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The history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) online

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vision for the Government of North Australia. He
pointed out that the footsteps of the explorers would
soon be followed by the squatters who occupied land
on the outskirts of Queensland, and that unless the
control of the new country were placed in the hands of
some authority, lawlessness and disorder would prevail
throughout the beautiful region which the labours of
Stuart and others had made accessible. "Within a
very few months," wrote Sir Charles Nicholson to the
Duke, " the desire of occupying new country will tempt
many persons, with their servants and flocks and herds,
to locate themselves in this new district. The pro-
bability also is that many individuals who may have
made themselves obnoxious to the laws, will, for the
purpose of escaping the pursuit of justice, betake them-
selves in the same direction."

These and other considerations, such as the necessity
of securing the rents of the lands occupied, and the
desirability of encouraging settlement in so valuable
a country, led Sir Charles Nicholson to recommend either
that a new colony should be established, or that the
whole of the North and North-west Territory should be
placed under the guardianship not of South Australia,
by whose energy the country had been explored but
of Queensland !

Strange to say, the Home Government thought well
of the latter suggestion, and after referring the matter


to the Emigration Commissioners, at once offered the
control of the country to Queensland. This was,
naturally, more than the South Australians could stand,
and the Government drew up a series of resolutions in
Executive Council, and these were transmitted by Sir
Dominick Daly to the Duke of Newcastle in December,
1862, with the result that in September, 1863, the
Governor received a despatch from the Duke of New-
castle, placing that portion of the Northern Territory
bounded by the 129th and 138th meridians of east
longitude, and beyond the 26th parallel of south lati-
tude to the Arafura Sea, under the charge of South
Australia, with power " to revoke, alter, or amend the
letters patent annexing the said territory."

While this concession was the occasion of loud con-
gratulation among the majority, there were not a few
far-seeing men, amongst whom was Mr. George Fife
Angas, who strongly condemned any attempt to colonize
the Northern Territory, predicting losses and failures
as almost inevitable consequences on account of the
inadequate means at its disposal for an undertaking of
such vast magnitude. But their counsels did not

On the 1st of October the Treasurer introduced a
Bill to provide for the disposal of land in North
Australia, which was read a first time in the House of
Assembly. It provided that 500,000 acres of country
land might be sold in two several quantities of 250,000
acres each, the first lot at seven and sixpence per acre,
and the second at twelve shillings per acre, and 1562
town allotments of half an acre each one-half of the
said lots to be open for sale and purchase in London,
and one-half in the colony. The country sections were
to consist of 160 acres, with which were to be offered a
town allotment of half an acre. Provision was made
in the Bill for the appointment of a Government
Eesident, and all other necessary officers for securing
the order and good government of the Territory. The
Treasurer, in introducing the Bill, stated that "the
accounts relating to the new country were to be kept


distinct from the accounts proper to South Australia.
The object was to guard this colony from loss, and to
settle the new country at as little expense as possible.
The only advantage (he added) to be derived by South
Australia was a market for its produce."

The regulations subsequently introduced in con-
nection with the Bill reduced the original quantity to
be offered in the first instance to two lots of 125,000
acres each, and holders of Parliamentary land orders
were to be allowed to exercise their choice " at any
time within five years from the date of the preliminary
land order."

During the passage of the Bill through its various
stages Mr. G. F. Angas renewed his protests from time
to time, urging that it was an unwise thing for the
colony, already possessing more than ample territory
and with a limited population, to saddle itself with the
responsibility of such an enormous appanage. He
maintained that it was far beyond the capability of the
colony at that time to manage successfully, and pointed
out that settling the question of the land without
making provision for the introduction of labour would
not lead to the settlement of the country. He sub-
mitted an alternative scheme to the effect that, instead
of planting a colony there, large inducements should
be offered to squatters to take up the land, and that a
Company somewhat similar to the South Australian
Company should be formed and encouraged to attempt
the growth of purely tropical products. Had his advice
been taken the colony would have been saved enormous
expenditure and annoyance. Many who wrote and
spoke disparagingly of his views at the time afterwards
acknowledged that they greatly erred in disregarding
his wisdom and foresight.

On the 1st of March, 1864, offices were opened
simultaneously in London and Adelaide for the sale of
land in the Northern Territory, and on the 29th of that
month the office at Adelaide was closed with the
following result: 455 applicants for 118,880 acres of
country land, and 743 town . allotments of half an acre


each, making a total of 119,251^ acres, the purchase
money for which was 44,719 6s. 3d. The sales in
London were materially assisted by the North Aus-
tralian Company, which was formed for the purchase
of land in the new territory, and applied for 25,000

The proceeds of these land sales were to be devoted
in the first instance to the cost of surveying and
settling the country, and, as there were no other funds
available, of course the land sales took place before the
surveys had commenced. The English buyers, there-
fore, speculated in faith ; the choice of position was to
be settled by lot, and the only guarantee they had was
the pledge of the Government that within five years
the land should be surveyed and ready for selection.

The sale of the land was immediately followed up by
the South Australian Government with the outfit of an
expedition to survey the quantity of land required, and
to establish order in the newly acquired settlement.
The command of the expedition was entrusted to
Lieutenant-Colonel B. T. Finniss, who received the
appointment of Government Eesident. The choice was
considered an excellent one. Mr. Finniss was an old
and highly respected colonist, who had held the office
of Treasurer of the colony, and, when Sir Henry Young
left Adelaide, was acting Governor pending the arrival
of Sir Richard MacDonnell. He was one of the fathers
of the volunteer movement, and had a thoroughly
practical knowledge of surveying. It seemed that he
was the man to fulfil every requirement, and when a
banquet was given before the expedition started,
everybody seemed pleased with everything and with
one another, and the future was seen as in a golden

On the 29th of April the good ship Henry Ellis, well
equipped in every respect, and amply supplied with
stores, instruments, and weapons, set sail from Port
Adelaide, having on board as officers of the expedition
Mr. B. T. Finniss, Government Resident ; J. F. Manton,
engineer and surveyor ; F. E, Goldsmith, surveyor and


protector of aborigines ; Ebenezer Ward, clerk in
charge and accountant ; Stephen King, storekeeper ;
John Davis, assistant storekeeper and postmaster ;
W. Pearson, J. Wadham, and A. R Hamilton, sur-
veyors ; R Watson and J. W. O. Bennett, draughts-
men, together with a strong party of labourers and
seamen forty-two persons in ail, bound for Adam Bay,
where it was thought a suitable site might be found
for the first town, although absolute discretion was left
to the Eesident in this respect.

In May the Government schooner Yatala was
despatched with a view to rendering any necessary
assistance in navigating rivers, etc.

Unhappily, grievous dissensions arose among the
party on board the Henry Ellis, which increased imme-
diately after they landed in Adam Bay, and grew to a
head when Mr. Finniss, against the strong protests and
remonstrances of his officers, and the representations of
the land purchasers, selected Escape Cliffs one of the
most inaccessible and improbable places imaginable
as the site of the first town.

In October intelligence reached Adelaide that mis-
understandings of a most serious nature had arisen
between the Government Resident and his subordinates,
and that a collision had taken place between the
Europeans and the natives, to whom summary and in-
discriminate punishment had been administered. The
position was a difficult one, and it cast a gloom over
the prospects of the promoters of the annexation
scheme. Nevertheless, a steamer, the South Australian,
was despatched at once, with forty passengers to be
employed in the Government service in place of any
who might be desirous of returning. This steamer
returned to Adelaide on the 1st of January, 1865, and
in consequence of the information brought by her as to
the site selected for the capital a meeting of land-order
holders was held, who memorialized the Government
not to determine on the site of a capital till the whole
country had been examined. This request was acceded
to as far as circumstances would permit, but to make


a concession of this kind necessarily involved a
tantalizing delay in the survey of the land.

In July, 1865, news reached Adelaide of the total
disorganization of the survey party under Mr. Finniss.
Some of the settlers had purchased a small boat, the
Forlorn Hope, and, sailing by way of Champion Bay,
reached Adelaide in safety, and laid a statement of the
condition of affairs before the Government. Great
indignation was expressed in all quarters, and Mr.
Finniss was called upon for full and immediate ex-
planation. All this was discouraging to those who had
invested capital, and was embarrassing to the Govern-
ment. But to meet any emergency that might arise,
as well as to supply a pressing demand for stores and
fresh provisions, the Government chartered the barque
Ellen Lewis, which sailed for Adam Bay on the 25th
of September, taking with her Messrs. McKinlay and
John Davis, Dr. Milner, and ten other passengers, with
stores, sheep, and horses.

The explanations of Mr. Finniss were eminently
unsatisfactory, and he was recalled, Mr. Manton, the
engineer and surveyor, being left in command.

The Ellen Lewis returned from the Territory on the
13th of February, 1866, with Mr. Finniss and a
number of passengers on board. A Court of Inquiry
was appointed by the Government to investigate the
causes of the disagreements in the new settlement.
The extent of the disruption that had taken place
became painfully apparent by the number of charges
and counter-charges that were brought under the notice
of the Court. It was an aggravated repetition of the
story of Captain Hindmarsh and the early settlers, and
with such a warning within the memory of some who
constituted the pioneer party to Adam Bay, it was
somewhat surprising that they should have drifted into
their present state of hopeless disorganization.

While the Court was sitting the Ellen Lewis returned
to the Northern Territory with eleven passengers and a
good cargo of live stock. On the 16th of May, 1866, a
Special Commission of Inquiry gave in their report con-


demning Mr. Finniss' administration of affairs at Escape
Cliffs, whereby the members of the expedition had been
obstructed in the execution of their duties ; condemn-
ing the selection of Escape Cliffs as the site of the first
town ; condemning him for lack of care in protecting
the stores, and lack of skill in dealing with his men,
and also in dealing with the natives with whom the
party had come into collision. On the other hand, it
was stated by the Commissioners that several of the
persons comprising the expedition were totally unsuit-
able for the work entrusted to them. The inquiry
was one of peculiar difficulty, owing to the extremely
acrimonious feeling on both sides, and especially the
strong personal animosity shown towards Mr. Finniss.
The report of the Commissioners was accepted by the
Government, and Mr. Finniss, although considering
himself hardly dealt with, was removed from his posi-
tion, or, as it appeared, resigned the office of Govern-
ment Resident, on the 25th of May.

Meanwhile, Mr. Manton was left in charge, and the
reports that came from time to time were unfavourable
to his administration.

In September, 1866, Mr. McKinlay returned from an
unsuccessful attempt to explore the country to the east
of Adam Bay, and delay, vexation, and disappointment
became the order of the day. Parliament and the
Executive had no easy time of it, and after much
deliberation it was decided to advertise for tenders for
the survey of 300,000 acres of land.

On the 10th of December eleven tenders were sent
in, and were handed to Mr. G. W. Goyder, Surveyor-
General, to report upon. Only two were capable of
serious consideration.

As a preliminary step, before any tender could be
accepted, Mr. Goyder recommended that a competent
officer should be sent at once to the Northern Territory,
and should be instructed to visit the lands in the
vicinity of the Victoria, and afterwards land at Anson
Bay and the north coast of Port Darwin and Escape
Cliffs, and, after deciding upon a site for the capital, to


return and call for tenders, stating the actual nature of
the country and the material required to facilitate the
carrying out of the contract. Captain Cadell's services
were secured for this purpose, and with a small party
he set sail on the 26th of February, 1867.

After an absence of fifty weeks he returned and
reported upon the advantages and disadvantages of the
places visited. Instead of accepting any of the tenders,
the Government decided to send Mr. Goyder as head
of a new survey party (Mr. Manton and several of the
original survey party sent out in 1864 having returned
to Adelaide), and on the 27th of December, 1868, he
sailed in the Moonta for Port Darwin, that place being
considered the most suitable for the capital.

The tenders sent in had varied from 21,000 to
100,000, or from one shilling per acre to four shillings
and ninepence halfpenny. Mr. Goyder's estimate for
the work was 25,000, exclusive of cost of transit and
of small vessels for river and mail services, but including
salary and provisions to officers and men to and from
the Northern Territory. This amount was also exclu-
sive of a bonus of 3000 to Mr. Goyder, but included
a bonus pro rata to the officers and men of the

While these arrangements were being made by the
Colonial Government, the North Australian Land
Company in England and several of the land-order
holders were demanding a return of their purchase
money, with interest, which tended still further to
embarrass the Executive, and the impression was being
extensively forced on the minds of many that the vast
territory, asked for as a boon, might prove a bane to
the colony.

How Mr. Goyder performed his mission, and how
order was evolved out of chaos in the " white elephant "
Territory, will be told in a future chapter.

Throughout the administration of Sir Dominick
Daly, the " Squatter Question " was a subject of
debate both in and out of Parliament, and not
only during that period, but more or less through-


out the whole history of the colony. The term
"squatter," according to Mr. J. Henniker Heaton,*
was first applied to persons in the territory of New
South Wales, who, about the year 1835, without
reasonable means of obtaining an honest livelihood,
had formed stations in the interior, and then carried on
predatory warfare against the flocks and herds in the
vicinity. The term " squatter " is now used to describe
one of the most useful and important classes of the
community, principally the large pastoral tenants who
rent the land from the Crown for grazing purposes.
This signification was first applied in the year 1842,
and has held its own ever since.

In the early days of the colony brave and adventurous
men with a little capital went off into outlying districts
with their sheep and a few shepherds, a certain amount
of food, and the wherewithal of procuring more, and,
building their rude huts, settled down to pastoral pur-
suits. In course of time the dangers which beset them
in the earlier days from the attacks of natives were
minimized, and as success attended the labours of the
squatters, their general condition improved. But the
tenure of the land they occupied was always more or
less precarious, the condition upon which pastoral
leases were held being that in the event of the land
being required for agricultural purposes, the squatter
must relinquish his " run " on receiving six months'
notice, but would be compensated for the substantial
improvements he had made.

Many of the squatters in a comparatively short time
amassed large fortunes, while others were much better
off financially than the dwellers in towns, and the con-
sequence was that many considered it to be a mistake
to lease land to them on the low terms that at one time
prevailed. Mr. G. W. Goyder, the Surveyor-General,
was therefore entrusted with the difficult task of fixing
a new valuation on the renewal of the leases.

His valuations were so high that the squatters were

* " Australian Dictionary of Dates," by J. H. Heaton. London,


at first dumbfounded, but soon after raised such an out-
cry as to challenge public opinion on the whole question.
There arose " squatter parties " and " anti-squatter
parties" in Parliament. On one side the squatters
were represented as having all the sweets of colonial
life ; on the other as poor, oppressed, and struggling
men, to whom every consideration should be shown.

Strange to say, the re- valuations had scarcely been
made, than there set in a period of almost unprece-
dented drought, and it continued for two years in
succession. The grievances of the squatters then
engaged the careful attention of the Legislature, and a
Commission was appointed to inquire into the whole
matter. As the position of those in the north was
considerably aggravated by this calamitous drought, it
was considered by many that they had a reasonable
claim upon the sympathy and forbearance of the
Government; but in consequence of the popular
clamour raised against them as a class, it was not easy
to obtain any concession for them from those who
regarded themselves as representatives of " the people."

The facts elicited by the Commissioners were cer-
tainly calculated to turn the tide of popular prejudice
which had set in against the squatters. But such was
not the case. A wide-spread opinion prevailed that
the " people's grass " had been leased to the squatters at
too low a price, and that they were thereby enabled,
in good seasons, to become wealthy in a short time.
The squatters, on the other hand, contended that, as
their leases could not possibly give them a guarantee
against drought, it was unjust that they should pay for
feed for their flocks and herds on land which did not
yield such pasture.

The report of the Commission, under the head
" Loss of stock through drought," was startling :
" 235,152 sheep have perished out of 827,706 since the
30th of September, 1864, to the same date 1865, and
28,850 head of horned cattle out of 53,355. The horse
stock has also suffered severely, 903 out of 2145 being
reported lost. These losses do not include last year's


increase of lambs and calves, for, with some trifling
exceptions, not worthy of notice, all have perished."

Some of the most severe cases of loss were thus enu-
merated : " Out of a herd of cattle of 8000 head two
years ago, and which, according to the ordinary rate of
increase, should now number 12,000, only 1600 remain ;
of 7000 sheep belonging to the same proprietor, only
800 have been brought away, and of 550 horses 520
have died. Another proprietor reports the loss of 1500
cattle out of 3000, and he has deserted the station,
it being impossible to get supplies. Unless heavy
rains fall before Christmas, the whole of the herd must
die, it being utterly impossible to muster them, and
even could that be done, they would not be able to
travel away. Several others have lost three-fourths,
and many half, of their entire stock. These losses have
not arisen so much from want of water as from scarcity
of food and length of drought, as in many cases the
supply of water exceeds the feeding capabilities of the

In a return made by Mr. Goyder to the House of
Assembly, towards the end of December, it was shown
that the estimated loss to the revenue by making
reasonable concessions to those lessees of the Crown who
had suffered by the drought would be about 40,000.

Eventually a scheme was hit upon, and in closing
the session of Parliament on the 16th of March, 1866,
the Governor alluded to it in these terms : " It is with
great satisfaction that I have assented in her Majesty's
name to an Act for extending the term of occupation
to the pastoral lessees of the Crown, believing that,
while conferring a great boon on those who elect to
take advantage of the measure, it will not be detri-
mental to the general interest of the community;
and the subsequent Act, which allows the lessees the
alternative choice of a remission of rent in some propor-
tion to the loss of pasturage, is a wise concession, which
the unparalleled state of the country demanded."

Thus, under very difficult circumstances, the matter
was brought to a satisfactory result.

VOL. i. 2 c


Public feeling with regard to the squatters was con-
siderably changed in 1867, the drought having con-
tinued for an unexampled period. A series of
resolutions were introduced by the Commissioner of
Crown Lands and Immigration for affording relief
by allowing them to surrender the leases they Yield, in
exchange for others to be granted on more liberal terms,
and a Bill to give effect to this was passed with very
little opposition. Although the times \vere then so
hard to the squatters, and many of them were unable
to tide over their difficulties, some did not suffer in
the end, and they continued in the future, as they
had been in the past, among the most prosperous of the

The imminent wreckage of a Ministry in a peculiar
form during the rule of Governor Daly deserves a
passing notice, as it is among the historic incidents
of the colony's history. On the 13th of April, 1865,
Sir Dominick Daly, Sir Henry Ayers, Chief Secre-
tary, several other Ministers, and a distinguished
number of visitors, among whom was Lady Charlotte
Bacon (the lanthe of Byron), were being conveyed on
the City and Port Eailway the Government specula-
tion, which had cost over 250,000 by express train
from Adelaide on a visit to H.M.'s sloop Falcon. Mr.
Charles Simeon Hare, manager of railways, was in charge
of the train, and he gave instructions to the engine-
driver to put on " all speed." The result was a lurch,
a crash, and two of the carriages were overturned and
flung off the line. Happily the chain connecting the
engine with the train broke on the instant, and the
passengers escaped uninjured. A Commission of
Inquiry sat for seven days, and the blame having been
fixed on Mr. Hare, he was removed from office with
compensation. It is reported that in after years he
was wont to make merry in a subdued fashion on his
exploit, and to say that, " though he never held office
in a Ministry, he upset a Ministry and a Governor on
top of it ! "

The most memorable event of a general character


which marked the administration of Sir Dominick
Daly was the visit of his Koyal Highness the Duke of
Edinburgh in the steam frigate Galatea. The intima-

Online LibraryEdwin HodderThe history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 34)