F. Edward (Frederick Edward) Hulme.

A Settler's 35 Years' Experience in Victoria, Australia online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryF. Edward (Frederick Edward) HulmeA Settler's 35 Years' Experience in Victoria, Australia → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Produced by Graeme Mackreth and The Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was
produced from scans of public domain works at The National
Library of Australia.)






And how £6 8s. became £8,000.


"Men are agents for the future,
As they work so ages win,
Either harvest of advancement,
Or the product of their sin."

_Inscribed by the kind permission of the
Chief Secretary of Victoria._

M.L. Hutchinson, 305 & 307 Little Collins Street,
Nearly Opposite Royal Arcade.

Rae Bros., Printers, 547 and 549 Elizabeth Street North.

[Illustration: "Off for 200 Miles' Tramp."

See Page 10.]



Sketch of Artist Life 1

Farewell to Dear Old England 3

Melbourne at Last 6

Christian Socialism 7

Melbourne Experience 9

Off to the Diggings 10

Ten Years on the Diggings 12

Commence Farming 18

Increase of Holdings 25

The Consummation 26

A Dissertation on Temperance 28

The Vine Industry 31

The Settlement of the Lands 32

Irrigation 35

A Scheme of Settlement 37

A Glimpse at the Future of Australia 45

Conclusion 48

Poetry, "All the Way" 49


In giving this little "Life Sketch," I am actuated by a desire to
assist many, not only hard-handed men in the "Old Country," but many
soft-handed ones also, as I was, and especially those who have large
families, as I had, and who are struggling for a living, and see
but little hope for the future in the already over-crowded hive in
the "Old Land," and a still poorer prospect for the new swarms; I,
therefore, think a little advice and encouragement to those desirous to
"cast off," from one who has been through it all, will be welcomed by
many. - E.H.

Sketch of My Artist Life.

When living in the "Old Land," over 35 years since, I belonged to a
class of which there are many thousands - a struggling professor - and
of the class I have designated as "soft-handed." I was an artist by
profession; studied from a child; never did anything else; and in
1850 and 1851 had so far advanced in my profession to have the honor
of having my works hung in a creditable position on the walls of the
Royal Academy of Arts, of which I was also a student. I married rather
young (at 25), and soon had little ones running round. I started fairly
well in the neighborhood of London, at Clapham, adding teaching. Just
about this time (1847) artists were invited by the Government to
send in specimens of their works for exhibition in Westminster Hall,
for competition for the decoration of the new Houses of Parliament,
then just finished. I was rather too young and inexperienced an
artist for so great and honored an undertaking; however, I thought I
would venture. I got my large picture finished, but from over-study,
excitement, and anxiety, my health gave way. I contracted nervous
typhus fever, and consequently could not finish the other one, which
was required by the Commissioners to enable me to compete. But Sir
Chas. Eastlake, the President, whose letter I still have, said my
painting - under the section of "Scriptural Allegory," subject, "The
King of Kings and Lord of Lords" - though not entitled to compete,
could, if I liked, be hung in the vestibule of the hall; which was an
honor I gladly consented to.

On getting up from my long and dangerous illness, my medical advisers
persuaded me to go to a milder climate for perfect restoration, and
to give up my profession for a time; at least, to do but very little
painting. South Devonshire was recommended. We therefore left our
home at Clapham, and took up our residence about four miles from that
lovely spot, Torquay. To our residence was attached a small farm and
a splendid orchard. In this beautiful climate I soon regained my
strength. I did all sorts of labor on the farm, so that I got a general
insight into all sorts of farming work. This I have found exceedingly
useful since taking to farming in Australia.

I found many kind friends in Devonshire. (I cannot help naming the
Savile family. God bless them for their kind patronage and introduction
in my profession!) We resided in Devonshire about four years. We then
came again to London, but found a difficulty in looking up a connection
again; had to fill up my time in decorating in the various courts of
the Crystal Palace, at Sydenham, just then being erected. I, however,
saw but little prospect of advancing in my profession, or even making a
living, and less prospect for a large and increasing family; we having
by this time seven children, six boys and one baby girl; besides, I
had contracted a great taste for a rural life while in Devonshire. We
determined, therefore, to depart for Australia - the land of gold! The
goldfields being at that time in full swing. A wide field indeed for
enterprise, and anticipated prosperity, with God's blessing; for, I am
happy to say, I had long sought His grace and guidance, and committed
my ways unto Him, and was sure He would guide our steps.

In the first place, I applied to the Commissioners of Emigration
for a situation as schoolmaster for the voyage, on a Government
emigration ship; my wife to act as matron. I presented letters of
recommendation - one from the Bishop of London (Blomfield). I was well
known to him, as Fulham, near London, where he resided, was my native
place. The commissioners said my letters were more than enough, but
desired to know the number of children I had. On hearing the number
they informed me that they regretted to say that, according to their
regulations, this would be a bar to my appointment. Three, I think, was
the number allowed.

This was a great blow to us, as we should have saved our passage money,
and had a salary besides; I think about £150 as schoolmaster, and wife
as matron. Parties told me I could have managed it if I had liked, by
getting some of the passengers to take the other four children; but
this I could not do from principle. To pay our passage in a general
passage ship, therefore, exhausted all our little means.

Farewell to Dear Old England.

We did intend taking our passage in the new ship "Schomberg," just
launched, and owned by "The White Star Company." On enquiring at
the London office, they informed me that I could send our goods on
to Liverpool, but they would not be put on board any ship until our
passage money was paid, and that I should find them in the company's
warehouse in Liverpool; consequently, I sent the goods on. We could
not, however, get ready to go by the "Schomberg." On arriving at
Liverpool, and enquiring for our luggage, I found it had been sent on
in that vessel.

Now, the fate of that fine new ship, I presume, is generally known. The
captain had a bet with the captain of the ship "Kent," a well known
clipper, and declared "if he did not beat the 'Kent,' he would knock
her ('the Schomberg's') bows in." On hearing that the "Kent" had made
the passage before him, the "Schomberg" was wilfully run on shore, just
a little way from Cape Otway. Luckily, it was fair weather, and the
passengers and crew were taken safely off, but with only the luggage
they could carry in their hands; there being only just standing room
on board the rescuing steamboat. The "Schomberg" became a total wreck.
This, I suppose, is one of the most wicked and shameful incidents
that ever happened on the shores of Australia. We took our passage in
the next ship; the good ship "Sultana," from Liverpool, on the 21st
October, 1855.

I remember, as we weighed anchor, being some distance out in the
stream, and out of hearing of any friendly cheer, a serious calm
appeared to pervade the ship; all appeared absorbed with their own
thoughts, when we found the ship was under way, more by the apparent
moving of the receding shore; she being a sailing vessel. I don't know
the feelings of the other passengers; possibly many were like our own,
at departing from the good "Old Land." Hitherto, we had borne up well
in parting from kindred and friends. We said "Good-bye" in London; but
now, in those few calm moments, seated upon the ship's deck, with wife,
six sons, and a baby girl around us, we felt the necessity of faith
in that good Providence on Whom we had cast the future. Our feelings,
however, would have vent in a few hot tears, but these had to be
brushed quickly on one side.

I do not think it necessary in this little sketch to give a long
account of our voyage, or the various incidents that happened. There
was nothing very sensational; our worst experience was our first night
out. The ship was so crowded that there were not berths enough, and,
as we came late on board, ours had to be erected, so that we had to
huddle down between decks, the best we could. The children being
our great care, there was no rest for wife or self. We had fearful
weather in the Channel, and, everything being loose on board, the
din was fearful; the heavy iron cable on deck rolling from side to
side, and the ship's bell tolling at every roll of the ship, and the
carpenters working all night, fitting up berths, and the state of
the passengers - one can guess the confusion! And what added to it
more - just as we reached the most dangerous part of the Channel, off
the coast of Ireland, the tug-hawser parted, but, when pulled on board,
it evidently had been cut adrift with an axe - a most shameful act.
The contract was to take us clear of the Channel. This, then, made
further trouble, as all hands had now to set to and work the ship, and
there was great danger in working her out of the difficult position
she was left in, and anxiously did all wait for the morning. It may be
imagined that the whole of the voyage was no pleasure trip for wife or
self, in a crowded ship, and seven children (under 12 years of age)
to look after. Neither do I think the children liked it; they were
too young, and they did not thrive at all on the rough ship's fare,
particularly the hard ship's biscuits - they could not manage them at
all. After a time, though, we got on better; I had a carpenter's plane
with my goods, and we shaved the biscuits down on that, and made it
into puddings, and so managed to get rid of them in this way. The plane
went the round of the ship after this, particularly among the old
people. We had, however, on arriving at Melbourne, an American cask
full, unconsumed; these we took on shore with us, and they went fine in
soups, &c., with good Australian beef, at 3d. a pound.

Melbourne, at Last.

We were thankful to arrive safely, after a fine passage of 81 days.
We arrived off Cape Otway in the night, and stood "off and on" until
daylight, when the pilot came on board, and the first thing he told us
was the loss of the "Schomberg." Well, of course, we then knew also
that all our goods were at the bottom of the sea. We were thankful,
though, that we did not ship on board that ill-fated vessel; but ought
we to attribute her loss to _fate_? No! It was wilful wickedness. I
regretted our loss the more as my Westminster Hall picture was among
the things lost, as it was the highest class work I ever attempted.

It was with anxious eyes myself and several other heads of families
viewed the shore of the "promised land." It certainly (from the deck
of the vessel) did not look very prepossessing; not even with a good
glass, and more particularly as we went up the bay nearer to Melbourne.
It being the dry season - January - nothing looked green, and the dry
grass looked more like sand, and the trees looked stunted. It was a hot
wind and dust storm on the day we landed, and the place looked very
dreary; what few shops there were, were nearly closed to keep out the
dust. We were brought up the Yarra River to Melbourne from the ship by
steam tugs. Of course, most of us had on our "Old Country" clothes;
it was quite easy to know a "New Chum." I don't remember seeing a
belltopper hat, or a coat, being worn in Melbourne at that time, and
"New Chums" hated to be conspicuous, as they were always "Joed," that
they soon dropped their "Old Country" style, and took to jumpers and
straw, or slouched felt hats. The highest style, however, was the
cabbage-tree hat. I had carefully preserved a nearly new belltopper
hat through the voyage, but somehow had forgotten it in the bustle
of leaving. The last I saw of it, however, it was being kicked about
on the other lighter as a football, which I did not after regret.
There were several parties with large families on board. The head of
one, who had been on shore to look round for a few hours, and had
been a schoolmaster, took charge of the women and children (about 30
children), and conducted them to a place he had seen - "the Wesleyan
Home" - about a mile and a quarter from the landing place, leaving
myself and the other males to look after the luggage, and follow on
with the drays. It was after dark when we arrived at the "home." It
was a pleasant sight to see the dear children sitting round the table
enjoying their tea and nice "soft tack" (bread, &c.), after roughing it
so long on board ship.

"The Wesleyan Emigrants' Home" - I believe it is still in existence;
it was a few years since - was a fine institution, and a great boon
to emigrants. It was a peaceful, christian home, and the only one, I
think, at that time. Hotels and restaurants were the resort of the
lowest characters, and hardly safe for anyone to enter; most people in
them went armed, and fearful scenes took place.

Christian Socialism.

The manager of the "home" had a book, in which he entered the names of
all who lodged there. He also entered your nationality and religion;
also denomination. When he put the last question to me, I answered, "A
Christian Brother." "Why," said he, "yours is the first entry I have
made in my book of such a sect." "Sect!" I replied, "I did not know it
was a sect at all." I hoped not, for I had adopted it in opposition to
sectarianism, of which I had seen so much evil in the "Old Country."
I therefore determined to drop "isms" in the sea, and, on arriving at
this new and good land, hoped to be known simply as a christian, and
"give the right hand of fellowship to all who loved the Lord Jesus
in sincerity and truth," irrespective of denominations. I regret,
however, that the old animosities have reached this new land. The old
bickerings and trifles, non-essentials, about "Apostolic Succession,"
"Dipping or Sprinkling," "Free-will," "Election," "Reprobation,"
&c., &c. - neglecting the more paramount matters, "Belief," and a
"consistent walk in life." But now, at this time (1891), I am glad to
see a growing desire for unity and christian socialism in Victoria,
and more particularly in the country districts; and I think they are
setting an example to the towns, where there is a sad want of unity
among the clergy, and christian socialism among the people. The
congregations even are divided into "sets," or, as the Yankee would
call them, "grades," who "stand off" from each other, and think it
quite condescending, in any way, to recognise the lower "set." The
visitations, also, of the clergy, are in very many cases confined to
the higher "grades." There are, though, a few grand exceptions. Now,
all this should be broken down if the church is ever to take its true
place in the world. We should rather begin at the bottom - with men of
low estate - for, hath not God chosen such? In my long life I have found
the best traits of character among the poor. Verily, many that we think
last shall stand first on _that day_. In my humble opinion, nothing
will tend to overthrow the sceptical and atheistical tendencies of the
age so much as christian fellowship and brotherhood; in fact, it is
the want of this, with the dissensions and bickerings of professors,
which create this scepticism; and this will continue until the world
can say of christians of to-day, as it was said of old, "See how these
christians love each other." "Dearly beloved brethren" will then not
only be upon the lips, but in the heart. I must, however, stop this
homilistical strain, and return to my narrative.

Melbourne Experience.

I stepped on shore in Melbourne, with my dear wife and seven children,
with the grand sum of _ten shillings_ in my pocket; but, with a stout
heart and willing hands, and a firm reliance on God's blessings,
things did not appear so very hard. We stayed two or three days at the
"Wesleyan home." On the second day after landing I got work, digging
potatoes at 14s. per day. We then rented a small two-roomed house in
Collingwood; had our boxes, at first, for furniture; but the grand
wages of fourteen shillings per day soon provided what other little
furniture we required. It appeared a poor home, though, after the style
of the "Old Country;" but it is astonishing how soon one gets over this
feeling, where love and happiness reign. I am not a believer in that
foolish saying, that "when want comes in at the door, love flies out of
the window." No; true hearts cling the tighter.

On looking round Melbourne, I found some few parties I knew in England.
They were very old settlers long before the discovery of gold; they
were in affluent circumstances. They kindly gave me a commission to
paint a few portraits in oils, which led to one or two more. I also
painted a few fancy pictures. The colony, however, was too young to
appreciate the _fine_ arts to any extent. The _rougher_ arts were more
in vogue, and the gold fever was not abated. I also got a touch of it,
my wife having two brothers on the Ovens diggings, who had been in the
colony about a year. I determined, therefore, to join them.

Off to the Diggings.

I started alone with swag, blankets, billy, pannikin, etc., in orthodox
style, for a 200 miles' tramp through the bush. (See frontispiece.)
This, however, was not much of an undertaking for me, as I was a great
pedestrian, could do my six miles an hour easy, and often over 50 miles
per day on my sketching tours in the "Old Country;" being tall (fully
six feet), I had a good stride. At that time the Sydney Road was only
formed a few miles out of Melbourne, and from the Rockey Waterholes to
the foot of the Big Hill (commonly then called Pretty Sally's Hill) was
swamp ground. I found a difficulty in getting over this; I had to tread
the thistles down for miles to prevent bogging, and it was raining
fast. The contractors were just forming the road, and on the first
rise on the other side of the swamp the camp was formed. The men had
knocked off on account of the rain. Just as I was level with the camp,
I heard my name called out in true Irish accent, and out ran one of our
shipmates to greet me. He occupied the next berth to us on board ship,
and was ill a great part of the way. He had been a tradesman in Dublin.
He was lively enough now, as he grasped my hand and cut a real Irish
caper, with "Hurrah! for Australia and 14s. a day, and wood and water!"
He was driving one of the contractor's drays. He wanted me to stay, as
it was far into the afternoon, but no - my alloted mileage was not done,
so I marched on.

My first night's "bushing" was a strange experience. Rolled up in
blankets, at the foot of a gum tree, I had not turned _down_ long (I
cannot say turned _in_) when I was conscious of something being upon my
shoulder, and, cautiously turning round, saw an animal perched quite
innocently there. It was an opossum. I presume he did not recognise
me from a log. He appeared quite content to sit there until I gave
him a cant, and sent him some distance off. This "camping out" is
not at all an unpleasant experience, as many might think, and this
was a splendid moonlight night. At that time it was far more safe to
keep clear of restaurants and shanties, as they were the resort of
the vilest characters. Neither was it safe to camp out alone with a
fire at night, as this was an attraction, and you were pretty sure to
get objectionable company. The plan, therefore, generally adopted,
was to boil the billy for tea, then, after tea, leave, and go on a
little distance in the dark, and turn off the road or track into the
silent bush, and roll up in your blankets; thus you avoided unpleasant
company. I got through in about seven days. I passed through the famous
"Woolshed Diggings," where the rich claims were, and where the men
had to wash the gold off their boots when they left work. There was a
"strike" on just then. The claim-holders wanted to reduce the wages to
£1 per day. I was interviewed, and offered work at that price, but,
of course, I refused, as I was on my way to join my wife's brothers.
I then went on through Beechworth - Spring Creek diggings. The scenes
on the diggings were strange and novel to me. Beechworth was the chief
centre of the mining district, and the other diggings around were named
by the distance from Beechworth, thus - "The One Mile," "The Three
Mile," and "The Nine Mile." This last was my destination. It was also
called "Snake Valley," from the winding course of the creek. It was
late in the evening when I arrived, quite dark and pouring rain, and
there had been a long rain before, so that the roads in the township
were wretched. At the crossings of the creek it was impassable, and
was only indicated by side logs, on which I had to crawl. The worst
of it was, I had to wander up and down the creek to find my brothers'
hut. The storekeepers knew them by sight, but could not say where they
lived. I was directed to a large restaurant, about a mile down the
creek. There were about 40 diggers, just at tea. I walked up and down
between the tables, and I think they were the finest, strongest, and
roughest set of men I ever saw. I did not see my brothers, though. Came
back, enquired at the police camp, also to no purpose. Over the creek
again, when at last I found a butcher who pointed out on the bank, on
the other side of the creek, the light shining through the calico top
of their hut. He lent me a piece of candle to cross the creek with, and
I managed to work my way among the holes and sludge, etc., to the other
side. And glad I was to get there, and I was as "wet as a rat," and
pretty well tired out. I soon got "a shift" however, and such a fire as
they had I never saw before; enough to roast a bullock; at which also I
got a good roasting; and after a good supper of beef, damper and tea,
soon felt all right. This for my first tramp in Australia.

Ten Years on the Diggings.

I joined my brothers in their claim, and we had two other mates, making
a party of five. We were driving out wash-dirt, and sluicing it in long
boxes with the creek water. We did fairly well - made from £6 to £7
per week for each man. This year (1856) was an exceedingly wet one,
particularly in the winter and early spring. This drove the miners, out
of shallow sinking, and the great "Woolshed Diggings" (Read's Creek)
were flooded out, and thousands rushed the shallow sluicing ground of
the Nine-mile Creek; in consequence, there was great trouble about
water, and "water rights," which caused endless litigation. The creek
could not supply half the water required; therefore, all the hills
for miles round were tunneled for water, and an astonishing number
of springs were opened. These were recognised by the Mining Warden
as independent - independent of the creek - and a permit given for the
sole use of the same. Many of these cost hundreds of pounds to cut. It
was also called "created water;" that is, water before locked up in
the hills, and not feeding the creek. The creek water was available
to all, but this would not command one-thousandth part of the mining
ground. Our party, therefore, looked about for indications of springs,
by sinking trial shafts, and then driving tunnels. We were fortunate
in tapping water. This we conducted to dams, and used for sluicing
purposes in shallow ground, from 3ft. to 10ft. deep, washing away the

1 3 4

Online LibraryF. Edward (Frederick Edward) HulmeA Settler's 35 Years' Experience in Victoria, Australia → online text (page 1 of 4)