Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

many display much intelligence, and are frequently of great use to the settlers in shepherding and washing their sheep, or assisting at harvest time; unfortunately, however, they seldom stay for more than a few days at a time in any one place, which has hitherto frustrated all efforts, whether of private individuals or of the protectors officers who were appointed for the amelioration of their condition.

This office has lately been abolished, in consequence of the total failure of their efforts, and at present nothing is attempted by the Government beyond the support of a school, at which a few children have been taught to read, and the distribution of medical aid in cases of sickness. The Moravians, who hitherto have been most successful wherever the prospects seemed least promising, have lately sent out two missionaries to Port Phillip; the result of their labour is yet unknown.

It seems a law of Nature that uncivilised man should disappear before the superior races. That not only by diseases and vices communicated to them by the strangers, their numbers should be thinned, but that their presence, even without the aid of these, should produce new

[blocks in formation]

diseases before unknown to either, under which the aborigines succumb. Such has been the process in many islands in the Pacific, and in other uncivilised countries, as is stated by the late lamented missionary to the South Seas, the Rev. J. Williams. T'hat the native race is gradually wearing out in Australia cannot be denied, but that the decrease is nearly as rapid as has been described by some may well be doubted. Most exaggerated stories have been circulated about collisions between the white and black population in that country: some few barbarous murders did, no doubt, formerly take place upon both sides, but the best feeling now generally prevails. Although the wild game upon which the blacks formerly subsisted has in some places diminished, yet the amount of food received by them froin the settlers in return for their assistance more than supplies the deficiency. Some attribute the decrease in their numbers to the facility with which they now obtain food without severe labour as previously. Any further investigation of this interesting subject would too much extend this work, the limits of which preclude allusion to any facts respecting their habits of infanticide, &c.

RISE AND FALL OF PRICES.

25

a

Reference has been made to frightful variations in the value of stock ; sheep have been sold at all prices from 1s. to £4. It is satisfactory to know that such changes are no longer possible. When the only demand for surplus stock arose from the wants of a small community, where the ever-varying price of wool in England and of labour in the colony, and where the discovery of a new country fit for pasturage alternately created a mania or a panic in a people remarkable for their mercurial disposition, it is not a matter of surprise if changes in the price of every description of property should have occurred, in which as many fortunes were lost by those who sold as were acquired by those who purchased. Instances have occurred where sheep have been sold literally for less money than the wool at that moment on their backs was worth. For example, a settler purchased sheep and station for £1,200; and in the course of one year his profits from wool and wethers more than repaid that sum ; and he sold the property for £5,000 at the end of the twelvemonth. In another case, a large stock and station were purchased upon credit, where the bills, as they became due, were regularly retired by the profits

[blocks in formation]

:

of the stock : thus, at the end of a few years, the buyers found themselves the owners of about 30,000 sheep, without ever having invested any cash at all. Similar opportunities will no doubt occasionally present themselves in future, so that none need be dispirited by the reflection that all the land is now monopolised in the hands of the present squatters: as reasonable would be the fear that no landed investment could be made in England, because of the alienation of all land from the Crown. The perusal of any colonial newspaper will at once prove that no fear need be entertained of not procuring a suitable station. The rate of profit must now depend upon

the judgment exercised in the investment, and partly upon the state of the market. About 20 or 25 per cent. interest per annum upon the purchasemoney is considered a fair remuneration for the risk and trouble of a sheep farm. The improvidence and changes in the views of former owners, especially from the wish of many to return to their native land, insure to the intending purchaser an opportunity for a secure investment.

None need be apprehensive, at the present

[blocks in formation]

a

time, of such great fluctuations in the value of property as were too familiar to the early settlers; the value of a fleece of wool in the colony may be reckoned at 2s. 6d., and about 20 per cent. . of the stock may be annually melted for tallow. The annual expense of the station will vary from $40 to £70 per 1,000 sheep. A station of 10,000 sheep would therefore shew the following results : -10,000 fleeces at 2s.6d., £1,250; 2,000 sheep, melted down, at 5s., £500; total, £1,750; expenses, £600; leaves £1,150. The price of stock for some years has been from 8s. to 12s., which gives a return of 23 per cent.

. upon money invested, at 10s. per head. In the foregoing, wool has been taken to be worth ls. per lb. Average sheep will yield 20 lbs. of tallow, the price of which varies. The expenses must be very different in a country where, in some places, one acre will support a sheep, while, under ordinaay circumstances, it requires three or four to do so.

The fluctuations above alluded to have always been merely temporary, and arose principally from the very confined market to which the settler was obliged to resort. Now, however, from the universal introduction of the melting

« AnteriorContinuar »