John Dunmore Lang.

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It will probably suggest itself also to the intelligent
reader, that the great emporium for commerce, the cen-
tre point of navigation and the seat of government for
the future colony of Cooksland, must necessarily be
somewhere within Moreton Bay. The facilities for
inland steam navigation presented by that noble bay,
and the various navigable rivers that empty themselves
into its extensive basin, will prove a help and stimulus
to colonization of incalculable value to the future
colony, and such, perhaps, as no other British colony
affords. But the rivers of Moreton Bay are all barred
rivers ; and so also are the Clarence, the Richmond, and
the Tweed to the southward, as well as some, at least,
of those that are known to the northward. Such rivers,
however, although admirably adapted for steam navi-
gation, are all impracticable for sea-going vessels or
ships of burden ; for which, therefore, there must be a
suitable port found somewhere else, sheltered from the
winds and .waves, and easily accessible from the ocean.
Now, it is passing strange that so very obvious an idea
as that of providing for Qiis first of the wants of a civi-
lized community settling in a remote country should
never have occurred to any one of the four soldier-
officers who have been governing New South Wales
since the settlement of llfEoreton Bay, twenty- two years
ago.* It would be absolutely incredible, were it not
the fact, that it seems never to have struck the scarlet-
coloured and pipe-clayed understandings of any one of
these worthies diat such a thing as a ssdfe, central, and
commodious harbour was at all necessary for a British

* Major-General, Sir Thomas Brisbane ; Lieutenant-Generaly
Sir Ralph Darling ; Major-General, Sir Richard Bourke, and
LieuUnant-Colonel, Sir George Gipps.

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26 COOKSLAND.

Colony ; and therefore, although possessing, for many
years in succession during the long period I have men-
tioned, the absolute disposal of an amount of convict
labour that might have effected anything necessary for
such a purpose, in the way of embanking, excavating,
deepening, building, &c. — ^the very species of labour
which is best suited for convicts employed at Public
Works under the superintendence of the Government —
it has never been determined, even to the present hour,
where the principal harbour for this extensive territory
is to be situated — where the future emporium of its com-
merce is to be established ! The very survey of the
bay was only commenced in January 1846 !

There are two localities in Moreton Bay where such
a harbour as the future colony of Cooksland will re-
quire could be formed with comparative facility, as far
as engineering difficulties are concerned ; but in either
case the probability is that a large expenditure of
labour would require to be incurred. Now, had that
labour been expended beforehand, as it ought unques-
tionably to have been when Moreton Bay was a penal
settlement, and when there was actually no small difficul-
ty found occasionally in carving out employment for the
convicts, its entire cost would have been repaid eventual-
ly to the Government through the sale of building allot-
ments, sites for warehouses, stores, wharfs, &c., which
would have thus become exceedingly valuable, in the
commercial capital of the new colony. But from the want
of any such prospective arrangement as common sense
would have dictated to a man of ordinary foresight or
discernment (not being a soldier-officer), the labour of
a thousand convicts for many years in succession, while
Moreton Bay was a penal settlement, was absolutely
thrown away, as far as any benefit to the present free
colonists of the district is concerned.* But what else

* As a specimen of the manner in which the Convict labour of
Moreton Bay was actually turned to account during the existenda
of the Penal Settlement in that locality, the following may serve
for the present : —

1. The overseers had a small allowance for every acre of land



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GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES. 27

can be expected from the system of employing men,
whose very business and profession it is to destroy the
noblest work of God upon earth, his creature man, in
whatever unjust and unnecessary quarrel their masters
may choose to strike up for their benefit, in laying the
foundations of society in a new country, and in foster-
ing and encouraging the arts of peace !

I should have spared the reader these remarks, which
he may probably think somewhat harsh and uncalled-
for, had they been intended merely to refer to the past,
which, of course, cannot now be recalled; but my
object is that they should serve as hints for the future
guidance of those concerned, in a matter that most
deeply concerns not only the Australian Colonies but
the whole British Empire. In my evidence before a
Select Committee of the House of Commons on Trans-
portation, in the year 1837, 1 recommended that trans-
portation to New South Wales should be discontinued

cleared by the convicts under their superintendence. To render
this source of revenue more productive, it was only necessary to
select thinly timbered land, without reference to its quality ; and
accordingly Moreton Island, a mere collection of sandhills, of no
use whatever for cultivation, and but thinly covered with cypress-
pine trees, was cleared by the convicts. The timber, which would
now have been very valuable for ornamental furniture, was in
the meantime destroyed.

2. A wharf or jetty for lading and unlading vessels was con-
structed at considerable expense, at least of convict labour, to-
wards the mouth of the Brisbane River, on the Government es-
tablishment of Eagle Farm ; but after it was completed it was
discovered that there was a mud-flat or sand-bank between the
wharf and the deep water which effectually prevented any vessel
from getting up to it.

3. A swamp on the Brisbane River,' near Brisbane Town, was
dnuned at a very considerable expense, under the idea that it
would be well adapted for the growth of rice, and the Superin-
tendent had it sown accordingly ; but instead of sowing the grain
in its natural state of paddy, it was sown in its manufactured
state of rice, procured for the purpose from a merchant's store
in Sydney ! It was much the same as if an EInglish farmer had
sown his field with pearl barley. Of course the settlement was
pronounced unsuited for the cultivation of rice !

And this is the way British moiiey goes at Penal Settlements
under military management 1



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28 COOKSLAND.

on account of the many and great abuses that had arisen
from the gross mismanagement of the system in that
colony ; but that transportation itself, as a secondary
punishment, should be continued and carried out, under
the reformed system of management which the experi-
ence of half a century in New South Wales would
suggest, in a series of Penal Settlements or Colonies
along the east coast to the northward. Now, I am
happy to find that, after ten years of additional experi-
menting on secondary punishments, both at home and
in Van Dieman's lioid, at the suggestion of certain
pseudo-philanthropists in England, who have taken up
the most unfounded and absurd notions on the subject
of transportation generally, my idea is at length to be
realized by Her Majesty's Government in the new
Penal Colony about to be formed in what is called
North Australia. Being naturally desirous, therefore,
that on such a subject, in which, as an Australian
colonist, I cannot but feel a deep interest, the errors of-
the past should serve as a useful lesson, in the way of
warning, for the future, I must entreat the reader's for-
bearance while I offer a few additional remarks on this
important subject.

Presuming, therefore, that it is the object and desire
of Her Majesty's Grovemment that the future Penal
Colony of North Australia should eventually become a
free colony, the seat of commerce and manufactures, and
the chosen abode of an industrious and virtuous people,
I would have this ultimate destination kept steadily in
view from the formation of the first settlement within
its territory. With this view I would recommend that,
in the first instance, its limits should be permanently
fixed, its entire coast-line accurately surveyed, and its
capabilities both by sea and land thoroughly ascertain-
ed. Such a survey as even Captain Flinders made of
Shoal Bay, Moreton Bay, and Port Curtis, would evi-
dently be insufficient for this purpose, as it might leave
the most important rivers or inlets along the coast un-
discovered. The survey must be one of so minute a
description as to leave no nook or comer along the



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GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES. 29

whole line of coast unexplored, and with this view an
expedition by land, to follow up that of Dr. Leichhardt,
to Cape York — the northern extremity of the Austra-
lian land to the eastward of the Gulf of Carpentaria —
would be indispensably necessary. Such an expedition,
by keeping towards the Pacific on its outward course,
and towards the Gulf on its return, would cross every
important stream in the territory, and show at once
what part of the coast-line would be the most suitable
to fix on for the future emporium of its commerce and
the seat of its Government. This point being ascer-
tained, therefore, I would recommend that the available
convict labour of the settlement should be expended,
not in attempting to raise food of any kind for the con-
sumption of the convicts and troops (for this could in
all probability be supplied at a much cheaper rate from
the neighbouring free colonies of New South Wales and
Cooksland),but in those works of indispensable necessity
for a community of British origin which the nature of
the harbour and the site of the future capital would sug-
gest, such as the formation of quays or wharfs, roads
or streets, the construction of tanks or reservoirs, if ne-
cessary, and the erection of public buildings. In this
way much valuable property, in the shape of building
allotments, &c., &c., would be created, the sale of which,
on the opening up of the settlement for freemen, would
reimburse the Government for a large portion of the
expenditure incurred, while the comfort of the colo-
nists and the advancement of the Colony would be
greatly promoted. Nor should this process be confined
to the mere capital of the new colony. Secondary towns
would spring up rapidly in suitable localities both along
the Pacific and along the Gulf of Carpentaria, and if
the Government should only make a judicious choice of
the sites for such towns, it would not only secure for itself
the direction of the rapidly increasing stream of popu-
lation and its guidance into the proper channels, but
provide for the eventual repayment, in the way I have
already indicated, of a large portion of the expenditure
incurred in their formation.



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30 COOKSLAND.

The formation of a penaL colony to the northward,
is an event of the utmost importance to the colonists of
Cooksland, as in all likelihood it will afford them, for
many years to come, an eligible market for their agri-
cultural produce, and an outlet for their superabundant
stock. Supposing, then, that a permanent boundary
should be fixed for both colonies, within a degree or
two of Cape Capricorn, I would recommend that a
boundary line for the new colony to the westward,
should be drawn wherever the natural features of the
country should render it desirable to run such a line,
as nearly as possible to the meridian of the south-eastern
angle of the gulf, and that the whole of the peninsula to
Cape York should be included in the new colony ; the
greater extent of which from north lo south would com-
pensate for its comparatively small extent from east to
west. From the recent expedition of Dr. Leichhardt, it
has been ascertained that there is a large extent of pas-
toral country of the first quality in this peninsula ; and
taking into consideration the comparative mildness of its
climate, notwithstanding its low latitude, its adaptation,
as an intertropical country, to the agricultural produc-
tions of the East and West Indies, and its command of
the Pacific on the one hand, and the Gulf of Carpentaria
on the other, its prospects as a British colony are un-
questionably peculiarly favourable.*

There is only one other recommendation which I
would take the liberty to offer in connexion with this
subject, and it is this : I would subject the whole of
the convicts to a certain period of penitentiary discipline
in England, in proportion to the length of their respec-
tive periods of sentence, and give them all, with the
exception of the more atrocious criminals, conditional



* In a Lecture delivered in the School of Arts in Sydney, on
the 18th August, 1846, by Dr. Leichhardt, that gentleman ob-
serves that ** if a settlement is to be established on the east coast,
it ought to be at the mouth of the Burdekin, which I suppose to
be at Cape Upstart, on the southern extremity of Halifax Bay,"
between 18<>and 19» S.



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GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES. 31

freedom, subject to the strict surveillance of the Colonial
Police, on their arrival in the new colony. This ar-
rangement would greatly simplify the transportation
system; while, I am confident, it would greatly promote
its efficiency and prodigiously diminish its expense.
Those who should abuse this indulgence could easily
be deprived of it, and worked in chaon-gangs or double
irons as heretofore. Such a change of system would
doubtless imply the opening up of the new colony to
free immigration from the fi^t, and afford employment
and virtual superintendence to the conditionally par-
doned. And, fortunately, there is no inducement re-
quired to be held out by the Grovemment to effect such
an immigration. The fact that there is a large extent
of pastoral country in the portion of the peninsula al-
ready explored, will speedily attract numerous Colonial
Squatters to the new colony from Cooksland and New
South Wales, with their flocks of sheep and their herds
of cattle ; and this will gradually absorb a large portion
of the available labour of the new colony, on terms alike
beneficial to the employer and the employed.*



''^ It is somewhat remarkable that these suggestions, which
were written at sea, in the Great Southern Pacific Ocean, in July,
1846, should indicate the very system to be carried out by Her
Majesty's present GU>vemment ; with the exception of a period of
hard labour at Public Works, (of a larger or shorter duration ac-
cording to the sentence of the criminal,) which, it appears, is to
be interposed between the solitary confinement in the first^ in-
stance, and the subsequent exile of the criminal. I confess I
would prefer having the period of solitary confinement length-
ened, and the labour at Public Works in England dispensed with
altogether. There is a great deal of squeamishness in this coun-
try on the subject of soUtary confinement, and its alleged bane-
ful effects on the intellect of the criminal. If it were unaccom-
panied with labour of any kind, solitary confinement might have
such effects ; but with the accompaniment of regular employment
— from which, moreover, the convict is allowed to derive some per-
sonal advantage in the shape of an allowance for surplus work be-
yond a regular set task, which is carried to his account against the

period of his liberation I cannot see how or why it should have

the effects imputed to it as necessarily leading to insanity. I as-
certained, for my own satisfaction, that in actual practice it had



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32 COOKSLAND.

The two localities in Moreton Bay, to which I have
already referred, as presenting eligible sites for the fii-

no such effects in the United States ; the number of cases of in-
sanity under the solitary system in that country not being greater
than in penal establishments under any other system. And I am
satisfied, from my own inquiries and observation, that there is no
species of punishment so reformatory. I was locked-in succes-
sively, at my own request, m four or five of the convict cells in
the Penitentiary of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in the
city of Philadelphia, in the year 1840, to seethe system in actual
operation, and to converse on the subject with the convicts them-
selves ; and I put the question as to the tendency to insanity to
a medical officer of the establishment, and was referred to the
medical statistics of the Institution to judge for myself. The opin-
ion of the convicts themselves was highly in favour of its refor-
matory character ; and I am confident, that any good effects that
might be anticipated from it in this country, in regard to the
character and habits of the criminals, would be very much neutral-
ized by a subsequent period of hard labour on Public Works in
Great Britain. Let tne period of solitary confinement, accom-
panied with the species of labour which may be practicable under
such a system^ be lengthened considerably, and let the convict
be sent out by all means direct to the colonies of his future exile
from the prison of his soUtary confinement.

When £arl Grey announced his proposals on this subject, in
the month of March last, certain of the Peers, from a sort of
squeamishness of a different kind, proposed that the future con-
victs, to be treated in this way, nhould be sent out in ships carry-
ing emigrants ; forgetting that emigrants, even of the humblest
class, would reasonably object to any such arrangement, and that
the forcing of such persons upon them as fellow-passengers, which
would soon come to be' discovered, would unquestionably damage
the cause of emigration to an in<^culable degree. No ; let the
convicts be sent out in their proper character, as convicts who
have suffered their punishment in part, and have had the rest re-
mitted, and let their freedom be given them only on their arrival
in the land of their future exile. With an extensive contempo-
raneous free emigration, these persons would easily be absorbed
by the colonial population, without detriment to the general
morals of the community ; and as there will be unlimited em-
ployment afforded for agricultural labourers in Cooksland, and iu
the country still farther to the northward, there would be little
difficulty in disposing of a comparatively large prison population
in this way. The remarks in the text would still be applicable in
regard to that portion of the exiles that might relapse into their
former habits of criminaUty ; but under a well-regulated system
of the kind proposed, I do not suppose that the number of such
relapses would be great.



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GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES. 38

ture port of the territory of Cooksland, are Cleveland
Point, between the mouths of the Brisbane and Logan
Rivers, and Toorbal, in Bribie's Island Passage, close to
the North Entrance of the bay. Cleveland Point is per-
fectly sheltered from all winds but the North, to wluch,
however, it lies open through the northern entrance of
the bay ; but it very rarely blows violently from that
quarter, and even if it should, there is an island in the
bay called Peel's Island, about three miles distant to the
eastward, to which vessels could easily run from the
Point, in the event of a northerly gale, and under the
lee of which they would be completely sheltered from
that quarter. Cleveland Point is also within thirty miles
of Ipswich, the head of the navigation of the Bremer
River, the principal tributary of the Brisbane, which
again is only thirty-eight miles to Cunningham's Gap,
the only practicable passage across the Coast Range to
the splendid tract of table-land to the westward, called
Darling Downs, the whole of the intervening country
from the Point to the base of the mountains being
nearly a dead level. But there is a great extent of
shallow water at the Point, which would render a large
expenditure for carrying out the necessary embank-
ments to the edge of the deep water indispensable.
Besides, Cleveland Point is distant not less than thirty
miles from the north entrance of the bay ; and the na-
vigation is rather intricate from the number of islands,
sandbanks, and shoals along the channel. In a series
of Memoranda, drawn up at my request by Mr. Andrew
Petrie, one of the Scotch mechanics who emigrated to
New South Wales, per the Stirling Castle, in the year
1831, and for many years Superintendent of Govern-
ment Works at Moreton Bay, Cleveland Point is de-
scribed in the following manner: — "A commercial
town was proposed within a mile of this Point. There
is a natural jetty of rocks ; and by forming a pier of
wood or stone, about a quarter of a mile, small vessels
could take in and discharge cargo. Ships can lie at
anchor in four to six fathom water, good holding ground.
A tram-road could be formed with very little expense
c

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34 COOKSLAND.

from the proposed site of the town to the pier-head.
There is an abundant supply of fresh water within half
a mile of the proposed town. A considerable portion
of land adjacent to the Point, and the intervening coun-
try from the mouth of the Brisbane to the Logan River,
including the whole extent of country that is now occu-
pied by the Government herds, is suitable for small
farms. The ground is well adapted for the cultivation
of wheat, maize, potatoes, tobacco, the vine and the
pine-apple, all kinds of vegetables, also the cotton and
the coffee plant."

On the other hand, Toorbal* is close to the North
Entrance of Moreton Bay, and is therefore easily acces-
sible for vessels either from the northward or the south-
ward of the Bay. Bribie's Island Passage, of which
it forms the western point at the entrance, was discov-
ered in 1799, by Captain Flinders, who, supposing it a
river, called it Pumice-Stone River, from the quantity
of pumice-stones found on its banks. It is referred to in
the following terms by Mr. Uniacke, in his Observa-
tions, already quoted : " On Saturday the 29th Novem-
ber, (1 823,) we anchored in Pumice-Stone River, More-
ton Bay, within 160 yards of the shore, in the very
place where Captain Flinders had anchored twenty-two
years before, on discovering the harbour." " Pumice-
Stone River," observes Mr Oxley, in his Report to his
Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, 10th Jan. 1824, '^ af-
fords good anchorage for vessels not drawing more than
twelve feet water. The best channel is close to the
mainland. There is plenty of fresh water in the vicin-
ity of Point Skirmish, [at the southern extremity of
Bribie's Island,] and though the soil is poor and sandy,
the country is covered with good timber. Among
other species the Gallitris Australis is most abundant.
It grows close to the shore, and can be procured of con-
siderable size, adapted to most of the purposes required
in building." " Toorbal Point," says Mr. Andrew Pe-
trie, "is situated near the northern entrance of the Bay.

* The native name.



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GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES. 35

It is a pM^ of the mainland, forming the south entrance
of Bribie's Passage. This point of land would ans-
wer for a commercial town. The passage forms a good
harbour, well sheltered from all winds. A direct line
of road could be formed from it to the country to the
westward. There is plenty of fresh water close to the
harbour. In the immediate neighbourhood the ground
is not good. A few miles off there is a considerable
quantity of rich land; also the ground around the
Glasshouse Mountains is very fertile, the soil consist-
ing of decomposed lava. The country adjacent is well
adapted for grazing and agricultural farming. As to
the whole country bounded by the Bay, from the South
pas3£^e to the North, running a distance of about fifty
miles, a considerable portion of this country is well
adapted for an agricultural population. What the
district stands . most in need of is roads and bridges.*'
"Toorbal Point," observes David Archer, Esq., an intel-
ligent Squatter on the Upper Brisbane, in a letter ad-
dressed to myself, of date, Upper Brisbane, 17th May,
1846, "is the projecting angle of a ridge about two
hundred yards wide, and thirty to fifty feet above the
level of the sea, running parallel to the beach. This
ridge runs about two miles N.E. along Bribie's Pas-
sage. Its range to the south, along the bay, I do not
know. It is backed landward by an extensive swamp,
which, according to the statement of the black who ac-
companied me, contains abundance of fresh water.



Online LibraryJohn Dunmore LangCooksland in north-eastern Australia: the future cottonfield of Great ... → online text (page 3 of 47)