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

2 See vol. xx. Proceedings of Royal Colonial Institute.

1 88 British Colonisation

at hand to develop ; and there has been a ready market from
which to raise capital. The national heritage of Crown lands
covering an extent almost equal to the whole of Europe has
been handed over to the small handful of colonists by the
action of the Colonial Office, and the colonists have made a
lavish use of their opportunities. The marvellous advance of
our Australian colonies, which is sometimes represented as not
only astounding but little short of miraculous, can be explained
easily enough. It is probably true that in the history of the
world similar advantages have never been given to such small

Queensland, like New South Wales and Tasmania, but
unlike South Australia and Western Australia, owed its be-
ginnings to a convict settlement. In 1823 Governor Brisbane
sent the discoverer Oxley in the Mermaid to select a new place
for a convict settlement in the northern district of New South
Wales. On this voyage he discovered Moreton Bay and
Brisbane River, up which he ascended for fifty miles. On his
return he recommended the position as suitable for a settle-
ment, and the following year landed a party and occupied what
is now the site of the city of Brisbane. The convict detach-
ment were recruited gradually by the squatters of New South
Wales, who wandered northwards to the Darling Downs. In
1829 Cunningham had explored the country and hit upon the
pass which led from the Darling Downs to Moreton Bay, and
communications were therefore opened up between the squatters
of the interior and the convict settlement on the coast. The
squatters would often secure the services of the convicts as
shepherds on their runs. In 1840 the land around Moreton
Bay was entitled the ' Northern District of New South Wales,'
and Government lots thrown open for sale at twelve shillings
an acre. Free immigration set in, and the banks of the
Brisbane River were soon occupied by a number of settlers, who
found the soil wonderfully adapted to the growth of wheat and
maize. In 1841 the free settlers around Brisbane began to
send representatives to the Legislative Council at Sydney.

The A ustralian Colonies 1 89

Sir Arthur Hodgson, the veteran Australian colonist, hasgiven
us two pictures of Australian life : first when, in March 1839,
he landed in Sydney after a voyage of 1 16 days ; and then when,
in March 1889, fifty years afterwards, he landed at the same
place after a voyage of thirty-four days. Inter alia he ob-
serves : ' It was with mixed feelings of interest and astonishment
that I found myself travelling by rail from Sydney to Brisbane,
a distance of 600 miles : fifty years ago, and up to a much later
date, I travelled the same distance always on horseback, with
the exception of taking steamer from Sydney to Newcastle. . . .
The railway bisects the property discovered by me in 1840,
and I alighted at a railway station three miles from the home
where I had passed fourteen years of a very happy life. . . .
Twelve miles from my old Darling Down home, the railway
passes through Toowoomba (a native name), with a population
of 8000, and the sanatorium of Queensland. Through
numerous tunnels, and by a very clever zig-zag, you descend
rapidly to the coast district, and to Brisbane, the capital of
Queensland, with 70,000 inhabitants. I entered Brisbane fifty
years ago under very different circumstances, in company with
my partner, the late Mr. Gilbert Elliot, and a black boy whom
I had brought from New South Wales. . . . We were the first
white men to arrive in Brisbane overland. . . .Within seven miles
of Brisbane we met a mounted constable, who took us into
custody, nobody being permitted to enter " the settlement," as
it was then called, without an autograph letter from the
Governor of the colony.'

Sir Arthur Hodgson goes on to say : ' Queensland possesses
an area of 430 millions of acres, as large as New South Wales
and Victoria united, with a coast-line extending over 1400
miles. With this large extent of territory she has marvellous
resources, and can grow almost everything wheat in the south,
sugar in the north ; and it has long since been a fallacy to
suppose that the interior of the colony was not adapted to
pastoral purposes, millions of sheep and cattle now grazing over
a country reported by early pioneers to be a desert.'

British Colonisation

It may here be pointed out that a biography of such an old
colonist as Sir Arthur Hodgson, or such a veteran statesman
as Sir Henry Parkes, or such a pioneer, explorer, and governor
as Sir George Grey, provides us with perhaps the best illustra-
tion of the wonderful advance of our Pacific colonies in all the
elements of wealth. No public men of past times have ever
presided over more extraordinary developments, or given a turn
to a more pregnant page of history, than these leaders of
Australian progress and makers of Australian history. No
proconsul of ancient times, no autocrat of a province, no dele-
gate of imperial rule indeed, no conqueror of men has ever
had a more illustrious role. Surely the peaceful subjugation
of a continent and the crowning of a State's prosperity with the
works of peace has been their exceptional lot j and such a lot,
as the history of the world goes now, cannot easily occur again
to any class of men. It must ever be a source of national
pride that the moulding of Australian life and society has been
entrusted to pioneers, explorers, and bold cekists of British

Within recent years there has been a desire evinced on
the part of Northern Queensland to separate from Southern
Queensland : the colonists around Townsville and the north
protesting that by the mere force of geographical circumstances
their interests are sufficiently distinct from those of Brisbane,
which is close to the New South Wales frontier. The separa-
tists would draw a distinction between sub-tropical Queens-
land and tropical Queensland between Queensland north of
the Tropic of Capricorn and Queensland south of it. Some,
indeed, would divide Queensland up into three separate
colonies. The matter is still a bone of contention between
Queenslanders. The northern districts are adapted to the
growth of sugar, an industry that brings always in its wake a
native or coolie immigration question. In 1889 there were
about 8000 Polynesian labourers imported from the islands of
the South Pacific ; but in 1885 a protest was raised somewhat
unreasonably, according to some Australian colonists. An Act

The Australian Colonies 191

was passed disallowing Kanaka labour after 1893; but this,
again, is a vexed question of Queensland politics, as the sugar
industry is threatened.

There have been gold rushes in Queensland as in New
South Wales and Victoria ; therefore this colony inherits all
the advantages incident to this particular form of immigration.
The first gold ventures were unfortunate. In 1858 it was
rumoured that there were rich deposits on the Fitzroy River,
and many vessels landed hundreds of miners at Keppel Bay ;
but, although gold was discovered there, it was on a small
scale, and disappointing to those who had imagined that a
second Ballarat and Mount Alexander were to be found in
Queensland. Towards the end of 1867, however, a miner
named Nash found a large auriferous area at Gympie, about a
hundred and thirty miles from Brisbane. The estimated gross
produce of gold in the colony from 1867 to December 31,
1889, has been 6,827,888 oz., valued at ^23,897,608.!


This may be a convenient point at which to review briefly
the tale of Australian inland discovery, which is only second
in interest to that of African discovery in the nineteenth cen-
tury. From notices already given it will be seen how much,
for instance, was due to the hardihood of those pioneers who,
in the early history of New South Wales, burst the apparently
impassable barriers of the Blue Mountains, and led the way for
squatters and herdsmen to follow ; how much also was due to
the intrepid explorers who made the overland telegraph
possible from Adelaide to Port Darwin. The task of explor-
ing a country of 3,030,234 square miles was no small one
when we consider the terrible hardships which had to be
endured. The perils of the great Thirst Lands of Australia
were far greater than the perils of Australian circumnaviga-

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

1 92 British Colonisation

The problem of inland exploration had its fascination for
the great African explorer, Mungo Park, who offered to go out
and conduct an expedition in 1798. His offer came in the
form of a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, the scientific companion
of the Cook expedition, and was written in May 1798, ten
years after the foundation of Sydney. Commenting on the
proposal of this illustrious explorer, Sir Joseph Banks said
that ' although the country had been possessed for more than
ten years, so much has the discovery of the interior been
neglected that no one article has hitherto been discovered by
the importation of which the Mother-Country can receive any
degree of return for the founding and hitherto maintaining the
colony.' 1

By 1815 the coasts of Australia had been fairly well sur-
veyed by Dutch, English, and French explorers. The efforts
of Dampier, Cook, Bass, Flinders, Baudin the Frenchman,
and others have already been noticed. Still the great interior
lay as an almost entirely unknown land. Beyond the pasture-
lands of Bathurst men wished to know, first of all, how the
land lay ; and in 1817 Mr. Oxley, the Surveyor-General of New
South Wales, was sent to explore the country towards the
interior. Oxley followed the river Lachlan to what he thought
were its sources a dreary waste, apparently, of interminable
marshes, perhaps the margin of a great inland sea, and, to use
his own words, ' for ever uninhabitable/' At the time, there-
fore, it was thought that the expeditions of Mr. Oxley had
nearly settled two points of great importance. The first was
that colonisation was not very likely to extend beyond two hun-
dred miles from the eastern coast, and that from the nature of
the interior the settlers would have nothing to apprehend from
any foreign Power planting its subjects at the western shores,
as was once said to be the intention of the French. At this
time there was no Monroe doctrine laid down with regard to
the Australian continent, and it would have been difficult to
have raised any strong objection to a French settlement in
1 Proceedings of the Royal Colonial Institute, vol. xvii.

The Australian Colonies 193

Australia, convict or otherwise. The second point was the
improbability of either the Lachlan or Macquarie reaching any
part of the sea coast, and the total inutility of both for any
commercial purposes. Indeed, a writer in the Quarterly
Review l seemed to take it for granted that ' no river of any mag-
nitude empties itself into the sea on the northern, western, or
southern coasts of New Holland.' Dampier had once recorded
it as his opinion that a great strait or river opened out behind
the archipelago of the Rosemary Islands ; and in the absence
of definite information it was reasonable to suppose that some
vast drainage system in the interior sloped from east to west.
Not yet was the torrid nature of the interior fully realised.

In 1825 Allan Cunningham, one of those enthusiastic
botanists who have done so much in opening up the dark
regions of the world, starting from Sydney, chanced upon a
picturesque gap over the Liverpool range, which he named
the Pandora Pass. His discoveries gave the Australians a
way to the fine pastoral lands of the Liverpool Plains and the
Darling River. To the south and south-west of Sydney, Hume
and Hovell, as already mentioned, pioneered the way across
the Australian Alps to Port Phillip.

Then, in 1828, Sturt took up the problem which Oxley had
assailed, and exploring the Macquarie and Darling rivers,
found an open country to the west, proving that the idea of
a great inland sea was erroneous. With Sturt, also, rests the
honour of tracing the course of the Murray to Lake Alex-
andrina and the sea, and of exploring a thousand miles of
previously unknown land. Major Mitchell, in 1831 and 1835,
made two expeditions to the north-west of Sydney, in which
he failed ; but in 1836 he went southward, crossed the Murray,
discovered the Glenelg, and reached the sea just at the present
boundary between Victoria and South Australia. By these
explorations the south-east of Australia was fairly well known,
and fertile areas thrown open to the enterprise of ranchers
and squatters, especially in the Loddon district.
1 December 1820.

194 British Colonisation

But the greater and more formidable tasks of continental
exploration were still left to be assailed. Seven-eighths of the
island-continent was still shrouded in obscurity, and the
great belt of desert seemed to lie between east and west as a
hidden vast and impenetrable zone. In 1840 Edward John
Eyre offered to conduct an expedition from Adelaide, and
with a small escort explored Lake Torrens and Lake Eyre,
which were lakes in name, but in reality closely resembling
sheets of salt-encrusted mud. He then turned westward, and,
after incredible hardships along the bleak and barren coasts of
the Australian Bight, reached King George's Sound. Here
they found a French whaling-ship the crew of which enter-
tained them hospitably, giving them clothes and food and
shortly afterwards reached Albany. Resting for a few days,
they returned to Adelaide, after an absence of a year and
twenty-six days. Eyre must be remembered as the first
explorer who braved the worst horrors of the Australian

In 1844 Captain Sturt, who had explored the valleys of the
Darling and Murray, led an expedition into the interior, and
reached Cooper Creek, and the Stony Desert, and Strzelecki
Creek. In this region the fiery heat of the sun was intense
the thermometer standing sometimes at 130 degrees Fahren-
heit in the shade ; and it is recorded that the explorers were
unable to write, as the ink dried on their pens ; their combs
split, their nails became brittle and broke, and if they touched
metal it blistered their fingers. They were even forced to dig
an underground room to evade the direct action of the sun.
Sturt's reports of the arid country gave rise to the opinion that
the interior of Australia was one vast sandy desert.

In 1844 a German botanist, Ludwig Leichardt by name,
starting from Sydney with five men, made his way northwards
to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and discovered and followed up
the tributaries of the Fitzroy, the Dawson, the Mackenzie,
the Burdekin, the Mitchell, and the Gilbert. Ultimately he
followed the Alligator River to Van Diemen's Gulf, and,

The Australian Colonies 195

embarking on a ship which was waiting for him, returned to
Sydney. Encouraged by this success, Leichardt organised an
expedition to make further discoveries in North Queensland,
in which he was not successful. Then in 1848 he planned
his last and great enterprise, which was to traverse the whole
Australian continent from east to west from Moreton Bay-
to the Swan River settlement. On this expedition he and all
his party were lost more completely, indeed, than the gallant
Franklin and his crew in the Arctic regions ; for to this day
the desert has never revealed any signs of their presence or
proof of their fate.

While Leichardt was exploring the north-eastern portions of
the continent, Sir Thomas Mitchell, the discoverer of the
Glenelg, undertook a journey into the interior of Queensland,
and discovered the higher point of Sturt's Cooper's Creek, which
he called the Victoria. Kennedy followed up Mitchell's dis-
covery, and traced the Victoria River for a hundred and fifty
miles beyond the place where Mitchell had left it. This river,
about which so much mystery hung, was proved to have a
course of about 1200 miles, and to be the largest in Central
Australia. It finds its way to the marshes around Lake Eyre,
and, spreading over the country, is there lost by evaporation.
In 1848 Kennedy was sent to explore York Peninsula; but
this expedition was one of the most disastrous of all, only
two survivors being left out of an original party of eight.

In 1860 a new era of Australian exploration set in when
Burke and Wills formed the determination of crossing the
continent from south to north from Melbourne to the Gulf
of Carpentaria. These explorers, accompanied by two men
named King and Gray, struck Cooper's Creek, and then
followed the i4oth meridian, striking the Flinders River, which
they followed to the Gulf of Carpentaria. On their return
home they suffered the most terrible hardships, and all died
with the exception of King, who was discovered by a search
party as a gaunt and emaciated skeleton, so wasted and re-
duced that with difficulty could the relief party catch the

196 British Colonisation

whispers that fell from his lips. The camels and horses were
all dead, and the explorers had been driven to the extremity
of living on nardoo seed and occasional windfalls in the shape
of a crow. The desolate character of the Australian deserts
seems only to be equalled by that of the gloomy region of the
Barrens and the Arctic seas in mid-winter with this difference,
that in the Arctic regions caches of fish, flesh, and food pre-
served for months by frost are possible ; not so in Australia.
In one region the thermometer drops to 70 degrees below
zero, in the other it rises to 130 degrees. Perhaps the terrors
of an Arctic region are less even than those of an arid and
inhospitable desert where men are driven in despair to hide
themselves in holes and caverns from the pitiless rays of the
sun. In both regions blindness comes upon the traveller
in the one case from snow, and in the other from the glare
of the sun on countless leagues of sand.

Just at the time that a party despatched by the Victorian
Government were bringing the remains of Burke and Wills
back to Melbourne, M'Douall Stuart, who had served as
draughtsman in Sturt's expedition, had accomplished in 1862
the task, already alluded to in the account of the telegraph
enterprise of South Australia, of traversing the continent from
south to north along the i33rd meridian, about seven degrees
west of the route taken by Burke and Wills. With their
triumphs certain great geographical questions were set at
rest. Australia, divided almost equally by the Tropic of
Capricorn, was known to be a vast Sahara-like stretch of
country, almost impassable for man, and scarcely fit to be the
abode of bird or beast. In our estimate of the probable
future resources of Australia it is well to remember how
greatly the desert areas predominate in the land, and that
pastoral and agricultural areas are limited in number. In
mineral wealth Australia may still provide us with fresh sur-
prises, but at present it does not seem likely ever to become
the chosen home of agriculturists or small freeholders to
the same extent as the territories of the great North- West of

The Australian Colonies 197

Canada. Population converges in certain well-known capitals
and centres, and for the newly arrived immigrants the bush
with its isolation, weariness, and monotony would seem to
hold forth but few attractions. It is rather in Tasmania, and
more especially in New Zealand, that we must look for a re-
production of our national life at its best, where the climate,
the first consideration, is most favourable.

In his History of England after the Great War^ Mr. Spencer
Walpole remarks that ' the greatest fact in the history of the
nineteenth century is the foundation of a new Britain which
may eventually prove a Greater Britain in the Southern
hemisphere ' (see vol. v. p. 446). We may not, indeed,
feel inclined to go quite as far as Mr. Walpole, either in his
assertion or in his prophecy : the phrase ' a Greater Britain '
meaning, of course, a Britain that is greater than the Mother-
country in all those spiritual and heroic qualities that go to
make up the life of a nation, whether it be deeds of war,
genius in literature, chivalric fulfilment of duties towards
subject races, political wisdom, social reform, and generally
a wise and fearless example placed before the world, worthy
of imitation. In all these departments the history of 'a
Greater Britain' in Southern waters has yet to be made.
On the material side the motto * Advance Australia ! ' has a
deep and pregnant meaning ; for in mere wealth, expansion
of trade, and in general well-being, Australia has advanced and
is the wonder and envy of the age. It could scarcely have
been conjectured by the founders of Sydney that within the
comparatively short period of a hundred years a number of
distinct communities would arise on the continent, fully en-
franchised, self-governing, and equipped with all the resources
of young nations. The progress yonder has been noiseless.
Whilst men slept here, the colonies of New South Wales,
Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and West
Australia have grown, and they have grown very vigorously.
The process has been the peaceful acquisition and peaceful
reclamation of a continent and its adjacent island of Tasmania.

198 British Colonisation

Removed, by virtue of their great distance, from the ken of
Europe, Australians have enjoyed a quiet and uninterrupted
period of prosperity. Compared with other colonies, whose
course has been like that of a turbid river checked by rocks,
choked by morasses, and hindered on all sides by nature's
obstacles, the waterway, as it were, of Australia has been clear,
resembling a broad, placid reach. To borrow an illustration
from the poet Wordsworth, the history of Australia is like the
final, but only the final, stage of the river Duddon, when
loosed from ' rocky bands ' it flows ' in radiant progress
towards the deep,' 'and glides in silence with unfettered
sweep.' There has been no brooding curse of slavery to
banish from the land, as in the West Indies ; no stern border
frays between races, as between French and British colonists
in Canada ; no powerful and cruel aborigines to combat, as in
Canada, the Cape Colony, or Natal, The natives of Tas-
mania and of the great island-continent have been far too
weak to oppose any real obstacles to the Tasmanian and
Australian colonists.

However, to share the perils and expenses of empire is
the proud wish of patriotic Australians. There was something
in the recent offer of a Sudan contingent from New South
Wales that appealed to the imagination far more powerfully
than all previous accounts of gold-mines. It was a gleam of
chivalry that flashed through the annals of Australia, awaken-
ing sympathy and prompting devotion. Not alone, but in
company with loyal colonists, the Mother-country, heavily
burdened with her imperial task, posed before the world as
the champion of imperial interests.

The Australian Colonies 199

References :

Sutherland's History of Australia , 1606-1876.

Westgarth's Early Melbourne, 1888.

Wakefield's (Edward Gibbon) View of the Art of Colonisation, 1849.

Wakefield's New British Province of South Australia, 1835.

Paterson's History of New South Wales, 1811.

Bonwick's Last of the Tasmaniaiis, 1870.

Fenton's History of Tasmania.

Labilliere's History of Victoria, 1878.

Oceana, by J. A. Froude.

Poems, by Adam Lindsay Gordon, 1884.

Gordon and Gotch's Australian Handbook, 1891-2.

J^ravels and Voyages of Flinders, 1814; Sturt, 1833; Stirling, 1833;

Mitchell, 1838 ; Grey, 1841 ; Eyre, 1845 J Leichhardt, 1847 ;

Burke and Wills, 1863, etc. etc.



FOR a considerable portion of the present century the
islands of New Zealand, although discovered and named by
the Dutch sailor, Abel Tasman, in 1642, remained to all
intents and purposes an unknown land. Why the island was
so called is not exactly clear, as, generally speaking, the
contour and natural features of the Pacific islands are totally
unlike the Zeeland of Europe ; but it is supposed that Tasman
saw a marshy flat at the end of one of the islands, which sug-
gested the nomenclature. Tasman's report was not acted
upon by the Dutch Government, and the real discoverer of New
Zealand was the British navigator, Captain Cook, who first
landed there on Sunday, the 8th of October 1768, and by
hoisting the British colours proclaimed the British sovereignty.

Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 17 of 31)