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men, and convicts became particularly irksome. The Tas-
manian colonists asked, * Was it not enough to send out the
felons of Great Britain to become Tasmanian bushrangers,
without forcing the free settlers to feed and clothe them
throughout their lives, after the completion of their original
sentence?' Lord Stanley's answer was that Tasmania had
always been a convict colony, and that the free settlers had
no right to ask that their views on the subject should be
humoured. A certain number of the Legislative Council who
were non-official members continued their protests, and, rather
than assent to sums of money necessary for the maintenance
of police and gaols, resigned in a body. They were honoured
by their fellow-colonists with the title of the ' Patriotic Six.'
Shortly afterwards, when Mr. Gladstone succeeded Lord
Stanley as Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir Eardley
Wilmot was recalled. The Governor himself did not live
to return to England, but died in the colony. The quarrel,
however, between the colonists and the Executive went on.

The Australian Colonies 165

The ' Patriotic Six ' were reinstated, and pressed for two great
constitutional changes, viz. elective parliaments and the aboli-
tion of transportation. It was found that between 1846-1850
more than 25,000 convicts had been brought into the colony :
free immigration had ceased, and the colony itself had retro-

It was during Sir William Denison's governorship that the
Tasmanian colonists pressed home their protests against trans-
portation to their shores. The Anti-Transportation League
was formed at Launceston, at the initiative more especially of
the Rev. John West, and the resolution adopted was as
follows : ' We, the undersigned, deeply impressed by the evils
which have arisen from the transportation of criminals of
Great Britain to the Australian colonies, declare that trans-
portation to any of the colonies ought for ever to cease ; and
we do hereby pledge ourselves to use all lawful means to
procure its abolition.'

This was followed up by a conference at Melbourne, and
amidst much enthusiasm * The League and Solemn Engage-
ment of the Australian Colonies ' was adopted in Melbourne
in February 1851 : the objects of which were most unmis-
takable, involving as they did the practical ' boycotting ' of con-
vict vessels and the adoption of every means at the disposal of
the colonists to abate the evil.

It cannot be denied that the crisis was of an extremely
serious character both in the Australian colonies and the Cape
of Good Hope. Earl Grey was obstinate in the case of Van
Diemen's Land, observing that ' this country had been origin-
ally intended as a penal settlement, and that the free inhabi-
tants could not expect the imperial policy to be altered.'
Earl Grey had liberal notions with regard to colonies, but
somehow he could not see that, if he gave the Australians
anything approaching to representative government, he was
bound to consider the wishes of the colonists on such an
important matter as this. Colonists everywhere were abso-
lutely determined to free themselves from the convict taint

1 66 British Colonisation

and to purify their society. The alternative to a refusal to
meet their wishes seemed to be nothing more nor less than

However, the solution, to a large extent, of all Tasmanian
and Australian difficulties was destined to come from a some-
what unexpected quarter. The Californian gold-fields (1849)
had begun to attract a large number of colonists, and a trade
sprang up between San Francisco and Tasmanian and Aus-
tralian ports. Then came in due course the wonderful
' finds ' of New South Wales and Victoria, which did more
than any legislation in the world to settle the political and
social conditions of the South Pacific colonies. Upon Tas-
mania the more immediate effect was to drain off large
numbers of the undesirable surplus population. In the
mad race after gold, convicts, bushrangers, political exiles,
sober colonists, and men of every trade and profession joined
with headlong zeal.

The granting of constitutions was a corollary of the remark-
able influx of population and the enormous increase of wealth ;
and from 1855-61, the period of Sir Henry Young's adminis-
tration, responsible government was conceded to Tasmania.

Like New South Wales, Tasmania has flourished under the
conditions of self-government. Some regard the island simply
as the beautiful annexe of New South Wales, whilst others
claim for her an unique and unrivalled position in southern
waters. Her scenery is surpassingly beautiful and her climate
is almost perfect ; and her mountains and valleys are a favourite
recreation-ground for visitors from Melbourne and Sydney.
The stress of life is less severe in Tasmania than in Victoria
or New South Wales. Here, if anywhere, can be found the
Capua of the South.

Sir Edward Braddon, the Agent-General of Tasmania, has
thus summed up the future prospects of his colony : ' With
a splendid soil to allure the farmer; with magnificent pro-
spects for the miner ; with promising industries yet unde-
veloped, or only in the first stage of development; with a

The Australian Colonies 167

climate and people second to none in the world, and physical
beauties that few countries can rival, Tasmania should have a
great future in store for her. Strong in the girdle of waters
that nature has placed around her, she is particularly strong
also in the possession of a harbour that should become in pro-
cess of time the centre of the maritime system of that southern
region. Hobart is that harbour. It is easily approached by
friendly vessels ; it is easily defended against unfriendly ones.
It has a scope and depth that would accommodate any fleet
likely to be sent there ; it possesses the recommendation of
being favourably situated as regards a coal supply ; and it has
a climate peculiarly adapted to the requirements of our British
seamen. Whether from a strategical, economical, or sanitary
point of view, it may be claimed for Hobart that it is the
harbour of the south. Nor is it beyond the bounds of possi-
bility that Tasmania, with her many peculiar advantages and
her wide range of seaboard, may attain her destiny in becom-
ing the maritime power of Australasia.' 1

It may be added that, in the event of Australasian con-
federation, Hobart, from her central position and unrivalled
advantages, has already been designated as the seat of govern-
ment. In these days of quick and easy ocean communication,
the island of Tasmania is more accessible than any other
colony. Here, in one of the fairest portions of the globe, may
be assembled at some future date the Parliament of an
Australasian Dominion. 2


As the beginnings of Tasmania were from New South Wales,
so the beginnings of Victoria were from Tasmania. In 1798
the discovery of Bass Straits had enabled mariners to shorten
their voyage to New South Wales ; and in 1 800 Lieutenant
Grant made use of this advantage. He took his brig, called
the Lady Nelson, through the Straits, and gave names to the

1 Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute, vol. xx. p. 342.

2 For facts and figures see Appendix VI. Section B.

1 68 British Colonisation

bays and inlets. In 1802 the Governor of Sydney sent the
Lady Nelson, under Lieutenant Murray, to explore a small
inlet, which proved, upon close examination, to be the entrance
to a broad sheet of water. To this bay the name of Port
Phillip was given in honour of the first Australian Governor.
The first attempt to colonise Port Phillip was made in 1803,
under Governor Collins, who landed there with about four
hundred convicts. This experiment was unfortunate, as there
seemed to be no suitable place for a township. The blacks
were hostile ; and, leave being given to Collins to remove to
Tasmania if he thought fit, he did so at once, abandoning the

For more than thirty years Port Phillip was left to its solitude.
In 1835 J onn Pascoe Fawkner, who had been one of the
children allowed to accompany their convict parents in the
Collins expedition of 1803, returning to Tasmania with it
afterwards, formed a project of colonising the old site. He is
said to have been urged to this enterprise by reading an account
of an expedition led in 1824-5 by two explorers named Hume
and Hovell, who had recently travelled in this part of the world,
leading a party from Sydney southwards across the Australian
Alps to Geelong.

Together with five friends, Fawkner set sail in a small vessel
called the Enterprise ; but, the winds proving contrary, he asked
to be put ashore for a time, as he was a great sufferer from sea-
sickness. His party, however, proceeded on their way, land-
ing at Hobson's Bay, carrying with them horses, ploughs, grain,
fruit-trees, materials for a house, as well as a boat and provisions.
Fawkner himself joined them shortly after their arrival. About
the same time John Batman, also a Tasmanian, who has
already been alluded to as the capturer of the notorious
Tasmanian bushranger Brady, formed a similar project, and in
1835 landed at Port Phillip after tossing about Bass Straits for
nineteen days in a little sloop called the Rebecca. Batman ex-
plored the bay, made friends with the natives, obtaining a grant
of land from them to the amount of 600,000 acres.

The Australian Colonies 169

These were the beginnings of the great city of Melbourne.
Before a year had passed nearly two hundred persons had crossed
over from Tasmania with more than 15,000 sheep, and spread
over a great extent of country from Geelong to Sunbury. Con-
flicts arose between the settlers and the natives, and Governor
Bourke endeavoured to check the nascent settlement, issuing a
proclamation warning the settlers not to make their home there.
But here, as elsewhere in England's colonial empire, official
protests against colonisation and expansion were unavailing.
At the close of 1836 Governor Bourke was compelled to
recognise the colony, and, in 1837, visited Port Phillip him-
self, and planned the town of Melbourne, so named after Lord
Melbourne, at that time the Prime Minister of England. The
history of Melbourne and of the colony of Victoria can be
said, therefore, to begin almost exactly with Queen Victoria's

For a short time from this date Port Phillip continued to be
an integral portion of the mother-colony of New South Wales.
When Governor Sir George Gipps came to Sydney in 1838, he
found that the question of separation was already being agitated.
At this time the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Governor
extended over the eastern half of Australia, from Cape York
to Port Phillip. There were in this vast region at that time
only about 150,000 colonists, of whom about 120,000 were
centred around Sydney and 30,000 around Port Phillip. At
these two places, six hundred miles apart, lay the germs of two
great colonies. In 1 840 the people of Melbourne formally peti-
tioned for a separation.

The Home Government were, generally speaking, rather in
favour of separation ; although it might have been thought that,
when in July 1843 a Council of thirty-six members was given to
Sydney, of whom six were elected for Port Phillip, a modus
vivendi between the two centres of colonisation might have
been attained. This distribution of political power was found
to be unsatisfactory, the people of Port Phillip objecting to the
large share of representation enjoyed by the Sydney colonists,

170 British Colonisation

and asserting, amongst other matters, that a sum of more than
;i 80,000 had been taken from the sale of public lands around
Port Phillip to encourage immigration to Sydney. Practically
speaking, they were at the mercy of the Sydney majority.

The friction between the two component parts of the Legisla-
ture grew worse and worse, and the Port Phillip electors adopted
rather a novel plan for drawing the attention of English states-
men to their unfair position. At this time (1848) Earl Grey
was Secretary of State for the Colonies, and accordingly they
elected him as their member by a great majority. By this
means Earl Grey's attention was turned to Port Phillip, and after
weighing the matter carefully he informed his constituents at the
Antipodes that he would at once prepare a bill for the Imperial
Parliament and obtain the necessary powers, at the same time
intimating that Queen Victoria would be pleased if the new
colony around Port Phillip would take her name. In 1851 the
colony of Victoria, being separated from New South Wales,
commenced a separate existence.

When gold was discovered in New South Wales, the first
effect was to deplete the neighbouring settlement of a large
number of its colonists \ and in June 1851 a number of leading
citizens of Melbourne offered a reward of ^"200 to the first
person who discovered gold within two hundred miles of Mel-
bourne. In June a find was announced by the Hon. W.
Campbell from Clunes in the county of Talbot, 123 miles from
Melbourne ; and this was followed by a find at Burnbank or
Lexton, 128 miles from Melbourne, in the same county, and
another in the quartz rocks of the Yarra ranges at Anderson's
Creek. In the same year gold was discovered at Mount Alex-
ander, at Buninyong, and Ballarat. The first ship that took
gold from Port Phillip was the Honduras, which left for
London August 29, 1851, with eighteen ounces ; the second
one, the Melbourne, sailed in the December following, with
54,000 ounces ; and in August 1852 the Eagle carried 145,843
ounces. 1

i Gordon and Gotch's Handbook, 1891, p. 243.

The Australian Colonies 171

When the fame of the Ballarat diggings spread abroad, the
effect upon Melbourne was extraordinary. There was a rush
thither from all parts of the world. In 1852 nearly 100,000
immigrants landed at Melbourne, and the population was at
once doubled. In 1853, 92,000 arrived, and Victoria became
the most populous of all the Australian colonies. In 1854-5,
150,000 came; and in 1856 Victoria contained 400,000 in-
habitants, or about five times the number it possessed in 1850.
In 1852 one hundred and seventy-four tons of gold were raised,
valued at "14, ooo, ooo ; and from 1852 to 1862 "100,000,000
worth of gold was exported from Victoria. Victoria went ahead
rapidly from New South Wales, the latter colony not producing
more than ,2,000,000 worth of gold annually, with the
exception of the year 1852.

The wealth of Melbourne and the progress of Victoria, in
consequence of the gold finds, can best be proved by figures.
The assessed annual rental of property in Melbourne in 1843
was 91,270; in 1854, "2,330,947. For the province of
Victoria the total imports in 1851 were 1,056,437 ; in 1857,
17,256,209. The total value of imports during seven years
was 82,499,296. The number of ships and vessels entered
inwards at the custom-house in Victoria in 1851 was 710;
in 1857 it was 2190. The tonnage in 1851 was 128,959 tons;
in 1857, 694,564 tons. The number of men employed in
1851 was 7785 ; in 1857, 34,777. The increase in the num-
ber of vessels was therefore very great. The departures in
1851 comprised 657 vessels of all classes, having a total
tonnage of 110,659 tons. In the year 1857 the number of
ships cleared outwards at the various custom-houses in Vic-
toria was 2207, with a tonnage of 684.

Before this extraordinary development all previous theories
of colonisation broke down. Gold brought about a complete
social revolution, and a self-paying emigration succeeded to
State-aided emigration. Formerly the emigrating class consisted
mainly of distressed agricultural peasants and their wives, whose
passages were defrayed out of the rent and sales of waste

British Colonisation

lands. The character of emigrations, or rushes from one gold-
field to another, was extraordinary. Twenty thousand people,
earning fair wages and doing well, would rise, we are told, en
masse in a day, and, striking tents, precipitate themselves upon
a new district sometimes, it must be added, to find reverses
and bitter disappointment. Life often became a wild orgy,
the flood of immigrants swamped the old settlers, and many of
them fled from the invading hordes.

The gold-mining industry was found to react favourably
upon all industries, and especially those of a pastoral and
agricultural character. If it is true that every gold-digger
gives occupation to at least three other men in feeding and
clothing him, there was abundant opportunity, in the presence
of such an influx, for the farmer and agriculturist to make a
profit. The host was composed of all nations Germans,
French, Italians, Chinese, Americans, and Californians. There
are said to have been, at one time, 50,000 Chinamen at the
Australian gold-fields, and at Ballarat in 1856 a Chinese news-
paper was printed and circulated. To the Chinese some of
the greatest of the gold discoveries are due. The immigration
tax levied upon them at Port Sydney and Port Phillip com-
pelled them to enter the gold-fields by way of Guichen Bay, in
South Australia ; and, taking a course from that point over the
frontier and across the Grampian ranges, they came upon gold
near Mount Ararat. In their search after the precious metal
they chanced upon a spot called 'The Chinaman's Hole,'
which yielded 3000 ounces in a few hours. This led to the
greatest rush ever known at the gold-fields no less than
60,000 people congregating there in a few weeks. 'Thus,
within the space of two months, a wild mountain gorge was
converted into a teeming city, where frontages were almost as
valuable as in the heart of London.' *

With regard to wheat-growing in Victoria, it advanced by
leaps and bounds all over the country. It was only in 1835
that the first acre was fenced in and sown with wheat in
1 Quarterly Review r , January 1860.

The Australian Colonies 173

Victoria. In 1858 the quantity of land under crop was
237,729, yielding 1,808,438 bushels of wheat, besides maize
and oats, the average yield of wheat per acre being 23.1

As in New South Wales, so in the colony of Victoria, the
amazing influx of immigrants brought about important social
and political changes. It was no easy matter to keep law
and order in the country ; and, as many convicts crossed over
from Tasmania, the Victorian Legislature passed a stringent
Convicts Prevention Act in 1852, by which any ship-captain
who brought a convict into the country was to be fined .100.
The licence fee was also found to be a grievance by the diggers,
who, according to its provisions, were compelled to pay 305. a
month an amount trifling in itself in the case of lucky diggers,
but pressing hard upon the unlucky. Thousands of miners had
been disappointed in their hopes of wealth, and formed an
unruly mob ready at any moment to vent their rage against
the Governor and all constituted authority. A certain number
of them formed a camp under the command of two leaders
Vern, a German, and Lalor, an Irishman and proclaimed the
' Republic of Victoria.' This rebellion, however, was soon
crushed by the Ninety-ninth Regiment, aided by marines from
the men-of-war and the colonial police. All these circum-
stances were particularly embarrassing to a young colony
which, little by little, was feeling its way from a representative
to a fully responsible form of government. Nevertheless, the
country weathered all its storms, and in 1855 the new consti-
tution, framed by the colonists in the Colonial Constitution
Act, was confirmed by the Imperial Government.

The tale of Victorian prosperity is a twice-told tale.
Nature has, to use Sir Arthur Hodgson's words, made a
present to the colony of 220 millions in hard gold, and
Victorian colonists have not been slow to avail themselves of
Nature's bounty. Melbourne, with her population of 491,378
(1891), is one of the great cities of the world, and a railway
map of Victoria will show us that the capital is linked with

1/4 British Colonisation

the outlying counties by 2469 miles of railway, costing more
than ^34,000,000 to construct. A study of Victorian statis-
tics proves that in all the elements of material wealth the
colonists are most amply provided. 1


In 1829 a new experiment was destined to be made in a
remote part of the Australian continent. In this year certain
regulations, for the guidance of those who may propose to
embark as settlers for the new settlement on the western coast
of New Holland, as it was still called, were issued from
Downing Street. From their tenor it is easy to see how
totally and essentially different this colonising venture was from
that which resulted in the founding of New South Wales, Tas-
mania, and Victoria. The settlement was termed the ' New
Colony of the Swan River,' but this hardly gave a proper idea
of its extent, as it included all the line of coast from Cape
Leuwin in lat. 34 30' to lat. 31. The Swan River was the
Riviere des Cygnes of the French, and the Zwanen Riviere of
Vlaming. The country had been visited by the French, but
not closely surveyed ; and in March 1827 Captain Stirling
stood along the coast and, anchoring opposite the Swan River,
ascended it in boats. The impression he took away with him
was favourable : very different from that of the French explorers,
who had arrived off the coast in the winter time, and appear
to have been alarmed at the gales of wind and the rocks and
reefs, such as the Reef de Naturaliste, the Shoals of Rottenest,
Houtman's Abrolhos, and the rough coast off Cape Leuwin.
Geographer's Bay provided a good anchorage, its position
being exactly like that of the Table Bay in the Cape, facing
north-west. Cockburn Sound, lying behind a protecting island,
just south of the Swan River, was considered by Captain
Stirling to be always safe. Such was the spot designated by
the founders of the new settlement. The land, also, according
1 For facts and figures see Appendix VI. Section C.

The Australian Colonies 175

to Captain Stirling, was favourable to vegetation, and the
climate cool and agreeable the latter assertion borne out by
all those who have lived at Perth and Fremantle. The idea
that the western coast of Australia consisted mostly of barren
sandhills an idea gathered from the appearance of the lime-
stone hills, which were often covered by sand blown up from
the sea was proved to be erroneous, and plains and forests
were found to exist. Here, then, might be a home for a pas-
toral and agricultural population. Further, the colony seemed
to be situated well from a commercial and strategic point of
view, lying as it did in the track of ships proceeding to New
South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, and on the fair-way,
also, of ships from India to South America a line of trade just
commencing. The colony might also serve as a convalescent
station for the numerous invalids from India, not only of the
East India Company's service, but also of our regular army
there. In relation to our Indian empire, a glance at the map
showed that the Cape of Good Hope and Swan River formed
two most important stations.

At the beginning of its career it was hoped that the Swan
River settlement might draw upon the Cape of Good Hope
and the Isle of France for supplies. Above all, it was highly
imperative that the post should not be occupied by an enemy
who from this position might be a standing menace to our
other settlements in Australia and Van Diemen's Land. It
was advisable for England, now that her occupation of the
island-continent had been an accomplished fact for more than
forty years, to establish a cordon or chain of posts all round
the whole habitable portion of Australia. The importance of
Australia, from every point of view, was being thrust upon
England ; and a writer in the Quarterly Review (No. Ixxviii.)
expressed a general feeling thus in 1829: 'We are satisfied
that these Australian colonies require only the fostering hand
of the Mother-country for a little while to elevate them to a
degree of prosperity equal to that of the United States in pro-
portion to their respective populations,' The colonies were to

176 British Colonisation

be encouraged as affording the surest and most constant
markets for the demand and consumption of British manu-
factures. The wool sent home was already proved to be equal
to the -Spanish wool, and the import was interfering already
at this date with Saxony wool.

Such were the reasons which were advanced by political
thinkers in 1829 for the development of our colonial power in
Australia. These reasons were based on high State policy, and

Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 15 of 31)