Copyright
William Henry Parr Greswell.

Outlines of British colonisation online

. (page 14 of 31)
Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 14 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Whilst Baudin was exploring the coasts of Australia on
board the corvettes k Geographe and le Naturaliste^ he met
the celebrated Flinders, in command of the Investigator.
This Englishman was one of the most eager explorers of the
new continent. Coming out originally in 1795 as midship-
man on board the Reliance with Governor Hunter, he and
George Bass, a young surgeon, had within a month of their
arrival purchased a small boat, only eight feet in length, and
made several coast explorations at great risk and peril. On a
subsequent occasion they circumnavigated Van Diemen's
Land in the Norfolk^ a small sloop lent to them by the
governor. Bass, who was an adventurous spirit, joined an
expedition with some friends to South America, carrying con-
traband goods thither in spite of the Spaniards ; but Flinders
pursued his Australian coast surveys, and had submitted, in
1800, a series of valuable charts to the English Government.
His services were greatly appreciated, and he was placed in
command of the Investigator. A passport was procured for
him from the French Government, similar to that given to
Baudin by the British Government. When, therefore, Baudin
and Flinders met, it would appear as if, putting race rivalries
aside, they would pose as peaceful explorers occupied upon a
common task, viz. that of opening up a distant part of the

1 See Peron's Voyage de Decouvertes aux Terre s Attstrales, execute par
ordre de sa Majeste VEmpeteur et Roi, 1807.



The Australian Colonies 153

world for both nations. Unfortunately, international courte-
sies of this description were proved to be impossible at this
time between French and English. Flinders was forced to
put in at the Mauritius (then a French island) owing to stress
of weather, feeling confident that his passport from Napoleon
would be his safeguard and protection. The French
Governor, de Caen, did not thus interpret his obligations,
and, seizing Flinders, threw him into prison, depriving him of
his charts and papers. To complete the disgraceful story,
Baudin, who had been treated well at Sydney as the bearer of
an English passport, took copies of Flinders's charts when he
touched at Mauritius on his way home. Nearly seven years
passed before Flinders obtained his release and was able to
return to England, publish his discoveries, and place the
truth before the world. On the very day, however, that his
book was being published Flinders died, leaving behind him
an imperishable name as an Australian explorer. After his
death there was never any serious attempt on the part of
the French to advance their claims to Australia. The Peace
of Paris left England a monopoly of the Australian continent,
and unquestioned command of its sea.

Freed from any threat of external danger, the Australian
colonists have developed the resources of their country in a
marvellous and unprecedented fashion. The two main pro-
ducts of Australia have been wool and gold. Wool converted
New South Wales and the rest of the Pacific colonies of that
day from mere convict stations to important centres of free
colonisation. The pastoral era preceded the gold era, and
was in many respects quite as important. Free settlers
came to tend their flocks, and at first they were an embarrass-
ing factor in the midst of a penal settlement, seeming to com-
plicate the methods of administration, no provision being
made originally for them ; but as time went on they leavened
the whole mass, and made a free and self-respecting community
possible.

The beginnings of the wool industry were as follows. About



154 British Colonisation

1803 an officer of the New South Wales Corps, Macarthur by
name, saw that the country of Australia was wonderfully
adapted for wool-growing, and with this object in view had
the foresight to procure a number of sheep from the colony
of the Cape of Good Hope. During a sojourn in this colony
a Colonel Gordon who was in the Dutch service in 1790
had been fortunate enough to secure some rams of the fine-
woolled sheep of the Escurial breed, originally presented to
the Dutch Government by the King of Spain. Keeping a
few himself, he dispersed the rest amongst his friends in the
country, who crossed them with the hairy native sheep, thus
producing a rough, lustreless, but heavy and abundant fleece.
The Dutch peasantry, therefore, at the Cape, by abandoning
the purity of the strain, seem scarcely to have valued the
merino sheep as they ought ; and when Colonel Gordon died,
and his effects were sold, nine of his sheep were placed on
board the English warships the Reliance and the Supply,
which happened to be in Table Bay taking in supplies of
corn arid flour for the settlers at Sydney Cove. To the Cape,
therefore, Australia was indebted in the first instance for her
flocks of merino sheep.

Mr. Macarthur was enthusiastic on the prospects of Australia
as a wool-growing land, and on his return to England man-
aged to obtain from George in., who was a farmer himself,
some of the best sheep he possessed of the Spanish breed.
These were safely landed at Sydney, and Mr. Macarthur
began his experiment of wool-growing upon a grant of 10,000
acres at Camden.

Such were the beginnings of this pastoral industry, which
worked a revolution in the social and political condition of
this island-continent. It is calculated that for the period of
fifty-five years elapsing between 1831-1886 Australasia has sent
to England wool worth ^3 5 0,000,000. During the same
period the Cape is calculated to have sent about ^80,000,000
worth. At the present time New South Wales alone sends
more wool than the whole of South Africa. Truly this



The A ustralian Colonies 1 5 5

was ' golden fleece ' indeed ; and although the operations of
pastoral life, and the pursuits of a lonely rancher or herds-
man, are not so thrilling and romantic as the experiences of a
diggers' or miners' camp, still they are more substantial, more
healthy, and more enduring.

In connection with the growth of this great pastoral in-
dustry in New South Wales and Australasia must be con-
sidered the developments, pan passu, of mechanical science
in the Mother-country. In 1769 Sir Richard Arkwright ob-
tained his first patent for the spinning-frame, and a revolution
in labour began. The average weight of cotton annually im-
ported in the three years 1765, 1766, 1767 was 4,241,364 Ibs. ;
in 1822, 1823, 1824 it had risen to 153,799,302 Ibs. From
the commencement of the reign of George in. the progress
and extension of the woollen manufactures was equally great.
The average annual importation of sheep's wool for 1765,
1766, 1767 was about four million pounds' weight; but in
1822, 1823, 1824 it had risen to more than eighteen million
pounds' weight. 1

When New South Wales was found to be a good country
for flocks there was naturally a desire evinced to explore the
Hinterland, or back country, and to solve certain geographi-
cal problems. The physical aspect of New South Wales is
somewhat peculiar. At a comparatively short distance from
the coast, varying from twenty to one hundred miles, a great
dividing range runs, separating the eastern from the western
waters. This range, or cordillera, was to the earliest
colonists an impassable barrier, and a general idea prevailed
that the country beyond was worthless. Lieutenant Dawes,
Captain Patterson, Hacking, Cayley, Mann, and George Bass,
with many others, had tried often to cross the Blue Mountains,
and had failed. However, in May 1813, three explorers,
Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth, and Lieu-
tenant William Lawson, burst through these barriers by keep-

1 The Present State of England in regard to Agriculture. By Joseph
Lowe.



156 British Colonisation

ing to the ridges of the mountains, and opened up the regions
beyond, which were described afterwards by Mr. Evans, the
Government surveyor, as ' equal to every demand which this
colony may have for the extension of tillage and pasture land
for a century to come.' 1 In January 1815 a road was
engineered over the formidable obstacles nature had set in
the way. To use the words of an old colonist : ' A pastoral
era set in, and lands were occupied for grazing purposes.
Enterprising men took a flock of sheep or a herd of cattle
into the wilderness of the great interior, where there was room
enough for all, and, like the patriarchs of old, camped or
squatted down with them, waiting patiently until the few
became hundreds, and hundreds thousands, and thousands
tens of thousands. Thus originated the word squatter, which
has since become so well known in Australasian history.' An
epoch in the history of New South Wales was doubtless
reached when Governor Macquarie founded the town of
Bathurst on the scene of the new explorations.

The history of Australia is, for the first fifty years, the history
of the mother-colony, New South Wales ; and so much so, that
John Wilson Croker, instead of alluding to the continent of
New Holland or Australia, spoke of it as ' the continent of
New South Wales.' It was about 1817 so we are informed
by Mr. F. P. Labilliere, the author of The Early History of
Victoria that the word Australia was first used in a despatch
by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to Governor Mac-
quarie, which enclosed him Elinders's chart and voyages to
Australia. General Macquarie, in reply, underlined the word
Australia, and wrote to Secretary Goulburn in December 1817
expressing a hope that the name Australia might be substituted
for New Holland. In 1606 the country, as has been already
noted, was termed by de Quiros ' Terra Australis del Espiritu
Santo.' French writers, also, such as M. E. Peron, generally
alluded to the continent as * Terres Australes.'

The year 1851 is remarkable for the first great gold
1 Proceedings of Royal Colonial Institute, vol. xvii.



The Australian Colonies 157

discoveries made in Australia. The credit of the first find is
usually attributed to Edward Hargraves ; and although the
story has often been told, it will bear telling again, as it has so
much of romance about it. Edward Hargraves, it seems, was
a Bathurst settler who, in company with many other New
South Wales colonists, had been attracted to California to seek
his fortune on the banks of the Sacramento, in California. On
these distant gold-fields he toiled with little success ; but whilst
living there he learned the arts of mining, and acquired by
experience a miner's eye for the lie of a country.

It seemed to him that there was some likeness between the
rocks of the Sacramento Valley and a certain secluded valley
beyond the Blue Mountains in New South Wales which he
had visited fifteen years before. The similitude impressed
itself upon him so strongly that he resolved to go and examine
the spot again. He lost no time in sailing, and on arriving at
Sydney set out on horseback to cross the Blue Mountains.
'On the nth of February 1851 he spent the night,' we are
told, ' at a little inn a few miles from the object of his journey ;
and shortly after dawn he sallied forth on his walk through the
forest, carrying with him a spade, a trowel, and a little tin dish.
In the cool air of the morning the scent of the spreading gum-
trees braced up his frame as he plunged deeper and deeper
among those lonely hollows and wood-clad hills. His quickened
step in an hour or two brought him to the well-remembered
spot the dry course of a mountain torrent which in rainy
seasons finds its way into the Summerhill Creek. He lost no
time in placing a little of the grey-coloured soil into his tin
dish, and at once carried it to the nearest pool, where he
dipped the whole beneath the water. By moving the dish
rapidly, as he had learned to do in California, he washed away
the sand and earth ; but the particles of gold, which are more
than seven and a-half times heavier than sand, were not so
easily to be carried off. They sank to the corner of the dish,
where they lay secure, a few small specks, themselves of little
value, yet telling of hidden treasures that lay scattered in all



158 British Colonisation

the soil around.' * His immediate reward was ^500 from the
New South Wales Government, which afterwards they supple-
mented with ; 1 0,000. The colony of Victoria also voted
him a present of .2381. In the same year gold was dis-
covered in Victoria by a Californian digger named Esmond,
who, like Hargraves, had a practical knowledge of mining.

It has been remarked by Lord Norton that the discovery of
gold, silver, and copper, but chiefly the attractive power of gold,
opened a new era in Australian history, gave the coup-de-grace
to transportation, and broke the last possible link of home
control. Henceforward the Australians began to work out
quickly the task of self-government, more especially under the
regime of Earl Grey. In 1842 a meeting was held at Sydney
to petition for representative government. The Imperial
Government acceded to the desire, and in 1843 the first repre-
sentative assembly met at Sydney. The Council was of a
composite character, twenty-four being elected by the colonists,
of whom eighteen were chosen by the colonists of New South
Wales proper and six by the Port Phillip colonists. The
remaining twelve were Government nominees. In 1850-51
another step forward was taken. In accordance with powers
conceded by the Imperial Government, the Council of New
South Wales entrusted the framing of a new constitution to a
committee, which decided to adopt the bicameral system of
government. The Legislature was divided into two chambers
a Legislative Council of twenty-one members nominated by
the Governor, but not less than four-fifths being always un-
official ; and an elected Assembly of fifty-four members.
Both chambers were of quinquennial duration. Responsible
government was inaugurated, and the Ministers who controlled
the affairs of the country were no longer officials, appointed or
dismissed by the Governor and Secretary of State. In every
sense of the word New South Wales became self-governing.
Subsequent modifications were made in the original then
drawn out, and members of the Council were elected for life
Sutherland, History of Australia.



The Australian Colonies 159

instead of five years ; and the Council itself numbers now sixty
instead of twenty-one. The Assembly also consists of 124
members instead of fifty-four, the increase in both cases
arising from the increasing prosperity of the country. The
members themselves receive ^300 a year for their services, and
are returned by a broadly based electorate.

For forty years and more New South Wales has practically
held her own destinies in her hand. It cannot be denied that
the experiment of self-government has answered if the measure
taken be that of material wealth and social improvement. It
will be only necessary to adopt the general summaries of the
Government statists to be sure of this point. As New South
Wales is the oldest Australian settlement, so she is now (1891)
the richest. Her estimated private wealth is ^4 12,484,000,
equal to .368 per head of population, the total private wealth of
Australasia being ;i, 169,434,000. The history of the whole
world cannot afford us such a tale of progress and prosperity.
In a hundred years that struggling convict settlement at Port
Jackson, which had to rest upon Batavia and the Cape of Good
Hope for its daily bread, has expanded into the dimensions of
a populous and self-governing colony, the wonder and envy of
the whole world. 1

1 For facts and figures see Appendix VI. Section A.



CHAPTER VIII

TASMANIA

IT is with New South Wales that the fortunes of Tasmania, or, as
it was then called, Van Diemen's Land, must in the first instance
be associated. In 1803 Lieutenant Bowen was sent across
from Sydney with a vessel called the Lady Nelson, having on
board a few convicts, whom it was proposed to settle in the
island as a branch penal colony. New South Wales had been
founded for fifteen years, and the grades in vice and depravity
had time enough to show themselves. Some of the convicts
had availed themselves of their opportunities and had amended
their ways ; others had proved themselves irreclaimable thieves
and vagabonds ; and it was with this undesirable remainder
that Lieutenant Bowen was entrusted. He landed them at
Risdon, on the estuary of the river Derwent. It should be
mentioned that there was also a political motive underlying
this colonising venture. It was not unreasonably imagined that
the French exploring expedition under Commodore Baudin, to
which allusion has already been made, was desirous of hoisting
the French flag on some favourable spot on the island of
Tasmania, and it was the policy of England to anticipate by
prompt action any such movement in southern waters. During
the same year (1803) there arrived at the island four hundred
prisoners under the charge of Governor Collins. At the
mouth of a little creek, with Sullivan's Bay as its harbour,
Governor Collins founded Hobart Town, in honour of Lord
Hobart, then Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Tasmania was also recruited by another accession of convicts

160



The Australian Colonies 161

from New South Wales, under Colonel Paterson, in 1804, who
were settled near the entrance to Port Dalrymple, at the north
of the island, and maintained a separate existence till 1812.
In 1807 there was also a fresh centre of colonisation made by
the Norfolk Island settlers, who came across and founded New
Norfolk, fifteen miles above Hobart Town, in memory of their
old home. These were the germs of the colony of Tasmania.

The first days of this settlement were hard and evil. At
one time starvation stared them in the face, as it did in the
case of the Sydney colony. They were dependent upon foreign
supplies, and flour soon rose to .112 per ton. Kangaroo
flesh was 8d. a Ib. ; and when the wheat crop failed in 1807,
and flour sold at ^"200 per ton, armed sentinels had to keep
guard over the wheat-fields. In October 1808 all the barley
was eaten up, and ij Ibs. of rice were issued as the weekly
rations of each man. It was not till three years after their
first arrival that sheep and oxen were imported.

The evil feature of Tasmanian life in the early days of the
settlement was bushranging. The island itself was especially
adapted to serve as a refuge and hiding-place for outlaws,
the interior being mountainous and clothed with deep woods.
Runaway sailors and convicts from Port Jackson were con-
stantly coming to the islands of Bass Strait, and were known
as sealers. Every year it is calculated that thirty or forty
eluded the vigilance of their keepers and took to the bush or
the islands. Allying themselves with the miserable aborigines,
they debased them by the practice of every kind of cruelty,
and created in the minds of the Tasmanians a dislike of
all Europeans. There was no comfortable home here for the
orderly and peaceful settler. He lived in constant fear of
rapine and depredations, and bushranging effectually checked
agricultural development. Twice, however, the Government
attempted to rid the island of this pest : first under Governor
Sorrel in 1817, and then under Governor Arthur in 1824.
Governor Sorrel may be said to have scotched the snake, and
Governor Arthur to have killed it altogether. It was during

L



1 62 British Colonisation

the regime of the last named that Crawford and Brady, the
two desperate leaders of the bushrangers, were captured and
executed, Brady being surprised and seized, as he wandered
in a secluded valley without followers, by John Batman, a
colonist, who afterwards assisted in the founding of the colony
of Victoria.

The native question was, however, the one that most exer-
cised the ingenuity of the various Governors of Tasmania. How
to keep the peace between the settlers and the black fellows
was a most difficult problem. Exasperated beyond measure
by the treatment they had received from Europeans, unable to
distinguish between the classes of Europeans, and suspicious
of any method or plan of 'reserves' that might have kept
them apart for a while, they maintained the attitude of hunted
beasts, who roamed where they chose and retaliated when they
could. Under these circumstances Sir George Arthur, whose
administration of the colony is conspicuous for the attempts
made to establish security, and to save the black fellows not
only from the Europeans but from themselves, conceived the
idea of capturing them all and removing them to some safe
place. At first capture parties were organised, and rewards
offered by the Government of $ for every adult and 2 for
every child. The most prominent leaders of these parties were
John Batman, to whom allusion has been made, and Jorgen
Jorgenson, a Dane, the latter being a clever and daring man,
with a curious history. He had, during the great Napoleonic
wars, proceeded to Iceland, and, claiming to represent Great
Britain, so imposed upon the authorities that they actually
surrendered the government to him and his companions. He
proclaimed himself governor, and sent despatches to England
with the news that he had added a province to the Empire ;
but his message was scarcely received with the cordiality he
anticipated, and he was transported to Van Diemen's Land.
However,, he made himself useful in assisting to capture the
Tasmanian aborigines.

The result of this first attempt to stop the native difficulty



The Australian Colonies 163

was not very successful, the natives being lithe and active, well
acquainted with every nook and corner of the country, and
excelling the Europeans in all the stratagems and devices of
savage life. Then Sir George Arthur, by way of trying an
heroic remedy, and acting from humane motives, conceived
the idea in 1830 of hemming in the tribes by means of an
advancing line, and by skilful manoeuvring isolating them on
Tasman's Peninsula. The Governor expended a great deal of
money and energy in endeavouring to secure the success of
this manoeuvre, but to no purpose, the natural difficulties and
obstacles of this rough country proving too formidable to be
overcome. In many places it was possible for the natives to
break back through the line, concealed by the deep creepers
and undergrowth of the forest.

This attempt to capture the Tasmanians en masse solely with
a view of deporting them to some reserve or location of their
own, whether island or peninsula, where they might be out of
harm's way, has been unfairly criticised : Sir Charles Dilke
describing it in his Greater Britain as ' a battue of the natives
conducted by the military.' This statement carries with it its
own refutation, when we reflect for a moment upon the state
of affairs in the island which Sir George Arthur endeavoured
to rectify. It was well known that the Governor was the
friend of the wretched aborigines, and had always encouraged
every kind of philanthropic and religious institution that
existed in the colony for their benefit.

It was clear, however, that the Tasmanian black fellows
were doomed to be exterminated, and there is something
pathetic about their end. In 1835 tnev on ty numbered
203, and these were removed to Flinders Island in 1835. I* 1
1847 tms number was reduced to 44, comprising 12 men, 22
women, and only 10 children. In this year they were re-
moved to Oyster Cove, a little harbour on the west side of
Dentrecasteaux Channel. The last male of the race, William
Lanne, died on March 3, 1869, at the early age of thirty-four
years; and on May 8, 1876, the last female, Truganini, died at



164 British Colonisation

the age of sixty-five, and by her death a race became oblite-
rated from the face of the earth.

In 1837 Sir John Franklin, the great Arctic explorer, arrived
in Tasmania to take the reigns of government. He had
served as a midshipman under Flinders during a survey of the
Australian coasts, and was popular with the Australians. Un-
fortunately, Sir John Franklin became involved in a quarrel
with Mr. Montague, the Chief Secretary, which resulted in his
own dismissal by Lord'Stanley an official step which has been
greatly blamed by some for its abruptness and discourtesy.
In 1843 Sir John was superseded by Sir Eardley Wilmot, and
two years afterwards he sailed with the Erebus and Terror on
that well-known search for the North- West Passage from which
he and his crew never returned.

During Sir Eardley Wilmot's governorship (1843) there arose
many protests from the free colonists against the importa-
tion of so many convicts ; and the position of a Governor
ruling over a mixed population of free settlers, ticket-of-leave



Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 14 of 31)