United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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adopted by the squatters is to rent their land for wheat growing on shares,
the squatter furnishing the land and the seed and some neighboring farmer
doing all the work. In this way, Mr. Howe raised on his land last year
some 7,000 bushels of wheat.

The acreage of land under cultivation for wheat in the colony is 1,408,-
777 acres, yielding on an average for the last eight years 8 bushels to the
acre. During the past year, however, the yield was very small, it being
4.02 bushels to the acre. On the 1st of January, 1896, there was on hand in
the colony of old wheat, 2,009,368 bushels; add to this the harvest for the
year 1895-96 (5,656,415 bushels) and it will show that there was on hand
7*665,783 bushels. The consumption of the colony is at the rate of 6 bushels
to the acre, and as the crop this past year only yielded 4.02 bushels to the
acre, it will readily be seen that they are short of their requirements nearly
2 bushels to the acre. To meet this deficiency, the first for a great many
years, large imports were made from the United States. These shipments
were made from San Francisco, with the exception of one or two vessels from
New York.

Mr. Howe does not go in for cattle raising to any extent; in fact, you
do not find ranches here that will compare with our great cattle ranches of
Texas, where 50,000 head of cattle scatter and spread over the land. This
station has perhaps 200 head of cattle and possibly 100 horses; but these
are all for use and are sturdy, hardy animals, well trained to their work.
A good horse can be bought here for ^25, while a sound carriage horse
brings only $$0.

Mr. Howe divides his time equally between Melbourne and the station.
He has a man in charge of the station at an annual salary of ;; 1,500 as man-

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ager, whose duty it is to oversee everything. He is expected to be every-
where, perhaps to be roused from sleep to fight a fire 5 miles off, or possibly
to go 10 miles in the other direction to rescue wounded sheep. There is one
individual who always finds a welcome at a station in Australia and who
never fails to apply for it, and that is the "sundowner,'* as the "tramp*' is
called here; whether it is that the squatter fears him, dreading that he may
set fire to his bush or not, I can not say; but certain it is he is never turned
away from the hut and is always given food and lodging, and, if he will take
it, work.

The life of a squatter is certainly one of freedom and independence. He
has every need at his command raised on his station, with the exception of
groceries (of which he lays in a large stock twice a year), and he is thoroughly
independent of the outside world. He is free from care and worry, and
rarely keeps any money at the station except at "paying-off time," when he
brings the requisite amount from the bank in town. He is surrounded by
every comfort, and surely a man can take his ease and thoroughly enjoy life
while his flocks and herds are constantly adding to his income.


Melbourne, June 20, i8g6. Consul- General,


In my last report on the wool question* and in a subsequent report on
*' Squatters and station life in Australia," I went into the question of sheep
raising and wool producing, giving the number of sheep in the colony and
various other statistical facts connected with the production of wool.

It will, therefore, be unnecessary for me to repeat any of those facts, but
I deem it advisable to send another report on the wool question, and deal
with the outlook for the immediate future. Wool is, perhaps, the most im-
portant of any of the Australian products, and a subject which can not fail
to be of interest to the people of the United States. It is niy intention,
therefore, in this report, to confine myself to the outlook for the season upon
which we are entering, and give the general views on the subject both from
a colonial and English point of view, including the prospects of the clip, and
any other points that may be material to the subject.

As I predicted in my last report on this subject, the clip for the season
upon which we are just entering will show a decrease from that of last year.
This is owing both to the effects of the recent drought in many parts of the
Australian continent, the poor lambing of last year, a rather poor season
since, and a lambing this year even worse than last year. The clip for the
season of 1895-96 was 1,842,303 bales and for the season of 1894-95, 1,961,-
229 bales. These figures include the total clip of Australia and New Zealand.
Of this quantity, Victoria produced in the season 1895-96, 462,635 bales.

*Fiim«d in Comsuulr Rkports No. 289 (Ju^y* >^^)« P* b^?*

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and in that of 1894-95, 486,359 bales. It is roughly estimated by the lead-
ing wool houses here that the present season's clip will fall short of last year
by about 100,000 bales.

For the season of 1895-96, which closed June 30, the clip of the Australian
colonies and New Zealand showed a deficiency of 1 20,000 bales (averaging
340 pounds each), while for the ten previous seasons there was an increase
of 85,000 bales, so that the importance of the decrease is much greater.

Regarding the quantity of wool to be offered for sale in the colonies,
this depends a good deal upon prices. If prices are good, an increased
number of growers are induced to realize in the colonies, while poor prices
here influence many to try the London market, hoping to gain an improve-
ment. However, taking all the circumstances into consideration, it is likely
that the colonial sales will be quite as important as last year. Further, I am
assured by growers and others likely to be well posted on the subject that
the number of buyers in the colonial markets at the approaching sales will
be augmented, and this will necessarily tend to make the market firmer.

As to the quality. This will greatly vary, according to the season expe-
rienced in various districts or localities; but the probabilities point to a
lighter, drier, and rather less burry clip than usual. It will cover a very
wide selection. The past season has been of such a "patchy** character
that many brands will show marked improvements, while others are bound
to be poor and starved. There is so little of new wool yet to hand that
examination and comparison are so far impossible. In the western district
of Victoria, where most of the wool for the United States is grown, the
season has been a favorable one and the clip is expected to be quite up to
last year both in quantity and quality.

The present range of prices may be said to equal those at the close of
the last selling season in February. For the bulk of wools, prices at the
present writing are perhaps a trifle above those of last season; but, on
the other hand, values of wools suitable for the United States are, for most
descriptions, rather under the rates paid last season. No important change,
perhaps, may be expected between now and the opening of the Melbourne
selling season on the 7th of October next.

To all intents and purposes, there is no old wool now on hand, the last
of the stock having been closed out by small colonial buyers during the
last three months. The dates of the opening sales are as follows: Sydney,
September 15; Adelaide, September 24; Melbourne, October 7. These
dates are subject to alteration should there be any serious delays in the
arrival of the new clip. At the sales here on October 7, it is anticipated
there will be a larger gathering of buyers than for some seasons past. Many
continental and English representatives are expected to put in an appearance,
and I also learn that there will be quite a gathering of American buyers,
chiefly from the cities of New York and Boston ; the presence of these
buyers can not but impress the market, and it may turn out that better prices
will be realized.

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The June-July series of London colonial wool sales closed firmly on
July 21, without exhibiting any material change in the condition as shown
by the latest cable advices. Generally speaking, the market is below the
closing rates of the previous series, except in the case of the fine, medium,
and coarse crossbreds, which are reported firm at the full rates of the previous
sales. Of the 302,000 bales available, 230,000 bales have been sold, 105,000
bales have been taken by the Continent, and 2,000 bales for America. Some
72,000 bales have been held over. At the corresponding series in 1895, ^^
less than 358,000 bales were sold. This was the series in which the American
revival showed itself. The hand-to-mouth nature of present transactions is
thus well exemplified. The trade bought 1 29,000 bales less in July, 1 896, than
they did in July, 1895. The reported short stocks in second hands can be
thoroughly credited. Although 72,000 bales will go to swell the offerings
of September, the position remains sound and a hopeful view can be in-
dulged in. The final returns of the Australian wool shipment for the year
' ended June 30 have now been received and the results are somewhat under
expectations. I give below tables compiled by Messrs. Dalgety & Co., and
Messrs. Goldsbrough, Mort & Co. These two firms, who may be said to
control the wool trade of the Australian colonies, differ a little in the short-
ages given. The former company gives the total shipments of the year as
1,842,303 bales, as against 1,961,229 bales for the same period ending 1895,
and the latter gives 1,837,232 and 1,951,890 bales, respectively. Truth
may possibly lie between these figures ; but there are authorities of note
who regard the higher of the two results as still below the actual shortage.
Accepting these figures, and taking the average, we get a total shortage of
116,793 bales.

For a considerable time past, it was thought that the exports would show
a falling off of fully 130,000 bales, but a factor which tended to swell the
shipments was not allowed the prominence it deserved. I refer to the in-
creased quantity of fellmongered wool ! produced, owing to boiling-down
operations, etc. A deficiency of 116,000 bales, however, can not be re-
garded otherwise than as a very serious one, and it offers a solid basis for
the rumors of a much larger shortage, which were previously in circulation.
Below I give a table of Australasian wool exports from July i, 1895, to
June 30, 1896 (Messrs. Goldsbrough, Mort & Co , Limited) :
















New South Wales

Souih. Australia.




West Australia



5, "I

New Zealand



I, 95', 890



Net decrease.. •

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The position of the wool market is becoming exceedingly interesting.
The June-July series has closed firmly and the important event now looming
in the future is the September sales, which commence on the 2 2d of that
month. Some time has yet to elapse before these auctions grow into reality,
and, in the meantime, it may not be amiss to sum up the salient p>oints of
the position. Foremost is the strong present and prospective statistical posi-
tion, so far, at least, as the Australian clip is concerned. The heavy shortage
of the past year is sure to be succeeded by another large deficit. Different
authorities fix it at various estimates, varying from 80,000 to 100,000 bales.
The heavy loss of breeding ewes and young stock can not be made up with-
out the aid of that dominating element — time; and the unfriendly season,
which is even yet being experienced in some of the northern areas of New
South Wales and parts of Queensland, has permitted only an indifferent Re-
covery to be made. The returns of stock from a large number of stations
show a material reduction on those of last year. An important factor, which
went toward swelling the supply of the staple last year will this season be
quite wanting, viz, the large number of skins which resulted from boiling
down, making the output of scoured wool much larger than usual. These
extended boiling-down operations have been discontinued, owing to lack of
stock, which is now required to put on flockless pastures. To arrive at the
correct deficiency in the staple, the falling off in this branch of the industry
would have to be included in the estimate. The weak spot in the demand
is found in the United States, and until some working arrangement is arrived
at with respect to the currency and the continuance or otherwise of ** free
wool,** no revival can be expected from that part of the world. Possibly
speculation may come to the rescue, and should this ensue, improved rates
may once more be secured.

The past week has witnessed the arrival in Melbourne of some of the
earliest installments of the new clip, intended for sale in this market. As I
said before, no further auction sales are likely to be held in Melbourne
before the opening sale of the season on Wednesday, October 7. By the
French steamer arriving early in September, a number of continental buyers
are expected, and on their arrival will be determined the dates of the im-
portant sales in Sydney. Useful rains have fallen in New South Wales dur-
ing the past week. Where rain was most needed, half an inch to an inch
fell. The season in that district, however, is still a bad one, though the
rainfall will give temporary relief. Of course, there are many parts of New
South Wales and Queensland where the season is a magnificent one, but in
the southwest portion of New South Wales, and from Wentworth to Broken
Hill, the drought is, generally speaking, very severe. In view of the great
interest taken by sheep farmers in the results of the late sheep show held
at Denilquin, in New South Wales, the particulars of the weights cut by the
Woorong ewes show as follows: Seven ewes cut 17 pounds, 16 j4 pounds, 16
pounds, 15^ pounds, 15^ pounds, 15 pounds, and 14 pounds, or an average
of 15^ pounds. For purely grass-fed, two-teeth sheep, unhoused or in any
way pampered, these are splendid weights.

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As bearing upon the question of supplies likely to be available, the Lon-
don cables advise that the fresh arrivals to date already amount to 236,000
bales. Of these, however, 40,000 bales have been forwarded directly to the
manufacturing districts. The list of the new arrivals will be kept open till
the opening date of sales, September 22. In addition to the net quantities
of new arrivals, whatever they may be, there are 72,000 bales held over from
the July sales, so that already there are 268,000 bales available for jsale ia
London, with five weeks* arrivals to be added to them. It must be borne
in mind, however, that the arrivals during the next five weeks are likely to
be smaller than at any other time throughout the year. For the September
sales of last year, which opened two days later, the new arrivals were only
261,000 bales, and the quantity brought forward from July, 33,000 bales,
or 294,000 bales in all. Of these, 67,000 bales were forwarded to the manu-
facturing districts, leaving 227,000 bales available for sale. It will be seen,
therefore, that now, five weeks before the opening day of the sale, there are
available in London 41,000 bales more than last year. If, however, we
make a comparison with the September sales of 1894, the statistical position
this year does not appear so unfavorable. The following table shows the
supplies for the September sales for the two previous years and for this year,
the figures for this year being only up to August 18 and having five weeks
yet to run.

September-October wool sales.


Held over from July..
Fresh arrivals

Total gross supplies ,

Less forwarded direct to manufacturing districts

Grand total..

(Sept. aa).






(Sept. 84).




(Sept. x8).




• 1896 figures to August x8.

Melbourne, August 2^, i8q6. Consul- General.


Of the different industries of this colony, it seems to me there is none
from which a trade bids fair to develop with the United States that is more
prominent than the wine-growing industry, and a description of it may be
of interest.

The drawback hitherto to a trade between the two countries in this line
has been, on the one hand, the high duties imposed in the United States on
wines, especially on those containing a certain amount of spirits, and, on the
other hand, the fact of this being a new country and the wines not being
introduced into the American markets.

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Now, however, that the industry has become so fully developed here and
the wine growing so extensive, there is no reason why a good trade between
the two countries should not ensue. A wine is grown here, which may be
classed under the heading of claret, which is a good ordinary table wine, com-
p>aring favorably with the wine which is served by the hotels and restaurants
in Paris, which sells at from 15 to 25 cents per gallon. This wine would
perhaps not find a sale in the United States, as the wine made in California
would meet the demand at very nearly the same price and the duty would be
avoided ; but I am sure that there is a future for the better class of Australian
wines with the consumers of America — wines that will compare creditably
with the bordeaux and burgundy wines of France (which sell in New York
for $3 and $4. per bottle) and that are sold here at 35 and 50 cents per bot-
tle. Even after paying the duty, these wines would compete with the wines
now imported from France, and could be laid down in New York at about
half the price. The fact is, the Australian wines have never been properly in-
troduced in America, the growers here considering the duty a deterrent and
hesitating to send their wines. An American firm doing business here some
two years ago did send on some 30 cases as a sample lot, and these were
eagerly taken up by private parties, who all expressed themselves as being
much pleased with the quality and flavor of the wines and urged that some
New York house should take the agency and supply them with these Austra-
lian wines, but, so far, no further steps have been taken.

Certain it is, however, that some of the wines grown here — the clarets,
hocks, chablis, and burgundy-^have a bouquet and flavor approaching the
high standard of the French wines, and if some of our large wine dealers in
New York would interest themselves in the matter and introduce Australian
wines to American consumers, they might find themselves amply repaid.
There are, perhaps, forty or fifty wine growers in this colony having large
vineyards and making more or less of all grades of wine. A description of
one will answer for all, and an account of a visit to the Great Western Vine-
yard will be given later in this article.

The quantity of native wines annually consumed in this colony is about
300,000 gallons, about half of this quantity being sold in the wood. The
principal wines manufactured here are claret, burgundy, hock, chablis, reis-
ling, shiraz, hermitage, chasselas, sauvignon, tokay, port, and sherry. One
firm here makes a port and sherry which experts have pronounced equal to
the Spanish wines of the same name. Some of these wines are the blends
of two or three kinds of grapes, while others are made from the juice of one
grape alone. The names of the principal varieties of grapes are the burgundy,
mataro, pineau (Gree & Noir), hermitage, chasselas, tokay, reisling, and
sauvignon. Many of the wines made take their names from the grapes, and
for cheapness they may be said to come within the reach of all.

While a trade has not yet been opened up with America, there has been
a trade established with England, France, and Germany, and large quanti-
ties of Australian wines now annually find their way to the United Kingdom.
Mr. P. B. Burgoyne, an expert, has been sent here by the English and French

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buyers, and, through him, quantities of native wines are shipi)ed. The cus-
toms returns for the year 1895 show that there were exported from this port
(Melbourne) 16,650 gallons of bottled wines, 345,417 gallons in the wood,
and 3,122 gallons of champagne. The values of these wines were ;f4o,i55
for the bottled wines, ^293, 070 for those shipped in the wood, and ^31,415
for the champagne. The wine growers of this colony are progressive men,
and lose no opportunity to introduce their wines to the public. Many of
them have taken the first prizes at the different exhibitions of Europe for the
character and quality of their wines, and one firm here took the prize given
by the Emperor of Germany at the Melbourne International Exhibition of
1880-81, consisting of a massive set of plate, valued at j6,ooo.

These wines of the better quality are sold to the public by the dozen
at the following prices : Burgundy, tokay, hermitage, chasselas (quarts), at
from ^3 to J 7.50 ; while reisling, sauvignon, chablis, hock, and claret range
in prices (for quarts), per dozen, from I5 to $g. The wines sold at these
prices are from three to eight years old, while those sold in the wood bring
(in hogsheads of 60 gallons, quarter casks of 30 gallons, or kegs of 15 gallons)
from I1.35 to I3.15 per gallon.

To show how the wines are esteemed in England, I quote an extract from
the London Lancet. It says :

Australia is rapidly rising to the level of France and Germany in the matter of wines; every
year sees an advance. We now get from there wine of excellent quality. The wine now
submitted to us is of the French class, full bodied and of good flavor and bouquet, and com-
pares favorably with any French wine of even higher* price with which we are acquainted.
Our analysis gave, in ico parts by weight : Extract, 2.45 ; mineral matter containing phos-
phates and iron, 0.26 ; alcohol, 8.35, equal to 18 per cent of proof spirit. Nothing but preju-
dice can retard the general use of such wine in England.

The same paper refers to some of the red wines as being a trifle too strong
for a dinner wine, but adds that they might well take the place of costly
French wines for after-dinner use. The writer adds : ** I have drunk Cham-
bertin & Marcobrum at double the price and do not think they can compare
with the Australian wines,'*

It is a pleasant sight to see an Australian vineyard. The grapes do not
grow as they do with us — in spreading vines. Here they grow in hillocks,
so to speak, each vine being separate and twined to an upright set in the
ground. The space occupied by each vine is not as great as that occupied
by a cornstalk, and yet how richly and luxuriantly grow the grapes, hanging
all over the vine in ripe clusters, in bunches ofttimes weighing from 2 to 4
pounds. A stony hillside yields the best grapes — land where you would not
think anything would grow and soil that would seem only fit for thorns and

The California wines have not been imported into this country. Prob-
ably it would not pay, as undoubtedly they make good wines here, and then,
too, here, as it is with us, the duty is almost prohibitive. A pure grape
brandy, made at the Stanford vineyards (California), has, however, been
imported here, and is largely advertised and is finding quite a sale.

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Let me now describe a visit to the Great Western Vineyard, which is
situated at Great Western, about 150 miles from Melbourne, and speak of
its capacity, its cellars, and the process of wine making in general.

The Gr6at Western Vineyard was purchased by the present owner, Mr.
Hans Irvine, eight years ago from Mr. Joseph Best. At the time of the
purchase, Mr. Irvine found the cellars full of old wines, as there was, prac-
tically speaking, no available market and the old growers did not know how

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 17 of 82)