Imágenes de página



system, he has the world for his market. The tallow of Australia successfully competes with that of Russia, and secures a price for the annual increase of his stock remunerative to the owner. With this certain source of income, he never, without some gross mismanagement, can be driven into the market in a season of great depression, nor be forced to sacrifice his property for less than its intrinsic value. If no purchaser is to be found in the colony, a certain sale of the produce can be effected in London. Nor has this been the only advantage obtained from melting down the annual increase of the flocks and herds. Opportunities are thus afforded to cull out and select the least valuable stock, and thereby to improve the breed, and the quality of the wool. That it is susceptible of this improvement is evident from a comparison of the prices of Australian with German wool. With a less favourable climate, but with the same breed of sheep, Germany, as yet, surpasses Australia. Competent judges, who have had long experience in Germany, declare that the fleece of the Australian merino may be increased 40 per cent. in value, by improving the quality without diminishing its weight, or materially adding to



the cost of its production. This consideration is of vast importance in estimating the future resources of Australia, and her probable influence upon the manufactures of the world.

Much may be effected towards increasing the quantity of wool grown in these countries by a more judicious use of the water in their dry climate. Flocks frequently travel three or four miles to obtain water twice a week; and, thus, a very wide tract is usually assigned to the support of each flock. Large portions, and sometimes the whole of a run, were constantly unoccupied on account of this want, for a portion of the year. Now, however, it has been proved that at a small expense water may be secured in any quantity in almost any situation. The true capabilities of the country are, in fact, totally undeveloped and unknown, even to its occupants. A run taken up by the writer, which might at the time he entered upon it have fed 10,000 sheep, is now capable of depasturing 40,000.

The other pastoral and agricultural pursuits of Australia do not hold out similar promises of advantage. The sheep-owner, trusting to the peculiar adaptation of the climate to the production of the finest wool, need not fear the



competition of other countries; he has the safest monopoly, that granted by nature, which needs not the sanction of legislative enactments. It is otherwise with the owners of cattle: the hides and tallow, their only wealth, must compete with those of the boundless savannahs of South America, the produce of which will be poured out for the use of man as soon as the miserable civil wars of that unhappy but fine country shall have terminated. The Cape of Good Hope also, and the future settlements which will ere long arise on the northern coast of New Holland, too hot for the growth of wool, but most admirably adapted for feeding cattle, may cause an overproduction of tallow. The expenses of a cattle, are much less than those of a sheep, station: being less dependent on the labour market, they are also more ascertained. One stockman can look after 1,500 head. Hides are worth about 6s. Average beasts produce about 250 lbs. of tallow. The returns of depasturing cattle are not so remunerative as those from a sheep station, and are not likely to improve.

The agriculturist cannot look to any market for his corn but that afforded by the colony: the distance from England is too great to allow



him to hope for a profitable competition there with any other nation.

In the northern portions of Australia, extending to latitude 11° South, there is ample room for the growth of cotton, sugar, and coffee: the immense advantage to the empire to be derived from the growth of the first of these, need not be dilated upon. To render England independent of America for the supply of this article is an object of immeasurable importance, enabling her to maintain her position as a manufacturer for the world. The new settlement at Natal, for this reason, possesses much interest in the eyes of many true it is that the heat of the climate may interfere with the labour of Europeans in the northern parts of New Holland, but the proximity of China, and the number of Malays which frequent that portion of New Holland, willing to work at moderate wages, encourage the hope that we may undersell the product of slave labour in both North and South America; which species of labour experience has proved, in the end, to be the most expensive of any.

It is well known that the agricultural capabilities of the country are great, as is proved by most luxuriant crops of wheat, oats, hay, barley,

[blocks in formation]

Indian corn, and potatoes: of the latter an instance may be mentioned which occurred on a farm of the writer's near Melbourne, where several of the tubers weighed from 2 lbs. to 3 lbs., and one even reached the weight of 4 lbs. Many of the plants had a stone weight of potatoes at their roots; in fact, so large were they, that the farmer placed the smallest at the top of the bag, to make them more saleable; the roots were perfectly sound, and sold for £4. 10s. per ton.


This was an extraordinary instance, as was also another, where, upon a piece of irrigated ground, the produce was 23 tons per acre. general, the system of husbandry is wretched : grain-crops, manure, rotation of crops, fallowing, &c., are seldom heard of; making a stranger wonder at the produce of this ill-treated soil.

It is worthy of consideration how small a part of the population will probably be employed in agriculture. In England one-fifth is thus engaged. In the genial climate and on the virgin soil of Australia one-half of that proportion might prove sufficient. In England, also, many of these are employed in raising food for horses, sheep, and cattle. In Australia this

« AnteriorContinuar »