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A Source Book Of Australian History


Gwendolen H. Swinburne












I submit this volume to the public in the hope that it may increase the amount of interest usually shown in Australian History by deepening the general knowledge of the subject, and illustrating it by those vivid details which arrest the attention and enable the student to visualize past events.

The number of events described in a Source Book must necessarily be smaller than that in histories of another type; but the aim is to place the student in contact with the evidence of history in order that he may become his own historian by drawing his own deductions from the contemporary records. The greatest historian can find no materials ulterior to such as are here presented, for there is nothing ulterior to them but the deeds themselves. They are the records written by the men who gave their life and health to lay the foundation of Australia's greatness—by Phillip, weakening under the racking cares of the infant state; by Sturt in the scorching desert, as the last duty of an exhausting day. They are aglow with the heat of action; they are inspiring in their quiet modesty and strength.

In order to give greater continuity to the volume, short introductions have been placed at the head of each selection. It has been impossible to quote in full all the documents of which use has been made, but fuller information may be obtained by reference to the "source" mentioned at the head of each selection. The editor or author of the source and its date of publication are shown in order to facilitate further research.

The Source Book has been compiled with attention to the requirements of schools, and it is hoped that teachers in Australia will avail themselves of the opportunity to introduce the study of history from contemporary documents, and thus in this respect bring Australia into line with the other countries where source books are already familiar. The section on discovery and exploration may with advantage be used in the study of geography.

My thanks are due to the proprietors of the "Times" for permission to quote certain pages from "The Times History of the War in South Africa," and "The Times History of the War and Encyclopaedia," and also for the "Dispatch from a Special Correspondent at the Dardanelles," printed in the "Times," 7 May 1915.

It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge my indebtedness to Professor Scott, of Melbourne University (at whose suggestion the work was undertaken), for his interest and advice; and to Arthur Wadsworth, Esq., Chief Librarian for the Parliament of the Commonwealth, for his courteous assistance.














Source.—Tasman's Journal (edited by Heeres), pp. 1, 11-16

The Spaniard Torres was probably the first European to sight Australia (Cape Yorke); but Tasman was the first who consciously discovered the Great South Land. In his search for fresh fields for trade, he came upon Tasmania and New Zealand.

Journal or description drawn up by me, ABEL JAN TASMAN, of a Voyage made from the town of Batavia in E. India for the discovery of the unknown Southland, in the year of our Lord 1642, the 14th of August. May God Almighty vouchsafe his Blessing on this work. AMEN.

Note.—Days reckoned from midnight to midnight. Longitude calculated from meridian of Peak of Teneriffe.

Item the 23rd Nov.—Good weather with a south-easterly wind and a steady breeze; in the morning, we found our rudder broken at top in the tiller hole; we therefore hauled to windward under reduced sail and fitted a cross beam to either side. By estimation the west side of Nova Guinea must be North of us.

Item the 24th do. Good weather and a clear sky. In the afternoon about 4 o'clock we saw land bearing East by North of us; at about 10 miles distance by estimation. The land we sighted was very high. Towards evening we also saw S.S.E. of us three high mountains, and to the N.E. two more mountains, but less high than those to southward. This land being the first we have met with in the South sea and not known to any European nation, we have conferred on it the name of Anthoony Van Diemenslandt, in honor of the Hon. Governor-General, our illustrious master, who sent us to make this discovery; the islands circumjacent so far as known to us, we have named after the Hon. Councillors of India.

Item 28th do. In the evening we came under the shore. There are under the shore some small islands one of which looks like a lion.

Item 29th do. In the morning were still near the rock which looks like a lion's head. Towards noon passed two rocks; the most westerly looks like Pedra Branca, which lies on the coast of China, the most easterly, looking like a high rugged tower, lies about 16 miles out from the mainland. Ran through between these rocks and the land. We came before a way which seemed likely to afford a good anchorage upon which we resolved to run into it. We again made for the shore, the wind and current having driven us so far out to sea that we could barely see the land.

Item 1st Dec. We resolved that it would be best and most expedient to touch at the land, the sooner the better; both to get better acquainted with the land and secure refreshment for our own behoof. About one hour after sunset we dropped anchorage in a good harbour, for all of which it behooves us to thank God Almighty with grateful hearts.

Item 2nd do. Early in the morning we sent our own pilot Major Francoys Jacobz in command of our pinnace manned with 4 musketeers and 6 rowers, all of them furnished with pikes and side arms together with the cockboat of the Zeehaen, with one of her second mates and six musketeers in it, to a bay situated N.W. of us at upwards of a mile's distance in order to ascertain what facilities (as regards fresh water, refreshments, timber and the like) may be available there. About three hours before nightfall the boats came back, bringing various samples of vegetables, which they had seen growing there in great abundance, some of them in appearance not unlike a certain plant growing at the Cabo de Bona Esperance, and fit to be used as pot-herbs; and another species with long leaves and brackish taste strongly resembling persil de mer or samphou. The pilot Major and second mate of the Zeehaen made the following report, to wit:

That they had rowed the space of upwards of a mile round the said point where they had found high but level land, covered with vegetation and not cultivated but growing naturally (by the will of God) abundance of excellent timber and a gently sloping watercourse in a barren valley; the said water though of good quality being difficult to procure, because the watercourse is so shallow that the water could be dipped with bowls only.

That they had heard certain human sounds, and also sounds resembling the music of a small trump or a small gong not far from them though they had seen no one.

That they had seen two trees about 2 or 2-1/2 fathoms in thickness measuring from 60-65 feet from the ground to the lowermost branches, which trees bore notches made with flint implements, the bark having been removed for the purpose; these notches forming a kind of steps to enable persons to get up the trees and rob birds' nests in their tops were fully five feet apart; so that our men concluded that the natives here must be of very tall stature or must be in possession of some sort of artifice for getting up the said trees. In one of the trees these notched steps were so fresh and new that they seemed to have been cut less than four days ago.

That on the ground they discovered the footprints of animals, not unlike those of a tiger's claws. They also brought on board a small quantity of gum, of a seemingly very fine quality, which had exuded from trees, and bore some resemblance to gum-lac.

That at one extremity on the point of the way they had seen large numbers of gulls, wild ducks, and geese, but had perceived none further inward though they had heard their cries, and had found no fish except different kinds of mussels forming small clusters in various places.

That the land is pretty generally covered with trees, standing so far apart that they allow a passage everywhere and a look-out to a great distance, so that when landing, our men could always get sight of natives or wild beasts unhindered by dense shrubbery or underwood, which would prove a great advantage in exploring the country.

That in the interior they had in several places observed numerous trees which had deep holes burnt into them at the upper end of the foot while the earth had here and there been dug out with the fist so as to form a fireplace; the surrounding soil having become as hard as flint through the action of fire.

A short time before we got sight of our boats returning to the ships, we now and then saw clouds of dense smoke rising up from the land (it was nearly always north of us) and surmised this must be a signal given by our men because they were so long coming back.

When our men came on board again, we inquired of them whether they had been there and made a fire, to which they returned a negative answer; adding, however, that at various times and points in the wood they had also seen clouds of smoke ascending. So there can be no doubt there must be men here of extraordinary stature.

Item 3rd Dec. In the afternoon we went to the S.E. side of this bay, in the boats, having with us pilot Major Francoys Jacobz, Skipper Gerrit Janz, Isack Gilseman, supercargo on board the Zeehaen, subcargo Abraham Cooman and our master carpenter Pieter Jacobz; we carried with us a pole with the Company's mark carved into it, and a Prince flag to be set up there that those who shall come after us may become aware we have been here, and have taken possession of the said land as our lawful property. When we had rowed about half-way with our boats it began to blow very stiffly, and the sea ran so high that the cockboat of the Zeehaen was compelled to pull back to the ships, while we ran on with our pinnace.

When we had come close inshore in a small inlet the surf ran so high that we could not get near the shore without running the risk of having our pinnace dashed to pieces. We then ordered the carpenter aforesaid to swim to the shore alone with the pole and the flag.

We made him plant the said pole with the flag at the top, into the earth, about the centre of the bay near four tall trees easily recognizable and standing in the form of a crescent, exactly before the one standing lowest. This tree is burnt in just above ground and is in reality taller than the other three, but it seems to be shorter because it stands lower on the sloping ground. Our master carpenter, having in the sight of myself Abel Janz Tasman, skipper Gerrit Janz and subcargo Abraham Cooman performed the work entrusted to him, we pulled with our pinnace as near the shore as we ventured to do; the carpenter aforesaid thereupon swam back to the pinnace through the surf. This work having been duly executed, we pulled back to the ships, leaving the above-mentioned as a memorial for those who shall come after us, and for the natives of this country who did not show themselves though we suspect some of them were at no great distance and closely watching our proceedings.

Item 4th Dec. In the evening we saw a round mountain bearing N.N.W. of us at about 8 miles' distance.

Item 5th do. The high round mountain which we had seen the day before bore now due W. of us at 6 miles' distance. At this point the land fell off to the N.W. so that we could no longer steer near the coast here, seeing that the wind was almost ahead. We therefore convened the Council and the second mates, with whom after due deliberation we resolved, and subsequently called out to the officer of the Zeehaen that pursuant to the resolution of the 11th ultimo, we should direct our course due east, and on the said course run to the full longitude of 195°, or the Salamonis Islands. Set our course due east in order to make further discoveries.

[This course brought them to New Zealand.]


Source.—The Voyages and Adventures of Captain William Dampier (published 1776). Vol. II, pp. 134-40

Dampier was an Englishman who had joined a company of American buccaneers. They arrived in May 1698 on the Western coast of Australia, which was by this time fairly well known to the Dutch under the name of New Holland.

New Holland is a very large tract of land. It is not yet determined whether it is an island or a main continent; but I am certain that it joins neither to Asia, Africa nor America. This part of it that we saw is all low even land, with sandy banks against the sea, only the points are rocky, and so are some of the islands in this bay.

The land is of a dry sandy soil, destitute of water, except you make wells; yet producing divers sorts of trees, but the woods are not thick, nor the trees very big. Most of the trees that we saw are dragon-trees as we supposed, and these too are the largest trees of any there.

They are about the bigness of our large apple-trees, and about the same height, and the rind is blackish and somewhat rough. The leaves are of a dark colour; the gum distils out of the knots or cracks that are in the bodies of the trees. We compared it with some gum dragon, or dragon's blood, that was on board, and it was of the same colour and taste. The other sorts of trees were not known by any of us. There was pretty long grass growing under the trees, but it was very thin. We saw no trees that bore fruit or berries.

We saw no sort of animal, nor any track of beast, but once, and that seemed to be the tread of a beast as big as a mastiff dog. Here are a few small land-birds, but none bigger than a black-bird and but few sea fowls.

Neither is the sea very plentifully stored with fish, unless you reckon the manatee and turtle as such. Of these creatures there is plenty, but they are extraordinary shy, though the inhabitants cannot trouble them much, having neither boats nor iron.

The inhabitants of this country are the miserablest people in the world. The Hodmadods of Monomatapa, though a nasty people yet for wealth are gentlemen to these, who have no houses and skin garments, sheep, poultry, and fruits of the earth, ostrich eggs etc. as the Hodmadods have; and setting aside their human shape, they differ but little from brutes. They are tall, straight-bodied and thin, with small long limbs. They have great heads, round foreheads and great brows. Their eyelids are always half closed to keep the flies out of their eyes, being so troublesome here, that no fanning will keep them from coming to one's face, and without the assistance of both hands to keep them off, will creep into one's nostrils and mouth too, if the lips are not shut very close. So that from their infancy being thus annoyed with these insects, they never open their eyes as other people; and therefore they cannot see far, unless they hold up their heads, as if they were looking at somewhat over them.

They have great bottle noses, pretty full lips, and wide mouths. The two fore-teeth of their upper jaw are wanting in all of them, men and women, old and young; whether they draw them out, I know not, neither have they any beards. They are long-visaged, and of a very unpleasing aspect, having no one graceful feature in their faces. Their hair is black, short and curled, like that of the negroes, and not long and lank like the common Indian. The colour of the skin, both of their faces and the rest of their body, is coal black, like that of the negroes of Guinea.

They have no sort of clothes, but a piece of the rind of a tree tied like a girdle about their waists, and a handful of long grass or three or four small green boughs, full of leaves, thrust under their girdle to cover their nakedness.

They have no houses, but lie in the open air, without any covering, the earth their bed, and the heaven their canopy. Their only food is a small sort of fish, which they get by making wares of stone, across little coves, or branches of the sea; every tide bringing in the small fish, and there leaving them for a prey to these people, who constantly attend there to search for them at low water. This small fry I take to be the top of their fishery; they have no instruments to catch great fish, should they come; and such seldom stay to be left behind at low water; nor could we catch any fish with our hooks and lines all the while we lay there.

In other places at low water they seek for cockles, mussels, and periwinkles; of these shell-fish there are fewer still, so that their chief dependence is on what the sea leaves in their wares, which, be it much or little, they gather up, and march to the place of their abode. There the old people, that are not able to stir abroad, by reason of their age, and the tender infants, wait their return: and what providence has bestowed upon them, they presently broil on the coals, and eat in common. Sometimes they get as many fish as make them a splendid banquet; and at other times they scarce get every one a taste; but be it little or much that they get, every one has his part, as well the young and tender, and the old and feeble who are not able to go abroad, as the strong and lusty.

How they get their fire I know not; but probably, as Indians do out of wood. I have seen the Indians of Bon-Airy do it, and have myself tried the experiment. They take a flat piece of wood that is pretty soft, and make a small dent in one side of it, then they take another hard round stick, about the bigness of one's little finger, and sharpening it at one end like a pencil, they put the sharp end in the hole or dent of the soft flat piece, and then rubbing or twirling the hard piece between the palms of their hands, they drill the soft piece till it smokes, and at last takes fire.

These people speak somewhat through the throat, but we could not understand one word that they said. We anchored, as I said before, January 5th, and seeing men walking on the shore, we presently sent a canoe to get some acquaintance with them, for we were in hopes to get some provisions among them. But the inhabitants, seeing our boat coming, ran away and hid themselves. We searched afterwards three days in hopes to find the houses, but found none, yet we saw many places where they had made fires. At last being out of hopes to find their habitations, we searched no further but left a great many toys ashore, in such places that we thought that they would come. In all our search we found no water, but old wells on the sandy bays.

At last we went over to the islands, and there we found a great many of the natives; I do believe there were forty on one island, men women and children. The men at our first coming ashore, threatened us with their lances and swords, but they were frightened, by firing one gun, which we fired purposely to scare them. The island was so small that they could not hide themselves; but they were much disordered at our landing, especially the women and children, for we went directly to their camp. The lustiest of the women, snatching up their infants, ran away howling, and the little children ran after, squeaking and bawling, but the men stood still. Some of the women and such of the people as could not go from us, lay still by a fire making a doleful noise, as if we had been coming to devour them; but when they saw we did not intend to harm them, they were pretty quiet, and the rest that fled from us at our first coming, returned again. This, their place of dwelling, was only a fire, with a few boughs before it, set up on that side the wind was of.

After we had been here a little while, the men began to be familiar, and we cloathed some of them, designing to have some service of them for it; for we found some wells of water here, and intended to carry two or three barrels of it on board. But being somewhat troublesome to carry on the canoes, we thought to have made these men carry it for us and therefore we gave them some cloathes; to one an old pair of breeches; to another a ragged shirt; to the third a jacket that was scarce worth owning; which yet would have been very acceptable at some places where we had been, and so we thought they might have with these people. We put them on them, thinking that this finery would have brought them to work heartily for us; and our water being filled in small long barrels, about six gallons each, which were made purposely to carry water in, we brought these, our new servants, to the wells and put a barrel on each of their shoulders for them to carry to the canoe. But all the signs we could make were to no purpose, for they stood like statues, without motion, but grinned like so many monkeys, staring one upon another, for these poor creatures seem not accustomed to carry burdens; and I believe that one of our ships-boys of ten years old, would carry as much as one of them; so we were forced to carry our water ourselves, and they very fairly put the cloathes off again, and laid them down as if cloathes were only to work in. I did not perceive that they had any great liking to them at first, neither did they seem to admire anything that we had.

At our first coming, before we were acquainted with them, or they with us, a company of them who lived on the main, came just against our ship, and standing on a pretty bank, threatened us with their swords and lances, by shaking them at us; at last the captain ordered the drum to be beaten, which was done of a sudden with much vigour, purposely to scare the poor creatures. They, hearing the noise ran away as fast as they could drive, and when they ran away in haste, they would cry, gurry, gurry, speaking deep in the throat. Those inhabitants also that live on the main, would always run away from us; yet we took several of them. For, as I have already observed, they had such bad eyes, that they could not see us till we came close to them. We always gave them victuals, and let them go again but the islanders, after our first time of being among them, did not stir for us.


Source.—Cook's Journal (edited by Wharton, 1893), pp. 237-249, 311-312

Captain Cook was the first Englishman to search for the Great South Land. After observing the transit of Venus, he made extensive explorations in New Zealand, and then sailed West, to seek the East Coast of New Holland.

April 1770. Thursday 19th. At 5, set the topsails close reef'd and 6, saw land, extending from N.E. to W., distance 5 or 6 leagues, having 80 fathoms, fine sandy bottom. The Southernmost land we had in sight, which bore from us W 3/4 S., I judged to lay in the latitude of 38° 0' S., and in the Long. of 211° 7' W. from the Meridian of Greenwich. I have named it Point Hicks, because Lieutenant Hicks was the first who discovered this land. To the Southward of this Point we could see no land, and yet it was clear in that quarter and by our Long. compared with that of Tasman's, the body of Van Diemen's Land ought to have bore due South from us. The Northernmost land in sight bore N. by E. 1/2 E., and a small island lying close to a Point on the main bore W., distant 2 Leagues. This Point I have named Cape Howe; it may be known by the trending of the Coast, which is N. on the one side, and S.W. on the other.

Saturday, 28th. At daylight in the morning we discovered a Bay which appeared to be tolerably well sheltered from all winds, into which I resolved to go with the ship, and with this view sent the Master in the Pinnace to sound the entrance.

Sunday, 29th. Saw as we came in, on both points of the Bay, several of the natives and a few huts; men, women, and children, on the S. shore abreast of the ship, to which place I went in the boats in hopes of speaking with them, accompanied by Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, and Tupia. As we approached the shore they all made off, except two men, who seemed resolved to oppose our landing. As soon as I saw this I ordered the boats to lay upon their oars, in order to speak to them; but this was to little purpose, for neither us nor Tupia could understand one word they said. We then threw them some nails, beads, etc., ashore, which they took up, and seemed not ill-pleased with, in so much that I thought that they beckoned us to come ashore, but in this we were mistaken, for as soon as we put the boat in they again came to oppose us, upon which I fired a musket between the two, which had no other effect than to make them retire back, where bundles of their darts lay, and one of them took up a stone and threw it at us, which caused my firing a second musket, load with small shot; and although some of the shot struck the man yet it had no other effect than making him lay hold on a target. Immediately after this we landed, which we had no sooner done than they throw'd two darts at us; this obliged me to fire a third shot, soon after which, they both made off, but not in such haste but what we might have taken one; but Mr. Banks being of opinion that the darts were poisoned, made me cautious how I advanced into the woods. We found here a few small huts made of the bark of trees, in one of which were four or five small children with whom we left some strings of beads, etc. A quantity of darts lay about the huts; these we took away with us. Three canoes lay upon the beach, the worst, I think, I ever saw; they were about 12 or 14 feet long, made of one piece of the bark of a tree, drawn or tied up at each end, and the middle kept open by means of stick by way of thwarts. After searching for fresh water without success, except a little in a small hole dug in the sand, we embarked and went over to the N. point of the Bay, where in coming in we saw several people; but when we landed now there was nobody to be seen. We found here some fresh water, which came trinkling down and stood in pools among the rocks; but as this was troublesome to come at I sent a party of men ashore in the morning to the place where we first landed, to dig holes in the sand, by which means and a small stream they found fresh water sufficient to water the ship. The string of beads, etc., we had left with the children last night were found lying in the huts this morning; probably the natives were afraid to take them away.

Tuesday, May 1st. This morning a party of us went ashore to some huts not far from the watering-place, where some of the natives are daily seen; here we left several articles, such as cloth, looking glasses, combs, beads, nails, etc.; after this we made an excursion into the Country, which we found diversified with woods, lawns, and marshes. The woods are free from underwood of every kind, and the trees are at such a distance from one another, that the whole country, or at least a great part of it, might be cultivated without having to cut down a single tree. We found the soil everywhere, except in the marshes, to be a light white sand, and produceth a quantity of good grass, which grows in little tufts about as big as one can hold in one's hands, and pretty close to one another; in this manner the surface of the ground is coated. In the woods between the trees, Dr. Solander had a bare sight of a small animal something like a rabbit, and we found the dung of an animal which must feed upon grass, and which, we judge, could not be less than a deer; we also saw the track of a dog, or some such like animal. We met with some huts and places where the natives had been, and at our first setting out one of them was seen; the others had, I suppose, fled upon our approach. I saw some trees that had been cut down by the natives with some sort of a blunt instrument, and several trees that were barked, the bark of which had been cut by the same instrument; in many of the trees, especially the Palms, were cut steps of about 3 or 4 feet asunder for the conveniency of climbing them. We found 2 sorts of gum, one sort of which is like gum-dragon, and is the same, I suppose, Tasman took for gum-lac; it is extracted from the largest tree in the woods.

Thursday, 3rd. After this we took water, and went almost to the head of the Inlet, where we landed and travelled some distance inland. We found the face of the country much the same as I have before described, but the land much richer, for instead of sand, I found in many places a deep black soil, which we thought was capable of producing any kind of grain. At present it produceth besides timber, as fine meadow as ever was seen; however, we found it not all like this, some few places were very rocky, but this, I believe to be uncommon.

Sunday, 6th. The great quantity of plants Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander found in this place, occasioned my giving it the name of Botany Bay. During our stay in this harbour I caused the English colours to be displayed ashore every day, and an inscription to be cut out upon one of the trees near the watering-place, setting forth the ship's name, date, etc. Having seen everything the place afforded, we at daylight in the morning, weighed with a light breeze at N.W. and put to sea, and the wind soon after coming to the Southward, we steered along shore N.N.E., and at noon were about 2 or 3 miles from the land, and abreast of a bay, wherein there appeared to be a safe anchorage, which I called Port Jackson. It lies 3 leagues to the Northward of Botany Bay.


Wednesday, 22nd Aug. Gentle breezes at E. by S. and clear weather. We had not steered above 3 or 4 miles along shore to the Westward before we discovered the land ahead to be Islands detached by several Channels from the main land; upon this we brought to, to wait for the Yawl, and called the other boats on board, and after giving them proper instructions sent them away again to lead us through the channel next the main, and as soon as the yawl was on board, made sail after them with the ship. Before and after we anchored we saw a number of people upon this Island, armed in the same manner as all the others we have seen, except one man, who had a bow, and a bundle of arrows, the first we have seen upon this coast. From the appearance of the people we expected they would have opposed our landing; but as we approached the shore they all made off, and left us in peaceable possession of as much of the island as served our purpose. After landing, I went upon the highest hill, which, however, was of no great height, yet no less than twice or thrice the height of the ship's mastheads; but I could see from it no land between S.W. and W.S.W. so I did not doubt but there was a passage. I could see plainly that the lands laying to the N.W. of this passage were composed of a number of islands of various extent, both for height and circuit, ranged one behind another as far to the Northward and Westward as I could see, which could not be less than 12 or 14 leagues.

Having satisfied myself of the great probability of a passage thro' which I intend going with the ship, and therefore may land no more upon this Eastern Coast of New Holland, and on the Western side I can make no new discovery, the honor of which belongs to the Dutch Navigators, but the Eastern Coast from the Lat. of 38° S. down to this place, I am confident, was never seen or visited by any European before us; and notwithstanding I had in the name of His Majesty taken possession of several places upon this coast, I now once more hoisted English colours, and in the name of His Majesty King George the Third, took possession of the whole Eastern Coast from the above Lat. down to this place by the name of New Wales, together with all the Bays, Harbours, Rivers, and Islands, situated upon the said coast; after which we fired three volleys of small arms, which were answered by the like number from the ship.

This done, we set out for the ship, but were some time in getting on board on account of a very rapid ebb tide, which set N.E. out of the passage.


Source.—Voyage to Terra Australis (Matthew Flinders, 1814), Introduction, pp. xcvi-xcvii, cxix-cxliii

The first coastal explorations after the establishment of Sydney were conducted by Bass and Flinders. Together they discovered the Hunter River; Bass in a second voyage discovered Western Port; and again together they sailed through Bass Strait, proving Tasmania to be an island.

1795. On arriving at Port Jackson, in September it appeared that the investigation of the coast had not been greatly extended beyond the three harbours; and even in these some of the rivers were not altogether explored.

In Mr. George Bass, surgeon of the Reliance, I had the happiness to find a man whose ardour for discovery was not to be repressed by any obstacle, nor deterred by danger; and with this friend a determination was formed of completing the examination of the East Coast of New South Wales, by all such opportunities as the duty of the ship and procurable means could admit.

Projects of this nature, when originating in the minds of young men, are usually termed romantic; and so far from any good being anticipated, even prudence and friendship join in discouraging, if not in opposing them. Thus it was in the present case; so that a little boat of eight feet long, called Tom Thumb, with a crew composed of ourselves and a boy, was the best equipment to be procured for the first outset. In the month following the arrival of the ships, we proceeded round in this boat, to Botany Bay; and ascending George's River, one of two which falls into the Bay, explored its winding course about twenty miles beyond where Governor Hunter's survey had been carried.

The sketch made of this river and presented to the Governor with the favourable report of the land on its borders, induced His Excellency to examine them himself shortly afterward; and was followed by establishing there a new branch of the colony, under the name of Banks' Town.

1796. We sailed out of Port Jackson early in the morning of March 25, and stood a little off to sea to be ready for the sea breeze.

The sea breeze, on the 27th, opposed our return; and learning from two Indians that no water could be procured at Red Point, we accepted their offer of piloting us to a river which, they said, lay a few miles further southward, and where not only fresh water was abundant, but also fish and wild ducks. These men were natives of Botany Bay, whence it was that we understood a little of their language, whilst that of some others was altogether unintelligible. Their river proved to be nothing more than a small stream, which descended from a lagoon under Hat Hill, and forced a passage for itself through the beach; so that we entered it with difficulty even in Tom Thumb. Our two conductors then quitted the boat to walk along the sandy shore abreast, with eight or ten strange natives in company.

After rowing a mile up the stream, and finding it to become more shallow, we began to entertain doubts of securing a retreat from these people, should they be hostilely inclined; and they had the reputation at Port Jackson of being exceedingly ferocious, if not cannibals. Our muskets were not yet freed from rust and sand, and there was a pressing necessity to procure fresh water before attempting to return northward. Under these embarrassments we agreed upon a plan of action, and went on shore directly to the natives. Mr. Bass employed some of them to assist in repairing an oar which had been broken in our disaster, whilst I spread the wet powder out in the sun. This met with no opposition, for they knew not what the powder was; but when we proceeded to clean the muskets, it excited so much alarm that it was necessary to desist.

On inquiring of the two friendly natives for water, they pointed upwards to the lagoon; but after many evasions our barica was filled at a hole not many yards distant.

The number of people had increased to near twenty, and others were still coming, so that it was necessary to use all possible expedition in getting out of their reach. But a new employment arose upon our hands; we had clipped the hair and beards of the two Botany Bay natives at Red Point; and they were showing themselves to the others, and persuading them to follow their example. Whilst, therefore, the powder was drying, I began with a large pair of scissors to execute my new office upon the eldest of four or five chins presented to me; and as great nicety was not required, the shearing of a dozen of them did not occupy me long. Some of the more timid were alarmed at a formidable instrument coming so near to their noses, and would scarcely be persuaded by their shaven friends to allow the operation to be finished. But when their chins were held up a second time, their fear of the instrument—the wild stare of their eyes—and the smile which they forced, formed a compound upon the rough savage countenance, not unworthy the pencil of a Hogarth. I was almost tempted to try what effect a little snip would produce; but our situation was too critical to admit of such experiments.

Everything being prepared for a retreat, the natives became vociferous for the boat to go up to the lagoon; and it was not without stratagem that we succeeded in getting down to the entrance of the stream, where the depth of water placed us out of their reach.

In 1798 Mr. Bass sailed (in a whaleboat) with only six weeks' provisions; but with the assistance of occasional supplies of petrels, fish, seal's flesh, and a few geese and black swans, and by abstinence he had been enabled to prolong his voyage beyond eleven weeks. His ardour and perseverance were crowned, in despite of the foul winds which so much opposed him, with a degree of success not to have been anticipated from such feeble means. In three hundred miles of coast from Fort Jackson to the Ram Head he added a number of particulars which had escaped Captain Cook; and will always escape any navigator in a first discovery, unless he have the time and means of joining a close examination by boats, to what may be seen from the ship.

Our previous knowledge of the coast scarcely extended beyond the Ram Head; and there began the harvest in which Mr. Bass was ambitious to place the first reaping-hook. The new coast was traced three hundred miles; and instead of trending southwards to join itself to Van Diemen's Land, as Captain Furneaux had supposed, he found it, beyond a certain point, to take a direction nearly opposite, and to assume the appearance of being exposed to the buffetings of an open sea. Mr. Bass, himself, entertained no doubt of the existence of a wide strait, separating Van Diemen's Land from New South Wales; and he yielded with the greatest reluctance to the necessity of returning, before it was so fully ascertained as to admit of no doubt in the minds of others. But he had the satisfaction of placing at the end of his new coast, an extensive and useful harbour, surrounded with a country superior to any other known in the southern parts of New South Wales.

A voyage expressly undertaken for discovery in an open boat, and in which six hundred miles of coast, mostly in a boisterous climate, was explored, has not, perhaps, its equal in the annals of maritime history. The public will award to its high-spirited and able conductor, alas! now no more, an honorable place in the list of those whose ardour stands most conspicuous for the promotion of useful knowledge.

1798. Mr. Bass had been returned a fortnight from his expedition in the whaleboat; and he communicated all his notes and observations to be added to my chart. There seemed to want no other proof of the existence of a passage between New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, than that of sailing positively through it; but however anxious I was to obtain this proof, the gratification of my desire was required to be suspended by a voyage to Norfolk Island in the Reliance.

In September following, His Excellency, Governor Hunter, had the goodness to give me the Norfolk, a colonial sloop of twenty-five tons with authority to penetrate behind Furneaux's Islands; and should a strait be found, to pass through it, and return by the south end of Van Diemen's Land. Twelve weeks were allowed for the performance of this service, and provisions for that time were put on board; the rest of the equipment was completed by the friendly care of Captain Waterhouse of the Reliance.

I had the happiness to associate my friend Bass in this new expedition, and to form an excellent crew of eight volunteers from the King's ships.


The south-west wind died away in the night; and at six next morning, Dec. 9, we got under way with a light air at south-east. After rounding the north-east point of the three-hummock land, our course westward was pursued along its north side.

A large flock of gannets was observed at daylight, to issue out of the Great Bight to the southward; and they were followed by such a number of the sooty petrels as we had never seen equalled. There was a stream of from fifty to eighty yards in depth, and of three hundred yards or more in breadth; the birds were not scattered, but flying as compactly as a free movement of their wings seemed to allow; and during a full hour and a half, this stream of petrels continued to pass without interruption, at a rate little inferior to the swiftness of the pigeon. On the lowest computation, I think the number could not have been less than a hundred millions; and we were thence led to believe that there must be, in the large bight, one or more uninhabited islands of considerable size.

From the north-east point of the three-hummock land, the shore trended W. 1° N. three miles; then S. 39° W. four miles, to a rocky point forming the south-west extremity of what was then ascertained to be Three-hummock Island. The channel which separates it from the land to the west is, at least, two miles in width, and is deep; so that it was difficult to conjecture how the Indians were able to get over to the island. It was almost certain that they had no canoes at Port Dalrymple, nor any means of reaching islands lying not more than two cable lengths from the shore; and it therefore seemed improbable that they should possess canoes here. The small size of Three-hummock Island rendered the idea of fixed inhabitants inadmissible; and whichever way it was considered, the presence of men there was a problem difficult to be resolved.

The coast on the west side of the channel lies nearly south, and rises in height as it advances towards the cliffy head, set on the 6th p.m. The north end of this island is a sloping rocky point; and the first projection which opened round it, was at S. 32´ W., five or six miles. Beyond this there was nothing like mainland to be seen; indeed, this western land itself had very little the appearance of being such, either in its form, or in its poor starved vegetation. So soon as we had passed the north sloping point, a long swell was perceived to come from the South-west, such as we had not been accustomed to for some time. It broke heavily upon a small reef, lying a mile and a half from the point, and upon all the western shores; but although it was likely to prove troublesome, and perhaps dangerous, Mr. Bass and myself hailed it with joy and mutual congratulation, as announcing the completion of our long-wished-for discovery of a passage into the Southern Indian Ocean.

We had a fine breeze at east; and our course was directed for a small, rocky island, which lies W. 1/2 N. 6 miles from the north point of the barren land. This land appeared to be almost white with birds; and so much excited our curiosity and hope of procuring a supply of food, that Mr. Bass went on shore in the boat whilst I stood off and on, waiting his return. No land could be seen to the northward, and the furthest clearly distinguishable in the opposite direction was a steep island at the distance of four leagues.

Mr. Bass returned at half past two, with a boat-load of seals and albatrosses. He had been obliged to fight his way up the cliffs of the islands with the seals, and when arrived at the top, to make a road with his clubs amongst the albatrosses. These birds were sitting upon their nests, and almost covered the surface of the ground, nor did they any otherwise derange themselves for the new visitors, than to peck at their legs as they passed by. This species of albatross is white on the neck and breast, partly brown on the back and wings, and its size is less than many others met with in that sea, particularly in the high southern latitudes. The seals were of the usual size, and bore a reddish fur, much inferior in quality to that of the seals at Furneaux's Islands.

Albatross Island, for so it was named, is near two miles in length, and sufficiently high to be seen five or six leagues from a ship's deck: its shores are mostly steep cliffs.

The north-west cape of Van Diemen's Land, or island as it might now be termed, is a steep black head, which, from its appearance, I call Cape Grim. It lies nearly due south, four miles from the centre of Trefoil, in latitude 40° 44´; the longtitude will be 144° 43´ East, according to the position of Albatross Island made in the Investigator. There are two rocks close to Cape Grim, of the same description with itself. On the north side of the Cape the shore is a low sandy beach, and trends north-eastward three or four miles; but whether there be sufficient depth for ships to pass between it and Barren Island, has not, I believe, been yet ascertained. To the south of the Cape the black cliffs extend seven or eight miles, when the shore falls back eastward to a sandy bay of which little could be perceived.

1799. To the strait which had been the great object of research, and whose discovery was now completed, Governor Hunter gave, at my recommendation, the name of Bass Strait. This was no more than a just tribute to my worthy friend and companion, for the extreme dangers and fatigues he had undergone in first entering it in the whale-boat, and to the correct judgment he had formed from various indications, of the existence of a wide opening between Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales.


Source.—Voyage to Terra Australis (Matthew Flinders, 1814), pp. 36-37, 60-61, 211-220, 229-231

In recognition of his services Captain Flinders was given command of the Investigator in which to prosecute the exploration of Terra Australis. He sailed along the South coast and up the East, to Port Jackson: subsequently, he circumnavigated the continent and suggested its present name.

October 16th, 1801. At daybreak we expected to see the highland of the Cape (of Good Hope), but the weather being hazy, it could not be distinguished until eight o'clock.

At this time we had not a single person on the sick list, both officers and men being fully in as good health as when we sailed from Spithead. I had begun very early to put in execution the beneficial plan first practised and made known by the great Captain Cook. It was in the standing orders of the ship, that on every fine day the deck below and the cockpits should be cleared, washed, aired with stoves, and sprinkled with vinegar. On wet and dull days they were cleaned and aired without washing. Care was taken to prevent the people from sleeping upon deck, or lying down in their wet clothes; and once in every fortnight or three weeks, as circumstances permitted, their beds, and the contents of their lockers, chests, and bags, were exposed to the sun and air. On the Thursday and Sunday mornings the ship's company was mustered, and every man appeared clean shaved and dressed; and when the evenings were fine, the drum and fife announced the forecastle to be the scene of dancing; nor did I discourage other playful amusements which might occasionally be more to the taste of the sailors, and were not unseasonable.

Within the tropics, lime juice and sugar were made to suffice as antiscorbutics; on reaching a higher latitude, sour krout and vinegar were substituted; the essence of malt was reserved for the passage to New Holland, and for future occasions. On consulting with the surgeon, I had thought it expedient to make some slight changes in the issuing of the provisions. Oatmeal was boiled for breakfast four days in the week instead of three; and when rice was issued after the expenditure of the cheese, it was boiled on the other three days. Pease soup was prepared for dinner four days a week as usual; and at other times two ounces of portable broth, in cakes, to each man, with such additions of onions, pepper, etc., as the different messes possessed, made a comfortable addition to their salt meat. And neither in this passage, nor, I may add, in any subsequent part of the voyage, were the officers or people restricted to any allowance of fresh water. They drank freely at the scuttled cask, and took away, under the inspection of the officer of the watch, all that was requisite for culinary purposes; and very frequently two casks of water in the week were given for washing their clothes. With these regulations, joined to a due enforcement of discipline, I had the satisfaction to see my people orderly and full of zeal for the service in which we were engaged; and in such a state of health, that no delay at the Cape was required beyond the necessary refitment of the ship, and I still hoped to save a good part of the summer season upon the south coast of Terra Australis.


On Dec. 30th our wooding and the watering of the ship were completed, the rigging was refitted, the sails repaired and bent, and the ship unmoored. Our friends, the natives, continued to visit us; and the old man with several others being at the tents this morning, I ordered a party of marines on shore to be exercised in their presence. The red coats and white crossed belts were greatly admired, having some resemblance to their own manner of ornamenting themselves; and the drum, but particularly the fife, excited their astonishment, but when they saw these beautiful red and white men with their bright muskets, drawn up in a line, they absolutely screamed with delight; nor were their wild gestures and vociferation to be silenced but by commencing the exercise, to which they paid the most earnest and silent attention. Several of them moved their hands involuntarily in accordance with the motions; and the old man placed himself at the end of the rank, with a short staff in his hand, which he shouldered, presented, grounded, as did the marines their muskets, without, I believe, knowing what he did. Before firing, the Indians were made acquainted with what was going to take place; so that the volleys did not excite much terror.


Monday, April 26th, 1802. On coming within five miles of the shore at eleven o'clock, we found it to be low and mostly sandy; and that the bluff head, which had been taken for the north end of an island, was part of a ridge of hills rising at Cape Schanck. We then bore away westward, in order to trace the land round the head of the deep bight.

On the west side of the rocky point there was a small opening with breaking water across it; however, on advancing a little more westward the opening assumed a more interesting aspect, and I bore away to have a nearer view. A large extent of water presently became visible within side; and although the entrance seemed to be very narrow, and there were in it strong ripplings like breakers, I was induced to steer in at half-past one; the ship being close upon the wind, and every man ready for tacking at a moment's warning; the soundings were irregular between 6 and 12 fathoms, until we got four miles within the entrance, when they shoaled quick to 2-3/4.

The extensive harbour we had thus unexpectedly found I supposed must be Western Port, although the narrowness of the entrance did by no means correspond with the width given to it by Mr. Bass. It was the information of Captain Baudin, who had coasted along from thence with fine weather, and had found no inlet of any kind, which had induced this supposition; and the very great extent of the place, agreeing with that of Western Port, was in confirmation of it. This however was not Western Port, as we found next morning; and I congratulated myself on having made a new and useful discovery, but here again I was in error. This place, as I afterwards learnt at Port Jackson, had been discovered ten weeks before by Lieutenant John Murray, who had succeeded Captain Grant in command of the Lady Nelson. He had given it the name of Port Phillip, and to the rocky point on the east side of the entrance, that of Point Nepean.

Before proceeding any higher with the ship, I wished to gain some knowledge of the form and extent of this great piece of water; and Arthur's seat being more than a thousand feet high and near the water side, presented a favourable station for the purpose. After breakfast I went away in a boat, accompanied by Mr. Brown and some other gentlemen, for the Seat. I ascended the hill and to my surprise found the Port so extensive, that even at this elevation its boundary to the northward could not be distinguished. The western shore extended from the entrance ten or eleven miles in a northern direction, to the extremity of what from its appearance I called Indented Head; beyond it was a wide branch of the port leading to the westward, and I suspected might have a communication with the sea; for it was almost incredible that such a vast piece of water should not have a larger outlet than that through which we had come.

Another considerable piece of water was seen, at the distance of three or four leagues; as it appeared to have a communication with the sea to the south, I had no doubt of its being Mr. Bass' Western Port.

Saturday, May 1st. At day-dawn I set off with three of the boat's crew, for the highest part of the back hills called Station Peak. One or two miles before arriving at the feet of the hills, we entered a wood where an emu and a kangaroo were seen at a distance; and the top of the Peak was reached at ten o'clock. I saw the water of the Port as far as N.75 E., so that the whole extent of the Port, north and south, is at least thirty miles.

I left the ship's name on a scroll of paper, deposited in a small pile of stones upon the top of the peak; and at three in the afternoon, reached the tent, much fatigued, having walked more than twenty miles without finding a drop of water.

Sunday, 2nd May. I find it very difficult to speak in general terms of Port Phillip. On the one hand it is capable of receiving and sheltering a larger fleet of ships than ever yet went to sea; whilst on the other, the entrance on its whole width is scarcely two miles, and nearly half of it is occupied by rocks lying off Point Nepean, and by shoals on the opposite side. The depth in the remaining part varies from 6 to 12 fathoms; and this irregularity causes the strong tides, especially when running against the wind, to make breakers, in which small vessels should be careful of engaging themselves; and when a ship has passed the entrance, the shoals are a great obstacle to a free passage up the Port.

No runs of fresh water were seen in my excursions; but Mr. Grimes, Surveyor-General of New South Wales, afterwards found several, and in particular a small river falling into the Northern head of the Port. The country surrounding Port Phillip has a pleasing and in many parts a fertile appearance; and the sides of some of the hills and several of the valleys are fit for agricultural purposes. It is in great measure country capable of supporting cattle, though better calculated for sheep.

Were a settlement to be made at Port Phillip, as doubtless there will be sometime hereafter, the entrance could be easily defended; and it would not be difficult to establish a friendly intercourse with the natives, for they are acquainted with the effect of firearms, and desirous of possessing many of our conveniences.

In the woods are the kangaroo, the emu or cassowary, paroquets, and a variety of small birds; the mud banks are frequented by ducks and some black swans, and the shores by the usual sea fowl common to New South Wales. The range of the thermometer was between 61 and 67 and the climate appeared to be as good and agreeable as could well be desired in the month corresponding to November. In 1803, Colonel C. Collins of the Marines was sent out from England to make a new settlement in this country, but he quitted Port Phillip for the South end of Van Diemen's Land, probably from not finding fresh water for a colony sufficiently near to the entrance.


On the 4th of June the ship was dressed with colours, a royal salute fired, and I went with the principal officers of the Investigator to pay my respects to His Excellency the Governor and Captain-General in honour of His Majesty's birthday. On this occasion a splendid dinner was given to the colony; and the number of ladies and civil, military, and naval officers, was not less than forty, who met to celebrate the birth of their beloved Sovereign in this distant part of the earth.

Captain Baudin arrived in the Geographe on the 20th, and a boat was sent from the Investigator to assist in towing the ship up to the cove, it was grievous to see the miserable condition to which both officers and crew were reduced by scurvy; there being not more out of 170, according to the Commander's account, than twelve men capable of doing their duty. The sick were received into the Colonial Hospital; and both French ships furnished with everything in the power of the Colony to supply. Before their arrival the necessity of augmenting the number of cattle in the country had prevented the Governor from allowing us any fresh meat; but some oxen belonging to Government were now killed for the distressed strangers; and by returning an equal quantity of salt meat, which was exceedingly scarce at this time, I obtained a quarter of beef for my people. The distress of the French navigators had indeed been great, but every means were used by the Governor and the principal inhabitants of the colony, to make them forget both their sufferings and the war which existed between the two nations.

July. His Excellency Governor King, had done me the honour to visit the Investigator, and to accept of a dinner on board; on which occasion he had been received with the marks of respect due to his rank of Captain-General; and shortly afterwards, the Captains Baudin and Hamelin, with Monsieur Peron and some other French officers, as also Colonel Paterson, the Lieutenant-Governor, did me the same favour; when they were received under a salute of 11 guns. The intelligence of peace which had just been received contributed to enliven the party; and rendered our meeting more particularly agreeable. I showed to Captain Baudin my charts of the South Coast, containing the part first explored by him, and distinctly marked as his discovery. He made no objection to the justice of the limits therein pointed out; but found his portion to be smaller than he had supposed, not having before been aware of the extent of the discoveries previously made by Captain Grant.

After examining the Chart, he said, apparently as a reason for not producing any of his own, that his charts were not constructed on board the ship; but that he transmitted to Paris all his bearings and observations, with a regular series of views of the land and from them the charts were to be made at a future time.


Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term (Terra Australis), it would have been to convert it into Australia, as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth.


Source.—A Journal of a Tour of Discovery across the Blue Mountains, N.S.W. (Blaxland, 1823), Introduction and pp. 1, 22, 29-34

For many years the settlement in N.S.W. was confined to the coastal plains, owing to the impassability of the Blue Mountains. In 1813 Gregory Blaxland, accompanied by Wentworth and Lawson, accomplished the passage, and opened vast plains for settlement.


London, Feb. 10th 1823.

Dear Sir,

Feelings of gratitude for your kind attention to me in the early part of life, have induced me to dedicate to you the following short Journal of my passage over the Blue Mountains, in the colony of New South Wales, under the persuasion that it will afford you pleasure at all times to hear that any of your family have been instrumental in promoting the prosperity of any country in which they may reside, however distant that country may be from the immediate seat of our Government.

Devoid as it is of any higher pretensions than belong to it as a plain unvarnished statement, it may not be deemed wholly uninteresting, when it is considered what important alterations the result of the expedition has produced in the immediate interests and prosperity of the Colony. This appears in nothing more decidedly than the unlimited pasturage already afforded to the very fine flocks of Merino Sheep, as well as the extensive field opened for the exertions of the present, as well as future generations. It has changed the aspect of the Colony, from a confined insulated tract of land, to a rich and extensive continent.

This expedition, which has proved so completely successful, resulted from two previous attempts. One of these was made by water, by His Excellency the Governor, in person, whom I accompanied.

The other expedition was undertaken by myself, attended by three European servants and two natives, with a horse to carry provisions and other necessities. We returned sooner than I intended, owing to one man being taken ill. This journey confirmed me in the opinion, that it was practicable to find a passage over the mountains, and I resolved at some future period to attempt it.

Soon after, I mentioned the circumstance to His Excellency the Governor, who thought it reasonable, and expressed a wish that I should make the attempt. Having made every requisite preparation, I applied to the two gentlemen who accompanied me, to join in the expedition, and was fortunate in obtaining their consent.

To these gentlemen I have to express my thanks for their company and to acknowledge that without their assistance I should have had but little chance of success.

The road which has since been made deviates but a few rods in some places from the line cleared of the small trees and bushes, and marked by us. Nor does it appear likely that any other line of road will ever be discovered than at the difficult and narrow passes that we were fortunate to discover, by improving which a good carriage road has now been made across the mountains. Mount York is the Western summit of the mountains, the vale Clwyd, the first valley at their feet from which a mountain (afterwards named Mount Blaxland by His Excellency Governor Macquarie) is about eight miles; which terminated our journey.

I remain, dear sir, most respectfully,

Your affectionate nephew,


On Tuesday, May 11, 1813, Mr. Gregory Blaxland, Mr. William Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson, attended by four servants, with five dogs and four horses, laden with provisions, ammunition, and other necessaries, left Mr. Blaxland's farm at the South Creek, for the purpose of endeavouring to effect a passage over the Blue Mountains, between the Western River, and the River Grose.

On the following morning (May the 12th) as soon as the heavy dew was off, which was about nine a.m., they proceeded to ascend the ridge at the foot of which they had camped the preceding evening. After travelling about a mile on the third day in a west and north-west direction, they arrived at a large tract of forest land, rather hilly, the grass and timber tolerably good. They computed it as two thousand acres. Here they found a track marked by a European, by cutting the bark of the trees. They had not proceeded above two miles, when they found themselves stopped by a brushwood, much thicker than they had hitherto met with. This induced them to alter their course, and to endeavour to find another passage to the westward, but every ridge which they explored proved to terminate in a deep rocky precipice, and they had no alternative but to return to the thick brushwood, which appeared to be the main ridge, with the determination to cut a way through for the horses the next day.

On the next morning, leaving two men to take care of the horses and provisions, they proceeded to cut a path through the thick brushwood, on what they considered as the main ridge of the mountains, between the Western River, and the River Grose. They now began to mark their track by cutting the bark of the trees on two sides. Having cut their way for about five miles, they returned in the evening to the spot on which they had encamped the night before. The fifth day was spent in prosecuting the same tedious operation, but, as much time was necessarily lost in walking twice over the track cleared the day before, they were unable to cut away more than two miles further. They found no food for the horses the whole way.

On Sunday, they rested and arranged their future plans. They had reason, however, to regret this suspension of their proceedings, as it gave the men leisure to ruminate on their danger, and it was for some time doubtful whether, on the next day, they could be persuaded to venture farther.

On Wednesday, the 19th, the party moved forward, bearing chiefly west, and west-south-east. They now began to ascend the second ridge of the mountains, and from this elevation they obtained for the first time an extensive view of the settlements below.

At a little distance from the spot at which they began the ascent, they found a pyramidical heap of stones, the work, evidently, of some European, one side of which the natives had opened, probably in the expectation of finding some treasure deposited in it. This pile they concluded to be the one erected by Mr. Bass, to mark the end of his journey. That gentleman attempted some time ago to pass the Mountains, and to penetrate into the interior, but having got thus far, he gave up the undertaking as impracticable, reporting, on his return, that it was impossible to find a passage even for a person on foot. Here, therefore, the party had the satisfaction of believing that they had penetrated as far as any European had been before them.

[This, however, proved to be Caley's Cairn.]

May 21st.—Their progress the next day was nearly four miles. They encamped in the middle of the day at the head of a well-watered swamp, about five acres in extent; pursuing, as before, their operations in the afternoon. In the beginning of the night the dogs ran off and barked violently. At the same time something was distinctly heard to run through the brushwood, which they supposed to be one of the horses got loose; but they had reason to believe afterwards that they had been in great danger—that the natives had followed their tracks, and advanced on them in the night, intending to have speared them by the light of their fire, but that the dogs drove them off.

On the top of this ridge they found about two acres of land clear of trees, covered with loose stones and short coarse grass, such as grows on some of the commons of England. Over this heath they proceeded about a mile and a half, and encamped by the side of a fine stream of water, with just wood enough on the banks to serve for firewood. From the summit they had a fine view of all the settlements and country eastwards, and of a great extent of country to the westward and south-west. But their progress in both the latter directions was stopped by an impassable barrier of rock, which appeared to divide the interior from the coast as with a stone wall, rising perpendicularly out of the side of the mountain. In the afternoon they left their little camp in the charge of three of the men, and made an attempt to descend the precipice by following some of the streams of water, or by getting down at some of the projecting points where the rocks had fallen in; but they were baffled in every instance. In some places the perpendicular height of the rocks above the earth below could not be less than four hundred feet.

On the 28th they proceeded about five miles and three-quarters. Not being able to find water, they did not halt till five o'clock, when they took up their station on the edge of the precipice. To their great satisfaction they discovered, that what they had supposed to be sandy, barren land below the mountain, was forest land, covered with good grass, and with timber of an inferior quality. In the evening they contrived to get their horses down the mountain by cutting a small trench with a hoe, which kept them from slipping, where they again tasted grass for the first time since they left the forest land on the other side of the mountain. They were getting into miserable condition. Water was found about two miles below the foot of the mountain. In this day's route little timber was observed fit for building.

On the 29th, having got up the horses and laden them, they began to descend the mountain at seven o'clock, through a pass in the rock about thirty feet wide, which they had discovered the day before, when the want of water put them on the alert. Part of the descent was so steep that the horses could but just keep their footing, without a load, so that, for some way the party were obliged to carry the packages themselves. A cart-road might, however, easily be made by cutting a slanting trench along the side of the mountain, which is here covered with earth.

They reached the foot at nine o'clock a.m., and proceeded two miles, mostly through open meadow land, clear of trees, the grass from two to three feet high. They encamped on the bank of a fine stream of water. The natives, as observed by the smoke of their fires, moved before them, as yesterday. The dogs killed a kangaroo, which was very acceptable, as the party had lived on salt meat since they caught the last. The timber seen this day appeared rotten and unfit for building.

The climate here was found very much colder than that of the mountain or of the settlements on the east side, where no signs of frost had made its appearance when the party set out. During the night the ground was covered with a thick frost, and a leg of the kangaroo was quite frozen.

They now conceived that they had sufficiently accomplished the design of their undertaking, having surmounted all the difficulties which had hitherto prevented the interior of the country from being explored, and the Colony from being extended. They had partly cleared, or, at least, marked out a road by which the passage of the mountain might easily be effected. Their provisions were nearly exhausted, their clothes and shoes were in very bad condition, and the whole party were ill with bowel complaints. These considerations determined them, therefore, to return home by the track they came. On Tuesday, the 1st of June, they arrived at the foot of the mountain which they had descended, where they encamped for the night.

The following day they began to ascend the mountain at seven o'clock, and reached the summit at ten; they were obliged to carry the packages themselves part of the ascent.

They encamped in the evening at one of their old stations. On the 3rd, they reached another of their old stations. Here, during the night, they heard a confused noise arising from the eastern settlements below, which, after having been so long accustomed to the death-like stillness of the interior, had a very striking effect. On the 4th, they arrived at the end of their marked track, and encamped in the forest land where they had cut the grass for their horses. One of the horses fell this day with his load, quite exhausted, and was with difficulty got on, after having his load put on the other horses. The next day, the 5th, was the most unpleasant and fatiguing they had experienced. The track not being marked, they had great difficulty in finding their way back to the river, which they did not reach till four p.m. o'clock. They then once more encamped for the night to refresh themselves and the horses. They had no provisions now left except a little flour, but procured some from the settlement on the other side of the river. On Sunday, the 6th of June, they crossed the river after breakfast, and reached their homes all in good health. The winter had not set in on this side of the mountain, nor had there been any frost.


Source.—Hovell's Journal, 1837, pp. 25-27, 39-42, 72-73

The country between Botany Bay and Bass Strait was unexplored until 1824, when Messrs. Hume and Hovell set out to discover if it were suitable for settlement. They encountered difficulties among the Australian Alps, discovered the Hume (Murray) River and reached Port Phillip. Oct. 2nd, 1824—Jan. 16th, 1825.

Sat., Nov. 6th. They had now (it was noon) unexpectedly reached the S.W. extremity of the ridge or spine, which here terminates in an abrupt and very steep descent: the view from this spot consists of a valley (immediately in their front, S.) extending in the direction S.W., and varying from one to two miles in breadth. Along the centre of this valley runs a small stream, and near by the stream is a broken mountainous country: the view is closed by mountains, both of a different form (peaked) and of an infinitely greater height than any which they had yet seen. They now descended the table range, pursuing the zig-zag course of one of the tributaries of the stream which they had observed in the valley, taking its rise in these mountains, not far below the spot at which they commence making their descent.

At six o'clock in the evening they arrive in the valley. At seven, having still pursued their course along the same branch, they come to the main stream. In effecting the descent from these mountains, they had nearly lost one of the party, as well as a bullock; the animal had fallen when it had reached about two-thirds down the mountain in consequence of a stone slipping under its feet, and in its fall it had forced down with it the man who was leading it. But their fall was intercepted by a large tree, and the man as well as the animal was thus prevented from being dashed to pieces. The man, however, unfortunately was much hurt.

Never was the great superiority of bullocks to horses (in some respects) for journeys of this description more observable than in the passage of this difficult and dangerous ascent. The horses it had become indispensable to unload, and to conduct each separately with great care; but if one of the bullocks be led the rest follow; the horse is timid and hurried in its action in places where there is danger; the bullock is steady and cautious. If the latter slip in its ascent, or if the acclivity be too steep for its usual mode of progression, the animal kneels down, and scrambles up in this posture. If it be descending, and it become placed in a similar predicament, it sits down, and turns its head round towards the ascent, as if to balance its body. For the crossing of unsound or boggy ground, the structure of its hoof is particularly adapted, while the foot of the horse, on the contrary, is ill suited for this purpose, and for which the fears and consequent agitation of the animal renders it unfit.

(Bullocks ought, when used for these journeys, to be shod; their feet, otherwise, are very liable to become disabled.)

Tuesday, Nov. 16th. Soon after sunrise they recommence their journey, having proceeded three and a half miles S. (the land gradually sloping as they advanced), arrive suddenly on the banks of a fine river. This was named "The Hume."

This beautiful stream is found to be not less than 80 yards in breadth, apparently of considerable depth; the current at three miles an hour; the water, for so considerable a stream, clear.

The river itself is serpentine, the banks clothed with verdure to the water's edge, their general height various, but seldom either more or less than eight or nine feet, inclined or precipitous, as they happen by the bending of the stream to be more or less exposed to the action of the current. On each side of the river is a perpetual succession of lagoons extending generally in length from one to two miles, and about a quarter of a mile in breadth. These, which are situate alternately on each side of the river, within those elbows and projections which are formed by its windings, often for miles together, preclude any approach to its banks. Each of these lagoons was furnished with an inlet from the river and an outlet into it.

In general, the spaces between the lagoons and the river are thickly wooded (the trees consisting principally of the blue gum of a large growth), and are overgrown with vines of various descriptions, and the fern, the peppermint, flax plant, and currajong. The fern, currajong, and the flax flourish here in abundance, and the peppermint plant (which they had not seen in any other part of the country) seems to surpass, both in odour and taste the species that is generally produced in our gardens.

From the flax-plant the natives, as they afterwards discover, make their fishing-lines and nets for carrying their travelling gear and provisions.

Unable to devise any means of crossing the river, and in hope of discovering some practicable ford, they now commence their progress down the stream, proceed three miles and a half, and then halt. At half-past two they resume their route, but are soon compelled from the continual succession of lagoon and swamp to return to some higher land, about two miles from the river.

[Crossing the river with difficulty, they travelled southwards for four weeks.]

Thursday, Dec. 16th.—This morning they cross the river or creek without difficulty, the water not taking the cattle more than chest high. They now proceed S.W. by S. through the plains about six miles, when they are struck with an appearance respecting which they cannot decide whether it is that of burning grass or of distant water.

They now therefore, having altered their course to the south, at four o'clock, have the gratification satisfactorily to determine, that the appearance which had just created so much doubt is that of the latter object, and which leaving the river a short distance, and directing their march from S.W. to SS.W. they soon ascertain to be part of the sea—the so long and ardently desired bourn of their labours. They now again alter their course to south-west and travel six miles in that direction along the shore, over excellent land, but clear of timber. On the downs, or plains to-day they had seen several flocks of emus and wild turkeys. The water near the shore was covered with waterfowl of various descriptions, some of which were new to them, and by the time they had halted for the night, they had procured an ample supply of black swans and ducks. They stopped for the night at seven o'clock in a small wood, at a mile from the beach, but where there was no fresh water, having travelled to-day, they supposed, upwards of twenty miles.

Friday, Dec. 17th. They proceed this morning from the beach in a direction about N.N.W. three or four miles in quest of water, when they arrive on the banks of a creek, where they have the good fortune to find abundance of good water and of grass. Here they remain the day, in order to refresh the cattle, who are not a little in want of this timely relief, more particularly as it is proposed to commence their return to-morrow. This determination of so soon retracing their steps, though it cost them much regret, had become indispensable, not only from the extreme scantiness of their remaining supplies, and the certainty of the many difficulties they would have to encounter, but still more so from consideration that the mere circumstance of a fall of rain by swelling the streams, might, in the weak and ill-provided state to which the whole party were reduced, render their return altogether impracticable. (Four weeks' flour at reduced allowance and a small quantity of tea and sugar, but no animal food; independently of which, the ropes and other material employed for crossing streams were now almost utterly unfit for use.)


Source.—Expeditions in Australia (Sturt, 1833), Vol. I pp. 1-2, 29, 45, 73, 85-87.

The reedy marshes in which the Lachlan and the Macquarie appeared to end blocked Western exploration until the protracted drought of the twenties convinced Sturt and Hume that they would be passable. Accordingly an expedition was formed which was to solve the long debated problem of the character of the interior.

The year 1826 was remarkable for the commencement of one of those fearful droughts to which we have reason to believe the climate of New South Wales is periodically subject. It continued the two following years with unabated severity. The surface of the earth became so parched up that minor vegetation ceased upon it. Culinary herbs were raised with difficulty, and crops failed even in the most favourable situations. Settlers drove their flocks and herds to distant tracts for pasture and water, neither remaining for them in the located districts. The interior suffered equally with the coast, and men at length began to despond under so alarming a visitation. It almost appeared as if the Australian sky were never again to be traversed by a cloud.

But, however severe for the colony the seasons had proved, or were likely to prove, it was borne in mind at this critical moment that the wet and swampy state of the interior had alone prevented Mr. Oxley from penetrating further into it in 1818.

The immediate fitting out of an expedition was therefore decided upon, for the express purpose of ascertaining the nature and extent of that basin into which the Macquarie was supposed to fall, and whether connection existed between it and the streams falling westerly. As I had early taken a great interest in the geography of New South Wales, the Governor was pleased to appoint me to the command of this expedition.

Dec. 3. The first part of our journey was over rich flats, timbered sufficiently to afford a shade, on which the grass was luxuriant; but we were obliged to seek open ground, in consequence of the frequent stumbling of the cattle.

We issued, at length, upon a plain, the view across which was as dreary as can be imagined; in many places without a tree, save a few old stumps left by the natives when they fired the timber, some of which were still smoking in different parts of it. Observing some lofty trees at the extremity of the plain, we moved towards them, under an impression that they indicated the river line. But on this exposed spot the sun's rays fell with intense power upon us, and the dust was so minute and penetrating, that I soon regretted having left the shady banks of the river.

Dec. 31. I had no inducement to proceed further into the interior. I had been sufficiently disappointed in the termination of this excursion, and the track before me was still less inviting. Nothing but a dense forest, and a level country, existed between me and a distant hill. I had learnt, by experience, that it was impossible to form any opinion of the probable features of so singular a region as that in which I was wandering, from previous appearances, or to expect the same result, as in other countries, from similar causes. In a geographical point of view, my journey had been more successful, and had enabled me to put to rest for ever a question of much previous doubt. I had gained a knowledge of more than 100 miles of the western interior, and had ascertained that no sea, indeed, that little water existed on its surface; and that, although it is flat generally, it still has elevations of considerable magnitude upon it.

Although I had passed over much barren ground, I had likewise noticed soil that was far from poor, and the vegetation upon which in ordinary seasons would, I am convinced, have borne a very different aspect.

Yet, upon the whole, the space I traversed is unlikely to become the haunts of civilized man, or will only become so in isolated spots, as a chain of connection to a more fertile country; if such a country exist to the westward.

[A report of better country to the North induced Sturt to turn in that direction.]

Jan. 14. Nothing could exceed in dreariness the appearance of the tracks through which we journeyed on this and the two following days. The creek on which we depended for a supply of water, gave such alarming indications of a total failure that I at one time had serious thoughts of abandoning my pursuit of it. We passed hollow after hollow that had successively dried up, although originally of considerable depth; and, when we at length found water, it was doubtful how far we could make use of it. Sometimes in boiling, it left a sediment nearly equal to half its body; at other times it was so bitter as to be quite unpalatable. That on which we subsisted was scraped up from small puddles, heated by the sun's rays; and so uncertain were we of finding water at the end of the day's journey, that we were obliged to carry a supply on one of the bullocks. There was scarcely a living creature, even of the feathered race, to be seen to break the stillness of the forest. The native dogs alone wandered about, though they had scarcely strength to avoid us; and their melancholy howl, breaking in upon the ear at the dead of night, only served to impress more fully on the mind the absolute loneliness of the desert.

Jan. 31. We came upon a creek, but could not decide whether it was the one for which we had been searching, or another. It had flooded-gum growing upon its banks, and, on places apparently subject to flood, a number of tall straight saplings were observed by us. We returned to the camp, after a vain search for water, and were really at a loss what direction next to pursue. The men kept the cattle pretty well together, and, as we were not delayed by any preparations for breakfast, they were saddled and loaded at an early hour. The circumstance of there having been natives in the neighbourhood, of whom we had seen so few traces of late, assured me that water was at hand, but in what direction it was impossible to guess. As the path we had observed was leading northerly, we took up that course, and had not proceeded more than a mile upon it, when we suddenly found ourselves on the bank of a noble river. Such it might in truth be called, where water was scarcely to be found. The party drew up upon a bank that was from forty to forty-five feet above the level of the stream. The channel of the river was from seventy to eighty yards broad, and enclosed an unbroken sheet of water, evidently very deep, and literally covered with pelicans and other wild fowl. Our surprise and delight maybe better imagined than described. Our difficulties seemed to be at an end, for here was a river that promised to reward all our exertions, and which appeared every moment to increase in importance, to our imagination. Coming from the N.E., and flowing to the S.W., it had a capacity of channel that proved that we were as far from its source as from its termination. The paths of the natives on either side of it were like well-trodden roads; and the trees that overhung it were of beautiful and gigantic growth.

Its banks were too precipitous to allow of our watering the cattle, but the men eagerly descended to quench their thirst, which a powerful sun had contributed to increase, nor shall I ever forget the looks of terror and disappointment with which they called out to inform me that the water was so salt as to be unfit to drink! This was, indeed, too true; on tasting it, I found it extremely nauseous, and strongly impregnated with salt, being apparently a mixture of sea and fresh water. Whence this arose, whether from local causes, or from a communication with some inland sea, I know not, but the discovery was certainly a blow for which I was not prepared. Our hopes were annihilated at the moment of their apparent realization. The cup of joy was dashed out of our hands before we had time to raise it to our lips. Notwithstanding this disappointment, we proceeded down the river, and halted at about five miles, being influenced by the goodness of the feed to provide for the cattle as well as circumstances would permit. They would not drink of the river water, but stood covered in it for many hours, having their noses alone exposed above the stream. Their condition gave me great uneasiness. It was evident they could not long hold out under the excessive thirst, and unless we should procure some fresh water, it would be impossible for us to continue our journey.

Mr. Hume, with his usual perseverance, walked out when the camp was formed; and at a little distance from it, ascended a ridge of pure sand, crowned with cypresses. From this he descended to the westward, and, at length, struck upon the river, where a reef of rocks crossed its channel and formed a dry passage from one side to the other; but the bend which the river must have taken appeared to him so singular, that he doubted whether it was the same beside which we had been travelling during the day. Curiosity led him to cross it, when he found a small pond of fresh water on a tongue of land, and immediately afterwards, returned to acquaint me with the welcome tidings. It was too late to move, but we had the prospect of a comfortable breakfast in the morning.

On the 6th February we journeyed again through a barren scrub, although on firmer ground, and passed numerous groups of huts. At about eight miles from our last encampment, we came upon the river where its banks were of considerable height. In riding along them Mr. Hume thought he observed a current running, and he called to inform me of the circumstance. On a closer examination we discovered some springs in the very bed of the river, from which a considerable stream was gushing, and from the incrustation around them, we had no difficulty in guessing at their nature; in fact, they were brine springs, and I collected a quantity of salt from the brink of them.

After such a discovery we could not hope to keep our position. No doubt the current we had observed on first reaching the river was caused by springs that had either escaped our notice, or were under water. Here was at length a local cause for its saltness that destroyed at once the anticipation and hope of our being near its termination, and, consequently, the ardour with which we should have pressed on to decide so interesting a point.

We calculated that we were forty miles from the camp, in a S.W. direction, a fearful distance under our circumstances, since we could not hope to obtain relief for two days. Independently, however, of the state of the animals, our spirits were damped by the nature of the country, and the change which had taken place in the soil, upon which it was impossible that water could rest; while the general appearance of the interior showed how much it suffered from drought. On the other hand, although the waters of the river had become worse to the taste, the river itself had increased in size and stretched away to the westward, with all the uniformity of a magnificent canal, and gave every promise of increasing importance; while the pelicans were in such numbers upon it as to be quite dazzling to the eye. Considering, however, that perseverance would only involve us in extricable difficulties, and that it would also be useless to risk the horses, since we had gained a distance to which the bullocks could not have been brought I intimated my intention of giving up the further pursuit of the river, though it was with extreme reluctance that I did so.

As soon as we had bathed and finished our scanty meal, I took the bearings of D'Urban's Group, and found them to be S.58 E. about thirty-three miles distant; and as we mounted our horses, I named the river the "Darling," as a lasting memorial of the respect I bear the Governor.

I should be doing injustice to Mr. Hume and my men if I did not express my conviction that they were extremely unwilling to yield to circumstances, and that, had I determined on continuing the journey, they would have followed me with cheerfulness, whatever the consequences might have been.


Source.—Expeditions in Australia (Sturt, 1833), Vol. II, pp. 6, 8-69, 85-86, 111, 151-187, 204-217, 219.

On his first expedition Sturt had proved that the interior was dry. He then attempted to find the destination of the Morumbidgee and the Darling. Travelling down the Morumbidgee he discovered the Murray and followed it to its termination, 1829.

Dec. 27th. M'Leay and I started at an early hour on an excursion of deeper interest than any we had as yet undertaken; to examine the reeds, not only for the purpose of ascertaining their extent, if possible, but also to guide us in our future measures. We rode some miles along the river side, but observed in it no signs either of increase or of exhaustion. Everything tended to strengthen my conviction that we were still far from the termination of the river. I was aware that my resolves must be instant, decisive, and immediately acted upon, as on firmness and promptitude at this crisis the success of the expedition depended. About noon I checked my horse, and rather to the surprise of my companion, intimated to him my intention of returning to the camp. He naturally asked what I purposed doing. I told him that it appeared to me more than probable that the Morumbidgee would hold its course good to some fixed point, now that it had reached a meridian beyond the known rivers of the interior. It was certain, from the denseness of the reeds, and the breadth of the belts, that the teams could not be brought any further, and that, taking everything into consideration, I had resolved on a bold and desperate measure, that of building the whaleboat, and sending home the drays.

Our appearance in camp so suddenly surprised the men not more than the orders I gave. They all thought I had struck on some remarkable change of country, and were anxious to know my ultimate views. It was not my intention, however, immediately to satisfy their curiosity. I had to study their characters as long as I could in order to select those best qualified to accompany me on the desperate adventure for which I was preparing.

[Sturt accordingly built the whaleboat and embarked on the river.]

Jan. 14th. The men looked anxiously out ahead, for the singular change in the river had impressed on them an idea that we were approaching its termination, or near some adventure. On a sudden, the river took a general southern direction, but, in its tortuous course, swept round to every point of the compass with the greatest irregularity. We were carried at a fearful rate down its gloomy and contracted banks, and, in such a moment of excitement, had little time to pay attention to the country through which we were passing. It was, however, observed that chalybeate springs were numerous close to the water's edge. At 3 p.m. Hopkinson called out that we were approaching a junction, and in less than a minute afterwards we were hurried into a broad and noble river.

It is impossible for me to describe the effect of so instantaneous a change upon us. The boats were allowed to drift along at pleasure, and such was the force with which we had been shot out of the Morumbidgee that we were carried nearly to the bank opposite its embouchure, whilst we continued to gaze in silent astonishment at the capacious channel we had entered; and when we looked for that by which we had been led into it, we could hardly believe that the insignificant gap that presented itself to us was, indeed, the termination of the beautiful and noble stream whose course we had thus successfully followed. I can only compare the relief we experienced to that which the seaman feels on weathering the rock upon which he expected his vessel to have struck, to the calm which succeeds moments of feverish anxiety, when the dread of danger is succeeded by certainty of escape.

Jan. 23rd. Not having as yet given a name to our first discovery, I laid it down as the Murray River in compliment to the distinguished officer Sir George Murray, who then presided over the Colonial Department, not only in compliance with the known wishes of His Excellency, General Darling, but also in accordance with my own feelings as a soldier.

[They continued their course down the Murray till Feb. 9.]

After pulling a mile or two we found a clear horizon before us to the south. The hills still continued upon our left, but we could not see any elevation over the expanse of reeds to our right. The river inclined to the left, and swept the base of the hills that still continued on that side. I consequently landed once more to survey the country.

I still retained a strong impression on my mind that some change was at hand, and on this occasion I was not disappointed, but the view was one for which I was not altogether prepared. We had at length arrived at the termination of the Murray. Immediately below me was a beautiful lake, which appeared to be a fitting reservoir for the noble stream that led us to it; and which was now ruffled by the breeze that swept over it. The ranges were more distinctly visible, stretching from south to north, and were certainly distant forty miles. They had a regular unbroken outline; declining gradually to the south, but terminating abruptly at a lofty mountain northerly. I had no doubt on my mind of this being the Mount Lofty of Captain Flinders; or that the range was that immediately to the eastward of St. Vincent's Gulf. Between us and the ranges a beautiful promontory shot into the lake, being a continuation of the right bank of the Murray. Over this promontory the waters stretched to the base of the ranges, and formed an extensive bay. To the S.W. a bold headland showed itself; beyond which, to the westward, there was a clear and open sea visible, through a strait formed by this headland and a point projecting from the opposite shore. Even while gazing on this fine scene, I could not but regret that the Murray had thus terminated; for I immediately foresaw that, in all probability, we should be disappointed in finding any practicable communication between the lake and the ocean, as it was evident that the former was not much influenced by tides. We pitched our tents on a low track of land that stretched away seemingly for many miles directly behind us to the eastward. It was of the richest soil, being of a black vegetable deposit, and although high above the influence the lake had, it was evident, once formed a part of its bed. Thirty-three days had now passed over our heads since we left the depot upon the Morumbidgee, twenty-six of which had been passed upon the Murray. We had, at length, arrived at the grand reservoir of those waters whose course and fate had previously been involved in such obscurity.

I took Fraser with me, and, accompanied by M'Leay, crossed the sand-hummocks behind us, and descended to the sea-shore. I found that we had struck the south coast deep in the bight of Encounter Bay. We had no time for examination, but returned immediately to the camp, as I intended to give the men an opportunity to go to the beach. They accordingly went and bathed, and returned not only highly delighted at this little act of good nature on my part, but loaded with cockles, a bed of which they had managed to find among the sand. Clayton had tied one end of his shirt up, and brought a bag full, and amused himself with boiling cockles all night long.

I would fain have lingered on my way to examine, as far as circumstances would permit, the beautiful country between the lake and the ranges; and it was with heartfelt sorrow that I yielded to necessity. My men were, indeed, very weak from poverty of diet and from great bodily fatigue. Hopkinson, Mulholland, and Macnamee were miserably reduced.

It will be borne in mind that our difficulties were just about to commence, when those of most other travellers have ceased; and that instead of being assisted by the stream whose course we had followed, we had now to contend against the united waters of the eastern ranges, with diminished strength, and in some measure with disappointed feelings.

Under the most favourable circumstances, it was improbable that the men would be enabled to pull for many days longer in succession since they had not rested upon their oars for a single day, if I except our passage across the lake, from the moment when we started from the depot; nor was it possible for me to buoy them up with the hope even of a momentary cessation of labour. We had calculated the time to which our supply of provisions would last under the most favourable circumstances, and it was only in the event of our pulling up against the current, day after day, the same distance we had compassed with the current in our favour, that we could hope they would last as long as we continued in the Murray. But in the event of floods or any unforeseen delay, it was impossible to calculate at what moment we might be driven to extremity.

On the other hand, it was sufficiently evident to me that the men were too much exhausted to perform the task that was before them without assistance, and that it would be necessary both for M'Leay and myself to take our share of labour at the oars. The cheerfulness and satisfaction that my young friend evinced at the opportunity that was thus afforded him of making himself useful, and of relieving those under him from some portion of their toil, at the same time that they increased my sincere esteem for him, were nothing more than what I expected from one who had endeavoured by every means in his power to contribute to the success of that enterprise upon which he had embarked. But although I have said thus much of the exhausted condition of the men, I would by no means be understood to say that they flagged for a moment, or that a single murmur escaped them. No reluctance was visible, no complaint was heard, but there was that in their aspect and appearance which they could not hide, and which I could not mistake. We re-entered the river on the 13th under as fair prospects as we could have desired. The gale which had blown with such violence in the morning gradually abated, and a steady breeze enabled us to pass our first encampment, by availing ourselves of it as long as daylight continued.

Feb. 18th. The breezes that had so much assisted us from the lake upwards, had now lost their influence, or failed to reach to the distance we had gained. Calms succeeded them, and obliged us to labour continually at the oars. We lost ground fast, and it was astonishing to remark how soon the men's spirits drooped again under their first efforts. They fancied the boat pulled heavily and that her bottom was foul, but such was not the case. The current was not so strong as when we passed down, since the river had evidently fallen more than a foot, and was so shallow in several places that we were obliged to haul the boat over them. On these occasions we were necessarily obliged to get out of her into the water, and had afterwards to sit still and to allow the sun to dry our clothes upon us. The unemployed consequently envied those at the oars, as they sat shivering in their dripping clothes.

I have omitted to mention one remarkable trait of the good disposition of all the men while on the coast. Our sugar had held out to that point; but it appeared when we examined the stores that six pounds alone remained in the cask. This the men positively refused to touch. They said that, divided, it would benefit nobody; that they hoped M'Leay and I would use it, that it would last us for some time, and that they were better able to submit to privations than we were. The feeling did them infinite credit, and the circumstance is not forgotten by me. The little supply the kindness of our men left to us was, however, soon exhausted, and poor M'Leay preferred pure water to the bitter draught that remained. I have been sometimes unable to refrain from smiling as I watched the distorted countenances of my humble companions while drinking their tea and eating their damper.

March 17th. We had been drawing nearer the Morumbidgee every day; and the following afternoon, to our great joy, we turned our boat into the gloomy and narrow channel of the tributary. Our feelings were almost as strong when we re-entered it as they had been when we were launched from it into that river, on whose waters we had continued for upwards of fifty-five days; during which period, including the sweeps and bends it made, we could not have travelled less than 1,500 miles.

Our daily journeys were short, and the head we made against the stream but trifling. The men lost the proper and muscular jerk with which they once made the waters foam and the oars bend. Their whole bodies swung with an awkward and laboured motion. Their arms appeared to be nerveless; their faces became haggard, their persons emaciated, their spirits wholly sunk; nature was so completely overcome, that from mere exhaustion they frequently fell asleep during their painful and almost ceaseless exertions. It grieved me to the heart to see them in such a state at the close of so perilous a service, and I began to reproach Robert Harris that he did not move down the river to meet us; but, in fact, he was not to blame. I became captious, and found fault where there was no occasion, and lost the equilibrium of my temper in contemplating the condition of my companions. No murmur, however, escaped them, nor did a complaint reach me that was intended to indicate that they had done all they could do. I frequently heard them in their tent, when they thought I had dropped asleep, complaining of severe pains, and of great exhaustion. "I must tell the Captain, to-morrow," some of them would say, "that I can pull no longer." To-morrow came, and they pulled on, as if reluctant to yield to circumstances. Macnamee at length lost his senses. We first observed this from his incoherent conversation, but eventually from his manner. He related the most extraordinary tales and fidgetted about eternally while in the boat. I felt it necessary, therefore, to relieve him from the oars.

April 12th. I determined on sending Hopkinson and Mulholland, whose devotion, intelligence and indefatigable spirits I well knew, forward to the plain.

The joy this intimation spread was universal. Both Hopkinson and Mulholland readily undertook the journey, and I, accordingly, prepared orders for them to start by the earliest dawn.

Six days had passed since their departure; we remaining encamped. I had calculated on seeing Hopkinson again in eight days, but as the morrow would see us without food, I thought, as the men had had a little rest, it would be better to advance towards relief than to await its arrival.

On the evening of the 18th, therefore, we buried our specimens and other stores, intending to break up the camp in the morning. A singular bird, which invariably passed it at an hour after sunset, and which, from the heavy flight, appeared to be of unusual size, had so attracted my notice, that in the evening M'Leay and I crossed the river in hope to get a shot at it. We had, however, hardly landed on the other side, when a loud shout called us back to witness the return of our comrades.

They were both of them in a state that beggars description. Their knees and ankles were dreadfully swollen and their limbs so painful that as soon as they arrived in the camp they sunk under their efforts, but they met us with a smiling countenance and expressed their satisfaction at having come so seasonably to our relief. They had, as I had foreseen, found Robert Harris on the plain, which they reached on the evening of the third day. They had started early the next morning on their return with such supplies as they thought we might immediately want. Poor Macnamee had in a great measure recovered, but for some days he was sullen and silent; the sight of the drays gave him uncommon satisfaction. Clayton gorged himself; but M'Leay, myself, and Fraser could not at first relish the meat that was placed before us.


Source.—Life of Charles Sturt (Mrs. N.G. Sturt), pp. 230-232, 264-267, 279-280

Observations of the migrations of birds convinced Sturt that there was good land in the interior of New South Wales, and in 1844 he set out to find it. His expedition failed because the season was exceptionally dry, and he was obliged to turn back before he had accomplished his object.

"If a line be drawn from Lat. 29° 30´ and Long. 140° N.W., and another from Mount Arden due north, they will meet a little to the northward of the tropic, and there I will be bound to say a fine country will be discovered." On what date Sturt pledges himself to the discovery of this fine country is not stated, but when later regretting his failure to reach the tropic and to set at rest his hypothesis of the better country to be found there, he briefly tells his reason for the supposition.

"Birds observed east of the Darling in the summer of 1828 in about lat. 29° 30´ S. and long. 144° had invariably migrated to the W.N.W. Cockatoos and parrots, known while in the colony to frequent the richest and best-watered valleys of the higher lands, would pass in countless flights to that point of the compass. In South Australia, in lat. 35° and long. 138°, I had also observed that several birds of the same kind annually visited that Province from the north. I had seen the Psittacus Novae Hollandiae and the shell paroquet following the shoreline of St. Vincent's Gulf like flights of starlings in England. The different flights at intervals of more than a quarter of an hour, all came from the north, and followed in one and the same direction.

"Now although the casual appearance of a few strange birds should not influence the judgement, yet from the regular migrations of the feathered race, a reasonable inference may be drawn. Seeing then that these two lines (viz., from Fort Bourke about lat. 30° and long. 144° to the W.N.W., and from Mount Arden in lat. 35° long. 138° to the north) if prolonged would meet a little to the northward of the tropic, I formed the following conclusions:

"First, that the birds migrating on those lines would rest for a time at a point where those lines met.

"Secondly, that the country to which they went would resemble that which they had left, that birds which frequented rich valleys or high hills would not settle down in deserts and flat country.

"Thirdly, that the intervening country, whether owing to deserts or large sheets of water, was not such as these birds could inhabit. Indeed, such large migrations from different parts to one particular, argued no less strongly the existence of deserts or of sea to a certain distance, than the probable richness of the country, to which as to a common goal these migrations tended.

"On the late expedition, at the Depot in lat. 29-1/2° and long. 142°, I found myself in the direct line of migration to the north-west; and to that point of the compass, birds whom I knew to visit Van Diemen's Land would, after watering, pass on. Cockatoos, after a few hours' rest, would wing their way to the north-west, as also would various water-birds, as well as pigeons, parrots, and paroquets, pursued by birds of the Accipitrine class. From these indications I was led to look still more for the realization of my hopes, if I could but force my way to the necessary distance.

"I ran 170 miles without crossing a single water-course. I travelled over salsolaceous plains, crossed sand-ridges, was turned from my westward course by salt-water lakes; and at last, on October 19th, at about 80 miles to the east of my former track, I found myself on the brink of the Stony Desert. Coming suddenly on it I almost lost my breath. If anything, it looked more forbidding than before. Herbless and treeless, it filled more than half of the horizon. Not an object was visible on which to steer, yet we held on our course by compass like a ship at sea.

"Poor Browne was in excruciating pain from scurvy. Every day I expected to find him unable to stir. My men were ill from exposure, scanty food, and muddy water; my horses leg-weary and reduced to skeletons. I alone stood unscathed, but I could not bear to leave my companion in that heartless desert.

"Finding myself baffled to the north and to the west, seeing no hope of rain, realizing that my retreat was too probably already cut off, I reluctantly turned back to the depot, 443 miles distant, and only through the help of Providence did we at length reach it."

Sturt, as he mounted to begin his retreat, was nearly induced to turn again by "a flock of paroquets that flew shrieking from the north towards Eyre's Creek. They proved that to the last we had followed with unerring precision the line of migration."


My instructions directed me to gain the meridian of Mount Arden or that of 138°, with a view to determine whether there were any chain of mountains connected with the high lands seen by Mr. Eyre to the westward of Lake Torrens, and running into the interior from south-west to north-east. I was ordered to push to the westward and to make the south the constant base of my operations. I was prohibited from descending to the north-coast, but it was left optional with me to fall back on Moreton Bay if I should be forced to the eastward. Whether I performed the task thus assigned to me or wavered in the accomplishment of it; whether I fell short of my duty, or yielded only to insuperable difficulties, the world will be enabled to judge. That I found no fine country is to be regretted; however, I was not sent to find a fine country, but to solve a geographical problem. I trust I am not presumptuous in saying that, from a geographical point of view, the results of this expedition have been complete. If I did not gain the heart of the continent, no one will refuse me the credit of having taken a direct course for it. My distance from that hitherto mysterious spot was less than 150 miles. In ten days I should have reached the goal; and that task would have been accomplished had rain fallen when I was at my farthest north. Had I found such a river as the Victoria, I would have clung to it to the last; but those alone will really know the nature of the country who shall follow me into it When I determined on turning homewards, with mind depressed and strength weakened, it appeared to me that I had done all that man could do. Now, under the influence of restored health, I feel that I did far too little. I can only say that I would not hesitate again to plunge into those dreary regions, that I might be the first to place my foot in the centre of this vast territory, and finally to raise the veil which still shrouds its features, even though, like those of the veiled prophet, they should wither the beholder.


Source.—Papers relating to the Burke and Wills Exploring Expedition, 1861. Published in the Argus, pp. 2-5, 19-20

In the year 1860 an expedition was planned to travel from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The leader was Robert Burke, and though with Wills, Gray, and King he reached the Gulf, the return was fatal owing to the desertion of the Cooper's Creek Depot by the other members of the expedition.

In the course of his evidence before the Commission of Inquiry Mr. King, the sole survivor, said:

The day before we arrived at Cooper's Creek we were allowed to consume as much provisions as we chose, in expectations of finding supplies so soon. We had only one pound of dry meat when we got there. If we had found no provisions there, we should all have died. It was as much as any of us could do to travel along the side of the creek. We had been so weak, that for ten days before, we had scarcely been able to make much distance, or to walk about. I seemed to be worse than either Mr. Burke or Mr. Wills, but after we arrived at the Depot I improved much more than they did. We had no difficulty in finding the provisions there. We arrived in the moonlight at half-past seven o'clock at night, after having pushed on thirty miles that day. Mr. Burke rode on one of the camels, and I and Mr. Wills on the other. We had our revolvers with us, and had been continually shooting at the crows and hawks. When we got to the Depot Mr. Burke was a little ahead of Mr. Wills and myself. He had often before said, "I think I can see their tents ahead," and made several remarks like that until we arrived there. When we got near, he said, "I suppose they have shifted to some other part of the creek." It was Mr. Wills who first saw the tree-mark, and saw the things scattered about the stockade. He saw the words, "Dig three feet to the north-east," or north-west; I am not certain which. When he saw the date at which they came to the camp, and the date at which they left, he said at once, "They have left here to-day. If they had shifted to any other part of the creek, they would not have marked this." We set to work digging up the plant. We did not know where they had gone to, but thought they had left some instructions. Mr. Burke was too much excited to do anything, and Mr. Wills and myself dug up the plant. I got the bottle there and Mr. Burke said: "Whatever instructions they have left are in this bottle." I then opened it and handed it to him. When he had read it, he informed us that the other party, except Paton, and that the animals were in good working order, and that on account of no person coming up to them, they had made a start for Camp 60, taking a course S.E. for Bulloo. Mr. Burke then said it was madness to attempt to follow them, as their men were in good order, and their camel too. He said we could not expect to make forced marches, and catch them up. Had the latter said they were in a weak state, as it appeared they were, we should have tried at any rate to overtake them. We remained at the creek a few days, and Mr. Burke and Mr. Wills had a consultation as to what was best to be done.

We left no provisions behind us, but took everything with us. When we had consumed all the sugar but 12 lb. we gave some balls of it to the camel. For a few days our principal food was porridge, which we preferred to anything else. We boiled it with water and sugar. In going down towards Mount Hopeless, we found we could not carry all the things we brought with us. We had to leave the camel-pads and such things. We made two attempts to get to Mount Hopeless. After losing one camel we remained at the creek some short time, till we recovered strength to start for Cooper's Creek again. We had only the clothes we stood in, and no bed-clothing but the camels' pads and two oilcloths. We had boots and trousers, such as they were.


The following is the despatch of Mr. Burke, left at the Depot at Cooper's Creek:

Depot No. 2, Cooper's Creek, Camp No. 65.—The return party from Carpentaria, consisting of myself, Wills and King (Gray dead) arrived here last night, and found that the depot party had only started on the same day. We proceed on to-morrow slowly down the creek towards Adelaide by Mount Hopeless, and shall endeavour to follow Gregory's track; but we are very weak. The two camels are done up, and we shall not be able travel faster than four or five miles a day. Gray died on the road from exhaustion and fatigue. We have all suffered much from hunger. The provisions left here will, I think, restore our strength. We have discovered a practicable route to Carpentaria, the chief portion of which lies on the 140th decree of east longitude. There is some good country between this and the Stony Desert. From there to the tropic the country is dry and stony. Between the tropic and Carpentaria a considerable portion is rangy, but it is well watered and richly grassed. We reached the shores of Carpentaria on 11th February, 1861. Greatly disappointed at finding the party here gone.

(Signed) ROBERT O'HARA BURKE, Leader.

April 22nd, 1861.

P.S.—The camels cannot travel, and we cannot walk, or we should follow the other party. We shall move very slowly down the creek.


Mr. Burke requested Mr. Wills to go up the creek as far as the Depot, and to place a note in the plant there, stating that we were then living on the creek, the former note having stated that we were on our road to South Australia. He also was to bury there the field-books of the journey to the Gulf.

Mr. Wills being returned, it was decided to go up the creek and live with the natives, if possible, as Mr. Wills thought we should have but little difficulty in obtaining provisions from them if we camped on the opposite side of the creek to them. He said he knew where they had gone, so we packed up and started. Coming to the gunyahs where we expected to have found them, we were disappointed, and seeing a nardoo field close by, halted, intending to make it our camp. For some time we were employed gathering nardoo, and laying up a supply.

Mr. Wills and I used to collect and carry home a bag each day, and Mr. Burke generally pounded sufficient for our dinner during our absence, but Mr. Wills found himself getting very weak, and was shortly unable to go out to gather nardoo as before, nor even strong enough to pound it, so that in a few days he became almost helpless. Mr. Burke now proposed that I should gather as much nardoo as possible in three days, and that with this supply we should go in search of the natives—a plan which had been urged upon us by Mr. Wills as the only chance of saving him and ourselves as well, as he clearly saw that I was no longer able to collect sufficient for our wants. Having collected the seed, as proposed, and having pounded sufficient to last Mr. Wills for eight days, and two days for ourselves, we placed water and firewood within his reach and started. Before leaving him, however, Mr. Burke asked him whether he still wished it, as under no other circumstances would he leave him; and Mr. Wills again said that he looked on it as our only chance. He then gave Mr. Burke a letter and his watch for his father, and we buried the remainder of the field-books near the gunyah.

In travelling the first day, Mr. Burke seemed very weak and complained of great pain in his legs and back. On the second day he seemed to be better, and said that he thought he was getting stronger, but, on starting, did not go two miles before he said he could go no further. I persisted in his trying to go on, and managed to get him along several times, until I saw that he was almost knocked up, when he said he could not carry his swag, and threw all he had away. I also reduced mine, taking nothing but a gun and some powder and shot and a small pouch and some matches. On starting again we did not go far before Mr. Burke said we should halt for the night, but, as the place was close to a large sheet of water, and exposed to the wind, I prevailed to go a little further, to the next reach of water where we camped.

We searched about and found a few small patches of nardoo, which I collected and pounded, and with a crow, which I shot, made a good evening's meal. From the time we halted, Mr. Burke seemed to be getting worse, although he ate his supper. He said he felt convinced he could not last many hours, and gave me his watch, which, he said, belonged to the Committee; and a pocket-book, to give to Sir William Stawell, and in which he wrote some notes. He then said to me: "I hope you will remain with me here till I am quite dead—it is a comfort to know that some one is by; but when I am dying, it is my wish that you should place the pistol in my right hand, and that you leave me unburied as I lie." That night he spoke very little, and the following morning I found him speechless, or nearly so; and about eight o'clock he expired. I remained a few hours there, but as I saw there was no use in remaining longer, I went up the creek in search of the natives. I felt very lonely, and at night usually slept in deserted wurleys, belonging to the natives. Two days after leaving the spot where Mr. Burke died, I found some gunyahs, where the natives had deposited a bag of nardoo, sufficient to last me a fortnight, and three bundles containing various articles. I also shot a crow that evening, but was in great dread that the natives would come and deprive me of the nardoo.

I remained there two days to recover my strength, and then returned to Mr. Wills. I took back three crows; but found him lying dead in his gunyah, and the natives had been there and had taken away some of his clothes. I buried the corpse with sand, and remained some days; but finding that my stock of nardoo was running short, and being unable to gather it, I tracked the natives who had been to the camp by their foot-prints in the sand, and went some distance down the creek, shooting crows and hawks on the road. The natives hearing the report of the gun, came to meet me, and took me with them to their camp, giving me nardoo and fish. They took the birds I had shot and cooked them for me, and afterwards showed me a gunyah, where I was to sleep with three of the single men.

They appeared to feel great compassion for me when they understood that I was alone on the creek, and gave me plenty to eat. After being four days with them, I saw that they were becoming tired of me, and they made signs that they were going up the creek, and that I had better go downwards; but I pretended not to understand them. The same day they shifted camp, and I followed them; and on reaching their camp, I shot some crows, which pleased them so much that they made me a breakwind in the centre of their camp, and came and sat round me until such time as the crows were cooked, when they assisted me to eat them. The same day one of the women to whom I had given part of a crow, came and gave me a ball of nardoo, saying that she would give me more only she had such a sore arm that she was unable to pound. She showed me a sore on her arm, and the thought struck me that I would boil some water in the billy and wash her arm with a sponge. During the operation the whole tribe sat round and were muttering one to another. Her husband sat down by her side and she was crying all the time. After I had washed it, I touched it with some nitrate of silver, when she began to yell and ran off, crying out, "Mokow! Mokow!" ("Fire! fire!"). From this time, she and her husband used to give me a small quantity of nardoo both night and morning, and whenever the tribe were about going on a fishing excursion, he used to give me notice to go with them. They also used to assist me in making a wurley, or breakwind, whenever they shifted camp. I generally shot a crow or a hawk, and gave it to them in return for these little services.

From this time to when the relief party arrived—a period of about a month—they treated me with uniform kindness, and looked upon me as one of themselves. The day on which I was released, one of the tribe who had been fishing came and told me that the white fellows were coming, and the whole of the tribe who were then in camp sallied out in every direction to meet the party, while the man who had brought the news took me over the creek, where I shortly saw the party coming down.


Source.—Explorations in Australia (J.M. Stuart. Hardman, 1865). pp. 164-165, 406-411

Stuart accompanied Sturt in 1844-5, and subsequently became an enthusiastic explorer. Three times he set out to travel from Adelaide to the Indian Ocean; the first time passing through the centre, and finally attaining his object in 1862. The Overland Telegraph line is laid along his track.


Sunday, 22nd April. Small Gum Creek, under Mount Stuart, Centre of Australia. To-day I find from my observations of the sun, 111° 00' 30", that I am now camped in the centre of Australia. I have marked a tree and planted the British Flag there. There is a high mount about two miles and a half to the N.N.E. I wish it had been in the centre; but on it to-morrow, I will raise a cone of stones, and plant the flag there, and name it "Central Mount Stuart." We have been in search of permanent water to-day, but cannot find any. I hope from the top of Central Mount Stuart to find something good to the N.W. Examined a large creek; can find no surface water, but got some by scratching in the sand. It is a large creek divided into many channels, but they are all filled with sand; splendid grass all round this camp.

Monday, 23rd April. Centre. Took Kekwick and the flag, and went to the top of the Mount, but found it to be much higher and more difficult of ascent than I anticipated. After a deal of labour, slips and knocks, we at last arrived on the top. The view to the north is over a large plain of gums, mulga, and spinifex, with watercourses running through it. The large gum creek that we crossed winds round this hill in a N.E. direction; at about ten miles it is joined by another. After joining they take a course more north, and I lost sight of them in the far distant plain. To the N.N.E. is the termination of the hills; to the N.E., E. and S.E. are broken ranges, and to the N.N.W. the ranges on the west side of the plain terminate. To the N.W. are broken ranges; and to the W. is a very high peak, between which, and this place to the S.W. are a number of isolated hills. Built a large cone of stones, in the centre of which I placed a pole with the British flag nailed to it. Near the top of the cone I placed a small bottle, in which there is a slip of paper, with our signatures to it, stating by whom it was raised. We then gave three hearty cheers for the flag, the emblem of civil and religious liberty, and may it be a sign to the natives that the dawn of liberty, civilization, and Christianity is about to break upon them. We can see no water from the top. Descended, but did not reach the camp till after dark. This water still continues which makes me think there must certainly be more higher up. I have named the range "John Range," after my friend and well-wisher, John Chambers, Esq., brother to James Chambers, Esq., one of the promoters of this expedition.


Thursday, 24th July. Thring Creek, entering the Marsh. Started at 7.40, course north. I have taken this course in order to make the sea-coast, which I suppose to be distant about eight miles and a half, as soon as possible; by this I hope to avoid the marsh. I shall travel along the beach to the north of the Adelaide. I did not inform any of the party except Thring and Auld, that I was so near to the sea, as I wished to give them a surprise on reaching it. Proceeded through a light soil, slightly elevated with a little ironstone on the surface, the volcanic rock cropping out occasionally; also some flats of black alluvial soil. The timber much smaller and more like scrub, showing that we are nearing the sea.

At eight miles and a half came upon a broad valley of black alluvial soil, covered with long grass; from this I can hear the wash of the sea. On the other side of the valley, which is rather more than a quarter of a mile wide, is growing a line of thick heavy bushes, very dense, showing that to be the boundary of the beach. Crossed the valley and entered the scrub, which was a complete network of vines. Stopped the horses to clear a way, whilst I advanced a few yards on to the beach, and was gratified and delighted to behold the water of the Indian Ocean in Van Diemen's Gulf, before the party with the horses knew anything of its proximity. Thring, who rode in advance of me, called out "The Sea!" which so took them all by surprise, and they were so astonished that he had to repeat the call before they fully understood what was meant. Then they immediately gave three long and hearty cheers. The beach is covered with a soft blue mud. It being ebb tide, I could see some distance; found it would be impossible for me to take the horses along it; I therefore kept them where I had halted them, and allowed half the party to come on to the beach and gratify themselves by a sight of the sea, while the other half remained to watch the horses until their return. I dipped my feet, and washed my face and hands in the sea, as I promised the late Governor, Sir Richard McDonnell, I would do if I reached it. The mud has nearly covered all the shells; we got a few, however. I could see no seaweed. There is a point of land some distance off, bearing 70°. After all the party had had some time on the beach, at which they were much pleased and gratified, they collected a few shells; I returned to the valley, where I had my initials (J.M.D.S.) cut on a large tree, as I did not intend, until I arrived at the mouth of the Adelaide, to put up my flag. Proceeded along the valley; at one mile and a half coming upon a small creek, with running water, and the valley being covered with beautiful green grass, I have camped to give the horses the benefit of it. Thus have I, through the instrumentality of Divine Providence, been led to accomplish the great object of the expedition, and take the whole party safely as witnesses to the fact, and through one of the finest countries man could wish to behold, good to the coast and with a stream of water within half a mile of the sea. From Newcastle water to the sea-beach, the main body of the horses have been only one night without water and then got it within the next day. If this country is settled, it will be one of the finest colonies under the Crown, suitable for the growth of any and everything—what a splendid country for producing cotton! Judging from the number of the pathways from the water to the beach, across the valley, the natives must be very numerous; we have not seen any, although we have passed many of their recent tracks and encampments. The cabbage and fan palm-trees have been very plentiful during to-day's journey down to this valley. This creek I named "Charles Creek," after the eldest son of John Chambers, Esq.; it is one by which some large bodies of springs discharge their surplus water into Van Diemen's Gulf; its banks are of soft mud, and boggy. Wind, south. Latitude, 12° 13´ 30".

Friday, 25th July. Charles Creek, Van Diemen's Gulf. I have sent Thring to the south-west to see if he can get round the marsh. If it is firm ground I shall endeavour to make the mouth of the river by that way. After a long search he has returned, and informs me that it is impracticable, being too boggy for the horses. As the great object of this expedition is now attained, and the mouth of the river already well known, I do not think it advisable to waste the strength of my horses in forcing them through, neither do I see what object I should gain by doing so; they have still a very long and fatiguing journey in recrossing the continent to Adelaide, and my health is so bad that I am unable to bear a long day's ride. I shall, therefore, cross this creek and see if I can get along by the sea-beach, or close to it. Started and had great difficulty in getting the horses over, though we cut a large quantity of grass, putting it on the banks and on logs of wood which were put into it. We had a number bogged, and I was nearly losing one of my best horses, and was obliged to have him pulled out with ropes; after the loss of some time we succeeded in getting them all over safely. At two miles came upon an open part of the beach, went on to it, and again found the mud quite impassable for horses. Stopped the party, as this travelling is too much for the horses, and, taking Thring with me, rode two miles to see if the ground was any firmer in places; found it very soft where the salt water had covered it, in others not so bad. Judging from the number of the shells banked up in different places, the sea must occasionally come over this. I saw at once that this would not do for the weak state in which my horses were, and I therefore returned to where I left the party, resolving to re-cross the continent to the City of Adelaide. I now had an open place cleared, and selecting one of the tallest trees, stripped it of its lower branches, and on its highest branch fixed my flag, the Union Jack, with my name sewn in the centre of it. When this was completed, the party gave three cheers, and Mr. Kekwick then addressed me, congratulating me on having completed this great and important undertaking, to which I replied. Mr. Waterhouse also spoke a few words on the same subject, and concluded with three cheers for the Queen, and three for the Prince of Wales. At one foot south from the foot of the tree is buried, about eight inches below the ground, an air-tight tin case, in which is a paper with the following notice:

"South Australian Great Northern Exploring Expedition. The exploring party, under the command of John McDouall Stuart arrived at this spot on the 25th day of July, 1862, having crossed the entire continent of Australia from the Southern to the Indian Ocean, passing through the centre. They left the City of Adelaide on the 26th day of October 1861, and the most northern station of the colony on 21st day of January, 1862. To commemorate this happy event, they have raised this flag bearing his name. All well. God Save the Queen!"

(Here follow the signatures of myself and party.)

As this bay has not been named, I have taken this opportunity of naming it "Chambers Bay," in honour of Miss Chambers, who kindly presented me with the flag which I have planted this day, and I hope this may be the first sign of the dawn of approaching civilization.

Exactly this day nine months the party left North Adelaide. Before leaving, between the hours of eleven and twelve o'clock, they had lunch at Mr. Chambers' house; John Bentham Neals, Esq., being present, proposed success to me, and wished I might plant the flag on the north-west coast. At the same hour of the day, nine months after, the nag was raised on the shores of Chambers Bay, Van Diemen Gulf. (On the bark of the tree on which the flag is placed is cut—DIG ONE FOOT, S.) We then bade farewell to the Indian Ocean, and returned to Charles Creek, where we had again great difficulty in getting the horses across, but it was at last accomplished without accident. We have passed numerous and recent tracks of natives to-day; they are still burning the country at some distance from the coast.

[Note. The memorandum left by Stuart on top of the Central Mountain runs as follows:]

John McDouall Stuart and party consisting of two men and himself arrived from Adelaide in the Centre of Australia on Saturday evening the twenty first day of April 1860, and have built this cone of stones and raised this flag to commemorate the event, on top of Mount Sturt; the centre is about two miles South South West at a small gum creek where there is a tree marked facing the south.


21st April 1860,

Centre of Australia.

The name of the Central Mountain appears in the published journal as Stuart. This is probably due to a mistake of the publisher's, which remained uncorrected, as Stuart was very ill when his journal was printed.


Source.—Explorations in Australia (John Forrest, 1875), pp. 83-94, 107-114, 121-135.

In 1870 Forrest set out to explore the country along the Bight. It had previously been considered desert land, but the expedition discovered valuable country behind the cliffs.

We started from Perth on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 30th of March 1870. His Excellency the Governor accompanied us for about three miles on the Albany Road. We had fifteen horses, and provisions sufficient for the journey to Esperance Bay, a distance of about 450 miles, where it was arranged further supplies would await us.

May 18th. Esperance Bay. After starting the party went in advance with Billy to prepare camp at Israelite Bay. When we reached it, were delighted to find the Adur lying safely at anchor there; proceeding on board found all well. Procured abundance of water by digging one foot deep in the sand-hills, and good feed a short distance from camp.

Our friends on the Adur were looking anxiously for us. We were two days behind the appointed time, and they feared some evil had befallen us, not taking into consideration the many delays incidental to such a journey through strange and difficult country as we had made.

On the 24th of May we determined to celebrate the Queen's birthday. All hands from the Adur came ashore, and I drew them up in line under the Union Jack, which was duly hoisted near the camp. We presented arms; sang "God Save the Queen" vigorously, and fired a salute of twenty-one guns, finishing with three cheers. I venture to record that our vocal efforts were as sincerely and heartily made in the Australian wilderness as any which rang that day in any part of Her Majesty's wide dominions. We were all highly delighted—not only feeling that we had done our duty as loyal subjects, but other celebrations in more civilized places were forcibly recalled to memory.

June 22nd. Saddled up at dawn, and steering southerly over clear, open grassy plains for twenty-eight miles, we reached the cliffs, and rested an hour; after which we continued our journey and reached camp a little after dark, finding all well.

June 23rd. Made preparations for a start for Eucla to-morrow, and put everything in travelling order. During my absence, Osborn had got the horses' feet in order, and the pack-saddles had been overhauled and repairs generally made. In looking round the camp, Tommy Windich found shoulder-blade of a horse and two small pieces of leather. They no doubt belonged to Mr. Eyre's equipment, and, on reference to his journal, I find he was here obliged to kill a horse for food.

I cut off part of the shoulder-blade, and have since given it, together with the pieces of leather, to His Excellency Governor Weld.

June 24th. Started at 8.30 a.m. en route for Eucla. Steering in a N.N.E. direction for fifteen miles, reached the cliffs, and after following along them two miles, found a large rock water-hole, but in an almost inaccessible spot. While I was examining the cliffs near, to find a place where we could get the horses up, Tommy heard a coo-ey, and after answering it a good many times, we were surprised to see two natives walking up towards us, unarmed. I approached and met them; they did not appear at all frightened and at once began to eat the damper I gave them. We could not understand anything they said. I beckoned them to come along with us, which they at once did, and followed so closely after as to tramp on my spurs. They pointed to water further ahead. After walking about a mile, four more natives were seen running after us, who, on joining, made a great noise, singing and appearing very pleased. Shortly afterwards two more followed, making seven in all; all entirely naked. We found the water alluded to, on the top of the cliffs, but it being too late to get the horses up, we turned off to the southward half a mile, and camped on a small grassy flat, without water for the horses. The seven natives slept at our fire. We gave them as much damper as they could eat. They had not the least particle of clothing, and made pillows of each other's bodies, and resembled pigs more than human beings.

July 1st. Descending the cliffs with difficulty, we followed along the foot of them, which was beautifully grassed, and, after travelling twelve miles, beheld the Eucla sand-hills. On my pointing them out, every heart was full of joy, and, being away some distance, I heard the long and continued hurrahs from the party! Eucla was all the conversation! I never before remember witnessing such joy as was evinced on this occasion by all the party. After travelling five miles further, we camped close to the cliffs at a small water-hole. We might have reached Eucla this evening, but I preferred doing so to-morrow, when we could have the day before us to choose camp. We are now again in safety, Eucla being only seven miles distant; after having travelled 166 miles without finding permanent water—in fact, over 300 miles with only one place where we procured permanent water. I trust we all recognized with sincerity and thankfulness the guiding and protecting Father who had brought us through in safety.

July 2nd. Made an early start and steered straight for the anchorage, distant about five miles, having first ascended the range to have a view of the country, which was very extensive. Far as the eye could reach to the westward, the Roe Plains and Hampton Range were visible; while to the eastward lay Wilson's Bluff and the Delissier sand-hills; and three miles west of them we were delighted to behold the good schooner Adur, riding safely at anchor in Eucla harbour, which formed by no means the least pleasing feature of the scene to our little band of weary travellers. Made at once for the vessel, and on reaching her, found all well and glad to see us. She was anchored between the Red and Black Beacons. The latter had been blown down, but shall be re-erected. There being no water at the anchorage, moved on to the Delissier sand-hills, where we found water by digging two and a half feet from the surface. Camped on the west side of the sand-hills.

Landed barley, etc., from the boat. There was a good feed for the horses under the Hampton Range, about a mile and a half distant.

July 11th. Osborn busy with the shoeing. Went with Billy to Wilson's Bluff, and saw the boundary-post between South and Western Australia, placed by Lieutenant Douglas.

July 12th. Erected the flagstaff with the Union Jack flying, and nailed a copperplate to the staff, with the following engraved on it:

JULY 12TH, 1870.

July 17th. Was obliged to get up twice to bring back the horses, and at 4 o'clock made a start. The horses were in a very exhausted state; some having difficulty to keep up. About noon I could descry the land turning to the southward, and saw, with great pleasure, we were fast approaching the Head of the Great Australian Bight. Reached the sand-patches at the extreme head of the Bight just as the sun was setting, and found abundance of water by digging two feet deep in the sand. Gave the horses as much as I considered safe for them to have at one time. I have never seen horses in such a state before and hope never to do so again. The horses, which four days ago were strong and in good condition, now appeared only skeletons, eyes sunk, nostrils dilated, and thoroughly exhausted. Since leaving Eucla to getting water at this spot, a period of nearly ninety hours, they had only been allowed one gallon of water each, which was given them from our water-drums. It is wonderful how well they performed this journey; had they not started in good condition they never could have done it. We all felt very tired. During the last sixty hours I have only had about five hours' sleep, and have been continually in a state of anxiety—besides which, all have had to walk a great deal.

July 18th. This is a great day in my journal and journey. After collecting the horses we followed along the beach half a mile, when I struck N. for Peelunabie Well, and at half a mile struck a cart track from Fowler's Bay to Peelunabie. After following it one mile and a quarter, came to the well, and old sheep yards, and camped. Found better water in the sand-hills than in the well. There is a board nailed on a pole directing to the best water, with the following engraved on it: "G. Mackie, April 5th, 1865, water—120 yards." Upon sighting the road this morning, which I had told them we should do, a loud and continued hurrahing came from all the party, who were overjoyed to find signs of civilization again; while Billy, who was in advance with me, and whom I had told to look out, as he would see a road directly, which he immediately did, began giving me great praise for bringing them safely through a long journey. I certainly felt very pleased and relieved from anxiety, and, on reviewing the long line of march we had performed through an uncivilized country, was very sensible of that protecting Providence which had guided us safely through the undertaking.

Before I conclude I have the pleasing duty to record my entire appreciation of every member of the party. I need not particularize as one and all had the interest and welfare of the expedition at heart, and on no occasion uttered a single murmur. Finally, sir, my best and most sincere thanks are due to His Excellency Governor Weld for the very efficient manner in which the expedition was equipped. It is chiefly owing to the great zeal and desire of His Excellency that I should have everything necessary, that the success of the enterprise is attributable.

I have, etc.

Leader of Expedition.

The Hon. F.P. Barlee, Esq.,
Colonial Secretary, W.A.


Source.—Explorations in Australia (John Forrest, 1875), pp. 149-162, 188, 201, 257, 261

Four years after his successful journey along the Bight, Forrest determined to explore the interior of Western Australia, and in so doing added greatly to the knowledge of that somewhat neglected State.

The success which had attended my previous expeditions, and the great encouragement received from the Government and public of each colony, made me wish to undertake another journey for the purpose of ascertaining whether a route from Western Australia to the advanced settlements of the Southern colony was practicable. I also hoped to contribute, if possible, towards the solution of the problem, What is the nature of the Interior? My first journey, when I succeeded in penetrating for about 600 miles into the unknown desert of Central Australia, had convinced me that, although there might, and doubtless would, be considerable difficulties to be encountered, there were no insuperable obstacles, except a probable failure in the supply of water. That certainly was the most formidable of all the difficulties that would no doubt have to be encountered; but on the previous journey the scarcity of water had been endured, not without privation and suffering, but without any very serious result.

Stuart's great feat of crossing the continent from south to north had been followed by other successful efforts in the same direction. Another result was the establishing a line of telegraph from Adelaide to Port Darwin. This might, therefore, be considered the eastern boundary of the unknown districts, and, moreover, was the point of departure for the South Australian expeditions in a westerly direction. It was also the limit I desired to reach, and reaching it, I should achieve the object I had so much at heart.

On the 18th of March, 1874, the expedition quitted Perth. The 19th was Sunday, and, according to practice, we rested. Every Sunday throughout the journey I read Divine Service, and, except making the daily observations, only work absolutely necessary was done. Whenever possible, we rested on Sunday, taking, if we could, a pigeon, a parrot, or other such game as might come in our way as special fare. Sunday's dinner was an institution for which, even in those inhospitable wilds, we had a great respect.

June 13th. About one o'clock Pierre saw a flock of emus coming to water, and went off to get a shot. Kennedy followed with the rifle. I climbed up on a small tree to watch them. I was surprised to hear natives' voices, and, looking towards the hills, I saw from forty to sixty natives running towards the camp, all plumed up and armed with spears and shields. I was cool, and told Sweeny to bring out the revolvers; descended from the tree and got my gun, and coo-ed to Pierre and Kennedy, who came running. By this time they were within sixty yards, and halted. One advanced to meet me, and stood twenty yards off: I made friendly signs; he did not appear very hostile. All at once, one from behind (probably a chief) came rushing forward, and made many feints to throw spears. He went through many manoeuvres, and gave a signal, when the whole number made a rush towards us, yelling and shouting, with their spears shipped. When within thirty yards, I gave the word to fire; we all fired as one man, only one report being heard. I think the natives got a few shots, but they all ran up the hill and there stood talking and haranguing and appearing very angry. We re-loaded our guns, and got everything ready for a second attack, which I was sure they would make. We were not long left in suspense. They all descended from the hill and came on slowly towards us. When they were about 150 yards off I fired my rifle, and we saw one of them fall, but he got up again and was assisted away. On examining the spot we found the ball had cut in two the two spears he was carrying; he also dropped his wommera, which was covered with blood. We could follow the blood-drops a long way over the stones. I am afraid he got a severe wound. My brother and Windich being away we were short-handed. The natives seem determined to take our lives and, therefore, I shall not hesitate to fire on them should they attack us again. I thus decide, and write in all humility, considering it a necessity, as the only way of saving our lives. I write this at 4 p.m., just after the occurrence, so that, should anything happen to us, my brother will know how and when it occurred. 5 p.m.—The natives appear to have made off. We intend sleeping in the thicket close to camp, and keeping a strict watch, so as to be ready for them should they return to the attack this evening. At 7.30 my brother and Windich returned, and were surprised to hear of our adventure. They had been over fifty miles from camp E.S.E., and had passed over some good feeding country, but had not found a drop of water. They and their horses had been over thirty hours without water.

June 14th, Sunday. The natives did not return to the attack last night. In looking round camp we found the traces of blood where one of the natives had been lying down. This must have been the foremost man, who was in the act of throwing his spear, and who urged the others on. Two therefore, at least, are wounded, and will have cause to remember the time they made their murderous attack upon us. We worked all day putting up a stone hut, ten by nine feet, and seven feet high, thatched with boughs. We finished it; it will make us safe at night. Being a very fair hut, it will be a great source of defence. Barometer 28.09; thermometer 68° at 5 p.m. Hope to have rain, as without it we cannot proceed.

July 3rd. Soon after starting, found a little water in a gully and gave our horses a drink. Ascended a spur of the range and had a good view ahead, and was very pleased with the prospect. Steering N.E. towards a large range about fifteen miles off, we found a great deal of spinnifex, although the country generally was thickly wooded. I rode Mission, who went along pretty well for about twelve miles, when Williams gave in again, and Mission soon did the same. For the next six miles to the range we had awful work, but managed with leading and driving to reach the range; spinnifex all the way and also on the top of it. I was very nearly knocked up myself, but ascended the range and had a very extensive view. Far to the N. and E. the horizon was as level and uniform as that of the sea; apparently spinnifex everywhere; no hills or ranges could be seen for a distance of quite thirty miles.

The prospect was very cheerless and disheartening. Windich went on the only horse not knocked up in order to find water for the horses. I followed after his tracks, leading the two poor done-up horses. With difficulty I could get them to walk. Over, and through the rough range I managed to pull them along and found sufficient water to give them a good drink, and camped on a small patch of rough grass in one of the gorges. Spinnifex everywhere; it is a most fearful country. We cannot proceed farther in this direction, and must return and meet the party, which I hope to do to-morrow night. We can only crawl along having to walk and lead the horses, or at least drag them. The party have been following us, only getting a little water from gullies, and there is very little to fall back on for over fifty miles. I will leave what I intend doing until I meet them. I am nearly knocked up again to-night; my boots have hurt my feet, but I am not yet disheartened.

[Forrest stayed in the Interior for nearly three more months.]

Sept. 26th. Got off early and followed the river (Hamilton) about two miles when it took a bend to the north, and as it was rather boggy near it, we left it, and steered about east and E.N.E. for about twenty miles over most miserable country without any grass. We camped on a small gully with a little water in it, and some old dry grass in a flat. The horses were very tired, not having had anything to eat for the last two or three days; and some showed signs of giving in; in fact, all weak and knocked up, and we had to handle them very carefully. For the first thirteen miles we passed many clay-pans full of water—water nearly everywhere—after which there was very little; and the rain does not appear to have been heavy to the east. The river is about a mile and a half north of us, and we have not seen it for some miles. Latitude 27° 9' south. Hope to reach the telegraph line to-morrow.

Sept. 27th, Sunday. Continuing E.N.E. for two miles, came to the Alberga, and following along its right bank, over many clay-pans with water, about east for twelve miles, and then E.N.E. for three miles, and reached the telegraph line, between Adelaide and Port Darwin, and camped. Long and continued cheers came from our little band as they beheld at last the goal to which we have been travelling for so long. I felt rejoiced and relieved from anxiety; and on reflecting on the long line of travel we had performed through an unknown country, almost a wilderness, felt very thankful to that good Providence that had guarded and guided us so safely through it. The telegraph line is most substantially put up and well wired, and is very creditable at this spot; large poles of bush timber, often rather crooked, and iron ones here and there. I now gave up keeping watch, having kept it regularly for the last six months. Marked a tree F. 104, being 104th camp from Geraldton.




Source.—Historical Records of Australia. Vol. I, pp. 9-32, 373

In 1783 England recognized the Independence of her American Colonies, and thus lost the settlements to which she usually transported her criminals. By 1786 her gaols had become woefully overcrowded, and consequently it was decided to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay. Captain Phillip was selected as commanding officer of the expedition.



George the Third, etc., to our trusty and well-beloved Captain Arthur Phillip, greeting:

We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your loyalty, courage and experience in military affairs, do, by these presents, constitute and appoint you to be Governor of our territory called New South Wales, extending from the northern cape or extremity of the coast called Cape York, in the latitude of 10° 37' south, to the southern extremity of the said territory of New South Wales or South Cape, in the latitude of 43° 39' south, and of all the country inland to the westward as far as the one hundred and thirty-fifth degree of longitude reckoning from the meridian of Greenwich, including all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean, within the latitude aforesaid of 10° 37' south and 43° 39' south, and of all towns, garrisons, castles, forts, and all other fortifications or other military works which now are or may be hereafter erected upon this said territory. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duties of Governor in and over our said territory by doing and performing all and all manner of things thereunto belonging, and we do hereby strictly charge and command all our officers and soldiers who shall be employed within our said territory, and all others whom it may concern, to obey you as Governor thereof; and you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from us, or any other your superior officer according to the rules and discipline of war, and likewise such orders and directions as we shall send you under our signet or sign manual, or by our High Treasurer or Commissioners of our Treasury for the time being, or one of our principal Secretaries of State, in pursuance of the trust we hereby repose in you.

Given at our Court at St. James's the twelfth day of October, 1786, in the twenty-sixth year of our reign.

By His Majesty's command.




Instructions for our trusty and well-beloved Arthur Phillip, Esq., our Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief in and over our territory of New South Wales and its dependencies or to the Lieutenant Governor or Commander-in-Chief of the said territory for the time being. Given at our Court at St. James's the 25th day of April 1787 in the twenty-seventh year of our reign.

You are to fit yourself with all convenient speed, and to hold yourself in readiness to repair to your said command, and being arrived, to take upon you the execution of the trust we have reposed in you, as soon as conveniently may be, with all due solemnity to cause our said Commission under our Great Seal of Great Britain constituting you our Governor and Commander-in-Chief as aforesaid to be read and published.

And whereas we have ordered that about 600 male and 180 female convicts now under sentence or order of transportation whose names are contained in the list hereunto annexed should be removed out of the gaols and other places of confinement in this our kingdom, and be put on board of the several transport ships which have been taken up for their reception, it is our Royal will and pleasure that as soon as the said convicts, the several persons composing the civil establishments, and the stores, provisions, etc., provided for their use, shall be put on board the Supply, tender, and the transport ships named in the margin, and be in readiness to depart, that you do take them under your protection and proceed in the Sirius with the said tender and transports to the Port on the coast of New South Wales, situated in the latitude of 33° 41' called by the name of Botany Bay, agreeably to the instructions with which you will be furnished by the Commissioners of our Admiralty, in pursuance of our Royal commands already signified to them.

According to the best information which we have obtained, Botany Bay appears to be the most eligible situation upon the said coast for the first establishment, possessing a commodious harbour and other advantages which no part of the coast hitherto discovered affords. It is therefore our will and pleasure that you do immediately upon your landing, after taking measures for securing yourself and the people who accompany you as much as possible from any attacks or interruptions of the natives of that country, as well as for the preservation and safety of the public stores, proceed to the cultivation of the land, distributing the convicts for that purpose in such manner, and under such Inspectors and Overseers, and under such regulations as may appear to you to be necessary and best calculated for procuring supplies of grain and ground provisions.

The assortment of tools and utensils which have been provided for the use of the convicts and other persons who are to compose the intended settlement are to be distributed according to your discretion, and according to the employment assigned to the several persons. In the distribution, however, you will use every proper degree of economy, and be careful that the Commissary so transmit an account of the issues from time to time to the Commissioners of our Treasury to enable them to judge of the propriety or expediency of granting further supplies. The clothing of the convicts and the provisions issued to them, and the several civil and military establishments, must be accounted for in the same manner.

The increase of the stock of animals must depend entirely upon the measures you may adopt on the outset for their preservation; and as the Settlement will be amply supplied with vegetable productions, and most likely with fish, fresh provisions, excepting for the sick and convalescents, may in a great degree be dispensed with. For these reasons it will become you to be extremely cautious in permitting any cattle, sheep, hogs, etc., intended for propagating the breed of such animals to be slaughtered until a competent stock maybe acquired, to admit of your supplying the settlement from it with animal food without having further recourse to the places from whence such stock may have originally been obtained.

It is our will and pleasure that the productions of all descriptions acquired by the labour of the convicts should be considered as a public stock, which we so far leave to your disposal that such parts thereof as may be requisite for the subsistence of the said convicts and their families, or the subsistence of the civil and military establishments of the settlement may be applied by you to that use. The remainder of such productions you will reserve as a provision for a further number of convicts, which you may expect will shortly follow you from hence, to be employed under your direction in the manner pointed out in these our instructions to you.

From the natural increase of corn and other vegetable food from a common industry, after the ground has once been cultivated, as well as of animals, it cannot be expedient that all the convicts which accompany you should be employed in attending only to the object of provisions. And as it has been humbly represented to us that advantages may be derived from the flax-plant which is found in the islands not far distant from the intended settlement, not only as a means of acquiring clothing for the convicts and other persons who may become settlers, but from its superior excellence for a variety of maritime purposes, and as it may ultimately become an article of export, it is, therefore, our will and pleasure that you do particularly attend to its cultivation, and that you do send home by every opportunity which may offer, samples of this article, in order that a judgment may be formed whether it may not be necessary to instruct you further upon this subject.

And whereas we are desirous that some further information should be obtained of the several ports or harbours upon the coast, and the islands contiguous thereto, within the limits of your government, you are, whenever the Sirius or the Supply tender, can conveniently be spared, to send one, or both of them, upon that service.

Norfolk Island, situated in the lat.——, and long.——[blanks in manuscript] east from Greenwich about——, being represented as a spot which may hereafter become useful, you are, as soon as circumstances will admit of it, to send a small establishment thither to secure the same to us, and prevent it being occupied by the subjects of any other European power; and you will cause any remarks or observations which you may obtain in consequence of this instruction to be transmitted to our Principal Secretary of State for Plantation Affairs for our information.

You are to endeavour by every possible means to open an intercourse with the natives and to conciliate their affections, enjoining all our subjects to live in amity and kindness with them. And if any of our subjects shall wantonly destroy them, or give them any unnecessary interruption in the exercise of their several occupations, it is our will and pleasure that you do cause such offenders to be brought to punishment according to the degree of the offence. You will endeavour to procure an account of the numbers inhabiting the neighbourhood of the intended settlement, and report your opinion to one of our Secretaries of State in what manner our intercourse with these people may be turned to the advantage of this colony.

And it is further our royal will and pleasure that you do by all proper methods enforce a due observance of religion and good order among the inhabitants of the new settlement, and that you do take such steps for the due celebration of public worship as circumstances will permit.

And whereas many of our subjects employed upon military service at the said settlement and others who may resort thither upon their private occupations, may hereafter be desirous of proceeding to the cultivation and improvement of the land, and as we are disposed to afford them every reasonable encouragement in such an undertaking: It is our will and pleasure that you do, with all convenient speed, transmit a report of the actual state and quality of the soil at and near the said intended settlement, the probable and most effectual means of improving and cultivating the same, and of the mode, and upon what terms and conditions, according to the best of your judgment, the said lands should be granted, that proper instructions and authorities may be given to you for that purpose.

[Having fairly established the first settlement of white men on the continent of Australia, Governor Phillip wrote an account of his work to the Colonial Secretary.]


Sydney Cove, New South Wales,

May 15th, 1788.

My Lord,

I had the honour of informing your Lordship, by Captain Cox, who was returning to Europe from Madras that I was ready to sail from the Cape of Good Hope, and which I did, with the ships under my command, the 12th of November. The 25th, being eighty leagues to the eastward of the Cape, I left the Sirius, and went on board the Supply tender, in hopes, by leaving the convoy, to gain sufficient time to examine the country round Botany Bay and fix on the most eligible situation for the colony before the transports arrived.

The Supply, sailing very badly, had not permitted my gaining the advantage hoped for, but I began to examine the bay as soon as we anchored, and found that tho' extensive, it did not afford shelter to ships from the easterly winds; the greater part of the Bay being so shoal that ships of even a moderate draught of water are obliged to anchor with the entrance of the bay open, and are exposed to a heavy sea that rolls in when it blows hard from the eastward.

Several small runs of fresh water were found in different parts of the bay, but I did not see any situation to which there was not some very strong objection. The small creek that is in the northern part of the bay runs a considerable way into the country, but it had only water for a boat. The sides of this creek are frequently overflowed, and the lowlands a swamp. The western branch runs up for a considerable distance, but the officers I sent to examine it could not find any water, except in very small drains.

The best situation that offered was near Point Sutherland, where there was a small run of good water; but the ground near it, as well as a considerable part of the higher ground, was spongy, and the ships could not approach this part of the bay.

Several good situations offered for a small number of people, but none that appeared calculated for our numbers, and where the stores and provisions could be landed without a great loss of time. When I considered the bay's being so very open, and the probability of the swamps rendering the most eligible situation unhealthy, I judged it advisable to examine Port Jackson; but that no time might be lost if I did not succeed in finding a better harbour, and a proper situation for the settlement, the ground near Point Sutherland was in the meantime to be cleared and preparations made for landing under the direction of the Lieutenant-Governor.

As the time in which I might be absent, if I went in the Supply, must have been very uncertain, I went round with three boats, taking with me Captain Hunter, and several officers, that by examining different parts of the port at the same time less time might be lost.

We got into Port Jackson early in the afternoon, and had the satisfaction of finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security, and of which a rough survey, made by Captain Hunter and the officers of the Sirius after the ships came round, may give your Lordship some idea.

The different coves were examined with all possible expedition. I fixed on the one that had the best spring of water, and in which the ships can anchor so close to the shore that at a very small expense quays may be made at which the largest ships may unload.

This cove, which I honoured with the name of Sydney, is about a quarter of a mile across at the entrance and half-a-mile in length.

We returned to Botany Bay the third day, where I received a very unfavourable account of the ground that was clearing.

The ships immediately prepared to go round, and the 25th—seven days after I arrived in the Supply—I sailed in her for Port Jackson, leaving Captain Hunter to follow with the transports, it then blowing too strong for them to work out of the bay. They joined me the next evening, and all the transports were moored in the cove.

Two sail had appeared off Botany Bay the 24th, under French colours, and anchored there before the Sirius left it—the Boussole and the Astrolabe. These ships were commanded by Monsieur La Perouse, who having expressed a desire of sending letters to Europe, I sent an officer over, it being only eight miles, to tell him in what time it was probable the ships might sail.

The clearing the ground for the people and for erecting storehouses was begun as soon as the ships got round, a labour of which it will be hardly possible to give your Lordship a just idea.

The necks of land that form the different coves, and near the water for some distance, are in general so rocky that it is surprising that such large trees should find sufficient nourishment, but the soil between the rocks is good, and the summits of the rocks, as well as the whole country round us, with few exceptions, are covered with trees, most of which are so large that the removing them off the ground after they are cut down is the greatest part of the labour; and the convicts, naturally indolent, having none to attend them but overseers drawn from amongst themselves, and who fear to exert any authority, makes this work go on very slowly.

As there are only twelve convicts who are carpenters, as many as could be procured from the ships have been hired to work on the hospital and storehouses. The people were healthy when landed, but the scurvy has for some time appeared amongst them, and now rages in a most extraordinary manner. Only sixteen carpenters could be hired from the ships, and several of the convict carpenters were sick. It was now the middle of February; the rains began to fall very heavy, and pointed the necessity of hutting the people; convicts were therefore appointed to assist the detachment in this work.

The great labour in clearing the ground will not permit more than eight acres to be sown this year with wheat and barley. At the same time the immense number of ants and field mice will render our crops very uncertain.

Part of the live stock brought from the Cape, small as it was, has been lost, and our resource in fish is also uncertain. Some days great quantities are caught, but never sufficient to save any part of the provisions; and at times fish are scarce.

Your Lordship will, I presume, see the necessity of a regular supply of provisions for four or five years, and of clothing, shoes and frocks in the greatest proportion. The necessary implements for husbandry and for clearing the ground brought out will, with difficulty, be made to serve the time that is necessary for sending out a fresh supply.

The labour of the convicts shall be as is directed, for the public stock, but it is necessary to permit a part of the convicts to work for the officers, who, in our present situation, would otherwise find it impossible to clear a sufficient quantity of ground to raise what is absolutely necessary to support the little stock they have; and I am to request that your Lordship will be pleased to direct me to what extent that indulgence may be granted the officers of the garrison.

The Sirius shall be sent to the northward to barter for stock, and which shall be employed solely for the purposes of increasing the breed of such cattle as she may procure. The Supply is in no ways calculated for this service, as in the least sea her decks are full of water.

The beginning of May the rainy season was once more supposed to be set in, but after a week we had fine weather.

The three transports for China sailed the 5th, 6th, and 8th of May; and the Supply having been caulked sailed the 6th to Lord Howe Island, to endeavour to procure turtle, in hopes of checking the scurvy with which most of the people are affected, and near two hundred rendered incapable of doing any work. It is not possible to send the Sirius to the northward, for she must then have her carpenters, and only three of those hired from the transports now remain; and tho' the detachment began to build barracks for the use of the men and huts for the officers the 14th of February, and near a hundred convicts were given to assist in this work, they are not yet finished, nor is the hospital or the storehouse that is to receive the provisions still remaining on board three transports, and on these works the carpenters of the Sirius are employed. I have before pointed out the great labour in clearing the ground as one cause of our slow progress.

Your Lordship will, I hope, excuse the confused manner in which I have in this letter given an account of what has passed since I left the Cape of Good Hope. It has been written at different times, and my situation at present does not permit me to begin so long a letter again, the canvas house I am under being neither wind nor waterproof.

I have, etc.,



Source.—Historical Records of Australia. Vol. I, pp. 45-51

The young colony was threatened by many dangers, but Governor Phillip with untiring energy and skill averted them, and with unusual foresight prophesied the future greatness of the country.


Sydney Cove, July 9th, 1788.

My Dear Sir,

You will see by my letters to Lord Sydney that this colony must for some years depend on supplies from England.

The Sirius will be sent to the northward for live stock as soon as we can spare her carpenters; and from what Monsieur la Perouse said to Captain Hunter, one of the Isles des Navigateurs is the most likely to furnish us with what we want. But though these Islands supply two or three ships very abundantly, they will afford but very little towards the support of this colony, the situation of which I have particularly pointed out in my letter to Lord Sydney, and which I shall recapitulate in this, as the ship by which I now write may arrive before either of those that have my despatches on board.

The Lieutenant-Governor has about four acres of land in cultivation. I have from eight to ten in wheat and barley. The officers will be able to raise sufficient to support the little live stock they have, and which is all that can be expected from them. All the corn raised this year and the next will be saved for seed, and if necessity should oblige us to use it, it would be only a few days' support for the colony; and from the rats and other vermin the crops are very uncertain.

This country is subject to very heavy storms of thunder and lightning, several trees having been set on fire, and some sheep and dogs killed in the camp since we landed.

All the provisions we have to depend on until supplies arrive from England are in two wooden buildings which are thatched. I am sensible of the risk but have no remedy.

The greatest part of the stock brought from the Cape is dead, and from the inattention of the men who had the care of the cattle, those belonging to Government and two cows belonging to myself are lost. As they have been missing three weeks, it is probable they are killed by the natives. All my sheep are dead and a few only remain of those purchased for Government. The loss of two cows and four bulls falls very heavy. The horses do very well.

With respect to any resources that the Cape of Good Hope might afford, I have only to observe that the strong westerly winds that prevailed all the year between the Cape and the southern extremity of this country would render a passage to the Cape very tedious if attempted to the southward, and little less so if ships go to the northward. Batavia and our own settlements are at a great distance; and when the transports are sailed I shall have only the Sirius to employ on a service of this kind; and as I should not think myself at liberty to send either to the Cape or the East Indies unless in a case of the greatest necessity, it would in all probability then be too late. I mention these circumstances just to show the real situation of the colony, and I make no doubt but that supplies will arrive in time, and on which alone I depend. The provisions sent to support this colony for two years being put on board three ships, was running a very great risk, for had they separated and afterwards been lost the consequence is obvious, for this country at present does not furnish the smallest resource except in fish, and which has lately been so scarce that the natives find great difficulty in supporting themselves. Any accident of this kind will be guarded against, of course; and soldiers or convicts when sent out will be put on board the ships with provisions to serve them for two years after they land; and in our present situation I hope few convicts will be sent out for one year at least, except carpenters, masons, and bricklayers, or farmers, who can support themselves and assist in supporting others. Numbers of those now here are a burthen and incapable of any kind of hard labour, and, unfortunately, we have not proper people to keep those to their labour who are capable of being made useful.

Officers decline the least interference with the convicts, unless when they are immediately employed for their (the officers) own conveniency or when they are called out at the head of their men; the saying of a few words to encourage the diligent when they saw them at work, and the pointing out the idle when they could do it without going out of their way, was all that was desired. The convicts were then employed in clearing the ground on which the officers were encamped, and this they refused; they did not suppose they were sent out to do more than garrison duty, and these gentlemen (that is, the majority of the officers) think the being obliged to sit as members of the Criminal Court an hardship, and for which they are not paid, and likely think themselves hardly dealt by, in that Government had not determined what lands were to be given to them. But I presume an additional force will be sent out when the necessity of making detachments in order to cultivate lands in the more open country is known, and from four to six hundred men, will, I think, be absolutely necessary.

If fifty farmers were sent out with their families they would do more in one year in rendering this colony independent of the mother country as to provisions than a thousand convicts. There is some clear land which is intended to be cultivated, at some distance from the camp, and I intended to send out convicts for that purpose, under the direction of a person that was going to India in the Charlotte, transport, but who remained to settle in this country, and has been brought up a farmer, but several of the convicts (three) have been lately killed by the natives, and I have been obliged to defer it until a detachment can be made.

The natives are far more numerous than they were supposed to be. I think they cannot be less than fifteen hundred in Botany Bay, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay, including the intermediate coast. I have traced thirty miles inland, and the having lately seen smoke on Lansdown Hills, which are fifty miles inland, I think leaves no doubt but there are inhabitants in the interior parts of the country.

Lists of what articles are most wanted will be sent by the Commissary, and I am very sorry to say that not only a great part of the clothing, particularly the women's, is very bad, but most of the axes, spades, and shovels the worst that ever were seen. The provision is as good. Of the seeds and corn sent from England part has been destroyed by the weevil; the rest is in very good order.

The person I have appointed Provost-Marshal is likewise very useful in superintending the carpentry; the person sent out by the contractor, who assists the Commissary in the delivery of provisions, one that was clerk of the Sirius, a master smith, and two farmers, are very useful people, and I beg leave to recommend them to Government. The granting them lands would draw their attention from their present occupations.

A convict who fled to the woods after committing a robbery returned after being absent eighteen days, forced in by hunger; he had got some small support from the people, and the few fish left by accident on the beach after hauling the seine, and had endeavoured to live amongst the natives, but they could but give him but little assistance; he says they are now greatly distressed for food, and that he saw several dying with hunger. It is possible that some of the natives at this time of year might find it easier to support themselves on birds and such animals as shelter themselves in the hollow trees, than on fish; but then, I think, they would not go to the top of the mountains, where at present it must be very cold. I intend going to Lansdown or Carmarthen Hills as soon as the weather permits, if it is possible, and which will explain what is at present a mystery to me—how people who have not the least idea of cultivation can maintain themselves in the interior part of this country. When I went to the westward, in hopes of being able to reach the mountains, we carried six days' provisions, and proceeded five days to the westward; returning we were very short of provisions, and our guns only procured us two scanty meals.

I shall conclude with saying that I have no doubt but that the country will hereafter prove a most valuable acquisition to Great Britain, though at present no country can afford less support to the first settlers, or be more disadvantageously placed for receiving support from the mother country, on which it must for a time depend. It will require patience and perseverance, neither of which will, I hope, be wanting on the part of

Dear Sir,

Yours, etc.



After four years of strenuous labour Phillip was forced to leave the work he had so well begun.


Sydney, 21st November, 1791.

My Lord,

I am honoured with your Lordship's letter of the 19th of February in answer to mine to Lord Sydney, and beg leave to assure your Lordship that I should not hesitate a moment in giving up my private affairs to the public service; but from a complaint which so very frequently puts it out of my power to use that exercise which my situation requires and the present state of this colony, in which I believe every doubt respecting its future independency as to the necessaries of life is fully done away, I am induced to request permission to resign the Government, that I may return to England in hopes of finding that relief which this country does not afford.

I have, etc.



Source.—Historical Records of Australia. Vol. I, p. 122; Vol. II, pp. 573-576

The New South Wales Corps was a body of soldiers forcibly recruited to guard the convicts at Port Jackson. The soldiers quickly passed from bullying the convicts to bullying the free population, and assumed a high-handed attitude towards the Governor himself.


Whitehall, 19th June 1789.


The discontents which have prevailed in the marine detachment, and the desire expressed by most of the officers and men to return home as soon as they shall have performed the tour of duty they had undertaken, have led to the making arrangements for relieving them. With that view His Majesty has ordered a corps to be raised for that particular service, consisting of three hundred rank and file and a suitable number of officers under a Major-Commandant. This corps is ordered to be in readiness for embarkation on the 1st of October next, and will, it is expected, soon after that time proceed upon the voyage.


Dec. 24th, 1789.

The corps which I before informed you was to be raised to serve within your Government, instead of the marines now doing duty there, has been complete for some time past. A detachment from it, consisting of about 100 officers and men, has been put on board the convict ships for their greater security against attempts which the convicts might meditate, and the remainder, under the command of Major Grose, amounting as you will see by the enclosed establishment to upwards of 200 more, will, I expect, embark at Portsmouth on board His Majesty's ship the Gorgon, in the course of a few days.


Sydney, New South Wales,

10th Aug., 1796.

My Lord,

Having occasion in my letter, No. 9. by the ship Marquis Cornwallis, to notice very particularly a paragraph in your Grace's letter of the 10th of June, 1795, which related to the conduct of the military serving upon Norfolk Island in 1794, and which gave me occasion to mention similar outrage having been committed by the soldiers here since my arrival, I signified in that letter that I thought it might be improper in me to suppress or keep from your Grace's knowledge that outrage, and that it should be communicated at a future opportunity. I therefore enclose for your Grace's information a paper, No. 1, containing the particulars, stated in as brief a manner as possible. I forbear, my Lord, to make any observations upon this violent and extraordinary conduct on the part of the soldiers. I transmit only a statement of the facts, leaving your Grace wholly uninfluenced by anything I might have occasion to remark upon so daring a violation of the peace and order of the settlement, as well as in defiance of those laws by which that peace is to be preserved.

But as an alteration in the ration had at that time been ordered, I think it necessary to observe that their temper at the moment was so violent that they positively refused to take it unless they were served all flour, instead of part flour and part corn, a desire which could not be complied with without manifest injustice to others, and also insisted upon being paid short-allowance money for the time they were on short ration, which they say Governor Phillip had promised them. This last demand I must request your Grace's instructions upon.

The paper No. 2 is the Public Order which I gave out immediately after the outrage; No. 3 is a copy of my letter to the commanding officer of the corps upon that occasion; and No. 4 is a paper which was intended to quiet the minds of the inhabitants of the settlement, who might naturally (if no steps were taken to punish the offenders in this case, nor any particular notice be taken of the offence committed by them) conceive themselves subject to such violence and oppression from the military whenever any soldier might think fit to take offence at them. These papers are all which I think it necessary to trouble your Grace with upon this occasion, as the facts will best speak for themselves, and prevent the possibility of a conjecture that any unfair representation could have been intended.

I should feel myself deficient in that duty which I owe to His Majesty's service in this part of the world were I not to take a liberty which I have no reason to believe your Grace will be offended at—I mean, in remarking that the manner in which this corps has, since employed upon this service, been recruited, does in a great measure weaken the effect or service which we would expect to derive from the assistance of the military. Soldiers from the Savoy, and other characters who have been considered as disgraceful to every other regiment in His Majesty's service, have been thought fit and proper recruits for the New South Wales Corps, which, in my humble opinion, my Lord, should have been composed of the very best and most orderly dispositions. They are sent here to guard and keep in obedience to the laws when force may be requisite, a set of the worst, the most atrocious characters that ever disgraced human nature; and yet we find amongst those safeguards men capable of corrupting the heart of the best disposed, and often superior in every species of infamy to the most expert in wickedness amongst the convicts. Our stores, provisions, and granaries must be intrusted to the care of these men; what security can we have in the hands of such people? None, my Lord. Your Grace will see the impropriety of such recruits being sent to this country, and mixed with a corps who have the care of our most valuable concerns. Not to detain your Grace, I will beg permission to observe that a corps of military to be permanently established for the service of this colony, to which the dregs and refuse of our native country are directed by its laws to be sent as a punishment, cannot be attended with that advantage which may have been expected from it.

This, I confess, my Lord, to be my opinion, and for this reason, that they will make connections with infamous characters here, whatever attention may be paid by their officers to prevent it; by this means they will in time be corrupted and rendered unfit people for the trust which we must repose in them. It might probably be thought expensive to relieve them as other garrisons, once in three, four, or five years; but I cannot help believing, my Lord, that the service would be much benefited by such a measure; and two forty-four-gun ships armed en flute sailing at a proper season would complete the relief, and return in from twelve to fourteen months, frequently less. The expense attending this measure will probably be an objection; but, my Lord, although the saving to be made by it may appear too remote to merit immediate notice, yet I am convinced it would ultimately prove a saving, and no inconsiderable one.

I have, etc.,


(Enclosure No. 1)


John Baughan who officiates as foreman of the carpenters working at Sydney, and a private soldier of the New South Wales Corps, of the same profession, had some dispute when formerly working together on an occasion when Baughan had the direction. This dispute, it appeared, had not subsided in the mind of the soldier, and probably was not wholly forgot by the other. It, however, was more conspicuous in the soldier, from the following circumstance:—One day when sentinel over a storehouse, knowing that Baughan was at work in a house some distance from his post, he set his arms down against the wall of the store, and seeing a man whom he knew, standing on the outside of the building in which Baughan was at work, entered into a conversation with him, of which Baughan was the subject, and in which much abuse was bestowed which it was meant that he, Baughan, should hear. Baughan went out at the back door unperceived, and seeing the soldier without his arms, went to his post, where he found the musquet, which he took up and carried to the guardhouse and delivered to the sergeant of the guard. The soldier was, of course, taken notice of and relieved, being without his arms. The next day, 5th February, at half-past nine o'clock in the forenoon the whole of the corps off duty at this place assembled, and in the most public and tumultuous manner proceeded to the dwelling of John Baughan, broke open his gates, doors and windows, entered his house, chopped the corner-posts of it, broke his bedsteads and bedding, chairs, window-frames, drawers, chests, and, in short, completely demolished everything within his possession to a considerable amount, for the man had by great labour and industry built himself a neat house and had it well furnished.

Upon their first approach, having had a few minutes' notice, he armed himself with a loaded gun and defended himself by threats for some time, but their numbers were so many that they surrounded his paling which enclosed the house, which some tore down, and entered on the opposite side to that which he endeavoured to defend, came behind him, secured and threw him down with his face to the ground, whilst one held an axe over his neck, and swore if he offered to stir, he would chop the head from his body. During the time he remained in this situation they completed the ruin of his whole property, to the very great terror of the man's wife, after which they went off cheering, as if something meritorious had been effected, and marched in a body across the parade before their commanding officer's house.

After so daring an attack in the open day, upon the dwelling-house of an inhabitant, and in direct defiance of all law, civil or military, they could only be considered as in a state of mutiny. I immediately issued in Public Orders the papers No. 2.

(Enclosure No. 2)


5th Feb., 1796.



The very riotous manner in which the soldiers have conducted themselves this morning, and the very unwarrantable liberty they have thought proper to take in destroying the dwelling-house of John Baughan, is so flagrant a crime against the laws established in this colony that nothing but the want of proof to substantiate who the principal actors in this disgraceful business were, could possibly prevent their being immediately tried for so glaring an offence against the peace of the colony.

The Governor thinks it necessary to assure the soldiers that he considers their conduct upon this occasion to have been disgraceful to the character of a British soldier, and that he did hope to have found men amongst them who would have had pride enough to have stood forward and have pointed out the ringleaders of so mutinous a conduct, for in no other light can it be considered than that of mutiny when the military assemble in such numbers unknown to their officers, who are at all times ready to listen to any complaints they may have to make, and to see that agreeable to common justice they are redressed. If the soldiers expect that the Governor or any of the officers in this settlement can hereafter consider them as hereafter meriting the honourable appellation of British troops, it must be by their bringing forward the ringleaders or advisers of this disgraceful conduct, in order that the stigma may be wiped away by such worthless characters being brought to trial for this shameful conduct.

(Enclosure No. 3)


Sydney, 7th Feb. 1796.


Since I saw you this morning I have turned in my mind the subject of our conversation, and I have in consequence changed my intention of speaking to the soldiers myself. I see that it would be a condescension on my part which their violent and unsoldierlike conduct does not entitle them to from me. I stand in this colony as the Chief Magistrate, and the representative of our Sovereign; anything, therefore, that could lessen me in the eye of the public would be degrading the King's authority, which shall never suffer in my person whilst I am capable of giving it its full power and consequence. I never can or will listen to the complaints of any set of men who feel themselves above preferring them with moderation, and a decent submission to the laws and regulations of the colony; they must not—they shall not—dictate laws and rules for the government of this settlement; they were sent here by His Majesty to support the civil power in the execution of its functions, but they seem disposed to take all law into their own hands, and to direct it in whatever way best may suit their own views.

Their violence upon the late occasion shall be laid before the King, and the principal actors in it shall be pointedly marked, in order that justice the most perfect be done to everyone concerned in it. I must declare to you, sir, that the conduct of this part of the New South Wales Corps has been, in my opinion the most violent and outrageous that was ever heard of by any British regiment whatever, and I shall consider every step they may go farther in aggravation as rebellion against His Majesty's Government and authority, of which the most early notice shall be taken, and those concerned be in due time obliged to answer for it most probably with their lives. This is all I think it necessary to trouble you with. Their conduct will be pointedly marked thro' all its stages, and I will be firm and resolved in such steps as it may be necessary for me to pursue, and of this you, as their commanding Officer, will be pleas'd to inform them.

I am, etc.,



Source.—Historical Records of Australia. Vol. II, p. 128

In 1795, while Great Britain was at war with France, a great rebellion broke out in Ireland. During its suppression many of the Irish were transported to Port Jackson, and caused much trouble and disaffection among the convicts there.


Sydney, New South Wales,
15 Feb. 1798.

My Lord Duke,

I have for some time been in doubt whether the representation I am about to make to your Grace should be private or public, but on considering that it might occasion the adoption of some measure interesting to the concerns of this colony, I have preferred the latter mode.

In order that your Grace should have the earliest opportunity of taking into consideration the subject I am about to introduce, I could have wished to have been enabled to communicate it immediately.

To come without further preface to the point in question, I have to inform your Grace that the Irish convicts are become so turbulent, so dissatisfied with their situation here, so extremely insolent, refractory, and troublesome, that, without the most rigid and severe treatment it is impossible for us to receive any labour whatever from them. Your Grace will see the inconvenience which so large a proportion of that ignorant, obstinate, and depraved set of transports occasion in this country by what I now state, and which has taken place since I wrote my letter No. 30, herewith forwarded.

In addition to their natural vicious propensities they have conceived an opinion that there is a colony of white people in some part of this country in which they will receive all the comforts of life without the necessity of labour. They have lately taken away two of our breeding mares to carry them towards that part of the country and have made several attempts to possess themselves of others. This, my Lord, is a serious inconvenience to the colony. The loss of any part of our small stock of these useful animals is a matter of peculiar concern.

A correspondence, it seems, has been carried on by these people from one district to another, and plans have been projected for their escaping from the colony, and a few have attempted by land, as well as by water, and for the want of our having earlier information they have succeeded. I have found it necessary to divide them as much as possible, to prevent such schemes being formed; but by this separation they have a better opportunity of irritating and inflaming the minds of those convicts who before such acquaintance have been found of better disposition.

Having already mentioned in my letter, No. 30, the escape of those who had taken away two of our boats, and the disappointment of another gang, and similar attempt, I have now to inform your Grace of a far more numerous gang, who had provided what they thought necessary for their expedition, had fixed upon the place of general rendezvous, and were furnished with a paper of written instructions how they were to travel in point of direction from hence to this fancied paradise, or to China. This paper of directions will warrant my suspicion that some wicked and disaffected person or persons lurk somewhere in this colony, and I have done all in my power to discover them, but hitherto without success. Having received early information of the intention of this party, who were said to have increased to about sixty, I planted a party of armed constables, on whose vigilance I could depend, and they secured a gang of these Defenders of about twenty and brought them to prison. The next day I spoke to them, but observing a considerable degree of obstinacy and ignorance about them, I conceived there could be no better argument used to convince them of their misconduct than a severe corporal punishment, which was inflicted, and they have since been strictly looked after at their work. Some of those fellows had been provided with a figure of a compass drawn upon paper which, with written instructions, was to have assisted them as their guide. The ignorance of these deluded people, my Lord, would scarcely be credited if such positive proof of it were not before us, and yet (which seems to imply a kind of contradiction) it is extraordinary with what art and cunning they form their horrible plans of wickedness and villainy.

In their schemes of desertion from the colony, their own death, if they succeed in getting away, is inevitable; but their minds have been worked up to such a pitch of folly, rashness, and absurdity, that nothing but experience will convince them; if we suffer them to escape into the country they are lost, not only to us but to the world, for perish they must.

For the sake, therefore, of humanity, and a strong desire to save these men, worthless as they are, from impending death, I ordered four of the strongest and hardiest of their numbers to be selected by the people themselves, and to prepare for a journey of discovery for the satisfaction of their associates, in order that they might have an opportunity of relating upon their return whatever they saw and met with. I had, farther, for the safety and preservation of those four, directed three people, long accustomed to the woods, and acquainted with some of the mountain savages, to accompany them; these men had also a little knowledge of the language of the savages, from having lived some months amongst them, and they were instructed to lead them back when, fatigued and exhausted with their journey over steep and rocky mountains, through thick and extensive woods, and fording deep and rapid rivers, they should feel disposed to abandon their journey. This plan was no sooner settled than I received information that a party of these miscreants had agreed with the four above-mentioned to meet them at a certain place absolutely to murder the very persons intended to be their guides, and to possess themselves of their arms and munitions and provisions, in addition to what each was supplied with, and to take their own route. These circumstances will, no doubt, appear to your Grace wild and extravagant; but after having mentioned their ignorance in the manner I have it may serve to convince your Grace that there are improper persons in this colony who work upon that ignorance to a dangerous degree. In consequence of the information of this design against their guides, I ordered four soldiers to attend them to the foot of the first mountain with orders how to act if any others attempted to join them; none appeared, and the whole of them returned with the soldiers, most completely sick of their journey.

Our flocks and our crops, my Lord, are all I feel any concern about; strict, rigid, and just punishment shall constantly hang over these delinquents, and this, I trust, they are already convinced of. I hope the return of the above three, and the story they can tell, will serve to make them more contented with their present lot, and open their eyes to the comforts which in this country they may derive and enjoy, and which are certainly superior to any they ever possessed in their own.

Strange as such instances of human ignorance and depravity are, I have to inform your Grace that a small party of those very people, some short time after, actually contrived to make their escape, and after travelling for many weeks through the country, made shift to reach the sea-coast, near Botany Bay, but in a part where no boat has ever been seen. Providentially, however, a boat had lost her way in going to George's River and found those unhappy deluded wretches, on a place where they had been nine days, and where they must soon have perished but for this miraculous event. They were brought back almost exhausted from want of food, and from sad and powerful conviction have promised to warn their countrymen against such wild excursions in future.

I will here take an opportunity of mentioning that those men who had left a part of their crew upon an island to the southward, and had returned and taken a larger boat at Broken Bay, and had been wrecked upon the coast to the northward, built out of the ruins of their vessel a small boat in which they reached the above Bay; but not being able to possess themselves of another, fit for their purpose, were, for want of food, driven to the necessity of travelling across the country; they wrote to me, but it was impossible to listen to their feigned story; they were armed and carried some appearance of an intention to defend themselves; they, however, surrendered themselves up, and were tried and severally pleaded guilty of the robberies wherewith they were charged, and two out of the six suffered death—an awful example, which, I hope, will have a proper effect and prevent such attempts in future. Several of them assured me that they had seen the wreck of the first boat—which I mentioned in my letter No. 30—and it is very probable the crew have perished.

I have, etc.,



Source.—Historical Records of Australia. Vol. VI, pp. 208-213, 240-242

As the free settlers became numerous and prosperous they became self-assertive, and the most energetic naturally fell foul of a tactless autocrat like Governor Bligh, who governed New South Wales as if all were of the same status.


Headquarters, Sydney, N.S.W.
11th April, 1808.

My Lord,

A series of almost incredible circumstances have imposed upon me the distressing task and responsibility of superseding the authority vested in Governor Bligh by His Majesty's Commission, and of assuming the Government of this colony until His Majesty's pleasure shall be signified, or until the arrival of an officer authorized to relieve me in the Command.

Whenever the facts that have influenced me throughout so solemn a transaction shall be laid before my Gracious Sovereign, I humbly trust His Majesty will approve of my conduct, and that it will be apparent I had no alternative but to put Governor Bligh in arrest to prevent an insurrection of the inhabitants, and to secure him and the persons he confided in from being massacred by the incensed multitude, or, if the Governor had escaped so dreadful an end, and retained his authority, to see His Majesty's benevolent and paternal Government dishonour'd by cruelties and merciless execution.

The event that I have the honour to report to your Lordship took place on the 26th of last January, and although such a space of time has since elapsed, I have found it impossible to prepare that arranged detail, and that connected chain of evidence which so uncommon a subject has made it my indispensable duty to transmit to your Lordship.

Why I have been unable to perform this task, I shall, as I proceed, endeavour to explain, and I respectfully hope that the information and the evidence which I now propose to forward will prove to your Lordship that Governor Bligh has betrayed the high trust and Confidence reposed in him by his Sovereign, and acted upon a predetermined plan to subvert the Laws of his country, to terrify and influence the Courts of Justice, and to bereave those persons who had the misfortune to be obnoxious to him, of their fortunes, their liberty, and their lives.

In the accomplishment of this plan, one act of oppression was succeeded in a progressive course by a greater, until a general sensation of alarm and terror prevailed throughout the settlement. Several inhabitants were dispossessed of their houses, and many others of respectable characters, or who had become opulent by trade, were threatened with the Governor's resentment if they presumed to build upon or alienate their own lands.

These measures and various other acts of violence were projected and supported by the Governor and a junto of unprincipled men, amongst whom it was well known and has since been proved, the notorious George Crossley, sent to this colony for perjury, was the principal person, and the one most confided in by the Governor.

Your Lordship will not be surprised that a Government conducted by the aid of such a Minister should be hated and detested as well as feared.

All the inhabitants who were a little advanced in their circumstances beyond the common mass dreaded the approach of the moment when their turn would come to be sacrificed to the avarice, the resentment, or the fury of the Governor and his friends.

But whilst they were trembling with apprehension for their own safety, the eyes of the whole were suddenly turned from the contemplation of the general danger to that of Mr. Macarthur, a gentleman who was many years an officer in the New South Wales Corps, and who now possesses a large property in this Country.

The extent of Mr. Macarthur's estate, the number of his flocks and herds, it had been long seen, had made him extremely obnoxious to Gov'r Bligh. Mr. Macarthur, sensible how much he had to dread from the ill-will of an officer of the Gov'r's well-known character, endeavoured to provide for his security by the most scrupulous circumspection and prudence of conduct. Secluded in a profound retirement on his estate, and unceasingly engaged in its management and the care and education of his children, his name was never heard of in any public business; but neither caution nor prudence could long shield him from the hostile spirit of the Governor. The attack was first commenced upon his reputation, and terminated in the imprisonment of his person in the Common Gaol.

After a variety of introductory measures, which your Lordship will find detailed in the copy of the proceedings of a Court of Criminal Judicature, to which I shall hereafter refer, Mr. Macarthur surrendered as a prisoner at its bar on the 25th of last January, charged with two separate misdemeanours. When the members of the Court had been sworn in, and they were proceeding to swear in Richard Atkins, Esq., the Judge-Advocate, Mr. Macarthur presented a protest, in which he urged a variety of objections against that officer's presiding at his trial. Mr. Atkins endeavoured to prevail upon the Court not to receive or hear the protest read; but the members being of opinion it ought to be heard, directed Mr. Macarthur to proceed. The Judge-Advocate then retired from his chair and waited until Mr. Macarthur had read the protest. When that was done he advanced again, and declared Mr. Macarthur should be immediately committed to Gaol.

The Court then interfered on behalf of Mr. Macarthur, and after a long altercation the Judge-Advocate retired from the Court-House, leaving behind him his papers.

These were immediately taken possession of and examined by the Members, and those papers led to a discovery that the whole plan of the trial had been arranged, and every question prepared that was to be asked the evidence of the prosecution by the infamous Crossley.

A very awful impression was made upon the minds of the inhabitants, as I have been informed, when they saw Mr. Macarthur taken to the gaol; many respectable persons hastened to him; and when the Court assembled at 10 o'clock his two bonds men presented a copy of the Warrant for his apprehension and a deposition from themselves.

The Court directly wrote to the Governor a letter expressive of their concern and praying Mr. Macarthur might be restored to his bail. To this letter no answer was given, and the Court having waited till 3 o'clock adjourned.

When it was known that the Court had broken up without having procured Mr. Macarthur's enlargement, the agitation of the town became greatly increased, and information was brought to me at four o'clock by Mr. Harris, Surgeon of the New South Wales Corps, that an insurrection of the Inhabitants was to be feared. In a few minutes after I had received this intelligence a Dragoon arrived with a letter from the Governor, in which I was informed that six of the officers of the New South Wales Corps had been charged with treasonable practices, and were summoned to appear before the Governor and the Magistrates at nine o'clock the next morning. I immediately set off in a carriage to the Town.

On my arrival at the Barracks I saw all the Civil and Military Officers collected, and the most respectable inhabitants in conversation with them. The common people were also to be seen in various groups in every street murmuring and loudly complaining, whilst others were watching the movements of Crossley and the Magistrates who frequently passed from the Judge Advocate's to the Government House. At this moment it was also known that the Governor was shut up in Council with the depraved and desperate Crossley, Mr. Palmer, the Commissary, Mr. Campbell, a Merchant, and Mr. Arndell (the latter three, Magistrates) and that Mr. Gore (the Provost-Marshal) and Mr. Fulton (the Chaplain) were also at Government House, all ready to sanction whatever Crossley proposed or the Governor ordered.

The gentlemen who had assembled on my arrival earnestly entreated me to adopt decisive measures for the safety of the inhabitants and to dispel the great alarm, as it was understood throughout the town that the Members of the Court of Criminal Judicature would be thrown into Gaol; and it was expected after such a measure nothing could limit the excess of the Governor's cruelties; the gentlemen also warmly urged me to bail Mr. Macarthur, so that he might consult with them on the measures most proper to recommend at so extraordinary a crisis.

As I had no doubt of the illegality of Mr. Macarthur's confinement, I felt no difficulty in acceding to the request, and Mr. Macarthur being released from the Gaol directly joined the Assembly of Officers and inhabitants who were then at the Barracks.

In a short time after, a letter was presented to me imploring me instantly to put Governor Bligh in arrest, and to assume the Command of the Colony. This letter was also approved of by all the Officers of the Corps present at Head-Quarters; and as the events I had myself witnessed left me no cause to doubt the propriety and necessity of complying with this requisition, I immediately ordered the Corps under Arms, and directed four Officers to proceed to Government House and summon Governor Bligh to resign his authority. The Corps quickly followed, attended by the Civil Officers and a considerable number of respectable inhabitants.

The four officers who had carried the summons met me at the Governor's door and reported that he was nowhere to be found, nor any information to be obtained of him, although the strongest assurances had been given that his person should be strictly guarded from insult or violence.

After a rigid search the Governor, however, was at last discovered, in a situation too disgraceful to be mentioned, and which I solemnly declare to your Lordship would have been most gratifying to my feelings had it been possible to have concealed from the public. As soon as Governor Bligh made his appearance, I assured him of his personal safety and of every attention in my power to offer him.

Whilst the search was making for Governor Bligh I was entreated by the Civil Officers and the Inhabitants to proclaim Martial Law, and this request meeting my approbation, Martial Law was instantly proclaimed and continued in force until the next day. As not a single act of disorder or irregularity was committed during the interesting scene that I have had the honour to describe to your Lordship, and as the most perfect peace and tranquillity were restored throughout the whole settlement I published a Proclamation the next morning, revoking the order of the preceding evening and restoring the Civil Government.

I ordered the Court of Criminal Judicature to assemble that Mr. Macarthur might be arraigned on the Indictment that was found amongst the Judge-Advocate's papers, and that the trial might proceed on the plan Crossley had suggested to secure his conviction. The evidences were examined in the order Crossley had prescribed, and every question asked that he had previously dictated. Your Lordship will discover from the copy of the Trial that Mr. Macarthur was acquitted without being put on his defence, and that a complete disclosure was made of the plans which had been deliberately formed for the ruin and destruction of that gentleman.

I respectfully trust this trial and the confessions of the Magistrates and other confidential persons will convince your Lordship of the guilty intentions of Governor Bligh, and how little he regarded the sacred personage whom he represented by suffering himself to be guided by a wretch like that man Crossley to persecute and oppress His Majesty's subjects.

I am now, my Lord, arrived at the most painful part of my task—an explanation of the causes that have prevented me from preparing a better arranged Statement of the transactions in which I have been engaged; and it is with deep concern I find myself obliged to report to your Lordship that the opposition from those persons from whom I had most reason to expect support has been one of the principal obstacles I have had to encounter.

When the officers and inhabitants found themselves relieved from the oppressions of Governor Bligh, the general joy that was felt displayed itself in rejoicings, bonfires, illuminations, and in a manifestation of the most perfect unanimity. Even the lowest class of the prisoners were influenced by the same sentiments, and for a short time abandoned their habits of plundering. The contemplation of this happy scene more than repaid me for the increase of care, fatigue, and responsibility to which I had submitted for the public benefit; but the unanimity in which I felt so much pleasure I quickly discovered was not to be preserved without a sacrifice of His Majesty's interests, and a departure from the regulations that have been made to check the importation of Spirituous Liquors into the Colony.

I shall no longer obtrude upon your Lordship on this occasion than to solicit that whenever the representation of what has taken place here shall be communicated to my Gracious Sovereign, your Lordship will have the goodness to offer my humble assurances that I have sacrificed comparative ease, and have taken upon myself so great a responsibility rather than submit to be a witness of His Majesty's sacred name being profaned and dishonoured by deeds of injustice and violence.

I have, etc.,




The Public Peace being happily and, I trust in Almighty God, permanently established I hereby proclaim the Cessation of Martial Law. I have this day appointed Magistrates and other Public Functionaries from amongst the most respectable officers and inhabitants, which will, I hope, secure the impartial Administration of Justice, according to the laws of England, as secured to us by the Patent of Our Most Gracious Sovereign.

Words cannot too strongly convey my approbation of the behaviour of the whole body of the People on the late memorable Event. By their manly, firm and orderly conduct they have shown themselves deserving of that Protection which I have felt it was my duty to give them, And which I doubt not they will continue to merit.

In future no man shall have just cause to complain of Violence, Injustice or Oppression; No free Man shall be taken, imprisoned, or deprived of his Home, Land or Liberty, but by the Law; Justice shall be impartially administered without regard to or respect of persons; and every man shall enjoy the fruits of his industry in Security.


Your conduct has endeared you to every well-disposed inhabitant in this Settlement, Persevere in the same honourable path And you will establish the credit of the New South Wales Corps on a basis not to be shaken.

God Save the King.

By Command of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.


Head-Quarters, Sydney, 27th January, 1808.


Sydney, 28th January, 1808.

I am directed by His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor to acquaint you that the late Magistrates and other persons (who it is proved you were in the habit of consulting) have been examined on Oath before Committees constituted under the Lieutenant-Governor's authority; that from the confessions of those Persons it appears that you have been acting upon a settled plan to subvert the Laws, to terrify and influence the Courts of Justice, and to deprive every person who had the misfortune to be obnoxious to you of their Property, Liberty, and Lives. The Lieutenant-Governor feeling that an offence of such magnitude must be productive of the most serious consequences, is impelled by sentiments of Humanity to give you this early notice that you may consider and seriously reflect on the measures which may be necessary for your Justification.

His Honour has further directed me to assure you that as soon as the examinations are complete, you shall be furnished with a Copy, and that, if you think proper, all the Evidences shall be re-examined in your presence, and be directed to answer any questions you like to propose to them. His Honour has also desired me to assure you that it will give him the greatest satisfaction to contribute by every means in his power to the Alleviation of the distress of your present situation, and to the comfort and accommodation of you and your family.



The British Government called the chief actors in the mutiny before a commission of inquiry. Johnston was dismissed from the army; MacArthur was forbidden to return to New South Wales for eight years; and Bligh was made a vice-admiral.


Source.—Historical Records of Australia. Vol. V, pp. 510 and 566

The wool industry in Australia was founded by John MacArthur. Once established, the flocks increased rapidly in numbers and quality, and as it became possible to export wool, its manufacture was stimulated in the older countries. The annual value of Australia's wool export is now over £26,000,000.


Sydney, N.S.W., 20th July, 1805.

My Lord,

By Mr. MacArthur, who arrived the 9th Ult'o, I had the honour of receiving your Lordship's Letters dated as per margin.

It will be my Duty and Interest to pay the strictest attention to His Majesty's Commands and your Lordship's wishes in every point that can advance the increase and improvement of the breed of sheep for which a better foundation could not be laid, or the Success more ensured, than the progressive increase of the Stock throughout the Colony. Mr. MacArthur possesses at least a third of the Numbers, a considerable part of which were reported at the last muster to bear Wool of the finest kind, and the rest, as well as the other flocks, are continually improving from the hairy Coverings of the original breed to wool of different qualities, principally owing to the introduction of a few Spanish Rams some years ago.

Soon after Mr. MacArthur's arrival we conversed together respecting the Objects of his laudable and, I hope, successful pursuits for the general benefit of the Colony, as well as for that of his Family, which he now regards as attached to the soil. His having bought a Ship to be employed in the Whale Fishery, I consider an object equally laudable and beneficial, exclusive of his being able to export the Wool of his increasing breed to England once in Eighteen Months or Two Years, and returning with Articles of use and Comfort to sell the Inhabitants. Nor ought I to doubt from his assurances, that every expected benefit may be derived from his exertions, as he is certainly very equal to conduct and promote the Object he has so earnestly and, I hope, successfully embarked in. To attain which he does and will possess every local advantage that a good Stock to begin with, a good Climate, and fine natural pastorage can offer.

Taking your Lordship's Letter No. 18 as a data, respecting the Land to be located to Mr. MacArthur, wherein you do me the honour to signify His Majesty's Commands that "I will have a proper grant of Lands, fit for the pasture of sheep, conveyed to the said John MacArthur Esquire, in perpetuity, with the usual reserve of Quit-Rents to the Crown, containing not less than Five Thousand Acres," and Your Lordship having noticed that "It will be impossible for Mr. MacArthur to pursue this plan unless he shall be indulged with a reasonable number of Convicts (which he states to be not less than thirty) for the purpose of attending his sheep, and that as Mr. MacArthur will take upon himself the Charges of maintaining these Convicts, a saving will accrue to Government; and that you doubt not I will provide him with such as shall appear as most suitable to his Objects."

In order to expedite Mr. MacArthur's Object of exporting fine Wool to England, I have directed One hundred of the finest woolled Ewes from Government Stock to be chosen for this gentleman to add to his own, for which he is to pay Grain into the Stores at the rate of Two Pounds sterling for each Ewe. As I do not consider it an Object for Government to interfere in this pursuit, Seeing that the greatest exertions will be made by Mr. MacArthur, And notwithstanding every attention has been paid to improve the Fleeces of Government Sheep, Yet that Stock will always be a reserve for supplying present and future Settlers with proportions thereof, which will at once save the Necessity of purchasing to Supply New Settlers who have Claims, and preserve a residue for those deserving characters who may be allowed the advantage of exchanging Grain for Ewes, agreeable to my Lord Hobart's Acquiescence with my proposal on that Subject.

The number of Male Convicts assigned to Mr. MacArthur for the Care of his Stock, etc., previous to his return, was Sixteen; Since then they have been increased to Thirty, exclusive of those hired and retained in his service who have served their terms. Should Mr. MacArthur wish for an increase, they shall be assigned him when more arrive from England; but your Lordship will observe by the number and employment Return that the Public Labour absolutely necessary to be carried on, and in which Agriculture on the part of the Crown is nearly given up, will not allow of more Men being assigned at present until more arrive.

I have, etc.,



A Report of the State of Mr. MacArthur's Flocks of Sheep, with some observations on the Advantages which may be expected from the Growth of fine Wool in New South Wales.

Paramatta, N.S.W., 2nd Oct., 1805.

The fine Woolled Sheep imported here from the Cape of Good Hope in the Year 1797 were said to be of the Spanish Breed. The excellence of the fleece of these Sheep combined with the consideration of their peculiar form, bears strong evidence in favour of the Correctness of this Report, tho' it is impossible to say whether they originally sprung from the best kind of Sheep that is bred in Spain. Be this as it may nothing is better established than that the Wool of this Breed of Sheep has considerably improved in this Climate, and as Mr. MacArthur has had the good fortune to bring out from England Four Rams and one Ewe, purchased from His Majesty's Flock of Spanish Sheep, It is to be hoped that these valuable animals will be the cause of a still further Melioration in the Quality of our Wool. Indeed there appears no reason to fear but that the Wool of this Country may by care and judicious Management be placed on an equality with the very best that is grown in Spain. It has been Mr. MacArthur's invariable practice to keep the Spanish Breed apart from all others, and as fast as Spanish Rams have been reared they have been put among the coarse-woolled Ewes. The result of this system has proved extremely satisfactory, his Flocks now consist of more than Five Thousand, of these Sixty are of the pure Spanish kind, and the whole are much improved in the quality of the Wool; he is of Opinion the best judge will be unable to discover any material difference between the perfect and the mixed Breed in Seven years.

With respect to Constitution, Size, and Aptitude to fatten, he has tried all the Breeds he could obtain in the Colony, and he has found the Spanish surpass them all in every one of these qualities. In the representations that Mr. MacArthur had the honour to make in England to His Majesty's Ministers, he stated that he thought a Flock of Sheep would double itself in Two Years and a half, longer experience induces him to think it may be done in rather less time; but in the Estimate he now proposes to make, he will govern himself by the same data on which his original Calculations were made, for he is desirous rather to repress too sanguine Expectations than to encourage such as may prove fallacious.

Estimating the Sheep in New South Wales at Twenty Thousand, a plain Arithmetical progression will prove that the present Stock may increase in Twenty Years to Five Millions, and calculating two pounds and a half of clear washed Wool to each Sheep, they would produce almost twice as much Wool as England now purchases from Spain at an Annual expense of One Million Eight Hundred Thousand pounds.

Should Great Britain still require a much larger supply, Sheep can be easily multiplied to any Extent in the immeasurable Forest which Surrounds us.

It is difficult for the Mind to embrace all the Advantages which must flow from the Successful Progression of this great National Object; for if we contemplate the progress of the Cotton Manufactory we shall see that at the commencement of the Eighteenth Century the quantities of raw cotton imported into England did not exceed Two Millions of Pounds weight. At this period it amounts to more than Twenty Millions; and altho' its price has considerably advanced, yet Manufactured Cotton Goods have fallen full Two Hundred per cent. This prodigious diminution in price is attributable to no other cause than the introduction of Machinery, by which the expense of Manual Labour is comparatively reduced to nothing.

Now, repeated experiments have demonstrated that the same Machinery is equally applicable to every Branch of the Woollen Manufactory, and in truth it would long since have been adopted, but for the popular Clamour that thousands of Labourers would be thrown out of employment. "It cannot be denied," say its Opponents, "that Machinery would reduce the price of Woollen, as it has done that of Cotton Cloths, but the two Cases bear no Analogy, for when Machinery was applied in the Manufacture of Cotton the increased Quantity of the raw material furnished abundance of Employment in some other branch to those whose Labour the Machine superseded. Make but the same experiment in the Woollen Manufactory, and its fatal effects upon the poor will soon be felt; for as you cannot increase the quantity of Animal Wool now being brought into the Market, any Invention that has a tendency to diminish Manual Labour is, and must be, pernicious."

This reasoning has had great weight on the Minds of best informed Men; but if we can by our united Efforts (as assuredly we can) raise in this Colony any Quantity of fine Wool, all its force would be at once demolished. Whatever the demands of Great Britain may be for that Commodity, we certainly may supply it. The universal use of Machinery might then be safely sanctioned, and the British Manufacturers would be enabled so to reduce the price of Woollen Cloths, as would assure throughout the world the most Monopoly that any people ever possessed. We also should largely participate in the profits of this gainful Trade and should enjoy the pleasing Consolation that our Labours were contributing to the Support and Prosperity of that parent Country to whom our debt of Gratitude can never be paid.



Source.—Historical Records of Australia. Vol. VII, pp. 245, 580-617

A storm of protest was aroused among the free settlers by the action of Governor Macquarie in recognizing convicts as ordinary members of society directly their terms of imprisonment had expired. The free community became sharply divided into emancipists and anti-emancipists.


Sydney, N.S.W., 30 April, 1810.

My Lord,

I had the honour to address Your Lordship by Lieutenant-Colonel Foveaux in a brief Despatch, under dates the eighth and twelfth of last Month; but lest that Despatch may not get safe to Hand I shall in my present one recapitulate the substance of my last, and furnish your Lordship with a more detailed Account of my Proceedings.

I was very much surprised and concerned on my arrival here, at the extraordinary and illiberal Policy I found had been adopted by all the Persons who had preceded me in Office respecting those men who had been originally sent out to this Country as Convicts, but who, by long habits of Industry and total Reformation of Manners, had not only become respectable, but by many degrees the most Useful Members of the Community. Those persons have never been countenanced or received into society. I have, nevertheless, taken upon Myself to adopt a new line of conduct, Conceiving that Emancipation, when united with Rectitude and long-tried good Conduct, should land a man back to that Rank in Society which he had forfeited, and do away, in as far as the Case will admit, all Retrospect of former bad Conduct. This appears to me to be the greatest Inducement that can be held out towards the Reformation of the Manners of the Inhabitants, and I think it is consistent with the gracious and Humane Intentions of His Majesty and His Ministers in favour of this class of people. I am aware it is a measure which must be resorted to with great Caution and Delicacy; but I am hopeful that in time it may be extended beyond the line within which I must restrict myself for the present. The Number of Persons of this Description whom I have yet admitted to my Table consist of only four. Namely: Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth, Principal Surgeon; Mr. William Redfern, Assistant Surgeon; Mr. Andrew Thompson, an opulent Farmer and Proprietor of Land; and Mr. Simeon Lord, an opulent Merchant. Three of these Persons have acquired Property to a large amount; they have long conducted themselves with the greatest Propriety, and I find them at all times ready to come forward in the most liberal manner to the assistance of the Government. In order to mark my sense of the merits of Mr. Andrew Thompson, I have already appointed him a Justice of the Peace and Magistrate of the Hawkesbury, where he has a large property, and I intend to confer the same Marks of Distinction on Mr. Wentworth and Mr. Simeon Lord when Vacancies in the Magistracy at Sydney, where they both reside, may occur.

Before I conclude this Despatch, permit me to express my grateful acknowledgements to your Lordship for the Appointment I have now the Honour to Hold, and to assure your Lordship that, as far as my judgement and Abilities extend, I shall exert them in the faithful discharge of the Trust reposed in me, with the Hope that in the wide field for improvement here, my Services may not be unimportant, and that they will ultimately meet with the Approbation of my Sovereign and His Majesty's Ministers, and thereby Confirm the Opinion you did me the Honour to form in my Favour.

I have, etc.,



Sydney, N.S.W., 17th Nov., 1812.

My Lord,

Since my last Public Despatch under Date 28th Oct. 1811, Transmitted per ship Friends, via Rio-de-Janeiro, I have been honoured with Your Lordship's Several Despatches, under Dates 26th July 1811, and 4th, 5th and 19th May, 1812; and also the several other Letters with their respective Enclosures and Accompanying Documents from Your Lordship or the Under-Secretary of State, as noted in the margin.

In the first Despatch I had the Honour of addressing to Lord Castlereagh (Your Lordship's immediate Predecessor in Office) under date the 30th of April, 1810, I stated my Reasons for restoring those Persons who had been Convicts, to that Rank in Society, which they had lost, but which, by long habits of Rectitude and Meritorious Conduct in this Colony they were fully entitled to be restored to. I have found the greatest benefit to result from the adoption of this System of Policy. Some Men who had been Convicts have been appointed Magistrates by me; Some of the same Description of Men have been honoured with His Majesty's Commission, which in my Mind is alone a sufficient proof of the eligibility of these persons for any Society. On all occasions I have found and experienced very great assistance from those Persons in the Habitual and Zealous discharge of the Several Duties attached to their respective Situations; and they act at all times as if they conceived it to be their indispensable and first Duty to assist the Government of the Country. Altho' the principal Leaders, who headed the Faction which occasioned so much mischief and Anarchy in this Country (previous to my arrival), have left it, Yet the Seeds of it were so deeply sown that a considerable part of that factious spirit still exists among some discontented and disaffected Persons in this Colony, whose restless and Vicious Minds cannot endure any Control or legitimate form of Government. The only measure of mine which to my knowledge they have dared to attempt to counteract, is this extension of just and humane Indulgence to those Persons (who had formerly been Convicts), whom I have brought forward and patronised by admitting them to my Society, but whom the factious Persons herein alluded to found it advantageous to their Interests and illiberal Prejudices to consider as Outcasts, beneath their notice and for ever doomed to oblivion and Neglect.

It would therefore be highly gratifying and Satisfactory to Me, if Your Lordship would have the goodness to honour me with a Communication of His Royal Highness the Prince Regent's Sentiments on this Subject which I consider as one of the greatest possible Interest and Importance to the Welfare, Prosperity and Happiness of this rising Colony; which, as it was originally settled for the Reception, Punishment, and eventual Improvement of Convicts, appears to Me to require that their Improvement, Welfare and Happiness should form the first and chief Object of Attention in the important Duties entrusted to the Governor of it.

This Despatch will be delivered to your Lordship by Lieutenant Richard Lundin of the 73rd Regiment, to whom I take the liberty of referring Your Lordship for any particulars relative to the Colony that may have escaped my recollection in my Public Despatches; and I further beg leave to recommend him to your Lordship's Favour and Protection.

I have, etc.,



Source.—The State and Position of Western Australia, by Captain Frederick Chidley Irwin of H.M. 63rd Regiment; late Commandant of the Troops, and Acting Governor of the Colony, 1835, pp. 32-37, 42-46.

The settlement of Western Australia was undertaken in 1825, with the purely philanthropic idea of relieving the overcrowded population of Great Britain. The early difficulties were due to the ignorance of conditions in the country, and the unsuitability of the emigrants. Mr. Peel was chief promoter of the scheme.

The reader's attention will now be drawn to some of the mis-statements with respect to the colony, which have appeared in recent publications. Under this head he would especially notice a work entitled "England and America." At page 33, Vol. 2 of the work in question, there is said to be, in Western Australia "abundance of good land and of land, too, cleared and drained by nature." After adverting to the amount of capital and live stock, and the number of labourers introduced by the first settlers, it is asked, what has become of all that capital, and all those labourers? Then comes the following passage: "Why this failure with all the elements of success—plenty of good land, plenty of capital, and enough labour? The explanation is easy: In this colony there never has been a class of labourers. Those who went out as labourers no sooner reached the colony than they were tempted by the superabundance of good land to become landowners."

The writer proceeds to state, that Mr. Peel (who, as he had been informed, had brought out a capital of £50,000 and 300 persons of the labouring class) had been thus left without a servant to make his bed, or to fetch him water from the river; and that, in the absence of his people, his capital had perished. "The same thing," he adds, "happened in many cases." Further on, it is stated that some of the labourers, who had become independent landowners, died of hunger, at a period when a large supply of food had reached the colony, and that they were starved because where they had settled was not known to the Governor, nor even to themselves—"such," says this writer, "was the dispersion of these colonists, in consequence of superabundance of good land." It is added, that the settlers who remained had petitioned for convicts, though one of the chief inducements to settling in the colony was an undertaking, on the part of the English Government, that none should be sent thither.

If this writer's statement be correct, that labourers on their arrival, tempted by the superabundance of good land, did with impunity desert their masters, leaving their property to perish, and did themselves become landowners, it will be apparent, either that there were then no laws in the colony, or that they were not in force. The reverse, however, is the fact—there were laws, and they were enforced.

The following is No. 8 of the land regulations: "No grant of land will be made to servants under indenture; nor shall persons receive grants who shall appear to have come to the settlement at the expense of other individuals without sufficient assurance of their having fulfilled the condition of any agreement under which they may have come." The author does not remember an instance of this regulation being relaxed; and it is manifest that destruction of property and the ruin of the capitalist must have been inevitable, had the Government not enforced it.

Equally without foundation is the statement that the indentured servant could desert his master with impunity. The indenture was binding equally on master and servant, and was strictly enforced by the colonial law. If the master failed to give the wages, food, or whatever else might have been stipulated for in the indenture, the servant, on establishing his complaint before a magistrate, obtained his discharge. On the other hand, if the master proved a breach of the indenture by the servant unduly absenting himself, refusing to work, etc., the magistrate was under obligation to imprison the servant. Also any person employing an indentured servant, without permission of the master, was subject to a very heavy fine.

Mr. Peel and his people were in this manner circumstanced. The author has read many of their indentures; in all of these Mr. Peel was bound to pay them daily wages (generally three shillings) out of which their food and clothing were to be deducted. The capital imported by Mr. Peel, though very considerable, was understood to consist chiefly of stores and live-stock. However this may have been, he found it convenient after a time, to grant most of his people permission to work for other settlers, reserving a right to recall them when he chose; but allowing them the alternative of their discharge, on their reimbursing him the expense of their passage out. As his people could get higher wages when working for others, they gladly accepted the permission. Occasional misunderstandings took place between him and some of them, and it was not till after the Governor, accompanied by the Law-Adviser of Government, had more than once repaired in person to Mr. Peel's location, that an adjustment of those differences was effected. The author has known several servants of Mr. Peel to be imprisoned for breaches of indenture. A number of them, however, were excellent men, who would have conscientiously adhered to him, had he not given them the option of working for others.

It is but justice here to acknowledge the great benefit conferred on the settlement by Mr. Peel, in the introduction of men who were not only of good conduct, but well acquainted with farming pursuits or with trades. For himself, the author feels happy in having this opportunity to express his sense of it, having had upwards of four years in his service, a family brought out by Mr. Peel. The father of this family is a man of intelligence and observation. Besides his own trade of brick and tile-making, he has a complete knowledge of farming, gardening, bricklaying, lime-burning, and brewing, in which various occupations he employs himself. Such is his industry that he has been seen working for hours in the garden by moonlight, after spending a long day at labour in the field. His wife is a regular dairywoman. One of the sons is a carpenter, and another a ploughman, besides having each a knowledge of their father's trade; and the rest of the family, down to the youngest, are training up habits of industry and labour.

Although, as has been shown, the conditions of the indentures were by the colonial laws enforced, it will nevertheless be manifest, that no law, in any country, can prevent an artful and unprincipled servant (anxious to be rid of his engagement) from acting in so vexatious a manner, that some masters, in preference to keeping such a one, would forgo any benefit the indenture might offer. Such a course has been adopted in the colony by some masters thus circumstanced. Those, however, who had been careful to bring out men of good character, and to whom they allowed an equitable compensation for their services, have rarely had cause for complaint; and, on the contrary, have generally been rewarded by the cheerful obedience of their servants.

The author is the more desirous of disproving the alleged lawless state of society in the colony, as the implied reproach is totally unmerited by the Governor, Sir James Stirling, who has been most indefatigable and self-denying in his exertions for the public welfare; and it is equally so by the magistracy, who have, from the outset, administered the laws with vigour and impartiality.

With reference to the assertion that some individuals had perished with hunger from not having been able to inform the Governor as to where they had settled, the author can only say, that he did not hear of any such circumstance while in the colony, and that he considers it very improbable; as, with the exception of the people connected with Mr. Peel, the settlers at the period alluded to were located on the Swan and the Canning, by following down which rivers they could have reached in the course of a single day the towns of Perth or Freemantle.

He has also to confess his ignorance of the colonists having, as stated, petitioned for convicts—he knows that such a wish was not expressed in their memorial drawn up in 1832, and laid before His Majesty's Government by Sir James Stirling in person. The colonists having had before their eyes, in the neighbouring penal settlements, the serious evils inflicted on society by the employment of convicts (especially as indoor servants) have firmly resisted the temptation to seek such a remedy for their wants. The extreme difficulty, which it is notorious respectable families there experience, to sufficiently guard the morals of their offspring, and to secure their being brought up in the necessary principles of virtue and integrity, is alone a consideration which, it is believed, will keep the colonists in Western Australia stedfast on that point. No mere worldly prosperity whatsoever can compensate for the tremendous risk to which children in a penal settlement are exposed, as many a heart-broken parent can testify.

It now remains for the author to offer a few observations

1. On the failures that occurred among the early settlers.

2. On the origin of the reports so widely circulated to the prejudice of the country.

3. On the tardy progress of the colony, compared with what had been expected.

The following extract from one of the earliest despatches of the Governor (written in January 1830, and addressed to the Secretary of State) will serve to preface these remarks, as it bears immediately on the first point. Adverting to the circumstances under which the first settlers came out, he thus proceeds: "There could not be a great number with minds and bodies suited to encounter the struggle and distresses of a new settlement. Many, if not all, have accordingly been more or less disappointed on arrival, with either the state of things here, or their own want of power to surmount the difficulties pressing round them. This has been experienced, in the beginning, by every new colony; and might have been expected to occur here, as well as elsewhere. The greater part, incapable of succeeding in England, are not likely to prosper here to the extent of their groundless and inconsiderate expectations. Many of the settlers who have come should never have left in England a safe and tranquil state of life; and, if it be possible to discourage one set of people, and to encourage another, I would earnestly request that for a few years, the helpless and inefficient may be kept from the settlement; whilst, as to the active, industrious, and intelligent they may be assured with confidence of a fair reward for their labours."

If, after what has been said, it be granted that Western Australia, as far as natural advantages go, is well suited for the purpose of colonization, still it will be apparent, from the principle on which the colony was founded, that its success must be greatly dependent on the capital and exertions of the settlers. The charge of maintaining a military and a civil establishment being all His Majesty's Government was pledged to, every other expense was to be borne by the emigrant; such as his outfit, voyage, and settlement in the colony.

No arrangement prior to leaving England having been made by the emigrants to ensure the advantages of co-operation on the part of their friends at home, and among themselves in the colony, each depended on his own energy and resources for his success; and the foregoing description of many of the original settlers will account for the disappointments that ensued in various instances.

Few who abandoned the settlement under such circumstances, were willing to admit their failure was the result of their own want of exertion, or their unfitness for the enterprise in which they had embarked; accordingly, wherever they went, and in their letters home, the blame was laid on the country. Thus many of the evil reports respecting it, which were current at home and in the neighbouring colonies, may be traced to this source.

A prevalent cause of distress among the early settlers arose from their having generally brought out with them little ready money, compared with their other property. This was chiefly owing to the Government regulations admitting of land being assigned to those only who introduced labourers, and various kinds of property required by farmers. Many of the settlers, therefore, to the extent of their means, were in this way amply provided; but having understood in England that money would be of little use in a new country, numbers, without questioning what they wished to be true, incautiously expended most of their means in the property that would entitle them to obtain land in the colony. However, when they had been some time in the settlement, they discovered that there, as in other places, money was needful; and on wishing to procure some by the sale of part of their property, they found it difficult to do so without loss, in consequence of most other settlers having brought out similar investments.

Another cause of depression, which has borne seriously on the settlers, has been the occasional high price of the necessaries of life. With a view of remedying this evil, cargoes of provisions have been repeatedly imported by the Local Government—the actual cost alone being charged to the settler. Even a shipload of bullocks and pigs was introduced from Java. But, numbers of the bullocks and pigs getting loose, soon became as wild and difficult to recapture as if they had been natives of the woods, whither they had betaken themselves.

Experience has shown that the system of free grants, which was the first adopted in Western Australia, is decidedly injurious to the prosperity of a settlement, from the facility it affords to persons possessed of comparatively little capital to acquire extensive tracts of land, the greater part of which, for want of means, they cannot use for agricultural or pastoral purposes. It also occasions the too wide dispersion of the settlers; thus necessarily increasing the expense of Government, and, at the same time, producing serious inconvenience to the farmer.


Source.—A Letter from Sydney. E.G. Wakefield (Gouger, 1829), Appendix

The failure of the first attempt to settle Western Australia gave rise to much thought upon the theory of colonization. The ideas most generally accepted were those of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who summarized his theory as follows:


It is suggested:

Article I.

THAT a payment in money of—— per acre, be required for all future grants of land without exception.

Article II.

THAT all land now granted, and to be granted, throughout the colony, be declared liable to a tax of—— per cent. upon the actual rent.

Article III.

THAT the proceeds of the tax upon rent, and of sales, form an EMIGRATION FUND, to be employed in the conveyance of British labourers to the colony free of cost.

Article IV.

THAT those to whom the administration of the Fund shall be entrusted, be empowered to raise money on that security, as money is raised on the security of parish and county rates in England.

Article V.

THAT the supply of labourers be as nearly as possible proportioned to the demand for Labour at each Settlement; so that Capitalists shall never suffer from an urgent want of Labourers, and that Labourers shall never want well-paid employment.

Article VI.

THAT in the selection of Emigrants, an absolute preference be given to young persons, but that no excess of males be conveyed to the colony free of cost.

Article VII.

THAT Colonists providing a passage for emigrant Labourers, being young persons, and equal numbers of both sexes, be entitled to a payment in money from the Emigration Fund, equal to the actual contract price of a passage for so many labouring persons.

Article VIII.

THAT Grants be absolute in fee, without any condition whatever, and obtainable by deputy.

Article IX.

THAT any surplus of the proceeds of the tax upon rent and of sales, over what is required for Emigration, be employed in relief of other taxes, and for the general purposes of Colonial Government.


Source.—Six Months in the new Colony of South Australia (J. Horton James, 1839), pp. 1, 28-37

The settlement of South Australia was undertaken to test Wakefield's theory; but instead of turning their land to good account the colonists left it idle, hoping to sell at a high price. The result was disastrous.


The New Province, called South Australia, which, by an Act of the Imperial Parliament, was erected into a free British colony on 15th August, 1834, is situate on the South Coast of the Great Island Continent of New Holland, in the Southern or Indian Ocean, extending from 132° to 141° E. longitude, and from 38° to 26° S. latitude, and contains nearly two hundred millions of acres. It is twelve thousand miles distant from Great Britain.

This distance of twelve thousand miles ought to be performed by a fast sailing ship in twelve weeks, at the rate of a thousand miles per week, which is the fair average running of a good ship on distant voyages; but it is better to allow something for light winds and calms near the Equator, and to say in round numbers one hundred days in all, which is rather more than fourteen weeks.

This is Port Adelaide! Port Misery would be a better name; for nothing in any other part of the world can surpass it in everything that is wretched and inconvenient, packages of goods and heaps of merchandise are lying about in every direction as if they had cost nothing. Stacks of what were once beautiful London bricks crumbling away like gingerbread, and evidently at each returning tide half covered with the flood; trusses of hay, now rotten, and Norway deals, scattered about as if they had no owner—iron ploughs and rusty harrows—cases of door-frames and windows that had once been glazed—heaps of the best slates half tumbling down—winnowing-machines broken to pieces—blocks of Roman cement, now hard as stone, wanting nothing but the staves and hoops—Sydney cedar, and laths and shingles from Van Diemen's Land in every direction; whilst on the high ground are to be seen pigs eating through the flour-sacks, and kegs of raisins with not only the head out, but half the contents; onions and potatoes apparently to be had for picking up. The sight is disheartening. What with the sun and the rain—the sand and the floods—the thieves with four legs and the thieves with two—the passengers hug themselves at the recollection that they have brought no merchandise for sale, glad enough to be able to take care of themselves. The sooner they get out of this horrid hole the better, so they enquire if there is any coach to the town—they are answered by a careless shake of the head, and so, like good settlers, they determine to set off and walk, carrying their light parcels with them, and leaving the heavy things with a friend who refuses to go any further. They ask for a drink of water before starting—there is not such a thing to be had; but the bullock carts are expected down every minute with the usual supply! "What, no water?" exclaims our passenger. "No, sir, but the Commissioners are sinking a well, though they have not yet found any but salt water; but they are going to dig in another place, shortly, we understand."

Away they start for the City of Adelaide, and after ten minutes of rough walking through the loose sand, which is fatiguing enough, they gain the firm and beaten road, with the cheerful hills before them, glad enough to have overcome their morning troubles. Though very warm the walk is agreeable, and out of a cloud of dust before them, they soon descry a dray or two, each drawn by a long line of bullocks. They perceive by the splashing of the water from the open bungs that the casks contain the daily supply for the port, and the drivers very cheerfully give them all a drink; this enables them to walk on with renewed spirits, over the naked plain, and, tired and dusty, in about seven miles more they reach another iron store, the property of the Commissioners, where they now begin to see a few marquees and huts, and people walking about. They step across the "Torrens," without knowing it, and enquire for the inn. They are directed to the Southern Cross Hotel, then kept by a German Jew of the name of Levy, considered the best house in this settlement, and here we will leave them for the present, hungry, thirsty, and fatigued—covered with dust and perspiration—and with feelings of shame and disappointment at being so taken in!


"When things are at the worst, they mend," is a common saying, and a true one; and so it was with our passengers. Though rough, dirty and uncomfortable, they enjoyed the Jew's dinner or table d'hôte, though it consisted merely of a baked leg of mutton at the top, with a baked shoulder at bottom and a dish of small potatoes in the middle—nothing else whatever—neither pie, pudding, or cheese; but they had given themselves a good wash, and a change of linen, and a bottle of Barclay and Perkins at dinner had now restored them to good humour.

They found that the company at the table was much better than the dishes, and that they had all gone through the same miserable landing at the Fort, and some of them had even suffered considerably by falling down in the mud; so, as we draw comfort out of other men's misfortunes, and it is better to laugh than weep, our newly-arrived emigrants began to think the place was not so bad after all. They were, at any rate, great travellers, and were determined to make light of troubles and inconveniences, as all travellers do. They saw that the gentlemen at table were a very nice set of fellows, and as they had evidently had to rough it, much more formerly, than was necessary at the present day, they should make up their minds to think well of everything—to look only at the advantages of the Colony—and in their letters to any London friends, they were resolved decidedly to recommend the place—but not a word about the mud.

The Town of Adelaide, as depicted on the maps, is the very beau ideal of all possible cities—there is an elegance and vastness of design about it, that almost makes one blush for the comparative insignificance of London and Stromboul; of Paris and Canton;—but on going to the spot, like many other works of art and imagination, it resembles the picture very slightly—it is altogether on too large a scale; and of all the follies committed by the inexperience of the surveyor-general, who is, nevertheless, in every other respect a most gentlemanlike, entertaining, and intelligent person, next to its inland situation, this monstrous extent of Adelaide will turn out to be the most fruitful of complaints. You may lean against any tree in the City and exclaim, "This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods, I better brook than flourishing peopled towns."

And yet there are sprinkled up and down the place a few substantial buildings; one belonging to the Company, on an enormous scale—another good brick house to Mr. Hack—another to the enterprising Mr. Gilles—one to Mr. Thomas, and a couple of new taverns. The rest of the dwellings are made of very slight materials, and the number of canvas tents and marquees give some parts of the settlement the appearance of a camp. Most of the new-comers settle down on what is called the Park Lands, where they are handy to the little rivulet, and they run up a Robinson Crusoe sort of hut, with twigs and branches from the adjoining forest, and the climate being fine and dry, they answer well enough as temporary residences. The principal streets have been laid out in the survey of the town 132 feet wide, which is nearly twice as wide as Portland Place, and the squares are all on such a scale of magnitude, that if there were any inhabitants in them, a cab would almost be required to get across them.

Before any person has been ashore at Adelaide twenty-four hours, even the greenest and most inexperienced put these two very natural questions; First—Why did you make the plan of the future town so large? Answer—Because the land was of no value, and it was a pity to be crowded when there was so much room! And the Second question is—Why did you select the town eight miles from the landing-place? Answer—Because we preferred being away from the nasty sailors, and thought it better not to be annoyed with the demoralizing influence of a Sea Port!

Unless this is promptly remedied, the "Wisdom of our ancestors" will not become such a favourite saying in South Australia, as it is in the Old Country, for the town, including the park lands, is already eight miles round, with 3,000 inhabitants only. This, from persons who are all for concentration, seems strange; and the consequence is as might have been expected, that in the daytime persons are constantly losing themselves in the midst of the city. Whilst at night it is impossible to move out of the house without company, unless you have any desire to sleep under a tree. This has happened to the oldest inhabitants, about whom many droll stories have been told. Some of the highest officers in the colony, after wandering about for hours in the dark, either running against trees, or falling over logs, or into holes, have chosen rather to give it up in despair, content to take a night's lodging beneath a tree, than run the risk any longer of breaking their necks although in the midst of the township, and when day-light appeared, not perhaps more than a pistol-shot from their own hut. It is hardly possible that such a blunder as this is, this Adelaide and Port Adelaide, can much longer be tolerated by the respectable parties about proceeding to the Colony, and there is not the remotest chance that the unnatural abortion can ever come to good. Another town of more modest and moderate pretensions will rise up in the land-locked basin of Port Lincoln, along the margin of the deep water, consisting of 640 acres, divided into building lots of one rood each, which will be enough for a population of 50,000 persons, which is as many as the most sanguine friend of the Colony can anticipate for a century to come. There, under the shelter of Boston Island, or in Spalding Cove, the merchant may leave his office and walk across a plank into the last ship that arrived from England, and all the hundreds of bullocks now employed dragging up waggon loads of rubbish and merchandise from Adelaide Swamp to Adelaide Township, may then be dispensed with and go a-ploughing, as they ought to have done long since, which will save £20,000 a year to the settlers in the item of land carriage alone, and by being employed on the farms instead of on the road the Colony will not require such frequent importations of farm produce from Van Diemen's Land, to the great impoverishment of the community. What, abandon Adelaide! I think I hear the carriers exclaim. Oh no, let Adelaide remain as before, it will always answer well enough for a country village, and stand a monument to the folly of the projectors, but let the Governor and Civil Establishment move their head-quarters without loss of time, to Port Lincoln, before more money is thrown away. Every month that this measure is delayed it is made more difficult and therefore should not be postponed at all. The buyers of the 1,200 town acres would feel much disappointment at the measure, as the market would be spoiled for the sale of their building lots, but they would be rightly served for asking a monopoly price to respectable new-comers, who ought to be enabled to obtain a town allotment for a trifle of the Government.

In New South Wales they are sold by auction as applied for, and put up at 20s. each, at which price they are generally knocked down; but with a view to prevent any monopolizer buying them up, to the injury of the bona fide settler, every purchaser must sign a bond to the Government in a penalty of £20, that he will build a house on the allotment, of a certain value, within three years, or otherwise the land reverts absolutely to the Crown, and the penalty is enforced too. This is as it should be, and the evil working of the old system ought to have been forseen, but at South Australia the Commissioners and Survey Department disdained to copy anything from such a colony as Sydney and made the old saying good about advice, that those who want it most like it least. Now the late Governor, Captain Hindmarsh, was quite the opposite of this, and was most diligent in seeking out the best way of doing everything, and was not above learning even from those ignorant neighbours, New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. Here is a proof.


"Government House, 25th April, 1838.

"The Council being about to meet this morning to discuss a subject with which Mr. Horton James is particularly well acquainted; the Governor will thank Mr. James, if he would do him the favour to attend the Council this morning about half-past nine o'clock, to give the Council his opinion on the subject.

"T.H. JAMES, ESQ., Adelaide."

The character of the late Governor, Capt. Hindmarsh, pleased me exceedingly, not only for the frankness of his manner towards strangers, and the easy terms on which he admitted every respectable resident to his table, but by his constant, steady, and unremitting attention to business. Many difficulties of a new and serious nature would sometimes suddenly involve him, during my residence in the colony, especially in reference to the native blacks, who had been committing some violences in the camp. The settlers were very violent and rash, calling loudly for immediate and strong measures of retaliation, and going up in mobs to Government House, thirsting for revenge against the natives. But the Governor on all occasions acted with a praiseworthy and becoming firmness, and would listen to nothing like reprisals on an unarmed and naked population; and while he took the most upright, they turned out to be the wisest and most successful measures he could have adopted for the pacification of the place, which in a day or two became as quiet as ever, and the danger so much talked of was disregarded and forgotten, entirely owing to His Excellency's pacific treatment. Notwithstanding his severe and inflexible adherence to these measures, in accordance to his instructions, and in opposition to the murderous wishes of some of the settlers, Captain Hindmarsh, after the hours of business, surrounded by his amiable and accomplished family, was just the same as ever, zealous, enthusiastic and humane, when speaking of the colony and its black population; and gentle and sincere in his intercourse with his friends; never exhibiting the slightest degree of reserve, parade or affectation, but winning all hearts by his attention to his guests. It is hard to say why such a suitable person was recalled. He seems to have been sacrificed to clamour; but to accuse, and prove, are very different, and in any enquiry that may be hereafter instituted, Captain Hindmarsh will, I am sure, come off without reproach.


Source.—Batman's Journal, Victorian Pamphlets, Vol. cxxvii, pp. 10-13, 16-22

Convictism in Tasmania caused great dissatisfaction among the free settlers; in 1835 John Batman crossed the Strait in search of fresh pastures. Melbourne stands on the site he selected for "the future village."

May 29th. Daylight had no sooner broke this morning—and never had its cheerful return been so ardently longed for—than we were again greeted by the sight of Port Phillip Heads, at a distance not apparently exceeding eight miles. By 9 a.m. we were between the Heads, with the tide running out, and nearly at low water; a heavy surf and the wind light and baffling. We effected an entrance with difficulty at a part of the bay where the width was about a mile and a quarter. We succeeded, however, in entering one of the finest bays, or basins of water, well sheltered, that we remember to have seen. Within the Bay the water was, compared to our late tossing in the boiling and foaming waters outside, as smooth as a mill-pond, and our little bark floated gently along like a sleeping gull. I shall, however, take this opportunity to remark that it will be desirable to enter its mouth only at the times of the tide running in. We continued our course down the bay, and found the country everywhere of the same richly-grassed character.

May 30th. Robinson Crusoe was never better pleased with the appearance of the first ship which arrived, and rescued him from his desolate island, than I was with the vessel which proved the means of thus opening to view a country capable of supporting a future nation, and which, we trust, will be the means of relieving the Hobart Town country of its over-stocked cattle, and the Mother Country of her surplus and half-starved peasantry. Futurity must develop this prophecy! Further travelling and examination only added to my pre-conceived estimate of this extremely interesting and extensive territory; consisting of plains or downs at least twenty miles long by a width of 10 miles, and the distance may have been greater, but for the interruption of hills more than ordinarily high, which broke the horizon in different directions. One of these vistas, which I have at present in view, cannot form a less area than 100,000 acres. Its general character presents that of cultivated pasture for centuries past; the few trees appear as though they owed their plantation to the hand of man. All the high hills are covered with grass to their summits.

I discovered the fires of the natives or aboriginal inhabitants of this marvellously fertile country, and felt delighted beyond expression that the task of its discovery should have devolved upon myself.

June 2nd. My Sydney natives came on board this morning for the purpose of assisting in packing up, and otherwise making preparations for our contemplated expedition into the interior. As it continued to rain heavily and a heavy bank of fog prevailed, and prevented our seeing any distance, I proposed, rather than lose time to go with the vessel to the river (Saltwater), and from thence take my departure for the bush. We made the river by 3 p.m., and observed that the whole of the coast at the head of the bay was clear of timber, and a constant plain covered with grass.

Near the head of the river, on the point, was a plantation of she-oak. We endeavoured to sail up the river, but found the water not more than a fathom deep.... To-morrow, weather permitting, I intend taking my departure up the river.

June 3rd. Everything being in readiness, we left the vessel about 9 a.m., and proceeded in a boat up the river for about five miles.... In travelling further up we passed over several rich flats, about a mile wide, by two or three miles long, destitute of trees, and covered knee-deep with grass, from which hundreds of tons of good hay might be made. The land was of the best description, equal to anything in the world, nor does it appear subject to being flooded. For twenty-six miles we continued following the course of this river, and found on both sides of it, as far as the eye could stretch, fine open plains, with a few trees of the oak species; one striking object was the absence of fresh water all throughout this distance. Just before sundown as we were preparing to camp on the bank of the river, I caught sight of a damp place, and, on sending one of my men, Gumm, to make a hole with a stick to the depth of two feet, we had in the course of an hour a plentiful supply of good water.... I have named this place Gumm's Well.

June 4th. Recommenced our journey up the river at 8 a.m.; after travelling four or five miles, I turned off to obtain a view of Mounts Collicott, Cottrill, and Solomon.... We continued travelling over the plains, and in eight miles again made the river. Having crossed the river, we travelled over the richest land I had ever seen in my life; marsh mallows with leaves as large as those of the cabbage tribe, and as high as my head. We recrossed at a native ford, and we observed on a wattle tree, which they had been stripping of the bark, scratches or marks of figures, representing blacks in the act of fighting. These figures I copied as near as I was able.

June 6th. We made an early breakfast and resumed our journey in order to reach the camp of the blacks, the smoke of whose fires we had seen yesterday. We travelled over land equal to any that we had seen, a deep black diluvium with grass three or four feet high, and thinly-timbered. After travelling eight miles we struck the trail of the natives which in a short time led us to a branch of the tribe, consisting of one chief, his wife, and three children—fine, plump, chubby, healthy-looking urchins they were. To this distinguished royal chieftain of the prairies I gave one pair of blankets, handkerchiefs, beads, and three pocket-knives; upon the receipt of these presents, he undertook the part of guide. We crossed a fresh water creek with good land on either bank. Our new guide informed us that he would take us to his tribe, at the same time naming many of their chiefs. After travelling about eight miles, we were surprised to hear a number of voices calling after us, and on looking round encountered six men, armed with spears fixed in their wommeras. We stopped; and they at once threw aside their spears, and came up to us in a most friendly manner possible. We all shook hands and I gave them knives, tomahawks, etc., whereupon they took the lead, and brought us back about a mile, to where we found huts, or gunyahs, and a number of women and children. We sat down in the midst of these sooty and sable aboriginal children of Australia; amongst whom we ascertained were eight chiefs belonging to the country near Port Phillip, over which we had travelled, and with which we had so much reason to be pleased. The three principal chiefs were brothers. Two of them were fully six feet high and tolerably good-looking; the third was not so tall but much stouter than the others. The other five chiefs were equally fine men. And a question, to myself, here arises, and the answer as speedily follows, viz., now is the time for entering into and effecting a purchase of their land. A full explanation, that my object in visiting their shores was to purchase their land, they appeared to understand; and the following negotiation or agreement was immediately entered into. I purchased two large blocks or tracts of land, about 600,000 acres, more or less, and, in consideration therefor, I gave them blankets, knives, looking-glasses, tomahawks, beads, scissors, flour, etc. I also further agreed to pay them a tribute or rent yearly. The parchment, or deed was signed this afternoon by the eight chiefs, each of them, at the same time, handing me a portion of the soil; thus giving me full possession of the tracts of land I had purchased.

This most extraordinary sale and purchase took place by the side of a lovely stream of water, from whence my land commenced. A tree was here marked in four different ways, to define the corner boundaries. Good land, to any extent, either for stock or tillage, with good water was here in abundance, ready for sheep, cattle, or the plough. Our negotiation was terminated by my Sydney natives giving our newly-acquired friends a grand corroborree at night, much to their delight. The group consisted, altogether, of forty-five men, women, and children.

Sunday, June 7th. I awoke this morning with the agreeable consciousness of my being able, like Alexander Selkirk, of school-boy memory, to say: "I am monarch of all I survey; my right there is none to dispute." With a view, however, of securing this right more permanently, I busied myself with drawing up triplicates of the deeds of the land I had purchased, and in delivering over to the natives more property. This was done on the banks of the lovely little creek which I have named Batman's Creek, as a memento of the novel and interesting transaction occurring on its banks. After the purchase and payment at the conclusion of the preliminaries, I had made preparation for departing, when two of the principal chiefs approached, and laid their royal mantles at my feet, begging my acceptance of them. Upon my acquiescing, the gifts were placed around my neck and over my shoulders by the noble donors, who seemed much pleased at their share in the transaction, and begged of me to walk a pace or two in their (now my) princely vestments. I asked them to accompany me to the vessel, to which request I received a rather feeling reply, by their pointing, first to their children, and next to their own naked feet, importing that they could not walk so fast as ourselves, but would come down in a few day. In the course of the late transaction, I had no difficulty in discovering their sacred and private mark, so important in all their transactions, and universally respected. I obtained a knowledge of this mark by means of one of my Sydney natives, Bungit, who, going behind a tree, out of sight of the females made the Sydney aboriginal mark. I afterwards took two others of my natives, and the principal chief of Port Phillip to whom I showed the mark on the tree, which he instantly recognized, and pointed, also, to the knocking out of the front tooth. This mark is always made simultaneously with the loss or extraction of the tooth. I requested the chief through the interpretation of my Sydney natives, to give the imprint of his mark. After a few minutes hesitation, he took a tomahawk and did as he was desired, on the bark of a tree. A copy of this mark is attached to the deed, as the signature and seal of their country.

About 10 a.m. I took my departure from these interesting people. The principal chief could not be less than six feet four inches high, and his proportions gigantic; his brother six feet two inches, also a fine man. I recrossed Batman's Creek, and travelled over thinly-timbered country of box, gum, wattle, and she-oak, with grass three of four feet high. Travelling twelve miles down we came, subsequently, upon a thinly-timbered forest of gum, wattle and oak. Here, for the first time, the land became sandy, with a little gravel. The grass was ten inches high, and resembled a field of wheat. We have not seen the slightest appearance of frost. After leaving this forest, we came upon the river I had gone up a few days before. Intending to come down on the opposite side and hail the vessel, I crossed on the banks of the river, a large marsh, one mile and a half broad by three or four long, of the richest diluvium; not a tree was to be seen. Having crossed this marsh we passed through a dense tea-tree scrub, very high, expecting to make the vessel in the course of an hour or two, but, to our great surprise, when we got through, we found ourselves on the banks of a much larger river than the one we had originally gone up.

As it was now near sundown, and at least two days would be required to head the river, I decided upon allowing two of my Sydney natives to swim across it, and go to the vessel, distant about seven miles, to fetch the boat. Bullet and Bungit started on this enterprise, and returned in about three hours from the time of their departure. Their return with the boat was most opportune as we had got on the point of junction of the two rivers, where the tide had set in, and was already up to my ankles. I first despatched the party with the dogs in the boat to the opposite bank, and, on the return of the boat, myself and old Bull, who had cut his foot, went in first-rate style, to the vessel. I hope my travelling on foot will terminate, at least for some time. I had now accomplished a most arduous undertaking, and, in order to secure the fruits of my exertions I intend leaving Gumm, Dodds, Thomson, and three of my Sydney natives—Bungit, Bullet, and old Bull—as overseers and bailiffs of my newly acquired territory, and of the possession of which nothing short of a premature disclosure of my discovery on the part of my companions, can possibly deprive me. These people I intend leaving at Indented Heads, as my head depot, with a supply of necessaries for at least three months. The chiefs of the Port Phillip tribe made me a present of three stone tomahawks, some spears, wommeras, boomerangs, and other weapons of warfare.

June 8th. This morning the winds set in foul for Indented Heads, and, having made several attempts to get out of the river, we gave it up as hopeless. We went in the boat, up the large river coming from the east, and after examination six miles up, I was pleased to find the water quite fresh and very deep. This will be the place for the future village.


Source.—Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Transportation (Molesworth, 1838), pp. 8-10, 31-33, 43

As Australia was shown to offer greater and greater attractions to free settlers the agitation against transportation increased. In 1838 the British Government appointed a Select Committee to inquire into and report upon the whole system. Their verdict is given below.

To plant a colony, and to form a new society, has ever been an arduous task. In addition to the natural difficulties arising from ignorance of the nature of the soil, and of the climate of a new country, the first settlers have generally had to contend with innumerable obstacles, which only undaunted patience, firmness of mind, and constancy of purpose, could overcome. But, whatever the amount of difficulties attendant on the foundations of colonies, those difficulties were greatly augmented, in New South Wales, by the character of the first settlers. The offenders who were transported in the past century to America, were sent to communities the bulk of whose population were men of thrift and probity; the children of improvidence were dropped in by driblets amongst the mass of a population already formed, and were absorbed and assimilated as they were dropped in. They were scattered and separated from each other; some acquired habits of honest industry, and all, if not reformed by their punishment, were not certain to be demoralized by it. In New South Wales, on the contrary, the community was composed of the very dregs of society; of men, proved by experience to be unfit to be at large in any society, and who were sent from the British gaols, and turned loose to mix with one another in the desert, together with a few task-masters, who were to set them to work in the open wilderness; and with the military, who were to keep them from revolt. The consequences of this strange assemblage were vice, immorality, frightful disease, hunger, dreadful mortality among the settlers; the convicts were decimated by pestilence on the voyage, and again decimated by famine on their arrival; and the most hideous cruelty was practised towards the unfortunate natives. Such is the early history of New South Wales.

After sentence of transportation has been passed, convicts are sent to the hulks or gaols, where they remain till the period of their departure arrives. On board convict vessels the convicts are under the sole control of the surgeon-superintendent, who is furnished with instructions, as to his conduct, from the Admiralty. The precautions which have been taken against disease, and the better discipline now preserved in these ships, have applied an effectual remedy to the physical evils of the long voyage to Australia, and prevented the mortality amongst the prisoners which prevailed to a fearful extent during the earlier periods of transportation. Little diminution, however, has taken place in those moral evils, which seem to be the necessary consequences of the close contact and communication between so many criminals, both during the period of confinement previous to embarkation, and during the weariness of a long voyage.

As soon as a convict vessel reaches its place of destination, a report is made by the surgeon-superintendent to the governor. A day is then appointed for the colonial secretary or for his deputy to go on board to muster the convicts, and to hear their complaints, if they have any to make. The male convicts are subsequently removed to the convict barracks; the females to the penitentiaries. In New South Wales, however, regulations have lately been established, by which, in most cases, female convicts are enabled to proceed at once from the ship to private service. It is the duty of an officer, called the principal superintendent of convicts, to classify the newly-arrived convicts, the greater portion of whom are distributed amongst the settlers as assigned servants; the remainder are either retained in the employment of the government, or some few of them are sent to the penal settlements.

On the whole, your Committee may assert that, in the families of well-conducted and respectable settlers, the condition of assigned convicts is much the same as the condition of similar descriptions of servants in this country; but this is by no means the case in the establishment of all settlers. As the lot of a slave depends upon the character of his master, so the condition of a convict depends upon the temper and disposition of the settler to whom he is assigned. On this account Sir George Arthur, late Governor of Van Diemen's Land, likened the convict to a slave, and described him "as deprived of liberty, exposed to all the caprice of the family to whose service he may happen to be assigned, and subject to the most summary laws; his condition" (said Sir George) "in no respect differs from that of the slave, except that his master cannot apply corporal punishment by his own hands or those of his overseer, and has a property in him for a limited period. Idleness and insolence of expression, or of looks, anything betraying the insurgent spirit, subject him to the chain-gang or the triangle, or hard labour on the roads."

On the other hand, a convict, if ill-treated, may complain of his master; and if he substantiate his charge the master is deprived of his services; but for this purpose the convict must go before a bench, sometimes a hundred miles distant, composed of magistrates, most of whom are owners of convict labour. Legal redress is therefore rarely sought for, and still more rarely obtained by the injured convict.

With regard to the general conduct of assigned agricultural labourers, there was a considerable diversity of opinion. The evidence, however, of Sir G. Arthur, appears to your Committee to be conclusive on this point, with regard to which he wrote to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the following terms:

"You cannot, my Lord, have an idea of the vexations which accompany the employment of convicts or of the vicissitudes attendant upon their assignment. Their crimes and misconduct involve the settlers in daily trouble, expense, and disappointment. The discipline and control of the convicts in Van Diemen's Land is carried, perhaps, to a higher degree than could have ever been contemplated. Many of the convicts have been greatly reformed when in the service of considerate and judicious masters; but, with all this abatement, there is so much peculation, so much insubordination, insolence, disobedience of lawful orders, and so much drunkenness, that reference to the magisterial authority is constant, and always attended with loss of time and expense to the settlers. There can be no doubt things appear better in the colony than they really are; for, in numberless instances, masters are known to submit to peculation rather than incur the additional expense of prosecuting their servants. Two hundred felons, after having been for a longtime under confinement in the gaols or hulks of England, and subsequently pent up on board a transport, are placed in charge of the masters or their agents to whom they have been assigned. The master has then to take the convict to his home (either to the other extremity of the island, a distance of 140 miles, or nearer, as the case may be), and well would it be if he could get him quietly there, but the contrary is of too frequent occurrence. Either with some money the convict has secreted, or from the bounty of some old acquaintance, the assigned servant, now relieved for the first time for some months from personal restraint, eludes the vigilance of his new master, finds his way into a public-house, and the first notice the settler has of his servant, for whom he has travelled to Hobart Town, for whose clothing he has paid the Government, for whose comfort he has, perhaps, made other little advances, is, that he is lodged in the watch-house with loss of half his clothing, or committed to gaol for felony."

The members of the anti-emancipist party in New South Wales attribute the increase of crime in that colony partly to alleged relaxation of convict discipline under Sir Richard Bourke; partly to the action of the Jury Laws, which permit persons who have been convicts to become jurors; and lastly, to the increasing number of emancipists.

The first-mentioned cause of the increase of crime in New South Wales refers to the Quarter Session Act, passed in 1833; by that Act, the summary jurisdiction of single magistrates over convicts, was somewhat diminished, and a magistrate was prevented from inflicting more than 50 lashes for a single offence, instead of 150 which he might have given before at three separate inflictions. These complaints do not seem to your Committee to have the slightest foundation in fact, and Sir Richard Bourke appears to have acted with wisdom, justice, and humanity in his treatment of the convict population.

With regard to the second alleged cause of the increase of crime, namely, the jury laws, your Committee need hardly repeat, that the well-proven effect of transportation is to demoralize, not to reform an offender; therefore, in a community like New South Wales, wherein so large a proportion of the population are persons who have been convicts, to permit such persons generally to sit upon juries must evidently have an injurious effect. Your Committee, however, must observe, that under a good system of punishment, an offender should, at the expiration of his sentence, be considered to have atoned for his crimes, and he should be permitted to commence a new career without any reference to his past one.

With regard to the last alleged cause of the increase of crime, namely, the increasing number of emancipists; little doubt, your Committee think, can be entertained of the pernicious consequences of annually turning loose a number of unreclaimed offenders on so small a community as that of New South Wales.

One of the supposed advantages of transportation is, that it prevents this country from being burthened with criminal offenders, after the expiration of their sentences. It is now, however, evident that transportation does not tend to diminish the sum total of offences committed in the British Dominions; it may, perhaps, relieve Great Britain and Ireland from a portion of their burthen of crime; though, from the little apprehension which transportation produces, that fact may be reasonably doubted. On the other hand, it only transfers and aggravates the burthen upon portions of the British Dominions, which, like New South Wales, and Van Diemen's Land, are least able to bear it.

In 1836, the free population of New South Wales amounted to 49,255, of whom about 17,000 had been convicts. In 1834, the free population of Van Diemen's Land did not exceed 23,315, of whom about 3,000 were expirees.

Of the state of society in the towns of these colonies, a general idea may be formed from a description of Sydney, according to the accounts given of it, by the Chief Police Magistrate and by Mr. Justice Burton. In 1836 Sydney covered an area of about 2,000 acres and contained about 20,000 inhabitants; of this number 3,500 were convicts, most of them in assigned service, and about 7,000 had probably been prisoners of the Crown. These, together with their associates amongst the free population, were persons of violent and uncontrollable passions, which most of them possessed no lawful means of gratifying; incorrigibly bad characters, preferring a life of idleness and debauchery by means of plunder to one of honest industry. Burglaries and robberies were frequently perpetrated by convict servants in the town and its vicinity, sometimes even in the middle of the day. No town offered so many facilities for eluding the vigilance of the police as Sydney did. The unoccupied bush near and within it afforded shelter to the offender and hid him from pursuit. He might steal or hire a boat and in a few minutes place an arm of the sea between himself and his pursuers. The want of continuity in the buildings afforded great facilities for lying in wait for opportunities of committing crime, for instant concealment on the approach of the police, and for obtaining access to the backs of houses and shops; and the drunkenness, idleness, and carelessness of a great proportion of the inhabitants afforded innumerable opportunities and temptations, both by day and night, for those who chose to live by plunder. The greater portion of the shopkeepers and the middling class had been convicts, for the tradesmen connected with the criminal population have an advantage over free emigrants.

Those of the emancipists who were possessed of property had generally acquired it by dishonest means, by keeping grog-shops, gambling-houses, by receiving stolen goods, and by other nefarious practices; they led a life of gross licentiousness; but their wealth and influence were such that one-fourth of the jurors who served in the civil and criminal courts during the years 1834, 1835, and 1836, belonged to their number. More immorality prevailed in Sydney than in any other town of the same size in the British Dominions; there, the vice of drunkenness had attained its highest pitch; the quantity of spirits consumed in Sydney was enormous; even throughout the whole of New South Wales the annual average, for every human being in the colony had reached four gallons a head. Such, according to the authorities already quoted, are the towns to which transportation has given birth; and such are the inmates furnished to them by the criminal tribunals of this country.

Your Committee having, in the preceding pages of their Report, discussed the nature and effects of transportation, and what alterations can be made in the existing system, now consider that they have submitted the most unquestionable proofs that the two main characteristics of transportation, as a punishment, are inefficiency in deterring from crimes, and remarkable efficiency, not in reforming, but in still further corrupting those who undergo the punishment; that these qualities of inefficiency for good, and efficiency for evil, are inherent in the system, which, therefore, is not susceptible of any satisfactory improvement; and lastly, that there belongs to the system, extrinsically from its strange character as a punishment, the yet more curious and monstrous evil of calling into existence, and continually extending, societies, or the germs of nations most thoroughly depraved, as respects both the character and degree of their vicious propensities. Your Committee, therefore, are of the opinion that the present system of transportation should be abolished, and will now proceed to offer a few observations as to the description of punishment which, in their opinion, ought to be substituted in the stead of transportation.


Source.—Port Phillip Gazette

In 1844 New South Wales (including the Port Phillip and Moreton Bay districts) was granted representative government, but the distance between Sydney and Melbourne and the disproportion of representatives made it a farce as far as Port Phillip was concerned. Melbourne proceeded to demonstrate to the British Government the necessity for Separation. Victoria was established as a separate colony in 1851.

Jan. 3rd, 1848. The Separation Despatch.—To such writers as cannot comprehend the policy of the Russell administration, it is common to decry everything which they have attempted, as stupid and impracticable; but we, who deem ourselves wiser in our generation, view their conduct in a very different light, and give them credit for no ordinary talent; great energy, and more perseverance in our affairs, than can be, under existing circumstances, ascribed to any Ministry in our day. They took office at a period of great political excitement, and still they have devoted much attention to Colonial interests; and they have extraordinary claims upon our beloved Victoria, having granted us that boon we long demanded in vain from former Ministers.

The Despatch officially announces that Earl Grey is to bring in a Bill for the Separation of this, from the Middle District at last, and that we will form a Colony of our own, under the new name of Victoria. The Constitution of this Colony will to some extent be identified with those of the other Australian Colonies.

At present, Earl Grey has put forth simply the general principles; the details, he says, will form matter for serious consideration and anxious deliberation.

We anticipate some of the Sydney papers will be coming out with a cart-load of nonsense; running down Earl Grey's plan, but we will defend it from their senseless and ignorant declamation.

Monday, July 10th, 1848. Political Gazette. The Elections.

Our readers must be aware that the writs for the election of members to serve in the new Legislative Council of the Colony of New South Wales, have been issued, and that his Worship the Mayor of Melbourne will hold a meeting of the electors of the City of Melbourne, in front of the Supreme Court House, La Trobe St. on Tuesday, 25th day of July, for the nomination of a member to serve in said Council for the Electoral District of Melbourne.

Wednesday, July 19th, 1848. The Elections.

The outrageous attempt to thrust Mr. Adam Bogue upon the District, as one of our members for the Legislative Council, has displayed that we are looked upon as a refuge for the destitute; and that the opinion of Port Phillip in Sydney is, that any beardless boy without name, character, or property may be raised upon our shoulders into an office of great influence, and almost supreme importance.

We have the welfare of the district sincerely at heart, and we advise the electors to return no members from Sydney. Let them nominate Port Phillip men and Port Phillip residents whether they can go to Sydney or not. We entreat the electors not to be made the instrument of destruction to themselves; let them not elect Sydney members to plunder Port Phillip.

Electors, place five Port Phillip men in nomination, and one half of them may go up to Sydney, who would be worth a thousand Sydney Adam Bogues.

Remember that the nomination will take place to-morrow, opposite the Court House at noon. We have no wish to treat the pretensions of any person who comes forward as a candidate for a public office with disrespect; but we cannot regard the attempt of a young man of neither standing nor capital to thrust himself into the Legislative Council on Port Phillip influence, other than a piece of impertinence. We should, however, have passed it unnoticed, had not this very same person insulted every man in this Province so recently, by endeavouring to throw Port Phillip out of the line of steam communication with England—when Port Phillip wanted a friend he gave her a kick, and this should have been the last district for Mr. Bogue to make an offer of his services to.

Wednesday, July 26th, 1848. To-day's Election.

We approved of the principle of returning no members for the Legislative Council (so far as the District was concerned) and we regret that an attempt is about to be made to overthrow these proceedings, by returning a Member for Melbourne in the person of J.F.L. Foster, Esq.

This is a question upon which, we are aware, some difference of opinion exists; but, having commenced the principle, so far as the District is concerned, we ought to carry it out; if we act otherwise it will be thrown in the teeth of the citizens of Melbourne that they disfranchised the District and then returned a Member on their own account to represent their city.

There required, however, to be unanimity to accomplish this, and some of the electors having proposed Mr. Foster as a fit and proper person to represent the City; those who were in favour of carrying out the principle already adopted at the District Meeting, had nothing left but to bring forward an opponent to Mr. Foster, and in the person of the Right Hon. Earl Grey has this opponent been found.

True, did the City wish to send a practical man, we are willing to accede that Earl Grey is not in a position to sit and work for us in the Council, but we wish, by electing a man who cannot act, at any rate for eighteen months, to carry out the principle which the Electors of the District have already agreed to be correct; we deem it then the duty of every honest man in this community to give his vote to Earl Grey, not so much out of respect for His Lordship, as to carry out a principle; a principle to which we consider the honour of Melbourne to be pledged.

Mr. Foster is, no doubt, a very excellent kind of man, but having been withdrawn by his friends, on the morning of the District Election, we must look upon him as shelved for the present. Let us then return Earl Grey as one member, and it may do us more good than we can well conceive at present, as it will give His Lordship a practical illustration of our helplessness, and thus hasten on Separation.

Hasten then, electors to the poll! and record your vote in favour of Earl Grey and SEPARATION!!

The Poll commences at Nine o'clock this morning.

Saturday, July 29th. Domestic Gazette. Election of a Representative for the City of Melbourne.—On Wednesday last, no little commotion was created by the election of a member (nominally) to represent the interests of the Citizens of Melbourne in the Legislative Council, but the thinking portion of the community having arrived at the conclusion that representation in the Legislative Council at Sydney, under existing circumstances, was a farce, had determined, virtually, upon adopting a similar course to that pursued at the nomination of Candidates for the District, and the Right Hon. Earl Grey was consequently proposed as a fit and proper person to represent our interests in the Legislative Council, and this proposition, with two or three exceptions, met with unanimous approval at the meeting. After the first hour's polling, it was clear that Mr. Foster had no chance, and as this became more and more apparent as the day advanced, some hundreds of voters who had intended to support the favourite were deterred from doing so under a conviction that their votes would not be required, and the unfavourable state of the weather counteracted the desire to be present at the scene of action. It was understood that the Mayor would, on the following day, declare on whom the election had fallen, and at noon, many hundred persons and, notwithstanding the still unfavourable state of the weather, assembled outside the supreme Court House, and a few minutes afterwards the excellent Band of the Total Abstinence Society, might be seen wending their way to the spot, headed by Mr. J.P. Fawkner.

The Mayor addressed the Meeting as follows:—"Gentlemen, I have called you together again for the purpose of declaring on whom the late election has fallen, but previously to doing so I will read two protests, one of which has been sent to a deputy returning officer, and the other to myself." His worship then read the protests, which are as follows:—"I, the undersigned burgher of Bourke Ward, do hereby protest against the Returning Officer receiving any votes for the Right Hon. Earl Grey, on the following grounds:—

"First, that Earl Grey as a Peer of the British Parliament cannot hold a seat in a Colonial House of Legislative Representation.

"Second, That he cannot move Her Majesty in two distinct Legislatures.

"Third, That he is not qualified according to the Act.

"Fourth, That he is an absentee, and there is no one present to represent him—to state that he will sit if elected.

(Signed) "Sidney Stephen, Barrister-at-law."

The Mayor remarked that these protests were very respectably signed, and were deserving of attention, but although they were signed by numerous lawyers he believed he was relieved of all difficulty on the subject by being guided by the 96th clause of the Constitutional Act which rendered it imperative that all complaints of this nature must be addressed in the form of a petition to the Governor and must be addressed by one of the candidates, or one-tenth of the whole of the electors. Several other authorities were then referred to by His Worship, who expressed himself thoroughly satisfied as to the course he ought to pursue, and announced the following as the final state of the Poll in the Respective Wards.

Gipps Ward . . . 50 17
La Trobe Ward . . 102 15
Bourke Ward . . . 43 32
Lonsdale Ward . . 100 28
---- ----
295 92

leaving a majority for Earl Grey of 203, who was declared amidst enthusiastic cheering, to be duly elected as a member of the Legislative Council for the Electoral District of the City of Melbourne.


Source.—A Lady's Visit to the Gold Diggings of Australia in 1852-53 (Mrs. Charles Clacy), pp. 19-29, 82-85

Gold was discovered in Australia at a time when the people of every nation in Europe were demanding a greater share in their respective governments. Many who immigrated in search of gold took a leading part in making the Australian Governments democratic.

Melbourne, 1852.—The non-arrival of the Mail-steamer left us now no other care save the all-important one of procuring food and shelter. Scouts were accordingly despatched to the best hotels; they returned with long faces—"full." The second-rate, and in fact every respectable inn and boarding or lodging-house were tried, but with no better success. Here and there, a solitary bed could be obtained, but for our digging-party entire, which consisted of my brother, four shipmates, and myself, no accommodation could be procured, and we wished, if possible, to keep together. "It's a case," ejaculated one. At this moment the two last searchers approached, their countenances not quite so woebegone as before. "Well?" exclaimed we all in chorus, as we surrounded them, too impatient to interrogate at greater length. Thank Heavens! they had been successful! The housekeeper of a surgeon, who with his wife had just gone up to Forest Creek, would receive us to board and lodge for thirty shillings a week each: but as the accommodation was of the indifferent order, it was not yet as une affaire arrangée. On farther inquiry, we found the indifferent accommodation consisted in there being but one small sleeping-room for the gentlemen, and myself to share the bed and apartment of the temporary mistress. This was vastly superior to gipsying in the dirty streets, so we lost no time in securing our new berths; and ere very long, with appetites undiminished by these petty anxieties, we did ample justice to the dinner which our really kindly hostess quickly placed before us.

The first night on shore after so long a voyage could scarcely seem otherwise than strange, one missed the eternal rocking at which so many grumble on board ship. Dogs (Melbourne is full of them) kept up an incessant barking; revolvers were cracking in all directions till daybreak, giving one a pleasant idea of the state of society. The next few days were busy ones for all, though rather dismal to me, as I was confined almost entirely indoors, owing to the awful state of the streets; for in the colonies, at this season of the year, one may go out prepared for fine weather, with blue sky above, and dry underfoot, and in less than an hour, should a colonial shower come on, be unable to cross some of the streets without a plank being placed from the middle of the road to the pathway, or the alternative of walking in water up to the knees.

Our party, on returning to the ship the day after our arrival, witnessed the French-leave-taking of all her crew, who, during the absence of the Captain, jumped overboard, and were quickly picked up and landed by the various boats about. This desertion of the ships by the sailors is an every-day occurrence; the diggings themselves, or the large amount they could obtain for the run home from another master, offer too many temptations. Consequently, our passengers had the amusement of hauling up from the hold their different goods and chattels; and so great was the confusion, that fully a week elapsed before they were all got to shore. Meanwhile, we were getting initiated into colonial prices—money did, indeed, take to itself wings and fly away. Fire-arms were at a premium; one instance will suffice—my brother sold a six-barrelled revolver for which he had given sixty shillings at Baker's, in Fleet Street, for sixteen pounds, and the parting with it at that price was looked upon as a great favour. Imagine boots, and they were very second-rate ones, at four pounds a pair. One of our between-deck passengers who had speculated with a small capital of forty pounds in boots and cutlery, told me afterwards that he had disposed of them the same evening he landed at a net profit of ninety pounds—no trifling addition to a poor man's purse. Labour was at a very high price, carpenters, boot and shoe makers, tailors, wheelwrights, joiners, smiths, glaziers, and, in fact, all useful trades, were earning from twenty to thirty shillings a day—the very men working on the roads could get eleven shillings per diem, and many a gentleman in this disarranged state of affairs, was glad to fling old habits aside and turn his hand to whatever came readiest. I knew one in particular, whose brother is at this moment serving as a Colonel in the army in India, a man more fitted for a gay London life than a residence in the Colonies. The diggings were too dirty and uncivilized for his taste, his capital was quickly dwindling away beneath the expenses of the comfortable life he led at one of the best hotels in town, so he turned to what as a boy he had learnt as an amusement, and obtained an addition to his income, of more than four hundred pounds a year as house carpenter. In the morning you might see him trudging off to his work, and before night might meet him at some ball or soirée among the elite of Melbourne.

I shall not attempt an elaborate description of the town of Melbourne, or its neighbouring villages. The town is very well laid out; the streets (which are all straight, running parallel with and across one another) are very wide, but are incomplete, not lighted, and many are unpaved. Owing to the want of lamps, few, except when full moon, dare stir out after dark. Some of the shops are very fair; but the goods all partake too largely of the flash order, for the purpose of suiting the tastes of successful diggers, their wives, and families; it is ludicrous to see them in the shops—men who before the gold-mines were discovered toiled hard for their daily bread taking off half-a-dozen thick gold rings from their fingers, and trying to pull on to their rough, well-hardened hands the best white kids, to be worn at some wedding party, whilst the wife, proud of the novel ornament, descants on the folly of hiding them beneath such useless articles as gloves.

The walking inhabitants are of themselves a study; glance into the streets—all nations, classes, and costumes are represented there. Chinamen, with pigtails and loose trousers; aborigines, with a solitary blanket flung over them; Vandemonian pick-pockets, with cunning eyes and light fingers—all, in fact, from the successful digger in his blue serge shirt, and with green veil still hanging round his wideawake, to the fashionably attired, newly-arrived "gent" from London, who stares round him in amazement and disgust. You may see, and hear too, some thoroughly colonial scenes in the streets. Once, in the middle of the day, when passing up Elizabeth Street, I heard the unmistakable sound of a mob behind, and as it was gaining upon me, I turned into the enclosed ground in front of the Roman Catholic Cathedral to keep out of the way of the crowd. A man had been taken up for horse-stealing, and a rare ruffianly set of both sexes were following the prisoner and the two policemen who had him in charge. "If but six of ye were of my mind," shouted one, "it's this moment you'd release him." The crowd took the hint, and to it they set with right good will, yelling, swearing, and pushing with awful violence. The owner of the stolen horse got up a counter demonstration, and every few yards the procession was delayed by a trial of strength between the two parties. Ultimately, the police conquered; but this is not always the case, and often lives are lost and limbs broken in the struggle, so weak is the force maintained by the colonial government for the preservation of order.


Of the history of the discovery of gold in Australia I believe few are ignorant. The first supposed discovery took place some sixty years ago at Port Jackson. A convict made known to Governor Phillip the existence of an auriferous region near Sydney, and on the locality being examined particles of real gold-dust were found. Every one was astonished, and several other spots were tried without success. Suspicion was now excited, and the affair underwent a thorough examination, which elicited the following facts: The convict, in the hope of obtaining his pardon as a reward, had filed a guinea and some brass buttons, which, judicially mixed, made a tolerable pile of gold-dust, and this he carefully distributed over a small tract of sandy land. In lieu of the expected freedom, his ingenuity was rewarded with close confinement and other punishments. Thus ended the first idea of a gold-field in these colonies.

Suddenly, in 1851, at the time that the approaching opening of the Crystal Palace was the principal subject of attention in England, the colonies of Australia were in a state of far greater excitement; as the news spread like wildfire, far and wide, that gold was really there. To Edward Hammon Hargreaves be given the honour of this discovery. This gentleman was an old Australian settler, just returned from a trip to California, where he had been struck by the similarity of the geological formation of the mountain ranges in his adopted country to that of the Sacramento district. On his return he immediately searched for the precious metal; Ophir, the Turon, and Bathurst well repaid his labour. Thus commenced the gold-diggings of New South Wales.

The good people of Victoria were rather jealous of the importance given by these events to the other colony. Committees were formed and rewards were offered for the discovery of a gold-field in Victoria. The announcement of the Clunes diggings in July 1851 was the result; they were situated on a tributary of the Lodden. On 8 September those of Ballarat, and on the 10th those of Mount Alexander completely satisfied the most sceptical as to the vast mineral wealth of the colony. Bendigo soon was heard of, and gully after gully successfully attracted the attention of the public by the display of their golden treasures.


Source.—The Gold Digger (Rev. David Mackenzie, M.A.), pp. 28-31

The excitement produced throughout the colonies, but especially in Sydney and Melbourne, by the publication of the gold discovery, may be inferred from the following facts: In one week upwards of 2,000 persons were counted on the road to the Bathurst diggings, and only eleven coming down. Hundreds of men, of all classes and conditions, threw up their situations, and leaving their wives and families behind them, started for the diggings. Whole crews ran away from their ships, which were left to rot in our harbours, the men having willingly forfeited all their wages, clothes, etc. Within one week the prices of the following goods rose twenty-five per cent. in Sydney: flour, tea, sugar, rice, tobacco, warm clothing, and boots. Throughout all the towns nothing was saleable but provisions and diggers' tools and clothing. Every man who could handle a pick or spade was off, or preparing to be off, for the gold-fields. The roads were crowded with travellers, carriages, gigs, drays, carts, and wheelbarrows; mixed up in one confused assemblage might be seen magistrates, lawyers, physicians, clerks, tradesmen, and labourers.

The building of houses, bridges, etc., was suspended for want of tradesmen, nearly all of them having gone to the diggings. Many houses might be seen half-finished for want of men to proceed with the work, though the owners or contractors were offering enormously high wages to any that would complete the work. The fields were left unsown, flocks of sheep were deserted by their shepherds. With one stockholder who has twenty thousand sheep, there remained only two men. Masters were seen driving their own drays; and ladies of respectability and ample means were obliged to cook the family dinner. Servants and apprentices were off in a body; and even the very "devils" bolted from the newspaper offices; in short, the yellow fever seized on all classes of society. In twenty-four hours prices of provisions doubled at Bathurst and the neighbouring places. In all our steamers and trading vessels the rate of passage was raised, in consequence of the necessary increase in the wages of seamen. All the trades held their meetings, at which a new tariff of charges was agreed upon; and even the publicans raised at least twenty-five per cent. the prices of their wines, beer, and spirits.

Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand poured upon our shores shiploads of adventurers, attracted by the golden news; and South Australia is now almost drained of its labouring population, one of the consequences of which is that the shares in the famous Burra Burra copper mines there have fallen from £230 to £45, a fall which has entailed ruin on hundreds.

In walking along the streets of Sydney or Melbourne you hear nothing talked about but gold; you see nothing exhibited in shop windows but specimens of gold, or some article of equipment for the gold-digger. In every society gold is the interminable topic of conversation; and throughout the colonies the only newspapers now read are those which contain intelligence from our golden fields.

Soon after the discovery the Government of New South Wales, seeing that it could not prevent the community from digging for gold on Crown lands, quietly made virtue of necessity, and merely sought to legalize and regulate the diggings by the following announcement, published in the "Official Gazette":


Colonial Secretary's Office,
Sydney, 23rd May, 1851.

Licenses to Dig and Search for Gold.

With reference to the Proclamation issued on the 22nd May instant, declaring the rights of the Crown in respect to Gold found in its natural place of deposit within the territory of New South Wales, His Excellency the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, has been pleased to establish the following Provisional Regulations, under which Licenses may be obtained, to search for, and remove the same:

1. From and after the first day of June next, no person will be permitted to dig, search for, or remove gold on or from any land, whether public or private, without first taking out and paying for a License in the form annexed.

2. For the present, and pending further proof of the extent of the Gold-field, the License fee has been fixed at £1 10s. per month, to be paid in advance; but it is to be understood that the rate is subject to future adjustment, as circumstances may render expedient.

3. The Licenses can be obtained on the spot, from the Commissioner who has been appointed by His Excellency the Governor, to carry these regulations into effect, and who is authorized to receive the fee payable thereon.

4. No person will be eligible to obtain a License, or the renewal of a License, unless he shall produce a certificate of discharge from his last service, or prove to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that he is not a person improperly absent from hired service.

5. Rules, adjusting the extent and position of land to be covered by each License and for the prevention of confusion, and the interference of one License with another will be the subject of early regulation.

6. With reference to lands alienated by the Crown, in fee simple, the Commissioner will not be authorized for the present to issue Licenses under the regulations to any persons but the proprietors, or persons authorized by them in writing to apply for the same.

By his Excellency's command,



Source.—The Golden Colony (G.H. Wathen, 1855), pp. 49-53, 78-81

Even on the spot it is often very difficult to learn when, by whom, and in what manner, a new gold district is first discovered. When the yield of an old working begins to fail, the diggers throw out small "prospecting" parties of twos and threes, to explore promising localities. These "prospectors" may occasionally make important discoveries; but far more frequently they are the result of chance, or of the desultory efforts of shepherds and other servants of the settlers resident in the particular locality. It sometimes happens that a digging party, travelling from one district to another, camp for a night in a valley which they may think looks very promising. Being delayed here, perhaps, by the loss of their horse, or some other accident, they sink a pit or "hole" in a "likely spot." At length some one strikes a rich deposit. If so, it cannot long remain a secret. A few dozens or scores are shortly at work on the adjacent ground; and if these too are successful the news spreads like wild-fire, and within a week all the roads and tracks leading to the spot are covered with diggers and their carts, on the way to the new Dorado—the newest being always by report the best and richest. In a few days the hills around the new working are dotted over with white tents, the forest around them quickly disappears, being felled for firewood. Government, on hearing of the discovery, sends down a Commissioner with a body of horse and foot police. These establish a camp on some central elevated position, and an irregular wide street of tents springs up like magic in the valley below. There are stores, large and small; butchers' shops; doctors' little tents; and innumerable refreshment booths, where, under the guise of selling lemonade and home-made beer, an extensive illicit trade is carried on in vile, adulterated, and often poisonous spirits. The blacksmith is always one of the first on the ground, and presently extemporises a forge out of a few loose stones or turf-sods. Flags are flying from the stores and shops, and give gaiety to the scene. The Union Jack floats proudly above the Government camp on the hill, and military sentinels are on duty before the gold-tent.

As the diggers reach the spot they pitch their tents on the lower slopes of the hills or in the green flats. At night their watch-fires gleam far and wide, and from a neighbouring height the place has the appearance of a large town illuminated. A new goldfield is the favourite resort of horse stealers, thieves, and miscreants of all kinds, who, lost in the crowd and confusion, here find ample opportunities for carrying on their nefarious practices. Their common haunts are the "sly grog-shops" which spring up like weeds on all sides. Here they rendezvous, and concoct those deeds of darkness which have given the colony such an unenviable fame.

Horses are stolen and ridden off to Melbourne, Geelong, or to the nearest goldfield and sold by auction. The roads leading to the new diggings become infested with bushrangers; stories of being "stuck up" (or robbed) are more and more frequent; till at length a cartload of ruffians, heavily handcuffed, is seen moving towards the Government Camp well guarded by mounted troopers. These are the bushrangers who have been hunted down and just captured by the troopers. And now for a time the roads are safe.

No life can be more independent and free than that of the Australian digger; no travelling more agreeable than summer travelling in the Bush; carrying about with you in your cart your tent, your larder, and all your domestic appointments. In choosing a halting place for the night you have the whole country open to you—no walls or hedges to shut you in to a dusty turnpike road. You drink from the clear running creek; the soft green turf is your carpet; your tent your bedroom. Your horse duly hobbled, enjoys the fresh pasturage around. The nearest fallen tree supplies you with fuel for your evening fire.

One of the most fruitful sources of discontent was the method of collecting the gold revenue. When the first discoveries were made at Ballarat, the Melbourne Government, following the example of that at Sydney, issued regulations by which all miners were required to procure a monthly license to dig for gold, and to pay 30s. for the same. But how was this tax to be enforced among a migratory population, living in tents scattered through a forest? The mode adopted was, to send out armed bands of police, who, coming down suddenly on a gully or flat, spread themselves over it demanding of everyone his license. A few mounted troopers formed part of the force to cut off defaulters who might attempt to fly. All who could not produce their license were captured and marched off, probably some miles, to the nearest magistrates, and, after some detention, were either fined £5, or imprisoned for a month. Such a system naturally led to great discontent and irritation. At some of the goldfields a curious plan was hit upon for evading these inquisitorial visits. No sooner was a party of police seen approaching than the diggers raised the cry of "Joe! Joe!" The cry was taken up, and presently the whole length of the gully rang with the shouts "Joe! Joe! Joe!" and of course all defaulters instantly made off for the depths of the forest.

The dissatisfaction was exasperated by the method of collecting the license fee. The collector did not call on the tax payer, but the latter had to seek the collector. The digger was compelled to walk from his own gully to the Commissioner's Camp—distant, perhaps, several miles—and then often wait for hours under a fierce sun while a crowd of others, who had arrived before him, were paying their 30s., or weighing their half ounce of gold. Greater facilities were indeed subsequently offered for the payment of the fee, but the mode of enforcing it continued the same. The diggers complained loudly and unceasingly of these harsh and un-English measures. "First you tax our labour," said they, "and then you collect your tax at the point of the bayonet." The dislike of the system was universal; disputes were frequent, and collisions between the police and diggers sometimes occurred.

Another of the diggers' grievances was the extreme insecurity of life and property on the mines. While the police force were snugly housed at headquarters, in a peaceable and orderly neighbourhood, the populous and remote gullies were the nightly scenes of deeds of robbery and violence. Every evening men were knocked down and brutally treated or "stuck up" and robbed. Every night horses were stolen, tents broken into, and "holes" plundered of gold by the "night fossickers"—miscreants who watched for the richest "holes" during the day, marked them, and plundered them at night. In October 1852 at a place called Moonlight Flat (near Forest Creek), these desperadoes had become so numerous and shameless, and their outrages so frequent, that the miners rose en masse against them. A public meeting was convened; blue-shirted diggers made stirring appeals to their auditory; a deputation was appointed to proceed instantly to Melbourne to remonstrate with the Government, and to implore it to adopt energetic measures for extirpating the "hordes of ruffians" that infested their neighbourhood, and the persons of many of whom were well known there.


Source.—The Golden Colony (G.H. Wathen, 1855), pp. 138, 143-150

The combination of convictism in Tasmania and gold in Victoria and New South Wales produced bushranging on a large scale. Convicts now had a chance of living well if they escaped, and many took advantage of the opportunity.

If the Australian roads in winter may be well likened to those English roads of 200 years ago, out of which the King's Coach had to be dug by the rustics, so may the Australian Bushranger be regarded as the legitimate representative of the traditionary highwayman who levied toll at Highgate, or stopped the post-boy and captured the mailbags in Epping Forest. The real, living bushranger is, however, more of a ruffian and less of a hero than our ideal highwayman; for time, like distance, softens down the harsh and the coarse, and gives dignity to the ignoble.

Never, perhaps, did a country offer so tempting a field to the public robber as Victoria did during the first year or two after the gold discovery. The interior was wild and uninhabited, abounding with lonely forests. Travellers were numerous, and mostly carried money or gold; for none were poor. The roadside public-houses were daily the scenes of drunken revelry. The police were few and untrained; and the mixed and scattered population at the several diggings offered a ready asylum in case of pursuit. Add to all this that, separated from Victoria by a mere strait, was the depot for the most accomplished villains of Great Britain, and it needed no prophet to foresee that the roads of the new gold country would very soon be swarming with thieves and desperadoes.

It is no uncommon occurrence in the Australian Colonies for a large number of shearers or others collected in the hut in the country to be "stuck up," that is, subdued and bound, by two or three determined bushrangers. Fifteen or sixteen strong active men may be thus treated, and have been, frequently. At first, one is ready to conclude either that they must have a private understanding with the robbers or else be the veriest poltroons. I thought so myself till I had an account of one of these affairs from a man who had been one of a large party thus "stuck up" by two very notorious bushrangers, the life and death of whom, would furnish materials for a romance. Their names were Dalton and Kelly, and they will long be famous in the annals of daring and outrage in Van Diemen's Land.

Dalton was a stout, powerful man, and about thirty years of age at the time of the rencontre I am about to describe. His accomplice Kelly, was about twenty-three years old. They were both prisoners of the Crown in Van Diemen's Land. Dalton was transported at an early age, and had for a time been confined in the "Ocean Hell" of Norfolk Island, the gaol of the double-damned convict; but was afterwards taken back to Van Diemen's Land. From the same informant I learned some particulars of their escape. They were confined in a penal establishment on a strait or an arm of the sea, wide enough, it was thought, to preclude the possibility of flight. Dalton, Kelly, and five or six other prisoners, however, weary of a wretched life, determined to risk that life for liberty; and having one day eluded the vigilance of their guards, attempted, though their legs were weighed down with fetters, to swim to the opposite shore. One after another their strength failed them; they sank and disappeared till at length only Kelly and Dalton survived. Kelly's strength was rapidly waning, when Dalton called out to him "Catch hold of me, Kelly! I can swim another hour yet."

When at last they both got safe to land, Dalton exclaimed, "Well, thank God, I shall have one comrade at any rate."

They now quickly freed themselves from their irons, procured arms, and, knowing that they would certainly be hotly pursued they at once started on a marauding expedition, visiting the neighbouring stations in succession, and pillaging each; intending eventually, to make their way across Bass's Straits to Victoria. Dalton was a very formidable fellow; strong, active, and resolute, reckless of human life, and now rendered desperate by despair. He was, too, a first-rate marksman, and could "stick up a glass bottle."

What follows is an account given me by my informant. Kelly came up to the hut, which was full of men. I was standing at the door at the time, but did not know who the man was. When he came close he asked me if I had heard that the bushrangers were out. I answered "Yes, I had." Then he pointed his gun at me, and said "I'm one of them. Go into the hut." I went in, but on turning round I saw one of my mates standing against the hut in a corner, with another man standing over him, covering him with his gun. The other was Dalton, Kelly's mate. After I had gone into the hut, Kelly stood at the open doorway, with his gun pointed at those inside, swearing he would murder the first man who moved an inch. There were about fourteen men in the hut. Then he asked if there were any prisoners among them. One man said that he was. Kelly then ordered him to tie their arms together, one by one.

While doing so, one man complained that he was being tied too tight; but this only drew forth another volley of oaths and threats from Kelly. When all were secured, Kelly went out to assist Dalton who still stood over the man whom he had pinned to the wall of the hut, threatening to shoot him if he stirred. Kelly then tied up his hands while Dalton continued covering him with the gun. He was then marched into the hut to join the others. And now Dalton began walking up and down the hut haranguing his prisoners. "He'd no doubt" he said "that some of them might be good and honest men, and some scoundrels. That for his part, he wouldn't hurt a hair of any good man's head, if he could help it. But he had been forced to take to this sort of life. It wasn't his fault. He had been lagged (transported) when only twelve years of age; had since then over and over again tried to obtain his freedom by good conduct; but they wouldn't give it him, and it was useless to try any more by fair means. And he had now sworn to gain his freedom, or lose his life in the attempt. He didn't want to hurt anyone. What he wanted was money; and money he would have, come what, come might. He'd show them presently whether he was game or not. He'd go into the master's house and bring out, single-handed the man he wanted, no matter how many he might find there. But let them beware. If any man dared to move or tried to escape he swore he'd scatter his brains about the yard, and blow the roof off his head."

Dalton now left the hut, and went to the house of the settler, their master, which was close at hand. All this time the household knew nothing of what had been passing in the hut. He entered, and went straight up to the sitting-room, where several gentlemen and ladies happened to be collected. He opened the door, and deliberately advanced with his gun pointed at those within. But a lady, who chanced to be behind the door, on seeing the levelled gun, slammed the door in the robber's face. This was a timely diversion, and the signal for a general scattering of those present.

The men in the hut were subsequently tried for collusion with the bushrangers; but when asked how they could suffer two men to "stick up" so many, one replied to the magistrate, that, with their permission, he would himself "stick up" the whole Bench.

The free servants were acquitted; those of the party who were prisoners of the Crown were sentenced to imprisonment; but on Government being petitioned by their free mates, who protested the innocence of all, they were liberated.

After this the two bushrangers boldly carried on their depredations, roaming about from station to station, "sticking up" the men, and robbing the masters; while a large party of the police were following on their track. One day they came to a hut full of men, and, opening the door, tried the old plan of intimidation by standing with loaded double-barrelled pieces in the doorway, and threatening with deep oaths to "drop" the first man of them, who moved hand or foot. But it happened that several of the pursuing constables were within the hut. One of them, named Buckmaster, rushed towards Dalton. The robber fired and the constable fell dead. Dalton still stood unmoved in the doorway, with his levelled gun, and calmly said "Ah, how d'ye like that? Now, then, I'm ready for another!" This coolness saved them both and for a time they escaped capture. But such an outrage on one of their officers roused the Government. A large reward was offered for the capture of the two bushrangers, and they were hunted through the island more hotly than ever.

Driven to desperation, they seized upon a whaleboat; by threats pressed four boatmen into their service, and actually compelled them to work the boat across Bass's Straits to the opposite shores of Victoria. Here they safely landed on the solitary coast of Western Port and made their way up to Melbourne. News of the escape of these formidable and blood-stained freebooters had been immediately transmitted to the authorities of Victoria. As they had left Van Diemen's Land in an open whaleboat, there was no doubt but that they would make for the Western Port shores; and the Victoria police, stimulated by the hope of a large reward, were keenly looking out for two persons answering to the published description of the robbers. The boatmen who had conveyed them across the Strait were seen and arrested at Dandenong, between Western Port and the Capital; but no further trace of the bushrangers could be obtained. The Melbourne newspapers furnish us with the conclusion of the tragedy.

The following account of the capture of the chief of these desperadoes, from the Melbourne "Argus" is more like a page from a romance than a passage in real life. It is one more instance of what appears like a special Providence laying its resistless hand on a murderer at the very moment when he seemed to have secured his escape, and dragging him forth to public justice. Within four hours after his capture, Dalton would have been on board a ship bound for England.

"Between eleven and twelve o'clock on Friday night, Dalton entered a coffee-shop in Bourke Street, in company with a man who had engaged to put him on board the Northumberland at daylight the next morning from Sandridge, and for which he was to pay £4. This man, we understand, was quite ignorant of the person he was bargaining with. Dalton asked the proprietors of the shop, if they could change him some Van Diemen's Land Notes for gold, as he was about to embark for England. They could not do it, but a gentleman named Brice, formerly a cadet in the police force, suspecting all was not right, said that he could, as he was a gold-broker, if Dalton would only accompany him to his office. To this Dalton consented, and placed three £20 and one £10 notes of the Launcestoun Bank in his hands. They then left the shop together; the night was extremely dark; the stranger, however, led the way, Dalton and the boatman following close behind. After proceeding some little way, they turned into Little Collins St. and by the back entrance, into the yard of the Police Court. Here it was so dark that the outline of the building could not be distinguished. The guide then showed them the door of his alleged office which was no other then the clerk's room of the Swanston St. watch-house. The man at the door was in plain clothes, and within were several of the detective officers, and two watch-housekeepers at the books, all, however, in private costume. Once in, Mr. Brice stated that he had brought these men to the station on suspicion of having come by the notes wrongfully.

"Dalton at this time must have known where he was, but made no observation beyond affirming that they were his, and making some remarks relative to his being brought there on so paltry an accusation. During this he was smoking a cigar, and behaving himself in a careless nonchalant manner. Meanwhile, the detectives were making use of their eyes, and seeing if the descriptions they possessed corresponded with the figures before them. The watch-house keeper finding that Mr. Brice had no charge to prefer against him, returned Dalton his notes, who was about to leave the office, when Detectives Williams, Murray, and Eason pounced upon him, and fixed him in a corner. Dalton endeavoured to draw a pistol from his belt, but was prevented and overpowered. Finding himself mastered, he said, 'You have got the reward of £500. My name is Dalton!' He then said if he had only seen the bars of the station-house window, as he was entering, he would have sent a ball through his conductor. He further said that he had been in the Police Court that morning, and had recollected going up a flight of steps which he did not see that night, as he had been led in the back way, and had he but seen these steps, his guide would have been a dead man. He was then handcuffed and searched, and two large horse-pistols heavily loaded and capped, besides a small one, were taken from his belt; he was then locked up."

Kelly, the other accomplice, was arrested the next day, and both were sent back to Van Diemen's Land, tried, and executed.


Source.—Port Phillip Gazette, 21st January 1851

The uselessness of protests against Transportation from the various states, proved the necessity for the whole of Australia to act together in external affairs. Thus the inauguration of the Anti-Transportation League was the first step towards Federation.


On Monday, the members and promotors of the Launceston Association for securing the cessation of transportation, entertained at Public breakfast the gentlemen delegated to represent the interests of the Colony at the Australian Conference, which is about to be held in Melbourne. A cold collation was prepared at the Cornwall, and about 100 gentlemen sat down, amongst whom were many magistrates and gentlemen representing the most influential and respectable portions of the northern and midland districts. Breakfast being concluded, the Chairman rose, and said, it was a matter of pleasure to him to meet so large and respectable a body of gentlemen, some of whom he had known for a quarter of a century. They had not assembled to petition; it was a truth deplorable and sad that petitions had hitherto been unavailing and they were now met to force from Her Majesty's Government, relief from an evil of which history presented no parallel. (Hear, hear.) Petition after petition had been transmitted home, but the prayers of the Community had been constantly rejected. It now remained to try other means.

The Rev. J. West rose and said he felt some embarrassment in addressing that meeting. He, however, felt grateful for their recognition of his appointment, and should rely on their indulgence during the few moments he might address them. The colonists had been led up to a position from which it was impossible to recede. Van Diemen's Land must obtain a share in the general freedom, or for ever sink. They had petitioned for a cessation of transportation; whilst there was a possibility of the other colonies receiving a portion of the convicts annually sent from Britain, they expected by the more general distribution to experience some relief. But the resistance of the other colonies had removed the faint anticipation, and shut up to us this last hope—to our union with them. When it was proposed to solicit the co-operation of the adjacent colonies, some persons prophesied a failure; it was thought by some, improbable that the colonies would feel any interest in our fate. But the heart of an Englishman is ever susceptible of pity; and when we spoke of our wrongs they listened; and when we exposed the enormous danger, they consulted their own safety, and came forward to our help. Let us look well to our position. We have to change the policy and contend against the power of a mighty Empire. In the effervescence and excitement of public speaking it was not at all surprising that a threat should sometimes be uttered; but many years must elapse before an appeal to physical force would bear even the semblance of reason. We have, then a mighty Empire to contend against—one which can laugh our threatening to scorn. And what are the weapons we must employ? What, but the weapons of truth? We must diffuse right information; we must expose our wrongs—and we must appeal to the justice of the British Nation. Let the evils and injuries under which this fair domain of the Crown now suffers, be laid before the English people, and a cry will be heard from Land's End to the opposite shore, "transportation shall cease because it degrades the British name." (Cheers.) The injuries resulting from transportation to the colony are various. A gentleman, however eminent his station and virtues, going to a distant part of the world must cautiously suppress the fact, that he came from Van Diemen's Land, or even this quarter of the globe. (Hear, hear.) Yes, Sir, our sons, who have quitted this colony in search of a home denied them in the land of their birth, have been compelled to conceal the place from which they came, and to drop into the box, by stealth, those letters which were to relieve parental anxiety, and express their filial affection. And is this to be for ever endured? Shall our own children never know the pleasure and pride of patriotism? Shall we not ask all the colonies of the Australian empire to aid us in our struggle? Shall we not confide in the justice of Australasia?

When it is said that England cannot support 4,000 or 5,000 offenders the question naturally occurs: What has she not done? Did not England for her Continental wars incur a debt of £800,000,000: did she not give £20,000,000 to free her West India slaves; did she not expend £7,000,000 to combat the famine of Ireland? Is not the proposed expenditure for the National Executive of the present year an evidence of her boundless opulence? And yet to save a trifling outlay compared with the injustice now done, the representative of Her Majesty is compelled to carry about under his skirts a parcel of convictism; to deposit these tokens of imperial interest he is driven to have recourse to artifice, trickery and falsehood. (Hear, hear.) As England glories in her past history, and has found means to keep afloat that flag which has never been lowered; so she must find means to carry on a nobler struggle with her own poverty and crime. Hitherto, Van Diemen's Land has not been heard at home; but if by the united voices of the other colonies, a sort of telegraphic communication can be opened with Britain, if a speaking trumpet be formed, we shall be heard. When he (Mr. West) heard that Ministers had departed from their promise that transportation should cease, he was astonished and desponding—he thought that if a promise so solemnly given could be so recklessly broken, hope was delusion. But as in the moral, so it is in the political world. The Divine Being frequently ordains that good shall arise out of apparent evils; that a tedious delay shall make the remedy more perfect. Had we been relieved when Ministers promised; then, transportation to the other colonies would have been continued, and its evils accumulate there. (Hear, hear.) When it was proposed that all the colonies should receive a share of convicts, all things considered, he, (the speaker) for one could not have then objected to Van Diemen's Land being joined in the co-partnery. Had such been the case a century might have elapsed before the reproach of convictism had been removed from this hemisphere. But the refusal of the other colonies occasioned by the injuries inflicted on this, has roused us all into action, and now all declare that not a man, no, not one—in fetters shall be landed in Australia. (Tremendous cheering.)

If an unfortunate offender becomes as a penitent desirous of amending his life, and disposed to conform to the usages, and claims of honest society, he will find no man here spitefully to remind him of his former errors. But if he is brought wearing the badge of disgrace we will not have him. We will say to the British Government "Until you can with safety discharge him into your community, he shall not enter ours." (Loud Cheers.) This is the righteous principle upon which we have taken our stand. Whilst we were disputing among ourselves who should bear the load, we were likely to be sacrificed by our ungenerous divisions. But we have now a new principle; and a principle is a wedge—if sufficient force is applied, every obstacle will be riven into shivers. We now say that no man should be an involuntary gaoler, much less shall the inhabitants of these colonies be the penal slaves and gaolers of the British Empire. (Cheers.) We assert that a community should deal with its own crime, at least so deal with it that in its disposal it shall not injure those who never offended—so at least that the honest and industrious labourer should not be brought into unfavourable comparison and competition with the hardened criminal, so that, at all events our sons shall not be driven from their homes to seek employment in distant lands—to meet there suspicion and contempt. These are the wrongs of which we complain—wrongs which could never have been perpetrated but in oblivion of that first great Law, alike the basis of private and public virtue: "do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you." The Rev. gentleman resumed his seat amidst loud and prolonged cheering.

W.P. WESTON, ESQ.—It was with mingled feelings that he rose to address that meeting; but when he ascertained that Mr. West was to accompany him, he lost all fear, and at once accepted the invitation.

It had not been considered necessary to furnish them with written instructions how to act; it was left entirely to their own judgement; they had, as it were, a carte blanche; but he thought it advisable to mention one or two points towards which he and his colleague would direct public attention on the other side of the Straits. The first was, that transportation as hitherto conducted, was altogether and entirely rotten. He anticipated no very great difficulty in establishing that point. The next was, that no country had a right to force its crime upon a distant and unoffending one; it was a moral wrong. He was much struck at a remark which appeared in the Public journals in Melbourne. It seems to have been the custom of some persons to collect all the filth and rubbish from their persons and during the night to force it upon the premises of their neighbours. Now, these persons were designed miscreants, the paragraph commenced "the miscreants have been at work again." But he considered that the Government who would force a mass of moral filth upon a small and helpless colony were miscreants in the very worst sense of the term. (Hear, hear.) However severely the evils of convictism may have been felt in this community, they will be felt at Melbourne in a greater degree. Any evil may be counter-balanced and perhaps removed, if it can only be seen. The convicts come to this land under restraint and are completely at the disposal of the Government, but after completing their education in a chain-gang, and filling up, as it were, the measure of their iniquity they go over there where they are unknown to the police and consequently their crimes escape detection. The very worst characters amongst us proceed to the neighbouring colonies as soon as an opportunity offers. This fact accounts for the insecurity of property at Melbourne. A short time ago he was there and not more than two or three days after his arrival the linen which had been put out for washing, was stolen. Shortly after whilst the family were sitting at tea, information was given that the bedroom window was open and upon proceeding to ascertain the cause it was discovered that a thief had effected an entrance and carried off whatever he could lay his hands upon.

A letter lately received mentions that six gentlemen's horses in one locality had been robbed and that Melbourne was full of thieves. (A laugh.) No opportunity had previously offered of talking to the Melbourne people upon the subject, they were so occupied in endeavours to obtain separation from Sydney that every question was lost sight of; but now the matter was settled he did not apprehend any difficultly in establishing this point also.

We are a loyal people, and have given abundant proof of our loyalty; but it is not an unalterable principle. There is an old Spanish proverb—"The sweetest wine makes the sourest vinegar," and so it will be with us.

But the British Government must, and will yield, for they will find it will be to their interest, as well as their duty to grant the reasonable request of the Australian Colonies. (Cheers.)

Three cheers were then given for the Chairman, and three more for the Queen, and the meeting terminated.


The adjustment of the English land laws to Australian requirements was a difficult task. The question was discussed in New South Wales in 1855, but South Australia, under the leadership of Torrens, was the first to effect reform (1859).


Source.—Speeches on the Reform of the Law of Real Property (Torrens, 1858), pp. 5-6, 8-11

Extract from an address to the Electors of the City of Adelaide delivered in the Theatre on 31st January, 1857. (From the South Australian Register of February 2nd, 1857).

The next topic which I have put down to address you upon, is one with respect to which I should have wished to have had time to arrange my thoughts—it is the cheapening of the law of Conveyancing of real property. (Applause.) Next to affording fair facilities for obtaining possession of the waste lands of the Crown, and converting them into cornfields and homesteads of independent yeomanry, it is the duty of the State to afford a cheap and at the same time a secure mode of conveying that property from man to man. (Hear, hear.) I have for years felt that the law of England in that respect, which we brought with us, required amendment. In looking also to the laws of other countries with respect to the transfer, mortgage, or encumbrance of real property, I have come to the conclusion that the law of England is inferior to most of them with regard to cost and security of title. The old Conservative feeling of England adheres with a sort of veneration to laws and usages respecting title which originated under the feudal system, and is loath to abandon them for a system adapted to the requirements of modern civilization. I would illustrate my views by observing that, in ancient times, before the Wars of the Roses, a baron, or even a yeoman, would surround his residence with a moat to be crossed only by a drawbridge, and instead of the convenient door of modern times, he would have a portcullis, which he would raise or let fall to admit a friend, or exclude a foe. A visitor, too, would have instead of gaining immediate access, to sound a horn at an outer gate, and hold parley with a warder upon a lofty tower, before he could gain admission. There could be no doubt that all these ceremonies and parleyings were necessary in those days, but it does not follow that we should carry them out in our times. Were any person now, to surround his residence with a deep and broad ditch, and observe those ceremonies when a visitor called upon him, we would call him insane; yet, that is precisely what we do with regard to the transfer of real estate, observing still the tortuous roundabout methods of conveying, resorted to in those days for the purpose of evading the oppressions of feudalism. Nay, the analogy is so strong, that in our Law Courts, and Deeds we still use the same barbarous Norman French jargon in which the parley was in those ancient days held at the gate of the baronial residence. (Hear, and applause.) It is perhaps presumptuous of a person who has not received a legal education, to address his mind to this question; seeing, however, that the persons who, by ability, and education, are best fit to cope with the subject, are not willing, or, at least have not done so, I have taken the task upon myself. (Hear, hear). With your permission, I will give you an outline of the plan. The purchaser of land from the Crown shall receive a title deed, a land grant, as at present to be executed in duplicate, and one copy filed in the Registrar-General's office. When an original purchaser sells the land to another, he shall transfer it by a simple memorandum, which being brought to the office of the Registrar-General the original land grant must be surrendered, and then the Registrar will issue a new title to the second purchaser direct from the Crown. (Hear, hear.) This will get over the difficulty of tracing title through all manner of intricate transactions between purchasers, and instead of a man having to carry about an immense bale of papers, he would have one simple document, which would, nevertheless, be a title valid and indisputable, because it would be an original land grant. (Great applause.)

Speech delivered on 4th June, 1857, in the Legislative Assembly by the Hon. the Treasurer, Mr. Torrens, on the introduction of his Bill for amending the law relating to the Transfer of Real Property.

Mr. Speaker, I do not attempt to remedy the evils complained of, by amendment of the existing law; that I believe to be impossible: I propose to abolish a system irremediably wrong in principle, and to substitute a method which I believe will, when explained, commend itself to the House as consistent with common sense, perfectly feasible, and effectual for all purposes required.

The first and leading principle of the measure which I introduce, is designed to cut off the very source of all costliness, insecurity, litigation, by abolishing altogether the system of retrospective titles and ordaining that as often as the fee simple is transferred, the existing title must be surrendered to the Crown, and a fresh grant from the Crown issued to the new proprietor.

The principle next in importance prescribes that registration per se and alone shall give validity to transactions affecting land. Deposit of duplicate of the instrument, together with the record of the transaction by memorandum entered in the book of registration and endorsed on the grant by the Registrar-General, to constitute registration. This method is designed to give confidence and security to purchasers and mortgagees, through the certainty that nothing affecting the title can have existence beyond the transactions of which they have notice in the memoranda endorsed on the grant.

My third principle aims at simplicity and economy by prescribing certain stereotyped forms of instruments available to each occasion to be supplied at the Registry Office, so that any man of ordinary sense and education may transact his own business, without the necessity of applying to a solicitor, except in complicated cases of settlements or entails, which are unusual in this colony.

Many will admit that the system which I recommend might have been introduced at the first founding of this colony, with facility and very great advantage, but doubt its practicability now that titles have become complicated. Admitting a difficulty, I deny that it is insurmountable, or such as should cause us to hesitate in securing the advantage of transfer by registration. I do not propose a scheme involving violent or arbitrary interference with existing titles, but would leave it optional with proprietors to avail themselves of it or not. It will thus be gradual in its operation, yet will put titles in such a train that the desired result will eventually be obtained.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot conclude without expressing my grateful sense of the compliment which the House has paid me, in listening with such marked attention to an address extended to an unusual length upon a subject admitted to be dry and unexciting.

I propose, it is true, a sweeping measure of reform, yet not more thorough than the nature of the case imperatively demands. In this view, I am again borne out by the high authority of Lord Brougham, who, in a speech which I have before quoted, thus expresses himself: "The present system has grown out of ingenious devices to evade the oppressions of feudal tyrants, but under it we are subject to the tyranny of the legal profession, and burdens little less grievous. The reform, to be effectual, must be thorough. Delenda est Carthaga must be our motto."


Source.—Fifty Years in the Making of Australian History (Sir Henry Parkes, 1892), pp. 70-71, 81-90, 148, 153

On July 3, 1855, I, (Sir Henry Parkes) moved for the "appointment of a Select Committee to enquire into the state of agriculture, with special reference to the raising of wheaten grain, and to the causes of hindrance or failure in that pursuit, whether arising from the habits of the people, the policy of the Government, or the physical character of the country." To understand the interest that fairly attached to my motion, we must review, or rather glance at, the state of the colony. The colony still included the whole of Queensland, and embraced an area of 978,315 square miles. Men of leading positions with seats in the Legislature, described it for the most part, as incapable of tillage, and only fit for grazing sheep and cattle, and for "nomadic tribes." A population not numbering more than 277,579 souls imported largely its breadstuffs from South America and other foreign countries. It is now well known that in all divisions of the colony—north, south, or west—there are as rich wheat lands as in any part of the world; but then the mass of the population were densely ignorant of the true character of the country, and those who knew better, were in too many instances personally interested in keeping them ignorant. The stories that were told of the fruitless endeavours of industrious men to obtain patches of land for a freehold home under the Order-in-Council seem, to the present generation, like cruel bits of romance.

(before Select Committee.)

On entering upon the subject under enquiry by the Committee, it is my purpose to assume that the state of agriculture in general, and of wheat culture in particular in the colony, is exceedingly unsatisfactory, and, if not absolutely declining instead of progressing, is at least so with reference to population. The causes of hindrance or failure of agriculture generally, and of the raising of wheat, in particular, I take to be the first and greatest, that for many years the policy of the Government of the colony, whatever may have been its object, has unquestionably tended not only to check the formation of new agriculture establishments, but to depress existing ones.

While the agriculturist has been absolutely excluded from leasing any portion of the public land, and thwarted, harassed and dispirited at every turn in his efforts to obtain the submittal of such lands to sale, and subjected to public competition at auction before suffered even then to purchase, the grazier has been allowed to use them under a system of leases, affording him the greatest possible facility of possession, and at the lowest imaginable rental, namely, at the rate of 10s. per annum for 640 acres, with the right, in an overwhelming majority of cases, to purchase choice spots therefrom, without the slightest delay or trouble and at the lowest legal price, namely, 20s. per acre, and absolutely without competition.

Some of the difficulties above alluded to, as attending the purchase of a farm from the Crown, by any other than the favoured pastoral class, may be stated thus: The person seeking to do so must first make his selection—a matter not very easy of attainment, for persons holding land in a neighbourhood, instead of helping with information, almost invariably place every possible obstacle in the way of the newcomer. The selection made, the next step to be taken is to apply by letter to the Surveyor-General to have it measured. Shortly thereafter, that officer will reply and inform the writer that his application has been received and submitted to the District Surveyor for his report as to whether the land is fit for agriculture, etc., etc. and that when it is received the Surveyor-General will communicate the result, intimating at the same time that, should the District-Surveyor consider the land suitable for agriculture, and should there be no other difficulty, such as its being held under a squatting lease, or any of several others, it will be submitted to sale by auction.

The applicant may now expect to hear no more of the land for three or four months, when, if all goes on favourably, he will be informed that the District-Surveyor, having reported satisfactorily, has received from the Surveyor-General instructions to measure it. Now another wearying delay of several months' duration will in all probability occur, before the expiration of which, if the applicant is not a person possessed of considerable determination of character, he will abandon, in despair, all hope of ever becoming an Australian farmer, and help to swell one or other of our overgrown towns, by accepting employment there. If, however, he possess sufficient perseverance, he may visit the District-Surveyor, and probably learn from him that the land cannot then be measured, because the district under that officer is so very large, that it would be highly inconvenient for him to move from one portion of it to another to measure a single farm; that when several are applied for in the same vicinity, he will proceed there; in the meantime he has several months' work where he is, or the District-Surveyor may, after expressing sympathy with the applicant's loss from delay, candidly assure him that, in consequence of the great delay in receiving pay for his public work, he is absolutely necessitated to accept private employment in order to obtain sufficient cash to keep himself and party of four men on, until the Government make him his remittance, now three or four months due.

These and other preliminary difficulties the applicant must prepare to encounter; but even when all are surmounted and the land measured there will be two or three months' delay—in all probability eighteen months or two years from the date of his first application—before it is offered for sale. Then, at last, the applicant will obtain his land, if he be fortunate enough to escape the determined opposition of some wealthy person in the neighbourhood, or has money enough, and determination enough to purchase it, that opposition notwithstanding.

If it is a fact that the agricultural interests of the country are subjected to more climatic difficulties than are the pastoral interests, I take it that that circumstance cannot, properly, be brought forward as a reason why the agricultural interest should not, under our laws, have a fair field and no favour, as compared with the pastoral interest, in entering the market to borrow money in time of doubt and general want of confidence in monetary matters. If the agriculturist, in borrowing money to secure his crop, has to encounter a higher rate of interest than the grazier has to encounter, in consequence of the risk of damage to his crops from an unfavourable season being greater than the same in the case of the produce of the grazier, surely there is no reason why he should be compelled to submit to a still greater increase of interest, to compensate the capitalist for the additional risk of the borrower's insolvency before the crops are realised, especially when the grazier is, through the aid of "The lien on Wool Act" exempted from paying for such risk.

The effects of the policy of the Government, which I have described, may be found, on the one hand, in the fact that the number of persons who have been bred to agricultural pursuits, at present residing in the towns of the colony, is, beyond example, excessive, showing our social conditions in that regard to be in a most unsatisfactory state; and, on the other hand, in the other fact, that the wholesale price of flour in the colony is three times higher, per pound, than the wholesale price of animal food, of the very best description—a state of things not to be found in any other civilized country.

I am aware that the deficiency of agriculture, which is so remarkable in this country, is attributed to the aridity of the climate by many gentlemen whose experience entitles their opinions to respect; but, as I have during the eighteen years last past annually cultivated and sown with wheat a large quantity of land, in various parts of the Upper Hunter District—a district generally considered to be unfavourable for the purpose—and have, in that long period, only failed twice in obtaining crops, and have reaped two self-sown, which in a great measure compensated for even their loss. I can come to no other conclusion than that, whatever may be the disadvantages of the climate they are not sufficient to cause such neglect of agriculture as has occurred.

On the whole, I am confident that the difficulties placed in the way of agriculture by the climate are as nothing compared with the overwhelming obstacles furnished by the policy of the Legislature and Government of the Colony.

Before concluding this communication, I cannot resist the opportunity it affords to place on record my opinion, that even should all other means fail of providing the country with an ample supply of agricultural produce, a remedy may be found by allowing any person to enter upon and occupy 80 acres of waste land, without competition or delay, and pay for it at the upset price, four years thereafter; provided that he clears and cultivates 10 acres the first year, and 10 additional acres in each of the three succeeding years, and is at the end of the time residing on the spot.


Yarrundi, Aug. 6th, 1855.

I also gave my general support to the Robertson Land Bill, which passed through a determined opposition, and became law eventually, after the violent expedient of "swamping the Upper House," which swamping, however, had no practical or immediate effect, as the old members, including the President, retired in a body when the new members attempted to take their seats. By the Constitution, the first Council was appointed for five years only, and the term was near its expiration when this historical incident occurred. So nothing could be done with the Bill, or anything else, until the next Council was appointed, whose term was for life.

Sir John Robertson's Act did immense good. Its broad scope was to enable men to select land for themselves in blocks from 40 to 320 acres, at £1 per acre, without waiting for any surveyor or other Government official, but subject to the conditions of a deposit of 5s. an acre, actual residence and improvements to the value of £1 per acre in value. The balance of the purchase-money was to remain for a time, not limited by date, at 5% interest. It is no figure of speech to say that this law unlocked the lands to the industrious settler, and notwithstanding the abuses which too widely grew up, it was the means of bringing into existence hundreds of comfortable homes in all parts of the colony where the name of its author is held in grateful remembrance. It will have been seen in a previous chapter what a network of difficulties surrounded the man of small means who tried to obtain a rural home in former years; and perhaps the highest tribute to the memory of Sir John Robertson is that, after all the amendments which have been carried, the chief principles of his Act are still imbedded in the law of the country.


Source.—Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1861, Vol. XI

The Moreton Bay district was first colonised from Sydney as a penal settlement for doubly convicted criminals. But so soon as transportation to New South Wales ceased, remarkable progress was made in exploiting the vast natural resources of the colony of Queensland.


Government House, Sydney.
Dec. 5, 1859.
(Received Feb. 9, 1860.)

My Lord Duke,

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Grace's Despatch, No. 11, dated 18th August last, enclosing copies of the warrant establishing Queensland as a colony separate from New South Wales, and appointing Sir George Ferguson Bowen, K.C.M.G., Governor of the same; also of the instructions issued to Sir George Bowen, and of the Order-in-Council empowering him to make laws and to provide for the administration of justice in the said colony.

Sir George Bowen arrived here by the mail steamer on the 15th ult.; he remained with me at Sydney, making arrangements for the establishment of the various departments of his Government, in which I gave him every assistance in my power, and he sailed for Moreton Bay in Her Majesty's ship "Cordelia" on the 3rd instant.

I enclose copies of the proclamation issued by me notifying the separation of the two colonies. The Proclamation Sir George has taken with him to Brisbane, and by its publication there the fact of its separation will be made known to the inhabitants of Queensland, which will from the date of that Proclamation, that is, 1st December, be in every respect freed from the interference of the Government or Legislature of New South Wales....

I have, etc.,

(Signed) W. Denison.

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle,
etc., etc., etc.


Government House, Brisbane, Queensland.
Jan. 6th, 1860.
(Received March 12, 1860.)

My Lord Duke,

In my Despatch, No. 3, of the 28th November ultimo, I mentioned that extensive districts within the colony of Queensland are well adapted for the growth of the sugar cane among a variety of other produce.

2. Since I wrote the above Despatch, I have seen three specimens of the sugar cane, which have been grown near the town of Maryborough. These specimens, which were finer than any that were shown me at Mauritius, were forwarded to Sir William Macarthur, a gentleman of large property, well-known ability, and great experience in scientific and agricultural pursuits; and who was Commissioner for New South Wales at the Paris Exhibition of 1855. I have received permission to transmit to your Grace the following extract from a letter containing Sir William Macarthur's opinion of the samples submitted to him:—"I yesterday made several trials of the juice of the sugar cane forwarded by Mr. Aldridge, of Maryborough.

"As I had to extract the juice by pounding the cane in a mortar, I only experimented upon the largest and the smallest of the three forwarded. As they appear to have excited some attention, I may mention that they were quite ripe, of a bright, yellowish-brown colour, with the joints from two to five inches apart, the largest being about ten feet long, not quite eight inches in circumference, and weighing just eighteen pounds. About three feet of the upper end, however, was too short-jointed to yield abundantly, and hardly ripe.

"The walls of this cane were exceedingly thick, giving it great stiffness, and solidity to resist storms of wind. It proved to be hardly so juicy as I expected.

"I understood you to say that these canes had been produced in eight or nine months from being planted, and without any particular care.

"Taking this for granted, there can be no question, I think, that with sufficient capital, and under efficient management, the cultivation of the cane for sugar ought to prove one of the most profitable arrangements which offer themselves in Australia, I mean at Maryborough, or other places equally well situated on the North-eastern coast. I have for many years thought that sugar plantations to the northward of Moreton Bay ought to be highly remunerative. The climate is favourable; there is no lack of good land, and unlike the Mauritius, we never hear of the ravages of hurricanes."

3. The opinion of so high an authority as Sir William Macarthur coupled with a number of facts within my knowledge, leave no doubt in my mind that, when Capital and Labour shall have been introduced, the cultivation of sugar may be carried on in this colony, with at least equal success as at Mauritius, and on a vastly more extensive scale than in that island.

4. I beg to subjoin a short description of the district of Wide Bay, or Maryborough (referred to above) condensed from a recent publication by a writer of local knowledge and competent authority.

The back country is extensive, its capabilities are so well known we need not dwell upon them. The soil on the branches of the River Mary and its tributary creeks, and within easy approach to the same is excellent and in large quantities. Its producing capabilities may be illustrated by the following facts: In one piece of ground may be seen growing in perfection the sugar cane, cotton plant, grasscloth plant, arrowroot, tascan wheat, yams, sweet potatoes, cassava, custard apples, pine apples, banana, guava, and many other tropical productions; alongside of which may be seen turnips, wheat, barley, mangel-wurzel, English potatoes, artichokes (Jerusalem), broad beans, maize, etc. At the same place a crop of maize (which was estimated to yield from 80 to 100 bushels to the acre) is in a forward state of ripening, and from the same piece of ground, three crops of maize have been gathered within the twelve months. Where is there another river in Australia with capabilities for the growth of such varied productions, each perfect of its kind, and such facilities for shipping, by vessels of the largest tonnage, the produce direct to any part of the world? Wheat has been only grown in small patches—each time, however, with success. Cotton was here produced in the same way from a few plants, and pronounced by competent judges to be of the finest quality both in staple and texture. Equally favourable results have been obtained with the other products named above. The particulars of climate I give from a resident of the township of Maryborough for a period of twelve years before the place was surveyed, who declares his own health and the health of his wife and children to have been excellent, and better than he or they ever had before, that he has never experienced a hot wind in the place and that the sudden changes of temperature as felt in Sydney are never felt in this favoured locality: that the rain showers are regular and abundant, more so than in any other place he has been in, in this colony; hence the extraordinary growth of vegetables, etc. Eight months in the year, not a finer climate can be found in the world, and the remaining four summer months are not so oppressive in their effects as in the other warm countries, from the temperature being more uniform, and the purity of the atmosphere so great. The same gentleman declares that he has, upon his occasional visits, experienced the heat in Sydney much more oppressive. Great natural capabilities exist in the township of Maryborough for the formation of dams at a trifling expense, which would collect large bodies of water. Minerals consisting of gold, copper, iron, and coal have been procured in several places in the district. Timber exists of cedar, cowrie, and hoop pine, a white hardwood known as fluidoza, gums, dye woods, and other most useful and valuable cabinet woods, are to be found in great abundance. The dugong is found in large numbers in Hervey's Bay, from which the famed oil is manufactured, also the pearl oyster.

All these are sources from which wealth will be derived, and which will afford employment to a large population. As to the aborigines of this district it may be placed to their credit, that they are willing at times to work, and even well. The steamer which trades to the place every fortnight always takes from Frazer's Island a number of them to discharge and load the vessel. They are also largely used in the town for cutting wood, drawing water, bullock driving, horse riding, and breaking up the ground in the gardens.

The population and trade of the town of Maryborough are rapidly increasing. The source from which the business is at present entirely derived is the pastoral or squatting interest, leaving all other valuable and important interests to be yet developed, such as agriculture, mining, fisheries, and the timber trade. A large agricultural population may be expected to settle themselves down on the river. Maryborough has been recently proclaimed as one of the great towns wherein District Courts are to be held. The exports are wool, tallow, etc., with great power of expansion.

6. I beg to suggest that a copy of this Despatch, together with a copy of my Despatch of even date herewith, respecting the cultivation of cotton in this colony, should be transmitted to the Royal Geographical Society.

I have, etc.,

(Signed) G.F. BOWEN.

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle,
etc., etc., etc.

No. 10.


Government House, Brisbane,
Queensland, April 7, 1860.

(Received June 18, 1860.) (Answered, No. 22,
July 19, 1860, p. 84.)

My Lord Duke,

In continuation of my former Despatches No. 5 of the 19th and No. 8 of the 23rd Dec., 1859, and No. 18 of the 4th February, ult., I have the honour to enclose copies of the Addresses presented to me at the three towns of Warwick, Drayton, and Toowoomba, which I visited during an official tour of inspection, from which I have lately returned.

2. It will be satisfactory to the Queen and to Her Majesty's Government, to receive these further proofs of the affectionate loyalty of the people of this colony towards Her Majesty's throne and person and (I may, perhaps, be permitted to add) of their confidence in the arrangement made, under Her Majesty's favour, for their Government.

3. My recent journey extended through those districts of Queensland, which have been longest settled and are mostly thickly inhabited. I was everywhere received with cordial hospitality by the principal settlers, and with loyal enthusiasm by all classes of the community. The numerous cavalcades of hundreds of well-mounted horsemen, which came forth to meet and escort the first representative of their Sovereign, presented spectacles such as can be exhibited in only two countries in the world—in England and in Australia.

4. As it was during your Grace's first administration of the Colonial Department that the wishes of the Australian Colonists were crowned by the concession of responsible Government, I will take leave to draw your attention to a paragraph in one of the enclosures, which explains a sentiment generally entertained by this people.

After stating that "the journey of his Excellency has been one continued ovation from beginning to end"; that "all classes have vied in doing honour to the representative of the Queen"; and that "all little sectarian differences, petty jealousies, and presumed rival interests have been merged in the laudable wish to give our first Governor a hearty welcome"; the "Darling Downs Gazette" proceeds as follows: "Not the least pleasing reflection that suggests itself when reviewing these demonstrations of general joy is the confirmation of the fact, now so long and in so many lands established, that those descended from the old stock at home, to whom self-government has been a timely concession, not a charter wrung from the Mother country by the force of arms, still recognize and revere the grand old institutions, which have made England the greatest power on earth."

14. I have described in a former Despatch, that rich pastoral District of the tableland which is known as the "Darling Downs." The droughts and the epidemic diseases which are frequently fatal to sheep and cattle in other parts of Australia seem alike unknown in this favoured region. Many large fortunes have been amassed there during the last 15 years.

15. While the impression created on my mind by the journey across the Darling Downs was still fresh, I stated in my reply to the Drayton address, that it had "filled me with surprise and admiration". Even before I left England I knew by report the rich natural resources and the picturesque beauty of this district, the scenery of which vividly recalls to my mind the classic plains of Thessaly. But I confess that I was not fully prepared for so wonderfully rapid an advance in all that can promote and adorn civilization, an advance which has taken place during the fourth part of an average lifetime. Not only have I seen vast herds of horses and cattle, and countless flocks of sheep overspreading the valleys and forests, which, within the memory of persons who have yet scarcely attained to the age of manhood, were tenanted only by wild animals, and by a few wandering tribes of savages; not only have I travelled over roads beyond all comparison superior to the means of communication which existed less than a century ago in many parts of the United Kingdom; not only have I beheld flourishing towns arising in spots where hardly 20 years back the foot of a white man had never yet trodden the primeval wilderness; not only have I admired these and other proofs of material progress, but I have also found in the houses of the long chain of settlers who have entertained me with such cordial hospitality, all the comforts, and most of the luxuries and refinements of the houses of country gentlemen in England. The wonderful advance of this portion of the colony during the last 10 years, is due to no sudden and fortuitous discovery of the precious metals; it is derived wholly from the blessing of Providence on the skill and energy of its inhabitants, in subduing and replenishing the earth. Assuredly, I have observed during the past week very remarkable illustrations of the proverbial genius of the Anglo-Saxon race for the noble and truly imperial art of colonization.

I have, etc.,

(Signed) G.F. BOWEN.

His Grace the Duke of Newcastle,
etc., etc., etc.


Source.—Victorian Sessional Papers, 1877-8 Thirty Years of Colonial Government (Bowen), Vol. II, pp. 80-83, 114-119

Owing to the lack of the political traditions of the English Parliament friction was bound to rise between the Houses of the colonial Legislatures. A bill to provide temporarily for the payment of members had been passed several times by the Victorian Parliament, but the Council was opposed to making a permanent provision for the purpose. In 1877 Sir Graham Berry tacked the measure to the annual appropriation bill, which was consequently rejected by the Council.

Memorandum to His Excellency the Governor.

The Premier on behalf of himself and his colleagues, respectfully advises the Governor to sign the message required by the 25th Clause of the Constitution Act transmitting for the consideration of the Legislative Assembly the accompanying additional estimates for the service of the year 1877-8.

His Excellency will observe that it has been thought right by his Responsible Advisers to include in these Additional Estimates provision for reimbursing members of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly their expenses in relation to their attendance in Parliament at the rate of £300 per annum each, from and after the present session of Parliament.

(Signed) Graham Berry, Treasurer.

21st Nov. 1877.

The Governor acknowledges the receipt of the Memorandum submitted to him by the Hon. the Premier on this day.

The Governor has in conformity with the advice of his Responsible Ministers signed the message submitted to him by them, transmitting for the consideration of the Legislative Assembly additional or further estimates for the service of the year 1877-8.

(Signed) G.F. Bowen.

Government Offices, Melbourne.

21st November 1877.

January 12, 1878.

Address from the Legislative Council to His Excellency the Governor.

TO HIS EXCELLENCY SIR GEORGE FERGUSON BOWEN, KNIGHT GRAND CROSS OF THE MOST DISTINGUISHED ORDER OF ST. MICHAEL AND ST. GEORGE, and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Colony of Victoria and its Dependencies and Vice-Admiral of the same, etc.

May it please your Excellency,

We her Most Gracious Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the members of the Legislative Council of Victoria, in Parliament assembled beg leave to approach Your Excellency with renewed assurances of unabated loyalty to Her Majesty's Throne and Person.

We desire to draw Your Excellency's attention to the answer given by the Hon. the Post-Master General during the sitting of the Council on the 1st instant to the question put by one of our members, viz.:—Whether it is the intention of the Ministry to afford this House the opportunity of considering the propriety of renewing or discontinuing the payment of members of Parliament by submitting the measure by Bill as heretofore.

The answer was as follows:—In reply to the Hon. Member the Cabinet desire me to state that it is unusual and inexpedient to state the intention of the Government otherwise than by the due presentation of business to Parliament; but in this instance there is an additional serious objection to the question of the hon. member. It deals with the appropriation of revenue which is the exclusive privilege of the Legislative Assembly, and it is highly undesirable that the Legislative Council should interfere even by a question with appropriation, the initiation of which is by message from the Crown, on the advice of the responsible Ministers and is further controlled by the exclusive privileges of the Assembly.

This being the opinion of Your Excellency's advisers, were we to continue silent it might with some show of reason be inferred that we were satisfied with the answer of the Government, and would accept their dictum as representing the true position of the matter as between the two Chambers.

We have thought it incumbent upon us to lay before Your Excellency the following circumstances connected with the question of payment of members:—In the session of 1860-1, a separate Bill for payment of members was introduced into the Assembly, but was lost in the Council. In the session 1861, Sir Henry Barkly, who was then Governor, was warned by the Legislative Council of the inevitable consequences of a sum being included in the annual Estimates of Expenditure for the compensation of members of Parliament, and the objectionable item was not included in the Estimates for the year when laid before the Assembly that session.

On five subsequent occasions separate Bills for the same object have been sent up from the Legislative Assembly, three of which were rejected, and the two last were passed by the Legislative Council, but on both these occasions the principal supporters of the Bills distinctly stated that their votes were given on the understanding that the measures were to be tentative only, and limited in their duration.

The question at the present time is in exactly the same position as it was when originated in 1861, and is still in the region of experimental legislation. It is not a mere question of the appropriation of the public revenue, but of public policy upon which an uniform usage has been adopted in the colony, with the concurrence of both Houses, with the marked co-operation of Her Majesty's Representative in 1861.

The usage, moreover, is in strict conformity with the Royal Instructions which direct that "in the passing of all laws each different matter must be provided for by a different law without intermixing such things as have no proper relation to each other, and that no clause or clauses be inserted in, or annexed to any Act which shall be foreign to what the title of that Act imports."

We desire to inform Your Excellency that we claim the right to exercise the same free and deliberate vote on any Bill which may be submitted to us for providing compensation to members of Parliament as we have exercised on all previous occasions and we submit that the inclusion of a sum for that purpose in the Annual Appropriation Bill might make such procedure the instrument of enabling one branch of the Legislature to coerce the other.


23rd Jan. 1878.

In consequence of the rejection of the annual Appropriation Bill by the Legislative Council, ministers have made large temporary reductions in the public expenditure to economise funds for Police Gaols, and protection of life and property to the latest possible moment, and that is about until next May. A number of civil servants and minor officers of the judicial department have necessarily been dispensed with temporarily, but sufficient provision has been made for the administration of Justice and maintenance of law and order. The Government will do nothing contrary to law or Imperial interests.

Full Reports by Mail.


Melb. 14th Jan.

Appropriation Bill was rejected by Legislative Council consequent upon clause for payment of members being inserted. Government in Council dismissed at a moment's notice all County Court Judges, Police Magistrates, Wardens, Coroners, many Heads of Departments. Further sweeping changes announced. Great Alarm and Indignation. Trade disorganised.

25th Jan.

No political change. Many more dismissals.

30th Jan.

Eminent Counsel declare Acts of Sir George Bowen in closing Courts illegal. The country alarmed. Secretary of State urged to await letters by mail and not act on exparte statements.

To the Right Hon. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Bart, M.P.

Government House, Melb. April 12th, 1878.


On the 29th ultimo I forwarded to you a telegram announcing the happy termination, through a fair compromise honourable to both sides, of the protracted crisis and "deadlock" between the two Houses of Parliament, which had caused so much excitement and agitation, and so much suffering and loss in this community, and which was straining the constitution of this Colony to a degree which it could not have endured for long.

Ever since December constant efforts have been made to induce the conflicting Houses to agree to an honourable compromise of their differences. Personally I omitted no proper opportunity of recommending mutual forbearance and mutual concessions. It was proposed on behalf of the Ministry and the Assembly that the Council should agree to pass the separate Bill sent up to them in December, and that the assembly should simultaneously, or as nearly so as might be, appoint a Committee to search for the Appropriation Bill which had been "laid aside" and should then reenact that Bill without the item objected to by the Upper House. The Ministers, a strong minority of the Councillors, the Assembly, and the general public—all united in pressing the Council to accept this arrangement, but there were many disappointing delays and failures in the negotiations.

Finally, however, all difficulties were overcome, and both the separate Bill continuing the reimbursement of the expense of members and the annual Appropriation Act have become law.

General satisfaction has been felt and everywhere expressed at this termination of the late dangerous and disastrous parliamentary "deadlock," and the political and social animosities caused by it are already fast subsiding. The country is tranquil and generally prosperous. Before the commencement of the political crisis there had been a partial depression in trade and depreciation in the value of certain kinds of property, in consequence of a long drought succeeded by very heavy floods, and from other temporary causes. These evils had been aggravated by the sense of uncertainty rather than of insecurity produced by the fierce and protracted political and social agitation and antagonism of the last four months. But a young and strong community like that of Victoria, full of life and energy, and of that general good humour which flows from the habitual prosperity of all classes, rapidly recovers from depression and discontent, however caused.

It has been very satisfactory to me to receive the assurances that throughout the late financial deadlock, no public money has been expended except in due form of law, and in strict accordance with parliamentary usage. Those public works which had been legally provided for by Railway and Loan Acts, or otherwise, have been carried on without interruption; while by dint of strict economy and of the large retrenchments in the civil service effected by the Ministry, the administration of justice and of the several departments of the Government has proceeded regularly and without intermission.

In a speech delivered in last October before the actual beginning of the recent crisis, but in anticipation of its near approach, I recommended the members of both Houses of Parliament and of both political parties to lay to heart the subjoined passage in one of Mr. J.S. Mill's works:

"One of the most indispensable requisites in the practical conduct of politics, especially in the management of free institutions, is conciliation, a readiness to compromise, a willingness to concede something to opponents, and to shape good measures so as to be as little offensive as possible to persons of opposite views, and of this salutary habit the mutual 'give and take' (as it has been called) between two Houses is a perpetual school; useful as such even now, and its utility would probably be more felt in a more democratic constitution of the Legislature." Nor have I ever ceased to urge the adoption of such principles as those laid down by Mr. Merivale when he wrote "Moderation in success, self-denial in the exercise of power, habitual consideration for the opinions and feelings of others, readiness to compromise differences, love of justice and fair play, reluctance to push principles to extremes, the moral courage which will dare to stand up against a majority, the habit of constantly, and, as it were instinctively postponing self to the public interest, and this whether arising from moral choice or from the constraint imposed by public opinion; these are the balancing qualities which prevent the misuse of political freedom."

With regard to the opinions which I have formed concerning the proper position and mutual relations of the two Houses of the Victorian Parliament, it will be remembered that my opinions are identical with those placed on record on that subject by the late Lord Canterbury, my able and experienced predecessor in my present office. It will also be recollected that I have steadily followed, during the crisis of 1877-8, the precedents made, and the constitutional course pursued by Lord Canterbury during the previous crisis of 1867-8. In acknowledging Lord Canterbury's despatch of 18th July, 1868, reporting the termination of the crisis of 1867-8, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Duke of Buckingham) wrote as follows:

"I have to express my approval of your firm adherence to your constitutional position through these trying discussions; and I learn with satisfaction the cessation of a state of affairs which has been productive of so much inconvenience in the Colony."

Having pursued exactly the same course and acted on exactly the same principles with my predecessor, I am confident that I shall receive similar personal support. Moreover, I submit that it is of supreme importance, on public grounds, that the people of the Australasian Colonies should know that the actions and conduct of successive Governors are not prompted by the personal views or idiosyncrasies of individuals, but that they are guided by a consistent and uniform policy, sanctioned by the authority of the Imperial Government.


Source.—New Guinea. By Charles Lyne (special representative of the "Sydney Morning Herald"), pp. 1-28

In 1882, the Queensland Government took alarm at certain rumours of the intention of Germany to annex New Guinea, but for a time the British Government refused to move. When the establishment of a protectorate was authorized, only the southeastern portion of the island was available, Germany having, in the meantime, annexed the northern part and the group of Islands known as New Britain.

Commodore Erskine in H.M.S. Nelson arrived at Port Moresby on Sunday, the 2nd of November, 1884, and the Union Jack now flies from the flagstaff at the mission station, the Proclamation of a British Protectorate having been made with much ceremony on Thursday Nov. 6.

On the Wednesday afternoon, the chiefs and a number of other natives were brought on board the H.M.S. Nelson, and a grand assembly took place, with a feast for the chiefs and an address from the Commodore, a presentation of gifts attractive to the native eye, and the firing of some of the ships' guns. The flags of various nations were hung over the quarter-deck in the form of an awning, and the officers wore frock-coats and swords. Most of the chiefs were destitute of clothing, the mop-like hair and foreheads of some of them being bound round with bands of small shells and the hair ornamented with tufts of feathers. Two or three wore old shirts, and one, Boe Vagi, the chief of the Port Moresby natives, who was appointed by the Commodore to be the head chief of the Motu tribe, was dressed in a shirt, with a handkerchief round his loins, a red felt hat on his head, and some green leaves through the lobe of his left ear. Evidently he had been attired specially for the occasion, as his usual dress is as scanty as that of his fellows. There were in all about fifty of the chiefs, most of them being representatives of the Motu tribe; and after having been permitted to look round the ship, they were directed by the missionaries, Messrs. Lawes and Chalmers, to seat themselves upon the deck. Then a great tub of boiled rice, sweetened with brown sugar, was brought on deck, and basins of this mixture were handed round to the chiefs who received them, and devoured the rice with evident satisfaction. Ships' biscuits were also served out, and the scene presented by the feasting savages, and by the grouping of the Nelson's officers and the parading of the bluejackets on the opposite side of the deck—so that a photograph might be taken of the whole assembly—was exceedingly interesting and picturesque.

When the feasting was over, Commodore Erskine came upon deck, and the chief, Boe Vagi, having been invited by Mr. Lawes to come forward, the Commodore addressed him, and his fellow chiefs, and said:

"I have asked you to come on board to-day in order that I may explain to you about the ceremony which will take place to-morrow on shore. I have been sent to this place to notify and proclaim that Her Majesty the Queen has established a Protectorate over the southern shores of New Guinea, and in token of that event I am directed to hoist the British flag at Port Moresby, and at other places along the coast and islands. To-morrow, then, I intend to hoist the English flag here, and to read a Proclamation which will be duly translated to you. I desire, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, to explain to you the meaning of the ceremonial which you are about to witness. It is a proclamation that from this time forth you are placed under the protection of Her Majesty's Government; that evil-disposed men will not be able to occupy your country, to seize your lands, or to take you away from your own homes. I have been instructed to say to you that what you have seen done here to-day on board Her Majesty's ship of war, and which will be done again to-morrow on shore, is to give you the strongest assurance of Her Majesty's gracious protection of you, and to warn bad and evil-disposed men that if they attempt to do you harm, they will be promptly punished by the officers of the Queen. Your lands will be secured to you; your wives and children will be protected. Should any injury be done to you, you will immediately inform Her Majesty's officers, who will reside amongst you, and they will hear your complaints, and do you justice. You will look upon all white persons whom the Queen permits to reside amongst you as your friends, and Her Majesty's subjects. The Queen will permit nobody to reside here who does you injury. You will under no circumstances inflict punishment upon any white person; but if such person has done you wrong you will tell Her Majesty's officers of that wrong in order that the case may be fairly inquired into. You must know that it is for your security, and to prevent bloodshed, that the Queen sends me here to you, and will send her officers to live amongst you. And now I hope that you clearly understand that we are here amongst you as your friends. You will all keep peace amongst yourselves, and if you have disputes with each other, you will bring them before the Queen's officers who will settle them for you without bloodshed. Should bad men come amongst you, bringing firearms and gunpowder, and intoxicating liquors, you are not to buy them, and are to give notice at once to the Queen's officers, so that such men may be punished. Always keep in your minds that the Queen guards and watches over you, looks upon you as her children, and will not allow anyone to harm you, and will soon send her trusted officers to carry out her gracious intentions in the establishment of this Protectorate."

At the Commodore's request Mr. Lawes read a translation of this address in the Motu language, the chiefs listening attentively: then calling the chief, Boe Vagi, forward, Commodore Erskine shook hands with him, and introduced him to Mr. Romilly; and the Commodore's intimation of the appointment of a High Commissioner for New Guinea and his explanation of Mr. Romilly's position, were interpreted to the chiefs by Mr. Lawes. This was followed by the appointment of Boe Vagi as head chief of the Motu tribe. To make his appointment more distinct, he was presented with an emblem of authority in the form of an ebony stick with a florin let in at the top, the Queen's head being uppermost, and encircled by a band of silver. Handing to Boe Vagi this stick, the Commodore said: "I present him with this stick, which is to be an emblem to him of his authority; and all the tribes who are represented by the chiefs here are to look to the holder of this stick, Boe Vagi. This stick represents the Queen's head, the Queen of England; and if at any time any of the people of these tribes have any grievance or anything to say, they are, through this man, the holder of this stick, Boe Vagi, to make it known to the Queen's officers, in order that it may be inquired into. This stick is to be the symbol of his authority, and all the tribes are to have communication through him with the Queen's officer."

Directed then to descend to the main deck the chiefs walked one after another into the Commodore's cabin, where each received a present consisting of a tomahawk, a butcher's knife, a coloured shirt, or a piece of coloured cloth, and some figs of twist tobacco. It was a curious sight to see these chiefs, some of them very old men, but others young, erect and muscular, filing in at one door, and after shaking hands with the Commodore and receiving a present, leaving by the other; and it was very amusing to notice how startled some of them were at suddenly discovering themselves in a large pier-glass, which they had to pass before leaving the cabin. The Commodore did not fail to point out through Mr. Lawes to the chief who had burnt the village of another, that for the future he would not be allowed to commit such an act, and must through the Queen's officers seek redress for any grievance he might have; and the man was evidently impressed by what was said to him.

At half-past six next morning the landing of officers and men of the squadron for the purpose of publicly proclaiming the establishment of the Protectorate, and hoisting the British flag, commenced. The general order issued by the Commodore directed that the dress for officers should be cocked hat, undress coat, and epaulettes; the dress for seamen white frocks and hats, and that for marines white tunics and helmets. There was, consequently, a very attractive display of uniforms, and altogether it was an exceedingly interesting spectacle. The early hour appointed for the landing permitted of the ceremony being performed at a time when the heat, which was intense while the Nelson was on the coast, was not likely to be very trying to the men. The water of the harbour lay placid as a lake, with the ships of war far out from the shore, and here and there native canoes moving slowly along or resting idly on the surface; and the hills and valleys were green and shaded from the sun, and wore that refreshing appearance which is notable when the trees and the grass have been bathed in dew, and when the sun's rays are strong enough only to make the dewdrops sparkle, and to deepen the shadows in the recesses where the sunlight has not yet penetrated.

The boats conveying the officers and men to the shore, each flying the white ensign, imparted life and colour to the scene upon the water, and nothing could be more picturesque and beautiful than the view on shore, where the houses of the native villages bordering the beach, with their brown occupants gazing in amazement on what was taking place before them, were shaded by a grove of cocoanut palms, the refreshing dark green fronds being rivalled only by the lighter green of the plantations of the banana trees on the sides of the hills, which, rising high above the village, were, notwithstanding the evidence of cultivation by the natives, and the existence of the little mission settlement, dressed in almost all their native loveliness, and robed in delicately-tinted morning mists.

Inside the enclosed ground stood the mission house, and on a spot commanding a view of almost the entire harbour was the flagstaff which was now to display the flag hoisted with the authority of the Queen by Commodore Erskine; and it was around this flagstaff that the troops were drawn up in a hollow square, the men facing inwards, with the officers to the front, and the Commodore and his suite standing with the missionaries and Mr. Chester on the verandah of the mission house. The native chiefs who had been on board the Nelson were seated in a picturesque group on the ground immediately in front of the Commodore; and other natives and a few white spectators stood in a crowd at the rear of the blue-jackets. The only representative of English women present was Mrs. Lawes, wife of the Rev. W.G. Lawes, who was accommodated with a chair, and sat near the Commodore and the officers on either side of him.

Immediately the blue-jackets had landed they were marched up the hill to the mission compound, but the marines remained upon the beach until the Commodore landed, when they presented arms, and afterwards, with bayonets fixed, marched with the band to join the bluejackets in front of the mission house.

On the Commodore appearing before the troops they presented arms, and he then read the following proclamation:


"Proclamation on behalf of her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, establishing a Protectorate of Her Most Gracious Majesty over a portion of New Guinea, and the Islands adjacent thereto.

"To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting:

"Whereas it has become essential, for the protection of the lives and properties of the native inhabitants of New Guinea, and for the purpose of preventing the occupation of portions of that country by persons whose proceedings unsanctioned by any lawful authority might tend to injustice, strife and bloodshed, and who, under the pretence of legitimate trade and intercourse, might endanger the liberties, and possess themselves of the lands of such native inhabitants, that a British Protectorate should be established over a certain portion of such country and the islands adjacent thereto.

"And whereas Her Majesty, having taken into her gracious consideration the urgent necessity of her protection to such inhabitants has directed me to proclaim such protection in a formal manner at this place: Now, I, James Elphinstone Erskine, Captain in the Royal Navy, and Commodore of the Australian Station, one of Her Majesty's naval aides-de-camp, do hereby, in the name of Her Most Gracious Majesty, declare and proclaim the establishment of such Protectorate over such portions of the coast and the adjacent islands as is more particularly described in the schedule hereunto annexed.

"And I hereby proclaim and declare that no acquisition of land whensoever or howsoever acquired, within the limits of the Protectorate hereby established, will be recognized by Her Majesty; And I do hereby, on behalf of Her Majesty, command and enjoin all persons whom it may concern to take notice of this Proclamation."


"All that portion of the southern shores of New Guinea commencing from the boundary of that portion of the country claimed by the Government of the Netherlands on the 141st meridian of east longitude to East Cape, with all islands adjacent thereto south of East Cape to Kosman Island inclusive, together with the islands in the Goschen Straits.

"Given on board Her Majesty's ship Nelson, at the harbour of Port Moresby, on the 6th day of November 1884.


"God Save the Queen."

This was interpreted to the natives by the Rev. W.G. Lawes, who, at the request of Commodore Erskine, had translated it into the Motu language, and then, by direction of the Commodore, the Union Jack was slowly raised to the truck of the flagstaff.

All this not a little astonished the natives, though some of those whose homes were at Port Moresby had witnessed the firing of a feu-de-joie before; but though the firing startled some of them it had, with the general display, the effect of impressing them all with some sense of the solemn importance of the ceremony that was being performed. The firing party were then ordered to shoulder arms, and the Commodore, addressing all present at the ceremony but the natives, said:

"Officers and men, Mr. Romilly and Gentlemen, This interesting and important ceremony now formally concluded, it only remains for me, in Her Majesty's name to express the fervent hope that under the blessing of Almighty God the establishment of this Protectorate may conduce to the peace, happiness and welfare of the people of this vast territory. May the British flag which we have this day planted on these shores be to the people of this portion of New Guinea the symbol of their freedom and their liberty, and the Proclamation which I have just read, the charter of their rights and privileges. May it be to them a Protectorate in deed, as well as in name, protecting them alike from the encroachment of foreigners and the aggressive or unlawful actions of any other nationality; may the blessings of civilization and Christianity, the seeds of which have been already sown by English hands in the persons of the brave and good men present on this occasion, increase and multiply exceedingly amongst them; and lastly, as the Union Jack which has on several former occasions been hoisted on the shores of New Guinea and the adjacent islands is on this day for the first time displayed and hoisted on New Guinea under the authority and by the command of her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, I most fervently pray that the establishment of a British Protectorate on these shores may tend to insure the integrity and inviolability of the great Australian Colonies, and promote the best interests of their people; and I trust that this important step may be attended with the happiest results, and redound to the honour of Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, for whom I now invite you to give three hearty cheers."

The call was right loyally responded to, and with Captain Bridge leading, three British cheers rang out and echoed among the hills; and then, with a royal salute, the troops once more presenting arms, the ceremony was brought to a close.


Source.—National Australasian Convention Debates, pp. 3-5, 23-28, 322

After self-government had been granted to the Australian colonies, the need for united action in certain matters became apparent. Under the leadership of Sir Henry Parkes a strong movement for federation was organized. His labour bore fruit in the meeting of the National Australasian Convention in 1891. At this assembly were passed the resolutions which form the foundation of the Federation Act.

March 3rd. Mr. Munro rose to move:

That, the Honourable Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G., Premier of New South Wales, do take the chair as President of this National Australasian Convention.

He said: I think this is a fitting honour to confer upon the author of the movement on the part of these Australian colonies, which resulted in the Conference held in Melbourne last year. The hon. gentleman has taken a deep interest in the subject of federation for a great number of years, and we, moreover, meet in the colony of which he has the honour to be Premier. I have no doubt that in the position of president he will aid us with his council and advice, and that his occupancy of the chair will reflect credit upon our proceedings.

Mr. Dibbs: We look to Sir Henry Parkes as, to some extent, the architect of the structure we are about to build, and we, like the other gentlemen present, look to our Premier for advice and explanation, and hope that he will in due time place before us such a programme as will enable us to proceed with the great work before us; I can assure the honourable gentleman that we appreciate the compliment paid to the Colony through our Premier, and personally I have great pleasure in supporting the proposition which has been made.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The President elect, being conducted to the chair by the Hon. James Munro, and the Hon. Sir Samuel Griffith, said:

Mr. Munro, Sir Samuel Griffith, and honourable gentlemen, I could not, under any circumstances, do other than yield to your unanimous choice. I am very conscious indeed of my disqualifications for the office of President. It is hardly in my nature to observe that studied decorum which is so shining a quality in the Chair. I have not been fitted for that situation in life. I therefore feel how great the honour is to be placed in that position on this great occasion and by this great body. I shall trust to that generous unanimity which has prevailed in carrying this motion to support me in discharging duties in the Chair, duties which may become onerous; and I am quite sure I shall not trust in vain. It becomes my duty to give this assurance, that so far as I know myself, I will command myself to do the duties of this Chair so that there shall be no cause of complaint. I will try to conduct the business as to offend none, and, if possible, secure the good opinion which appears to have been formed to-day. I thank the honourable gentlemen for the great distinction you have conferred upon me, and I trust none of you will see cause to regret the vote you have given.

March 4th. Sir Henry Parkes: I have the honor to move,

That in order to establish and secure an enduring foundation for the structure of a federal government, the principles embodied in the following resolutions be agreed to:—

1. That the powers and privileges and territorial rights of the several existing colonies shall remain intact, except in respect to such surrenders as may be agreed upon as necessary, and incidental to the power and authority of the National Federal Government.

2. That the trade and intercourse between the federated colonies whether by means of land carriage or coastal navigation shall be absolutely free.

3. That the power and authority to impose customs duties shall be exclusively lodged in the Federal Government and Parliament, subject to such disposal of the revenues thence derived as shall be agreed upon.

4. That the military and naval defence of Australia shall be intrusted to Federal forces under one command.

I submit these resolutions as a groundwork on which a debate may be raised on the whole question with which we have to deal. They certainly give a fair expression of the outline of the constitution which we want, as it exists in my own mind, and to that extent I at once acknowledge the paternity of the motion I make. I venture to appeal to every colony, and to every delegate representing every colony, to meet the work on which we are about to begin, in a broad federal spirit. We cannot hope for any just conclusion—we cannot hope reasonably for any amount of valid success—unless we lose sight to a large extent of the local interests which we represent at the same time that we represent the great cause.

There can be no federation if we should happen, any of us, to insist upon conditions which stand in the way of federation; there can be no complete union of these governments, of these communities, of these separate colonies, unless we can so far clear the way as to approach the great question of creating a federal power as if the boundaries now existing had no existence whatever. I cannot too fervently impress upon my co-representatives from all parts of Australia the necessity of keeping in view the one object of the better government of Australia, the whole Australian people.

By my second condition I seek to define what seems to me an absolutely necessary condition of anything like perfect federation, that is, that Australia, as Australia, shall be free—free on the borders, free everywhere, in its trade and intercourse between its own people; and that there shall be no impediment of any kind—that there shall be no barrier of any kind between one section of the Australian people and another; but, that the trade and general communication of these people shall flow on from one end of the continent to the other, with no one to stay its progress or to call it to account; in other words, if this is carried, it must necessarily take with it the shifting of the power of legislation on all fiscal questions from the local or provincial parliaments, to the great National Parliament sought to be created. Now our country is fashioned by nature in a remarkable manner—in a manner which distinguishes it from all other countries in the world for unification for family life—if I may use that term in a national sense. We are separated from the rest of the world by many leagues of sea—from all the old countries of the world and from the greatest of the new countries; but we are separated from all countries by a wide expanse of sea, which leaves us with an immense territory, a fruitful territory, a territory capable of sustaining its countless millions—leaves us compact within ourselves; so that if a perfectly free people can arise anywhere, it surely may arise in this favoured land of Australia.

Whatever our views may be on other points, I think we shall all be agreed upon this; that for the defence of Australia to be economical, to be efficient, to be equal to any emergency that may arise at any time, it must be of a federal character, and must be under one command. I do not mean that the naval and land forces shall be under one commander-in-chief, but that they should be under one kindred command—that the naval officer in command equally with the military officer shall be a federal officer, and amenable to the national government of Australia.

As to the wisdom of the great step we have now taken, for so many eminent men from different parts of Australia meeting in this Chamber as delegates from their colonies is in itself a great step—as to the wisdom of that step we have the warning of every country in the world which has used government by a confederation.

Here we find a people I suppose about 4,000,000 strong. They have afforded in the great cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart abundant proof of their power of founding an empire. Go beyond the cities; they have accomplished under responsible government what appear to me, and what must appear to any stranger who knew the country thirty-five years ago, marvels in the way of internal improvements. Not only the railways, but the telegraphs, and everything that conduces to the best ends of a civilized community, has been achieved by this scattered people in a marvellous manner. But all through this great, this noble, this successful effort, we have had different sources of irritation, of bad neighbourhood, of turmoil, of aggression, which, if they were to go on, must make these co-terminous communities instead of being one people of one blood, one faith, one jurisprudence, one in the very principles of civilization themselves—instead of that must make us cavilling, disputatious, foreign countries. The only way to stop that is for the whole people—and remember that the whole people in the final result must be the arbiters—to join in creating one great union government which shall act for the whole. That government must, of course, be sufficiently strong to act with effect, to act successfully, and it must be sufficiently strong to carry the name and the fame of Australia with unspotted beauty, and with uncrippled power throughout the world. One great end, to my mind, of a federated Australia is, that it must of necessity secure for Australia a place in the family of nations, which it never can attain while it is split up into separate colonies with antagonistic laws and with hardly anything in common.

I regret to say, Mr. President, that my strength is not such as will enable me to keep on my feet many minutes longer. I have submitted these resolutions—perhaps it is all the better—without any great effort in their support. I trust I have indicated with a clearness sufficient what the great object we aim at must be, and the means by which alone we can hope to accomplish it. I do not doubt that the gentlemen present will each of them address themselves to the subject, which, I think, the resolutions have the merit of fairly launching, in a spirit of patriotism, always keeping in view the welfare, the prosperity, the united strength, and the ultimate glory of our common country.

March 13th. I am aware that outside these walls, at any rate, there is a feeling that we ought to wait; that the time has not yet come. I can only repeat what I have said in other places. If we miss this particular opportunity, every year that rolls over us will make the difficulties greater; these difficulties which our separate existence have imposed will go on increasing. They can only have one crop of fruit; they can only produce antipathy, disunion, aggression, reprisal, wide-spread discontent, and, if they are suffered to go on, civil war. That is a prospect which no man of just mind can contemplate—that these colonies, sprung from the same stock, possessing the same great inheritance of equal laws and all the riches of science which have been achieved and stored up for us in the mother country—that we, side by side, instead of living in brotherhood and amity, should live in constant irritation and hostility. Either we must join hands, or we must hold out our hands in defiance of each other. In the very nature of things we cannot be divided and be one. In the very nature of things we cannot submit to causes of irritation, causes of infliction, causes of dissatisfaction, causes of exasperation, and still live in brotherhood. It is only by joining hands in good faith as the people of one kindred; it is only by giving and taking—by entertaining compromise as far as compromise can be entertained without deadly injury to principle—it is only by doing that, we can hope to found this union. If we unfortunately miss this great occasion, and leave the work undone, it will be done in a few years hence, and it will be done by younger hands, who will gain the credit of having effected this bond of union, which will be in itself, if rightly effected, of more value than any other achievement in the history of this continent.

This is no time for glowing periods; it is no time for rhetorical flights; but it is a time for hard and steady work in trying to do what we are called here to do, and I would ask the honourable members to do their utmost by a calm self-suppression, by a close attention to the object which has brought us here, by mutual respect, mutual forbearance, and disposition to compromise where compromise is possible, to assist each other in bringing about this great work; and I would say that if we do seize the occasion and succeed in doing the work, we shall have, not now so vividly as hereafter, the blessing of this and succeeding generations in what we have accomplished.


Source.—The Melbourne Argus, 10 May 1901


Ten years after the great conference of 1891, the work of Sir Henry Parkes and his fellow federationists reached its culmination. The first truly Australian Parliament was opened by the Duke of Cornwall and York (King George V).

By the hand of royalty, in the presence of the greatest concourse of people that Australia has seen in one building, and with splendid pomp and ceremonial, the legislative machinery of the Commonwealth was yesterday set in motion. The day was full of smiles and tears, the smiles predominating. Rising gloomily, the dispersing clouds allowed the bright sun to peep through, and when the great ceremony was in progress in the Exhibition-building, the atmosphere was radiant, and illuminated the vast spaces of the building and the great sea of faces with a bright Australian glow.

A sight never to be forgotten was the assemblage which, in perfect order, but with exalted feeling, awaited the arrival of the Duke and Duchess in the great avenues which branch out from beneath the vast Dome of the Exhibition-building. We have not in Australia any sense of the historical prestige which attaches itself to a royal opening of the British Parliament. There the stately function is magnificent in its setting and pregnant in its associations, but it is in scarcely any sense of the word a people's function.

Here, by a happy inspiration, the function was made, to the fullest extent, a popular one. Twelve thousand seated in a vast amphitheatre—free people, hopeful people, courageous people—entrusted with the working out of their own destiny, and rejoicing in their liberty, must be impressive by reason of their numbers alone.

But there was not wanting splendour of accessories. The mighty arches of the dome, the spread of the great transepts, the grace of the decorations, were in themselves inspiring; nor was even the sombre shade of the mourning dressing, softened by splashes of purple here and there, out of keeping with the event, typifying, as it did, our reverential regard for the memory of a great Constitutional Ruler, the mightiest Sovereign of the people the world has known.

Broadly speaking, what was represented in the noble assemblage was worth. The worthiest of Australia were there—the men who hold their distinguished positions because they have won them, and because they deserve them. All that is best in politics, in commerce, in industry, in the arts, in the Church, in the school, in the public service of Australia was represented there, and every heart beat high with pride and with hope.

Faint and far off, just about noon there came the sound of the National Anthem, and there was a multitudinous murmur and stir, for here was the actual event coming at last. Then near at hand came the blare of a trumpet heralding the approach of the Imperial envoys, and a moment or two after, with royal punctuality, the Duke and Duchess were on the dais, and the strains of the National Anthem came pealing through the building.

The religious feelings of the occasion were stirred by the singing of the grand "Old Hundredth" to the words of the metrical psalm, commencing "All people that on earth do dwell." This was taken up by thousands of the audience, and its swelling harmonies rose grandly to the dome. Lord Hopetoun, setting aside all complicated questions of religious precedence, himself read several prayers, in his clear, penetrating voice, so pleasantly familiar in Victoria.

When the Duke stepped forward to deliver his speech to the two Houses, a "Hush" ran round the assembly, and everyone listened intently, but the sound of the ever-moving feet on the boarded floors went on. His Royal Highness spoke deliberately, in a clear, strong voice, and the speech he read was distinctly heard by thousands of those present. It was a dignified, a graceful, a kindly, and a congratulatory speech, and it expressed a confident belief that the new powers granted to Australia will only strengthen the affection of the people for the throne and empire.

At the final words, "I now declare the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia open," the Duchess touched an electric button which gave the signal outside for the hoisting of the Union Jack on all the State schools of the Colony, and for the sending of a message to England declaring the object of the journey of the Royal envoys accomplished. Trumpets rang out the signal, and outside was heard the booming of cannon in royal salute.

After a brief pause the Duke of Cornwall and York stepped forward once more and read a special cable message of congratulation from His Majesty the King. And now Australia asserted herself. She had been suppressing her feelings to show that she knew how to behave with old-world decorum in the presence of Royalty, but this message, direct from the King himself, was too much—they simply had to cheer. And cheer they did. It was done without order or without concert. It was taken up time after time by sections of the audience; it ran round the aisles, and surged through the galleries; a hearty, spontaneous, irrepressible Australian cheer. It was not down in the programme, but it formed a most effective part of it.

The final part of the ceremony, which altogether occupied about three-quarters of an hour, was the swearing-in of members by the Governor-General. He stood on the dais and read out the oath, whilst the members, Bible in hand, followed him in sections. Then Lord Hopetoun stepped to the front of the dais, and directing the audience by the waving of his hat, called for three cheers for His Royal Highness the Duke, which were given with splendid heartiness, and followed by another round for the Duchess, after which the Duke and Duchess retired and the great ceremony was over.


His Royal Highness read the following telegram from His Majesty the King:

"My thoughts are with you on the day of the important ceremony. Most fervently do I wish Australia prosperity and great happiness."


The following telegram was despatched by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cornwall and York to His Majesty the King immediately after the opening ceremony:

"I have just delivered your message, and, in your name, declared open the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. I also read your kind telegram of good wishes, which is deeply appreciated by your loving Australian subjects, and was received with great enthusiasm. Splendid and impressive ceremony, over 12,000 people in Exhibition-building."


When the newly-elected President of the Federal Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives were presented to His Excellency the Governor-General at the Old Treasury buildings yesterday afternoon, Lord Hopetoun intimated to them and to the members of the Commonwealth Legislature who were present that he had received the subjoined message from the Secretary of State for the Colonies:

"His Majesty's Government welcomes the new Parliament that to-day takes its place among the great legislative bodies of the British Empire and they feel confident that it will be a faithful interpreter of the aspirations of a free and loyal people, and they trust that its deliberations will promote the happiness, prosperity, and unity of the whole continent of Australia."

The message was subsequently read in both Houses of the Federal Parliament, and received with cheers.


Source.—The Times History of the War in South Africa, 1899-1902, Vol. III, pp. 30-31, 34-35; Vol. IV, p. 428

The clash of interests in South Africa between settlers of Dutch and of British origin gave rise to much ill-feeling, and in 1899 Great Britain decided to annex the South African Colonies in order to protect the interests of her subjects. In the ensuing struggle the Colonies freely offered support, both moral and physical.

Of all the colonies the Australian ones were the most directly interested in the South African controversy. In view of the vast and increasing trade between Australia and the mother-country, the safety of the Cape route must always be a question of the very highest importance in the eyes of Australian statesmen. And apart from such considerations of contingent self-interest, Australians had strong personal feelings over the issue between Kruger and the Uitlanders. Australian miners formed no small section of the population of the Rand. Australians were under no illusions as to the idyllic character of the peasant-owners of the Transvaal. As soon as the crisis became acute, public meetings were held all over the Australian colonies to express sympathy with the Uitlanders and to support the attitude of the Imperial Government. The question of sending Australian contingents to join the Imperial forces in the event of a war was discussed at an early stage. The idea of active participation in the wars of the Empire was not altogether a new one. As far back as 1867 Tasmania had sent a contingent to assist the Imperial forces in the Maori war. More recently a body of New South Wales troops took part in the Sudan campaign of 1885. A little active service and much tedious waiting at Suakim was all they saw, and one might have imagined that in Australia the result had been to damp any inclination to repeat the performance. But the partial disappointment of 1885 made the Australians all the more eager to try again.

Between October 28 and November 5 the first Australian contingents sailed amidst the most enthusiastic popular demonstrations. They were officered and manned almost entirely by members of the various colonial volunteer forces, and thus possessed the advantage of a certain amount of initial training which was destined to stand them in good stead in the field. It should never be forgotten that their success was mainly due to the persistent effort of those officers, whether Imperial or colonial, who during the past twenty years had given their services to the development and organization of the colonial forces. It was the existence of these forces that kept up the military spirit in the colonies.

Small as was the force contributed by the Empire (nearly 80,000 men) it was none the less a material assistance, whose value can hardly be overrated. It practically doubled the mounted force, and thus made possible those sweeping movements by which Lord Roberts reached Pretoria. Above all, it gave the Imperial Government a moral support which enabled it to face with equanimity the almost universal hostility of the European powers or the fanatical outcries of a few anti-Imperialist partisans at home. Never, probably, in modern times has there been a greater consensus of honest opinion in support of a great national movement than that which backed up Britain's effort to maintain her position in South Africa. It was simply that the free citizens of free countries asked to be allowed to venture their lives for the sake of a political ideal which was personally and intimately dear to each one of them, and that, in spite of the paralysing absence of either precedent or preparation, many thousands actually achieved their desire. The war has not shown what the Empire can do, but it has revealed to those who perhaps doubted before, what an Empire we can make if we but choose.


Amongst varying fortunes and many indecisive actions, the defence of the position at Elands River stands out as an achievement only made possible by courage and grim determination.

For several weeks Colonel Hore, with a small garrison at Brakfontein on the Elands River, had been keeping up the connection between Mafeking and Zeerust, policing the district and forwarding on convoys to Rustenburg. At the beginning of August the force which he had for this purpose, as well as to guard a large store of supplies, consisted of 500 men, nearly all Imperial bushmen or Rhodesians, an old muzzle-loading seven-pounder, and two maxims. By this time Lord Roberts had determined that several isolated posts in the Western Transvaal, such as this one, which were in constant danger of attack, must be evacuated, and on August 1 ordered General Carrington to march to Elands River to cover Hore's retirement. But De la Rey, with three detachments of his troops under himself, Lemmer, and Steenekemp, each numbering about 300 men, and each with a gun and a pom-pom, and a maxim, had arrived there before him, and on the morning of August 4 had aroused Hore's camp by shell and rifle fire from the north-west, east, and south-east. The camp was on a small boulder-strewn kopje, in the centre of an amphitheatre about five acres in extent, and half a mile east of the river. Most of the men were on this central kopje, but two small hills on the bank of the river were held by detachments under Captain Butters and Lieutenant Zouch. Luckily, an attack had been expected, and stone sangars and shelters of ox-wagons had been made and further protected by biscuit boxes and bags of flour and sugar from the stores the men were guarding. Nevertheless the Boer attack seemed to have every chance in its favour; their guns were in safe positions 2,400 yards from the camp, and along the river banks they could creep close up to the defenders. Hore's old seven-pounder, though it succeeded in silencing a Boer gun, and killed a German gunner, was very capricious in its working, and was obviously no match for the Boer guns. The thousands of horses and oxen which were in the camp under no sort of cover were nearly all killed on the first day by the Boer shells; and the stench arising from these dead animals in the narrow camp makes it almost marvellous that the men who escaped the Boer shells were not killed by pestilence. Moreover, the only chance of getting water was to take the water carts down to the river at night, and then the drivers and escort were not always safe. To make matters worse, on the second day of the siege Carrington's advance scouts, after appearing on the rise to the west, were soon seen retiring again, so that rescue from this side seemed now out of the question. When starting, Carrington did not know that Hore was invested, so he carried very few rations. He no doubt had a small force with him and was badly off for supplies; but he had gained a ridge from which he commanded the way to Elands River, and under the circumstances of Hore's pressing danger he was too quickly discouraged from a more determined effort to bring out the garrison. From the east another attempt was made to relieve Hore which proved equally abortive.

On August 5 firing had been heard in the direction of Elands River, so next day Baden-Powell marched with his own and Mahon's mounted troops about half-way to Brakfontein. Here he heard guns firing in a westerly direction, but as the sound seemed to grow fainter and fainter, he assumed, without, however, waiting for the reports of his scouts, that Carrington had succeeded in withdrawing Hore towards Mafeking.

After Carrington's retreat to Zeerust on August 5 and Baden-Powell's to Rustenburg on the 6th, Lord Roberts had given up all hope of saving this garrison. But on the 13th a runner from Colonel Hore had arrived at Crocodile Pools, announcing that he had not surrendered. On hearing this the Field Marshal ordered Kitchener to take part of his force to relieve him. Kitchener started on the 16th. from Quaggafontein with Little's, Broadwood's, and Smith-Dorrien's brigades. After Carrington had come up and gone away again on August 5, the garrison, though apparently left to their fate, would hear nothing of surrender, but made up their minds to fight as long as they had ammunition and strength to use it. Luckily they were well provided with food, and the Boers, as usual in their sieges, were content to sit round and fire at them without seriously attempting to rush the place as they should have done. The garrison also kept up their spirits by sudden raids at night on adventurous Boers or guns that came too near. Thus, as at Wepener, it became a game of patience for the garrison, dissimilar only in this, that at Elands River there was no promise of support to buoy up the garrison with hope.

However, on August 16, after eleven days' siege, De la Rey moved away on the news of the approaching relief columns, and Lord Kitchener rode in to set free the garrison.

This siege, like that of Wepener, was especially a Colonial triumph; there the garrison had been chiefly Cape Colonials, here the majority were Australians of Carrington's first Brigade, the rest being Rhodesians, and it would be difficult to praise overmuch the determination and fine spirit shown by these Colonials in their first opportunity of distinguishing themselves as a corps. Every soldier who saw the place afterwards expressed surprise that they could have held out so long, and it is therefore the more creditable to them to have done so when every hope of relief seemed entirely cut off; while, at a time when surrenders and retreats were not sufficiently rare, the example shown by these splendid men was even more important than the position they held.


Source.—The Times History of the War and Encyclopaedia, Vol. I, p. 161; Vol. II, p. 31; Vol. III, p. 126

The aggressive policy of Germany led to the outbreak in 1914 of the greatest war in history; for nearly every country in the world ultimately became involved in the struggle.

Germany advised Austria to demand most humiliating concessions from Servia, and the resistance of Servia supported by Russia resulted in war between Germany and Austria on one side, and Servia, Russia, and her ally France on the other.

For strategical reasons Germany determined to attack France through Belgium, declaring that the international treaty which bound her to respect Belgian neutrality was but a "Scrap of Paper." Great Britain, as one of the signatories to the treaty, protested against such a violation of good faith, but finding protestation vain declared war upon Germany on 4 August 1914.

The whole Empire solidly supported the Mother Country and shared valiantly in all her achievements.


Important as were the offers of help, both of men and provisions, which the self-governing Dominions and the Indian Empire made to the Mother Country almost immediately after the outbreak of the war, the knowledge that these great daughter-nations were morally convinced of the justice of the British cause, was a factor of even more far-reaching importance. Great as was the necessity of organizing and expanding the Imperial forces, and thus creating an extra army or armies to reinforce the British Expeditionary Force in France, urgent as was the need of taking advantage of the prompt offers of help which came from all parts of the Empire, the necessity of convincing the self-governing Dominions and the Empire at large of the righteousness of the cause for which Great Britain was fighting was more imperative still. For in the long run the consciousness of the justice of the principles for which a people is fighting, alone can ensure the massing of material force sufficient to secure material victory.

Evidence that the case for Great Britain was fully understood and thoroughly approved, not only by our own peoples, but by the bulk of the neutral States of the world, was not long in presenting itself. The Dominions as a whole had satisfied themselves that the British cause was just, before Sir Edward Grey had made it plain by his speech of August 3rd that the British Government had done everything short of sacrificing the honour of the country to avoid war. In the words of Sir Richard McBride, the Premier of British Columbia, "Should it unfortunately develop that Great Britain is compelled to engage in hostilities, Canada will automatically be at war also"; while in Australia, Mr. Fisher, the ex-Prime Minister, declared, "Should honour demand the Mother Country to take part in hostilities, Australians will stand beside her to the last man and the last shilling." These sentiments found expression in the offers of help of men and material, which have been described in the preceding chapter. To those offers the King replied by a message to the Overseas Dominions:

"I desire to express to my people of the Overseas Dominions with what appreciation and pride I have received the messages from their respective Governments during the last few days.

"These spontaneous assurances of their fullest support recall to me the generous, self-sacrificing help given by them in the past to the Mother Country.

"I shall be strengthened in the discharge of the great responsibility which rests upon me by the confident belief that in this time of trial my Empire will stand united, calm, resolute, trusting in God.



Against us there were known to be some eight or nine German cruisers abroad, all efficient for commerce-destroying purposes, and several with very high speed, which it was recognized would require a great deal of catching....

The Emden was a small vessel of some 3,500 tons, with a speed of about 25 knots—quite fast enough to overhaul any British steamer she was likely to encounter, and fast enough also to run away, if necessary. The Emden was generally heard of where she was least expected, and after reaping her harvest of merchantmen, as unaccountably disappeared. In something under six weeks she had captured nearly twenty steamers, always contriving to pick up a collier among them, so that she was able to keep her bunkers replenished....

As a variety of adventure, the Emden steamed one evening into Madras Roads, and threw shell into the outskirts of the town for the space of half an hour or so—some oil tanks were set ablaze, and two or three natives killed; Fort George returned the fire—probably without effect—and the Emden retired.

It may be assumed that the German captain received information by wireless of the probable approach of colliers or other vessels, as he was so very much on the spot; in any case, he was a courageous and enterprising man, and a good sportsman; but we wanted very badly to catch him. There are so many holes and corners in that part of the world, where a vessel may lie for a time with little chance of detection, and the Emden's speed would have enabled her to reach some such refuge very quickly.

The last act in the drama of the Emden took place off the Cocos-Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean....

It was to this desolate spot in the Indian Ocean that Captain Von Muller brought his ship, in the early days of November; with him was one of his captures, the Buresk, which was full of coal. The object of this visit of the Emden was the destruction of the important wireless station that is established on the islands, and on the morning of November 9th, the officials were unpleasantly surprised by the landing of an armed boat's crew from a cruiser, which had come to an anchor, and which they first imagined to be H.M.S. Minotaur. They were quickly undeceived by the German officer in charge of the party, who informed them that their operations from the wireless station had greatly hampered the movements of the cruiser. One detachment of the Germans then rounded up all the officials and their servants, placing them under a strict guard, while a second party prepared to blow up the wireless installation and to smash the instrument rooms of the cable office. This they did most thoroughly, but the officials seem to have kept their heads in the most praiseworthy manner, as, just as soon as they discovered that the enemy was upon them, they sent out distress signals by wireless, and warned adjacent stations by cable that they were about to be smashed up.

The landing party now blew up the wireless mast and the store in which spare cable and cable gear was kept; a third explosion wrecked the wireless hut, and completed the destruction of the installation. The dynamo rooms and workshops were destroyed with flogging hammers and axes, everything breakable, including clocks, being smashed to atoms. Their next proceeding was to cut the shore ends of the submarine cables, and this was done in full view of the prisoners. There are three cables from the Cocos—to Perth, to Batavia, and to Rodriguez—and the pleasure of the prisoners can be imagined when they saw the Germans spend much hard labour in destroying a dummy cable. Eventually the Perth cable and the dummy were cut, the others being left, presumably because the Germans did not know that they existed.

The party from the Emden had landed at 7.30 a.m., and by 9.20 their mission of destruction was accomplished. At this time a signal was blown on the siren from the ship; the officer in command collected his men, marched them down to the beach, and re-embarked. The telegraphists report that they were fairly and courteously treated. On arrival the Emden was still using her now famous fourth funnel, a dummy, and this it was that caused the telegraphists to mistake her in the first instance for the Minotaur, which is a four-funnelled armoured cruiser. As she steamed away in the bright light of the tropic morning for what was so shortly to prove her last cruise, the Emden hauled down, and stowed away, her dummy.

The action that ensued between the Sydney and the Emden is here given in the official despatch of Captain Glossop, dated from Colombo on November 15th:

I have the honour to report that whilst on escort duty with the convoy under the charge of Captain Silver, H.M.A.S. Melbourne, at 6.30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 9th, a wireless message from Cocos was heard reporting that a foreign warship was off the entrance. I was ordered to raise steam for full speed at 7.0 a.m. and proceeded thither. I worked up to twenty knots, and at 9.15 a.m. sighted land ahead and almost immediately the smoke of a ship, which proved to be the H.I.G.M.S. Emden coming out towards me at a great rate. At 9.40 a.m. fire was opened, she firing the first shot. I kept my distance as much as possible to obtain the advantage of my guns. Her fire was very accurate and rapid to begin with, but seemed to slacken very quickly, all casualties occurring in this ship almost immediately. First, the foremost funnel of her went, secondly the foremast, and she was badly on fire aft, then the second funnel went, and lastly the third funnel, and I saw she was making for the beach on North Keeling Island, where she grounded at 11.20 a.m. I gave her two more broadsides and left her, to pursue a merchant ship which had come up during the action.

2. Although I had guns on this merchant ship at odd times during the action, I had not fired, and as she was making off fast, I pursued and overtook her at 12.10, firing a gun across her bows and hoisting International Code Signal to stop, which she did. I sent an armed boat, and found her to be the ss. Buresk, a captured British collier, with 18 Chinese crew, 1 English steward, 1 Norwegian cook, and a German prize crew of 3 officers, 1 warrant officer, and 12 men. The ship unfortunately was sinking, so I took all on board, fired four shells into her, and returned to Emden, passing men swimming in the water, for whom I left two boats I was towing from Buresk.

3. On arriving again off Emden, she still had her colours up at mainmast head. I inquired by signal, International Code, "Will you surrender?" and received a reply in Morse, "What signal? No signal books." I then made in Morse, "Do you surrender?" and subsequently, "Have you received my signal?" to neither of which did I get an answer. The German officers on board gave me to understand that the captain would never surrender, and therefore, though very reluctantly, I again fired at her at 4.30 p.m., ceasing at 4.35, as she showed white flags and hauled down her ensign by sending a man aloft.

4. I then left Emden and returned and picked up the Buresk's two boats, rescuing two sailors (5.0 p.m.) who had been in the water all day. I returned and sent in one boat to Emden, manned by her own prize crew from Buresk and one officer, and stating I would return to their assistance next morning.

5. I lay on and off all night, and communicated with Direction Island at 8.0 a.m., November 10th, to find that the Emden's party, consisting of three officers and forty men, one launch and two cutters, had seized and provisioned a 70-ton schooner (the Ayesha), having four Maxims with two belts to each. They left the previous night at six o'clock. The wireless station was entirely destroyed, one cable cut, one damaged, and one intact. I borrowed a doctor and two assistants, and proceeded as fast as possible to Emden's assistance.

6. I sent an officer on board to see the captain, and in view of the large number of prisoners and wounded, and lack of accommodation, etc., in this ship, and the absolute impossibility of leaving them there, he agreed that if I received his officers and men and all wounded, "then as for such time as they remained in Sydney they would cause no interference with ship or fittings, and would be amenable to the ship's discipline." I therefore set to work at once to tranship them—a most difficult operation, the ship being on weather side of island, and the send alongside very heavy. The conditions in the Emden were indescribable. I received the last from her at 5.0 p.m., then had to go round to the lee side to pick up 20 more men who had managed to get ashore from the ship.

7. Darkness came on before this could be accomplished, and the ship again stood off and on all night, resuming operations at 5.0 a.m., on November 11th, a cutter's crew having to land with stretchers to bring wounded round to embarking point. A German officer, a doctor, died ashore the previous day. The ship in the meantime ran over to Direction Island to return their doctor and assistants, send cables, and was back again at 10 a.m., embarked the remainder of wounded, and proceeded for Colombo by 10.35 a.m., Wednesday, November 11th.

8. Total casualties in Sydney: killed, 3; severely wounded (since dead), 1; severely wounded, 4; wounded, 4; slightly wounded, 4. In the Emden I can only approximately state the killed at 7 officers and 108 men from captain's statement. I had on board 11 officers, 9 warrant officers and 191 men, of whom 3 officers and 53 men were wounded, and of this number 1 officer and 3 men have since died of wounds.

9. The damage to Sydney's hull and fittings was surprisingly small; in all about ten hits seem to have been made. The engine and boiler rooms and funnels escaped entirely.

10. I have great pleasure in stating that the behaviour of the ship's company was excellent in every way, and with such a large number of young hands and people under training it is all the more gratifying.

It will be seen from Captain Glossop's despatch that he was on escort duty with the convoy under the charge of Captain Silver of H.M.A.S. Melbourne. This convoy was carrying Australian and New Zealand troops to the scene of the great conflict in Europe. The act of self-denial on the part of Captain Silver in sending the Sydney to engage the Emden, instead of taking that duty upon himself, certainly deserves to be noted. This officer denied to himself and to the officers and men under his command, the privilege of dealing with the notorious raider, and in so doing he was actuated solely by his high sense of duty and the responsibility that he owed to his country. In his judgment the Sydney was the more suitable ship, so she was sent, and the Melbourne remained with her convoy until the affair was concluded.


Source.—Dispatch from a special Correspondent at the Dardanelles printed in The Times, 7 May 1915

Soon after the commencement of the war Turkey joined the Central Powers, and consequently the Australian Imperial Forces, having experienced a rigorous training in Egypt, were used to assist the Navy and other Allied troops in an attempt to force the Dardanelles.


Slowly through the night of April 24th our squadron, which was to land the covering forces of the Australian contingent just north of Gaba Tepe, steamed towards its destination....

At 1 a.m. the ships arrived off their appointed rendezvous, five miles from the landing-place, and stopped. The soldiers were aroused from their slumbers, and were served with a last hot meal. A visit to the mess decks showed these Australians, the majority of whom were about to go into action for the first time under the most trying circumstances, possessed at 1 o'clock in the morning courage to be cheerful, quiet, and confident....

At 1.20 a.m. the signal was given from the flagship to lower the boats, which had been left swinging from the davits throughout the night. Our steam pinnaces were also lowered to take them in tow....

On the quarter-deck, backed by the great 12 in. guns, this splendid body of colonial troops were drawn up in serried ranks, fully equipped, and receiving their last instructions from their officers, who, six months ago, like their men, were leading a peaceful civilian life in Australia and New Zealand, 5,000 miles away....

At 2.5 a.m. the signal was given for the troops to embark in the boats which were lying alongside, and this was carried out with great rapidity, in absolute silence, and without a hitch or an accident of any kind....

The whole operation had been timed to allow the pinnaces and boats to reach the beach just before daylight, so that the Turks, if they had been forewarned, would not be able to see to fire before the Australians had obtained a firm footing and, it was hoped, good cover on the foreshore....

At 4.53 a.m. there suddenly came a very sharp burst of rifle fire from the beach, and we knew our men were at last at grips with the enemy. This fire lasted only for a few minutes, and then was drowned by a faint British cheer wafted to us over the waters....

The first authentic news we received came with the return of our boats. A steam pinnace came alongside with two recumbent forms on her deck and a small figure, pale, but cheerful, and waving his hand astern. They were one of our midshipmen, just sixteen years of age, shot through the stomach, but regarding his injury more as a fitting consummation to a glorious holiday ashore than a wound; and a chief stoker, and petty officer, all three wounded by that first burst of musketry, which caused many casualties in the boats just as they reached the beach.

From them we learned what had happened in those first wild moments. All the tows had almost reached the beach, when a party of Turks, entrenched almost on the shore, opened up a terrible fusillade from rifles and also from a Maxim. Fortunately most of the bullets went high, but, nevertheless, many men were hit as they sat huddled together forty or fifty in a boat.

It was a trying moment, but the Australian volunteers rose as a man to the occasion. They waited neither for orders, nor for the boats to reach the beach, but, springing out into the sea, they waded ashore, and, forming some sort of a rough line, rushed straight on the flashes of the enemy's rifles. Their magazines were not charged, so they just went in with cold steel, and I believe I am right in saying that the first Ottoman Turk since the last Crusade received an Anglo-Saxon bayonet in him at 5 minutes after 5 a.m. on April 25th. It was over in a minute. The Turks in this first trench were bayoneted or ran away, and a Maxim gun was captured.

Then the Australians found themselves facing an almost perpendicular cliff of loose sandstone, covered with thick shrubbery, and somewhere half-way up the enemy had a second trench strongly held, from which they poured a terrible fire on the troops below, and the boats pulling back to the destroyers for the second landing party.

Here was a tough proposition to tackle in the darkness, but these Colonials are practical above all else, and they went about it in a practical way. They stopped a few moments to pull themselves together, and to get rid of their packs which no troops could carry in an attack, and then charged their magazines. Then this race of athletes proceeded to scale the cliffs without responding to the enemy's fire. They lost some men but did not worry, and in less than a quarter of an hour the Turks were out of their second position, either bayoneted or in full flight.

This ridge under which the landing was made, stretches due north from Gaba Tepe, and culminates in the height of Coja Chemen, which rises 950 feet above the sea level. The whole forms part of a confused triangle of hills, valleys, ridges, and bluffs which stretches right across the Gallipoli Peninsula to the Bay of Bassi Liman, above the Narrows. The triangle is cut in two by the valley through which flows the stream known as Bokali Deresi....

In the early part of the day very heavy casualties were suffered in the boats which conveyed the troops from the destroyers, tugs, and transports to the beach. As soon as it became light, the enemy's sharpshooters, hidden everywhere, simply concentrated their fire on the boats....

Throughout the whole of April 25th the landing of troops, stores, and munitions had to be carried out under these conditions, but the gallant sailors never failed their equally gallant comrades ashore. Every one, from the youngest midshipman straight from Dartmouth and under fire for the first time, to the senior officers in charge, did their duty nobly....

When the sun was fully risen and the haze had disappeared, we could see that the Australians had actually established themselves on the top of the ridge, and were evidently trying to work their way northwards along it....

The fighting was so confused, and took place amongst such broken ground that it is extremely difficult to follow exactly what did happen throughout the morning and afternoon of April the 25th. The role assigned to the covering force was splendidly carried out up to a certain point, and a firm footing was obtained on the crest of the ridge which allowed the disembarkation of the remainder of the force to go on uninterruptedly except for the never-ceasing sniping.

But then the Australians, whose blood was up, instead of entrenching themselves and waiting developments, pushed northward and eastward inland, in search of fresh enemies to tackle with the bayonet. The ground is so broken and ill-defined that it was very difficult to select a position to entrench, especially as after the troops imagined they had cleared a section, they were continually being sniped from all sides. Therefore they preferred to continue the advance.... The Turks only had a comparatively weak force actually holding the beach, and they seemed to have relied on the difficult nature of the ground, and their scattered snipers, to delay the advance until they could bring up reinforcements from the interior.

Some of the Australians who had pushed inland were counter-attacked and almost outflanked by these oncoming reserves, and had to fall back after suffering very heavy casualties.

It was then the turn of the Turks to counter-attack, and this they continued to do throughout the afternoon, but the Australians never yielded a foot of ground on the main ridge, and reinforcements were continually poured up from the beach as fresh troops were disembarked from the transports. The enemy's artillery fire, however, presented a very difficult problem. As soon as the light became good, the Turks enfiladed the beach with two field guns from Gaba Tepe, and with two others from the north.... In vain did the warships endeavour to put them out of action with their secondary armament. For some hours they could not be accurately located, or else were so well protected that our shells failed to do them any harm....

Later in the day the two guns to the north were silenced ... and a cruiser moving in close to the shore, so plastered Gaba Tepe with a hail of shell that the guns there were also silenced and have not attempted to reply since.

As the enemy brought up reinforcements, towards dusk his attacks became more and more vigorous, and he was supported by a powerful artillery inland, which the ships' guns were powerless to deal with. The pressure on the Australians and New Zealanders became heavier, and the line they were occupying had to be contracted for the night. General Birdwood and his staff went ashore in the afternoon, and devoted all their energies to securing the position, so as to hold firmly to it until the following morning, when it was hoped to get some field guns in position to deal with the enemy's artillery.

Some idea of the difficulty to be faced may be gathered when it is remembered that every round of ammunition, all water, and all supplies had to be landed on a narrow beach and then carried up pathless hills, valleys, and bluffs, several hundred feet high, to the firing line. The whole of this mass of troops, concentrated on a very small area, and unable to reply, were exposed to a relentless and incessant shrapnel fire, which swept every yard of the ground, although, fortunately, a great deal of it was badly aimed or burst too high. The reserves were engaged in road-making and carrying supplies to the crest, and in answering the calls for more ammunition.

A serious problem was getting away the wounded from the shore, where it was impossible to keep them. All those who were unable to hobble to the beach had to be carried down to the hills on stretchers, then hastily dressed and carried to the boats. The boat and beach parties never stopped working throughout the entire day and night.

The courage displayed by these wounded Australians will never be forgotten. Hastily dressed and placed in trawlers, lighters, and ships' boats they were towed to the ships.... I have, in fact, never seen the like of those wounded Australians in war before, for as they were towed amongst the ships, whilst accommodation was being found for them, although many were shot to bits, and without hope of recovery, their cheers resounded through the night, and you could just see, amidst a mass of suffering humanity, arms being waved in greeting to the crews of the warships. They were happy because they had been tried for the first time in the war and had not been found wanting. They had been told to occupy the heights and hold on, and this they had done for fifteen mortal hours, under an incessant shell fire, without the moral and material support of a single gun ashore, and subjected the whole time to the violent counter-attacks of a brave enemy, led by skilled leaders, whilst his snipers, hidden in caves and thickets and amongst the dense scrub, made a deliberate practice of picking off every officer who endeavoured to give a word of command or lead his men forward.

No finer feat of arms has been performed during the war than this sudden landing in the dark, the storming of the heights, and above all, the holding on to the position thus won whilst reinforcements were being poured from the transports. These raw Colonial troops in those desperate hours proved themselves worthy to fight side by side with the heroes of Mons and the Aisne, Ypres, and Neuve Chapelle.


By Senator Pearce (Minister of State for Defence)

Source.—The Melbourne Argus, 25 April 1916

In an army a knowledge of its past achievements is a mighty factor in its future success. Before this war Australia had practically no army traditions, and it is to the meaning of the Gallipoli campaign in this connection that I would direct attention to-day, twelve months after the historic landing.

To the peoples of Europe the thought of war was ever present in the popular mind; but to the Australian, born and bred in an atmosphere untainted by war, living amid peaceful surroundings and desirous of remaining on terms of friendship with the rest of mankind the word itself has a jarring sound. Yet the German challenge to the Mother Country finds 233,720 of her Australian sons who have voluntarily wrenched themselves from their parents, wives, and friends, and from comfortable and cheerful homes, to answer the call of their country to fight the Empire's battles on distant shores.

Nor has the thunder of the cannon been necessary to inspire Australians with a conception of their duty; and the explanation of it all is that we have inherited to the full that spirit of our forebears which enabled them, not so long ago, to tear themselves from homeland firesides to shape careers in this great island continent, and to overcome with indomitable pluck the awful hardships of a pioneering life.

For generations to come the story of the entry of the Australian troops to the European battlefield will ring in the ears of English-speaking nations. The chronicler of the future will provide many thrilling pages of history, magnificent material for the moulding of the youthful Australian character.

A distinguished military officer told us before the war that Australians would require to be in the majority of two to one in meeting a foreign foe on our own shores; but the furious onslaught that accompanied the landing at Gallipoli, the bitter fighting and terrible trials of the occupation, and the wonderful skill that made possible the bloodless evacuation have shown us that the Australians carried out a feat of arms not excelled by the most highly-trained regulars of any nation of the world. The following messages are eloquent in their tribute to Australian bravery:

"I heartily congratulate you upon the splendid conduct and bravery displayed by the Australian troops in the operations at the Dardanelles, who have indeed proved themselves worthy sons of the Empire."—His Majesty the King, April 1915.

"The capture of the positions we hold will go down to history as a magnificent feat of the Australians and New Zealanders."—General Sir William Birdwood, November 1915.

"Happen what may, the Australians who have fought at Gallipoli will bequeath a heritage of honour to their children's children."—General Sir Ian Hamilton, November 1915.

These are examples of the praise which that feat of arms has won, and such is the standing of military bearing which the improvised army of Australian citizens has set up for the citizen army of Australia—a standard which, we may rest assured, has not failed to impress our enemies in computing the military value of our forces.

Every unit of the citizen army will now have its tradition. Every soldier of the Australian army will have that inspiring example of the Anzac heroes to live up to in his military work, and we can regard the future with a calm confidence in the military prowess of our soldiers.

The Allied troops evacuated the Gallipoli Peninsula in December 1915, and the majority of the Australian Imperial Force was then transferred to the Western Front in France, where on fiercely fought fields such as Pozières, Messines, Cambrai, Amiens, and others too numerous to detail here, they won imperishable fame.




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