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company, on the banks of the Brisbane or Logan Rivers, or on any of their tributaries, or in the adjacent alluvial plains, and getting a free passage to the colony, with the prospect of having half the purchase-money of the land expended in local improvements, such as roads and bridges,—do you think that small farmers in such circumstances would not have a fair prospect of realizing a handsome return from their capital and labour, as well as of speedily establishing themselves in comfort and comparative independence ?
It is my opinion that industrious small farmers, purchasing eighty or a hundred acres of land, and getting a free passage to the colony, with half the purchase-money of the land expended in making roads and bridges, would have an excellent chance of speedily establishing themselves in comfort and comparative independence.
8. Supposing the alluvial lands along the principal rivers and creeks of the district to be settled by small farmers in the manner proposed, would it be practicable for them, generally speaking, to obtain grazing, if they required it, for a few head of cattle, on the inferior waste land adjoining, which nobody would be likely to purchase at the present minimum price for a long time to come ?
Supposing the alluvial land along the principal rivers and creeks to be settled, it is quite practicable for every one of such settlers to have access to the vacant forest land in the rear, where they could feed their working oxen, a few cows, sheep, or horses, free of expense.
Two portions of the northern district I am not personally acquainted with, viz. the Clarence and Richmond Rivers ; but a large proportion of the land in these districts is of the finest alluvial soil, and particularly adapted for agricultural purposes. No land on these rivers having yet been sold, leaves a fine field for a company to purchase on a large scale.
I am happy to be able to add to these favourable testimonies in regard to the capabilities of the district of Moreton Bay, as a field for the emigration of persons of the agricultural and labouring classes, the following additional notanda, drawn up, at my particular request, by my worthy friend Dr. Leichhardt, the distinguished Australian traveller. I deem it unnecessary to translate into idiomatic English the few expressions in these notanda, that have rather a foreign aspect, as they will all be sufficiently intelligible to the English reader, and as the paper will doubtless be more interesting in its original form.
There are perhaps few spots of the Colony better adapted for agricultural purposes, than those rich flats which accompany the upper part of the Brisbane, the Durrundur, Stanley's Creek, and their numerous tributaries. The soil is the detritus of basaltic rock, of Sienite and Diorite, or of sandstone and pudding or conglomerate. The basaltic soil is black, principally clay, with a good share of vegetable matter, and concretions of limestone or marl, the sienitic is generally a stiff clay, mixed more or less with sand: the same mixture exists in the soil of the sandstone and conglomerate country, which are nothing else but a regenerate rock formed by the detritus of primitive
rocks. Instances of basaltic soil are considerable stretches at Mr. Bigge's, at Limestone, at Normanby Plains. At Archer's, Mackenzie's, Bigge's, Macconnel's Station, alluvial flats of a more clayey nature with a share of sand are found, and along the sea coast between the settlement and the Glass-houses, sandstone and sandy soil are prevailing. The northern part of Moreton Bay is preferable to the southern, because it has a greater share of moisture, though the whole district is highly favoured with rain. I have seen the finest crops of wheat at Archer's, Mackenzie's, Balfour's, Bigge’s, Macconnel's Station, though these gentlemen just commenced to make the experiment, neither having good and equal grain, (instead of one variety 3 or 4 mixed which ripened unequally,) nor knowing exactly the best time of putting it in the ground ; which is of the highest importance, in consequence of the rains.
Besides wheat and saco, the barley, the yellow and_brown millet, a species of Guinea-grass, the Indian corn, the English potato, (very fine,) the sweet potato, the pumpkin, (several varieties,) the melon, (water melon, rock melon, &c. &c.,) the sugar-cane, (Archer's Station, and the Bot. garden in Brisbane,) the banana, the pine apple, the cotton tree, (in the Bot. garden defending its miserable existence against the suffocating grasp of the couch-grass,) the yam, the grape vine, the peach, orange, &c., &c. In fact it would be difficult to say, what did not grow, (as cherries, plums, rasp-berries, and similar plants, which require a colder climate.) There is one great difficulty in the culture of the vine, which will never allow Moreton Bay to become a wine-country, though the soil would be favourable for good quality. This is the setting in of the rainy season, at a time when the grape is entering into full maturity. It is of the highest importance to allow the grape to get dead ripe, aye even to dry almost on the stem, and turn into raisin. This is a secret, which few vine growers of this country know, and when they know it, they are so much afraid of the loss by birds and thieves, that they prefer to make an early vintage and a miserable watery wine. În Moreton Bay, such a thing as a late vintage, (even an early one) is almost impossible, for the rains set in at the end of January, and last almost through the whole of February. It is therefore my belief, that the Hunter's River District, and Port Stephens will become very valuable, whenever the people will find out, that almost every inch of it is favourable for vineyards.
The cotton-tree will grow well in Moreton Bay, though the plantation in the Bot. garden at Brisbane was any thing but promising. But no care had been taken with it for several years, and the Indian couch-grass is a dangerous enemy. Some specimens which I saw at the Mission, grew very well, and gave a good cotton. England could soon make itself independent from America in opening a settlement at Port Essington, though Malay labour would be required in a climate like that of the north coast of Australia ; the cotton obtained in Port Essington, has been sent home, and the first judges have pronounced it to be of the first quality.
It grows even wild on the Islands of Endeavour Straight, (at Entrance island.)*
When I was in Moreton Bay, I witnessed several cases of ague, though of no malignant character, and readily yielding to some few doses of Quinine; rheumatic complaints were frequent. The fact is that everybody is so careless, so spoilt by the fine climate, that he thinks it almost impossible his body could suffer by any exposure, particularly at the commencement of the rainy
The master as well as the servant, think it not worth while to change their clothes, when they are drenched with rain, or to have a cloak or a poncho to prevent it. The consequence is, that they are punished by rheumatism, or occasionally by an attack of ague, when their stomach was filled with a greater quantity of vegetables than was good to them. It is a curious fact, that Stations which have no gardens, the people living exclusively on damper and tea or milk
and meat, have less illness than those which have gardens and grow abundance of vegetables. I think that the people are liable of eating too much, and I know that frequent cases of diarrhæa are almost always traced to that source, though the water has often been accused to be the cause of it A garden is, however, such a comfort, and accustoms the people to a regular and pleasing occupation during their idle hours, that I am a great advocate for gardening. I speak of course only of the sheep and cattle stations far off the Settlement, where gardening could not be turned into farther profit.
I never had an instance of working men suffering by heat in
* A specimen of Port Essington cotton has recently been pronounced to be equal in point of quality to the produce of Pernambuco; but the produce of Moreton Bay has been found to be not inferior to that of Georgia. In fact cotton does not appear to require so hot a climate as that of Port Essington or Pernambuco to bring it to maturity. Besides, the practicability of apply. ing European labour to its cultivation at Moreton Bay, is the circumstance of paramount importance in the matter; for I do not suppose that Malay labour on the north coast of Australia would be at all superior, if even equal to Hindoo labour in India. Dr. Leichhardt did not see the specimens of cotton I saw in Dr. Ballow's garden.
this colony. I myself, not accustomed to hard work, have been occupied for days and weeks in felling trees, in making fatiguing excursions, carrying heavy loads, without any bad effect. In the contrary, working people generally improve in health after leaving the Settlement ; for the publican is the real ague of this colony. I felt the heat much more at the Settlement, at Limestone, and under Cunningham's Gap, (Cameron's Station,) than at the Stations to the Northward, which probably depends from the freer access of the sea breeze.
The finest part of the district for extent and quality is perhaps Limestone and its neighbourhood. The richness of its black plains in grasses and herbs is wonderful. It is besides at the head of navigation, and more in the reach of the Squatters than Brisbane,
In the event of an extensive emigration of persons of the agricultural classes being directed to the territory of Cooksland, a great variety of other branches of business, besides agriculture, would there find a highly eligible field and be vigorously pursued, as soon as the circumstances of the country, or the views of enterprising individuals should direct the growing energies of the community into particular channels. The timbertrade, for instance, would receive an immediate impulse, both in the way of supplying an article of exportation, that would serve as dead-weight in the wool ships, and in the working up of that article in the various processes of ship-building, house-carpentery, agricultural implements, and cabinet-making. The Bay, as I have already observed, would present an attractive field for the establishment of a fishery, as also for that of a Soap manufactory, while the sand of Moreton Island, being of the description required for the glasses of achromatic telescopes, would afford the requisite material for the manufacture of glass. The culture of indigo, of cotton, and of sugar, would call into existence the manufactures necessary for the preparation of the raw article for exportation, while a woollen-manufacture, to work up the coarse wool of the country into Colonial tweed, could be established as easily and with equal success at Moreton Bay as at Hunter's River. In the meantime, the supply of coal and lime, both procurable at Ipswich, on the banks of a navigable river,* whether for agricul
* Excellent freestone for building is procurable in the same ture, for building, or for manufactures, would afford employment to many industrious families, while the curing of meat, and the rearing of hogs, would not only give employment to labour, but supply an important addition to the exports of the district. In such circumstances, “the schoolmaster” would require to be “abroad,” and so also would the minister of religion, the medical man and the lawyer. In short, the whole framework of European society could be reproduced in the territory of Cooksland in a period of time remarkably short, and with probably far greater facility than in any other locality in the British Colonial Empire.
The following are extracts of the evidence given before the Immigration Committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, in the year 1845, by various highly competent witnesses connected with the Moreton Bay District of the Colony, in regard to the physical character and capabilities of that District :
THURSDAY, 28th August 1845.
Rev. Dr. Lang. Robert Lowe, Esq.
Joseph Phelps Robinson, Esq. Robert Graham, Esquire, called in and examined :1. You are a merchant in Sydney! I am.
2. And are also connected with various pastoral establishments in the Colony? Yes, both as a principal and as the representative of others; the district I am more particularly connected with is Moreton Bay.
3. Have you been at Moreton Bay ? I have lived there, and have been there several times since.
4. What is your opinion of that district of the Colony, as a
neighbourhood, as also chalk; and at Mr. Coulson's Station, twenty-five miles from Ipswich, towards the Gap, plumbago has been discovered. Copper ore, it is alleged, has likewise been found somewhere on the Brisbane, but the discoverer refuses to point out the locality in which it occurs, in consequence of the very illiberal manner in which the Government acts in the disposal of land containing minerals.