J. Ewing (James Ewing) Ritchie.

An Australian ramble, or, a summer in Australia online

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Online LibraryJ. Ewing (James Ewing) RitchieAn Australian ramble, or, a summer in Australia → online text (page 1 of 13)
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Gibraltar, Naples, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, Colombo, Albany,
Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney.

Steamers among the largest and fastest afloat, cuisine of the first order,
electric lighting, hot and cold baths, good ventilation, and every comfort.

FARES FROM £17 17s. to £70.

Managers : —
F. GREEN & Co., 13, Fenchurch Avenue,
ANDERSON, ANDERSON & Co., 5, F»nchurci

For Passage apply to the latter Finn.






















DU 102.




The Orizaba— Reasons for Travelling— The Bishop— Soda
and Whisky— The Spanish Coast— Heroic Memories
—Gibraltar— Wickedness of Naples— Port Said - 1—28



Coaling in Port Said— The Suez Canal— England the Main
Support — Donkey-drivers — The Electric Light —
Ismailia— Suez— Aden— The Red Sea - - 29—49



Prosperity of Colombo— Native Extortioners— Buddhist
Temple— Life in the Streets— On the Indian Ocean-
Stormy Seas guard Australia— English Coolness —
Western Australia - 50—65


viii Contents.




Melbourne Gleanings — Dr. Bevan — Night at a Bungalow

— Cole's Book-shop — A Day at Sorrento — White
Cruelty to the Aborigines— Coffee Palaces — Dr. Strong
— The Presbyterian Church in Collins Street — The
Late Peter Lalor— Ballarat— Romance of Gold Mining

— Sydney and Melbourne compared — Australian
Rogues — Suburban Melbourne — Victorian M.P.'s —
Victorian Politics - - - 66—108



Sunny Sydney— Public Buildings — Educational Establish-
ments — Sanitary State — Its Climate — Bathurst — The
Blue Mountains — Romish Aggression — Botany Bay —
Old Days — A Wonderful Change — New South Wales
Scenery - - - 109—138



Collision in Sydney Harbour — Brisbane — Queensland —

The Banana Boys — Sir Samuel Griffith - - 139 — 146



Holy Adelaide — Its Situation— Its Public Buildings— Its
Mining-market — Dr. Arnold — Australian Plagues —
Fleas and Mosquitoes and Serpents — Sunday
Observance — The Macleay Mission — Number of
Churches - - - 147—165

Contents. ix




Mr. Dooleete's Station — Sheep-shearing — Patriarchal Life

Improved — Snakes — Drought - 166—172



His Persecution — His Usefulness — His Intellectual

Ability 173—183



What the Larrikin is — A Social, Moral, and Political

Danger — A Natural Foe of the Chinaman - 184 — 191



Fruit Supply — Tintarra Wine — Mr. Thomas Hardy —

The Temperance Question ... 192—205



Mr. James Tyson - - - 206—211


Increase of the Colonies— Further Emigration required —
New South Wales and Free Trade — The Australian
Type - - - 212 — 223




The Sea — Colombo— Arabi — Ceylon Tea — Stoppage in
the Canal — Tilbury Docks — The Future of Australia
— Australia as a Field for Emigration - - 224 — 235




The Orizaba — Reasons for Travelling — The Bishop — Soda and
Whisky — The Spanish Coast — Heroic Memories —
Gibraltar— Wickedness of Naples— Port Said.

I SEND this from the Orizaba, one of the finest, if not
the finest, of the fine steamers of the Orient Line that
keep open the communication between this country
and Australia ; and this is how it came to pass. One
day last summer I was standing on the deck of a
steamer, when a gentleman remarked to me, ' I come
from a country where they have had no rain for nine
months.' 'Where is that?' said I. ' Australia,' was
the reply ; and immediately I made up my mind to
go there. As is the custom of most of us, I talked


2 An Australian Ramble.

the matter over with my friends, some of them in the
first rank of the medical world. ' You can't do better,'
was the unanimous reply ; ' you will come back ten
years younger,' said they all. Well, surely it is worth
taking a little trouble and incurring a little expense, for
a man — not to put too fine a point on it — presenting
daily a more venerable appearance, to put back the
clock, as it were, and to regain somewhat of his manly
prime. ' What can I do for you ?' said the family
doctor to the mother of the Rothschilds, when he
was summoned to her side; 'I cannot make you grow
young again.' ' No,' was her ladyship's reply ; ' I
know you can't, doctor ; but I wish to continue to grow
old/ And here, just by taking a trip to Australia,
and escaping the hardships of an English winter and
spring, actually I shall achieve what the mother of the
Rothschilds did not dare to hope for. Surely the
attempt is worth an effort, especially when, owing to
the kindness of a certain firm of publishers who shall
be nameless, the question of expense was satis-
factorily solved.

In these days of school-boards and universal travel
a good deal has yet to be learned of our colonies.
When I was younger, people in this country were
in the most ludicrous state of ignorance as respects
the size, area, wealth and value of what it is now

Off to Australia. 3

the fashion to term the fifth quarter of the globe.
At that time, say about 1830, there were not much
more than 70,000 in all the land. Then Sydney
Smith was writing of it as a region ' in which Nature
has been so capricious, that she makes cherries with
the stones on the outside, and a monstrous animal, as
tall as a grenadier, with the head of a rabbit and a
tail as big as a bedpost, hopping along at the rate of
five hops to a mile.' Listen to Charles Lamb, as he
writes, in his 'Essays of Elia,' to a friend in New
South Wales : ' What must you be willing by this
time to give for the sight of an honest man ? You
must have forgotten how we look. Do you grow
your own hemp? What is your staple trade — ex-
clusive of the national profession, I mean ? Your lock-
smiths, I take it, are some of your great capitalists.'
It was at that time the popular belief was embodied
by Tom Hood as follows in ' A Letter from a Settler
for Life in Van Diemen's Land,' wherein Susan Gale
writes to her old friend and fellow-servant in Mount
Street, Grosvenor Square : ' As soon as ever the Botes
rode to Land I don't aggrivate the Truth to say their
was half duzzen Bows apiece to Hand us out to shoar ;
and sum go so far as to say they was offered to
through Speeking Trumpits afore they left the Ship-
side.' There is still a legend of a Missionary Society

1 — 2

4 An Australian Ramble.

at home sending out a representative to Australia,
and so carefully planning his route that he was to
preach at Adelaide on the Sunday morning, and at
Melbourne, some hundreds of miles away, in the after-
noon, and that was before they had a railway. There
are many who still think that a colony is a place
where men are fortunate, as a late colonial governor
remarked, if they enjoy three meals a day and a place
to sleep in, where the inhabitants sit down to dinner
in their shirt-sleeves, and think it a hardship if they
take off their boots when they go to bed. But the
greatest fallacy of all is the supposition that in a
colony anyone can get a living, no matter how in-
competent he may have proved himself at home. We
laugh, but are we much wiser now? In Fleet Street
last week, as I bade good-bye to a friend, he said to
me, 'I have a boy who will be coming home just as
you land. I sent him out with the best introductions.
He has been six months in Melbourne and Sydney
and elsewhere, and can find nothing to do, and now I
have to get him home again.' It will be something
if, in the course of my letters, and as the result of my
inquiries, I shall be able to save fathers and mothers
at home the trouble and expense and pain of such
fruitless ventures, and it will be better still if I can
help men and women at home to understand and

Off to Australia, 5

realize what is being done by our fellow-subjects on
the Australian Continent to plant that great land
with Anglo - Saxon civilization and freedom and
religion — if I can duly describe its cities and their
people, their wealth and intelligence, their general
activity and enterprise, their inner and public life.
According to all accounts a good deal is yet to be
told. Even Mr. Froude has omitted much that would
interest the reader, and Dr. Dale has left something
for the individual who may chance to follow in his
steps. The fact is, the subject is too big for any one

I have said I send this from the Orizaba, one of the
finest, if not the finest steamer of the Orient Line.
Then there are the P. and O., who do not carry third-
class passengers, and French and German steamers
in abundance, to say nothing of other firms, who
are always sending out steamers and sailing-vessels
as well. As regards the latter, the firm of Devitt
and Moore, of Fenchurch Street, deserve special
mention, as they are the oldest people in the trade.
Tourists who have the time to spare say there is
nothing like a sailing-vessel for an Australian trip,
and of the ships that sail in that direction, from all I
hear, there are none that can equal the Sobraon
(Captain Elmslie), and the Macquarie, in the Sydney

6 An Australian Ramble,

trade (Captain Goddard, late of the Paramatta). All
the fleet of this firm, however, bear a high character,
and passengers, whether as regards accommodation
or the commissariat, have no occasion to complain.
The special objects of the managers of the Orient
Company are to increase the facilities for the in-
terchange of communication, and to promote the
speed, safety, and, it may be added, pleasure of the
passage. They are under contract with the Govern-
ments of New South Wales and South Australia to
convey the mails fortnightly between England and
Australia by way of Suez, and also run occasional
steamers by the Cape of Good Hope. Since the
Line was opened in 1877, upwards of 150,000 pas-
sengers have been carried to and fro, with all but
total immunity from accident to life or limb. It
cannot be doubted that the facilities thus afforded
have added alike to the welfare and happiness of
both the old world and the new. At home we are
supplied with Australian produce, and Australia is a
good customer in the English market. The service
is performed by some eleven first-class steamers,
varying from 3,000 to 7,000 tons. An old stager
gave me the hint to choose one of the smaller vessels,
on the plea that I should have better attendance on
board. However, I prefer to follow the crowd, and

Off to Australia. 7

have secured my berth on board the Orizaba, named
after one of the highest mountains, somewhere, they
tell me, in South America. Already she has carried
the largest number of passengers ever taken by one
vessel to Australia. She was built and engined by
the Barrow Shipbuilding Company, the builders of
the far-famed City of Rome. In the saloon there are
chairs for 130 first-class passengers. The ship's com-
pany numbers 200. There are second-class and
third-class passengers on board. Apparently there
is little danger of starvation, as the provision-
chambers of the ship are sufficient to supply fresh
provisions for 1,000 persons from England to Aus-
tralia. The promenade deck is grand ; and as to the
saloons and drawing-rooms, they are fitted up in
palatial style, and the electric light by night makes
the interior look like fairyland. I ought to be happy
with all the provision made for comfort on board.
But who can say what may happen when I am in the
Bay of Biscay, or even after I have set foot on terra
firma ? Strange things are constantly occurring. The
other day I heard of a good man in Essex, in one of
its small towns, who, as duty required, went to his
favourite chapel on the Sunday morning ; on his
return to his Sunday dinner he was rather astonished
to find that in his temporary absence his wife and

8 An Australian Ramble.

daughters had packed up and started to join the
Mormons on the other side of the Atlantic. It is to
be hoped that no such calamity may happen to me.
As to myself, there is little danger of my doing any-
thing rash, for ' he that hath wife and children hath
given hostages to fortune/ as the great Lord Bacon
told the world long ago.

It was not till Sunday morning that we left Ply-
mouth, instead of Saturday. The fact was we had a
tremendous addition in the shape of passengers and
l u gg a g e to take on board, as all the people from
the North come via Plymouth, besides the London
passengers who are glad to escape the dangers of the
Channel. On Sunday morning we had a short service
in what is termed the drawing-room. The bishop, of
course, was a colonial (you never go to sea without
meeting one), and wore his official robes, though his
reading-desk was but a small table, which was covered
by the British flag. The bishop followed up the
prayers with a five minutes' address, in which he said
that a ship was like the world. In the world we
were exposed to temptation, and so it was on board a
ship. We were exposed to temptations from our
fellow-passengers — an unkind reflection on some of
us, I thought Asking the purser what, from his wide
experience of life on a ship, the peculiar form of

Off to Australia. g

temptation to which we were exposed was, his reply-
was 'whisky and soda' — a form of temptation of
which, apparently, the bishop had nothing to say.
The bishop does not interest me greatly, though he
has kindly volunteered to read prayers every morning.
The air of the bishop's lady is slightly subdued, as if
the weight of her dignity were too much ; she reads
Church papers, whilst he evidently enjoys his novel.

But let me leave the bishop alone, and turn to
things of a more worldly character. Poor Edgar Poe
writes : ■ There are four conditions of happiness in
life, and one of them is life in the open air.' In this
respect we are especially fortunate. We are no
sooner out of the Devonshire mists than we are in
the Bay of Biscay, calm as an infant on its mother's
breast. We live in the open air. Passed Cape Finis-
terre after dark on Monday night, and steamed plea-
santly down the Spanish coast, having an especially
fine view of Cintra and the mouth of the Tagus. All
along the coast were dotted, amongst the foliage,
white villages, and towns, and villas, all basking in
the summer sun. Heroic memories come to us as we
pass over the seas where the Captain was lost, in con-
sequence, it is to be feared, of defective seamanship,
with her crew of picked men and some of our finest
lads of noble birth. All along that coast, when Old

io An Australian Ramble.

England was fighting for pre-eminence and power,
and on those far-away hills has the noise of battle
rolled, and not in vain, for the struggle that ended
with Waterloo placed England in the first rank among
the nations of the earth. From Tilbury's ancient fort
to Gibraltar we are reminded how England, with her
wooden walls and hardy sons, proudly swept the seas,
and was a terror to the despots and a deliverer of the
slave. Plymouth especially calls up a host of glorious
names, as we think of Drake, and Hawkins, and Fro-
bisher, and the Pilgrim Fathers. It was from Ply-
mouth that Cook and Vancouver sailed, to give us
New South Wales in the East and British Columbia
in the West. As soon as we cross the Bay of Biscay
we think of Corunna and Sir John Moore. Afar off
are the heights of Torres Vedras, celebrated in the
Peninsular War. Cape St. Vincent, a bluff 260 feet
high, having a convent, on which is the lighthouse,
reminds us of the brilliant victory won by Sir John
Jervis, with Nelson and Collingwood fighting under
his flag ; and in a little while we are at Trafalgar, to
which sailors still look as the greatest sea fight in the
history of our land, and as the one which saved our
national existence. And we step on shore at Gib-
raltar, which rises out of the water, with its endless
rows of barracks and its few scattered villas, and

Off to Australia. 1 1

make our way to the lightning-struck tower known
as O'Hara's Folly — the O'Hara who was the friend of
Johnson, and who ought to have married either Fanny
Burney or Hannah More.

But it is idle to call up what to most of modern
readers must be bare names, so soon, in this age of
reading and writing and universal progress, do we
forget the past. History in these mechanical days is
getting as much out of fashion as theology. Let me
write of living people ; of men and women, poor
creatures as they are at the best, to be brushed away
as gossamer. There are just upon a thousand of us
in the shape of passengers on board the Orizaba, and
almost all are happy. The dark figure in the shape
of Black Care we have left behind, as we have slipped
out of English fog and cold into the region of cloud-
less nights and starry skies. We smoke, or read, or
talk, or walk the deck, in a climate brighter even than
that of an English summer in the leafy month of
June. The ladies crochet or knit all day long in their
lounging-chairs on deck, while the little ones play as
if they had no fear or thought of the sea and its ever-
lasting hunger for precious human life, and its cruel
storms. What we should do with this unmanageable
mass if anything were to go wrong no tongue can
tell. All we can do is to hope for the best, for no

12 An Australian Ramble,

Parliament will ever go so far as to order that no ship
should leave an English port without its sufficient
complement of boats ; and if they did, no shipowner
could carry on a profitable passenger trade. It ought
not to be so, I know. What can one do ? We are
bound to travel, and we take the risk, whatever that
may be, and trust to our sailors and captains, who are
not half paid for the work they have to do. As it is,
there is no life so pleasant as that of life on board
one of our great passenger steamships. The Orizaba
never rolls — well, only a little. The saloons are
beautiful, the living is first-rate, the waiting is
excellent, and the sleeping-berths are all that can
be desired. By night, with the electric light all
along the deck, the scene reminds you of the Arabian
Nights, and mirth and music are everywhere ; I pity
the poor people who have to spend their winter at
home. It is now a real pleasure to live. The only
thing one misses are the newspapers and the old
familiar faces. Well, I am not sorry to be out of the
way of the papers ; they only make me sick and sore
as one reads the daily chronicle of poverty with which
no one can grapple, and of crime which it seems im-
possible to repress, and the twaddle which envelops
all. And as to the familiar faces, the further one
travels the more one realizes all their loveliness and

Off to Australia. 13

charm. For once the poet is right ; absence does
make the heart grow fonder.

1 How do you like our little town ?' said an English-
man to me as I was about to leave Gibraltar for our
good ship, the Orizaba. * Well/ said I, ' for a place
to spend an hour in I like it amazingly.' ' Oh, that's
about it !' was his reply. It seems to me, however, as
I plough my way on the blue waters of the Mediter-
ranean — not bluer, however, at present than what we
have on the English coast — that a couple of days
may be agreeably spent at the far-famed rock, of
which, however, you get a very fair idea without
stepping on shore. As your eye rests on the harbour
you see it full of steamers, which seem to come and
go at all hours. As I write a French steamer slowly
glides by with the yellow flag denoting sickness of
some kind on board. Before us is the town, on our
left the old Moorish fort — the oldest building in the
place — and on our right the hospital, with houses
reaching almost to the end. All the space between
is filled with yellow or white houses, save where a
thick grove indicates the existence of the Alameda,
a public garden, where the band plays, where the
townsfolk promenade, and which, with its cactuses
and geraniums in full bloom, looks bright and gay
even in December. The company have so arranged

14 An Australian Ramble,

that you can step into a boat and get rowed to shore
and back for a shilling each way — an example which
I recommend to the corporation of Gravesend.

I land, and declining a carriage drawn by mules
amid the loud vociferations of the Spanish owners,
turn to my left, and find myself in the main street,
the only ugly building in which is the red-brick
mansion in which the British Governor resides. All
the houses are shops — full of the little trifles of
Morocco manufacture, such as pipes and jewellery
and gay mats and carpets, with which we are familiar
at home. There are 20,000 Spanish residents, and
the place swarms with them. There are some 5,000
British soldiers here, and they are en evidence, as was
to be expected. They have five years to stop here
at a time, and they evidently think that — as indeed
it is — too long. One of the first things to interest
you is the little graveyard on your right, in which the
heroes of the siege were buried — shaded by trees,
especially by a fig-tree of gigantic size and very old,
as you can tell by the smallness of the leaf. A build-
ing which attracts your eye just before you enter the
busy street is that of the Soldiers and Sailors'
Institute, which is erected on a freehold site, and
comprises on the ground floor a cofTee and refresh-
ment-bar, dining-room, bath-room, and lavatories ; on

Off to Australia. 1 5

the first floor a reading, writing, and recreation -room,
with a small library ; and above is a large hall for
mission services, public meetings, Bible classes, and
mothers' meetings. The soldiers and sailors, I fear,
do not appreciate the advantages as they might,
though Mr. Holmes, the superintendent, tells me at
times the hall is more than filled. It is in the streets
• — or rather in the people that crowd them — the chief
charm of Gibraltar lies.

The life of the place is at fresco ; everyone seems
out of doors. Carts drawn by mules or donkeys,
with country produce, bright little carriages to hold
two or four persons as the case may be, the English
officer on horseback — all these block up the middle
of the street ; whilst on the narrow sideway you wind
your difficult way amongst monks and nuns and dark-
eyed Spanish women with the national head-dress,
and Moors who shuffle along bare-legged, with slippers
to their feet, their whole person enveloped in their
ample, hooded brown or blue cloak, while some wear
the picturesque turban, and others simply rejoice in
the well-known fez. As I contemplate the motley
group a black-eyed and black-bearded, aristocratic-
looking Moor makes a dart at me with a couple of
fowls ; but, as I decline to purchase, he manages to

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Online LibraryJ. Ewing (James Ewing) RitchieAn Australian ramble, or, a summer in Australia → online text (page 1 of 13)