John Dunmore Lang.

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tive domains with as large an extent of unoccupied
waste land as possible, to provide for the largest pos-
sible increase of their flocks and herds ; and into these
vast solitudes no Turk or Tartar is allowed to enter. In
the Moreton Bay District it is already difficult to find
an unoccupied run or station to the Southward of the
26th parallel of South Latitude ; for although there is a
large extent of pastoral country to the north-westward
beyond the Darling Downs, it does not appear to be
well watered; Mr. Colin Campbell, a respectable Squat-
ter on the Downs, who had penetrated into it to a greater
extent than any other person had done, having had con-
siderable difficulty in effecting his retreat from it, from



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294 COOKSLAND.

the want of water. Stations have accordingly been
formed for some time past on the upper part of the
Boyne River, which, rising in the north-western in-
terior, pursues a north-easterly course to the ocean,
and empties itself into the Pacific at Rodd's Bay in
Port Cartis, on the 24th parallel of South Latitude.

When the Squatter has selected and secured his run,
and can say for the time being, at lea.st, " I am mon-
arch of all I survey," his first care is to occupy it with
his flocks and herds, and to erect temporary dwellings
for himself and his servants, as well as folds for his
sheep or stockyards for his cattle. In the first instance,
these dwellings are generally formed of slabs, and co-
vered with bark ; glass windows, a deal floor, a shingled
roof, and an additional apartment or two besides the
original one that serves for all purposes, with perhaps
a neat garden, being added gradually if the Squatter
is a man of taste and leisure, or has any regard either
for personal convenience or for appearances. In the
Port Phillip district, where a large proportion of the
Squatters are recent arrivals from Scotland, and where
the greater cold of the climate renders a greater degree
of attention to personal comfort absolutely necessary,
the Squatters' huts have generally a stone built chim-
ney projecting rudely beyond the line of the slab wall,
but suggesting ideas of snugness and comfort that re-
concile the traveller to the rude appearance of the
habitation ; but this is never seen in the milder climate
of New South Wales and Cooksland. The cost of such
supplies for the station as must be conveyed to it from
the nearest considerable town — ^sugar, tea and salt, &c.,
as well as flour and maize, in the first instance — will be
greater or less according to its distance, and the facili-
ties or difficulties of transport ; but most Squatters, at
least those at a distance, have sooner or later a patch
of cultivation, where they raise sufficient grain for the
consumption of the establishment.

Some stations are appropriated entirely to sheep,
others to cattle, according to the quality of the pas-
ture, or the caprice of the proprietor ; but the greater
number have both sheep and cattle, and many have



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THE SQUATTING SYSTEM. 295

horses also. The high and dry ground, where the pas-
ture is neither too rich nor too abundant, is best for
sheep ; the low swampy ground, or the rich alluyial
flats, being best adapted for cattle. As sheep, however,
have latterly been a more profitable description of
stock, many cattle-runs have been transformed into
sheep-stations, when the nature of the country has ad-
mitted of such a change. The number of sheep in a
flock is generally from 600 to 800 ; but in the open
country of the Darling Downs, as well as in a few other
tracts of a siipilar character to the Southward, as many
as from 2000 to 2500 sheep can be run with safety in
a single flock. Euns or stations are frequently sold in
the Colony, with all the stock on them, and it is often
difficult to dispose of a large flock or herd of cattle at
all, unless the run is given in with them. I have heard
of a thousand pounds being given for a run over and
above the value of the stock.

The profits of sheep-farming depend very much on
the original cost of the animals, and on the price of the
wool ; and a few years ago, when sheep were generally
purchased at four times their real value, as estimated
by the annual income derivable from them in wool,
while the price of wool in the English market subse-
quently experienced a serious and unexpected reduc-
tion, it was no wonder that the speculation should
prove generally unfortunate, and involve many in ruin.
But when purchased at a moderate price, and managed
with prudence and economy, sheep, although in all cir-
cumstances a precarious, are, generally speaking, a
highly profitable description of stock. This indeed
may be reasonably inferred from the numbers of all
classes and professions who annually abandon the
cities and towns of the Colony, and become flock-
masters in the vast interior of Australia. At all
events, the rearing of sheep and cattle is a much less
precarious employment now, than it was a few years
ago, before the Boiling-down system, to which I have
iJready adverted, had established a minimum price for
both sheep and cattle.

The following are the calculations of a practical man,

Digitized by VjOOQ IC



296 COOKSLAKD.

in regard to the results both of sheep and cattle farming,
when engaged in on a respectable scale, in Australia.
They are extracted from the recently published work
of a Squatter at Port Phillip :* for as the results of
sheep and cattle farming are much the same in all parts
of the vast territory of New South Wales, it is of little
consequence for what part of that territory such calcu-
lations have been made.

Sapposing, therefore, that any person, or any two such per-
sons in company, possessing a capital of £3000 altogether, should
purchase 4000 sheep at 5s. a head, (the price when Mr. GrifBth
left Port Phillip,) the said sheep would cost £2000, and would
consist of 2400 breeding ewes, 600 hoggets, and 100 wedder
lambs and rams. Buliock-drays, bullocks, and horses, would
cost £200 additional, leaving £800 to be deposited in the bank to
buy stores, pay the wages of hired servants, and meet contin-
gencies. The expenses and returns from such an outlay of capital
would be as follows :

FIRST TEAR.

Expenses,
Wages of four shepherds at £20 each.
Rations for do. at £5 each, .

Two hut-keepers ; one extra man.
One bullock-driver and rations for do..
One working overseer and rations^
License and assessment.
Shearing and washing.
Travelling expenses, with tear and wear of

hurdles,

Rations for proprietor^

£446 13 4
Reiums,
Wool of 4000 sheep, at 2| lbs. each fleece, 1 1,000

lbs. at lid. per lb., .... £504 3 4
Wool of 2000 lambs dropped in April and May,

at Ij^ lbs. each fleece, viz. 3000 lbs. at Is., 150



£80








20








76








30








45








26


14


4


40








100








30









£654 3 4
446 13 4

Balance, £207 10



* The Present State and Prospects of the Port Phillip District
of New South Wales. By Charles Griffith, A.M. Dublin, 1845.



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THE SQUATTING SYSTEM. , 297
SVCOND YB A&.

Expends.

Expenses of first year, ..... £446 1 3 4

One additional shepherd, one hut-keeper, . 50

Additional charge for assessment and license, 8 6 8

Additional cost of shearing, . . . 1:0



£515
Returns,
Wool of 6000 sheep, averaging, as before,

16,500 lbs. at lid., .... 756 1 8

Wool of 2500 lambs, viz. 3125 lbs. at Is., . 156 5

400 wedders, sold at 5s. each, after shearing, 1 00

200 ewes boiled do^n, at 5s. each, . . 50



£1062 6 8
515



Balance, £547 6 8
In the third year the Squatter would shear 1 1,000 sheep and
ambs, and his gains would increase proportionally.

The elements of uncertainty in tliese calculations are
the prime cost of the sheep and their subsequent mar-
ket-value, the rate of wages and the price of wool.
These are all subject to considerable fluctuations; and,
as a general rule, it may be taken for granted that when
sheep are above ten shillings a-head, the speculation
is rather doubtful.

The circumstance which ought decidedly to give the
territory of Cooksland the preference at the present
moment, in the estimation of any person intending to
embark in pastoral pursuits in Australia, is, that it is
the only portion of the vast territory of New South
Wales which presents an unlimited field for squatting,
and an unlimited outlet for stock. The recent disco-
veries of Dr. Leichhardt and Sir Thomas Mitchell have
shown that, both to the northward and the north-west-
ward, there is a vast extent of waste land available for
pastoral pursuits, which already invites the Squatter, and
promises him a rich return for his enterprise and capi-
tal and labour ; and as the whole of the stock that will
ere long be occupying this extensive country must be
introduced into it from Cooksland, that part of the ter-
ritory will unquestionably derive the greatest benefits
from its discovery. As the expedition of Dr. Leich-



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298 COOK8LAND.

hardt is one of the most interesting and important
events that has yet occurred in the history of Austra-
lia, the reader will doubtless be pleased to have the
following brief account of its origin, its objects, and its
success, incorporated in this volume.

During the first Session of the present Legislative
Council of New South Wales, held in the year 1843, a
motion to the following effect was submitted to the
Council by Charles Nicholson, Esq., M.D., one of the
six members for Port Phillip, and now Speaker of the
Council : —

Extract from the Votes and Proceedings of the Lbgis-
LATiTE Council, No. 35.

Tuesday, Zd October 1843.

2. Overland Route to Port Essington — Dr. Nicholson, pursu-
ant to notice, moved the following resolution : —

That whereas the establishment of an overland route between
the settled parts of New South Wales and Port Essington will be
attended with important additions to our geographical knowledge
of the interior of Australia, and is an object the accomplishment
of which is also likely to be attended with great advantages to
the commercial and other interests of this Colony, by opening a
direct line of communication with the Islands of the Eastern
Archipelago — with India, and other parts of Asia : Resolved, that
a Committee be appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the
practicability of such a design, and the means whereby it may be
carried into effect ; and that they do report to the Council the
result of such inquiry, with as little delay as possible.

Question put and passed ; and Committee, consisting of the
following members, appointed : —

Mr. Elwin. | Mr. Wentworth.

Dr. Lang. i Mr. Macarthur.

Mr. Suttor. | Dr. Nicholson.

I confess I was rather sceptical as to the Colony of
New South Wales being likely to derive any benefit
from the establishment of an Overland communication
with Port Essington ; but regarding the measure in its
bearings on the cause of Geographical Discovery in
Australia, in reference to which it appeared to me that
the Local Government had long been singularly ne-
glectful both of its interests and its duty, I regarded
the inquiry as one of the utmost importance to the
Colony.



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THE SQUATTINa SYSTEM. 299

One of the principal witnesses examined by the Com-
mittee was George Windsor Earl, Esq., a gentleman
who had been many years among the islands of the
Indian Archipelago, to the northward of New Holland,
and was well acquainted with the physical character
and capabilities of Port Essington. The following is
an extract of the examination of this gentleman : —

31. By the Chairman — You do not think we might circulate
upon a class of labourers £rom Timor I I do not think Timor so
likely to be a source of labour as the Serwatty Islands and Timor
Laut, a chain of islands extending to the eastward of Timor, and
directly facing the north coast of Australia, the natives of which
would be the best and cheapest description of labourers for Port
Essington. These islands are very populous, so populous indeed
that sometimes the distress among them is very great. The last
time I visited Kissa, an island near Timor, where there are a
considerable number of Christians, they had been suffering from
drought for three years, and out of a population of 8000, they had
lost 3G0 from starvation, or from diseases produced from being
obliged to resort to a very inferior description of food, such as
the young shoots of trees. If I had had the means at that time
to have removed them, a-half or two-thirds of the population
would have been glad to have gone to Port Essington with me.

32. Are these proper professing Christians ? A portion, com-
prising about one-third.

33. Is it a mere profession ? No, many are tolerably well edu-
cated, and possess considerable knowledge of the Scriptures.

34. Have they a priesthood I Yes, they were originally con-
verted by the Dutch Missionaries about two hundred years ago ;.
and Missionaries have resided on several of the islands from 1 828
to 1 840. They have now removed to Amboyna ; and the native
teachers, or schoolmasters, officiate in the churches. There is a
great variety in the natives of these islands ; those of Kissa
are a very excellent, quiet, and orderly people ; they are to-
lerably educated, and can read and write very well ; the people
of Timor Laut are not so orderly ; and instances have occurred
of the crews of vessels having been cut off by them ; but I have
seen them in European Settlements, and they have behaved
very well.

41. By Dr. Lang — Do you know anything of the natives of
Celebes ? Yes ; I was at Celebes in the early part of this year
in H. M. S. " Chameleon."- I have also formed an acquaint-
ance with them at Port Essington ; they are a very enterpris-
ing and courageous people, much addicted to commerce, and
traverse the Archipelago in their prahui from one extremity to
the other.

42. Have the people of many other islands, besides Kissa



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300 COOKSLAND.

been evangelized by the Dutch ! There are many Christians on
the other Serwatty Islands, and also on Timor and Rattee. The
people of Amboyna, about thirty-five thousand in number, are
Christians almost to a man. This island is the head-quarters of
Christianity in this part of the world. There are also a few on
the Arroo Islanda The natives who are not Christians are Pa-
gans, except at Ceram, where there are many Mahomedans ; and
at New Guinea, the Ki Islands and Copang, where there are a
few.

43. Have they ministers of religion ? They have ; they call
them teachers, and they are chiefly natives of Amboyna.

44. Are they well educated I Not highly ; they reid and write
very well ; almost their only book is the Bible.

45. Do they speak the Malayan language ! They learn the
MaUyan language at school, and read and write it

46. By Mr. Elwin — Is not their language a dialect of the Ma-
layan ! It is ; but it varies very much from the pure language.

47. By Dr. Lang — Do they also use the Dutch language ! No,
they speak more English than Dutch ; the Dutch language is too
difficult for them to learn.

Previous to the year 1827, when a Lieutenant in the
Dutch navy was despatched, in command of an expe-
dition, to search for a suitable place for a Settlement on
the coast of New Guinea, some of these islands to the
northward of New Holland had not been visited by
the Dutch, or indeed by Europeans of any nation, for
seventy years. In such circumstances, and after so
long a seclusion from the civilized world, it was inte-
resting and affecting in the extreme for the Dutchman
to find in certain of the islands a Christian population
still retaining their knowledge of the Holy Scriptures,
and their attachment . to the simple form of worship
which had been taught them by zealous Missionaries
of his nation, of whose labours all other remembrance
had been lost, a century or two before. Mr. Earl had
a servant with him, one of these native Christians from
the island of Kissa, who was also examined by the
Committee, as follows : —

Monday, M Ootober 1843.
Shadrach Philippus, called in and examined : —

1 . Yon are the servant of Mr. Earl I I am.

2. Of what place are you a native ! I am a native of the is-
land of Kissa.



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THE SQUATTING SYSTEM. 301

3. You have been to Port Essington with your master ! I
have.

4. What do you think of the country at Port Essington t I
like it very well.

6. Do you think if a town like Sydney were formed there, your
countrymen would go in any numbers to get employment ? Yes,
they would all want to go.

6. Do you think they would be willing to work for wages ?
Yes,

7. What wages do you think they would expect, supposing
they were to be engaged in growing sugar and rice ! About six
or seven loipees a-month.

8. By the Chairman — That is, supposing that the master were
to find food ! Yes.

9. What food do the people chiefly Kve upon ? Rice.

1 0. Do you think they would come in any number if they were
to get ten rupees a-month ! A great many would be very glad
to come. Sometimes there are very bad times at Kissa.

11. What occasions the bad times? There is no rain; the
people cannot live ; there is no water.

1 2. You are a Christian ? Yes.

1 3. Have you churches at Kissa ? Yes.

1 4. Have you clergymen 1 Yes.

1 5. Did you go to school ? Yes.

16. What were you taught ! To read the Bible and Testa-
ment.

17. Did you learn to write? Yes.

1 8. Is the country at Port Essington like the country at Kis-
sa ? No.

1 9. What is the diflTerence — is Kissa a high volcanic moun-
tain I It is.

20. Have you been to any other island I Yes, I have bet ii
to Java and Timor.

21. By Dr. Lang — What do the people employ themselves in
to get a living ? Some go to sea.

22. Where to ? To Timor.

23. Do they employ themselves in cultivating the land— in
growing anything — have they any rice ? Yes, they grow paddy.

24. Are any of the people employed as mechanics ? Yes, there
are carpenters and blacksmiths.

25. What other things are done by the people ? They make
gardens—they go fishing, and make nets and fishing-lines.

Being struck with the name of this witness, I found
on inquiry, that he had two brothers whose names
were Meshach and Abednego, and that it was the ge-
neral practice among the Christian natives to give
Scripture names to their children, as was customary in



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302 COOKSLAND.

the times of the Puritans in England. I could not help
thinking at the moment, that in the event of an Aca-
demical Institution being established in some suitable
locality in the Colony, as in Cooksland, for the educa-
tion of young men for the Christian ministry, it would
be extremely interesting to get a number of such young
men brought round to the Colony, to be instructed in
the English language, and in the arts and sciences of
civilization, while they were receiving a theological
education to fit them for the Christian ministry, and
to be sent forth thereafter as Missionaries to the mul-
titude of the isles to the northward. Shadrach Philip-
pus was a remarkably interesting and intelligent young
man, somewhat intermediate in physiognomy between
a South Sea Islander and a Malay.

There were two routes recommended to the Commit-
tee for an Expedition to Port Essington — the one from
Moreton Bay, by the Darling Downs and the Coast
Range as far as the Gulf of Carpentaria, around which
the Expedition would have to make the best of its way
to Port Essington ; and the other from Fort Bourke,
on the Darling River — about 600 miles to the north-
westward of Sydney, and nearly equi-distant from
Portland, at the south-western extremity ofPort Phillip,
and from Adelaide, the capital of South Australia. The
latter of these routes was strongly recommended by Sir
Thomas Livingstone Mitchell, Knight, Surveyor-Gen-
eral of New South Wales, for the following reasons, as
stated in his evidence before the Committee : —

In the first place, it is the point most in advance in the desired
direction. Secondly, It is accessible now even to wheel carriages,
during either dry or wet seasons, without the necessity for cross-
ing any river until a party arrives at the Darling. Thirdly, It
is probable that the basin of the Darling is contracted thereabouts
by some high or firm land in the west, from the extent of the
reedy flats subject to inundation above that point, of which I saw
no indications lower down the river ; up the river, on the con-
trary, as high even as where I explored it in 1831, the fiats, sub-
ject to inundation, are still more extensive than those of the
Macquarie, and are traversed by channels difiicult to cross. All
these impediments may be avoided at Fort Bourke, which is also



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THE SQUATTING SYSTEM. 303

in the best direction. The river Darling there flows in one
channel, and the probability of finding higher land at no great
distance beyond it at' that point seems to be still greater, from
the occurrence of grtCaite in that locality, and still more from the
deflection of such streams as the Macquarie and the Began, flow-
ing from remote basins in the south-east, and here assuming a
south-westerly course. For all these reasons, I should expect,
if there is high land in the interior at all, to And it by proceeding
north-westward from Fort Bourke.

7. Will you state to the Committee your reasons for prefer-
ring Fort Bourke to Moreton Bay as a starting point ? Fort
Bourke is the most direct line to Port Essington from our south -
em metropolis — Sydney. It is, as already stated, the most acces-
sible point, and also the nearest to Port Essington, to which there
is a continuous carriage route from Sydney ; we have also already
a populous settlement at Bathurst, and one at Wellington Valley.
These places are in the general line which would thus pass
through the heart of the Colony, where the roads are good ; and
the Pass of Victoria, across the Blue Mountains, would thus lead
to the City of Victoria at Port Essington. The direction of the
rivers being parallel, would render this a well watered route
even in dry seasons. But the proposed onward direction thence
could only be taken after a wet season, as an exploratory route,
because water is only plentiful then, in the clay-holes on the
plains. When once known, however, the permanent wat«rs could
be followed, and joumies made accordingly ; but in very dry
seasons, and in total ignorance of the country, it would scarcely
be safe for a traveller to venture into the region beyond the Dar-
ling for fear of the want of water ; now, however, the rain has
fallen generally on the interior plains, and water may be found in
the day-holes for some months at least to come. But for these
great advantages it would be better, upon the whole, I think, to
start from Moreton Bay, and depend upon the coast range for
water, as that range must trend with the coast to the north-west-
ward.

In regard to the probable advantages to be derived
from the establishment of an overland communication
with Port Essington, Sir Thomas Mitchell states his
opinion as follows : —

Do you, from a consideration of the subject, anticipate many
advantages from opening such a line of communication as that
proposed to Port Essington ? I do. Tropical Australia is wholly
unknown within the coast lines ; the proposed undertaking would
be creditable to the Colony ; and, both as to the immediate re-
sults to be expected and the objects to be ultimately accomplished
thereby, this seems to me the most important expedition that
ever could be undertaken in Australia. The season happens to



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304 COOKSLAND.

be more favourable, from the rains, than any we have had for
many years past. The direction of the line of route proposed
would be available not to our Colony only, but to that also of South
Australia, from whence a route along the right bank of the
Darling could join at Fort Bourke. From Melbourne, a similar
route to cross the Murray about the junction of the Murrumbidgee
would also fall in with the line in a nearly straight direction.
New Zealand is in prolongation of the same route through Syd-
ney ; and, from whatever colonies may be established at and
beyond Moreton Bay to the northward, the roads connecting
them also with this proposed general route would be short and
direct externally. In thus opening a way through Australia from
her infant colonies towards the peopled parts of the earth, the
most flattering prospects seem to depend on the success of such
a journey ; greater certainty and celerity in our communications



Online LibraryJohn Dunmore LangCooksland in north-eastern Australia: the future cottonfield of Great ... → online text (page 28 of 47)