Ernest Charles Buley.

Australian life in town and country online

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Indian Life. By Herbert Compton

Japanese Life, By George W. Knox

Cfiinese Life. By E. Bard

Piiilippine Life. By James A. Le

Australian Lite.



FEET, FLOW 800,000 GALS., TEMP. 114° F.


^ ^ By E. C. BULKY




^be fjnickerbocftec press

Copyright, 1Q05



Zbe ftn(ci:erboci!ec prees, "new l!?orI:




Country and Climate i

Squatters and Stations 14

Station Work 28

On a Selection 42

The Never-Never I/AND 55

On the Wallaby Track 69

In Time of Drought 81

.SO^di O

vi ^ Contents



Urban Australia 95

Life in the Cities 108

State Socialism and the Labour Party . 122

Golden Australia 134

Farm and Factory 145

The Australian Woman 157

Home and Social Life 169

The Australian at Play 182

The Aborigines 195

A White Australia 208

Contents vii



Education, Literature, and Art . . . 220

Nationai. Life in Australia .... 232

The Austrauan 245

Industriai, Pioneers 258

Australia's Destiny 270

Index 283



Hydrauwc Mining, The Wai,i,on Bore, Moree
District, Depth 3695 Feet, Flow 800,000
Gals., Temp. 114° F. . . . Frontispiece

Head oe Freshwater River, National Park 16

Mount Victoria Pass, New South Wales . 28

(Courtesy of Marselis C. Parsons, Esq., New York.)

State Nursery near Cairns .... 46

A Miner's Hut, Lithgow Valley, New South
Wales 54

Broken Hill Silver Mines, New South Wales 64

Road Scene on the Camberwarra Mountain,

Shoalhaven District 86

(Courtesy of Marselis C. Parsons, Esq., New York.)

Sluicing eor Gold at Freshwater . . . 104

Cattle Crossing, Nepean Towers, New South
Wales 120

(Courtesy of Marselis C. Parsous, Esq., New York.)

Hannan Street, Looking West, Kalgoorlic,

IN 1895 140




Hannan Street, Kai^goorwc, in 1905 . . 144

View oe a Queensi^and Seaport Town, Towns-

VIIvI,E 156


AT Work amongst the Cane . . . .182

View of Hartley Vale 202

(Courtesy of Marselis C. Parsons, Esq., New York.)

Scene at a Wayside Inn, New South Wales 224





IT has often been claimed for the British that
they are a successful colonising people, and
this claim has not been advanced without very
sufficient grounds. Those who assign this char-
acteristic to the race imply that it possesses, above
all things, the faculty of adaptability. If the colo-
nising Briton were not able to suit himself readily
to the necessities and the climatic conditions of
his new environment, he would not be a success
as a colonist. It is further characteristic of the
Briton that, until very recently, he has not been
disposed to exhibit any satisfaction in his colonis-
ing feats. His attitude in the past has been that
of a father of a family of young children, who re-
gards each new arrival as a source of additional
expense and responsibility.

2 Australian Life

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century,
however, a new era was inaugurated, when the
importance of the many colonies Great Britain has
planted in America, Africa, and Australasia was
at last recognised. The problems of colonial life
are now engaging the attention of the most
thoughtful of British statesmen and public offi-
cials, and the study of colonial afifairs has already
shown that in each of the great British colonies
different circumstances are producing an entirely
separate type of over-sea Briton.

It is well that this fact should be recognised, if
the fabric of Empire now being created is ever to
be made complete. In a new country, events
move with a rapidity bewildering to those born
and brought up under settled and accepted con-
ditions. Ten years served to convert Australia
from a collection of separate provinces into a na-
tion. Not very long ago it was the custom to
write of the Australian as an exiled Briton, who
jealously maintained British customs and tradi-
tions in his new environment, and always spoke
of the British Isles as "home," Observers who
obtained their information concerning Australia
during visits paid to the chief Australian cities,
or while enjoying the delightful hospitality of
some large and prosperous Australian station,
were induced to regard this as an established state
of affairs, rather than an interesting phase in the
development of a new community. They lost
sight of the fact that a native-born race was grow-

Country and Climate 3

ing up, to whom many of the British customs
would be traditions instead of things remembered
with sentimental pleasure, and that to the suc-
ceeding generation even the traditions would be

For instance, the Englishman born celebrated
Christmas Day in Australia in the good old-fash-
ioned style, with a smoking hot joint, and an
abundance of rich puddings and pies. His Aus-
tralian-born son in many cases maintained the
custom, although fully alive to the absurdity of
such fare at a season when the thermometer stands
at more than one hundred in the shade. The
present-day Australian may often be found spend-
ing his Christmas Day in some shady fern-tree
gully, clad in the easiest of clothes, and with
everything as cool as it is possible to be made.
The Australian climate renders the English
Christmas festivities practicall}^ impossible. In
the same way many other customs carried from
Great Britain to Australia by the pioneers of the
new race have been modified by conditions against
which the first-comers struggled, but which their
grandchildren accept as part of their everyday life.

For this reason, any one seeking to make ac-
quaintance with the Australian life of the present
day must bear in mind that it has essentially
changed during the past twenty years, and that
in another quarter of a century it will probably
have advanced yet another stage in its evolution.
The chief factors conducing to this evolution are

4 Australian Life

the nature of the Australian continent itself, its
isolation in the Southern seas, its climate, and the
peculiar conditions under which it was colonised.

It is necessary to conceive of Australia not as
a colony containing a population equal to little
more than one half the number of inhabitants of
the city of London, but as an immense continent,
three million square miles in extent. Compared
to other continents, which have their coast lines
indented by huge gulfs, and which push great
peninsulas out into the ocean, Australia is a sin-
gularly solid piece of land. As a matter of fact, its
coast line is smaller in proportion to its area than
that of any other continent. The physical con-
tour of the continent is remarkable for the same
monotony. Its surface is, broadly speaking, a
graduated system of immense plateaux and plains.
The one striking feature in Australian orography
is a strip of highland running from north to
south along the eastern coast. These highlands,
which separate the coastal plains and valleys from
the immense level interior of the continent, bear
the general name of the Dividing Range. In the
south-eastern corner of Australia, this range bends
westward, traversing the whole state of Victoria
and ending near the eastern border of South Aus-
tralia. It is in the south-eastern corner that the
Dividing Range attains its greatest altitude, sev-
eral peaks of the Australian Alps being over seven
thousand feet in height.

The eastern portion of Australia consists, then.

Country and Climate 5

first, of a coastal strip, backed by a mountain
range, beyond which a plateau gradually declines
to the low-lying central plains. The western di-
vision of Australia, a large part of which is still
practically unknown country, may also be de-
scribed as a low plateau, broken here and there by
well-marked mountain ranges of no great height.

Considerable prominence has been given to the
position and character of the Dividing Range, be-
cause of its influence upon the climate of Australia.
The chief rain-bearing winds, blowing from the
eastward and meeting these highlands, provide
the coastal districts with a plentiful rainfall. Be-
yond them the rainfall is scanty and irregular,
growing less in proportion to the distance from
the eastern coast. Hence the interior of Australia
suffers from dryness. The average rainfall of
more than half the continent is less than twenty
inches a j^ear, and for the greater part of this area
an annual rainfall of ten inches and under is cus-
tomary in ordinary seasons. As the evaporation
caused by the sun's heat is very great in Central
Australia, it is obvious that the normal condition
of the soil there must be one of extreme aridity.

The Dividing Range is naturally the main
watershed of the continent. The rivers flowing
to the eastern coast are necessarily short, but some
of them are of considerable volume and depth.
Of those flowing westward, the most important is
the Murray, which enters the sea through a large
shallow lake in South Australia. This river, with

6 Australian Life

its tributaries, the Darling and the Murrumbid-
gee, forms the most considerable waterway of
Australia, opening up part of the interior to river
vessels of shallow draught. Other rivers flowing
westward, such as the Diamantina and the Bar-
coo, lose themselves in the sands of Central Aus-
tralia, or trickle into the salt lakes of the interior.
In the dry season, they can hardly be termed
rivers, being rather a series of water-holes, con-
nected by a dry stream-bed. But when fed by
the tropical rains of a wet season, these rivers dis-
charge immense volumes of water, sometimes
overflowing their banks and flooding large tracts
of country.

When the contrast between coastal Australia
and the interior is considered, — the one district
well watered and possessing rivers navigable, al-
though short, while the other is arid and flat, and
lacks rivers communicating with the sea, — it is
not surprising to find that the population remains
in the coastal districts. There are less than four
million people in the whole continent, and more
than four-fifths of them reside within a hundred
miles of the coast. The centres of settlement,
dotted around the coast, are necessarily far apart,
for as the country was settled, it was split into a
number of states for the purpose of government.
Each of these states — until the Federation, which
began with the present century — was concerned
solely with its own aff"airs, and in each of them
there grew up one centre of population and trade.

Country and Climate 7

These state capitals are all seaport towns, and
iTom them have been constructed railways, ex-
tending throughout the coastal districts, and in
some cases far into the interior. The coastal dis-
tricts are largely agricultural, and contain smaller
towns which are farming centres. The interior —
the " back country," as it is sometimes called — is
given up to grazing. The grazing areas, called
"runs" in Australia, vary in size, some of those
in the more remote districts equalling the extent
of one of the smaller English counties.

The Australian, it will be seen, dwells either in
the large state capital, which acts as the sole trade
outlet and inlet to the whole state ; or in the agri-
cultural districts immediatelj'^ behind the coast ; or
in the back country, given up to grazing. The
Australian of the cities speaks of the rest of his
continent as " the bush." The dwellers in the
agricultural country speak of the district further
inland as the ' ' back country. ' ' Those themselves
in the back country have behind them a land,
partly unknown, and therefore attractive to the
adventurous, which they call the ' ' Never-Never

It has often been declared that the distinctive
characteristic of the bush is its monotony. Flat
or gently undulating land, dotted with trees
nearly all belonging to the same family, and pre-
senting a uniform dark green hue to the eye, ex-
tends for hundreds of miles. The trees are not
so close together as to prevent the grass from

8 Australian Life

flourishing on the plain beneath them, and there
is little or no undergrowth. The best of this
country has been not inaptly compared to the
park land of one of the flatter English counties.

This is a common aspect of the bush, but it is
only one aspect, and the bush has many. There
are Australians to whom the word recalls the
picture of a roaring mountain stream of cold, clear
water. The banks are carpeted knee-deep with
maiden-hair and coral fern, and out of this tender
green rise the velvety brown boles of the tree
ferns, each crowned with its wide circle of broad
fronds. Above the tree ferns trembles the grace-
ful feathery foliage of the sassafras, and higher
than the sassafras grows the myrtle, most shapely
of all Australian trees. From this tangle of
forest and fern, the tall mountain ashes rear their
smooth grey columns, one hundred and fifty feet of
straight timber before the first branch. The air
is sweet with the scent of fragrant meadow plants,
and from the thicket close at hand there comes
the long-drawn note of the whip bird, with its
curious and startling staccato ending. Some-
where in the distance the lyre bird is imitating
all the sounds of the forest, now fluting like a
magpie, and anon warbling like a whole chorus
of wrens. This is the bush in one of its most
gracious aspects.

Fifty miles nearer the coast, the mountain stream
has become a brimming river, winding through
fertile valleys and broad sunlit plains. Its banks

Country and Climate 9

are lined with groves of pleasant wattles, that are
covered in the early spring with a garment of
yellow blossoms, so fragrant that the warm
breezes carry their message to the distant city, and
men there know that winter has now become
spring again. Between the river and the distant
blue hills, the grassy meadows are unbroken by
any tree, save the clumps of lightwoods, with
thick and shining foliage. These cast across the
grass a welcome shadow, in which the sheep and
cattle cluster as the sun grows warm. From the
distance, blue hills beckon invitingly, but viewed
close at hand, they are forbidding and desolate.
The soil is hard and stony, and nourishes only a
coarse, scanty grass, with a few bristling thorny
shrubs here and there. The trees are twisted and
stunted, and their trunks are clad in a rough,
coarse bark that hangs from them in long untidy
strips. There is no pleasant stream to be found
here: one walks for miles only to find the ground
growing harder and stonier, and the undergrowth
scantier and less attractive. A bush fire swept
down this range the summer before last, as the
bare branches of the trees and their blackened
trunks bear witness. Near the trunks there is a
fringe of fresh green foliage, out of which the
skeleton branches protrude most uncompromis-
ingly. It is not cheerful or inviting, but the bush
holds scenes that are sterner still.

fThere are wastes of sand hummocks, with crest
and hollow as regular as the wave and trough of

lo Australian Life

the ocean. Over all these wastes grows nothing
but the stiff spinifex grass, recognised as an unfail-
ing sign of barren land. That country is dreary and
monotonous beyond conception, but not so chilling
as the mysterious dead forests, where the trees
have long ago parted with every sign of leaf or
bark, and stand with white, palsied trunks and
gnarled limbs writhing into all fantastic imagery.
In the daytime, they are gaunt and forbidding,
but seen in the white light of an Australian moon,
when the wailing cry of the curlew is never silent,
they fill the soul with a profound melancholy. '

The broad Western plains are more cheerful,
with their clumps of drooping myalls, that glisten
like silver when the wind stirs their leaves. The
grey salt bush that covers the plain is not attrac-
tive to the eye, but it has the merit of being use-
ful. There are other plains, where neither tree,
bush, nor herb covers the nakedness of the red
soil, and where the wind comes heralded by a
cloud of dust that settles on everything, choking
the dry creek-beds, drifting over fences and even
buildings, and smothering the whole world v»^ith
its effacing redness. To the Australian, it is all
the bush. The mangrove swamps and dense
tropical forests of the North, the tracts of giant
timber in South-western Australia, the "scrub"
wastes of the interior where nothing can live, all
go to make up the bush^

The occupation of the interior began early in
the nineteenth century, with the arrival of the

Country and Climate n

free settlers. Convict stations had been estab-
lished on the coast, and free men had only been
too glad to escape the convict taint by pushing
across the Dividing Range, where the early ex-
plorers had found passes through the hills to the
good land beyond. The wisdom of Captain Mac-
arthur, who provided the new country with a
breed of sheep bearing the finest wool, was justified
by the reputation gained by Australian merino
wool in the markets of the Motherland. There
was plenty of room for all while the foundations
of the great pastoral industry, Australia's sole re-
source until the middle of the nineteenth century,
were being laid. Then came the discovery of the
gold, which attracted throngs of enterprising and
adventurous men to Australia. In those stirring
times, the coastal cities began to expand: their
harbours were full of shipping, and their streets
were crowded with newcomers. These spread
over the face of the land, passing from one newly
discovered goldfield to another, everywhere form-
ing fresh settlements. When the gold fever
abated, many of them reverted to their original
occupations, while others obtained grants of land
from the Government, and occupied themselves
with farming and pastoral pursuits.

Thus Australia obtained population, but with
the decline of the goldfields came the discovery
that farming did not pay. The farmers suffered
from the want of a large local market, and from
the isolated position of Australia, which at that

12 Australian Life

time rendered the export of farm produce of a
perishable nature ahnost an impossibility. The
pastoralist, with his wide expanses of grazing
land and inexpensive methods, could pay freights
to the Old World on his wool and tallow and still
flourish. It was not so with the agriculturist,
who found the markets glutted with the perish-
able products of his farm, while wheat-growing
Russia and America possessed advantages of po-
sition which left him unable to compete with
them. In these circumstances, some of the Aus-
tralian States initiated a policy of protective tariflfs,
designed to hasten that stage of national develop-
ment when the manufacture of the raw products
of the country should be localised. The immedi-
ate result of this policy was a further accession of
population to the capital cities, where the new
factories were established.

The last phase in Australian development is the
result of the improvement which has taken place
in the arrangement for the transport of perishable
goods in a refrigerated condition. The cold
chamber and the cold-storage depot have turned
the thoughts of Australians to dairying, fruit
growing, and poultry farming, and have created
a new demand for agricultural land.

It is my task to sketch the conditions of Austral-
ian life at this stage in the history of the conti-
nent. I have aready indicated the size and
importance of the Australian capital cities, from
which the visitor to Australia gains the most last-

Country and Climate 13

ing impression of the Antipodes. Those cities
have been frequently described as British cities,
planted in more genial climate and under more
favourable circumstances. There are no essential
differences between the mode of life of a citizen of
Sydney and a citizen of lyiverpool, although in
many minor details interesting distinctions may be
observed. But in the bush, a new type of Briton
with distinctive faculties and characteristics has
already been evolved. The men who live on the
land are the typical Australians, and the courage
and endurance with which they face the hardships
and uncertainties of their life provide the brightest
promise for the future of the new nation.



THE men who laid the foundations of the pas-
toral industry were trespassers in the eyes of
the law. They wanted the right to run their
stock on large areas of land, transferring them
from place to place as pasturage and water failed.
They could not by any possibility purchase so
much land as they required for this purpose, and
the terms on which they could obtain leasehold
rights were prohibitive. They therefore occupied
the land without possessing any authority to do
so, and thus obtained their name of " squatters."
The importance to the new colony of the wool
they produced preserved them from interference,
and in time, their position was recognised by the
introduction of a system dividing the back coun-
try into " pastoral districts," which might be oc-
cupied on the payment of a reasonable yearly
rental. No fence marked the boundar}'- of the
early squatter's run. The fixing of such a limit
was often a matter of arrangement with the
nearest neighbour, distant a long day's ride on
horseback. Just as often, the squatter was in

Squatters and Stations 15

undisputed possession of a district more than large
enough for his flocks and herds, which were trans-
ferred from one spot to another, wherever abun-
dance of food or water might be found. Each
flock was in charge of a shepherd, whose duty it
was to keep the sheep within certain limits, and
to guard the lambs from their worst enemy, the
dingo, or wild dog. The shepherd lived the life
of a hermit, probably seeing no human being ex-
cept the man who brought him his stores of tea
and flour from the head station at fixed periods,
and relying for company upon his dogs. There
was no talk of overstocking in those days. In
bad seasons, the stock were moved to new pas-
tures, hitherto untouched, and in good years they
rioted in the superabundant pastures.

Prices for Australian wool ruled high, and the
squatters prospered until the very mention of the
word came to suggest the possession of wealth.
Who has not heard of the wool "kings" of Aus-
tralia ? They had their town mansions standing
in spacious grounds and occupying the most desir-
able situations in the best suburbs of Sydney and
Melbourne. With princely disregard of cost,
they erected dwellings on their runs, designed to
afibrd their occupiers the maximum of comfort
and to neutralise the more unpleasant conditions of
the Australian climate. They kept racing studs,
drove four-in-hand drags, and entertained chance
visitors with a liberality so open-handed that
Australian hospitality obtained a well-deserved

1 6 Australian Life

reputation in the Old World. There is a true
story told of a young squatter who, to provide
for the comfort of his guests in hot weather, had

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Online LibraryErnest Charles BuleyAustralian life in town and country → online text (page 1 of 17)