1878 Victorian Commissioners for the Paris Exposition.

Handbook to Victoria (Australia), a short description of the colony, its productions, manufactures, & capabilities, especially with regard to its new agricultural industries and settlement on the land online

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Online Library1878 Victorian Commissioners for the Paris ExpositionHandbook to Victoria (Australia), a short description of the colony, its productions, manufactures, & capabilities, especially with regard to its new agricultural industries and settlement on the land → online text (page 7 of 13)
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42| miles; Castlemaine and Dunolly, 47^ miles; Wangaratta and
Beechworth, 26^ miles ; Sandhurst and Inglewood, 30| miles ; Mary-
borough and Avoca, 15 miles; and Geelong and Colac, 51 miles.
These are Government railways, and besides them the Government
has also in progress the Melbourne and Gipps Land line (120
miles), and some others under consideration. There are also
the following private lines belonging to a company known as
the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company: Melbourne
and St Kilda, 3f miles; Melbourne and Saiidridge, 2^ miles;
Melbourne and Windsor, 3| miles ; Windsor and Brighton, 5| miles ;
and Richmond and Hawthorn, 2 miles. It will thus be seen that
the colony is partially covered with a network of railway which,
with the improvements which have been made in the roads, render
modern travelling not only easy, but pleasant to any part of the
country. The total cost of the Government lines, as stated at the
end of 1876, for 1875 was 12,223,100, or an average of 21,540 per
mile, the average distance travelled during the year 1875 being
2,051,910 miles. The total coast of the private lines was 865,412,
or 50,907 per mile, the distance travelled being 451,128 miles.

The whole of the lines are constructed on a gauge of 5 feet 3 inches,,
which is also the national guage of South Australia, but not of any
of the other colonies, where a narrower gauge has been adopted.
The permanent way on the whole of the railways is of the best
description, the ballast consisting principally of blue-metal (basalt)
spalls, bound together with sand, loam and gravel, and making a
roadway practically devoid of shrinkage and sinking. Unlike the
railways of other colonies, those of Victoria have had no very great
engineering difficulties to overcome, they run for the most part over
tolerably level country, and with a few exceptions there are no
marked ascents or descents. The gradients too are easy and gradual,
and the curves have a long radius, so that with common care and


attention, travelling by rail is unattended with the slightest danger.
In fact, accidents from running on the lines are so uncommon as to
be almost unknown, and the baton system having been introduced
on the Government railways, is an additional safeguard. The rails
are of the best quality, arid are firmly fixed to red-gum sleepers, the
very best timber that can be obtained for the purpose.

The rolling stock on the Government lines consists of 121 locomo-
tives, 96 first-class and composite carriages, 87 second-class car-
riages, 175 sheep and cattle trucks, 1678 goods trucks, wagons, &c.,
and 149 guards' vans and other vehicles, the total cost being
948,206. On the private lines the rolling stock consists of 16
locomotives, 77 first-class and composite carriages, 15 second-class
carriages, 202 goods trucks, wagons, &c., and 12 guards' vans and
other vehicles, the total cost being 137,830, a grand total for the
two classes of railway of 1,086,036 for rolling stock. It may be
added that the carriages are roomy and comfortable, and that on the
Government lines a number of saloon carriages have been intro-
duced, and appear to have given much satisfaction to travellers.
The main terminus of the Government line is in Spencer-street, at
the west end of Melbourne, and is an extensive range of wooden
buildings, containing all conveniences for passengers and for the
large goods traffic carried on. The other termini and the interme-
diate stations are also roomy, and fitted with all requirements. The
same may also be said of the termini and stations on the private

Passenger rates for travelling on the Government lines are First-
class, 2d. per mile; second-class, l^d. ; and on the private lines
First-class, l^d. ; second-class, ld. ; there being a slight reduction
on the latter lines for return tickets, the rates being still further re-
duced on them to regular travellers by means of monthly tickets.
The number of passengers carried on the Government lines for 1S75
was 2,699,519, and on the private lines 3,465,557i, a total of
6,165,076^, and an increase of 790,235 over the previous year. The
goods carried amounted, on the Government lines, to 732,772 tons,
and on the private lines to 206,674 tons a total of 939,446 tons,
being an increase on the Government lines of 51,062 tons, and a de-



crease on the private lines of 16,286 tons, as compared with the pre-
vious year.

The receipts for the year were on the Government lines,
920,008, and the working expenses 481,717; on the private lines
the receipts were 171,930, and the working expenses 89,761.

The main roads and bridges of the colony are constructed by the
general Government out of a fund voted by Parliament for the pro-
secution of public works. The construction and repair of the
streets and roads in the towns and municipalities devolve on the
corporations of those places, and on what are called road boards,
who have the power of levying local taxation for those purposes.
The amount expended during the year on roads and bridges was
99,451 ; a total of 6,773,817 since the year 1851. As a rule, the
principal roads are well made and kept in good order, although
many of the cross roads are rugged and uneven, and difficult and
dangerous, if not altogether impassable, in bad weather. This
arises, in many cases, from the character of the country through
which they pass ; and although very much has been and is being
done to them, much more remains to be done. Still, such as they are,
they are largely used for traffic, though some of the main lines of
road have been to a great extent deserted from the fact of railways
touching the principal towns and villages they connect. Communi-
cation by rail or coach is, however, easy between every part of the
colony, for at each of the principal centres of population coaches
running daily or twice or thrice a week branch off in every direction,
and there is no difficulty in reaching the most remote part of
Victoria by coach or mail car, or even the smallest and most unfre-
quented hamlet, station, or settlement by means of the coach and a
short drive by hired conveyance or ride on horseback.

The postal arrangements in the colony are very complete, and the
facilities for communication by letter are as perfect as they can be
made, neither trouble nor expense being spared for the safe and
prompt conveyance of letters, not only to all parts of the colony, but
to all parts of the world. The rates of postage are low, the charge
for a single letter (half-ounce) to any part of the colony, or any part
of the other Australian colonies, being 2d. prepaid by stamp and not


otherwise. Letters are forwarded by the earliest and quickest
means, rail as far as possible, and coach or horse otherwise, as fre-
quently as is necessary or convenient, and even the most remote
corners of the colony are rarely outside of two days' communication.
Post-offices, of which there are no fewer than 900, are established in
every township, village, diggings, and agricultural settlement, and
in the large towns post-pillars for the reception of letters and news-
papers are established in convenient places, and cleared several times
each day. In Melbourne, Ballarat, and other important towns,
there are three or four deliveries per day, with occasional additional
deliveries when rendered necessary by the arrival of the English
mail. An additional facility is offered to the public by the adoption
of the postal card system, by which short messages, not intended to
be private, can be forwarded by the usual post delivery in all parts of
the colony for Id. These must, however, be written only on one
side of a card, sold ready stamped for the purpose, the address being
written on the other side.

During the year 1875, no fewer than 17,134,101 letters, 7,552,912
newspapers, on which the postage is ^d., and 1,528,493 packets
(postage within the colony Id. for each two ounces), a total of
20,215,506, were passed through the various post-offices of the colony,
but of these 129,824 were irregularly posted, having no addresses,
or being imperfectly addressed, and of these 117,599 were returned or
delivered, the owners being eventually found, and 12,225 destroyed, or
kept 011 hand. 1136 of these were registered letters, containing valu-
ables to the amount of 13,462. but 94 per cent, of them were delivered.
The number of letters, &c., posted shows a total increase of 2,339,878
over the previous year. There was also an increase of 8698 in the
number of registered letters. About a fourth of the post-offices are
also money order offices, and through these the following money
orders were passed during the year: Orders issued, 121,094;
amount, 373,436; orders paid, 121,924; amount, 393,383. The
money order offices transmit or pay orders to or from any part of the
colonies or Great Britain, and are very largely used for the trans-
mission of small sums. The rate of postage to Great Britain is 6d. for
single letters, Id. per oz. for packets, and Id. for newspapers.


Allied to the postal department of the colony is the electric tele-
graph, whose wires stretch far and wide in every direction, and flash
instantaneous messages over land or under sea to the remotest parts
of the earth. Like the postal, the telegraph arrangements are very
extensive, and amply sufficient for the requirements of the colony,
extending, as they do, in every direction, and having stations in every
important township and centre of population. The telegraph lines in
Victoria extend over 2629 miles, the wires measuring 4510 miles.
They are connected with the lines of New South Wales, and by
means of them, with those of Queensland and New Zealand. They
are also connected with the lines of South Australia, and through
them, with those of the Eastern Archipelago, Asia, and Europe, and
will be shortly connected with those of West Australia. They are
likewise connected with those of Tasmania, by means of a submarine
cable, reaching from Port Phillip Heads to Low Head, at the mouth
of the Tamar River. The number of telegraph stations in Victoria is
over 164; the number of telegrams for the year 1875 being, paid,
623,514; unpaid, 109,355; total, 732,899. The rate for telegraph
messages within the colony is an uniform one of Is. for ten words,
exclusive of the address, and Id. per word additional. The rates for
the other colonies are somewhat higher, and a special charge is made
for cablegrams.

The accounts of the post and telegraph offices are kept together,
and show for the year 1875, an income of 206,388, with an expen-
diture of 291,945.




EMPLOYMENT is plentiful in Victoria. There is no lack of work for
the man, or the woman either, who will and can work. The colony
is undoubtedly the home for the industrious working man, who
may, with common steadiness, application, and prudence, not only
live in comfort, or in fact, as compared with the condition of
many working men in the overcrowded cities of Europe, in affluence,
but who may easily save enough to enable him soon to become a
freeholder and his own landlord, and it may be, to start in business
on his own account. Hundreds who have landed on these shores in
poverty have done so, and there is ample room and verge enough for
hundreds, aye, thousands more to do the same thing. The country
is not half populated, and it is by workers, not dreamers, that it
must be populated.

But there is the right sort of population, even of working
population, and the wrong sort. There is scarcely a handicraftsman
of any kind who cannot at once, and for good wages, secure
permanent employment, and most are sought after with avidity by
employers whose jobs are being delayed for sheer want of skilled
labour. The carpenter, the builder, the plasterer, the stonemason,
the painter, the worker in wood, or in iron, the makers of articles of
clothing, of use, of luxury, the purveyor of what we eat, drink,
wear, use, with all their concurrent and connected artizans, are
needed, are absolutely wanted, not only in Melbourne, the capital,
but all over the country. The farmer, the ploughman, the farm
labourer, all whose interests are connected with agricultural pursuits,
have millions of acres waiting to their hand, and nothing but
patience, pluck, and perseverance, are wanted to enable them to go

^ 0? TOT "^CS^


forward upon it, and prosper. These, men of energy and courage to
face and overcome the first difficulty, are those who will and must
succeed in any new country, most of all in this.

But the lazy, the improvident, those who are too poor to be
independent, too proud or unable to put their hands forth to manual
labour, had better stay away, for they must inevitably go to the
wall. The race here is to the swift, the battle to the strong.
Clerks, men wanting light genteel employment, et hoc yemts omne,
there is little or no room for.

For the honest, industrious, prudent man, whether artizan or
agriculturalist, whether earning his bread in the smoke and turmoil of
cities, or tilling the grateful virgin earth in the fresh free air, there is a
certain hope of ultimate success, and a steady improvement in his
worldly good. This all may hope for, this all, who try con-
scientiously, may attain. Therefore is it that, as was said at the
beginning of this chapter, the colony is undoubtedly the home for
the industrious working man.

Wages are good. Let us see what wages are here, as compared
with those in Europe. From the current rates of wages actually
paid for various kinds of labour, and published monthly in the
Melbourne newspapers, we cull the following statement made in the
Melbourne Age of 3rd September, 1877 :

Bakers : Foremen and first-class workmen, 2 5s. to 3 10s. per
week ; second hands, 35s. to 40s. In small shops lower rates pre-
vail. Building trades: Stonemasons, 10s. to 11s. per day ; brick-
layers, plasterers, slaters, 10s. ; carpenters, 10s. ; labourers, 7s. ; pick
and shovel men, 6s. Butchers : Shopmen, 35s. to 40s. per week ;
boys, 15s. to 20s. ; slaughtermen, 40s. to 50s. ; small-goodsmen, 30s.
to 40s. with rations. Cabinetmakers : Wages vary greatly with the
class of shop and ability of the men. In the superior shops in the
city the amounts earned are from 3 to 4 per week, and in
others from 2 10s. to 3 10s. In country towns lower rates prevail.
Coachbuilders : Smiths, 2 10s. to 3 15s. per week, a few very
superior men receiving 4. Bodymakers are mostly paid by the
piece, and good hands can earn from 2 10s. to 3 10s. Wheelers also
work by the piece, and earn from 2 10s. to 3 10s. Painters, 9s. to


10s. per day. Trimmers, 2 10s. to 3 per week. Vycemen, from
80s. to 40s. Coopers : Mostly paid by piece-work, but day-work is
9s. for the day of ten hours. The rates for tallow casks are 5s. for
thirds, and 4s. 6d. for fourths. Drapers : In first-class shops drapers'
assistants and carpet salesmen have from 3 to 4 per week ; first-
class milliners, 3 to 3 10s.; second-class, 35s. to 50s. Farriers :
Firemen, 55s. per week ; doormen, 45s.; inferior hands, 30s. to 40s.
Gardeners : Best men near town, 30s. to 42s. per week. In the
country, 20s. to 25s. with rations. Inferior hands, 15s. with rations.
Hatters : Bodymakers Low crown, 12s. and 14s. per doz. ; regulars,
18s. and 20s. do. Finishers Low crown, 12s. and 14s. per doz.; silk
hats, 22s. and 24s. do.; pullovers, 20s. do. Shapers Regulars
plain shape, 6s. per doz. ; over fths, 9s. do. ; Anglesea. 12s. do. Low
crowns under fths, 4s. per doz.; over fths, 6s. do.; Anglesea, 8s.
do. Crown sewers, average 3s. 6d. to 5s.; trimmers, 6s. Jewellers:
Manufacturing jewellers, average workmen, 55s. to 65s. per week;
finer workmen, 5 to 6 per week. Seal engravers and enamellers
are wanted, and can obtain from 6 to 8 per week. Miners : For
surface work, 40s. per week ; underground, 45s. ; specially deep wet
mines, 50s. Painters and glaziers: Average rate 9s. per day.
Plumbers and gasfitters: Average 3 per week. Printers, &c. :
Compositors, Is. per 1000; lithographers, 2 10s. to 3 15s. per week;
binders, 2 to 3; paper-rulers, 3 to 3 10s. Sailors: In sailing
ships, 5 per month ; steam vessels, 6 per month. Ship carpenters :
employment very irregular, average rate, 13s. per day. Stevedores:
Lumpers get 12s. per day. Drivers of donkey engines, 18 per month.
Tailors: The rate by the log is Is. per hour, but in second-class shops
the men earn from 2 10s. to 3 per week. Tanners and curriers:
Beamsmen, 40s. to 50s. per week ; shedsmen, 42s. to 45s. ; tanners,
38s. to 45s. ; curriers (piecework), from 50s. to 70s. Tinsmiths, from
2 to 3 per week (piecework), Watchmakers: Average rate, 4 per
week ; superior workmen as high as 6. Grooms in livery stables,
30s. to 40s. per week; coachmen, 40s. to 50s.; navvies, on railways,
9d. per hour.

The following are the wages ruling for domestic servants, c. :
For town : Housemaids, 25 to 30 per annum ; female cooks, first-


class, 40 to 75 ; others from 26 to 36 per annum; male do. 30s.
to 80s. per week ; nursemaids, 25 to 35 per annum ; nursegirls, 8s.
to 10s. per week ; laundresses, 35 to 45. For hotels: Cooks (male
and female), 50 to 150 per annum ; housemaids, 35 to 40. For
stations: First-class married couples, for home stations, 70 to 90
per annum ; second-class do. , with children, 40 to 50 ; cooks, 45
to 55 ; housemaids, 35 to 40. For farms: Men cooks, 50 per
annum ; married couples, 60 to 70 ; women servants, 30 to 35 ;
farming men, 15s. to 20s. per week ; milkmen, 15s. to 25s. ; plough-
men, 18s. to 22s. 6d. ; waiters for hotels, 20s. to 35s. per week ;
grocers' assistants, 15s. to 30s.; general store do., 20s. to 40s.;
nursery governesses, 30 to 40 per annum ; finishing do., 60
to 80.

Station hands' wages are as follows: Stockmen, 60 to 75
per annum ; shepherds, 15s. to 20s. per week ; ordinary working
men, 15s. to 20s.; drovers, 25s. to 40s.; gardeners, 15s. to 20s.

So much for tradesmen and handicraftsmen. Can they, could they
ver hope, working such hours, generally eight hours per diem,
to earn such wages at home ? We trow not.

But, it may be said, and often has been said by those who wished
to throw cold water on emigration, and to keep the working man for
ever with his nose to the grindstone: "Although we grant you that
labour is plentiful and that wages are high, still the cost of living is
so great that you are better off where you are earning less than half
the money, than in the colonies, earning the high wages, but having
to pay four times the price for everything you eat, drink, and wear."
An excellent argument, certainly, if it were true.

The following may be quoted as the average prices in Melbourne, in
March, 1877, of the chief articles of consumption for the year 1876 - 7.
The cost of groceries, wines, spirits, &c., is generally somewhat
higher, and of agricultural and grazing produce somewhat lower, in
country districts : Agricultural Produce Wheat, per bushel, 5s. to
6s. 6d.; oats, 3s. to 4s.; barley, 3s. to 5s.; Maize, 3s. 6d. to 6s.;
bran, Is, 3d. to Is. 8d.; hay, per ton, 3 10s. to 6; potatoes, 3 to
8; flour, 14 5s. to 14 10s.; bread, per 4-lb. loaf, 6d. to 7d.
Grazing produce Horses, draught, 10 to 40; saddle, 5 to 50;


fat cattle, 6 10s. to 16 2s.; milch cows, 4 to 12 10s.; fat calves,
1 10s. to 3; fat sheep, 7s. to 22s.; fat lambs, 6s. to 10s. 6d.
Butcher' 1 s meat Beef, retail, per lb., 4d. to 8d.; mutton, 2|d. to 4d. ;
veal, 6d. to 8d.; pork, 7d. to 9d.; lamb, per quarter, Is. 6d. to 3s. 6d.
Dairy produce Fresh butter, per lb., Is. to Is. 6d. ; salt butter, 8d.
to Is.; colonial cheese, lOd. to Is. 2d.; imported, Is. 6d. to Is. 10d.;
milk, per quart, 4d. Farm yard produce Geese, per couple, 8s. to
12s.; ducks, 5s. to 8s.; fowls, 5s. to 7s.; rabbits, Is. to 2s.; pigeons,
Is. 3d. to 5s.; turkeys, each, 6s. to 12s.; sucking pigs, 8s. to 14s.;
bacon, per lb., lOd. to Is. 2d. ; ham, Is. to Is. 3d.; eggs, perdoz., Is.
to 2s. 6d. Garden produce Potatoes, wholesale, per ton, 3 to 6 ;
retail, perlb., fd. to Id.; onions, per cwt., 6s. to 12s.; carrots, per
dozen bunches, 6d. to Is. ; turnips, 6d. to Is. ; radishes, 6d. to Is. ;
cabbages, per dozen, 6d. to 2s. ; cauliflowers, Is. to 4s. ; lettuces, 4d.
to Is.; green peas, perlb., Id. to 3d. Miscellaneous articles Tea,
per lb., Is. to 3s. 6d. ; coffee, Is. to Is. 6d. ; sugar, 3d. to 6d. ; lump,
7d.; rice, 2d. to 4d.; tobacco, Is. to 6s.; soap, 3d. to 4d.; sperm
candles, 9d. to Is.; tallow candles, 4d. to 6d.; salt, Id.; coal, per
ton, 20s. to 35s.; firewood, 12s. to 18s. Wines, Spirits, <fcc. Ale,
per hhd., 4 to. 9 5s.; per doz., 6s. to 11s.; porter, per hhd., 5 to
7; per doz., 7s. 6d. to lls.; brandy, per gal., 4s. lOd. to 31s.; rum,
3s. to 3s. 6cl.; whisky, 4s. to 10s.; hollands, 2s. 9d. to 4s.; port
wine, per doz., 25s. to 55s. ; sherry, 25s. to 85s. ; claret, 10s. 9d. to
80s.; champagne, 26s. 9d. to 100s.; colonial wine, per gallon, Is. up-

These prices, which may be relied on as being the correct prices
ruling, subject, of course, to variations n some of the articles, as
they are in or out of season, constitute all the necessaries, and some
of the luxuries of life, and are, as will be seen, very little different
to home rates, some a little higher, perhaps, others lower. Fruit,
comprising grapes, peaches, nectarines, apricots, oranges, bananas,
passion fruit, apples, pears, cherries, plums, damsons, red, white and
black currants, Cape gooseberries, loquats, strawberries, raspberries,
mulberries, gooseberries, pine-apples, and other fruits, are plentiful
in their respective seasons, and may be had quite as cheaply, and in
most cases far more cheaply than in Great Britain.


Wearing apparel, slops, soft goods, boots, &c., are reasonable,
the imported articles being subject to a duty, in no case higher than
20 per cent, ad valorem, but the colonial-made goods, consisting of
boots, hats, tweeds, shawls, blankets, and male and female clothing
of all kinds, can be purchased of excellent quality and at low prices.

From these prices it is clearly shown that the ignorant or wilfully-
erroneous statements made in the old country regarding the high
price of living in Victoria are totally devoid of foundation, and that,
taking into consideration the higher rate of wages, living is far-and-
away less costly than it is in the cheapest parts of Europe. Certainly
house rents are higher, but it must be remembered that the working
men of Australia are not content to dwell in the close narrow streets
and crowded alleys of older Britain. Every working man, with any
pretension to decency, must have his neat cottage in a wide, open
thoroughfare, with probably his little patch of flower garden railed
in before the door. His rent will thus range from 5s. to 10s., or,
perhaps 12s. per week, according to the neighbourhood, the distance
from town, and the class of house, but for the latter sum he may
easily obtain, within easy distance of the centre of the city, a
verandah-cottage, with a small garden and a roomy yard behind, con-
taining four, or perhaps five rooms; a bathroom, with plunge and
shower bath (an unspeakable luxury in the summer season) ; gas and
water laid on ; and the cottage handsomely finished, and furnished
with grates, ovens, gasfittiiigs, chiffonniere cupboards, shelving, and
all other appliances for use and comfort he can wish for himself and

But he does not need, if he be moderately careful and steady, to
pay even that rent long, for, with or without the aid of one or other
of the numerous excellent and liberal building societies, he can easily
acquire a small allotment of ground, and build thereon his own brick,
stone, or weatherboard house, and so, after a time, live with the ex-
ception of the local taxation, which is light rent free, a man having
a stake in the country, a citizen, and a freeholder.

Although much of this article may seem to commend itself more
especially to artisans whose interests are connected with the large
towns, still it bears with equal truth on those whose avocations


lead them into the country, for although outside the towns they may
not be able to rent houses of such pretensions as in them, still there
is no difficulty in obtaining comfortable residences, and as the rents

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Online Library1878 Victorian Commissioners for the Paris ExpositionHandbook to Victoria (Australia), a short description of the colony, its productions, manufactures, & capabilities, especially with regard to its new agricultural industries and settlement on the land → online text (page 7 of 13)