John Dunmore Lang.

Cooksland in north-eastern Australia: the future cottonfield of Great ... online

. (page 23 of 47)
Online LibraryJohn Dunmore LangCooksland in north-eastern Australia: the future cottonfield of Great ... → online text (page 23 of 47)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Colonization may, doubtless, if formed on right prin-
ciples, and with a thorough knowledge of the country
to be colonized, and the modes of operation and pro-
cedure which its physical character and circumstances
suggest, as proper for the emigrant, prove of incal-
culable benefit to all concerned, by effecting for the
whole emigrant community, what no individual of that
community, or rather what not even the whole com-
munity combined could accomplish for themselves.
But for people who know absolutely nothing either of
Colonies in general, or of any one Colony in particular,
to assume the serious responsibility of getting up a

y Google


Colonizing Company, merely as a Joint Stock specu-
lation in London, and through their own sheer igno-
rance of every thing that is either requisite or proper
for such an undertaking, if not from a more excep-
tionable motive, to entrap unsuspecting and confiding
people into an enterprise which absorbs all their means,
and perhaps blasts all their hopes, and involves them
in ruin — ^this, I conceive, is so serious an offence, and
does such an infinity of harm to the cause of Emigra-
tion and Colonization generally, that I almost think it
ought to be taken cognizance of by the Legislature,
and severely punished.

The case adduced by Dr. Dorsey, I mean the diffi-
culty of obtaining a comparatively small portion of land
from the Local Government, even for money, and at
the price fixed by Act of Parliament, is precisely a case
for the interposition of a Company between the Govern-
ment and the people. It is a singular instance of the
aristocratic character of our National Legislation, and
of the cold step-mother breath which it breathes upon
the humbler classes of society, that whereas, if the
Duke of Newcastle were inclined to purchase, for in-
stance, a snug little Colonial estate of 20,000 acres of
land in the Australian Colonies, for any political pur-
pose whatsoever, or even if the Earl of Shrewsbury
were disposed to make a similar purchase for the
avowed purpose of founding a college of EstcUicos and
Estaticas in Australia, Her Majesty's Government, in
accordance with the Act of Parliament for such cases
made and provided, would allow either his Grace or
his Lordship to select the land wherever he pleased at
the minimum price, without let or hindrance of any
kind ; but if Mr. Campbell's two shepherds, instead of
spending their earnings, had been inclined to club them,
and to purchase eighty acres, or: ne eighth part of a
section or square mile of land^ to settle down with their
families as small farmers on their own account, not
only would they not be allowed to purchase the land
at the minimum price, but the probability is, they
would not be allowed to purchase it at all! One or



Other of the endless regulations of a Military Governor
— a class of functionaries, who, to judge from recent
examples, seem to have none of the common sympathies
of human nature, and to belong to a different race of
mankind altogether — ^would, in all likelihood, inter-
vene, and the men would be driven to the public-house
from the mere impracticability of finding that species
of investment for their money, which is perhaps the
most agreeable to the feelings of men generally, and
the likeliest to exert a salutary influence on the cha-
racter of men in the humbler walks of life. Now such
a Company as I have suggested would avail itself, on
the one hand, of the aristocratic privilege of the Duke
or the Earl, by purchasing blocks of 20,000 acres of
land, wherever it could be done with suSetj from the
quality and the situation of the land, while it would
do, on the other, what a paternal Government would
have done all along, but what no Government we have
ever had in New South Wales has even attempted to
do, by enabling the comparatively humble individual
to purchase his eighty-acre farm at once, and by giving
him a free-passage out to the Colony, by allowing him
to select and settle on his land immediately on his ar-
rival, and by constructing roads and bridges, or estab-
lishing such other means of communication in his vi-
cinity as would tend materially to lessen the difficul-
ties, and to multiply and increase the comforts and ad-
vantages of his new course of life.

Dr. Dorsey is in error, however, in supposing that
the Legislative Council of New South Wales has it in
its power to apply any remedy to any of the various
abuses in the system of disposing of ^e waste land of
the- colony ; for, incredible as it may appear to people at
home, the entire administration of these lands is claimed
and exercised by the Representative of her Majesty,
the Local Governor, as a prerogative of the Crown with
the exercise of which the Representatives of the peo-
ple have nothing to do ! Agreeably to this theory of
Government — the simplicity of which is as remarkable
as that of the people who suppose that British subjects

y Google


at the extremity of the globe, especially with the ex-
ample of America before their eyes, will continue to
submit either tamely or long to so monstrous an injus-
tice — the great Robinson Crusoe of Downing Street
is " monarch of all he surveys " in the vast Colonial
Empire of Britain, and " his man Friday," the Local
Grovemor, is merely his subordinate agent, a sort of
Irish middle-man between the Ix)rd-paramount and
the colonial serfs!

I also addressed the following queries to Robert
Dixon, Esq., the author of the map appended to this
volume, who had been for upwards of two years the re-
sident Government Surveyor in the Moreton Bay dis-
trict, and on whose opinion and judgment, in reference
to the qualities of the soil in New South Wales, from
his long residence and great experience in the colony,
the greatest reliance can be placed. I append Mr,
Dixon's answers in their order.

1. What is your opinion of the suitableness of the Moreton
Bay district, (supposing it to extend so far south as the Solitary
Isles, or 30° S.,) for the settlement of an agricultural population
from the mother-country, to derive their subsistence chiefly from
the cultivation of the soil !

That Moreton Bay Tor the northern district from Clarence
River, or the parallel oi latitude 30° south, to the parallel of 27^)
is capable of maintaining an immense population of agricultural
immigrants from the mother-country. This portion of the colony
is particularly adapted for settlers of this description ; land t^)
any extent could be selected on the navigable rivers, and of tlie
richest description.

2. Do you think the constitution of British practical farmers,
or farm- labourers, could stand the out-of-door labour that would
be required for carrying on agricultural operations of any kind
in the climate of Moreton Bay ?

3. Are you aware that field-labour has been carried on in that
district for many years past without prejudice to the health of
the Europeans, chiefly convicts, engaged in it !

During upwards of two years' residence at Moreton Bay, I am
convinced the climate is such as is quite suitable to the constitution
of British labourers. 1 carried on my field-surveying operations
the same as in other parts of the colony, without the least injury
to the men's health. The convicts employed there in field la>
hour had two hours at dinner-time in midsummer, and one in win-

y Google


ter, and were all strong and healthy ; and the twenty-one men
attached to the Survey department, who had just arrived from
England, and landed from a convict-ship, all kept in good

4. What are the principal localities with which you are ac-
quainted in the district, which it would be advisable for a com-
pany formed in England for the settlement of small farmers, on
farms of eighty acres, or thereby, at Moreton Bay, to purchase
for the purpose, and what may be the probable extent of avail-
able land in each locality ?

The principal localities which I am acquainted with are in the
Moreton Bay district, and a company could purchase land in diffe-
rent locations to any extent — on the rivers Brisbane and Bremer,
and their tributaries, the Logan, Albert, Cabulture, and Pine Ri-
vers, all navigable for boats ; on the banks of which are exten-
sive tracts of rich alluvial land, with timber fit for all purposes,
and coal and iron abounding, with limestone at Ipswich.

5. As the Act of Parliament allows blocks of 20,000 acres of
land to be purchased in any locality without subjecting the land
to competition by public auction, are there any tracts of really
superior land for agriculture, of that extent, which a company
would be safe to purchase in this way, with a view to its being
re-sold, at a small advance on the cost price to bona-fide emigrant
farmers in farms of eighty acres each ?

Blocks of 20,000 acres of land could be selected at various
places, where the principal portion would be of the richest de-
scription of alluvial soil, which no doubt could be sold to hona-fide
emigrant farmers at a considerable advance upon the purchase-
money, according to the richness of the soil, and whether clear
or covered with heavy brush timber, and the advantages of wa-
ter carriage.

6. In other localities, where the good land is only found in
smaller patches, as on the banks of rivers and creeks, and
where it would therefore have to be put up to auction, agreeably
to the Act of Parliament, what extent of land might be put up,
to be bought at the minimum price, by such* a company — I mean
what extent of really good land for such a purpose is there, on
the principal rivers and creeks of the district with which you
are acquainted %

Really good land, on the rivers and creeks, could be selected
• to a large extent ; but without a considerable time spent in cal-
culation, I could not name any specific quantity on each. If put
up by auction, where it could be bought in sections along the
banks of the navigable rivers, I am certain a very large portion
could be purchased of really rich alluvial land.

7. Do you think that industrious small farmers from the mo-
ther-country, purchasing eighty acres of land each from such a

y Google


company, on the banks of the Brisbane or Logan Riyers, or on any
of their tributaries, or in the adjacent alluvial plains, and getting
a free passage to the colony, with the prospect of having half
the purchase-money of the land expended in local improvements,
such as roads and bridges,' — do you think that small farmers in
such circumstances would not have a fair prospect of realizing a
handsome return from their capital and labour, as well as of
speedily establishing themselves in comfort and comparative in-
dependence ?

It is my opinion that industrious small farmers, purchasing
eighty or a hundred acres of land, and getting a free passage to
the colony, with half the purchase-money of the land expended
in making roads and bridges, would have an excellent chance of
speedily establishing themselves in comfort and comparative in-

8. Supposing the alluvial lands along the principal rivers and
creeks of the ^strict to be settled by small farmers in the man-
ner proposed, would it be practicable for them, generally speak-
ing, to obtain grazing, if they required it, for a few head of cat-
tle, on the inferior waste land adjoining, which nobody would be
likely to purchase at the present minimum price for a long time
to come 1

Supposing the alluvial land along the principal rivers and
creel» to be settled, it is quite practicable for every one of such
settlers to have access to the vacant forest land in the rear,
where they could feed their working oxen, a few cows, sheep, or
horses, free of expense.

Two portions of the northern district I am not personally ac-
quainted with, viz. the Clarence and Richmond Rivers ; but a
large proportion of the land in these districts is of the finest al-
luvial soil, and particularly adapted for agricultural purposes.
No land on these rivers having yet been sold, leaves a fine field
for a company to purchase on a large scale.

I am happy to be able to add to these favourable
testimonies in regard to the capabilities of the district
of Moreton Bay, as a field for the emigration of per-
sons of the agricultural and labouring classes, the fol-
lowing additional notanda, drawn up, at my particular
request, by my worthy friend Dr. Leichhardt, the dis-
tinguished Australian traveller. I deem it unnecessary
to translate into idiomatic English the few expressions
in these notanda, that have rather a foreign aspect, as
they will all be sufficiently intelligible to the English
reader, and as the paper will doubtless be more inte-
resting in its original form.

y Google


There are perhaps few spots of the Colony better adapted for
agricultural purposes, than those rich flats which accompany the
upper part of the Brisbane, the Durrundur, Stanley's Creek, and
their numerous tributaries. The soil is the detritus of basaltic
rock, of Sienite and Diorite, or of sandstone and pudding or con-
glomerate. The basaltic soil is black, principally clay, witii a good
share of vegetable matter, and concretions of limestone or marl,
the sienitic is generally a stiff clay, mixed more or less with sand :
the same mixture exists in the soil of the sandstone and conglo-
merate country, which are nothing else but a regenerate rock
formed by the detritus of primitive rocks. Instances of basaltic
soil are considerable stretches at Mr. fiigge's, at Limestone, at
Noniianby Plains. At Archer's, Mackenzie's, Bigge's, Maccon-
nel's Station, alluvial flats of a more clayey nature with a share of
sand are found, and along the sea coast between the settlement
and the Glass-houses, sandstone and sandy soil are prevailing.
The northern part of Moreton Bay is preferable to the southern,
because it has a greater share of moisture, though Uie whole dis-
trict is highly favoured with rain. I have seen the finest crops
of wheat at Archer's, Mackenzie's, Balfour's, Bigge's, Macoonnel's
Station, though these gentlemen just commenced to make the
experiment, neither having good and equal grain, (instead of
one variety 3 or 4 mixed which ripened unequally,) nor knowing
exactly the best time of putting it in the ground ; which is of the
highest importance, in consequence of the rains.

Besides wheat and saco, the barley, the yellow and brown
millet, a species of Guinea-grass, the Indian com, the English
potato, (very fine,) the sweet potato, the pumpkin, '(several
varieties,) the melon, (water melon, rock melon, &c. &c.,) the
sugar-cane, (Archer's Station, and the Bot. garden in Brisbane,)
the banana, the pine apple, the cotton tree, (in the Bot. garden
defending its miserable existence against the suffocating grasp
of the couch-grass,) the yam, the grape vine, the peach, orange,
&c., &,c. In fSact it would be difficult to say, what did not grow,
(as cherries, plums, rasp-berries, and similar plants, which re-
quire a colder climate.) There is one great difficulty in the cul-
ture of the vine, which will never allow Moreton Bay to become
a wine- country, though the soil " would be favourable for good
quality. This is the setting in of the rainy season, at a time
when the grape is entering into full maturity. It is of the high-
est importance to allow the grape to get dead ripe, aye even to
dry almost on the stem, and turn into raisin. TI^s is a secret,
which few vine growers of this country know, and when they
know it, they are so much afraid of the loss by birds and thieves,
that they prefer to make an early vintage and a miserable watery
wine. In Moreton Bay, such a thing as a late vintage, (even an
early one) is almost impossible, for the rains set in at the end of
January, and last almost through the whole of February. It is
therefore my belief, that the Hunter's River District, and Port
Stephens will become very valuable, whenever the people will find
out, that almost every inch of it is favourable for vineyards.

y Google


The cotton-tree will grow well in Moreton Bay, though the
plantation in the Bot garden at Brisbane was any thing but
promising. But no care had been taken with it for several
years, and the Indian couch-grass is a dangerous enemy. Some
specimens which I saw at the Mission, grew very well, and gave
a good cotton. England could soon make itself independent from
America in opening a settlement at Port Essington, though
Malay labour would be required in a climate like that of the
north coast of Australia ; the cotton obtained in Port Essington,
has been sent home, and the first judges have pronounced it to
be of the first quality. It grows even wild on the Islands of
Endeavour Straight, (at Entrance island.)*

When I was in Moreton Bay, I witnessed several cases of
ague, though of no malignant character, and readily yielding to
some few doses of Quinine ; rheumatic complaints were frequent.
The fact is that everybody is so careless, so spoilt by the fine
cUmate, that he thinks it almost impossible his body could suffer
by any exposure, particularly at the commencement of the rainy
season. The master as well as the servant, think it not worth
while to change their clothes, when they are drenched with rain,
or to have a cloak or a poncho to prevent it. The consequence
is, that they are punished by rheumatism, or occasionally by an
attack of ague, when their stomach was filled with a greater
quantity of vegetables than was good to them. It is a curious
fact, that Stations which have no gardens, the people living exclu-
sively on damper and tea dr milk and meat, have less illness than
those which have gardens and grow abundance of vegetables. I
think that the people are liable of eating too much, and I know
that frequent cases of diarrhsea are almost always traced to that
source, though the water has often been accused to be the cause
of it A garden is, however, such a comfort, and accustoms the
people to a regular and pleasing occupation during their idle
hours, that I am a great advocate for gardening. I speak of
course only of the sheep and cattle stations far off the Settlement,
• where gardening could not be turned into farther profit

I never had an instance of working men suffering by heat in

* A specimen of Port Essington cotton has recently been pro-
nounced to be equal in point of quality to the produce of Per-
nambuco ; but the produce of Moreton Bay has been found to be
not inferior to that of Georgia. In fact cotton does not appear
to require so hot a climate as that of Port Essington or Pernam-
buco to bring it to maturity. Besides, the practicability of apply-
ing European labour to its cultivation at Moreton Bay, is the cir-
cumstance of paramount importance in the matter ; for I do not
suppose that Malay labour on the north coast of Australia would
be at all superior, if even equal to Hindoo labour in India. Dr.
Leichhardt did not see the specimens of cotton I saw in Dr. Bal-
low's garden.

y Google


this colony. I myself, not accustomed to hard work, have been
occupied for days and weeks in felling trees, in making fatiguing
excursions, carrying Iieavy loads, without any bad eflTect. In the
contrary, working people generally improve in health after leav-
ing the Settlement ; for the publican is the real ague of this
colony. I felt the heat much more at the Settlement, at Lime-
stone, and under Cunningham's Gap, (Cameron's Station,) than
at the Stations to the Northward, which probably depends from
the freer access of the sea breeze.

The finest part of the district for extent and quality is perhaps
Limestone and its neighbourhood. The richness of its black
plains in grasses and herbs is wonderful. It is besides at th^e^
head of navigation, and more in the reach of the Squatters than

In the event of an extensive emigration of persons
of the agricultural classes being directed to the terri-
tory of Cooksland, a great variety of other branches of
business, besides agriculture, would there find a highly
eligible field and be vigorously pursued, as soon as the
circumstances of the country, or the views of enter-
prising individuals should direct the growing energies
of the communi ty into particular channels. The timber-
trade, for instance, would receive an immediate impulse,
both in the way of supplying an article of exporta-
tion, that would serve as dead- weight in the wool ships,
and in the working up of that article in the various pro-
cesses of ship-building, house-carpentery, agricultural
implements, and cabinet-making. The Bay, as I have
already observed, would present an attractive field for
the establishment of a fishery, as also for that of a Soap
manufactory, while the sand of Moreton Island, being
of the description required for the glasses of achromatic
telescopes, would afford the requisite material for the
manufacture of glass. The culture of indigo, of cotton,
and of sugar, would call into existence the manufactures
necessary for the preparation of the raw article for ex-
portation, while a woollen-manufacture, to work up the
coarse wool of the country into Colonial tweed, could
be established as easily and with equal success at More-
ton Bay as at Hunter s River. In the meantime, the
supply of coal and lime, both procurable at Ipswich, on
the banks of a navigable river,* whether for agricul-

* Excellent freestone for building is procurable in the same

Digitized by VjOOQ IC


ture, for building, or for manufectures, would afford em-
ployment to many industrious families, while the curing of
meat, and the rearing of hogs, would not only give em-
ployment to labour, but supply an important addition
to the exports of the district. In such circumstances,
" the schoolmaster" would require to be " abroad," and
so also would the minister of religion, the medical man
and the lawyer. In short, the whole framework of
European society could be reproduced in the territory
of Cooksland in a period of time remarkably short, and
with probably far greater facility than in any other
locality in the British Colonial Empire.

The following are extracts of the evidence given be-
fore the Immigration Committee of the Legislative
Council of New South Wales, in the year 1845, by
various highly competent witnesses connected with the
Moreton Bay District of the Colony, in regard to the
physical character and capabilities of that District : —

Thubsdat, 28th August 1846.
Charles Nicholson, Esq., M.D., in the Chair.
The Auditor-Greneral. I The Colonial-Secretary.

Charles Cowper, Esq. Rev. Dr. Lang.

Robert Lowe, Esq. | Joseph Phelps Robinson, Esq.

Robert Graham, Esquire, called in and examined : —

1. You are a merchant in Sydney ! I am.

2. And are also connected with various pastoral establishments
in the Colony ! Yes, both as a principal and as the representa-
tive of others ; the cUstrict I am more particularly connected
with is Moreton Bay.

3. Have you been at Moreton Bay 1 I have lived there, and
have been were several times since.

4. What is your opinion of that district of the Colony, as a

neighbourhood, as also chalk ; and at Mr. Coulson's Station,
twenty-five miles from Ipswich, towards the Gap, plumbago
has been discovered. Copper ore, it is alleged, has Ukewise been
found somewhere on the Brisbane, but the discoverer refuses to
point out the locality in which it occurs, in consequence of the
very illiberal manner in which the Government acts in the dis-
posal of land containing minerals.

y Google


fftvourable field for immigration f I think it would afford a
large field for immigration from the mother>comitry.

5. Do you think it is capable of supporting a large population !
I do ; I think it much more capable of supporting a large popu-
lation than the land on the Hunter, which is the only part of the
Colony that I am intimately acquainted with, on account of the
periodical rains ; the climate is more regular there than here.

6. What is the present rate of wages in the district — ^is it ad-
vancing upon former rates I When I was in Moreton Bay, in
February last, 1 made a calculation with Mr. Mackenzie, Mr.^
Balfour, and my brother, and took the average wages paid by
each, from which it appeared that my brother paid twenty pounds
a-year, some odd shillings, to each of his men ; Mr. Balfour

Online LibraryJohn Dunmore LangCooksland in north-eastern Australia: the future cottonfield of Great ... → online text (page 23 of 47)