

They are now valued at one pound per acre, though it is well known,
even at the colonial office, that five acres of Australian land are
requisite to maintain a single sheep; and as the average value of
sheep in all these colonies is six or seven shillings, it scarcely
requires the head of a Secretary of State to calculate that every one
who buys land for the purpose of feeding his flocks upon it, must be
content to purchase it at an irreparable loss of capital. In
consequence of this wise regulation, no purchase of crown-lands are
now made in any of the Australian colonies, except of town
allotments, which have a factitious value, altogether irrespective of
the qualities of the soil. It is now that the holders of large
grants find purchasers, as they are extremely willing to sell at a
much lower rate than the crown. In Western Australia alone, however,
are these grants to be found; and here excellent land may be
purchased at three shillings an acre. Thus the careless profusion of
one government, and the false policy and unhappy cupidity of another,
have proved the means of placing this colony in a better position in
some respects than any other.

Western Australia has been unfortunate also in having had no powerful
company to support her cause in England. The neighbouring colony of
South Australia, with a much less extensive territory, and without
any natural superiority in the quality of the soil, was immediately
puffed into notice by the exertions of her friends at home.

But whilst the settlers at Adelaide and their patrons in London,
proclaimed to the world the advantages of the new colony, they
scrupled not to draw comparisons between it and the Western
settlement, that were neither flattering nor just to the latter. Not
content with elevating their own idol with paeans and thanksgiving,
before the gaze of a bedinned public, they persisted in shouting out
their scorn and contempt at the pretensions of their unhappy
neighbour. The public, with its usual discernment, gave implicit
credence to both fables. Western Australia had met its contumelious
detractors with silence; and the false statements were therefore
looked upon as admitted and undeniable. But notwithstanding the
injurious misrepresentations of enemies, and her own injurious
silence, this colony has been quietly and steadily progressing, until
she has laid for herself a foundation that no envious calumny can
shake. The last blow she has received was from the failure of the
settlement at Australind; a subject that I intend to treat of in a
separate chapter.

So many misfortunes and untoward accidents have combined to prejudice
the emigrating portion of the British public against Western
Australia, that no voice is ever raised in her behalf, and scarcely
any literary journal condescends to acknowledge her existence. And
yet, notwithstanding the veil of darkness that conceals her from
Northern eyes, there is perhaps no spot in the world that contains so
eminently within itself the elements of prosperity and happiness. A
climate more genial, more divine than that of Italy, robs poverty of
its bleakness and its bitterness. Absolute want is never felt, and
those who possess but little, find how little is sufficient in a
climate so productive and so beneficent.

The purity and elasticity of the atmosphere induce a continual flow
of good spirits.

To all the fruits of Italy in most abundant profusion, are added the
productions of the East.

The regularity of the seasons is so certain, that the husbandman
always reckons with confidence upon his crops. No droughts
interfere, AS IN THE OTHER COLONIES, to ruin his hopes. The
vintages, annually increasing and improving, are equally free
from disappointment.

It must not, however, be denied that there are many natural
disadvantages which can never be overcome without a much larger

In the first place, the only good harbour on the Western coast has
only just been discovered -- June 1846 -- and is at least thirty-five
miles distant from Perth, the capital. Then, secondly, all the
superior land of the colony is situated about sixty miles back from
the capital, and the farmers therefore have a considerable distance
to convey their produce to the port; and part of that distance the
roads are extremely bad.

There is another objection to the colony in the opinion of intending
emigrants, which arises from a small plant, or shrub, of the order
leguminosae, a deadly poison to sheep and cattle. This plant grows
over the colony in patches, but is now so well known, that accidents
very seldom occur from it, shepherds being careful not to allow their
flocks to feed in its vicinity. It is however to be observed, that
neither sheep nor cattle will feed upon this plant unless they be
very hungry, and other food be wanting. It is very seldom indeed
that cattle, which are sometimes left to roam at large over the
country, are found to have perished from pasturing upon it. This
plant has no injurious effect upon horses; but these animals have in
several instances been poisoned by eating the leaves of a small plant
described as resembling the ranunculus, which grows in small
quantities in the Southern portion of the colony. A gentleman once
informed me that he was riding up from Australind on a favourite and
very fine horse, which he allowed to feed, during several hours of
rest, on a spot where this plant unfortunately grew. On mounting to
resume his journey, the horse seemed full of spirit; but he had not
proceeded a mile before it stumbled, and was with difficulty kept
from falling. A little farther on, after proceeding with evident
difficulty, it fell, to rise no more, and died in a few hours of
violent inflammation of the kidneys.

However alarming these drawbacks may seem to people at a distance,
they are only lightly considered in the colony. Fatalities are very
rare among the flocks and herds, and many diseases which prevail in
New South Wales are entirely unknown among us.



The geographical position of Western Australia makes it one of the
most desirable colonies of the British empire. The French would be
delighted to possess so advantageous a station in that part of the
world, whence they could sally forth and grievously annoy our
shipping-trade. Vessels bound for China and the Eastern Islands pass
within a few days' sail of the colony. For my part, I confess I
should feel by no means sorry were we to fall into the hands of the
French for a few years, as they would not hesitate to make such
lasting improvements as would materially add to the importance of the
settlement. It requires that Government should be made to feel the
value of this colony as a naval station before it will rise into
anything like consequence. The anchorage of Cockburn Sound, lying
between Garden Island and the main land, presents a splendid harbour,
where hundreds of ships of war might lie throughout all weathers in
perfect safety. Enemy's cruisers passing along the coast cannot come
within Garden Island from the south, and they would scarcely venture
without a pilot from the north, except with a great deal of
deliberation and caution, so that small vessels might readily slip
away and avoid the danger; and numbers of ships might lie so close
under Garden Island, that they never would be perceived by men-of-war
reconnoitring the coast.

There is no other colony in Australia so admirably situated with
respect to other countries. The Cape of Good Hope is four or five
weeks sail distant; Ceylon about twenty days; Calcutta, Sincapore,
and Batavia are all within easy reach. In exporting live-stock, this
is of vast importance; and in time of war a central position like
this would afford an admirable place for vessels to repair to in
order to refit. With the finest timber in the world for naval
purposes in unlimited profusion; with a soil teeming with various
metals; with harbours and dock-yards almost ready made by the hand of
Nature, all things requisite for the wants of shipping may be
obtained whenever a Government shall see fit to resort to them.

It must doubtless surprise many that more has not been done in a
colony possessing such natural advantages. The reason is, that the
prejudices which have so long prevailed against this settlement have
retarded the progress of immigration, and the small number of
inhabitants has ever precluded the possibility of any great effort
being made by the colony itself.

Public opinion in England must turn in its favour before it can rise
from obscurity into importance; but public opinion is never in favour
of the poor and deserted. Time, however, will eventually develope
those resources, which at present lie dormant for want of capital and

The proximity of this colony to India peculiarly marks it as the most
advantageous spot for the breeding of horses for that market. From
Van Dieman's Land or New South Wales, ships are generally about eight
weeks in reaching an Indian port, and must proceed either by the
north of New Holland, through the dangerous navigation of Torres
Straits, or by the south and west, round Cape Lewin. Either route
presents a long and rough passage, highly detrimental to stock, and
of course increasing the cost of the horses exported. The voyage
from Fremantle may be performed in half the time, and the animals
will therefore arrive at their destination in much finer order, and
with much less loss.

It is well known that none of these colonies afford better or more
extensive pasture-ground for horses and cattle than ours. Nothing is
wanted but capital and population to produce a thriving traffic in
horse-flesh between this settlement and India.

There is every reason to believe that Western Australia will one day
become a great wine country. Its vineyards are becoming more
numerous and extensive every year, and the wine produced in them is
of a quality to lead us to believe that when the art of preparing it
is better understood, it will be found of very superior quality. It
will, however, be a new kind of wine; and therefore, before it will
be prized in Europe, prejudices in favour of older wines have to be
overcome. Soil and climate combined, give to different wines their
peculiar flavour. The vines which in Madeira produce the wine of
that name, when brought to another country, even in a corresponding
latitude, and planted in soil that chemically approaches as closely
as possible to that which they have left, will produce a wine
materially different from that called Madeira. So with the vines of
Xeres and Oporto; of Teneriffe or Constantia. Different countries
produce wines peculiar to themselves; and the wine of Western
Australia will be found to be entirely sui generis. All that I
have tasted, though made from the poorest of grapes, the common
sweet-water, have one peculiarity; a good draught, instead of
affecting the head or flushing the face, causes a most delightful
glow to pervade the stomach; and it is of so comforting a nature,
that the labourers in harvest prefer the home-made colonial wine to
any other beverage. Every farm-settler is now adding a vineyard to
his estate. The olive is also being extensively cultivated. In a
few years' time, dried fruits will be exported in large quantities;
but we almost fear that the colonists are giving too much of their
attention to the cultivation of grapes and other fruits. In addition
to exports, on a large scale, of wool, horses, timber, and metals,
these articles of commerce are not undeserving of attention, but they
should not be brought so prominently forward as to form the principal
feature in the trade of the colony. Wine and fruit countries are
always poor countries; let us think of substantials first, and of
wine and fruit only by way of dessert.

Cotton is a plant that grows extremely well in this colony, and might
be cultivated on a large scale, and doubtless with great success.
Mr. Hutt, the late governor, whose constant anxiety to promote the
interests of the settlers in every way must long endear him to their
memories, always appeared extremely sanguine as to the practicability
of making this a great cotton country.

But Western Australia contains, perhaps, greater internal wealth than
that which appears on the surface. She abounds in iron, which must
some day come into the Indian market; and as the metal lies close to
the surface, it may be obtained without much expenditure of capital.
There is no doubt, also, that she is equally rich in copper and
platina, but capital is wanting at present to enable the settlers to
work the mines. Soon, however, companies will be formed, and
operations will be carried on rivalling those of South Australia.

Extensive fields of excellent COAL have lately been discovered, and
will prove the source of vast wealth to the colony. Steam-vessels in
the Indian ocean will be supplied with coal from Western Australia;
and the depots at Sincapore, Point-de-Galle, and perhaps at Aden,
will afford a constant market for this valuable commodity.

The staple export of the colony is, of course, at present wool. Our
flocks, unfortunately, increase in a much greater ratio than the
inhabitants, and thus the scarcity of labour becomes severely felt.
A large flock becomes an evil, and men are burdened and impoverished
by the very sources of wealth. The expense of maintaining becomes
greater than the returns. The emigrants who are most sure of
improving their condition in a colony, are those men who begin as
shepherds, and having established a good character for themselves,
undertake the care of a flock upon shares; that is, they receive a
certain proportion -- a third, and sometimes even a half -- of the
annual increase and wool, delivering the remainder to the owner at
the seaport, ready packed for shipping. These men, of course, soon
acquire a flock of their own, and then abandon the original employer
to his old embarrassment, leaving him, (a resident probably in the
capital, and already a prey to multitudinous distractions,) to find
out a new shepherd on still more exorbitant terms. As large grants
of land may be obtained by tenants for merely nominal rents, or in
consideration of their erecting stock-yards or farm-buildings in the
course of a term of years, there is every inducement to men of this
class to become settlers.

The houses in some districts are built of clay, or prepared earth,
rammed down between boards, and thus forming solid walls of twelve or
eighteen inches in thickness, that harden in a short time almost to
the consistency of stone. The windows and doorways are cut out of
the walls. These edifices are built at a very cheap rate; and when
laths or battens are fixed inside of them, may be covered with
plaister, and either whitewashed or painted.

Besides the extensive sheep-runs of the colony, there is an unlimited
extent of excellent corn-land. The crops in the Northam, Toodyay,
and York districts -- though inferior to those of the midland
counties of England, for want of manure, and a more careful system of
husbandry -- are extremely fine; and there is land enough, if
cultivated, to supply the whole of the southern hemisphere with grain.

The sea on the western coast of New Holland still abounds with
whales, although the Americans for many years made it one of their
principal stations, and have consequently driven many of the animals
away. The whale is a very suspicious and timid creature, and when it
has been once chased it seldom returns to the same locality. The
Americans tell us that Geographe Bay, about twenty years ago,
abounded with whales at certain seasons. Many of them came there
apparently to die, and the shore was covered with their carcases and
bones. About the month of June, the whales proceed along the coast,
going northward; and then visit the various bays and inlets as they
pass, in pursuit of the shoals of small fish that precede them in
their migration. They generally return towards the south about six
weeks afterwards, and at these times the whale-fishery is eagerly
pursued both by the Americans and the colonists. Bay-whaling is
followed with various success at Fremantle, Bunbury, the Vasse,
Augusta, and King George's Sound.

At these times swarms of sharks of enormous dimensions infest the
coast. At the Vasse, they were so numerous in 1845, that the men in
the boats became quite cowed by their audacity. Were a whale killed
in the evening, two-thirds of it would be eaten before morning by the
sharks. The monsters (sometimes thirty feet in length) would follow
the whale-boats, and strike against them with their snouts and fins;
until the men were so intimidated that they even refused to go in
pursuit of a whale which otherwise they might easily have captured.
Mr. Robert Viveash, one of the principals at this station, told me,
among other anecdotes, that one day, standing on the deck of a small
schooner, watching the evolutions of an enormous shark, he saw it
seize the rudder with its teeth in a kind of frenzy, or else in mere
sport, and shake it so violently that the tiller, striking against
some heavy object on deck, was actually broken in two pieces. It is
a well-authenticated fact, that some years ago a shark, playing round
a whaling vessel of upwards of 300 tons, whilst lying at anchor
during a calm, got entangled in the buoy-rope of the anchor, and in
its efforts to free itself actually tripped the anchor. The people
on board, perceiving something extraordinary had happened, hove up
the anchor, and brought the struggling shark to the surface. Having
thrown a rope over its head and secured it by a running bowline knot
under the pectoral fins, the fish was boused up to the fore-yard; and
its length was so great, that when its nose touched the yard, its
tail was still lashing the water.

There is something highly exciting in the chase of the whale. I have
watched the proceedings for hours from Arthur's Head, the high rock
between Fremantle and the sea. A man stationed here on the look out,
perceives a whale spouting about six miles off, between the main-land
and the opposite islands. He immediately hoists a flag, and makes
signals indicating the direction.

The crews of six whale-boats, which have been lying ready on the
beach, with their lines carefully coiled in a tub, and harpoon and
lances all at hand, assemble like magic. The boats are launched, and
pulling rapidly out of the bay, each with its own particular flag
flying at the bows; the steersman leans forward, and gives additional
force to the stroke-oar by the assistance of his weight and strength;
the men pull strongly and well-together; the boats dance over the
flashing waves, and silence and determination reign among the crews.
The object is to meet the whale, and come down upon him in front;
none but a lubber or a knave would cross his wake; for his eyes are
so placed that he can see laterally and behind better than straight
before him, and the moment he detects a boat in pursuit he begins to
run. The lubber crosses his wake, because he has not steered so as
to be able to avoid doing so; the knave, because either out of spite
to his employer, or because he is bribed by an adverse company, is
desirous that the fish should be lost. If the boats are a long
distance astern when the whale begins to run, pursuit is useless, and
the men return, hoping for better luck another time.

The boats come round Arthur's Head almost together. The men, knowing
that many hours of severe toil are probably before them, pull
steadily, but not so as to exhaust themselves at the outset. At
length one boat creeps out from the rest; the others gradually drop
into line, and the distance between each widens perceptibly. The
last boat, a heavy sailer, is half-a-mile astern of the first. From
the boats, your eye wanders to the spot where the whale was last seen
to blow. For some time you can discern nothing, and fancy he must be
gone off to sea again. At last a thin white column of vapour is
perceptible; the animal is carelessly sporting about, unconscious of
danger. The first boat draws rapidly down upon him; it approaches
nearer and nearer. The fish has disappeared, but his enemies seem to
know the direction in which he is going, and are ready awaiting him
when he returns to the surface. You now perceive him blowing close
to the first boat, the steersman of which draws in the steer-oar and
runs forward, whilst the men have all peaked their oars, and remain
quiet in their seats. The steersman has seized the harpoon to which
the long line of coiled rope is attached; in a moment he has plunged
it into the animal's side. Starting at the stroke, away it darts;
the line flies out of the tub over the bow of the boat; the men begin
to pull, in order to ease the shock when the line is all run out; and
now away they go, the whale drawing the boat after him at such speed
that the water flies off from the bows in broad flakes.

After running upwards of a mile, the fish dives down to the bottom;
there he remains some minutes, until compelled to return to the
surface for breath. His reappearance is heralded by a column of
water spouted from his nostrils.

Two of the boats are able to approach near enough to allow lances to
be thrown at him, which, penetrating through the blubber, pierce his
vitals, and cause him to run again as swiftly as before. Again he
sinks, and again appears on the surface; the column which he now
spouts forth is tinged with red. The boats again approach, the more
lances are driven into his sides, but he is not yet subdued; he
breaks away from the assassins, and tries once more to escape; but,
alas! his strength and his life-blood are fast ebbing away; his
breath begins to fail, and he cannot remain long beneath the surface.

He comes up suddenly in the very midst of the boats, and, as he rolls
from side to side, he strikes one of them with his fin, staving it in
and making it a wreck upon the water. The drowning men are picked up
by their companions, and the whale is again pursued. He is now in
the death-flurry, spinning round and round, and lashing the sea into
foam with his broad tail. He is still; and now the boats venture to
come close up to the carcase, and fixing grapnels in it, with
tow-lines attached, they form in a line, and commence towing their
conquest to the shore, singing as they row, their measured paeans of

When the blubber is cut off and tryed out, it produces from three to
ten tons of oil.

Besides whales, there are immense quantities of fish upon this coast.
The best kind are called tailors, and have a good deal of the
mackerel flavour; and snappers, which somewhat resemble cod-fish.
The mullets and whitings are better than those on the English coast,
but every other fish is much inferior in flavour to those known in
England. We have nothing to equal salmon, turbot, soles, cod, or
mackerel; nevertheless, a snapper of twenty pounds weight is a very
eatable fish.

They are caught in great quantities, salted and exported to the
Mauritius, where they are acknowledged to be superior to the fish
imported from the Cape of Good Hope. Snapper-fishing is not bad
sport, as they bite freely. They go in immense shoals, and it is not
an uncommon thing to catch twenty-hundred weight at a single haul.
When H.M.S. Challenger was lying in Cockburn Sound, some of the
men with a very large seine-net, caught two thousand fish at a single
haul -- averaging five pounds a-piece. This is almost incredible,
but it is related on good authority.

The fresh-water rivers have no fish but a small craw-fish, that
buries itself in the ground when the bed of the stream is dry; and a
flat-headed, tapering fish called a cobbler. This is about twelve
inches long, and has a sharp, serrated bone an inch in length on each
side of its head, that lies flat and perfectly concealed until an
enemy approaches. This bone is hollow, like an adder's tooth, and
contains a virulent poison, which is injected into the wound, and
causes intense pain for several hours. Men are frequently stung by
these wretches, whilst wading through the water.

There are several valuable kinds of wood in this colony, which do not
exist in South Australia or New South Wales. We may mention the
sandalwood, which now finds a market in Ceylon, where it fetches
about 22 pounds per ton; but if it were sent direct to China, (its
ultimate destination,) it would obtain probably 35 pounds per ton.
Sandal-wood is burnt in large quantities in China, as a kind of
incense. There is another highly-fragrant wood peculiar to this
colony, called by the settlers raspberry jam, from its resembling
that sweet-meat in its scent. A small quantity sent to
Tonbridge-Wells, was worked up into boxes, and highly approved of by
the cabinet-makers, who gave it the name of violet wood.

One of the most beautiful trees in the colony is called the
peppermint-tree; its leaves, which are very abundant, resemble those
of the willow, and, on being rubbed, smell strongly of peppermint.
It bears a small yellow flower. These is much reason to believe that
this is of the same species as the tree which yields the valuable
Cajeput oil, and it is highly desirable that an endeavour should be
made to distil this oil from the leaves.

Many of the vegetable productions of Western Australia appear to
correspond with those of Java and others of the Eastern Islands,
modified by the difference of climate.

The timber adapted to ship-building purposes, extends in vast
quantities down the line of coast, and is of three kinds, all
varieties of the eucalyptus. The tooart in the districts of
Bunbury and the Vasse, and the blue-gum which abounds at Augusta
and Nornalup, are woods of large size, and remarkably hard and
close-grained in texture. It is well adapted for keel-pieces,
stern-posts, capstan-heads, and heavy beams: and its fibres are so
closely matted and interwoven together, that it is scarcely possible
to split it. It grows in lengths of from 30 to 60 feet, and measures
from 15 to 30 inches in diameter.

But the wood most highly prized and most easily attainable is the
Jarra, which grows upon the entire range of the Darling Hills,
distant from sixteen to twenty miles from the coast, and extends over
a country averaging at least twenty miles in breadth. It was for a
long time erroneously called mahogany by the settlers, as it takes an
excellent polish, and is extremely useful for cabinet purposes. A
small quantity recently sent to England for the purpose of being
worked up with furniture, has been thus reported upon: --

"We have just inspected about two tons of wood brought to this town
(Leeds) under the name of Swan River Mahogany. Some of the wood is
firm and close in texture, with a very great abundance of cross
mottle; -- in fact, it is quite crowded with figure. The colour is
something like old Jamaica mahogany, and it bears a strong
resemblance in some of its figures to the wood so celebrated by
Messrs. Collard as Ocean Wood. We are quite firm in our opinion,
that it is NOT mahogany, and do not know why it should be nicknamed.
Why not call it by its proper name? -- for it has sufficiently strong
claims to maintain its own independence.

"J. Kendell and Co.
"Cabinet Manufacturers, Leeds."

Mr. Bond, of the firm of Gillows and Co., cabinet manufacturers, 176
and 177 Oxford-street, London, to whom a small quantity was submitted,
has also made an equally favourable report. Messrs. Chaloner and
Fleming, of Liverpool, whose firm is one of the most extensive
importers of timber in the empire, have reported that they "consider
the specimens submitted to them to be of rich figure, and very fine
quality, although the colour is rather dark. It is quite as fine in
texture as the best Spanish mahogany, and takes the polish remarkably

It is not, however, as cabinet wood that the Jarra is so highly
valuable. It has been found to be some of the best ship-timber in
the world. It is so extremely durable, that when it is cut in a
healthy state, it is never found to rot, even though it be buried in
the ground for years. For seventeen years it has been constantly
used in the colony for a variety of purposes. As it resists the
white-ant, an insect that destroys oak and every other kind of wood,
and is never subject to the dry-rot, it is invaluable for building
purposes. Boats constructed of it, which have been in the water
during the whole of this period, and entirely unprotected by paint,
are still as sound as they were when first launched.

It resists the sea-worm; and our colonial vessels, when hove down for
repairs or survey at Sincapore, Launceston, or other ports, have
always excited the admiration of the surveyors, and have been
pronounced not to require to be coppered. This wood is long in the
grain, but very close and tough, and not only makes very good
planking, but excellent beams, keel-pieces, and many other portions
of a ship. Growing without a branch to the height of from fifty to
one hundred feet, and from eighteen inches to three feet and upwards
in diameter, it excites the admiration of all practical men; and as
its properties have been so long tested, and are so generally
admitted in the southern hemisphere, it is matter of no less surprise
than regret that it should be still unknown in the English markets.
Strong prejudice, and the interest of parties connected with the
timber-trade in other countries, have served to keep the
inexhaustible forests of Western Australia in the obscurity which has
hung over them from primeval times. Besides this, although the Jarra
wood exists not in other parts of Australia, and is confined to the
Western coast alone, timber has been imported to England from New
South Wales, and is very little prized there. Timber-merchants,
therefore, who confound all the Australian colonies together, as most
other people in England do, are willing to believe that the Jarra of
Western Australia is the same as the Stringy-bark of New South Wales,
and therefore worth little or nothing for ship-building purposes.
The experience of seventeen years has proved the contrary. Not only
have the valuable qualities of the Jarra been tested in vessels built
in the colony, and employed in trading to the neighbouring ports; but
men-of-war and merchant ships have been frequently repaired with it,
and the wood so employed has always been highly esteemed when
subsequently inspected abroad.

In the autumn of 1845, the Halifax Packet, a barque of 400 tons,
having parted from her anchor in a gale, and drifted ashore,
underwent repairs at Fremantle, to the extent of about eleven hundred
pounds. On being surveyed at the Port of London on her return home,
the new timber, which had never been previously recognized at
Lloyd's, though many efforts have been made to obtain that sanction,
was allowed to remain in the ship as being perfectly serviceable.
The following memorandum was addressed by the Surveyor of Lloyd's to
A. Andrews, Esq., a gentleman interested in the welfare of the colony:

"The wood used in the repairs of the Halifax Packet at Swan River,
appears to answer the purpose very well. It is not found necessary
to remove any part thereof.

"From the samples which I have seen of Swan River timber, I am of
opinion that it will form a very desirable and serviceable wood in
ship-building; but this must be regarded as my private opinion, the
Society of Lloyd's Register, to which I belong, not having as yet
assigned any character to it in their rules.

(Signed) "P. Courtney, Lloyd's Surveyor.
"Lloyd's, 24th February, 1846."

This extraordinary timber grows to a size that would appear
incredible to readers in England. It is perhaps only manageable and
remunerative from 40 to 60 feet; but in the southern districts of the
colony -- especially to the back of Nornalup and Wilson's Inlet -- it
is found growing to 120 and 150 feet in height, before the first
branch appears. My brother and his servant, when exploring in that
district, took refuge once from a storm in the hollow of an old Jarra
tree, which not only sheltered themselves but their horses; and the
interior actually measured in diameter three times the length of the
largest horse, an animal sixteen hands high and very long backed.
This may appear an astounding assertion, but the following is not
less so. The same parties found a Jarra tree which had fallen
completely across a broad and deep river (called the Deep River)
running between high precipitous banks, thus forming a natural
bridge, along which a bullock cart might have passed!

Timber of such large dimensions is perfectly useless; but there are,
of course, trees of every size, growing in boundless profusion.

As Indian teak and African oak are now scarcely obtainable, we look
upon our colony as a store-house for the British navy; and though we
have hitherto vainly battled against prejudice and private interest
to make this timber known to our rulers, the day will arrive when the
wants of the naval service will compel men in authority to
acknowledge the value of wood, which is most highly prized by all who
have had the opportunity of testing its qualities.

It is due to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to state, that
on two occasions they have promised to receive a quantity of this
timber, provided it were delivered at one of the royal dockyards, and
to allow a fair price for it. But unfortunately, there is so great a
scarcity of labour and of capital in the colony, that the settlers
have shrunk from the outlay necessary to perform what would be, after
all, only an experiment.

It cannot be supposed, that timber which has been tested in every way
for seventeen years, and is known throughout Australia to be
indisputably FIRST-RATE for ship-building purposes, should be
condemned at home as unserviceable. But the colonists know how many
prejudices and interested feelings environ the Admiralty; and in
general shrink from the experiment.



His Excellency the Governor having kindly invited me to be his
companion on a journey which he proposed to make to the new
settlement of Australind, about a hundred miles south of Perth, I set
about making the necessary preparations. I borrowed a pair of
saddle-bags, and having stuffed my traps into one side of them,
loaded the other with a cold roast fowl, a boiled tongue, a pound of
sausages, a loaf of bread, a flask of brandy, and sundry small
packages of tea, sugar, cigars, etc.

When I looked at the result of my labours, the swollen sides of the
leathern receptacle, I enjoyed a noble feeling of independence; as
though I were now prepared to ramble through the world, and stood in
no need of friendly welcome, or the doubtful hospitality of an inn.

Having breakfasted at five o'clock on a December morning (the middle
of summer), and equipped myself in a broad-brimmed straw-hat and
light shooting jacket, I mounted my steed, and sallied forth from my
gate, followed by the sympathizing grins of Hannibal.

His Excellency, true to the hour, was mounting his horse at the door
of Government House -- and as the appearance of the whole turn-out
was rather unlike anything usually seen in Hyde Park, or even
connected with the morning drives of his Excellency the Viceroy of
Ireland, I may as well describe it.

The representative of our gracious Sovereign was habited in his bush
costume -- a white hat, bare of beaver, having a green veil twisted
round it, a light shooting coat and plaid trousers, shoes, and jean
gaiters. His illustrious person was seated on a pair of broad
saddle-bags, which went flap, flap against the sides of his charger,
as he jogged steadily along at the usual travelling pace. On the
pummel of his saddle was strapped a roll of blankets for the night
bivouac, and to one of the straps was attached a tin-pannikin, which
bumped incessantly against his horse's mane. Round the animal's neck
was coiled a long tether-rope, which every now and then kept coming
undone, and the caravan had to halt whilst it was being readjusted.

Behind us rode his Excellency's man, no longer the smug gentleman in
a black suit, with a visage as prim as his neck-cloth, but blazing in
a red woollen shirt, and grinning incessantly with amazement at his
own metamorphosis. Strapped to his waist by a broad belt of leather,
was a large tin-kettle, for the purpose of making his Excellency's
tea in the evening. Huge saddle-bags contained provisions, knives
and forks, plates, and everything necessary for travelling in the
Bush in a style of princely magnificence. No scheik or emir among
the Arabs wanders about the desert half so sumptuously provided. I
could not help laughing (in my sleeve, of course,) at the figure
produced by the tout ensemble of John mounted on his ewe-necked and
pot-bellied steed.

In excellent spirits we jogged along to the Canning, and then eleven
miles farther, to a muddy pool called Boregarup, where we baited the
horses, and lunched on one of his Excellency's cold meat-pies. The
water in the pool was not very tempting, but we ladled a little out
in our pannikins, and mixing it with brandy, managed to drink it.
The want of water makes travelling in the bush during summer a
serious business. Frequently you find a well, on which your thoughts
and hopes have been fixed for the last twenty miles, completely dried
up; and you have to endure thirst as well as you can for some hours
longer. Sometimes by scraping the bottom of the well, and digging
down with your pannikin, you come to a little moisture, and after
waiting an hour, succeed in obtaining about half-a-pint of yellow
fluid, compounded of mud and water. This you strain through as many
pocket-handkerchiefs as you can command, and are at last enabled to
moisten your baked lips.

On these occasions the traveller cares less about himself than his
horse, and often have we served the latter out of our pannikin from
holes into which he could not get his nose, whilst denying ourselves
more than a little sip.

After lying an hour on our blankets in the hot shade, smoking a
cigar, and waging incessant war with myriads of mosquitoes and
sand-flies, we decided that it was impossible to continue any longer
so unequal a conflict; and saddling our horses in haste, we beat a
quick retreat, and felt much cooler and more comfortable whilst in
motion. In the course of the afternoon we passed through a vast dry
swamp many miles long. The reeds on each side of the track
frequently reached to our heads, and prevented our seeing any thing
else on either side of us; and when we did get a glimpse over the
rushes level with our eyes, we could behold nothing but an immense
plain of waving green, like a huge field of unripe wheat, edged in
the distance by the stern outline of the ever-sombre forest of
eucalyptus trees. This swamp is a terrible place to pass through in
winter. It is nevertheless one of the royal post-roads of the
colony; and the bearer of her Majesty's mail from Pinjarra to Perth,
is frequently obliged to swim for his life, with the letter-bag
towing astern, like a jolly-boat behind a Newcastle collier.

After emerging from the swamp, we passed through an extensive plain,
covered with coarse scrub and thinly-scattered grass, and lined with
forest trees and clumps of black-boys. When about half-way down it,
we came upon a herd of wild cattle grazing at some two hundred yards'
distance from the path. They seemed very much astonished at the
appearance of three such picturesque individuals; and after gazing
for a few moments, lost in wonder, they tossed up their heads, and
trotted along-side of us, keeping their original distance. Having
kept us company for about half-a-mile, they relieved us of their
society, (which was not very agreeable, as we had no firearms) by
coming to a halt, and allowing us to proceed in peace, whilst they
contented themselves with brandishing their horns and tails, and
butting against one another in play.

That night we slept at the Dandalup, hospitably entertained by F.
Corbet Singleton, Esq., M.C., the owner of a fine estate of twelve
thousand acres, a good deal of it alluvial soil. Were the population
such as it ought to be in this fine country; and the markets
proportioned to the capabilities of the soil, nothing would be more
agreeable than to live on a beautiful property like this, cultivating
your corn lands and multiplying your flocks and herds. But as it is,
unfortunately, a man is soon overdone with his own wealth. He has
more corn than he can find a market for; more cattle than he can
sell; and he is obliged to allow his land to run waste, and his herds
to run wild, rather than be at the expense of farming on a great
scale without adequate remuneration.

Let me advise emigrants to these colonies to turn their attention
chiefly to the breeding of sheep and horses, which are saleable
things in foreign markets. The growers of wool, and the breeders of
horses for India will make their estates profitable; but large herds
of cattle will produce nothing to the owner in a thinly-populated

The next day, after inspecting the farm, we proceeded with our host
to Mandurah, crossing an estuary a quarter of a mile broad, but so
shallow that the water did not reach above our saddle-flaps. And now
(having parted from Singleton) we had to swim our horses across the
mouth of the Murray River. After a little delay, a boat was found;
with a couple of men to row it across, and removing the saddles and
other things from the horses' backs, we prepared for the passage.
His Excellency's Arab mare was destined to make the experimental
trip, and the Governor, with many injunctions and misgivings,
committed the end of the tether-rope to the hand of his servant, who
belayed it to the stern of the boat, where he seated himself, to act
as occasion should require. The boatman rowed till the tether-rope
was out at full stretch; his Excellency coaxed and entreated the mare
to enter the water, and "shoo-ed!" and "shaa-ed!" and called her a
stupid creature, whilst I cracked my whip and jumped about, and
rattled my hat, and made as much noise as people usually do on such
occasions. The mare, on her part, reared up, and flung herself back,
and plunged about, and showed so strong a determination not to go
down the broken bank, that we feared we should never get her into the
river. At last, however, we managed to back her into the water, when
she was dragged instantly out of her depth and obliged to swim. The
men pulled so fast that she could not keep up with them, and giving
up the attempt, floated quietly on her side, to the great horror of
her master, who thought he never should bestride her again, until he
was relieved by seeing her start to her feet in shallow water, and
scramble up the bank, dripping like a veritable hippopotamus.

The other horses behaved better; and when we had ourselves crossed
and remounted, we rode by the side of the river, or rather estuary, a
distance of ten miles, till we came to a picturesque little spot
called Mocha weir -- a high bank, a clump of trees, a brawling brook,
(unusual sight in this country,) and a patch of excellent grass.

Here we resolved to halt for the night. Each rider attended to his
own horse, which, however, did not get much grooming, and then we
prepared for the great business of life, and kindled a fire, filled
the kettle with limpid water, drew out our various stocks of
provisions, and arranged the dinner-table on the grass, and made
every thing look exceedingly comfortable and inviting. Then we made
tea, and invited each other to eat, and did eat without invitation;
and joked and laughed, and felt considerably more happy and sociable
than if vice-royalty had been real-royalty, and the green canopy of
the trees were the banqueting-hall at Windsor Castle. The man
munched his victuals at a small private bivouac of his own, within
easy call, as he had to jump up every now and then, and bring the
kettle, or wash the plates for the second and third courses. When
the things were removed, we lighted cigars, and pleasantly
discoursed, recumbent before the fire. Our beds were already made of
black-boy tops, and, therefore we had nothing to do but await the
hour of rest. The sun had disappeared, and darkness, closing around
us, drew nigher and more nigh every moment, swallowing up object
after object in its stealthy advance, and seeming about to overwhelm
us in its mysterious obscurity. But John heaped logs of dry wood
upon the fire, and nobly we resisted all the powers of Darkness. In
the midst of that black solitude, our little circle of light
maintained its independence, nor yielded to the invasion which had
swallowed up all around it. Here was our Camp of Refuge, and here we
felt snug, and secure, and at home; whilst all without our magic
circle was comfortless and desolate.

Sometimes the active-minded John would dive, without apparent dismay,
into the black and hostile-looking regions of Night, which seemed to
close upon him as though for ever; and when we had resignedly given
him up, a prey to the evil spirits that prowled around, he would
reappear with startling suddenness, issuing forth into the light like
some red demon of the woods, and bearing a huge log upon his shoulder
-- the spoils of his "foray-sack" -- which he would fling down upon
the fire, making it blaze up with sudden fierceness, and extending
the circle of light for a few moments to a greater distance around,
so as to give us a transient glimpse of things which were soon
swallowed up again in darkness -- like glimpses of the dead in dreams.

I must hurry on to Australind, merely mentioning that we passed two
lakes not far from each other, one of which was fresh, and the other
salt -- salt as the Dead Sea. It is usual in this perverse country
(though not so in this instance) to find a salt lake surrounded with
good, and a fresh-water lake with bad land. Here it was bad
altogether. The country, however, improved greatly as we drew
towards Australind; and about ten miles from that place, we came upon
a fine flock of sheep that seemed to be doing extremely well.

We now passed along the banks of the Leschenault estuary, on which
Australind is situated; and soon we discovered three figures
approaching on horseback. These proved to be M. Waller Clifton,
Esq., the chief Commissioner of the Western Australian Company, to
whom the whole district belongs, attended by a brace of his surveyors
as aides-de-camp -- one mounted on a very tall horse, and the other
on a very small pony. The Chief Commissioner himself bestrode a
meek-looking cart-horse, which, on perceiving us in the distance, he
urged into an exhilarating trot. His Excellency, seeing these
demonstrations of an imposing reception, hastily drew forth his black
silk neck-cloth from his pocket, and re-enveloped his throat
therewith, which, during the heat of the day, he had allowed to be
carelessly exposed. Gathering himself up in his saddle, and assuming
the gravity proper to the representative of his sovereign, he awaited
with as much dignity as his state of perspiration would allow, the
approach of the Chief of Australind. As for myself, I plucked up my
shirt-collar, and tried to look as spicy as possible.

The first greetings over, the two chieftains rode into the town side
by side, as amicably as Napoleon and Alexander of Russia; whilst I
fell to the share of the aides, and related the most recent news of
Perth, and the last bon mots of Richard Nash, for their
entertainment; receiving in return an account of the arrival of 400
male and female emigrants at the settlement the day before.

We were entertained, as every guest invariably is, right hospitably
by Mr. Clifton and his amiable family.

Australind was then (December 1842) a promising new town. It was
alive with well-dressed young men and women, who were promenading
under the large forest trees which still occupied the intended
squares and most of the streets. They had only landed from the
vessel which had brought them some twenty-four hours before, and they
were evidently variously affected by all they saw. Some appeared to
be struck with the strange circumstance of trees growing in the
streets; some looked aghast at the wooden houses and canvass tents;
one thought everything looked exceedingly green; another fancied that
a town built upon sand could not possibly endure long. And he was
right: for the town has long since been deserted, except by half a
dozen families; and the newly arrived settlers are dispersed over the
colony. This has not been the fault of the Chief Commissioner, nor
is it owing to any inferiority in the soil, but to causes which I
intend briefly to explain, as there are many people in England who
are, or were, interested in the fortunes of this promising young

The Western Australian Company's grant of land at Australind
comprises 100,000 acres, among which there is a large quantity of
excellent pasture and arable land. It is well watered, and generally
well adapted for the site of a new settlement. The flats of the
Brunswick and Collic rivers would supply the whole colony, if
thoroughly peopled, with grain; and there is abundance of feed for
sheep and cattle, even to the summits of the hills.

A great portion of this grant has been purchased by the Company from
Colonel Lautour, who, however, could not furnish a good title to it.
Having never performed the necessary improvements which would entitle
him to a deed of grant in fee-simple from the crown, his right of
possession became forfeit; and in April, 1840, Governor Hutt, though
much interested in the success of the Company, of which his brother,
the member for Gateshead, was chairman, thought himself obliged, in
the conscientious discharge of his duty, to resume the estate for the

This proved to be a most fatal proceeding. The Company's title to
Colonel Lautour's grant had been confirmed by the Home-government in
November 1839, but owing to the non-existence of regular post-office
communication (that grand and inexcusable error, which allows the
British Empire to be composed of a mass of unconnected settlements,
dependent upon chance for intelligence and aid from the mother
country), the news did not reach the colony until May or June

Accounts of the resumption of the grant by the Governor reached
England, and not only perplexed the Company, but greatly disquieted
the minds of the numerous individuals to whom they had sold land, to
the value of nearly 60,000 pounds. At this very time, too, unhappily,
arrived Captain Grey in England, on his return from the expedition to
the north-western side of New Holland, of which he has since
published a clever and popular narrative. Captain Grey took an early
opportunity of giving a somewhat lamentable account of the Company's
land at Leschenault, or Australind, and a very glowing description of
a district, many miles to the north of Perth, between Gantheaume Bay
and the Arrowsmith River, which he had passed through on his
disastrous return. He also expatiated, in most precise terms, upon a
splendid harbour which he called Port Grey, and of which he made an
elaborate sketch; and on the 26th of October, 1840, addressed to Lord
John Russell "a detailed description of that portion of the western
coast of Australia which lies between Gantheaume Bay and the River
Arrowsmith, as it would be found useful in enabling persons,
intending to occupy that tract of country, to arrive at correct
conclusions regarding its capabilities." In the map of his route,
published by Arrowsmith, Port Grey is laid down as a spacious,
well-sheltered harbour, with a convenient point of land extending a
couple of miles out to sea from its northern extremity, and having a
useful reef of rocks projecting, most happily, to the same distance,
affording altogether a secure shelter for shipping in seven fathoms'

The Directors of the Western Australian Company, alarmed at the
account related of Australind, perplexed by the proceedings of the
local Government, and captivated by the description of Port Grey,
with its splendid districts of "rich flats," and "fertile downs,"
determined to change the site of their settlement.

Captain Grey describes two "flat-topped ranges," in the neighbourhood
of this port, lying about twenty miles apart; and in his diary of
"Sunday, April 7, 1839," he says: "The country between these two
ranges was an open grassy valley thinly wooded; and IT APPEARED TO BE
ONE OF THE MOST EXTENSIVELY FERTILE portions of country which I had
yet seen in Australia. After travelling for another mile over the
sandy downs, we reached another romantic glen-like valley, bounded to
the north and south by steep limestone cliffs; we descended these
cliffs, and at their base found as in the last valley we had crossed,
EXTENSIVE FLATS, through which wound a water-course. All the hills
I could see in the vicinity consisted of limestone, and for the
whole distance I could see to the eastward (about seven or
eight miles) the country appeared to be of the MOST FERTILE and
picturesque character; the hills were slightly wooded with large
timber, and the valleys were nearly bare of trees and COVERED WITH
GRASS. On ascending the limestone hills to the south of the valley,
we found ourselves once more in open sandy downs; after travelling
three miles across these in a S. by E. direction, we again came to a
valley of the same character as the one above described; it ran from
the same direction; to the eastward we saw a fertile valley. * * *
We halted for some time immediately at the foot of Mount Fairfax.

"We continued our route in the evening over the sandy downs, which,
at the distance of half a mile from the sea, terminated in cliffs.
* * * After travelling three miles, we halted for the night.

"Monday 8th. The first three miles of our route lay over sandy
downs, when we found ourselves in grassy, wooded plains, lying
between the flat-topped range, and some dunes which bordered a bay,"

It is well known that people in the latter stages of starvation have
constantly visions before their eyes of sumptuous entertainments,
rich meats, and delicious wines. Captain Grey, who was then walking
for his life, at a Barclay pace, with a very empty stomach, was
probably labouring under a similar hallucination with respect to the
country over which he passed; beholding flowery meads and fertile
vales in districts which we fear would prove little attractive to a
settler. He beheld fine flowing rivers and sheltered bays, which
have since altogether disappeared, like the scenes beheld on misty
mornings by Sicilian mariners.

His account of the country determined the Western Australian Company
to change the site of their intended settlement. Calling together
the purchasers of land at Australind, the Directors offered to return
them the amount of their respective purchases, or allow them to take
up new allotments in the very superior district of Port Grey. Almost
all chose to reclaim their cash, and declined further speculation.

The Company now, towards the close of 1840, sent out Mr. Clifton,
their "Chief Commissioner," with directions to remove the whole of
their establishment then settled at Australind, to the new settlement
of Port Grey. On arriving at Australind, Mr. Clifton was agreeably
surprised to find the country much superior to what he had expected,
after hearing Captain Grey's account of it. So differently do the
same objects appear to different eyes! And perhaps Captain Grey had
only viewed the sandy banks of the inlet, without having passed into
the interior, and seen the flats of the Brunswick, etc. There is a
very great deal more of worthless than of good land at Australind,
which is the case throughout the whole of New Holland, in the very
best districts. The general character throughout all the settled
parts of the island, or continent, is bad, with scattered patches of

The Chief Commissioner, however, prepared to carry out his
instructions, though with much regret, as he doubted greatly whether
the proposed alteration would prove for the better. These
preparations were put a stop to by a communication from his
Excellency the Governor, informing him that the Government schooner
had recently returned from a survey of the coast and district of the
so-called Port Grey, and that no sufficient harbour could be
discovered along the coast; whilst the country in every direction
appeared barren and incapable of cultivation. Mr. Clifton therefore
remained at Australind with his party, and used every effort and
exerted every energy to found a flourishing colony. But
unfortunately, the change of site to Port Grey, and then the return
to Australind, and the various conflicting accounts promulgated by
the Company themselves, now lauding and now condemning the two places
in turn, operated so unfavourably upon the public mind that no more
sales of land could be effected. It became, therefore, inexpedient to
maintain the expensive establishment of Commissioners, Secretaries,
and Surveyors at Australind, who were accordingly conge'd without
much ceremony; and the Western Australian Company, like the
"unsubstantial pageant," or Port Grey itself, "melted into air, thin
air," leaving "not a rack behind." Yet not exactly so, for it has
left behind, like some stranded wreck by the receding tide, a most
worthy and high-minded family who deserved a brighter fate.

Such has been the lamentable result of Captain Grey's discoveries in
Western Australia; for whether there be or not a good tract of land
in the neighbourhood of Champion Bay, Captain Grey's denunciation of
Australind, and his strongly urged advice to the Company to change
the site of their settlement, have undoubtedly been the chief causes
of their failure.

Three expeditions have been sent to the scene of this Australian
Fata Morgana, in the hope of beholding it again, but like the door
of the fairy palace in the rock, it is visible only to Prince Ahmed;
and unless the Governor of New Zealand will himself found a colony
there, it is most likely ever to remain desert and valueless. The
first expedition was that in the Government schooner, in 1840,
already alluded to; the second was made in 1841, by H.M.S. Beagle,
Captain Stokes, accompanied by the Chief Commissioner, Mr. Clifton.
A careful survey was made of the coast as far north as the spot were
Captain Grey was wrecked, and began his march southward, but nothing
was discovered at all resembling the description given of Port Grey.
The only bay in which a ship could lie, and that with very doubtful
security, was Champion Bay; but unfortunately the country in every
direction from this spot is most barren and miserable. Captain Grey
travelled close along the coast-line, according to his journal, but
those who have gone in search of his "fertile valleys" have
penetrated some distance into the interior, without discovering
anything but scrub and desert.

Captain Stokes, in his published "Letter to the Surveyor General of
Western Australia," detailing his proceedings, mentions having "now
seen and examined an extent of country little short of forty miles,
nearly the whole of which deserved the character of sterility." In
another place, he related the discovery of "the only piece of grass
of a useful nature seen in this route; it was, however, quite
parched, and occupied a space of three or four acres."

Not being able to find any tolerable shelter along the coast besides
Champion Bay, he concludes that it must be the spot designated as
Port Grey; and after exploring the country behind it, with the effect
just stated, he sailed away one morning towards the north-west and
meeting with a "favourable westerly wind," by afternoon was carried
"past the bight south of Point Moore, sufficiently near to see that
its shores were fronted with many sunken rocks." This also led to
the conclusion that "Champion Bay is the port Captain Grey speaks of
in his journal, placed in Arrowsmith's chart twelve miles south of
its true position."

Since the date of Captain Stokes's survey, Captain Grey has himself
virtually admitted Champion Bay to be the locality visited by him.
In a letter to that officer dated, "Government House, Adelaide,
January 28, 1842," and published in the South Australian journals,
Captain Grey observes, "I have attentively read your letter to the
Hon. the Surveyor-General of Western Australia; and have also
considered the observations made by you to me, relative to the error
you suppose I have fallen into in mistaking the Wizard Peak of
Captain King for the hill named by him Mount Fairfax, and I find I
have certainly fallen into this error -- a by no means unlikely one,
considering the very similar character of the singular group of hills
called Moresby's Flat-topped Range, and the circumstances under which
I was journeying."

The hill, therefore, at whose foot Captain Grey halted on the
afternoon of April 7, 1839, was not Mount Fairfax, but the Wizard
Peak, or some other hill "to the north of Mount Fairfax." From
thence the "sandy downs," (mentioned in the extract from his Journal
that I have given above) over which he passed in the evening
continued to within "half a mile of the sea," where "they terminated
in cliffs." To have seen all this he must have been walking at no
very great distance from the shore during that day's marsh. His
object was to reach Perth as quickly as possible; and he steered in
the most direct course -- "south by east." We know, therefore,
exactly the line of country traversed by Captain Grey -- the
"singular group called Moresby's Flat-topped Range" being

In December, 1844, H. M. colonial schooner, Champion, under the
command of Lieutenant Helpman, R.N., accompanied by Mr. J. Harrison,
Civil Engineer, etc., was again despatched by Governor Hutt to make
further observations in the neighbourhood of Gantheaume Bay.
Lieutenant Helpman says in his report, "I coasted close in from
Champion Bay, collecting angles and soundings until in latitude 28
degrees 10' 30", S. the low ridges of sand along the shore induced me
to land, being then (as I concluded from the latitude given by
Captain Grey) in the immediate vicinity of the estuary." This
estuary is described by Captain Grey in his diary of the FIFTH April,
who states that "for one mile we continued along THE RICH FLATS which
bordered the estuary" ... "we ascended the limestone range, and got
a view of the country to the eastward and found it STILL GRASSY, and
exactly the same character as far as we could see. For the next five
miles we continued along the top of the limestone range, the estuary
still occupying the valley which lay to the west of us." ... "At
the end of a mile in a south by east direction, we found ourselves on
the banks of a river, the Hutt, from forty to fifty yards wide, which
was running strong, and was brackish at its mouth," etc. Such was
the appearance of the estuary and of the Hutt River in the eyes of
Captain Grey.

Lieutenant Helpman continues his report as follows: --

"On reaching the summit of the highest coast hill I found myself
abreast of the centre of the inlet, which was void of water, but
presented the appearance of a continuous sheet of salt as far as the
eye could reach. Passing over the coast ridges, I came down, in
about half a mile, to the edge of the estuary, and followed it in a
southerly direction for about two miles, when I ascended another
hill, from which I could clearly see the south end of it, which was
covered with the same description of incrustration of salt.

"A gorge at the south-east corner of the estuary is probably where
the Hutt River discharges itself during the rainy season, but there
was no appearance of water in any part of the flat, which was about
two miles wide between the hills and the south-east shore of the

"Observing that the north extremity of the estuary, as seen from the
hill just referred to, presented some slight appearance of water, I
was induced to examine it, and found the sand ridges on the coast
extremely low, nearly destitute of herbage, but giving the idea of
having had water passing over them. This I judged to be the case,
from a few blades of very coarse grass which were laid flat on the
ground, as if from the effects of running water.

"From the highest point of these ridges, notwithstanding the smoke
from the numerous native fires, the whole north end of the inlet was
plainly seen to be covered with salty incrustations, similar to those
previously referred to.

"I conceive the point of land near which these latter observations
were made, and where I landed the second time, to be Shoal Point of
the chart; but, except that it is very low, I see no cause for its
name, as the water was deep close to it, and having only a few rocks
close off its extreme west point, within a quarter of a mile of the

"Following close in from Shoal Point, the coast is perfectly clear of
dangers; but I observed no opening in the hills indicative of a
river, nor could I discover any bay or place of shelter for shipping
to resort to.

"Red Point, which is the western entrance of Gantheaume Bay, is a
very bold headland of considerable elevation, it is circular, and
about four miles in extent. I landed at the east end of the red sand
cliffs, taking a specimen of the rock.

"The land to the northward from this promontory is of a white sandy
appearance, having ridges of sand hills along the coast of moderate

"The low state of the barometer, and the strong northerly winds,
induced me to keep the vessel at a considerable offing. During the
day the breezes were very fresh, and had it not been for the
whale-boat with which I was furnished, I should not have been able to
have effected a landing on any part of the coast which came under my
observation. Under these circumstances, I was compelled most
reluctantly to abandon the idea of spending much time in examining
the interior.

"The VERY DRY STATE OF THE HUTT AT THIS SEASON seems to indicate that
but little water flows into it at any time; and I am disposed to
fancy, that the lagoon, or estuary, owes its formation to the
breaking in of the sea over the low sand hills during the tempestuous
gales of the winter months, more especially towards the north end of
the inlet, where the sand ridges are lower than in any other part of
the coast in that vicinity."

Thus the luxuriant country of Captain Grey, like the water-pools seen
in the mirage of the desert, when approached, vanishes from the view
of the traveller.

It is to be observed, that Captain Stokes and Lieutenant Helpman
surveyed these districts in the early part of the summer season --
November and December -- when they were more likely to appear fertile
than on the 5th and 7th April, quite at the end of that season, and
just before the commencement of the winter rains.

Since the above passages were written, I have read an account in the
Perth journals of January, 1847, of the discovery of coal by the
Messrs. Gregory, about forty miles east of Champion Bay. These
gentlemen relate, that in journeying towards the coast, they passed
through a tract of country capable of being settled. This may
possibly be Captain Grey's luxuriant district; and yet the district
which he describes was close upon the coast. It is also stated, that
there is now ascertained to be a corner of Champion Bay in which
small vessels may find a safe anchorage; and this is conjectured to
be that Port Grey whose existence has been so long denied. But,
although a few miles of country may be found in this neighbourhood
capable of supporting a limited number of flocks and herds, it is
certain that there is no such district here as would suffice for the
purposes of a colony of the magnitude contemplated by the Western
Australian Company. The advice, therefore, given them to change the
site of the operations from Australind, or Leschenault, to Champion
Bay, or Port Grey, was the most pernicious that could have been

But it may certainly be doubted whether the principles on which the
settlement of Australind was founded were in themselves of a sound
and permanent nature. They were those propounded originally by Mr.
Edward Gibbon Wakefield, and applied with extraordinary success to
the formation and to the circumstances of the colony of South
Australia. The most prominent features which they present are, --
the concentration of population, and the high price of land.

The land in the immediate neighbourhood of Adelaide is very fine, and
capable of supporting a dense population; it was therefore perhaps,
good policy to divide it into eight-acre sections, valued at one
pound per acre, which supported a body of agriculturalists, who found
a ready and near market for their productions in the rapidly rising
town. But there are few theories that will bear universal
application; and the mistake made in the case of Australind was, in
expecting to obtain the same result from principles which were to be
applied under very different circumstances.

The land adjoining the town-site of Australind is generally very
indifferent, though the flats of the Brunswick and Collie Rivers
afford perhaps some thousand acres of excellent land, but still not
sufficient to maintain a large and dense population. The Company's
property was divided into farms of 100 acres, and these were valued
at 100 pounds each to the emigrants, who drew lots for the choice of

When the settlers arrived and took possession of their respective
grants, they soon discovered that if they all produced wheat, there
would certainly be plenty of food in the settlement, but very little
sale for it; whereas, if they intended to become sheep-farmers, and
produce wool for the English market, one hundred acres of land would
not suffice in that country for the keep of fifty sheep. The
sections of one hundred acres were, therefore, far too small for the
wants of the settler, who found that, although he might probably be
able to supply his table with vegetables, he had but small prospect
of ever applying his capers to boiled mutton, or initiating his
family into the mysteries of beef a la mode. Disgusted with the
narrowness of his prospects, and recoiling from the idea of a
vegetable diet, the sturdy settler quickly abandoned the limited
sections of Australind, and wandered away in search of a grant of
some three or four thousand acres, on which he might reasonably hope
to pasture a flock of sheep that would return him good interest for
the capital invested.

The Western Australian Company gave far too much for their land in
the first instance, and were therefore compelled to set a much higher
value upon it than it would bear. The ministers of the Crown, who
have adopted the principles of Mr. Gibbon Wakefield, require one
pound per acre for waste lands; and the Company, though they
purchased their property from private individuals at a somewhat lower
rate, expected to sell it again at the same price. There is very
little land (in proportion to the vast extent of poor and of entirely
worthless land) throughout the length and breadth of all New Holland,
that is worth twenty shillings an acre. In the more densely
populated parts, arable land is worth that sum, and often much more;
but in the pastoral districts, three shillings an acre is in truth a
high price.

It has long been acknowledged in New South Wales, as well as in other
parts of Australia, that it takes from three to five acres to support
a single sheep throughout the year. An ewe-sheep is worth about nine
shillings; and if you have to buy three and a half acres of land, at
three shillings, to keep her upon, the amount of capital you invest
will be nineteen shillings and sixpence. The profits on the wool of
this sheep, after paying all expenses of keep, shearing, freight,
commission, etc., will be barely two-pence, or about one per cent
upon the capital invested. But then you have her lamb? True, but
you must buy an additional quantity of land to keep it upon. Still
there is a gain upon the increase; and in process of time the annual
profits amount up to ten and even twenty per cent. But suppose the
three and a half acres of land, instead of 10 shillings and 6 pence
had cost 3 pounds 10 shillings and 6 pence, it would then be
perfectly absurd to think of investing money in sheep.

The course pursued by the home Government, in fixing the uniform
extravagant price of twenty shillings an acre upon the pastoral lands
of Australia, is probably more the result of ignorance of their real
value than of a desire to check or prevent emigration to that
country. It is an ignorance, however, that refuses to be
enlightened, and has therefore all the guilt of deliberate injury.

The monstrous demand of twenty shillings an acre for crown-lands, has
not only had the effect of deterring capitalists from embarking in so
hopeless a speculation, but has grievously wronged the existing
land-owners, by raising the price of labour. When land was sold at
five shillings an acre, a fund was accumulated in the hand of the
local Government that served to pay for the introduction of labouring
emigrants. That fund has ceased to exist in New South Wales and in
Western Australia. The value of labour has therefore risen, whilst
the value of agricultural produce, by the increase of the supply
beyond the demand, has grievously diminished. The advocates of the
Wakefield system triumphantly inform us that there never can be a
labour-fund in any colony in which private individuals are able to
sell land at a cheaper rate than the Government.

They point to South Australia, and bid us note how different is the
state of things there, where land universally is worth a pound an
acre or more. But to us it appears, that the character of the soil
is much the same throughout these countries -- if anything, being
superior in Western Australia, where there are no droughts, and where
the wool produced, though the worst got up, from the want of labour,
is stated by the London brokers to be pre-eminent in quality -- that
colony would most naturally be sought by the emigrant in which the
price of land is the most reasonable. It is not the high price of
land that has caused the prosperity of South Australia.
Every one who is well informed on the subject, is perfectly aware,
that in 1841 and 1842, before the discovery of copper-mines, South
Australia was universally in a state of bankruptcy. Never was a
country so thoroughly smitten with ruin. Almost all the original
settlers sank in the general prostration of the settlement, and
never again held up their heads. The inhabitants slunk away from
the colony in numbers; and property even in Adelaide was almost
worthless. The holders of the eighty-acre sections produced far
more of the necessaries of life than the non-producing population
required; and the neighbouring colonies were deluged with the
farm-produce of the bankrupt agriculturalists of South Australia.
This model colony afforded itself the most signal refutation of the
truth of the Wakefield theories; and the whole world would have been
compelled to acknowledge the falsehood, but for the opportune
discovery of the mineral wealth of the colony. It is to its mines
that South Australia owes its good fortune, its population, and its
riches, and not to any secret of political economy bestowed upon it
by adventurous theorists. According to the opinion of these
philosophers, New South Wales and Western Australia can never again
by any possibility possess a labour-fund, because the private owners
of large grants of land, which they obtained for nominal sums, can
always afford to undersell the Crown. So long as the Crown refuses
to sell for less than a pound an acre, this will certainly be the
case; but the day will doubtless come when our rulers will condescend
to enquire into the necessities of those over whose fortunes they
preside; and will adopt a policy suited to the actual circumstances
of the case, and not vainly endeavour to apply, universally, abstract
opinions which have long been proved to be, in almost all parts of
Australia, totally useless and inapplicable. THE ONLY WAY TO RAISE A
EMIGRANT AT THE LOWEST MARKET PRICE. The Crown could always afford
to undersell the private land-speculator, and might establish a
permanent fund for the introduction of labour, by selling land at a
OF ONE HALF-PENNY PER ACRE. Thus, every grant of five thousand acres
would pay an annual tax to Government of 10 pounds 8 shillings and 4
pence; and would, therefore, in a very few years, accumulate a fund
sufficient to supply itself with a labouring population. When it is
remembered how very small was the original cost to the owners of most
of the lands in Western Australia, there will not appear much hardship
in imposing this tax upon all the private property of the colony, as
well as upon lands to be hereafter sold by the Crown. This course of
legislation would infuse new vitality into the colony; and at the end
of the short period of five years, the tax might be suspended as
regards all lands purchased by individuals PRIOR TO THE PASSING OF THE
ACT, but continued for ever upon lands purchased under the Act, and in
contemplation of having to bear such a rent-charge.

This is the only way by which emigration can be insured to the
colonies of New South Wales and Western Australia; and the time will
sooner or later arrive when this suggestion will be adopted, though
it may not be acknowledged.

Her Majesty's present Secretary of State for the Colonies is the
first really liberal minister we have had; and to him the distant and
struggling settlements of Australia look with reviving hope. THE

In the hope of making colonial subjects more familiar to the general
reader, and more popular than they are at present, I have perhaps
given to this little work a character so trifling as to make it
appear unworthy of the attention of political philosophers; and yet,
inasmuch as it points out some of the wants of a large body of
British subjects, whose fortunes lie entirely at the mercy of
distant rulers, who have but little sympathy with a condition of
which they possess but a most imperfect knowledge -- it is a work
(inadequate though it be) not altogether undeserving of the
consideration even of Statesmen.


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